Bikeable, Walkable Workshop for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners

in early 2021, WABA hosted a Bikeable, Walkable Streets workshop for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners. We explored some effective options for making streets more inclusive, how DC’s Department of Transportation moves forward street safety and redesign projects, how to participate in that process some tactics to get a good idea moving.

In the second half, a panel of past and current commissioners shared their experience and tips on workshopping ideas, building consensus among residents and stakeholders, and getting safe streets projects done.

Panelists

  • Salim Adofo – Commissioner 8C07
  • Monique Diop – Commissioner 8D04
  • Randy Downs – Former Commissioner 2B05
  • Erin Palmer – Commissioner 4B02

Questions? Email garrett.hennigan@waba.org. Click here to download the slides.

Advocating for Streets That Work for Everyone

Kids on scooters at Open Streets.

The streets and public spaces that connect communities influence so much about how people choose to get around and where they feel comfortable. Whether we walk, bike, ride transit, or drive to get places, those streets should meet everyone’s needs, especially people walking and biking.

Join us for a workshop on advocating for streets that work for you. In partnership with the Hispanic Access Foundation, this free virtual workshop is designed to help celebrate the inaugural Latino Advocacy Week. We will dive into some of the key issues and possible solutions for making accessible and inclusive streets, plus identify some key first steps to make streets work better for your community. There will also be time to answer your questions and share your own experiences. Upon registering, we’ll send you a link and instructions for how to join the Zoom webinar. 

Register

The workshop will include captions. If you need accommodations or have questions about access or the event, send us an email at patricia.miguel@waba.org.

What is the deal with the Met Branch Trail?

When complete, the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) will be an 8.5-mile multi-use trail from Union Station in the District of Columbia to Maryland’s Silver Spring transit hub. With advocacy and concept plans going back 30 years, this rail-with-trail has been a long time coming. So far, about four miles are complete. The remaining pieces can be a bit overwhelming to track, so here is an update on the latest happenings from south to north. For a truly detailed look, you can follow along with this interactive map of the Met Branch Trail’s progress.

8th St. NE in Edgewood

Under the Franklin St. bridge, the Met Branch Trail emerges onto 8th Street NE for a half-mile where walkers move to the sidewalk and people on bikes share the road with cars and trucks. WABA, trail advocates, and the local neighborhood commissioner are pushing DDOT to transform this often stressful road with a two-way protected bike lane on the west side. DDOT has drawn up rough plans and aims to install them in 2021. Click here for more information and to sign our petition in support.

Brookland to Fort Totten

DDOT broke ground on this ~1 mile addition in summer 2018 to link the existing trail on John McCormac Dr to the Fort Totten Metro Station along the Metro and freight rail tracks. Though progress has been very slow due to contractor issues, work is in full swing and expected to be complete by May 2021. Find construction photos and progress updates on the project website.

Fort Totten to Takoma

The last long section in DC runs ~2 miles from Fort Totten to Takoma. In 2017, WABA worked closely with DDOT, neighborhood advocates, and Takoma’s advisory neighborhood commission to solidify the trail’s route along First St. NE, McDonald Pl, and Blair Road NE. In 2020, DDOT began final design, which will be complete by March 2021. Construction is funded and should be done by Fall 2023. 

DDOT is holding a virtual public meeting to present and collect feedback on the current design on February 10th at 6:30pm. The trail will run along Blair Road as a wide side-path as it crosses many wide driveways, parking lots, and business entrances. It also includes needed traffic calming and new pedestrian crossings on Blair, so getting the fine points of design right is critical. Please attend to ensure this trail is a great experience for trail users of all ages.

Get Meeting Details

Takoma’s Main Street

How to route the trail from Blair Road around Takoma’s main street and Metro Station has been a persistent question for the Met Branch Trail since the beginning. The 2011 Environmental Assessment identified two possible routes east and west of the elevated rails tracks in a mix of on-street signed route, protected bike lanes, and off-street trail. The eastern alignment continues the trail at Sandy Spring on Maple, left on Carroll, right on Cedar around the Metro parking lot and up the steep hill on Eastern Ave.

The western alignment takes 4th street to the (now rebuilt) Cedar/Blair Road intersection, squeezes between the building at 343 Cedar St and the rail embankment to meet Spring Street, then right onto Chestnut Street. From here, it either ramps down to the south side of Piney Branch Road or bridges to the north side before joining the existing trail at Eastern Avenue. See this interactive map for more detail.

Until now, DDOT has worked to preserve both routes, while negotiating to add pieces of the trail as part of some recent housing developments. Both routes are still viable, but the western alignment is getting attention first. DDOT has committed to beginning preliminary design of the western alignment starting in Spring 2021.

Eastern Avenue

Work is finally set to begin on a short trail segment on Eastern Avenue between Piney Branch Road and the already-complete trail through Takoma Park, Maryland. This project will repurpose some parking spaces to build a new trail, curb extensions for traffic calming and shorter crossings, and bioswales for some extra greenery and stormwater management. DDOT issued a Notice of Intent in December 2020 and work should start in February 2021.

Montgomery County’s Section

Montgomery County’s ~1.3 miles of the Met Branch are being built slowly but steadily in small segments. More than a decade ago, Takoma Park built it’s half-mile piece on Eastern Ave and Fenton Street. This was extended as part of the Montgomery College expansion that built the footbridge over the Metro tracks, and Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) extended it to King St. in 2018. The Silver Spring Transit Center brought a large stretch, and another piece, so far disconnected, came with the new Progress Place development.

North of King Street, MCDOT will run the trail along the rail tracks, under Burlington Ave in a new tunnel, and alongside Selim Rd. It will cross over Georgia Ave on a new trail bridge and run around the parking lot of the reconstructed historic B&O train station to connect with the trackside Progress Place Trail. Final design has been complete since 2019. MCDOT is in the final stages of obtaining the final permits and sign-offs to move forward with construction. They are planning to put the project out for construction bid in Spring 2021 and could potentially move forward with construction in Fall 2021. Construction will take about 2.5 years.

The final 400 feet will be built as part of the planned Ripley II mixed-use development project which is expected to finish in 2022. At the Silver Spring Transit Center, the Met Branch Trail will directly connect to the Capital Crescent Trail bridge over Colesville Road when the Purple Line project is complete.

Want to stay up to date on the project status? Be sure to follow us on Twitter @TrailsCoalition and sign up for our quarterly newsletter! You can also sign up to receive project updates and notifications here: http://www.capitaltrailscoalition.org/metropolitan-branch-trail/

Tell your legislators you support MC 4-21: Transferring automated Traffic Enforcement to the Department of Transportation

Police are not experts on street design or what makes a street safe for all of its users.  That expertise resides in the County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) and therefore, the management and implementation of the County’s automated enforcement program should be located within MCDOT, not the county police department.  To resolve this problem,  the State Delegates and Senators who represent Montgomery County are considering a bill, MC 4-21, that would authorize moving the automated traffic enforcement program from the County Police Department to MCDOT.  The County Delegation will vote on this bill on or around December 17. 

Please email your state Senator and Delegates telling them you support the passage of MC 4-21.

What’s on the horizon for WABA in 2021

WABA’s network of volunteers, advocates, neighbors, friends, and family made bicycling better—and kept WABA strong and steady!— in 2020.

Now, as we brace ourselves for 2021, we know that community is more important than ever. We made progress over the past year, and we’re celebrating it. But there’s still work to do building a region where you and your neighbors can safely explore, learn, and unlock the superpowers that come with riding a bike— and we’re counting on your support to do it.

Here’s what’s on the horizon for 2021 as WABA keeps working to make your ride— and our region— better:

  • More bike lanes. In 2020 we pushed harder than ever, and completely changed the game—setting the stage for even more progress in the coming year.
  • A connected multi-use trail network. More than 10 miles of trails are under construction right now, and with your support, we’ll reprioritize federal transportation funding from highway projects (that won’t even diminish traffic!) to trail projects.
  • Culture shift. Our work is at the intersection of so many critical issues: racial justice, climate crises, affordable housing, transportation equity, and more. In the coming year, WABA is committed to contextualizing our vision of a just and sustainable transportation system within work for a region that’s just and sustainable as a whole. 
  • Power building. With training and support from WABA, community advocates like you will put more pressure on elected officials to transform streets at the block-by-block level. 
  • More everyday WABA goodness. Online and on the ground —  from fix-a-flat webinars to safe group events, 2021 will bring more classes, trainings, and rides to keep us together. 

These are just a few of the ways WABA will empower people to ride bikes, build connections, and transform places in 2021.

Want to learn more about what your support made possible in 2020 and  how we’re continuing to pivot for 2021? Join WABA for a digital town hall with WABA’s executive director and development director on December 3rd. Click here to register and get the Zoom link.