Update: Presentations and handouts from the Dec 14 project meeting are available for review here. Anyone who enters DC from the 14th Street Bridge by bike or foot is aware of the narrow trail on the bridge and the mixed-salad congestion of bike/foot commuters, automobiles at speed, and bewildered tourists that all use the 15th Street & Maine Avenue SW intersection. The Long Bridge Project presents a once-in-a-century opportunity for a new high-quality trail connection between SW DC and Arlington to bypass this quagmire. Stakeholder agencies need to hear from our biking and walking community to ensure that the Project includes bike and pedestrian improvements. The Long Bridge is the District’s forgotten piece of river-crossing infrastructure. This century-old bridge conveys passenger and freight railroad traffic alongside the 14th Street and WMATA Yellow/Blue Line bridges across the Potomac. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) are in the midst of a multi-year study of possible upgrades to the Long Bridge to better handle 21st-century load and reliability. There is potential that a bicycle and pedestrian trail could be included in a bridge upgrade, creating a new link between Arlington’s Long Bridge Park, Mount Vernon Trail, and the District. This would also allow foot and bike traffic to completely bypass 15th & Maine, terminating in the less congested and more useful locations of Maryland Ave SW and L’Enfant Plaza.
On Tuesday, December 5, the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee for Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B is hosting an informational meeting to discuss and debate the merits of the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) in Ward 4. This meeting is a key opportunity for Ward 4 residents and 4B neighbors to get to know the project and encourage elected commissioners to support the trail as planned. If you want a continuous biking and walking trail connecting Silver Spring and Downtown that also makes Blair Road safe for all, come to Tuesday’s meeting! ANC 4B PWI meeting on the Met Branch Trail Tuesday, December 5 5:30 pm – walking tour meets at Peabody St. & Blair Rd NW 6:45 pm – indoor meeting at Takoma Village Co-housing (6827 4th St. NW)
What is at stake?Despite strong attendance from trail supporters at meetings, more than 150 petition signatures from 4B residents, and dozens of emails to commissioners asking for support on DDOT’s plan, many commissioners oppose routing the trail on Blair Rd at all, claiming that Blair is somehow too dangerous for traffic calming to work or that delaying drivers for the sake of non-driver safety is unfair and suggesting instead that trail users go to Eastern Ave or 3rd St or other roundabout “alternatives.” Many options were considered by DDOT during the past four years of planning and community input and found to be unworkable. At this stage, altering the route has dire consequences for the usability and success of the trail, adds years of delay and prevents needed safety improvements on Blair Rd. Traffic studies indicate that the trail as planned could add as many as six(!) seconds per block to peak driver travel times along Blair Road. This is not a good reason to delay a critical regional connection for people biking and walking. Based on the regional importance of this trail segment, DDOT could decide to move ahead without ANC 4B support, but WABA hopes the Commission will support this long-anticipated addition to the neighborhood.
What can you do to help?
- Attend Tuesday’s meeting. Get to know the project, and demand that your neighborhood representative support DDOT’s plan for the MBT and a safer Blair Rd. RSVP
- Join our Facebook Group. Get involved in rallying support for the Met Branch Trail in Ward 4.
- Sign and share our petition. Help show your elected neighborhood leaders the broad community support for the Met Branch Trail.
awarded the contract to complete the design and construct the next phase of the popular multi-use trail! This new trail will extend the sidepath on the east side of John McCormack Dr to the base of the hill across from the Fort Totten waste transfer station. Instead of turning up the hill, as it does today, the trail will continue north alongside the train tracks. At the Fort Totten Metro, the trail will climb up and over the Green Line tunnel portal, descend to street level and continue on First Pl NE towards Riggs Rd. This phase of construction will add nearly a mile of new trail, improving walking and biking access to the Fort Totten transit hub and the new development surrounding it. The project will include stairs for a direct route down to the Metro entrance and an improved trail through Fort Totten Park westward to Gallatin St, where the interim MBT route continues to Silver Spring. The new 10-12 foot wide trail will include lights and a relatively gradual grade compared to the steep climb up Fort Totten Dr. For more renderings and detailed design drawings, go to metbranchtrail.com/resources/. When complete, the Met Branch Trail will span more than 8 miles between Union Station and the Silver Spring Metro Station. So far, the southern 5.5 miles are a mix of off-street trail, protected bike lane, and low traffic streets. Once built out from Bates Rd to Fort Totten, about 2 miles will remain to be built through Ward 4 to the Maryland line. Completing final design and construction should take roughly 18 months or by spring 2019. This new timeline is almost a year behind the schedule published in May 2016.This morning, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced a key milestone for the extension of the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) from Brookland to Fort Totten. After a long procurement process, DDOT
The Purple Line is Great for TrailsWABA has enthusiastically supported the Purple Line for many years because it will vastly improve the trail connections between Bethesda and Silver Spring and along much of the transit corridor in Prince George’s County. The Georgetown Branch Trail, upon which the Purple Line will be built, is an unpaved and incomplete trail that runs from the Bethesda central business district across Rock Creek to Stewart Avenue, still 1.5 miles outside of downtown Silver Spring. The trail crosses major roads, like Connecticut Ave and Jones Mill Rd, at grade which creates difficult and hazardous crossings for trail users. As part of the Purple Line project, the trail will see some major improvements. The Purple Line project will finally complete the vision of a Capital Crescent Trail directly linking downtown Silver Spring to Bethesda to Georgetown. Alongside the rail line, the trail will be upgraded from a rutted gravel path to a paved 12 foot wide asphalt path with lighting and new neighborhood connections. New bridges and underpasses will take the trail across Connecticut Avenue, Jones Mill Road, and Colesville Rd to avoid cars on busy streets altogether. At the Silver Spring Transit Center, the trail will connect directly to the Metropolitan Branch Trail, which will soon extend south 8 miles to Union Station in DC. Without the Purple Line, the Georgetown Branch Trail will remain unimproved, disconnected from the regional trail network, and most useful only to the its immediate neighbors. WABA will continue to follow developments relating to this vital transportation project in Maryland. To help when it counts most, sign up for WABA advocacy alerts here and read Purple Line Now’s blog coverage of this ongoing legal process here.
In early July, a federal appeals court reinstated the Purple Line’s environmental approval while the appeal is decided. This decision allows the Maryland Transit Administration to restart construction activities on the 16 mile transit and trail project. The final hurdle is securing a full funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration for $900 million in federal funds. For more, read the Washington Post’s coverage.
May is Bike Month, so if you are not spending your evenings riding a bike, check out a community meeting and show your support for projects that make bicycling better! Here are some upcoming meetings in DC: Grant Circle Community Meeting Tuesday, May 2 6:30 – 8 pm EL Haynes Public Charter School | 4501 Kansas Avenue NW DDOT is hosting a meeting to discuss possible safety improvements for Grant Circle in Petworth. At the meeting, residents are invited to provide feedback on draft concepts, data, and analysis. Grant Circle is an obvious candidate for a lane reduction, raised crosswalks, curb extensions and protected bike lanes. Many of these options were direct recommendations of the Rock Creek East II Livability Study (pdf), completed last year. Click here for more information on the meeting. DC Bicycle Advisory Council Wednesday, May 3 6 – 8 pm On Judiciary Square | 441 4th St NW, Room 1112 Attend the May BAC Meeting to learn about some emerging long term projects. Agenda here. NoMa Bicycle Network Study, Public Workshop Thursday, May 4 | 6 – 8 pm Lobby | 1200 First Street NE DDOT planners are taking a close look at the future bicycle network that will connect people who bike from NoMa to Mount Vernon Square. Come provide feedback on existing conditions for cycling through and from the study area. The project study area is from 6th Street, NW to 6th Street, NE between N Street NW and K Street NW. Priority corridors within the study area for consideration include K, L, and M Streets; 4th and 6th Streets NW/NE; and New Jersey Avenue. Click here to learn more. Long Bridge Project Open House Tuesday, May 16 | 4 – 7 pm L’Enfant Plaza Club Room | 470 L’Enfant Plaza SW Presentations at 4:30 pm and 6:00 pm. Now over one hundred years old, the Long Bridge carries trains from SW DC to Arlington. Sometime soon, it will need substantial rehabilitation or replacement. Initial concepts included a new bridge with additional train tracks and a multi-use trail connecting the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail to the Mount Vernon Trail and Long Bridge Park. Attend the informational meeting to review and comment on the preliminary concept screening results for the Long Bridge Project and help us ensure that any new bridge includes more options for crossing the Potomac and connecting the region’s trails by bike. Click here for more information about the meeting, including detailed directions to the meeting room.
The Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Trail (WB&A) is a 12-mile rail trail in Prince George’s and Anne Arundel County. It’s a wonderful trail- except for one critical gap. The trail has no connection over the Patuxent River. No bridge means the two segments of the trail are totally disconnected. It’s a critical gap that stands in the way of what could be an incredible trail experience. But, with your help, that could change! Anne Arundel County has proposed a bicycle and pedestrian bridge across the river. Please sign the petition to show your support! Why is the connection important? With the bridge, the trail could connect communities on either side of the river to jobs, retail, parks, amenities, and much more. Why is this significant, regionally? The WB&A Trail is not a stand-alone project. It’s an important piece of a handful of regional and national trails, including the East Coast Greenway, the American Discovery Trail, and the September 11th National Memorial Trail. It’s also a key spoke of a network being defined by the Capital Trails Coalition, a collaborative effort to connect the regional trail network in the Washington, DC region. Where are we in the process? Anne Arundel County is considering three alternatives (a no-build alternative and two build alternatives) and accepting public comments. From that point, the county will move into the initial design of the bridge, which will allow the counties to pursue funding to complete the design work and construction. What are the two build alternatives? There is a northern and a southern option. Alternative #2 is the northern option. It is the shortest distance and the most direct route. During the initial assessment, the County noted this alternative will have the least negative environmental impact, although the approach to the bridge will be a bit steeper than Alternative #3. Alternative #3 uses a previously cleared segment on the Anne Arundel County side of the river, and would include building a longer section of trail to approach the bridge. The bridge would cross into Prince George’s County a bit further south than Alternative #2. The County anticipates a larger environmental impact, and would require that easements from an adjacent homeowners’ association be secured. Both of these factors could slow the process down. How else can I take action? WABA will submit the petition signatures to Anne Arundel County before the deadline, but if you’d like to dive deeper with your comments, you’re welcome to send your thoughts directly to the county, using this form. When is the deadline for submitting comments? The deadline is April 17. Did you know? The WB&A Trail is one of WABA’s advocacy priorities. You can learn more about our continuing work on the development of the trail here.
Last week, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) took the next major step to extend the Metropolitan Branch Trail from Brookland to the Fort Totten Metro. In a press release, DDOT announced that it is seeking proposals from firms to complete final design and build the new trail segment. Once the contract is awarded, construction could be complete in about 18 months. This will be the first major trail construction since the southern 2.2 mile section opened in 2010. This new phase will extend the sidepath on the east side of John McCormack Dr to the base of the hill across from the Fort Totten waste transfer station. Instead of heading up the hill, as it does today, the trail will continue north alongside the CSX tracks east of the Transfer Station. At the Fort Totten Metro, the trail will climb up and over the Green Line tunnel portal, then descend back to street level. This phase of construction will add nearly a mile of new trail, improving walking and biking access to the transit hub and the new development surrounding it. The project will include stairs for a direct route down to the Metro entrance and an improved trail through Fort Totten Park westward to Gallatin St, where the interim route continues northward. The new 10-12 foot wide trail will include lights, security cameras, and a relatively gradual grade compared to the steep climb up Fort Totten Dr. For more renderings and detailed design drawings, go to metbranchtrail.com/resources/. When complete, the Met Branch Trail will span more than 8 miles between Union Station and the Silver Spring Metro Station. So far, the southern 5.5 miles are a mix of off-street trail, protected bike lane, and low traffic streets. Once built out from Bates Rd to Fort Totten, about 2 miles will remain to be built through Manor Park and Takoma to the Maryland line. DDOT finished 30% design for this last phase in 2016 and aims to complete final design in 2017.
Construction crews are on their winter breaks, but the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Virginia Railway Express (VRE) are ramping up planning on a number of projects relevant to people who bike in the District. Please consider attending these meetings this month and speaking up for the needs of bicyclists. Alabama Avenue SE Corridor Safety Study Saturday, February 11, 2017 | 10 am – 12:30 pm THEARC 1901 Mississippi Avenue, SE DDOT is hosting the first meeting to discuss safety along the Alabama Avenue SE corridor. DDOT aims to identify and address multimodal safety concerns and to improve the overall quality of the network for all users. At this meeting, existing conditions and current traffic/crash data will be shared to capture ideas and suggestions from participants. Alabama Ave is an important bike corridor and would make an ideal protected bike lane corridor. Tactical Urbanism at North Capitol Street and Lincoln Road Monday, February 13, 2017 | 6:30 – 8 pm NoMa BID Lobby 1200 First Street, NE DDOT invites you to a meeting to discuss the Tactical Urbanism project at North Capitol Street and Lincoln Road, NE. The purpose of this project is to increase safety at the North Capitol/Lincoln Road, NE intersection through immediate, short-term improvements that will lead the way for a larger intersection safety project. DDOT will present a draft design concept and gather comments from the community at this public meeting. Rapid implementation of safety projects like this are a key part of DC’s Vision Zero Action Plan. VRE Midday Storage Facility Public Meeting Thursday, February 16, 2017 | 4:00 – 7:30 pm | Presentation at 4:30pm and 6:30pm Bethesda Baptist Church 1808 Capitol Ave NE Virginia Railway Express intends to replace its current storage space leased from Amtrak at the Ivy City Coach Yard in DC with a new storage yard alongside New York Avenue. The project will include planning, designing, and constructing a permanent midday storage facility for VRE trains that travel into the District from Virginia. VRE will work with members of the community, stakeholders, and property owners to assess potential impacts and determine ways VRE can be a good neighbor. Florida Avenue Multimodal Transportation Project Tuesday, February 21, 2017 | 6:30 pm – 8 pm | Presentation at 6:30 pm New Samaritan Baptist Church 1100 Florida Avenue NE DDOT will share 30% designs for multimodal transportation improvements along Florida Avenue NE from First Street NE to H Street/Benning Road NE. This project will add new wider sidewalks, bike lanes, new signalized crossings and streetscape improvements for a safer street. In the last project update in March 2016, DDOT’s preferred alternative eliminated many of the popular and safety-critical elements such as protected bike lanes and a road diet to curtail speeding. We hope that a year of work has found opportunities to point the project in the right direction. New York Avenue Streetscape and Trail Project Thursday, February 23, 2017 | 6 – 8 pm | Presentation at 6:30 pm Gallaudet University’s I. King Jordan Student Academic Center 800 Florida Avenue, NW (map) DDOT is in the early stages of planning significant streetscape improvements to beautify New York Avenue from Florida Avenue to Bladensburg Road. The project will study improvements to public space in the corridor, including curb, gutter, streetlights, plantings, trees, benches, public art and other public space improvements. Additionally, DDOT will develop concepts and designs to improve safety and quality of life for people who use New York Avenue, including a new multi-use trail connecting the National Arboretum and Metropolitan Branch Trail, and future transit services throughout the corridor. Read more at the project website.
On July 13, over 50 people gathered at a city park at the corner of Rhode Island Avenue and Charles Armentrout Drive in Hyattsville, MD to learn about WABA’s campaign to Finish the Trolley Trail. Joined by numerous elected officials, community leaders, and members of WABA’s Prince George’s Action Committee, attendees walked north along the proposed trail alignment to see why this a half mile trail extension is so important to the regional trail network and to talk through the remaining hurdles to building the trail. This busy road intersection is also an important crossroads for the Anacostia Tributary Trails, which extend for miles in each direction, connecting to Silver Spring, College Park, Beltsville, Bladensburg and, this fall, DC’s Anacostia Waterfront. While these connections are seamless, traveling directly north into downtown Hyattsville, Riverdale Park and University park by bike requires mixing with the fast and busy auto traffic of Rhode Island Avenue. As we walked, we discussed the many new connections the trail will enable, the challenges of building a trail between a state highway and an active railroad, the work already done, and the many, many steps and complications ahead. We heard from leaders, officials and staff who have put so much work into this extension, including State Senator Paul Pinsky, State Delegate Alonzo Washington, Aaron Marcavitch of the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area, and Fred Shaffer of the Prince George’s County Planning Department. Just as important were the local leaders, mayors, councilmembers and business owners, also in attendance from University Park, Hyattsville, Edmonston, Riverdale and Brentwood. It will take many partners to see this trail to construction, and we are grateful that this campaign has so much interest and support. Thanks to everyone who came out to walk with us. Want help make this trail a reality?
- Sign our petition to voice your support
- Join the Prince George’s Action Committee and attend our next meeting
- Register for our Advocacy 101 Training for Prince George’s Advocates on August 27
Trails Master Plan (still in draft form), identifies how Prince George’s County intends to build and manage nearly 400 miles of new trails, a benchmark set forth in Formula 2040 (the 2013 functional master plan for parks, recreation and open spaces). The county set the bar high for trail development. Now it’s time for implementation, and the Trails Master Plan identifies how to make trail development and maintenance a functional and operational priority across the county. That’s important because the demand for trails in Prince George’s County is incredible. Our members and supporters have made it clear—trails are important to them. And they’re not alone. Trails are the #1 amenity that residents want, according to a 2012 Prince George’s County survey. Having a trail network that connects the whole county will serve both residents and visitors, and the Trails Master Plan is a critical step to closing key gaps, getting trails to new parts of the county, and elevating the importance of bike and pedestrian infrastructure within the county’s parks and planning processes. Some of the plan’s highlights include a three-tier designation for trails (primary, secondary, and recreational), depending on the expected type of use. Primary trails are classified as mostly paved, with high-quality design features, a park-like experience, and used for both recreation and transportation. The Plan takes the mileage of primary trails in the county from 65 to 293! Secondary trails are also mostly paved, but are connectors, along roads, or within neighborhoods. The intention for these trails are not as major commuting routes, but as connectors and shorter trips. The Plan takes the mileage of secondary trails in the county from 110 to nearly 400. Recreational trails are mostly unpaved and serve a nearly-exclusively recreational purpose. The Plan takes the mileage of recreational trails in the county from 153 to 255. But it’s not just about trail development. The County’s plan also has recommendations for maintenance and operations for the existing and future facilities. The plan stresses the importance of dedicated funding sources for trails to allow the county to stay up to date on maintenance needs of the trail network. The plan still needs refinement, and Prince George’s County is accepting public comments until 11:59 p.m. on June 23, 2016. Read the plan and submit your comments here. The draft plan includes a handful of long-time Prince George’s priorities. For example, the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis (WB&A) Trail has been on the county priority list for years, and is one of WABA’s advocacy priorities. When completed, the WB&A could become the eastern spoke of the Washington area’s trail network. Just over 10 miles of trails are already built, but it does not yet connect to the District of Columbia or the rest of the regional trail grid. Since 2008, WABA has urged the County to extend the WB&A Trail west along MD-704. Since 2011, building a trail along MD-704 has been at the top of the County’s bike and pedestrians transportation funding priorities for Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA). And with inclusion in the county’s Trails Master Plan, the message is clear- it’s time to finish the WB&A. Do you support the completion of the WB&A Trail? Are there other trails that are equally important to you? Tell the County which trail corridors you’d like to see completed first. We encourage all Prince George’s County residents to submit their input about trails in their county. Do you use trails to get to work, school, or the store? Let the County know that trails are a vital part of our transportation system. Would you ride year-round if you knew the trail would be plowed? Do you have to ride over the same bumpy section of trail everyday on your way to school? Let the County know that you depend on the off-road infrastructure, and trails should be treated with the same maintenance concern as roads. Would you like more lighting on the trail corridor near your office? Would you take your kids on the trail network if there were more bathrooms, water fountains or parks? Would you like wayfinding signage to help you navigate the network? Speak up for the trailside amenities you want. Are you far from a trail that would get you anywhere? Are you frustrated by a “trail to nowhere” in your neighborhood? Let the County know that you want to be connected by trail to the larger network. Your input is needed to make Prince George’s Trails Master Plan even better. Speak up before it’s too late! Take the county’s survey before 11:59 p.m. on June 23, 2016.Hundreds of miles of trails are coming to Prince George’s County, and you get a say in the matter! The county’s