It's been 6 years since DC's political elite
gathered together for the Metropolitan Branch Trail ribbon cutting ceremony
and there isn't much to show for it. There's a small stretch of bike lane by Union Station,
a shrub infested stretch along John McCormack Road near
Catholic University (that ends at the trash transfer station) and another short
piece from the Takoma
Campus of Montgomery College that ends abruptly at the DC line. There's
also the piece they built with the New York Avenue Metro station, but it was
open for exactly one day and has sat unused for almost a year.
And there's controversy.
1) In Montgomery County, project planners, after presenting three designs for public input, recommended an option that included a bridge over Georgia Avenue and a tunnel under the East-West highway. But DPWT management rejected it as too expensive and forced them back to the drawing board for a "no tunnel, no bridge" option. The new option is not in keeping with the master plan and threatens to slip the schedule enough that the trail misses the two-year budget cycle.
2) The section of land north of the New York Avenue metro needed to open that section of trail has been held up by complicated land ownership issues. The northern tract - owned by Pepco and WMATA (Not CSX as previously reported here) - was supposed to be given to DDOT. WMATA needed to survey it first, something they completed in July 2005. In May, DDOT sent a letter to WMATA asking them to complete the trail, but they have not acted on the letter.
3) Originally the trail was to pass through Fort Totten Park and over Riggs road on a trail bridge, but the National Park Service put the kabash on the bridge because it would have too large an impact on environmental and historical aspects of the park.
So all in all, DC area politics as usual.