John alerted me that the NPS recently paved a portion of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail (ART) on the east side of the river. The section is located south of East Capitol Street, between the River and DC-295, down to the railroad tracks. This portion used to be a dirt access road and riding it was a bone-jarring experience along a washboard surface. They didn't just pave a trail-wide 10-12' feet of the trail but the entire road as seen in the photo at right.
At the south end is a new fence - which means that this section of trail doesn't yet take you anywhere (though it would be a good place for street hockey). But there's a memo from Gayle Hazelwood, Superintendent of National Capitol Parks-East of the NPS dated Oct 23, posted on the fence that reads:
To Whom it may concern:
This memo serves as notification that the National Capitol Parks-East (NACE) is moving forward with closing a gravel service drive in Anacostia Park to vehicular traffic to support the installation of the River Walk Trail (Phase I) on Wednesday, October 28, 2009. The River Walk Trail will eventually be developed along both the east and west banks of the Anacostia River and connect the community, District and state trails as part of a broader regional public trail system.
The service drive that will be closed north of the CSX railroad; adjacent to Anacostia Park and south of River Terrace (near the East Capitol Bridge). [sic]
Authorized service vehicles and staff that need limited access to this former service drive, to conduct permitted activity, may do so by contacting Anacostia park staff or United States Park police 24 hours in advance.
Which brings up the question of what the status of the ART is.
On DDOT's schedule, this section is actually phase III. Phase I - the west bank from Navy Yard to Benning Road - was to be completed in summer of 2008. It is mostly complete (and may be entirely so) but was still being worked on this past summer. Phase II - the east bank from the Douglass Bridge to the railroad tracks - was supposed to have started and finished work in 2008, but I've seen no sign that any work has been done on that. Phase III, of which this piece is part, was supposed to wrap up this summer, and include bridges over the railroad tracks on both sides.
By now we should be half way into the construction of Phase IV, the section from Benning Road to Bladensburg. All of this puts the project at more than 18 months behind schedule. It appears that the last section - South Capitol to Oxon Run - has been pulled out of this project and handed over to the bicycle group, as Heather Deutsch, the Bicycle Program Trail Planner, has been working on it. [The ART is not being built by the bicycle group, but by the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, with Allen Miller working as project manager.] So all work may complete closer to the completion date of 2015.
West side bridge over railroad tracks
I tried to contact Allen Miller several times to get an update on the project, but my calls and email went unanswered. So for now, a new section, but when it will connect over the railroad tracks is unknown.
In other ART news, the Zoning Commission voted to approve Florida Rock's request for a two-year time extension, so that piece between Diamond Teague Park and the Douglass Bridge won't be completed until mid-2012 at the earliest.