GSA is holding a scoping meeting on Thursday, October 8th on the Environment Impact Statement and Historic Preservation Amendment to the DHS Headquarters Consolidation Master Plan. The Department of Homeland Security is making the west campus of St. Elizabeths into their headquarters and now they need to plan for compliance with the EIS and the National Historic Preservation Act (as I understand it).
Back in March I wrote about the Master Plan and some of the elements that effect cyclists, namely including a bike lane and sidewalk with the access road that will parallel I-295/Shepherd Parkway along the old rail spur to the southwest edge of the campus (but only in option 5). In addition I think they should
- Continuing the bike lane on to Malcolm X Avenue SE
- Building a MUP along the southern edge of campus, through the "forest preserve" to MLK Avenue at Milwaukee Place
- build a short connection from the Malcolm X Avenue connection to Newcomb St, SE.
I didn't write about the Transportation Management Plan. Here's what it includes about bikes. Under the Bicycles section they write:
And later for Planned Bicycle Access Improvements
Currently 1% of DHS employees bike to work, but they expect that to drop to 0% at the new campus with an ambitious goal of 0%. Hey, they've already succeeded. Beer and Ice Cream for everyone! If they hand out maps, work with DDOT, add showers and locker rooms and bike racks in the two parking garages they think they can get back to 1% by 2013 [Take that OPEC]. Again they write:
The report mentions that 35% of all employees will take Metro. [Aside: one thing the report also mentions is a possible infill station on the green line to serve DHS. It "would require approximately one mile of new track and tie-ins at both ends of the existing track between Anacostia Station and Congress Heights Station" OR a spur from Anacostia to the National Harbor, with a DHS station having a connection to Congress Heights via a 2000' pedestrian tunnel with moving walkways.]
Finally they write:
USCG has a bicycle club for employees that bike to work. Currently less than 1% of DHS employees bike to work. The TMP has not indicated a goal for bicycle users due to the lack of safe routes in the vicinity of the site. Local planning agencies including DDOT, MNCPPC, DCOP and NCPC should work together to add bicycle paths from the vicinity of the campus to the South Capitol Street bridge and off-road bike paths to the major roads approaching the campus.
1. The Bicycle Master Plan in this area is out of date by the very virtue that it didn't plan for a DHS HQ at St. Elizabeths or even a DHS, so it's OK to break out of that a little bit now. It seems DHS wants to do the bare minimum required in the plan, even though more is clearly needed. In fact they go below the minimum as the TMP doesn't mention that a path along the rail spur was in the Bike Plan, so if they really want to adhere to the Bike Plan they need to include that in more than just option 5 (and then as a bike lane). And other items have changed. The bike trail on Firth Sterling was planned when DC thought it would get the CSX tracks there. That isn't going to happen. It's likely that there won't be a bike lane on MLK - not without narrowing the road; or if there is, it will be just a climbing lane on the southbound side. So, the bare minimum elements in the bike plan won't even happen and DHS seems OK with that.
2. 0% is not a goal. It is an acceptance of defeat. 1% isn't even a goal. Not in a city where 2.3% of people bike commute. 4% by 2013 - that's a goal.
3. They could increase the number who take Metro if they encouraged (with free bikes and bike lockers) employees to ride the short distance from the Metro station.
4. Why doesn't DHS consider encouraging DC and MD to connect to the Wilson Bridge. I recently had to drive down 295 and across the bridge. To connect to the bridge here is what you need.
- A short path from Overlook Avenue to the existing bridge over Oxon Cove.
- I-295 has 6-8 foot wide shoulders on the outside and similar sized ones on the inside. That's 12-16 feet extra. Shift the lanes over 2.5 feet and put a Jersey wall about five feet from the west edge of 295. That would create a 4 foot space. By no means ideal but it would work. Take that new lane from Oxon Cove all the way to the Wilson Bridge.
- Break a gap in the wall that separates the current Wilson bridge path from the shoulder and end the Jersey wall past that. Voila! Bike connection on the cheap.
5. Every Coast Guard officer I know seems to ride a bike to work, so I'm not sure why the rest of DHS can't. If the USCG bicycle club is successful, why not expand it to all of DHS?