A couple of stories about the Palisades Trail have popped up this week: DDOT has started the Palisades Trail Project Over ArizonaAvenue, NW study and the Post wrote an article about the decaying Foundry Branch Trestle and the effort to save and reuse it.
DC owns the ROW from Foxhall Road all the way to Norton Street. They bought it back in the 70's to build a water main, but after insisting that the water main come with a trail, neighbors changed course and decided they didn't want it. So it has pretty much sat untouched with DDOT occasionally saying it would make a good place for a trail and putting it into long range planning documents. Last summer, DDOT proposed upgrading the section from Nebraska to Galena as part of the upgrade to the recreation center, but when the final design was presented last spring, it did not include the trail other than to note it as a "proposed pedestrian path".
But now they're going to study a larger section of the trail as part of a project to rebuild the Arizona Avenue pedestrian bridge.
This study will consider the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the superstructure and substructure of the approximately 110 ft. long existing pedestrian bridge across Arizona Avenue NW and the related existing connecting trail.
The study consists of two phases. This first phase will generate a preliminary design for the bridge, trail alignments and widths, storm water facilities, and other amenities along the trail. The timing and schedule of the second phase will be determined once the scope is determined and the first phase of the work is completed.
Both phases of the study incorporate multiple opportunities for community input. The first community meeting will share existing condition information and is anticipated to occur in the fall of 2017. Meeting details will be provided as they are available.
I've been told the Arizona bridge is in bad shape and also needs to be raised because it has insufficient clearance below. I don't see how this is worth the cost if a more formalized trail isn't built as part of it. I think either the people of the Palisades should get a trail from Galena to Nebraska (or Canal) or they should just have the bridge removed.
The trestle over foundry branch is a little more complicated. That still belongs to the Rider's Fund/WMATA.
But the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which inherited the structure after the trolley closed in 1962, has signaled only a desire to demolish it. Only recently, faced with the difficulties of bulldozing a designated historic structure, has Metro grown more receptive to ceding the property to the city for use as a trail.
Metro spokesman Richard Jordan said the transit agency is in discussions with various agencies to determine the best solution moving forward and is working with the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) “to gauge their interest in taking over responsibility for the bridge and advancing repairs. These discussions are ongoing and no decisions have been made.”
[WMATA didn't get the bridge in 1962, but rather in 1996]
“The bridge is a historic resource,” DDOT spokeswoman Maura Danehey said. She said the city is interested in the restoration of the bridge if it could potentially be reused as part of the city’s growing trail network. But before assuming responsibility for the structure, DDOT would first need to conduct a trail feasibility study to determine costs and benefits, Danehey said. The agency plans to launch that study this year.
But there’s no clear timetable when the agencies involved will determine if the restoration is feasible, how to fund such an effort and what would it take to rehabilitate it. A push from Metro to seek demolition isn’t completely off the table.
DDOT is reportedly starting a study to determine if the bridge has any transportation value. If that comes up positive, then it would be followed by another study to determine what would be needed to rehabilitate the bridge or if that's even possible.
This trail still has considerable obstacles to overcome, but if the north section is built and the bridge preserved/rehabilitated, that would represent huge steps forward.