Last month Metro applied for a permit to raze the streetcar bridge over Foundry Branch. DDOT is interested in using the bridge as part of a trail that would follow some portion of the streetcar ROW between the Palisades and Georgetown, so razing it would force them to consider something else. WMATA has been warning for some time now that the trestle is in bad shape.
Since then advocates for saving the trestle for a trail crossing, such as the Palisades Citizens Association Trail Committee, have been busy getting support from local ANCs and Community organizations. ANC 3D has sent a letter to the Historic Preservation Office opposing the raze permit, and as they point out they're not the only ones. Their support was unanimous.
ANC 3D supports preserving the Foundry Branch Trolley Trestle (the “Trestle”) as an enduring example of local rail history of the late 19th Century and for use by the public of a renovated/rebuilt bridge as a multi-purpose pedestrian trail and transportation corridor east of Foxhall Road.
ANC 3D joins the D.C. Preservation League, the Rails to Trails Conservancy, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, the D.C. Recreational Trails Advisory Committee, the Foxhall Community Citizens Association, the Palisades Citizens Association, the Community Association of Georgetown, and the Georgetown BID are all in favor of preserving and restoring the Trestle.
WMATA's actions are confusing since District Department of Transportation has stated that they plan to undertake a feasibility study starting this spring or summer, to determine the Trestle's reuse potential.
The Trestle is one of only two remaining bridges along the former trolley line linking Georgetown and Glen Echo, Maryland. This line, constructed around 1900, provided the transportation to a ‘trolley’ park and thousands of Washingtonians used the line annually to access the Glen Echo Amusement Park. The tracks have been removed, but the right-of-way continues as a trail along the Potomac River overlook through the Palisades neighborhood in Northwest DC. The steel bridge span crossing Foundry Branch in the park is an excellent example of one of the few remaining early transportation bridges in the city. Weathering and a lack of maintenance have seriously damaged the structure, but it may have some life in it yet.
CALL TO ACTION:
Help save the Foundry Branch Trolley Trestle by sending a letter or email (by May 22nd) opposing the raze application to:
Chair Marnique Heath
Historic Preservation Review Board
1100 4th Street, SW, Suite E650
Washington, DC 20024
Marnique Heath, Chair, Historic Preservation Review Board at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in testifying in person, please join us at 441 4th Street, NW, 2nd Floor for the hearing on May 24th. There is no need to sign up in advance.
The Post ran an article recently about this trestle, two others in Maryland along the same ROW and how WMATA ended up with all them. The Walhonding trestle would be useful if the ROW in Maryland were made into a trail, but the Wilson one is probably not worth it.
In a related matter, DDOT is in the early stages of redesigning the 110 foot long bridge over Arizona Avenue along the old ROW. That project, as currently envisioned, will also improve the trail from Galena Place to Sherrier Place.
The improvements being considered include rehabilitation and reconstruction of the bridge and its ramp, create a more accessible multi-use trail and add stormwater management and green infrastructure. Community leaders want the bridge replaced, a natural-looking, all-weather trail made level with the bridge with minimal impact on adjacent landowners.
The current bridge was built in the 1980's and has clearance and structural issues as do the abutments. A new prefabricated steel box truss could be built in its place on modified and improved abutments.
The existing ramp on the west side would be replaced, and a new ramp added on the east side. There would also be a new sidewalk on the west side heading back down the hill to Dorsett Place (and maybe farther?)
The east ramp and west ramp would differ from the current west ramp in their aesthetics. The railing would be lower than the current fencing for example.
There would be plantings beside Arizona Avenue as well.
The trail surface along the ROW would also be improved. A decomposed granite layer, similar to the crushed limestone along the C&O Canal, would sit atop a stormwater layer with a perforated drainage pipe running through it.
Phase I, which includes the environmental documentation and preliminary design, could wrap up this month.