Back in June, DC hosted its 2nd meeting on the District of Columbia State Rail Plan. The material from that meeting includes a draft list of rail infrastructure projects, which is interesting on its own, but a few projects are especially so for cyclists. Most notabe are the Long Bridge Replacement, which has been discussed here several times, and the abandonment and repurposing of the Shepherd Branch railroad line in SE.
The Shepherd Branch is an East of the River rail spur that runs from Greenway just south of East Capitol Street all the way to Blue Plains. It was shut down following 9/11, because its once-a-week delivery of chlorine gas to the Blue Plains sewage treatment plant was deemed a security threat. For some time after that, DDOT planned to acquire it and use for the streetcar, but that fell through.
Now it appears that DDOT is in negotiation to gain use of the spur (at least what remains of it, some parts have been built on) for the purpose of a trail. In the rail plan this shows up as two projects.
- Study potential to convert Shepherd Branch from inactive to abandoned; Study what uses would be permitted in the corridor post-abandonment in light of the current uses from prior conveyances. (No action has been taken on this and it is unfunded).
- Study potential to convert Shepherd Branch to other transportation uses, compatible with its other uses
The second project is listed as "Under Discussion". Funding would come from DDOT but agreements would be needed with both Pepco and the U.S. Department of Defense.
It's unlikely that a Shepherd Branch Trail would go onto Bolling, NRL or DC Water property; but it would probably connect the South Capitol Street Trail to the Anacostia Metro, Anacostia and other SE neighborhoods east of DC-295. One would expect several crossovers to the parallel Anacostia Riverwalk Trail too.
There are a couple other rail plan items of interest to cyclists too
- Explore potential to expand or build additional overpasses or underpasses for cars and pedestrians at locations separated by rail yards and rail lines
- Study inactive rail spurs such as into the former PEPCO site, or near NY Avenue, for potential repurposing