Though work has begun on the next section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail (from the Ft. Totten Trash Transfer Center to the north side of the Ft. Totten Metro) design work continues on the section north of that to Maryland. Unfortunately it's been a little hung up in ANC4B where much discussion has been ongoing, and many meetings have been held, to approve of DDOT's preferred route.
WABA supports the DDOT route and wants its members to support it too. (They also support eventually routing the trail on NPS property between Riggs and Blair if NPS will allow it).
At a September meeting, some residents argued against the DDOT plan.
- Some argued that "1st Street is too narrow to 'bring all these bikes there' and that parking is also very difficult."
- There was interest in using Van Buren Street, instead of Aspen, to cross under the railroad tracks, because Aspen is too busy. DDOT counters that the Van Buren underpass doesn't have as much space as the one at Aspen (seen in the image above) which has a little bit of unused right-of-way.
- There was also a suggestion that the trail be rerouted on North Dakota Avenue and 3rd Street, which would bring it to the Takoma Community Center. DDOT said that North Dakota was too narrow, but there seemed to be support for adding a spur later.
In October, the ANC passed a resolution supporting just 1500 feet of the 1.6 mile trail plan in Ward 4 and then in November they hosted a field trip and meeting on the route between Rittenhouse and Aspen and another on December 5th. WABA points out
On January 22nd, Commissioners will finally vote on a resolution considering the rest.
Despite strong attendance from trail supporters at meetings, more than 150 petition signatures from 4B residents, and dozens of emails to commissioners asking for support on DDOT’s plan, many commissioners oppose routing the trail on Blair Rd at all, claiming that Blair is somehow too dangerous for traffic calming to work or that delaying drivers for the sake of non-driver safety is unfair and suggesting instead that trail users go to Eastern Ave or 3rd St or other roundabout “alternatives.”
Many options were considered by DDOT during the past four years of planning and community input and found to be unworkable. At this stage, altering the route has dire consequences for the usability and success of the trail, adds years of delay and prevents needed safety improvements on Blair Rd. Traffic studies indicate that the trail as planned could add as many as six(!) seconds per block to peak driver travel times along Blair Road. This is not a good reason to delay a critical regional connection for people biking and walking.
Based on the regional importance of this trail segment, DDOT could decide to move ahead without ANC 4B support, but WABA hopes the Commission will support this long-anticipated addition to the neighborhood.
The Third Street route would make a great addition to the currently proposed Met Branch Trail, so the ANC question of Blair or Third is a false choice. The question really is "soon or far in the future." I hope ANC 4B won't support delay.