This is something of a repeat entry. But a more direct connection from the Wilson Bridge to DC would go along way toward shortening the ride between DC east of the river and Alexandria. With the Department of Homeland Security moving thousands of jobs to SE, it could make bike commuting a more viable option.
Currently a cyclist coming across the river has to go over the Beltway, along the trail downstream toward National Harbor and up a big hill to cross - once again - over the Beltway where a couple of choices exist for getting to DC. Through Oxon Hill Farm National Park (OHFNP) makes for a 4 mile trip from the Bridge to DC. Using the Park road and the access road along Indian Head Highway is a 3.25 mile ride.
The ideal path would have taken a cyclist along the north side of the Beltway and then the river side of the Anacostia Freeway to Overlook Avenue SW. 4 miles along that route would get a cyclist all the way to Malcolm X Avenue. Unfortunately, cyclists and pedestrians missed their best chance at that when the Anacostia Freeway Bridge over Oxon Cove was replaced - without a bike/ped lane - early last decade. That means that any such path would need to build a separate bridge across the cove. That's a very heavy lift.
The second best option would be to build a ramp down from the Maryland deckover to a trail along the "inside" of the Beltway and the entrance ramp from 295. Then go over 295 to OHFNP and to a short new section of trail that would connect to the existing trail. This would shorten the route to the DC line to a much flatter (and more pleasant) 1.75 miles.
The first section along the highway (which you can see in the old Google Streetview shot above) and a bridge over the ramp (visible in the old satellite photo below) used to exist in the form of a construction access road. But they were removed and remediated at the end of the construction process. You can see where trees were planted on it here. Another possible opportunity lost.
Still, bridges over the Beltway have been built recently, so the cost is not so high as to be impossible. Furthermore, NPS has changed some in the last 10 years and some of their concerns could be addressed with a boardwalk in sections. Getting Maryland to go along with building a trail that will basically make the state a cut-through might be the biggest impediment. But one would hope they would see the regional value in it.
There are very few chances to pull Alexandria and DC 2 miles closer together and this is one of them. Doing so would add thousands of new potential bike commuters - in both directions - as well as a host of other users. With the new Oxon Run and South Capital Trails it becomes that much more of a critical route. Maryland and DC should work together to build such a connection.