DDOT recently completed the Draft Concept Plan for the South Capitol Street Trail. This new trail will connect the Douglass Bridge, the military employment centers along the Potomac, Ward 8 neighborhoods and the trail to the Wilson Bridge. Currently, a cyclist can ride south on this route, but can not go north, so the trail would create a brand new connection. The $5.7 million project would be done in four phases (including an interim connection to the Oxon Run Trail). It would overcome the numerous pinch points along the trail by narrowing the roadway - with little to no impact on traffic according to their traffic studies.
The main trail itself starts at the intersection of S. Capitol St and Firth Sterling Avenue where the current trail off the Douglass Bridge ends. It crosses the streetcar tracks at grade and then runs on the west side of S. Cap (and east of the streetcar for as long as that goes) to the intersection of Overlook Avenue. It then moves to the west side of Overlook to Laboratory Road. Just before Laboratory it crosses to the east side of Overlook and then crosses Laboratory to follow along the south side of that. It would then become a sidepath along Shepherd Parkway, Blue Plains Drive and DC Village Lane to the existing trail connection to Oxon Hill Farm.
In addition, an interim connection would be built between S. Cap and Oxon Run Park and the trail there. The bike plan called for this connection to be a sidepath along S. Cap, but that route is narrow with grade issues, walls, and numerous intersections and driveways. The updated concept is to instead build the connection as an on-road route along Halley Pl, 1st St and Atlantic St SE. Within this corridor, all of the streets are too narrow for bike lanes; however shared lane markings are feasible.
Most of the trail will be 10' wide with up to 10' of separation from the road and a 3' buffer on the other side. But even in the preferred alternative, the trail will be as narrow as 8' with no separation or buffer in a few places. This is because of eight pinch points along the route. In most cases the plan is to overcome these pinch points by narrowing the roadway, removing a lane or both. Where lanes are removed the level of service to drivers is mostly unchanged. At South Capitol and MacDill it drops from a C to a D in the AM and at South Capitol and Malcolm X it drops from an A to a B in the PM.
The narrowest planned location is pinchpoint 3.2 just north of the point where the I-295 exit ramp connects to Overlook Avenue. There is only 22 feet and the trail will get 8 of them.
Another trouble spot is at the light rail platform just south of Firth Sterling. No space was set aside for the trail, so the trail will cross the tracks just north of the station and then use space taken from the roadway between the new road and the station. The design calls for textured paving to deliniate the trail.
The trail is to be built in four phases.
Phase I constructs the interim trail from South Capitol and Overlook to Oxon Run Park. This is an on-road route with widened and completed sidewalks and costs $100,000
Phase II is the construction of the trail within DC Village. DC village is going through a redevelopment project and the future trail alignment within this segment will be refined once the redevelopment proceeds further. This phase will be done in conjunction with the DC Village work.
Phase III includes the trail from Laboratory Road to Malcolm X Avenue, where the trail connects with the proposed trail along the DHS access road. For this reason, the report recommends that this phase be coordinated with the proposed improvements to I-295/ South Capitol Street, as a part of the DHS redevelopment.
Phase IV completes the trail by building the section from Malcolm X to Firth Sterling. The intersection at Firth Sterling is also dependent on the St Elizabeths-DHS project.