DDOT recently commissioned a feasibility study for the Anacostia Riverwalk Gateway Trail Segment that would connect the Fort Lincoln area to PG County's Anacostia Trail (and thus DC's Anacostia Riverwalk Trail) via the New York Avenue bridge and they determined that while difficult, it would be possible, but much easier if an on-street route were chosen.
Back in 2013, a group of cyclists in the neighborhood began to plan for a possible connection, and one member of that group, Robert Looper III, decided to run for an ANC seat in order to facilitate it. Last year ANC 5C passed a resolution in support of a 2 mile long trail that starts Bladensburg Road and then follows the DC/MD boundary to New York Avenue where it crosses the Anacostia on the New York Avenue Bridge. DDOT and the OP agreed to study it and the feasibility report about it has now been completed.
The requested alignment was broken up into four segments - Bladensburg Road, Fort Lincoln Drive, the PEPCO easement along the boundary and the bridge crossing.
Bladensburg road was found to present many challenges due to driveways, retaining walls, fences, buildings that prevent an off-road route on one side, etc... The consultants came up with several possible solutions but recommended a road diet and protected bikeway on the east side of the road.
There are a number of ways to provide a bike facility in this area, which would likely require one or more of the following:
It may be necessary to investigate a two-way on-road bike facility along the east side of Bladensburg road due to the number of high-volume high-turnover driveways along the west side.
- Removal of one parking/peak hour travel lane
- Reconstruction and/or narrowing of the median
- Reconstruction of existing retaining walls and/or decorative fencing on the east side
- Narrowing of one or both sidewalks
The Fort Lincoln Drive section would be the easiest to implement because there's already a trail there. It just needs to be rebuilt. [Aside: The label for Figure 3 says it is looking south, but it is actually looking north. The trail thus is across the street, barely visible in the top right quadrant of the photo]
Portions of the existing paved path have been covered over by landscaping, but it would be relatively easy to widen the trail and reconstruct the portions that have been covered over to provide a continuous off-road facility in this area. A roadway crossing on Fort Lincoln Dr. would be required for access to the Pepco Corridor, and design of this crossing must be carefully considered to ensure that users are visible to drivers on Fort Lincoln Dr.
The PEPCO corridor has lots of land ownership (GSA, NPS and a private company all own parts) and environmental issues.
Much of the open space land is occupied by stormwater management facilities, and a possible constructed wetland related to adjacent development.
It also passes one of DC's Boundary Markers but that's both a complication and an opportunity.
But the biggest problem here is the topography.
Approximately 1,700 feet, or 1/3 of a mile, of the alignment between Fort Lincoln Drive and New York Ave has grades in excess of 7%, and about half of that length exceeds 13%. The grades would need to be flattened in order to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines and the design criteria listed above. Using the steepest allowable grade, 5%, this would result in the need to construct retaining walls on one or both sides of the trail in excess of 50 feet high.
So the recommend not using the PEPCO alignment and instead building an on-road facility along Fort Lincoln and Commodore Joshua Barney Drives, connecting to New York Avenue farther into DC.
The New York Avenue Crossing would use DC, GSA and NPS owned land and would require the New York Avenue bridge to be widened and then "require additional structural work to accommodate the difference in vertical elevation between the bridge surface and the boardwalk."
There are three alternatives for the bridge expansion that comes from a preliminary structural review performed by the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative. They include cantilevering a widened deck off the side as was done with the Key Bridge; widening the whole bridge (piers, abutments, deck etc...) to include a path or building a new two span bridge parallel to the existing one. Option 3 is shown below.
The three choices would cost $1.9M, $2.2M and $2.0 respectively (but would likely have different lifetime costs as well).
The whole thing, using the recommended alignment, would cost an estimated $10.6M, as opposed to $15M for using the PEPCO ROW. Considering time for planning and design, permitting, bidding and construction, it would take up to 5 years to complete. For perspective, the Kenilworth section of the ART will cost $22.1M for four miles of trail.
I think this is really worthwhile project (though it's too bad the PEPCO alignment is so problematic, I wonder if a hiking trail could be built there). A new connection across the New York Avenue bridge could set up a nice connection to the proposed New York Avenue Trail creating a connection from the Anacostia to the Metropolitan Branch Trail. Unfortunately, it is unfunded right now, but this study could help to get it funded. Perhaps the District could use it to create a TIGER grant proposal.