The Commission of Fine Arts sent the bicycle and pedestrian bridge that is proposed to connect the Rock Creek Park Trail to the Kennedy Center as part of the center's expansion project back to the drawing board in part because it's too narrow and the intersections with the trail might result in too much conflict. There were also aesthetic criticisms.
The Kennedy Center is proposing a pedestrian/bicycle connection between the Kennedy Center and the Rock Creek Paved Recreation Trail where it runs between the Potomac River and the Parkway.
The purpose of the proposed project is to provide a safe pedestrian and bicycle connection between the Kennedy Center and the Rock Creek Paved Recreation Trail and to improve access and create a public waterfront link to and from the Kennedy Center from the new expansion area on the south, the Potomac River waterfront, NAMA, and the surrounding vicinity. Under the proposal, the NPS would transfer jurisdiction of a portion of NPS administered property and certain air rights to the Kennedy Center. The project is needed because there is no direct access to and from the Kennedy Center to the east, or southeastward to Rock Creek Paved Recreation Trail, NAMA, and the Potomac River. The only pedestrian/bicycle access from the Potomac riverfront to the Kennedy Center is provided by a series of crosswalks across F Street NW and the RCPP, approximately 0.25 miles north of the south parking garage. This lack of a direct and convenient path not only limits visitors’ access to both NPS and Kennedy Center amenities, but also creates a disconnect between the Kennedy Center, which is the United States’ living memorial to President John F. Kennedy, and those other presidential memorials found within the National Mall. Creating a more direct and convenient link would benefit visitors to the Kennedy Center, NAMA, the Rock Creek Paved Recreation Trail, and the Potomac River waterfront by providing a convenient and logical pedestrian/bicycle connection and expanded interpretation opportunities of the area’s presidential memorials.
The EA review and comment period is over, but late last month the CFA was given a chance to weigh in on the design. The bridge would be located north of the TR Bridge and create a connection to it via the Kennedy Center property that is currently a parking lot, but which would become part of the Center's expansion.
It would have a long ramp, with one switchback, leading to a bridge over the parkway.
It might also include stairs down from the bridge or require a slight realignment of the trail.
The bridge proposed would be 9 feet wide with cable railings on both sides of the bridge. A previous design had a translucent glass railing on one side, but this was changed out of concern that the glass would substantially increase the bridge’s visible impact on the visitor’s (aka motorists) experience of the parkway.
It looks amazing to me, though 9 feet is below standard. The CFA had a few comments and they requested a revised design submission that responds to their comments.
- the areas where the stair and ramp intersect the riverside trail are too narrow and may create conflicts in pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
- the proposed nine-foot width may be too narrow to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists comfortably
- the previous design proposal, with the translucent glass railing on one side was a more elegant solution
- rather than build the low span of the main ramp over a field of rough gravel, they'd prefer that the lower segment of the main ramp be built as a solid abutment (see below)
I was thinking that the bridge should include an inscription of the famous Kennedy quote "Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride." But I've since become dubious that he ever said/wrote that. The oldest reference I could come up with for it is Bill Strickland's 1997 book "The Quotable Cyclist" but he never cites it, and neither does anyone else. And I can't even find evidence that Kennedy ever rode a bike.