Ask people about their favorite bike rides an you’ll hear it over and over—the weeping willows along the Mount Vernon Trail, the wide open green spaces and leafy shade along the Anacostia River Trail. We love biking along our rivers. But trying to cross those rivers on a bike is a different story. Your options are limited, and all variants of one flavor: sidewalk. A couple are mostly OK, most are too narrow, at least one is terrifying. None are what you’d call 21st century bike infrastructure.
That’s all about to change. Thanks to many, many years of support from people like you, WABA has successfully advocated for a number of new and improved bridges. Here are a few of them:
Thousands of you spoke up to support the The Long Bridge. You showed up when it mattered, and now we’re on track to build a brand new, car-free bridge between DC and Arlington. We still have a lot of work to do to make sure that it gets designed well and built on time. Donate today to make sure it happens.
The Arboretum Bridge will connect two of the region’s most beloved greenspaces: the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and the National Arboretum. The Anacostia River Trail opened the Aquatic Gardens to car-free visits, and this bridge will do the same for the Arboretum. Make a gift today to help us keep the pressure on!
The Frederick Douglass Bridge is mostly a highway project (boooo), but includes two great bike paths over the river. The bridge fills a gap in the Anacostia River Trail and provides a much needed bike connection between Ward 8 and downtown. Paired with the Long Bridge and recently installed protected bike lanes through Southwest DC, it also means you’ll be able to ride from the Custis, W&OD, and Mount Vernon Trails in Virginia to Anacostia Tributary Trail network in Maryland, almost entirely separated from cars. Not bad, eh?
The WB&A Bridge over the Patuxent river brings us one important step closer to a continuous trail between DC and Baltimore. WABA and other advocates have been pushing for this bridge for decades. Construction starts in April. Want to ride your bike to Baltimore? Make a donation today to close the remaining gaps in the corridor.
A few others to keep an eye out for: A new bridge at the zoo tunnel in Rock Creek Park; a wider sidepath on the East Capitol Street bridge; a new bridge over Route 29 on the W&OD Trail, and (still a ways off) a bridge connecting DC’s Fort Lincoln neighborhood to the Anacostia River Trail.
There’s a lot to like about these projects—they connect communities, they open up new, low-carbon transportation options to thousands and thousands of people.
But maybe you’re like me. If I’m honest with myself, what’s most exciting is simple:
If that sounds exciting to you too, take a moment right now to make a donation to WABA.
The Long Bridge Project, which will replace an aging rail connection between DC and Crystal City, includes a brand new bike-pedestrian bridge over the Potomac River. As they finalize plans and funding sources, DC government officials need to hear from you: the bike-pedestrian crossing must remain in the plan.
The Long Bridge has the potential to be the best crossing of the Potomac River for people who ride, and will support the transportation and environmental goals of DC, Arlington and Alexandria. The entire project will only be a success if the bike-pedestrian crossing is included.
Northern Virginia, particularly Crystal City, is expecting significant growth in the near future. Wise transportation investments like the bicycle and pedestrian bridge associated with Long Bridge, will ensure that personal mobility can be prioritized without the negative impacts of increased traffic congestion or air pollution.
The Long Bridge Project is a once in a generation opportunity to transform our regional transportation network by adding freight and passenger rail capacity, connecting major regional bicycle and pedestrian trails and providing new, direct links to two of the fastest growing areas of our region. You can read more about the details of the Long Bridge Project here.
In September 2019, District Department of Transportation published the Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS), and included the bike-pedestrian crossing as a mitigation measure for the rail components of the project. This is great news! It also shows that the 1600+ people who spoke up in support of the connection (thank you for taking action!) made a difference in the project.
The project managers are accepting public comment until October 28. Will you speak up in support of the bike-pedestrian crossing?
Great infrastructure doesn’t just happen. It takes all of us standing up and asking for better bike connections, better trails, and better river crossings. Help this great project by submitting your comments right now.
Another opportunity to comment is at the public hearing on Tuesday, October 22.
What: Long Bridge Project DEIS Public Hearing
Date: Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Time: Open House between 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Presentations (same presentation at both times) will be at 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm. Public comment will follow the presentations.
Where: DCRA Building, 1100 4th Street SW, Washington, DC 20024 Room E200 (Bring your ID and leave time to go through security!)
Whether you show up in person and testify in support of better biking connections, or write in to show your support, please stand with us to show that there is tremendous demand for this bike-pedestrian bridge.
- The existing Long Bridge, built in 1904, requires significant upgrades in order to meet rail capacity projected in the coming years;
- It is significantly less expensive — both in dollars and environmentally — to keep the existing span and build another rail bridge upstream;
- To mitigate (called 4(f) mitigation) any existing impacts to National Park Service (NPS) land, the project team will have to design and build a bike/pedestrian bridge upstream of the proposed rail bridge (in between the existing rail bridge and WMATA’s yellow line);
- Current plans call for connecting Long Bridge Park to the south to East Potomac Park to the north — and we don’t know exactly what the connection will look like in DC;
- We still have a long way to go until this is built (current plans are shooting for 2025) and there is no project sponsor — so, we don’t know who will own this bridge.
- Include a bicycle and pedestrian trail across the Potomac River.
- This bicycle and pedestrian trail should be funded and constructed concurrently with the rail component of the Long Bridge project.
- The bicycle and pedestrian trail should be incorporated into the design of the broader project in a way that optimizes the achievability of the project with regard to cost and complexity.
- The bicycle and pedestrian trail should be designed to enhance the connectivity of the regional trail network. Specifically, the trail should connect to the esplanade in Long Bridge Park in Arlington. In the District, the trail should extend as far towards L’Enfant Plaza as physically possible to maximize connectivity to existing trails.
- The bicycle and pedestrian trail should be designed and constructed to the highest design standards, with a minimum width of 12 feet wide, and seamless connections to existing trail networks.
Want to keep up on Long Bridge updates by email? Yes!
The Long Bridge is a rail bridge across the Potomac River, and it’s getting an upgrade from two tracks to four. This project represents a once-in-a-century opportunity to create a new, continuous biking and walking connection from Crystal City to DC’s waterfront core. Unfortunately, the current designs only go halfway. You can find more info here. Last month, we encouraged people to take action and contact the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), the agency overseeing the project. Their assessing the environmental impact of the project, so it was an an ideal time to speak up for better bicycling connections. And speak up you did! Throughout the month of January, more than 1600 people contacted DDOT and let them know that the river isn’t the only barrier for people who walk and bike. A better trail bridge would consider and provide solutions for getting past two major highways and the tangle of dangerous intersections, congested sidewalks, and freeway ramps that separate DC from Arlington. WABA was proud to stand with numerous other groups and elected officials that sent official comment letters to DDOT, including Arlington County, DC Bicycle Advisory Council, Councilmember David Grosso, DC Recreational Trails Advisory Committee, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Southwest Business Improvement District, and Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling. A public and agency update is planned for sometime this spring. Sign up for WABA’s advocacy updates if you want to stay up to date on this project!
- Make the Long Bridge bicycle and pedestrian connection continue across the George Washington Memorial Parkway to connect to the Long Bridge Park (Arlington County’s Long Bridge Park Master Plan has long called for a connection from the park’s multi-use esplanade across the George Washington Parkway to the Mount Vernon Trail),
- Make the Long Bridge bicycle and pedestrian trail connect directly to Maine Avenue, instead of requiring an indirect, congested or outdated connection across the Washington Channel. This is called for in both DC’s MoveDC plan and State Rail Plan,
- Leave space for a future trail connection across Maine Ave to Maryland Ave and Hancock Park, and
- Build the bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure simultaneously with the rail span, not as a separate project.
What’s NewEarlier this year, the Long Bridge Project team narrowed the field from nineteen preliminary concepts to just seven based on a set of railroad specific and engineering selection criteria. Aside from the no build option, which is still on the table, all of the remaining build concepts would create a new bridge with 3, 4, or 5 rail tracks. Three of the seven concepts include a new multi-use trail as part of the project. For the past few months, staff have done a second round of screening to further narrow the build options by considering factors like Constructability, Railroad Operations, Efficiency and Effectiveness, Cost, Preliminary Environmental Effects, and Safety.
Speak UpOn Thursday, Dec 14, DDOT and FRA are hosting a public meeting to share and gather feedback on the preferred build alternatives. Though we anticipate some of the chosen alternatives will include a trail, it will take consistent, ongoing pressure to ensure the final plan includes a high quality, convenient, and safe trail. Long Bridge Public Information Meeting #4 Thursday, December 14 4 pm to 7 pm Presentations at 4:30 pm and 6 pm Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs 1100 4th Street SW, Room E200 Learn more At the meeting or afterwards, be sure to submit comments to the project team. For more information, see the Long Bridge Project Website for more on the screening results. You can read WABA’s comments on the first round of screening here. To submit comments, use the contact tab on the project’s homepage and consider subscribing to the project mailing list for updates.
Georgetown Boathouse Zone EANational Park Service (NPS) is examining sites along the Georgetown waterfront near the southern terminus of the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) for development a series of boathouses that would cater to non-motorized boating (including rowing, paddling and stand-up paddle boarding). The project affects bicycle traffic in and around the area. NPS acknowledges that “the current configuration of the CCT and its connection to Georgetown do not provide safe and compatible access for pedestrians and cyclists with motorized vehicles to and through the Zone.” The timing of the EA aligns with work that DDOT and Georgetown BID are doing to improve the K/Water Street corridor, which includes a protected bike lane to connect the CCT with the Rock Creek Park Trail. Read our full comments here.
Oxon Cove Hiker-Biker Trail EANPS, in cooperation with DDOT, proposes to construct a multi-use hiker-biker trail in Oxon Cove Park. In our comments we recommend a seamless connection between the future South Capitol Street Trail and the proposed new trail. We also note that the Oxon Hill Farm Trail (which begins just off of South Capitol St and continues south into Oxon Cove Park) is in poor shape. This vital connection is functionally unusable to many because it lacks bridges and the trail is poorly maintained. Read our full comments here.
Public Scoping for North George Washington Memorial Parkway EAThe National Park service is in the early stages of an Environmental Assessment for reconstruction of a significant portion of the northern George Washington Parkway. This is an important opportunity to consider how the parkway and the land around it could better accommodate and ensure the safety of people biking and walking. Read our full comments here.
Long Bridge Phase IIDDOT is exploring options to replace the century-old Long Bridge, which carries freight and passenger rail from Northern Virginia into downtown DC. Though the study’s scope is currently focussed only on expanding the number of railroad tracks across the Potomac river, we make the case for including a high quality bike and pedestrian trail on the new bridge. Read our full comments here.
Bethesda Downtown Master PlanIn October, Montgomery County Council held a final round of hearings on the updated Bethesda Downtown Master Plan. The plan is a long term guide to future density, land use, parks and transportation, and includes an impressive Bethesda bicycle network of protected bike lanes, trail access improvements, and standard bike lanes. Joe Allen, Co-Chair of our Montgomery County Action Committee, delivered WABA’s testimony at the hearing. Read our full testimony here.
Roundtable on the Provision of 911 Services in DCThe DC Council’s Judiciary Committee held a roundtable to discuss 911 services. WABA submitted testimony raising ongoing concerns about the limitations of DC’s 911 dispatch system which delay or prevent emergency response to emergencies on off-street trails. Read our full testimony here.
Photo: brixton on Flickr