Getting from L'Enfant Promenade and Banneker Circle/Park to the SW Waterfront by bike currently involves riding down L'Enfant Plaza to 9th Street and then crossing Maine; or using the sidewalk to get to the intersection of 9th and Maine. It's a somewhat circuitious route, especially for those who are going north along the waterfront. But, to fulfill a zoning requirement, the Wharf project will build a new, temporary, direct pedestrian connection. The connection will consist of stairs and a new at-grade crossing of Maine, but include an ADA ramp that will work for cyclists.
The temporary project also includes landscaping, improvements to pedestrian crosswalks, lighting installation, universal accessibility, and stormwater management. The purpose of the project is to provide a safe, functional, and aesthetically pleasing pedestrian connection between the overlook at Banneker Park and southwest waterfront. The project is needed to improve urban connectivity by providing greater accessibility between the waterfront, Banneker Park, the National Mall, and surrounding areas.
There are two concepts for the project and, to me, the better of the two is a no-brainer.
Concept 1 would try to create a direct path down the hill. This would require a switchback ramp and stairs down the hill from a point a little way from the bike/ped access to the Case Bridge.
Concept 2 would build a curving connection directly from the Case Bridge access point along with an ADA compliant sidewalk on the east side. The west-side ramp and stairs would connect to a new signalized crossing of Maine Avenue.
Both projects include landscaping, crosswalk improvements, lighting and stormwater management.
Personally I think Concept 2 is the better design, because of the way it removes switchbacks - allowing for a more fluid connecton - and the way it connects into the Case Bridge access. The design should include a curb ramp from the L'Enfant Plaza roadway, as well as a bicycle friendly transition area where the three connections meet - one with lots of room and natural curves as oppossed to sharp turns. The stairs should include a bike trough and there should be signage directing users to the Anacosita Riverwalk Trail and East Potomac Park via the Case Bridge. [update: And the sidewalk along the south side of the circle should be widened for trail traffic from the bridge to the "New ADA compliant ramp"]
If only it would include a fix to the Case Bridge access that didn't require that ridiculous swithcback.
NPS will host a meeting on this project on August 11th, 6-8pm at the Wharf offices, 690 Water Street, SW and they will be accepting comments on the scoping document until September 2nd.