DDOT presented their preliminary alternatives for transportation improvements near St Elizabeths and they represent a significant improvement for cyclists from what was presented in 2009. For cyclists there are two projects that involve them, the redesign of Martin Luther King Ave SE and the new access road to the DHS campus. I'm a bad blogger and even though I had my camera, I failed to take photos.
Martin Luther King Ave SE
There are two alternatives with two possible designs.
Alternative 1 uses the existing 58' road to create a five-lane road.
Alternative 2 uses 86' of the 90' ROW to create a five-lane road with 2 5' wide bike lanes.
For both, there is a second possible design that uses the whole ROW to add in parking lanes, and in those the traffic lanes are narrowed. For cyclists the best design is Alternative 2, without parking. Though it widens the road a little, and may result in some downed trees as one person complained, a climbing lane on MLK - which features a tough hill - would be a big help to cyclists.
All alternatives features 8' wide sidewalks on both sides.
St Elizabeths Access Road
A new road will be built on the west edge of St. Elizabeths along the old rail spur, connecting with Malcolm X Ave on the eastern edge of the 295 clover-leaves (which will be redesigned a bit) and then to a terminus on MLK Ave SE just north of South Capitol St SE. A new gate to St. Elizabeths will be built on the western corner of the property. In one alternative the road is one-way in the NE direction between South Cap and Malcolm X, and in the other alternative a two-way street is built.
A sidepath will run along the east side of this road in all alternatives. It will connect with the South Capitol Street trail at Firth Sterling and at South Capitol. Another sidepath will run on the north side of Malcolm X from South Capitol to 2nd Street SE (the edge of the project).
Buses will connect in to this route and will have bus turnarounds that push the trail away from the road at times. At one point the trail disappears for about 40 feet to make room for a bus stop. I was told that cyclists would be expected to walk their bikes on this portion. When I asked if they thought cyclists would actually do that, the DDOT contractor shrugged, smiled and said "Who knows?"
There will be no direct connection from the sidepath to Newcomb St or along the southern edge of the St. E because, I was told, the land belongs to NPS (I think the road is to be built on NPS land too, so I'm not sure why that is a unique impediment) and the grade is too steep.
These projects, plus the South Capitol Street trail which was on all the maps, will actually create three alternatives for cyclists moving north-south through this area. Plus, bikes will be allowed on the Access Road where I was told the speed limit would be 35mph. But if the one-way version is built, cyclists going the other direction will need the sidepath.
I liked almost everything I saw. A sidepath, bike lanes, a trail and two roads will give a lot of options to cyclists of various levels of comfort. I didn't hear anything about bike parking, showers, or bike sharing, but I got there very late and couldn't stay long. They did have a CaBi bike there on display. I'm sure David Alpert will dig up the presentation, which they promised to put on-line, and we'll know more.
I didn't care for the area where cyclists are expected to walk. Not only because asking cyclists to walk is equivalent to banning cycling, but because I don't think they expect cyclists to follow the rule and are OK with that. So why set cyclists up to fail? Why not just allow biking on that section? All we'll hear about is how "cyclists are always illegally biking through the bus stop."
I'm OK with the explanation for why the other trail connections aren't planned, more so for the steep grade than NPS.
There are two more phases of the design. The full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which is scheduled to be done in the spring, and an Interchange Justification Report(IJR) that comes after that.