The National Park Service (NPS) is seeking feedback on the Anacostia Management Plan, a framework to manage the park's natural and cultural resources and shape how people experience and enjoy the park for the next 15-20 years.
NPS looked at three "alternatives" about how to manage the parkland - plus a no-built, but it feels a little like they cooked the books to wind up with alternative # 3 as the preferred alternative. Alternatives 2 has a heavy emphasis on using the park as community space like sports fields with limited natural space, and Alternative 4 goes the other way with lots of natural space but little community space. Alternative #3 is the "balanced" option between them, and who wouldn't prefer the balanced option. NPS even gives this as a reason to prefer it.
Alternative #3 provides the most balanced combination of recreation areas and natural areas, which supports the greatest variety of visitor activities and recreational opportunities while still protecting the park's nature and history.
The difference between the alternatives for cyclists is subtle, as none identify any additional facilities, though they do recognize the need for ones.
Four main arteries cross the Anacostia River: South Capitol Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, East Capitol Street, and Benning Road. Because of the shortage of roadways crossing the Anacostia River, each of these major roads has become a major highway carrying large volumes of fast moving traffic, with wide interchanges, underpasses, overpasses, and tangles of lanes. In general, these roads do not encourage pedestrian or bicycle use because of narrow sidewalks and high vehicle speeds. The four bridges crossing the river in the vicinity of the park are tied to these high capacity, high-speed roadways and do not provide vehicular access to the waterfront area. Most of the interchanges at these bridges do not allow full traffic movements and none include direct access to the park.
But they don't really discuss how to "fix" this.
My only real complaint is that they don't mention Capital Bikeshare as an appropriate facility in either/both the Organized Sport and Recreation Zone or the Community Space Zone. That doesn't mean they preclude it, but I'd like to see it explicitly stated. Which is what I said in my comment.
Threre are two "Potential Land Transfers" identified, one of Poplar Point which they go into detail about, and which has been discussed for more than a decade and the other of "Kenilworth Park North" (between Watts Branch and the Aquatic Gardens) which is news to me.
For those interested in seeing the park become more transportation and recreation oriented, Alternative 2 is probably for you.
Alternative 2 includes management actions that would rehabilitate the park and transform it into one of Washington, DC’s major recreation-based parks with a focus on organized field sports facilities, nature-based recreation and education, cultural and recreational special events, and recreational facilities supporting local neighborhoods.
More convenient park access and connectivity with city neighborhoods would be developed through enhanced and expanded land and water trails, bicycle infrastructure, gateways and portals, public transit, and waterborne transportation....and new trails
In that alternative, most of the park would be available as programmed space except for the Aquatic Gardens and the piece on the east side of the river between the railroad tracks and East Capital street.
Alternative 4 would appeal to those who care less about connectivity and destinations, but more about trees and wildlife along the trail.
Alternative 4 includes management actions that would rehabilitate the park and transform it into one of the National Park Service’s premier urban wild lands that would provide access to restored and naturalized environments within a developed urban context.
New visitor facilities at trailheads (would be constructed).
Alternative 4 would set aside most of the land as Natural Resource land with the exception of some fields on the east side adjacent to neighborhoods.
But the balanced alternative, is the preferred one (surprise, surprise)
Alternative 3 includes management actions that would balance the rehabilitation of natural areas with sports and recreation facilities in the park to transform it into one of Washington, DC’s major recreational parks and a prime natural exploration area with enhanced river access and a gateway to the Anacostia River.
The existing water and land trail systems along the east and west shores of the Anacostia River would be retained and enhanced, and the National Park Service would continue to work with its partners to further develop these systems. More convenient park access and connectivity with city neighborhoods would be developed through enhanced and expanded land and water trails, bicycle infrastructure, gateways and portals, public transit, and waterborne transportation.
According to the maps, it will have the same trails identified in the other alternatives and all the same connections (though the text for alternative 2 promises new trails), so I'm not sure it matters much from a biking standpoint.
As you'd expect there is a good amount in the EA about the benefits of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail
The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail (ART) is part of the District of Columbia’s Anacostia Waterfront Initiative to enhance the shores of the Anacostia River. The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail is an ongoing effort to establish a seamless, scenic pedestrian and bicycle trail along the east and west banks of the Anacostia River. The trail will ultimately connect existing and planned trails in southeast Washington and Maryland with downtown Washington. It would offer recreational opportunities, health benefits, off street bicycle commuting, grade separated street crossings, access to and from the surrounding neighborhoods, and access to public transportation, including buses as well as metro stations. Key elements of the project include shared-use paths and educational signage, enhanced trail viewsheds to bring users closer to the water’s edge, and minimized impacts of paving or other trail infrastructure on the natural environment. To date, the ART is open the full length of the east bank of the river (DDOT 2015a); planned segments include a bridge across the river to connect the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens to the National Arboretum.
[The ART] may result in beneficial impacts on ethnographic resources by facilitating and improving access to the waterfront for traditional uses such as subsistence fishing; [and] has and would result in beneficial impacts on facilitating improved non-motorized access to the waterfront and between different areas of the park
And its impacts
The ART action has resulted in contributions or has the potential to contribute to the cumulative impact on soils and sediments, wetlands, upland vegetation, floodplains, archeological resources, cultural resources, and visitor use and experience.
[Construction of] the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail,... has and would result in adverse impacts to soils through ground disturbance during construction, a conversion of natural soil to non-soil from the asphalt pavement, and soil compaction during use. The naturally occurring floodplain Bibb and Iuka soils would be most impacted by the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail.
[and] has resulted and may result in adverse impacts on wetlands through disturbance of a small amount of wetlands for trail construction. However, the trail overall was, and is, designed to avoid wetlands wherever possible so the impacts would be mitigated.
[and] has resulted and would result in adverse impacts on upland vegetation during required disturbance and clearing for construction and use of the trail, particularly sections extending through upland forests.
and will be constructed within the 100-year floodplain, but is unlikely to result in adverse impacts on the floodplain because it is relatively narrow and at-grade except in areas elevated with a boardwalk to maintain conveyance of drainage ditches, and the boardwalks would allow flood waters to pass unobstructed.
[and] may result in adverse impacts on intact archeological resources through ground disturbance during construction and soil compaction during use
[and] has and may result in adverse impacts due to the introduction of new visual elements, including a pedestrian bridge in the vicinity of Langston Golf Course. However, the areas where the trail has been and will be constructed have been previously developed and has and would be designed (in terms of color, materials, and scale) to minimize any visual impacts and not diminish the integrity of cultural landscapes within the park.
One last interesting bit of this is the map area around the New York Avenue Bridge showing an additional Anacostia River crossing and a trail along the west bank in Maryland.
Speaking of the trail, the section through the Kenilworth South section is still several years away, but NPS has put out a Supplemental Ground Water Study Report (2016). It goes over my head, but it appears that the study determined that the contaminants at the site were less of a risk than previously determined.
The Remedial Investigation data indicate that contaminants present in Site soils are primarily within the former landfill; their impact to Site groundwater appears minimal. It support a conclusion that impacts to surface water from discharge of Site groundwater are likely to be minimal and may not require shallow groundwater-specific remedial action. However, dissolved constituents have been detected in Site groundwater at concentrations that exceed surface water ecological screening values. To support the conclusion that Contaminants of concern in Site groundwater are unlikely to pose human health or ecological risks, porewater and surface water samples should be collected around the periphery of the landfill, both from the Anacostia River and from Kenilworth Marsh.
Contaminant transport at and from the Site appears to be constrained.
Because groundwater is not used as a potable water supply source at the Site, Contaminants of concern in Site groundwater are unlikely to pose a risk to human health. Unacceptable risks to ecological receptors are also unlikely because groundwater transport to surface water (and, therefore, exposure potential) appears minimal. While Site groundwater discharges to the adjacent surface water bodies (the River and the Marsh), hydrogeologic and chemical data do not indicate any significant transport to surface waters of the two VOCs and the PAHs detected in groundwater. Furthermore, the estimated maximum groundwater flux to surface water is 0.05% of the average River flow.
Perhaps this means no further delays in construction of that section of trail.