For a few years now, DDOT has been looking at building a rail-trail parallel to New York Avenue from the Union Market area to West Virginia Avenue (and possibly on to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail). In fact, earlier this year they released a rails-to-trails produced feasibility study of such a trail.
But recently it was announced that VRE had its eye on the same space, including the rail tunnel beneath New York Ave.
The concept map of it shows VRE using the old rail right of way to navigate to the tunnel, pass under NY Ave through it and then to the new "Broccoli" rail yard on the north side of New York Avenue.
But that is also space planned for use for the trail.
And it doesn't get much better on the north side of NY Avenue. Drawings show the tracks and adjacent access road extending all the way over to the existing sidewalk, with just a retaining wall separating them. It even needs the footprint the Howard Johnson's Motel sits on.
So if you support the trail, it's more than reasonable to be worried. As presently configured, there's no way to fit both the trail and trains through the tunnel and as shown in the image above there isn't room for both the rail yard and the trail north of New York Avenue. This design is incompatible with the trail.
But...it's possible the tunnel could be widened and space made for the trail, either by sharing the service road or decking over the rail yard. For a little hope, a task identified in the design RFP is:
the Consultant shall examine the engineering feasibility of decking over the propose storage facility for the purposes of joint development. Possibilities to be examined shall be determined in consultation with the District of Columbia government. The work product for this task shall consist of a draft and final Ancillary Development Report that describes potential solutions, provides additional descriptive details for potential uses for air-rights development, potential NEPA implications, and rough-order-of magnitude cost estimates for the feasible solutions.
All things considered, I'm certainly less confident about the trail being built now than I was before. And if you tell me the rail yard is a done deal, then I'm going to be significantly less confident. It's possible the tunnel could be widened and a deck built for the trail or some other accommodation, but I'm pessimistic about it happening. I'd say the chance the trail is built now is at about 20%, and the chance that the rail yard and trail are built is about 2%. But maybe I'm just grumpy today.