Wouldn’t it be nice to ride the Met Branch Trail straight down to L Street (no more stairs!) and on to the trail at 2nd Street on or the new cycletrack on 1st Street, as was originally envisioned in the Met Branch Trail Concept Plan and the Met Branch Trail Environmental Assessment?
One of the difficulties in completing the trail is acquiring land (as we have seen near Fort Totten). Luckily, when the New York Ave metro station was built, advocates were able to secure property and build the trail with the station. Between L and M Street, WMATA secured separate easements for the metro tracks and for the Met Branch Trail. Because the property at M Street had already been redeveloped and the property on L Street was still a vacant lot, the neighborhood connection was built at M Street, but the trail to L Street was put on hold with the expectation that it would be built as the adjacent site was redeveloped. That redevelopment did not occur as quickly as planned, but the easement still exists and the trail connection plans are still underway.
Sadly, plans for the area continually threaten the trail rather than incorporating it. First came the NoMa BID’s Public Realm Design Plan, which proposed using the L Street connection right-of-way for a plaza without a facility for bicycles.
Next came the NoMa BID’s Underpass Design Competition which invited artists to design a park space along L Street, without mentioning that this is the Met Branch Trail.
Now the Office of Planning has awarded NoMa BID, through the Playable Art program, the Met Branch Trail easement as the site of a children’s playground.
An initial public meeting on "a new playable art sculpture in the neighborhood along the Metropolitan Branch Trail between L & M Streets, NE" was held last Saturday to discuss plans for this play area.
The MBT ramp to L Street has been planned for almost a decade now, and a connection to 2nd Street has already been built. The owner of the land next to the ROW supports the building of the MBT ramp. The swithcback to M was never intended to be the primary route for the trail. It was built as a temporary route and then later a neighborhood connection. The neighborhood certainly seems to need a play area, but not at the expense of rerouting the trail to M Street permanently. We must find a way to meet the needs of both groups.
MBT Concept Plan Route