CSX is planning to expand and lower the Virginia Avenue Rail Tunnel on Capitol Hill in order to prepare for more traffic resulting from expanding the Panama Canal (am I the only one reminded of the TV show "Connections"?). Now I figured they'd just work around the tunnel they have, but it seems they're actually going to build an "excavation tunnel" parallel to the existing one. They'll move the operations to that tunnel and then work on the existing tunnel. So the question is, what are they going to do with the excavation tunnel when they're done?
Is it possible for DDOT to railbank it? It's not so crazy. CSX wouldn't have to pay to fill it back in and they'd have a tunnel sitting there in case they ever needed it. The Howard Street tunnel fire a few years ago caused major disruption to CSXT freight traffic - and it only closed the tunnel for 4 days. They also get at least one element with which they could build goodwill with the neighborhood. Tommy Wells, after all, is the Councilmember for that area.
DDOT might be open to it too. One end of the tunnel is a few feet from the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. The other end is between Garfield Park and Canal Park where a trail is already being planned. Plus it would be super cool to have a 10 block long tunnel to bike or run through (lighting would be a must).
Update: At 0.7 miles it would be slightly longer than the San Sebastian Tunnel, the "world's longest bike commuter tunnel." That is either a source of concern ("It's too long") or pride ("We're #1"). It sounds like from the comments that what they're planning to do is excavate the tunnel and build a trench next to it. They'd run the train through the trench while they work on the tunnel. If this is true, it becomes a bit harder to convert as the bike tunnel would need to be built after the rail line moves back into the rail tunnel. Not only would there be money issues, but it would leave the gash open longer. I have no idea how much work would be needed to build such a tunnel - could it be prefabricated and assembled in days, or would it take months? Maybe Froggie will weigh in.
Here are some other long bike/ped tunnels (or trenches).
Minneapolis has a 5-mile below-grade bike path running through the middle of the city. You can only get off it on ramps spaced about every 1/2 mile, and the whole thing is invisible from street level. It gets 500 riders an hour at peak.
The Elbe tunnel gets 700,000 pedestrians and 63,000 cyclists a year to cross the 1400 foot distance. Not as long, but you have to take elevators on both ends to use it.
Or this trail in the UK that will connect two towns. The longer tunnel is 1.7 km long.
There's a rail trail tunnel in Idaho that's 1.4 miles long. In Pennsylvania there is an 11 mile section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike that was abandoned in 1968. It was sold to the Southern Allegheny Conservancy, to be converted into a recreational trail. It includes the Ray's Hill Tunnel (3,532 ft) and the Sideling Hill Tunnel (6,782 ft).