The June 26th rain storm caused quite a bit of damage in the area and, because many of them are built in stream beds, bike trails suffered a disproportionate amount of that damage. The Rock Creek Parkway was closed for several days.
In the worst-hit area of Rock Creek Park, from Virginia Avenue NW nearly to Military Road NW, crews hauled 18 trees off the parkway. An 82-foot section of pavement was eroded on Beach Drive, and parts of the bicycle path were blocked.
I haven't been out to Rock Creek in the ensuing period, but I assume that things are basically back to normal. That may not be a good thing for some cyclists.
As frustrated motorists cursed the closing of Beach Drive, some people were saddened to see Rock Creek Parkway returning to its normal hubbub. For a day or two, runners, cyclists and dog walkers were elated by the rare opportunity to claim the major commuter thoroughfare as their own. Cyclists whizzed along, without the normal worries that a car was getting too close.
The whole event served as an experiment - and an advertisement - for what could be if the NPS decided to shut down parts of the road in off-peak hours.
The closure of the road offered a glimpse of what would happen if the National Park Service shut down segments of Beach Drive during off-peak weekday travel periods, as the Washington Area Bicyclist Association has been lobbying for it to do for years.
"I know the people who drive that road have been really ticked off, but I've loved it," said Samantha Smith, 38, who rode her bike this week between her Adams Morgan home and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, where she works as a psychologist.
"It's like a dream come true," she said, describing the joy of rolling down an empty exit ramp onto a vacant Beach Drive. "It is really like my fantasy world. No cars, no noise."
RPUS points to a letter from a yahoogroup about how nice it was, and questioned whether closing the road - even during rush hour - had much of a negative impact on traffic.
Now is your chance...run, walk, bike on Rock Creek Parkway!
I ran this morning even in the rain because the chance to run the length of Rock Creek down to the Kennedy Center is something I could not pass up. I heard birds chirping, the sound of a very full Rock Creek flowing, and even the wind blowing. No cars, no cars, no cars!!!
The politicians and our WONDERFUL elected officials are so afraid of this. Why? Because all of the cars had to take the Beltway, drive through downtown, or take some other way to get to work and did we have any major disasters with traffic? No! I drove through downtown this morning (7:30AM) on Connecticut Avenue to 21st Street down to Constitution and it only took me 15 minutes.
Now this proves that we can safely close the entire length of Rock Creek Parkway on the weekends with no problem!! Why not??
I'm not sure that closing Rock Creek full time is a good idea - and I'm pretty confident that it's not feasible. I'm also not convinced with the "evidence" that it doesn't impact traffic. But, I think it does show that Rock Creek can be closed during the off-peak hours and especially on the section between Broad Branch and Military roads WABA suggested, without negatively impacting traffic. Still, with the powerful support for keeping the status quo, I suspect that Beach Drive will stay open to traffic.
The plans are to rehabilitate the entire existing facility, improving the safety and drainage of the trail. The contract to design the trail is set to be approved by this summer, followed by public comment and environmental assessments.
I'm waiting to see what this project will look like. I'm hoping they'll straighten it out in several places, push a path through the tunnel, add facilities to separate cyclists and runners where possible and as someone pointed out - keep a route open during construction for people using it right now.