Long Bridge needs to be, well, LONGER

Imagine biking from Crystal City to DC’s waterfront along a brand new bike bridge next to the railroad tracks. You’d sail over the George Washington Memorial Parkway and I-395, riding directly from one urban core to the other on a wide, protected trail. Sounds like the best Potomac River crossing in the region, right?

This vision is enshrined in the master plans of DC, Arlington, and the National Park Service, but the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is about to pass on the chance to make it a reality.

Let’s get this bridge right

Long Bridge is the rail bridge you can see from the Yellow Line as you cross the Potomac River.  It carries Amtrak, commuter rail, and freight rail from Arlington over the George Washington Memorial Parkway, Hains Point, and I-395 to L’Enfant Plaza and eventually on to Union Station. It’s getting a long planned, much needed upgrade from two tracks to four. This project is an opportunity to attach a biking and walking trail to the new bridge, creating a continuous non-motorized connection between Arlington and DC.

It’s a once in a century opportunity that DC, Arlington, and the National Park Service have been discussing for years, but the current trail designs only go halfway— from the Mount Vernon Trail to Hains Point.

DDOT can do better, but they need to hear from you.

Take action

The current proposal treats the river as the only barrier that for people who bike and walk, ignoring two major highways and the tangle of dangerous intersections, congested sidewalks, and freeway ramps that separate DC from Arlington.

DDOT is going through the environmental impact statement process for this project, so now is the time to speak up for better bicycling connections.

Ask DDOT for a better bridge

Comments close on January 16, so it’s important to act on this now!

Contact DDOT and ask them to:

  • 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Bridge bicycle and pedestrian trail connect directly to Maine Avenue, instead of requiring an indirect, congested or outdated connection across the Washington Channel.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.

Read more about the status of this project in our Dec. 2017 blog post.

Want to get into the weeds? Here are our (really detailed) comments from October 2016.

Find additional information on the Long Bridge Project website.

Let’s raise $8,000 today!

WABA Members Josephine and Judd

Hi everyone, I’m Judd! Today, my friend Josephine, a handful of other WABA members and I are challenging you to raise $8,000 for WABA. We’ll match every dollar you give before midnight, up to $8,000.

donate

WABA means so much to me. A connected network of trails and bike lanes make a difference to me every single day, and it would mean so much to me if you would make a donation today. Please join me in giving back to the organization that works tirelessly to make our streets safer.

Until I see you on the Mount Vernon Trail (I’m probably the one rocking a WABA jersey) or at one of the many morning biking coffee clubs, I’ll share my story here

I was four years old the first time I got grounded. The training wheels had just come off my sweet red Huffy and I was ready. My parents could have grounded me for running into the back of a parked car and getting my tire stuck. Instead, they grounded me for being over a mile away from home when I did so.

I was fortunate to grow up in places where a kid could bike safely and I rode my bike everywhere: to school, to play with my friends, to the lake to go fishing, and even around the neighborhood to collect aluminum cans. I was fortunate to grow up in places where people chose to make biking safe for kids.

Illustration: help WABA connect the region's bike network
Donate today to support a connected bike network!

As an adult spurred by an abundance of free time during the recession, I bought a bike from Craigslist and hit the trail. It was the best stress relief I could imagine. When I moved to DC a few years later, I was thrilled to discover the W&OD easily accessible via the Columbia Pike Bike Boulevard. I am fortunate to live in a place where local leaders chose to build and maintain trails.

The first WABA Member I met had a profound impact on my life. Amy encouraged me to give bike commuting a try and taught me everything I needed to arrive at work smelling good and wrinkle free. I was instantly hooked and became a daily rider.

Amy was the first of many WABA Members who would become my friends; people from every race, religion, profession, and age group. My life is better from all of the adventurous group rides, jokes shared over a cup of coffee, and secret routes exchanged. I am fortunate that such a diverse, inclusive group of people gathered to form a community of people riding bikes.

I support WABA so that kids can be free to bike to school. So that our streets are safe to commute, to shop, to enjoy by bike. So that we can access a connected network of trails for transportation and recreation. So that people, all people, have the opportunity to unite around the joys of riding a bike.

Please join me and make a donation today to give more people the joy of a safe place to ride with a supportive community.

With gratitude,

WABA Member Judd

PS: $8,000! Let’s make this happen! Please give today.

Trail Connections for a New Long Bridge

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.

What’s New

Earlier 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 Up

On 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.

 

DDOT Sidestepping Complete Streets Policy in Bridge Rehab Plans

Over the next few years, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has plans for substantial rehabilitation work on the aging Whitney Young Memorial (East Capital St.) Bridge and Roosevelt (I-66/US-50) Bridge. Opened in 1955 and 1964, both bridges are structurally deficient and in need of serious rehabilitation. These bridges are important links in the city’s highway network, yet due to insufficient design, they fail to connect gaps in the region’s trail network and perpetuate barriers to safe walking and biking. Despite the opportunity, DDOT’s plans consider non-motorized accommodations as “outside the scope of work.” As DDOT plans the rehabilitation of these bridges, it has a duty to correct the mistakes of the past and improve both bridges for safe non-motorized access.

Transition from the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail to the East Capitol St. Bridge (10 feet to ~3.5)

Last week, WABA sent DDOT a letter outlining serious safety and access issues for people biking and walking on the Whitney Young and Roosevelt bridges. As DDOT moves forward with rehabilitation plans, it is imperative that the existing sidepaths see substantial improvement as well. Unlike roads, which get repaved every decade, bridges are built to last many decades. DDOT cannot let design decisions of the 1950s continue to limit DC’s future transportation choices. That’s common-sense and good policy. It is also a requirement of DDOT’s own Complete Street’s Policy (pdf) and a requirement of Title III of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015 which will become law in November (awaiting Congressional review).

Read WABA’s letter here (pdf).

National Park Service to Begin Construction on Mount Vernon Trail on April 8

The National Park Service and a number of other agencies will begin to reconstruct pedestrian bridges on the Mount Vernon Trail beginning today, Mon., April 8. The project is projected to last several months and will include a closure of the trail (a detour will direct trail users to West Boulevard Drive). Read the full press release and see a diagram of the construction below.

McLean, VA –The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Eastern Federal Lands Highways Division (EFLHD), in cooperation with the National Park Service (NPS), George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP), will begin a construction project to reconstruct pedestrian bridges #13 and #14 on the Mount Vernon Trail between Waynewood Boulevard and Collingwood Road; other bridges include bridges 20, 21, and 22 further north between Morningside Lane and Tulane Lane, all in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County, Virginia.

The project will start on April 8, 2013 and will last for several months, Monday through Friday. Weekly updates to the project will be included in the weekly traffic advisory for locations of work zones.

During reconstruction of bridges #13 and #14, the Mount Vernon Trail will be closed. A detour will direct visitors to use West Boulevard drive. Visitors should follow the detour signs and exercise caution when using West Boulevard drive sharing the road with vehicles.

NPS will continue to inform the public and the media of any delays or adjustments to this work schedule. As with all construction projects, inclement weather may require adjustments to the schedules, including the possibility of postponement. Every effort will be made to accomplish the work in a timely manner. The NPS regrets any inconvenience and appreciates all visitors’ understanding and patience. The project is anticipated to be completed by fall.

mount vernon