The post about building a Monroe Street underpass for the MBT led to people asking why the trail couldn't become an off-road trail between Monroe and Franklin, the way it is elsewhere. Specifically they wondered if it could use land between the railroad tracks and the buildings along 8th Street NE. At first I figured it wouldn't work, which is why - unlike the underpass - it had never been included in the 2005 Concept Plan. But since then I've learned that DDOT was, at least at one point in time after 2005, looking into doing just that. Of course, since then the prospect has gotten more difficult.
Near Franklin, a trail would be relatively easy. Where the trail begins to ramp up to Franklin, there is plenty of room between the ramp and the railroad tracks, and on the south side of Dew Drop Inn there's an access ramp to a service road with another connection at Hamlin Street, NE and there the ROW also has plenty of space for a trail.
View of the space south of Franklin
Available ROW beneath the Franklin Street Bridge
Access Road just north of Franklin
Wide ROW north of Girard
North of Hamlin, the ROW changes from having much more than enough space, to simply having enough space. Some sort of barrier would likely be needed on this whole section, but more so here than before
ROW north of Hamlin
The toughest/most expensive place to build would be from Kearny Street to the Arts Center. Dance Place, I've been told, was allowed to expand beyond their setback line - even though DDOT was working on the trail alignment back there. Much of the area on that section consists of buildings backed up to steep, narrow slopes that drop down to the railroad ballast. It would be possible, though not easy, to build a raised trail through there - behind Dance Place, the auto body shops (which are likely to be redeveloped in the near future creating a better opportunity), and the tightest spot behind Excel Pilates/Menkiti Group. It would require retaining walls and a lot of earth work though. And then it would need to deal with the tight space behind Excel.
North of Kearny, most of the ROW looks like this. With a steep slope adjacent to the railroad ballast.
But if that could be negotiated, the last bit behind the Art Center leaves room for a nice connection to an underpass.
Behind the Art Center to the Monroe Street Bridge
It wouldn't be cheap or east, but DDOT should at least look at reserving land and building break out panels at Monroe Street so that as the area is redeveloped the trail can eventually be built off-road.