Brett Young found this fascinating 1981 article from the Northwest current about the Cabin John Trolley right-of-way and how it ended up not being a multi-use trail.
The streetcar line was abandoned in 1962, and in 1979 the DC government started work to acquire the right-of-way to construct a section of the cross-town water main. At that time the Palisades Citizens Association accepted the water main construction but only if DC agreed to build a multi-use trail, then called the Watermain Bike Path, on the right-of-way once construction was complete.
Flash forward two years to 1981 and the Palisades Citizens Association held another vote - at 10:30pm in which voting was not restricted to dues paying members as required in the bylaws - on the pathway design recommended by the recreation committee and the trail lost 76-65. That recommended trail would have extended from Galena to Foxhall Road. Opponents were concerned about crime and a large influx of C&O Canal towpath users into the Palisades (this was all before the Capital Crescent Trail). They claimed that DDOT was going to build parking lots and picnic facilities (Picnic facilities? I'm sorry but decent citizens with impressionable children live here, sir!) along the ROW. Oddly opponents tended to be younger and newer (probably Reagan administration transplants) and proponents were older residents many of who lived adjacent to the ROW.
Another document notes that the Cabin John Trolley Trail (or Glen Echo or "Watermain Bike Path" if you will) was included in the 1975 District of Columbia Bikeway Planning Study. So earlier this week, when I said the trail idea dates back to 1990, I was off by at least 15 years. It also notes that DDOT would not include lights because it had a policy of "discouraging night riding." Oh how times have changed.
Two other alternatives were considered by the PCA recreation committee. A trail from Foxhall all the way to Dalecarlia Reservoir and one from Foxhall to Nebraska (along with options to just build connections to the C&O Canal and no build, which is what was eventually done)
And the ROW looks more like a multi-use trail than the single-track dirt path that currently exists.
Last August, Toole Design prepared a document for the Palisades Citizen's Association showing the different permeable trail surface options and created renderings of each including green grid, crushed stone, permeable asphault and permeable pavers, which may give some idea of what they're considering.
Upgrading the trail between Galena and Nebraska would be a very good way to reduce car traffic to the park, while also creating a new recreational amenity and laying the groundwork for a new active transportation corridor all the way to Georgetown.
The National Park Service's National Capitol Region (NCR) recently released a draft version of its "Paved Trails Study", which serves as a plan for how NCR sees the paved trail network, both within and outside of the parks, developing in the future and as an update to the 1990 plan. In addition to identifying several high priority capital projects, the NPS Paved Trails Study also identifies some lower priority capital projects which it groups by park.
Here are all the paved trail projects identified for the George Washington Parkway, which with 33 projects, has the most of any park. There are some good ideas here, but many of the best ideas from the 1990 plan - like widening the trail - have neither been completed, nor carried forward to this plan.
(G1.7) Conduct alternatives analysis to provide off-road trail connection from the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge to Arlington Ridge Park
(G2.2) Improve access on Airport Access Road overpass to Reagan National Airport/ Aviation Circle; connect with steps; expand sidewalks
(G2.3) Connect 14th Street Bridge to proposed off-road facility on Boundary Channel Drive along Lagoon; create on-street trail facility on Boundary Channel Drive that connects under I-395 to Long Bridge Drive
(G2.4) Develop connection from Mount Vernon Trail to the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge on south side of bridge
(G2.5) Improve safety and access at intersection of Mount Vernon Trail and Custis Trail at Lee Highway/North Lynn Street approach to Key Bridge Coordinate with NPS regarding access drive to future boathouse
(G4.7) At the intersection of Mount Vernon Trail and Four Mile Run Trail at Reagan National Airport, provide safety and sightline improvements and explore the potential for new roundabout
Short Term (2-5 years)
(G1.2) Develop off-road trail facility along Vernon View Drive from the MVT to Fort Hunt Road
(G1.3) Develop off-road trail facility along Fort Hunt Road from Fort Hunt Park to Belle Haven Road
(G1.4) Develop off-road connector along Belle Haven Road from Fort Hunt Road to Mount Vernon Trail
(G1.5) Develop off-road connector along Belle View Boulevard from Fort Hunt Road to Mount Vernon Trail
(G1.6) Realign trail within Gravelly Point Park to separate through-traffic
(G3.1) Develop a regional trailhead with bike share at Mount Vernon Estate
(G3.5) Develop a regional trailhead at Jones Point Park
(G3.6) Develop a regional trailhead at Long Bridge Park
(G3.7) Develop a regional trailhead at Gravelly Point Park
(G4.2) Provide traffic calming measures to facilitate crossing of GWMP at Vernon View Drive
(G4.3) Provide traffic calming measures to facilitate crossing of GWMP at Collingwood Road
(G4.4) Provide traffic calming measures to facilitate crossing of GWMP at Morningside Lane
(G4.5) Provide traffic calming measures to facilitate crossing of GWMP at Belle View Boulevard
(G4.6) Provide traffic calming measures to facilitate crossing of GWMP at Belle Haven Road
(G4.8) Provide at-grade crossing improvements per ongoing EA recommendations at Arlington Memorial Bridge
(G4.9) Provide at-grade crossing improvements per ongoing EA recommendations at Washington Boulevard
Mid Term (5-10 years)
(G1.1) Realign trail at bridge near Little Hunting Creek at Mount Vernon Estates
(G2.1) Replace existing 300-foot-long bridge through wetlands near Dangerfield Island
(G3.2) Enhance existing Local/NPS trailhead with improved signage and amenities at Riverdale Park
(G3.3) Develop a local/NPS trailhead at Fort Hunt Park
(G3.4) Develop a local/NPS trailhead at Belle Haven Road
(G3.8) Develop a viewshed compliant local/NPS trailhead with bikeshare at Arlington National Cemetery
(G3.9) Enhance the existing bikeshare station on North Meade Street adjacent to the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial with signage, shelter, bike repair station, etc.
(G3.10) Develop a local/NPS trailhead at the Theodore Roosevelt Island parking lot
(G4.1) Provide improvements to at-grade Highway crossing at Mount Vernon Estate and Garden
(G5.1) Implement edge of pavement striping on trail within close proximity of roadway along National airport perimeter
(G5.2) Coordinate with the City of Alexandria to promote, through enhanced signage, the Potomac Yard Trail as an alternate to the Mount Vernon Trail and as a commuter route
Some really good proposals were in the 1990 Plan that don't show up in this one. Among them are
Widening the trail to at least 8 feet, 10 feet where possible and 12 feet near the city center and bridges
Relocate the trail at the Gravelly Point parking lot to eliminate conflicts between drivers and cyclists (maybe this has been "done" and things use to be worse than they are now, but conflict has not been eliminated)
Provide an attractive barrier between the trail and the parkway north of the airport where the two are very close together. This would protect cyclists from on-coming headlights and from vehicles crossing from the trail to the road or the road to the trail.
Construct a shoreline loop trail on Dangerfield Island
Develop safe access under the Boundary Channel Bridge (Despite the fact that to everyone else the Boundary Channel Bridge isthe bridge from Arlington Memorial Circle to Arlington Cemetery, on second review NPS is clearly talking about the "Humpback Bridge" (based on the map on page 61 of the 1990 plan). They also use the two to mean the same thing here. So this has actually been done).
Build both an east-west and north-south trail near the Pentagon (maybe this was done. There aren't enough details to know what this entailed).
The Palisades Citizens Association Trails Committee will be meeting on Monday, Oct 19th from 7-9pm at the 2nd Floor of the Palisades Library to discuss Access to the Palisades Recreation Center via existing trail's. They wiill have a presentation by Heather Deutsch of Toole Design and discuss and refine the project recommendations prior to an anticipated community vote. The draft recommendations along with additional background is available to view/click on here.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email Brett Young PCA Trails Committee Chair firstname.lastname@example.org
The Palisades Citizens Association Trails committee would like to announce that the DC Department of General Services has begun to mow the whole Palisades Trolley Trail from Galena PL to Foxhall RD. DGS goal is to mow the trail 8 times during the season which began as of Thursday, April 23rd.
The Trails Committee of the Palisades Citizens Association recently presented the results of their survey at a PCA meeting earlier this month. While most of the people at the meeting seemed to be either supportive or ambivalent about the trail, a small group of 8-9 participants were strongly opposed to the trail and questioned the validity and meaning of the results. One major concern of this group was that the survey results included the responses of DC residents who didn't live in the immediate area. [Respondents who lived outside of DC were eliminated because the land is DC-owned land]. As a result, the Trails Committee reworked the slides to include, in addition to the previous analysis, a presentation of the responses of those who lived only in Palisades and Foxhall Village.
While support does drop a few percentage points if only locals are considered, the same six points that were highlighted originally, still garner at least 60% support.
Similar shifts are true when looking at other results. For trail surface, a slight majority of locals support no change to the surface as opposed to a strong plurality when all residents are considered. For bridge construction, each bridge still has majority support.
Likewise, support for bicyclists on the trail went down and concern for trail issues went up, but only by a few percent.
There were other concerns with the survey that those opposed to a trail brought up. Some thought that the word "enhancement" was biased in favor of the trail. Others worried that the question asking if a respondent supported the statement "I prefer no enhancements" was confusing, since a positive response of support or strongly support was needed to show that one preferred no enhancements. The presenter pointed out that the meetings where the questions were defined were open to the public and that at least one person strongly opposed to changing the ROW was on the committee and signed off on the questions.
DDOT is hosting the 3rd meeting on the preliminary study of Canal Road between Chain Bridge and M on Wednesday. The Canal Road study involves traffic, signage, drainage and slope stabilization issues, but there don't appear to be any documents or presentation materials available at DDOT's website, so your guess is as good as mine as to what it entails. Since the CCT cross Canal and it and the C&O Canal Trail (and the old streetcar ROW) run parallel to it, those areas might fall within the study area. Again, who knows.
If you go to the meeting, let us know about it in the comments, or send me photos of the presentation material.
Over the last several months, the PCA Trails Committee has worked to create a survey that will gather the opinions of the Palisades Community, Foxhall Village and the immediate DC vicinity with regards to the future of the area that is commonly referred to as “the Glen Echo Trolley trail”. This area runs from Georgetown University to Galena Pl (One block NW of Arizona Ave).
This survey was put together by 10 individuals who live in the Palisades Community. Each of the committee members brought a unique perspective to the trail. We feel that the members of this committee brought a variety of opinions that are reflective of the community at large. We hope you agree.
This survey has 15 questions about the Right of Way, including potential bridges, trail surface options and general maintenance concerns. There is space in the survey to comment and propose doing nothing to the trail. We hope that each citizen will carefully review each of the questions and participate in the survey.
For those who would like to tour the East end of the trail, join us for a guided walk of the Foundry Branch Bridge & Georgetown Entrance Bridge November 2nd and 8th. Visit www.palisadesdc.org for details.