As noted earlier, the project team for the Boundary Channel Drive Interchange Project had a meeting last night to get input on the alternatives. Below are the three concepts showing what the design might look like. A thick orange line - for a sidewalk or path - shows a connection between the Mount Vernon Trail spur, along Boundary Channel Drive to Long Bridge Drive.
I like Concept 1 best, based on the drawings. By removing the north ramp from I-395 to Boundary Channel drive, it eliminates an at-grade crossing of a highway ramp. In all of the concepts there are more connections made, and the road under I-395 is reduced from 4 lanes to 2, creating more space for cyclists and pedestrians.
Concept 2 is probably the worst design for MVT trail users.
As the project is still in its planning stages, the new trail has not yet been designed and which department will oversee the maintenance has not been determined. The trail’s planned path falls under multiple jurisdictions, as the National Park Service oversees the Mount Vernon Trail and Long Bridge Park is run by Arlington County.
“The need to keep the trail clean and safe will be an ongoing concern as we move forward in the design and construction of the Boundary Channel Drive interchange,” Kirschner said in an email.
GGW reports that Alexandria's planning staff is officially recommending Alternative B as the preferred alternative for the proposed Potomac Yard infill Metro station.
Because the station will require about 7000 square feet of NPS land and impact a scenic easement, the city and NPS have worked out a Net Benefits Agreement
Benefits include improvements to Daingerfield Island in Alexandria and the nearby Mount Vernon Trail, which are used extensively by City residents, as well as measures to enhance the experience of Parkway users such as eliminating stormwater ponding in the median of the GWMP and additional landscaping between the station and the GWMP roadway.
So that's a new bridge over the railroad tracks and an improved MVT. Everything's coming up Millhouse.
Arlington has released a new Draft Sector Plan for Rosslyn, and among other things it recommends adding more bike-share stations, more "dedicated bike lanes and bike routes offering priority access to the regional trail system", protected bike lanes and new bike paths.
Many roads would be changed from one-way to two way and go on road diets to reallocate right-of-way for wider pedestrian and/or bicycle facilities where feasible. One-way cycletracks would be added to N. Fort Myer Drive between 18th and Wilson; and to N. Lynn between 19th and Wilson. Two-way cycletracks would be added to Wilson between Lynn and Arlington Ridge Road. Wilson would also get bike lanes from Ft. Myer to Lynn, and 19th would get them from Ft, Myer to Moore. Protected bike lanes would be on N. Nash from 19th to Wilson.
Arlington Ridge Road would be changed into an esplanade with a multi-use path on one side and a possible service lane below.
18th Street would be extended to the esplanade, and a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over Interstate 66 and the George Washington Memorial Parkway will extend from the Esplanade at 18th Street to the Mount Vernon Trail near Theodore Roosevelt Island. Part of 18th would be for cyclists and pedestrians only.
The plan also calls for a study of the costs and feasibility for construction of a Custis Trail underpass of Lynn Street in the Rosslyn Circle area and a safe, inviting, accessible pedestrian and bicycle path connection to the downstream sidewalk of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge.
The plan also calls for marked bike travel paths through intersections, bike boxes, or separate stop bar locations for vehicles and bikes; wayfinding signage; bike parking and secure bike parking; and expansion of CaBi.
The National Park Service will be presenting rough sketches of design concepts for the Memorial Circle Transportation plan that were developed at a workshop that evaluated previous studies of the area, existing and projected traffic conditions including accident, speed and road/trail volumes, and the memorial character of the area. These concepts will be the foundation for the development of alternatives to be presented later in the year.
I know there are a lot of cyclists who use this area - as the Mount Vernon Trail passes through here - daily, and this is your opportunity to offer your thoughts about this process and the ideas that were generated before they develop alternatives.
Comments will be accepted at the open house or may be provided online through the NPS Planning Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website.
The sketches have been posted to the project website and comments will be accepted from March 3, 2015 to March 10, 2015. You can access this site here.
The sketches are really rough, they look like the actual marked up maps from the workshop, so don't expect studio-style art.
The open house is from 5pm to 8pm at NPS National Capital Region Headquarters, 1100 Ohio Drive SW, Washington, DC.
Here are my comments I submitted back in September:
While the scoping document mentions the social paths that runners and cyclists have carved from the north side of Memorial Bridge to the MVT, it seems to be out of concern for their use and dedicated to finding ways to stop it. Instead, NPS should view these as desire lines which are to be embraced and improved to meet user need
The MVT is only 9 feet wide in this area - and sometimes less, but best practices would dictate that such a heavily used trail, and its spurs to Arlington National Cemetery, the Iwo Jima Memorial and the Pentagon's 9/11 Memorial, be widened.
From Memorial circle to Arlington National Cemetery, cyclists use narrow sidewalks made with an aggregate surface. Aggregate becomes very slippery and unstable when wet, and thus NPS should consider a safer material be used.
The scope should be enlarged to include the bicycle/pedestrian path on the downstream (south) side of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge. Currently this path is disconnected on the Virginia side, but a connection to the MVT is possible. Extending the trail from the current Virginia end of the bridge path, it could be turned south along the connector between S. Arlington Road and US-50. The ample green space along the north side of the connector’s bridge over the Washington Channel could be used to cross that body of water and then the trail could cross over or under the GWMP, or even at-grade. This would allow for a direct connection between the MVT and Constitution Avenue, while bringing access to two large parcels of parkland currently inaccessible to users.
The City received approval from the National Park Service to install a bicycle and pedestrian counter along the Mount Vernon Trail just north of Slaters Lane. The City will install this equipment, which has already been installed in Arlington, when a warm weather window occurs
Here are some interesting things about Eco-Counters, with more here.
Arlington has 35 infra-red counters with inductive loop (infra-red counts everyone, inductive loop counts cyclists). All but one are Eco Counters.
Ultimate goal is to have all this information in a clearinghouse at Council of Governments or Portland State University.
Peak of 10,000 cyclists and pedestrians crossing Key Bridge daily though average is around 6000.
For a separate bike and ped count, costs around $6,000 a unit.
They require maintenance if spiders build a nest. (WC: !)
VDOT state funding has been used for video counters.
New River Valley using three counters.
Alexandria noted Myovision is easy to set up and inexpensive and they also have EcoCounter, but [needed] approval from NPS to install on Mt. Vernon trail.
Strava data i sself-selecting group focuses on recreational rides. Can provide node wait times,view actual path of travel (desire lines). Costs around $18K for data for state.
True count data—represents everything that passes a given point.
App data also exists(i.e. San Francisco, Charlottesville).
Bluetooth data—tracked data, tells how long it took to get from one point to another, volumes.
And completely unrelated
Some form of cycle track will be used on Virginia Capital Trail in the City of Richmond along Dock Street.
When the Humpback Bridge was rebuilt back in 2010-11, it not only widened and straightened the Mount Vernon Trail it also included two underpasses for trail users. One goes to the Marina and LBJ memorial and the other dead ends about 100 yards after going under the MVT.
But thanks to new regional transportation project funding that dead end will soon connect to Boundary Channel Drive creating a critical new connection between Arlington and the Mt. Vernon Trail. As part of the 2015 Q1 funding, the Boundary Channel exchange project will get $4.335M to "Constructs two roundabouts at the terminus of the ramps from I-395 to Boundary Channel Drive, which eliminate redundant traffic ramps to/from I-395. In addition, the project will create multi-modal connections to/from the District of Columbia that will promote alternate modes of commuting into and out of the district(sic)."
But wait, there's more.
Funding will go towards the Crystal City Multi-modal center that will, among other things, add bicycle parking.
Columbia Pike between Fairfax County and Four Mile Run will be reconfigured for multi-modal travel.
A Belmont Ridge Road project in Loudoun County will include a structure to carry the W&OD trail over the road (Which should help these ladies)
Route 1 and Route 28 in Prince William County will get multi-use trails along side them.
The National Park Service (NPS) has initiated work on a Transportation Plan and Environmental Assessment (plan/EA) for the Memorial Circle area of the George Washington Memorial Parkway (the park). The purpose of the plan is to reduce conflicts between trail, walkway, and roadway users and to increase overall visitor safety, while maintaining the memorial character of the area and improving mobility for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles.
So far they've only put out a Public Scoping Newsletter and from my review it seems that they've identified the major issues in their project area. But anyone with comments on issue they miss or on solutions to consider should comment.
Richard Layman found an old issue of the Washington Star from 1972 about a 23-year old bike-commuting stewardess flight attendant and her tribulations in trying to bike to National Airport.
There are so many interesting things in this article. The MVT was originally gravel (and they don't even call it the MVT in the article). The airline discouraged her from bike commuting and from wearing her uniform if she did. Check out the bike in the photo with that big light and that giant rear view mirror (that's sweet looking). She had to get permission from the airport manager to ride her bike on airport roads! I've transcribed it below to make it easier to read and search.
She's Winning Bike Battle
By Mary Eisner
"I think cars are great, but if just half the people on the George Washington Parkway every morning rode bikes, we'd all be a a lot better off"
Cathy Gilbert, 23, a stewardess for United Airlines, has been struggling for the last 14 months to prove that her alternative to the parkway traffic works. After a couple of compromises with airline personnel and one brief confrontation with the police, she appears to be having some success.
Using the new gravel bicycle trail which has paralleled the parkway since May, Miss Gilbert pedals 5 miles each way between her apartment in Alexandria and United Airlines Hanger [sic] No. 3.
Soon she expects to install her own bicycle rack at the hanger, which she hopes will encourage other stewardess and airline employees to switch to riding bicycles.
Since she began pedaling to work, she's run into considerable opposition, Miss Gilbert reflected. Before the trail existed she rode on the parkway, bring forth numerous objections from United Airlines officials.
Refusing her request for a bike rack, the airline warned that it did not want to encourage employes[sic] to ride bicycles to work as long as no paths were provided alongside the highway.
"They (airline officials) said it wasn't safe, but I think it was a way out," Miss Gilbert said. "But I went ahead and rode anyway, until they told me I couldn't ride a bike in my uniform," she added.
Switching to street clothes, Miss Gilbert was soon informed by the airline that she needed to obtain permission from the airport manager to ride her bicycles on airport roads.
Although granted permission in August of last year, Miss Gilbert was stopped by police a few weeks ago for riding on the access road to the airport.
"They were tightening up on security and I was in civilian clothes. They simply didn't believe that I was an employe[sic] commuting to work and they forced me to walk my bike all the way to the hanger." she related.
Hoping to avoid further complications, Miss Gilbert now carrier [sic] with her a written statement of permission from the airport manager.
In bad weather, Miss Gilbert commutes by bus. But on a sunny day her bike has the edge, she claims, estimating her travel time at 22 minutes.
I know (on a bicycle) I can beat the bus," she adds, "and it's free."
I was able to find Miss Gilbert, now Gilbert-Silva and follow-up 42 years later. She said that the reason the article was written was that her boyfriend at the time was sitting next to a reporter while talking about how ridiculous it was that Gilbert couldn't bike to work. She had gotten into biking, in part for environmental reasons, and she was ahead of the curve on that. She was also recycling long before others were.
For my part, I tried to make my riding a positive thing for my airline because we had just purchased the DC-10’s and, at the time, they were the most fuel efficient and quietest airplanes made. I encouraged the airline to promote the DC-10 along with biking to work and other earth friendly endeavors at the airline in their print ads, etc. It was early 1970’s and there wasn’t news about global warming or saving the planet. Purchasing these airplanes was primarily to save fuel costs and to accommodate the noise complaints from airport neighbors. The airline wanted to bring the DC-10 into National Airport. At the time, the runways couldn’t accommodate most jumbo jets, but the DC-10 didn’t need as much runway length to land. The Airport Authority also felt their facilities, passenger waiting and baggage areas couldn’t accommodate the numbers of passengers on the jumbo jets. I don’t believe the DC-10 ever got landing rights at National Airport.
After the article came out, she got a letter from her CEO congratulating her on her fight for justice and her efforts to promote the airline. He spoke to people at the airport and she never was hassled again. Her street clothes, which previously would disappear while she was flying, were now always there when she got back. A bike rack later appeared near the hanger entrance that she used and she began to see mechanics and ground personnel using bikes to get around the property. She continued to ride to work until she moved farther away in Arlington.
Even then, I continued riding and often led bicycle tours into Washington D.C. Once my son was born, I purchased a “heavy-duty bike” that could accommodate the weight of a child carrier. We rode everywhere and as he grew older, our bikes were on the bike rack on the back of our van when we traveled.
I rode that bicycle even after we moved to the Delaplane, VA area but I didn’t feel safe riding on the country roads, especially alone. My ol’ bike finally gave up the ghost a few years ago and the price of a nice lightweight bicycle today is prohibitive for me.
Cathy Gilbert-Silva, a flight attendant for 18 years, wrote Mr. Hatch, ``I will be so grateful when burning eyes, sinuses, and lungs, as well as headaches, nausea, lightheadedness, and blocked ears for flight attendants, will be a part of the past.''
And in June of 1989 she testified before the House Aviation Sub-Committee about how working on airplanes filled with smoke damaged her vocal cords (she did not smoke herself).
The airlines made attempts at separating smoking from non-smoking but, in reality, that was obviously futile. Here is a long aluminum tube with mostly recirculating air that just recirculated the smoke and other germs, etc. too. Passengers complained about that even more because it was impossible to make everyone happy. If they were a smoker forced to sit in the non-smoking section or vice versa, vehement objections were voiced. It was always up to the Flight Attendants to settle the matter in the effort of making everyone happy. The worst part for the Flight Attendants is that most of our jump seats were in the smoking section so we had to inhale all that nasty smoke and we always smelled like ashtrays. My little boy wouldn’t even hug me when I came home from a flight until I either showered or at least got out of that smelly uniform.
She eventually had to have vocal cord surgery as a result of smoke exposure. In 2003, when the airline went into bankruptcy, she retired.
I wasn’t willing to accept the pay and benefit cuts that I knew would come. I loved my job and loved meeting the world. I loved renting a bicycle in Europe and riding too.
On being an early bike commuter she said
I suppose I was, and am, a bit of a rebel, but it was always to right the wrongs. There was nothing wrong with riding a bicycle to work and it made no sense to me that people were battling it. To use a current expression, “Duh!!” What was the big deal and why was such a big deal made over nothing?!