DDOT today hosted a presentation of the preliminary design plans for the Metropolitan Branch Trail's remaining DC sections. This includes the remainder of the trail from Catholic University to Maryland, as well as the Prince George's County Connector.
The trail will include on-road and off-road sections, sometimes as trails through green space, sometimes as a sidepath and, in one stretch, jammed as elegantly as possible between an in-use trash transfer center and cement plant on one side and an active rail line on the other. Call that a drainage ditch-to-trail conversion. The width varies from 12 feet, where possible, to 10 feet in other sections.
Starting from the Brookland CUA-Metro and moving north, the plan is to redesign the Metro Plaza, but somehow I have no renderings of that. From there trail users would use the existing side-path - the section built in 1999 and shown in purple on the picture above - until reaching Fort Totten Park and the trash transfer center. At that point, the trail would squeeze between the industrial facilities mentioned above, separated by concrete retaining wall and a low fence.
Trail between the Cement Plant and RR Tracks
Then it would turn left to go over the Metro tunnel and sharply right to get back to 1st Place NE where it would connect to the PG County Connector; the existing trail west to Gallatin Street and to the continued trail north. To 1st Place there would be both stairs and a ramp.
Trail map near the Ft. Totten Metro
The Gallatin Street connection to the west will be improved with a better turn radius; a wider, better surface and a more trail like feel (sorry I failed to get a photo of this either).
The PG County Connector will be an on-street route on existing roads, with a small trail connection right at the boundary.
DC portion of the PG County Connector
Heading north, the trail will stay on a sidepath along the west side of 1st Place and then the south side of Riggs. There will be no bridge over Riggs or a trail east of 1st Street on NPS land because NPS ultimately refused it. Along 1st Place at Riggs, a sidewalk will also be added to the east side.
1st Place NE at Riggs Road
The trail will go on-road/sidewalk along 1st Street NE until crossing New Hampshire Avenue and then head west on McDonald Avenue to Blair Road. At Blair Road, the trail will again transition to a side path that will be 10-12 feet wide, depending on conditions. Just north of McDonald, the trail will double as access to the Oglethorpe Community Garden and will thus include a small bumpout for garden loading and unloading and allow limited vehicular access on a 12 foot wide section.
Oglethorpe Community Garden
North of Peabody, the trail will come with improved crosswalks, landscaping and some additional streetside parking, built by reducing Blair by a lane.
Along Blair Road, narrowed to add parking
Just north of Tuckerman the trail splits into two 6 foot sections for part of a block..
Trail map near Tuckerman
Update: Since publication, Toole Design has come up with a new alignment that does not split, which can be seen on the map below.
...before reconnecting into a protected trail - separated by a wall - along a lane-reduced Blair Road.
Blair Road with protected path
The trail will turn under the railroad tracks at Aspen, and then along the side of Sandy Spring before returning to an on-street route along Maple, Carroll, Ceder and Eastern.
The last piece of the trail is a block long section on the SE side of Eastern/Takoma Avenue from Piney Branch to the existing, ignoble terminus of the Maryland section of the trail along Takoma Avenue.
Connection to Montgomery County
It's unfortunate that the Riggs Road Bridge could not be included, just as it was disappointing that the Monroe Avenue underpass could not, but that was expected, and has been for a long time.
It's also unfortunate that the PG County Connector is almost all going to be on-road in DC, when there is a suitable green strip there (owned by NPS of course) for use.
But all things considered, it looks great and I'm ready for them to build it. Construction should begin in 2017.