Trolley Trail markers help users navigate communities

Brightly colored wayfinding sculptures, installed by the Hyattsville Community Development Corp., dot the Trolley Trail. Photo by Krissi Humbard

By CHRIS TULP — Cyclists, walkers and trail users might have noticed some new, colorful signage along the Trolley Trail.

The Hyattsville Community Development Corp. (CDC) recently installed wayfinding trail markers along the Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail to enhance the experience of cyclists and pedestrians.

Bright red and yellow sculptures with images and symbols drawn from the trail’s historic origin now greet trail users in Hyattsville, Riverdale Park and College Park.

The kiosks include maps that were developed by the CDC to help familiarize and orient trail users with their surroundings, as well as identify amenities that can be accessed and experienced in the vicinity of the trails.

“The connectivity of the trail markers to local businesses is important,” said Stuart Eisenberg, executive director of the CDC. “In conjunction with the wayfinding sculptures, we’ve created much more, like a wayfinding website dedicated to the Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail which contains the kiosk mapping, more customized trail mapping, background information related to the development of the trail and its history, and destination information about the trail communities.”

The trail markers were designed by Charles Bergen, a local artist and architect. Bergen specializes in site-specific public art projects.

The CDC held a competition, which they narrowed down to three finalists, and Bergen and his team were ultimately selected to create the markers.

Bergen described the details and ideas behind the artwork.

“The signage uses the plan of the old streetcar round house that was situated at the end of the streetcar line in Prince George’s County,” Bergen said.

The design of the sculptures plays off railroad ties and trolley tracks. Tubes that are used to brace the signage kiosk are arranged and spaced with the “rhythm of railroad ties,” Bergen said, and divide the kiosk into three parts, “so when viewed from the front and the rear, the tube pattern replicates the pattern of the trolley tracks that once ran along the trolley trail.”

The three-part vertical division of the kiosk refers to the surrounding adjacent communities where the trail markers are located: Hyattsville, Riverdale Park and College Park.

The Hyattsville CDC developed and installed the sculptural wayfinding kiosks with the financial support of grants from the Maryland Heritage Area Authority and the Prince George’s County Redevelopment Authority.  They also collaborated with Maryland Milestones (ATHA), Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and received the cooperation and support of the City of Hyattsville, Town of Riverdale Park, and City of College Park.

“It’s important to take advantage of the historic Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail,” said Eisenberg.  “We’re living out transportation history, so we wanted to honor it artfully.”

The CDC has also begun to work on other public art projects for the ARTways program that are scheduled to begin in late 2018.

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