At the Environmental Assessment Public meeting for the Rock Creek Park multi-use trail (RCPT) rehabilitation, NPS and DDOT proposed several improvements, additions and changes to the trails in and around Rock Creek Park. There were three sets of alternatives presented.
One project involved the RCPT. In addition to a no-build option, there was an option to repave the trail (Alternative 2) and another to repave and widen the trail (Alternative 3). In Alternative 2 the project would create several new connections to the streets, realign the trail at curves and approaches, improve the safety of roadway crossings, create a better crossing of Rock Creek than the existing one south of the Zoo tunnel, add drainage and erosion control and improve the grade in places. It would also add a trail along the Piney Branch Parkway from the RCPT to Arkansas Avenue. The RCPT would be widened a little in places, but not much. Most of it would remain at less than 10' wide. Option C would do everything B would do except widen most of the trail to 10'
In a related project, the Rose Park Trail, which would be directly connected to the RCPT, may be resurfaced (Option B) or resurfaced and widened (Option C). Both of these options would create a better connection to M Street [where a Capital Bikeshare station might end up] and other connections as well.
There is also a proposal to move the RCPT closer to the river in the area between Pierce Mill and Blagden Avenue. The trail would replace what is now a "social trail" and the existing trail would be replaced with a gravel "interpretive trail."
The biggest project is the rebuilding of 3.7 miles of the RCPT between P and Broad Branch Road. It would create new connections to P street, Arkansas Ave, Blagden Ave, Broad Branch Road and the Porter Street ramp; realign the trail around the various bridges over the Creek; improve the crossings of Shoreham Drive, Jewett Street and the Zoo entrance; improve the grade below Calvert street; and create a better crossing of the Creek south of the Zoo tunnel.
Obviously, I think the more ambitious options are better for both the RCPT and the Rose Park Trail. I have no opinion on the realignment. If NPS wants to do it, I'm fine with it.
Almost all of the public comments were in favor of the widening and repaving options. The only exceptions were a man from Friends of Rose Park (F.O.R.P.), who opposed widening or realigning the trail but did not oppose letting cyclist use the trail, and a man who wants Klingle Road reopened. The Man from F.O.R.P. was pretty angry, in my opinion, about the trail widening and during the open house raised his voice at a few rangers and DDOT employees because NPS had promised F.O.R.P. that they would not widen the trail (which is apparently true, though I doubt it was in perpetuity). During the public comment section, many commenters noted that the trail is already a multi-use trail, not a pedestrian path as F.O.R.P. wishes to label it. One commenter noted that Rose Park has been the site of several recent crimes and that having more trail users (cyclists) might discourage crime. The Man from F.O.R.P. was also concerned about a very large elm in the park also mentioned in the Georgetown Current [Update: the link is to Georgetown Dish, bu that is a reprinting] article. I'm confident the trail can be widened and rerouted to not only avoid harming the tree but in a way that helps it.
Those who favored the project still had other suggestions including
- Keeping the zoo loop open 24/7/365
- Making sure that detours caused by construction were well signed and easy to use
- Keeping the trail maintained (Signage indicated that the trail is currently cleared of snow, is that true?)
- Building a fence to separate the Rose Park trail from the playground and using brick pavers to slow down cyclists
- Creating an elevated crossing of M street at the Rose park trailhead
- Making mountain biking legal in RCP which would allow NPS to tap into some free labor
- Creating a connection from Harvard Street to the trail
- Looking at the section from M to P street
- Improving drainage under Porter Street
- Building bike parking at every NPS facility trail users might visit including bathrooms
- Allowing CaBi into the Park
So now the EA goes forward. It will be finished by late spring with another public hearing in the summer and a NEPA decision in the fall.
If you'd like to comment on this project, you can do so here.