The National Park Service has created a concept design for access and safety improvements to the Rock Creek Park Trail from Virginia Avenue to the Tidal Basin Bridge. There are a lot of components to this project and I think it will make many people happy. From north to south
Virginia Avenue NW intersection improvements - This won't really impact trail users, but it will resurface the road, improve the crosswalks, repair the cobblestone median and repave a sidewalk to nowhere. The repaving of the road and repair of the median will happen all along the Parkway.
Trail widening and waterfront improvements - The project contemplates the widening of the trail from Virginia Avenue, NW to Ohio Drive, SW to 14 feet in most locations, with a width of 10 feet in locations constrained by important trees or other landscape features. It will also be resurfaced with a consistent porous asphalt pavement along its length, much of which currently surfaced with variable materials. Even the cantilevered balcony in front of the Kennedy Center will get a real trail surface. And they want to replace the wooden benches with narrower ones to widen the trail from 6 functional feet to 14. Hooray! The portion of trail from the John Ericsson National Memorial, just south of the Lincoln Memorial, to the Tidal Basin bridge will not be widened, but will also be resurfaced with porous pavement. It won't be widened though. They also want to install improved signage all along the trail.
Trail tunnel under the Roosevelt Bridge - This is pretty exciting too. At the Roosevelt Bridge, trail users currently use a six-foot-wide sidewalk that runs through an existing tunnel shared with vehicular traffic. NPS is planning to construct a new trail tunnel through the non-historic TR Bridge abutment, which would accommodate a 14-foot-wide trail with 12-foot vertical clearance. There are two trail alignments through the abutment, one that goes through aligned with the abutment and the other at an angle to the abutment, making for a straighter trail. And y'all, they're recommending the one with the straighter trail. They're also recommending the one with an arched roof instead of the square one. So, what you see below and at the top.
Belvedere improvements - The Belvedere is that weird overlook thing that the trail passes around just south of the Roosevelt Bridge. It's kind of an annoyance and, since it's no longer the turnaround for Constitution Ave, it serves no transportation purpose. The proposed design will realign the Rock Creek Park Trail around the outside of the site, and provide landscape improvements in preparation for a future memorial.
With all the improvements to the Rock Creek Trail north of Virginia Avenue (the part along Rock Creek), these improvements will make it really hard for trail users to find anything to complain about.