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I assume they only need (and can justify) such an expansion of storage if and when the Long Bridge is rebuilt.

A. which will not be for some time yet
B. Which may have a new MUP over the river.

Not much for those looking for a new MUT in NE DC, but still at least some offsetting factors.

The trail plan by itself is great. This added VRE complexity could either be awful OR even better than the trail could ever be on its own. Of course this adds a lot of risk, but I'd definitely put the chances at a positive output at far greater than your (admittedly "grumpy") assessment!

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From this file:
http://www.vre.org/about/procurement/rfp-ifb-rfi/rfp-no-016-012/part-ii/part-ii-schedule/
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D.4. Phase A Tasks
Section G. Ancillary Development

1. The Consultant shall examine the feasibility of providing improved rail transit access to the surrounding neighborhood as an integrated component of the proposed storage facility plans. Possibilities to be examined range from a new station served by VRE or MARC, to new walkways and bikeways connecting the neighborhood to one (1) or more existing Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) MetroRail station. The work product for this task shall consist of a draft and final report that describes the solutions identified, additional descriptive details for those determined to be feasible, and rough-order-of-magnitude cost estimates for the feasible solutions. The Consultant shall coordinate with DDOT’s State Rail Plan efforts to determine potential markets to be served by a prospective station.

2. As a separate task, the Consultant shall examine the engineering feasibility of decking over the propose storage facility for the purposes of joint development. Possibilities to be examined shall be determined in consultation with the District of Columbia government. The work product for this task shall consist of a draft and final Ancillary Development Report that describes potential solutions, provides additional descriptive details for potential uses for air-rights development, potential NEPA implications, and rough-order-of magnitude cost estimates for the feasible solutions.

Another VRE stop would be great, and more VRE capacity would be great. Even without any trail this might very well be the best public use of this land. But neither of those tasks directly address the trail (and the first has nothing to do with it).

If the railyard is built, cyclists have to hope that they (1) leave space for the trail south of NYA (2) don't protest a trail parallel to or close to the trains (3) widen the tunnel to make room for the trail (4) Either allow trail users to use the access road or build a ramp up to a deck over the railyard with that deck having space for the trail.

That's an awful lot for an organization that hasn't even mentioned a trail in their RFP. And if all of that happens, you'll have a trail wedged in directly next to a retaining wall on one side and a rail yard on the other, on a facility they have to share with railyard related motor traffic. Not intolerable, but less nice than what was imagined.

If VRE and MARC came to an agreement on running their trains through each others' systems, the yard would not be necessary. Instead of stopping and turning around in DC which requires valuable track yard space, a train from Manassas could just go through to Baltimore Camden station. Or trains from Fredericksburg would continue to Frederick/Martinsburg. Through running trains is a best practice and could save money (and this trail) by not building more train yards.

I'll emphasis this part of the RFP again for what the consultants will include in the report:

"new walkways and bikeways connecting the neighborhood to one (1) or more existing Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) MetroRail station"

That's essentially what the NY Ave trail plan is = a connection from Ivy City (& the Arboretum) to the NoMa Metro. The trail could certainly be on top of the new tracks if they can't go beside them. Nothing is a given, and this could still go badly, but there are a lot of exciting opportunities that can come along with this.

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