Paved Recreational Trails Plan
In 1990, the National Capitol Region of the National Parks Service put together a Paved Recreational Trails Plan. How old is that? So old that the copies are found on archive.org.
In that plan, they identified 75.7 miles of trails in the immediate area led by the Mt Vernon, C&O Canal Path and the Rock Creek Trail. Many of the other area "trails" are more like sidewalks or roads. The heart of the plan was to create a series of loops, but most of these never quite happened. There's the well-known Arlington Loop, and a "Little Falls/Rock Creek Loop" which is really the Capitol Cresent Trail/Rock Creek Park Trail Loop, but other loops like the Alexandria Loop or the Capital Crescent/Sligo Loop never quite happened or are still a work in progress. The plan relied on a series of improvements, new trails and cooperative projects.
Some thing, like paving the CSX Georgetown Branch (a.k.a the Capital Crescent Trail) were done while others, like building a barrier between the Mount Vernon Trail and the Parkway to protect trail users from oncoming headlights, have not been. This wasn't always NPS' fault, such as with the Anacostia crossing that would be part of the Barney Circle Highway project that never happened.
It's now ~25 years later and NPS has started the process of creating an updated plan. They've had money allocated to work with consultants on a new plan, and work will kick off in the fall. There are now 140 miles of trails in the area, and NPS will study how to create better connections and to raise existing trails to current standards. They will be doing a gap analysis, funding planning, safety analysis, mapping and an analysis of future trends.
This program is funded by a Department of Transportation Alternative Transportation Grant, so the focus will be squarely on transportation into, out of and through the parks (as opposed to recreation). There are no open house events planned, but they will be reaching out to specific, targeted groups.
Improving Connections for Pedestrians and Bicyclists on the National Mall
In addition to paved trails planning, NPS spent the last year looking at ways to implement the bicycle and pedestrian recommendations within the National Mall Plan of 2010, with a focus on conflict analysis and small scale solutions that can be done quickly with available funding.
Several sites were identified, with recommendations and some are already funded.
1. There's a plan to do a Road Safety Audit at the Lincoln Memorial Circle, and to add better wayfinding signs to help people navigate the area. Somewhat related, at Peter's Point, where Constitution Avenue used to end and where the Rock Creek Trail crosses the Parkway just north of Lincoln Memorial Circle, they'll add better signage to direct users to Virginia or to the National Mall. All new wayfinding signs will be identical in design to the ones DDOT is installing, to create continuity.
2. On the DC side of the 14th Street Bridges there is a grant already approved to deal with "the pole." If you bike across the George Mason Bridge, you know what I'm talking about. Apparently moving this pole away from the trail to remove a pinchpoint is not easy, but work will begin soon to deal with this. Another grant will widen the trail in the area and make improvements along East Basin Drive (the road in front of the Lincoln Memorial).
3. Off NPS property, but relevant to the Mall, they're looking at ways to connect the 15th Street cycletrack from it's current endpoint at Pennsylvania Avenue to the National Mall.
4. They also hope to study CaBi data to get a better understanding of where bicycle visitors are going and where they want to go.
But, wait, there's more. There are current projects "underway".
The FONSI for the Rock Creek Park Trail upgrade and repair is almost done (of course, we've heard that before) and they expect DDOT and the FHWA to sign off on it by summer. Once that is signed, DDOT can move forward on the design, for which they already have money. In addition, NPS will be repaving Beach Drive from the Zoo Tunnel to the Maryland boundary. Work on that will start next spring.
The Memorandum of Understanding (which follows the FONSI) between NPS and DDOT for the Ft. Totten section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail is almost done, and awaiting a few signatures. Once that is signed (any day now they seemed to indicate) DDOT can start design work on that as well. This will include the Prince George's County Connector Trail that will connect the MBT to the Anacostia Tributary Trail system in Maryland.
NPS is also working with DDOT on the Klingle Valley Trail, for which the FONSI was completed some time ago. DDOT is finishing up the 90% design and will finish the 100% design in the next few months.
NPS Town Hall Meeting with Eleanor Holmes Norton
Questions about all this? You can ask them at the Town Hall meeting tomorrow from 6:30-8:30.
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) will hold a National Park Service (NPS) town hall meeting on Wednesday, May 21, 2104, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the John A. Wilson Building(1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW) in room 412. The meeting will explore many new ideas for the city’s federal parks and how residents can work with NPS, which owns most of the city’s parks, to enliven D.C.’s green spaces and adapt them to the needs of the individual neighborhoods where they are located.
You can also ask about the potential Palisades Neighborhood Trail that could improve access from the Palisades community to both the C&O Canal and the Capital Crescent Trail, the Fort Circle Trails plan, safety improvements on the Mount Vernon Trail (at least the DC portion of it on Columbia Island), snow clearing on major commuter trails,