Someone went for a ride on the still incomplete - and very much closed - Kenilworth section of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail (ART). They shared the following photos and some comments on them. The Kenilworth section is arguably the most important section so far. It will connect the ART to PG County's Anacostia River Trail and with it the Anacostia Tributary Trail System stretching up to Beltsville, College Park (home of Proteus bikes, in case you were wondering) and Greenbelt in PG County and to Wheaton and Silver Spring in Montgomery County.
It reportedly took about 28 minutes to get from Lincoln Park to the Bladensburg Road Bridge, and going on-road usually takes 20 minutes. But if the trail were completed, and the barricades removed and if they skipped going through Mayfair (by going left through the Kenilworth Park South/Kenilworth landfill property instead of right to Foote St) they think they could do it in 20 minutes easy. And get a much more pleasant ride. No cars, no exhaust, no traffic noise, no traffic lights/stop signs, more shade and more to see. Only in the winter - when no lights and no snow clearing (?) become an issue could they see using the old road route.
The ends of the trail are incomplete, likely by design, and on the south end construction is underway on the abutments for the bridge over the old power plant outflow Piney Run*. In the background is Benning Road and the Metro trestle.
From there it follows the river north, behind NPS's Kenilworth Maintenance Facility and the DPW facility, up a large hill and then back down to an NPS Road. That recently repaved road leads to the intersection of Foote St and Anacostia Avenue NE where a new trail head is being constructed. On the far side of the trail head is a motor vehicle access drive that isn't quite a road.
From there the trail continues on the widened sidewalk (or in the road) along Anacostia Ave to Hayes Street where the real protected bike lane has been extended a couple blocks to south to meet the Anacostia Avenue sidewalk via a ramp.
The bike lane has seen some improvements. New access points to Mayfair Mansion have been added.
And the barrier has been filled in with a mix of dirt and paved areas. Not sure why they bothered to pave parts of it though.
The bike lane loops around to Jay Street and then goes north to cross Watts Branch on an improved trail.
The trail has been similarly improved, and divided, on the north side of Watts Branch too. (All along the trail, hay has been added to the shoulders)
The trail crosses over Deane
to the corner of 40th St and Anacostia Ave NE, where another trail head is being built.
The trail then goes through Kenilworth Park back down to the River and along it. It crosses Nash Run on the newly completed bridge.
The section of the trail between Nash Run and Beaverdam Creek has been recently paved too.
Near Beaverdam Creek, the trail has a stub leading off to an unpaved road that leads to the main part of Kenilworth Gardens - for a future phase perhaps?
The trail then crosses Beaverdam Creek on the new bridge where a strange creature can be seen swimming underneath.
Then the trail goes under the Amtrak and New York Avenue bridges on a boardwalk. Under the railroad bridge, a fence box has now been built to protect trail users in the case that a train derails and falls on the trail (I'm guessing).
Just north of New York Avenue is an overlook where one can see boaters.
After crossing under the bridges on the boardwalk it arrives in Maryland where more paved trail can be found.
How did the turtle cross the unnamed stream.
On this small bridge. I think the other bridge was just a temporary bridge built for construction vehicles.
The trail then continues through the natural area built as part of the Wilson Bridge Project until it gets to the last unpaved section just before the dead end of the Anacostia River Trail.
Also, here is a bird (a heron?) spotted along the trail
You can see older shots of some of the same places here and here (April) & here (Nov 2015) & here, here and here (Aug 2015)
* I thought Piney Run came out farther north where the DPW trash transfer station was, but I was wrong. Not sure what that culvert is.
The purpose of the plan for Buzzard Point Park is to link landscapes along the waterfront to provide a continuous public open space system, develop the banks of the Anacostia River as an enjoyable and unique urban park with a mix of active and passive recreational opportunities, ensure that Anacostia Park continues to develop as a regional recreational resource, emphasizing the park's special riverside, ecological, and scenic qualities and character and to help to launch a new identity for the Anacostia through a collaborative approach to park planning rooted in community engagement and partnership building.
The project overview handout and suggested images show a lot of bike trails, bike lanes and bike parking, and also makes notes of the plans for the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. But nothing is hardcoded yet. Below is what the DC Office of planning recently showed for the area
The first public meeting on the Buzzard Point Development Concept Site Plan is tonight. This begins the stakeholder input phase. A draft plan is scheduled for late fall or early winter and the final plan is to be completed in May.
You can also give input now through a google form, ranking 45 photos of similar parks on a scale of 1 to 5. If nothing else you can play the game "Name that park."
My commute every day takes me up Kentucky Avenue SE from Barney Circle towards Lincoln Park and I've come to believe that there is no street in DC where a protected bike lane would make more sense that the section of Kentucky from Barney Circle to 15th Street. That's not to say that other places don't offer more utility, but that stretch of Kentucky is so massively overbuilt for the trickle of traffic it gets, and so useful for cyclists heading to or from the Sousa Bridge that it seems like a no-brainer.
For those who don't know the area around Barney Circle very well (north of Pennsylvania Ave and south of Potomac Ave - or NoPeSoPa) it has a lot of one way streets that I suspect are in place to deal with the appeal the neighborhood would have to cut-through traffic, but has the effect of eliminating almost all traffic. For example, Kentucky is one way north from the Circle to 15th, but the only way to get on it at the Circle is by turning right from Barney Circle, and the only way to make that right turn is to head south on 17th. You can also get on mid-block by heading south on 16th, which will let you then turn north on Kentucky. Or you can access the last bit at Potomac Avenue. But as can be seen from the map below, these routes are so circuitous that the only reason to do these (except maybe the south on Potomac to Kentucky turn) is because you are going to a place on one of those blocks. The whole road is a long driveway.
Some might argue that re-establishing a functioning street grid here would make sense, but assuming that isn't in the cards, I'd say that a pair of protected bike lanes on this whole stretch of Kentucky is warranted.
In my almost daily rides I can say that the only times I see traffic on it - and that is very rare - is when someone is either leaving a parking space along it or going to one. And yet the road has two northbound lanes. It's traffic count to lane ratio must be the highest in the city - or close to it. In addition the one-way design of the street means that a contraflow bike lane would greatly help southbound cyclists who must either divert over to 15th/Pennsylvania or 17th, both of which include heavy/high speed traffic. Cyclists crossing the Sousa Bridge or connecting to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail would find the connection very useful it they're heading to/from the bike lanes on 14th and 15th (that go most of the way between Pennsylvania and H Street). Likewise if they're making the Pencil-Tuck-Achusetts ride up to the Met Branch Trail.
A look at the street shows not only two lanes, but that one of those lanes is pretty wide. There is room to move both lanes of parking in towards the middle and place a wide south-bound protected bike lane and a similar one on the other side going north. Of course, the road gets so little traffic that a north bound lane might not even be needed - sharrows will do.
At the Circle end of Kentucky is a weird traffic diverter. I say weird, because for one of the slip lanes (the one with the X on the image below), there is no legal way to use it. You can't turn right off Kentucky (it's one way north) and you can't turn left off the Circle, so it's not needed. It must be a holdover from a simpler time.
This creates an opportunity to rebuild this area and create a safe crossing for bike traffic going between Kentucky and the Trail or the Bridge. You could even put in diagonal parking on the west side between the Circle and Freedom Way, to create more parking for the neighbors - because the street is that overbuilt.
Anyway, with that off my chest, I'll point out that some improvement is coming to the area in the form of the 17th and 19th Streets Safety Improvement Project. That project, a little east and north of this section of Kentucky, will add sharrows to 17th Street NE between Benning and East Capitol and a bike lane from East Capitol to Potomac. It has already resulted in sharrows on 19th Street from Potomac to C Street NE and, I think, a bike lane on 19th Street NE from C to Benning. The project has run into significant delays, first when DC did an environmental assessment, then when DC Water decided to replace aging water mains on 17th just months before work was to begin. For some reason, work still didn't hit it's target of starting in February 2015, and now there is further delay because Washington Gas wants to tear up the street too.
At 6B’s April Transportation Committee meeting, DDOT’s Mohamed Dahir said the water-main project should finish in May, but that Washington Gas recently told DDOT it needed to do work along 17th Street as well. Dahir said the street project should finish in December 2017.
That project inexplicably stops at Potomac Avenue, but when I ride the section of 17th between Potomac and Barney Circle, I have the same feeling as I do on Kentucky - it's got a lot more capacity than it needs. But this time the issue is parking.
There is curbside parking on both sides of those three blocks of 17th SE, but the east side of the street is next to Congressional Cemetery meaning there is not that much need for parking there. Most of the time I ride it, there are only 3-5 cars parked on three whole blocks.
I say take out the mostly unused east side parking, widen the sidewalk (with some decent tree boxes) and put in a two way protected bike way, like the one on 6th Street NE near Union Market. It would create another great connection to the Trail or Bridge, without causing any harm.
Do these two projects, along with the 17th Street project already planned, and New Hill East (and especially NoPeSoPo) gets a lot more bike friendly.
In early January, DDOT sent a request to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments that the FY 2015-2020 Transportation Improvement Plan be updated. It turns out that there is a lot of information in there about new bicycle projects, especially trails, that DDOT is planning once the projects they've been slowly pushing through (MBT, South Capital Street Trail, ART, etc...) but one of the more interesting tidbits is that they included a feasibility study for a Shepherd Branch Trail on what they called "the soon to be acquired CSXT RR ROW." The feasibility study would determine alignment, probability of needing an Environmental Assessment (EA), likely permits needed, and potential construction costs for a trail on the RR ROW. If it is really "soon to be acquired" that may mean that movement is possible on the streetcar through there too.
Other interesting tidbits:
They added $800,000 to resurface the DC portion of the Capital Crescent Trail in 2016
They've budgeted $200,000 for a rehabilitation design of the Suitland Parkway Trail
Construction of the South Capital Street Trail has been pushed back to 2019
Start of work on the conversion of the former I-695 freeway into Southeast Boulevard, which would "improve pedestrian and bicycle access to the Sousa Bridge and along proposed Southeast Boulevard to the 11th Street Bridges" as well as improve pedestrian and bicycle safety at a reconfigured Pennsylvania Ave/Potomac Avenue intersection, slipped to 2017.
Update: According to the appendices to the FEIS, CSXT agreed to grant DDOT an option to acquire the Shepherd Branch ROW as part of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project. So that project may have a bigger bike element than previously reported.
Negotiate with DDOT for permanent easements associated with two different CSXT properties so that DDOT could ultimately build pedestrian and bicycle trails that spanned over CSXT rail lines. [These included the following major projects: (1) The Anacostia Pedestrian Walkway/Trail (Id. Art. VI (C)). This easement was key to complete a 1,185 foot pedestrian and bicycle bridge that was a part of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. See DDOT press release, Exhibit 6; And (2) The Rhode Island Avenue Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge (Exhibit 3, Art. VI (D)). The easement was key to the pedestrian access project, slated to take 18 months to build, which will link the Metropolitan Branch Trail and its connecting neighborhoods to the Rhode Island Avenue Metro Station and adjacent communities.]
Then in 2012 a letter
established when CSXT would grant the District easements over the Parkside Pedestrian Bridge and Anacostia Pedestrian Bridge. [The Parkside Pedestrian Bridge, which was not addressed in the August 23, 2010 MOA, was $22 million pedestrian bridge that spanned CSXT tracks north of the DC 295 and Benning Road interchanges and connect to the Minnesota Avenue Metrorail and Bus transfer stations]
According to the letter, CSXT would only be required to work with the District to seek authority to abandon Shepherds Branch and enter into a Trails Use Agreement after the Virginia Avenue Tunnel construction project was completed.
The Shepherds Branch ROW encompassed two segments of the now inactive stretch of rail, including over 55 acres of land and extending 5.38 miles. See Exhibit 16, Permit attached to October 29, 2013 agreement. Shepherds Branch is key to the District’s plans to construct a 2400- foot, multi-use trail connecting the South Capitol Street Trail with the Anacostia Metrorail Station. Shepherds Branch is also one of the preferred routes for the District’s streetcar program
A Supplemental EIS prepared for South Capitol Street states “the Shepherds Branch right-of-way … is being acquired in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 by DDOT from CSXT."
Long story short, the EA proposes including a 6-10 foot (including the 1 foot buffer) wide bi-directional protected bike lane from Kingman Island to 36th Street where MoveDC had called for a 10-foot wide bicycle and pedestrian trail from Oklahoma Avenue to East Capitol Street. Update: This is only an "option." The standard build is no bike lane.
In some cases the bike lane would pass behind a floating bus/streetcar or bus stop.
The Viaduct Bridge (I'm so glad I know what to call that now) will be completely rebuilt and made much better. The 5' (width varies) sidewalk on the south side will be replaced by a pair of 10 foot walks on either side.
On the west side of the Viaduct Bridge the problematic intersection at 36th Street, where Benning Road splits to either go over the Viaduct or onto ramps to access DC-295, will also be redesigned. Accommodations would be made for the new north-side sidewalk. The south side crosswalk would be moved east for a more direct crossing, and then - y'know - painted. It would unfortunately work on a 'beg' button (Update: or not, TBD), but I'm not sure what the alternative would be. WABA says it will "encourage crossing against the light" but I don't think there's going to be a light there. I see this as more of a HAWK beacon, which is a pretty good option for a trail crossing of a high speed road.
The lack of a bicycle facility east of Minnesota is unfortunate, but likely unavoidable.
Update: DDOT has not finished looking at it, but there may be enough room to widen the sidewalk on the south side into a sidepath. I suggested finding a way to connect the semi-paved Fort Mahan Trail to the intersection of Minnesota Ave and Benning Road, There is a "paper" alley between the 7-11 and the Metro PCS store that connects to the trail (See it here or on the map below) and it seems like this could be used to make a bike facility. Improve the north side sidewalk from Minnesota Avenue to the green strip between the WMATA property and 7-11 (owned by WMATA) and then on the alley to the trail. Perhaps NPS would even be willing to allow DDOT to improve the trail, and extend it to both 41st, 42nd Streets and Brooks Street. Bike signage/facilities on Brooks and 45th could then connect to the Benning Road Metro station. It was odd that despite a sign showing that it was there, there was no mention of the Fort Circle Trail at all. At the bare minimum, this project should connect the trail's crosswalk with the actual trail (just up the hill in this streetview).
Update: Despite all the talk of improved safety at the intersection of Minnesota and Benning Road, the poster for it had four recommendations - all of which were designed to improve throughput.
I see this as the usual way of progress, which I define as "This horrible thing is going to be made much better, but still not as good as it could be." I agree with WABA that a further road diet on Benning between Kingman and the Viaduct would get this to where it needs to be. And I'd rather see 8-10 foot wide, single direction protected bike lanes on each side in that case. Lest you think that is too much, I'll point out that this is the only place a cyclist can go directly from the west side of the Anacostia to the east side of the railroad tracks between Pennsylvania Avenue and Bladensburg.
The National Park Service's National Capitol Region (NCR) recently released a draft version of its "Paved Trails Study", which serves as a plan for how NCR sees the paved trail network, both within and outside of the parks, developing in the future and as an update to the 1990 plan. In addition to identifying several high priority capital projects, the NPS Paved Trails Study also identifies some lower priority capital projects which it groups by park.
Here are all the paved trail projects identified for the National Mall and Memorial Parks.
Immediate (0-2 years)
(N1.1) Remove stairs at Ohio Drive SW Tidal Basin Inlet Bridge to connect to Ohio Drive Trail; narrow travel lanes on inlet bridge to widen sidewalk; mark bike lanes along East Basin Drive to connect to proposed new cycle track extension on Maine Avenue with connection to 14th Street Bridge Trail - this is a high priority project that was covered in this earlier post.
(N1.4) Coordinate with DDOT for development and installation of signage
(N1.5) Install sharrows for shared facility on Jefferson Drive from 3rd to 15th Street
(N2.4) Improve safety of all at-grade trail crossings from the National Mall leading up to the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge; Improve crossing of existing Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway at the Belvedere/ Constitution Avenue extension; Provide new crossing of Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway to connect Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway Trail to volleyball courts and bridge approach; Provide additional signage; Expand trail width on both north and south sides of bridges - this is a high priority projects that was covered in this earlier post.
(N2.2) Conduct a feasibility study at Lincoln Memorial Circle to develop set of recommendations to improve visitor safety and reduce conflicts for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. Alternatives should improved connections across the bridge and along the Parkway and Ohio Drive to trails. - this is a high priority projects that was covered in this earlier post.
(N4.1) Provide crossing improvements from existing George Mason Memorial/ Bikeshare station across East Basin Drive SW to Jefferson Memorial and across Ohio Drive to East Potomac Park
(N4.2) Develop trail crossing of the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway from F Street NW to Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway Trail (Not sure why this isn't part of the Rock Creek Park portion)
Short term (0-2 Years)
(N1.2) Extend cycle track south on 15th Street between Pennsylvania Avenue NW and Constitution Avenue by removing vendor/ street bus on west side of street. Extend cycle track on 15th Street between Constitution Avenue and Maine Avenue in area between existing sidewalk and road/or move sidewalk to accommodate lane. Reclaim a southbound lane of Maine Avenue from Kutz Bridge to Jefferson Memorial and East Basin Drive for cycle track connection/dedicated bike lanes. Will require coordination between DDOT and NAMA for 15th Street ROW between Pennsylvania Avenue and Constitution Avenue. - this is a high priority project that was covered in this earlier post.
(N1.6) Implement preferred alternative from the National Mall Walkway Study to improve access, ADA and user conflicts on the National Mall Trails (outer perimeter loop trails). Work with Denver Service Center on study of discrete signage options for future separation of user needs.
(N2.2) Conduct an EA at Lincoln Memorial Circle to develop set of recommendations to improve visitor safety and reduce conflicts for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. Alternatives should improved connections across the bridge and along the Parkway and Ohio Drive to trails. - this is a high priority project that was covered in this earlier post.
(N2.3) Implement signage enhancements and access improvements from Lincoln Memorial Loop to Arlington Memorial Bridge in coordination with DDOT.
(N2.4) Implement signage enhancements and access improvements from Lincoln Memorial Loop to the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge.
(N3.3) Develop a multi-modal regional trailhead at the MBT endpoint at Union Station.
Mid-term (5-10 years)
(N1.3) Analyze route alternatives for a new path between FDR Memorial and West Potomac Park ball fields to include marked or separated bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
(N1.7) Study feasibility for on-street bike facility on west bound Independence Avenue from 23rd Street SW to 17th Street SW. Sign/mark bicycle loop from MLK Jr. Memorial to Lincoln Memorial, to Vietnam Veterans Memorial, north of Constitution Garden to 15th Street NW and down to Independence Avenue and back west to MLK Jr. Memorial
(N2.1) Build dedicated bike/ped. trail via new CSX bridge (aka Long Bridge); Connect to Mount Vernon Trail and Long Bridge Drive (Long Bridge Park) and Boundary Channel Drive on west side of Potomac River and to Ohio Drive SW and Rock Creek Park Multi-use Trail on east side of Potomac River.
(N3.1) Develop a local/NPS trailhead which may include signage, bike repair station, water, etc. at East Potomac Park where the 14th Street Bridge is.
(N3.2) Develop a local/NPS trailhead at existing Bikeshare station to include bike repair station, water, etc. at the intersection of Ohio Driver and West Basin Drive (study actually says East Basin, but image shows West)
(N5.1) Assess options to expand the width of Rock Creek Park Multi-use Trail along Ohio Drive
The 1990 Paved Trails plan calls for improving several facilities and widening trails, some of which I assume has happened and others (like widening the shoreline trail beside the Kennedy Center, or the sidewalks along Ohio Drive through the underpasses) have not. But in general, they've done a good job either doing these things or rolling them forward
There's one good idea that is missing
Encourage the Architect of the Capitol to establish east-west bicycle routes past the Capitol, connecting Mall traffic to East Capitol Street.
Update: Here's a map of the Lincoln Memorial Circle idea from 1990. I like the trail along the loop ramp between the Memorial Bridge and Ohio Drive and the similar one on the loop ramp from Ohio Drive to the Circle
Not really something that's appropriate any longer, but interesting is that one of the recommendations was to repave the roads of the Ellipse as they "are periodically used for bicycle races and rallies." Also, one of the projects on the list, widening the Kutz Bridge sidewalks is just now finishing up - though it is to address ADA compliance, not to "relieve pedestrian and cyclist congestion."
In addition, I'm disappointed not to see more mention of bikeshare and where NPS would be willing to allow stations. Granted this is a paved trails plan, but how one rides them is nearly as relevant as where they go.
This regional position would be responsible for furthering the implementation the recommendations in this plan and the enhancement of the NPS paved trail network. The position would coordinate with all NPS park units, other federal, state and local land managers, and trail advocacy groups, regarding the planning, design, construction, maintenance, and promotion of NPS trails and those trail segments impacting the NPS network. The trail coordinator would be a liaison between the NPS units and trail partners to provide guidance on process requirements and would assist in the cultivation of trail partnerships, marketing, and communications.
It's kind of surprising that they don't already have one, and thus seems like a great idea.
Adopt a standard trail counting methodology and formalize agreement(s) with local government and expand the number of trail counters (2 separate recommendations)
NPS has noticed that trail counting has improved and the report notes that the installation by Arlington and Alexandria of counters along the MVT have benefited them. Improved trail use counts would provide a more accurate picture of trail usage for the overall network and the study dedicates numerous pages to the subject.
In addition to the number of trail users, trail data can be used to identify seasonality impacts, special event impacts, and can help substantiate the need for investment in high-volume corridors.
But they don't want to abandon manual counts, because "manual counts remain the best means to collect quantitative information regarding user characteristics such as trail user type (e.g. walker, jogger, or biker), helmet use, etc..."
The count data they have is limited both in locations and in the length of time it's been available, and the bridge counts that DDOT does have not been done on all bridges in all years due to budget issues. And then sometimes errors in data counters aren't fixed for several months. Nonetheless, they note that all the counters show bike traffic and trail usage to be up. For example, bridge traffic for cyclists is up 78% between 2008 and 2014. Also of interest:
"The Key Bridge, Arlington Memorial Bridge and 14th Street Bridge accounted for 76% of all bicycle usage on area bridges, down from a high of 83% in 2011." [Which is another reason why improving the TR bridge could be so important].
"The fastest growing usage is primarily on bridges with on-road facilities, representing a combined 130% growth since 2008."
And somewhat humorously, "Despite the pronounced seasonality, there has been a steady increase in winter usage, from near zero in 2010 to approximately 20,000 in 2012." But the reason it was near zero in 2010 is that the trail counters in place then all registered zero cyclists in February due to Snowmaggedon.
"Three NPS-owned and maintained trails have trail count data available for analysis: the Mount Vernon Trail, the Towpath, and the Capital Crescent Trail. The Towpath has one of the longest time periods of data from automated counters available for analysis, spanning from 2009 to 2014"
"Data provided by NPS-maintained counters had errors or gaps in data approximately 30% of the months that counts were collected, whereas, the Eco-Counters maintained by Arlington County on the Mount Vernon Trail had errors or gaps approximately 8% of months. Errors associated with NPS counters lasted longer (approximately 4.8 months per occurrence) than errors associated with Arlington County counters (2.3 months)"
So, NPS would like to see more counters installed, and that they report data in a standard format. They recommend that jurisdictions co-ordinate their purchasing and maintenance for efficiency and that they work to close counting gaps. Some of the more notable gaps are along the Potomac Heritage trail, National Mall trails and Rock Creek Park Trails (no mention of whether or not the current projects will install any). "Emphasis should be placed on the junction and terminus points along the Capital Crescent Trail, Rock Creek Park Multi-use Trail, Anacostia Riverwalk Trail as well as the POHE."
Complete At-Grade Crossing Study and Develop Standards for At-Grade Crossings as part of the Study
Because at-grade crossings represent the most dangerous parts of the trails, NPS would like to improve them by studying, determining and utilizing best practices. " A primary focus of this effort may be directed initially toward existing crossings along the Mount Vernon Trail; however, development of design standards should have a regional application"
The Mount Vernon Trail has 18 at-grade trail crossings with vehicular traffic and another nine at-grade trail crossings associated with Arlington Memorial Bridge (NPS Transportation Scholar Report, 2012). Thirteen of the at-grade crossings exist south of the City of Alexandria. Many trail crossings occur at high vehicle volume intersections with minimum-to-no safety or signage features for pedestrian or cyclist crossings. The George Washington Memorial Parkway was designed as a scenic roadway along the natural terrain of the Potomac River. Points of interest and overlooks were designed to be reached by motorized vehicle. To improve overall safety, at-grade crossings should be targeted for roadway and trail safety enhancements; improvements could include improved sightlines, speed limit reductions in key areas, creating shorter trail crossing distances by narrowing or reducing lanes, introducing pavement markings, and improved crossing signage
Establish Comprehensive Trail Standards and Manual of Standards
NPS has no trail design standards.
The NCR should establish a set of trail design standards and guidelines unique to the NCR that define trail user types and at a minimum address trail width; clear zones; sight distances; crossings; markings; amenities; access; vegetation; safety features; lighting; snow removal; maintenance; signage; wayfinding; bridges; tunnels; and boardwalks. The standards and guidelines should take into consideration the regional hierarchy of trail and trailhead types (high volume corridors) and industry standards being implemented locally.
Establish Protocols for Incident Reporting and Data Collection and Increase Trail Security Infrastructure
Obtaining comprehensive pedestrian or bicyclist accident or incident data related to NPS paved trails is difficult due to the number of agencies, organizations, and local police departments involved in tracking fatality and injury data. Methods and standards by which data is collected, reported, and made publicly available vary widely and the NPS incident reporting system does not currently require or capture incident geospatial information that could be used to analyze trends and target investment to specific locations. Protocols for incident reporting and data collection to increase trail safety should be developed and mile markers should be installed along all trails to aid emergency responders and trail users.
Unfortunately it appears that the worst tracker of data is the United States Park Police (USPP)
The Incident Management Analysis and Reporting System (IMARS) is a relatively new Service-wide system that is used by USPP to document incidents that occur in a park. Currently the system does not require or capture geospatial information for incidents that would allow mapping of incidents along trails for analysis. When an incident occurs, the location of the incident is typically referenced as the nearest roadway intersection when entered into the system, which may be a considerable distance from the actual location of the incident.
Develop National Capital Trail marketing and promotion program
Promotion of the National Capital Trail concept across the region should include the development of standards for signage and wayfinding system-wide and a trail map and booklet, as well as, interactive features such as virtual experience opportunities, i.e. mobile device apps, interactive mapping tools, educational websites. Efforts should include the establishment of a clear agreement with Arlington County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, City of Alexandria and the District of Columbia to advance the National Capital Trail concept and branding.
The National Park Service's National Capitol Region (NCR) recently released a draft version of its "Paved Trails Study", which serves as a plan for how NCR sees the paved trail network, both within and outside of the parks, developing in the future and as an update to the 1990 plan. It's a long report filled with a lot of interesting, relevant, exciting and debatable plans and facts, so I'm probably going to take several days to report it all, but let's start with what most people have already heard about - the top recommendations.
The study makes 120 recommendations, 93 capital projects and 27 programmatic changes, but of those only 16 of the capitol projects scored a 5 or above on the 7 point scale; and only 7 programmatic changes scored that high. Some of these projects complement each other so I've regrouped them.
Top Priority Capitol Project
Connecting the Roosevelt Bridge's downstream path to the Mount Vernon Trail, Arlington Ridge and DC - The Theodore Roosevelt Bridge has a sidewalk on the upstream side that connects the MVT to the Kennedy Center that you may have used. But the downstream sidewalk connects on the Virginia side to an island surrounded by freeways from which one can only go back to DC. Three of the 16 projects aim to fix that. This is a long-needed improvement. Between the Wilson Bridge and Chain Bridge there are currently 5 connections across the Potomac River for those who wish to stay out of traffic. This would create a 6th. On the map below, I show the effective connection each of these bridges create with each line showing the last and first decision point for a trail user. The new TR Bridge connection is shown in red. While not filling a particularly large gap, you can see that it's a pretty unique connection.
One project would connect the TR Bridge to the Arlington Ridge Park (where the USMC Memorial and Netherlands Carillon are). DDOT has a project in the FY 2015 - 2021 Plan to rehabilitate the bridge and provide pedestrian and cyclist safety improvements which may improve connections to the downstream Virginia side but it will not remove the existing barriers.
The NPS, in coordination with VDOT, Arlington County and D.C., should pursue a full alternatives analysis to define a viable connection in this area. Alternatives may need to consider bridges or tunnels to adequately address safety concerns related to the crossings of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, Jefferson Davis Highway, and Arlington Boulevard as well as the presence of nearby Metrorail in order to minimize surface crossings.
A second project would connect this same crossing to the MVT.
The third part of this is to improve the connection on the DC side.
Safety improvements are needed for all at-grade crossings in this area and should include traffic calming, enhanced directional signage, lane markings, pedestrian refuge islands, bulb outs, and evaluation of grade-separation needs. Clear and uninterrupted access between the Rock Creek Park Multi-use Trail across the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway NW and the 23rd Street NW / Constitution Avenue areas should be provided.
Conduct a feasibility study for extending the Suitland Parkway Trail from the D.C./Maryland line to Henson Creek Trail - This is long overdue frankly. This trail needs to be rehabilitated and extended - to the Henson Creek Trail and then Andrews AFB.
A feasibility study is needed to evaluate extension of the Suitland Parkway Trail from the District line through Prince George’s County to the Henson Creek Trail (and potentially further). This study should address the trail comprehensively including upgrades to the existing trail within the District, which is a dangerous, narrow asphalt trail directly adjacent to the roadway.
Rock Creek Park Trail Though there are other projects dealing with the "Rock Creek Park Trail" south of the National Mall, for the part that is within Rock Creek there are a few projects to improve the northern part of the park trail system
First is a study of a Rock Creek Park crossing on Military Drive.
According to NPS data, an off-road trail segment exists along the north side of Military Road between Oregon Avenue and Beach Drive. There is no off-road trail between Beach Drive and 16th Street NW. A feasibility study should be undertaken for the entire trail corridor to evaluate options for an improved on or off-road paved trail between Glover Road/Oregon Avenue and 16th Street NW.
Since it appears they've abandoned the idea of extending the trail north along Beach from Broad Branch (and they consider the section of Beach north of Broad Branch to be part of the trail network already) the option for connecting the DC and MD portions of the trail appears to be along Oregon Avenue. They write:
A feasibility study should be pursued for Oregon Avenue to evaluate options and impacts of an off-road connection from Military Road to the D.C./Maryland line (and connecting to Rock Creek Trail in Montgomery County). An off-road trail along this corridor could help alleviate trail-traffic on Beach Drive. However, for the benefits to be realized and for the trail to be utilized as a high-volume corridor as proposed, the off-road trail would need to connect via an on-street route to Beach Drive (potentially Daniel Lane).
I don't see how Daniel Lane can be used to create a connection to Beach Drive, since it looks to me like it only connects 31st to Oregon. Perhaps they mean Wise? (I've noticed other errors - it being a draft and all. For example the report misspells Virginia and it references the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail north of South Capitol Street, but it's all north of S. Cap, etc...)
Better connecting DC to the Wilson Bridge - A couple of projects are aimed at improving the connection between DC and the Wilson Bridge that was so badly screwed up in the 1990's. The first connects Oxon Hill Farm to the planned South Capitol Street Trail.
The proposed route extends through Oxon Run Farm to the Blue Planes industrial area and D.C. Village Lane SW where it connects to Blue Plains Drive SW, Shepherd Parkway, and connects to the proposed South Capitol Street trail. The NPS is currently evaluating access improvements to Oxon Hill Farm including potentially constructing a Hiker-Biker trail system and improved riverfront access.
A second project connects Oxon Hill Farm to National Harbor, but it's unclear what is being suggested beyond wider sidewalks, signage and improved road crossings.
Improve the connections between the 14th Street Bridge, the Rock Creek Park Trail and the 15th Street PBL - I would have never thought of the Rock Creek Park Trail as going this far south (and based on the Rock Creek Park Trail EA, neither does NPS), but NPS has identified a series of changes that could improve these connection.
These include the extension of the 15th Street protected bike lane down 15th, Maine and East Basin Drive to the 14th Street Bridge, the addition of bike lanes along East Basin Drive SW from the Inlet Bridge to the extended PBL and the removal of the stairs on SE corner of the Inlet Bridge that connect sections of what is, it seems, the Rock Creek Park Trail on West and East Potomac Parks.
Mount Vernon Trail improvements - There are several projects, in addition to the Roosevelt Bridge connection, that aim to improve connections to the MVT.
One would create a better connection between Crystal City and the MVT via the Airport Access Road (or the Route 233 Bridge as identified in this post that called for such a connection "It's odd to me that they aren't constructing connections between the Route 233 bridge's sidewalks and the MVT." I guess it's odd to them too.)
Opportunities to expand sidewalks on the bridge should be explored, as well as options to provide a formal bicycle friendly connection from the bridge to the Mount Vernon Trail from the airport.
Another project would extend the dead-ending trail spur from the Humpback Bridge project to Boundary Channel Drive and then create an on-street connection between that point and Long Bridge Drive under I-395.
The County and the NPS should work together so that safety improvements and signage for the Mount Vernon Trail at this intersection are considered as part of any open space design (or boathouse concept) being considered by the County. Early dialogue and coordinated planning can ensure trail access improvements span both local and federal land in this area and result in improved regional connectivity. A future boathouse in this location should not impede trail access but instead should be used to improve and expand trail access.
A fourth project would change the intersection of the MVT and the Four Mile Run Trail - at the south end of the airport - into a roundabout.
A number of accidents have been documented at the location, with contributing factors such as blind spots, sharp curves, and unclear signage. In addition, this area is sometimes utilized by airport personnel as an emergency vehicle egress route.
Lincoln Memorial Circle - This is just one project, calling for an alternatives study, with many different pieces. These include
• A signed route that connects the Lincoln Memorial Circle NW to the Rock Creek Park Trail. Both on and off-road options should be considered, including a dedicated bicycle lane from the Arlington Memorial Bridge to 23rd Street SW across Ohio Drive SW to the trail. This would encourage trail traffic to utilize the western sidewalk of Ohio Drive under the Arlington Memorial Bridge which is wider than the sidewalk on the eastern side.
• Reduction in travel lanes or lane width to allow for dedicated bicycle lanes
• Provision of bulb-outs and refuge islands to narrow pedestrian crossing lengths
• Addition of a bike lane on the Arlington Memorial Bridge
• Enhancement of safety and informational signage in the area that includes trail information and access points
• Improved routing, trail conditions, signage, and at-grade crossings through the sand volleyball area northwest of the circle
Closing the "gap" in the Capitol Crescent Trail between 30th and 31st Street - For cyclists this isn't much of an addition. The connection being discussed is between the trail along the edge of Georgetown Waterfront Park and the spur to the Rock Creek Park Trail, but since cycling is technically prohibited on the Waterfront trail, and of low utility anyway, most cyclists stay on K street and will probably continue to do so.
The gap between 30th Street and 31st Street forces users to travel on K Street NW or the adjacent service road to continue eastbound, creating conflicts with vehicles or pedestrians on Water Street. The gap prevents a seamless connection with the Rock Creek Park Multi-use Trail and the core of Washington D.C. to the east. Alternatives should reduce the potential for conflicts in this area, calm traffic, improve visibility of trail users, improve directional signage to trail resources, and enhance safety overall. This project is currently underway in coordination with NPS, the Georgetown Business Improvement District, and the D.C. Department of Transportation.