In early January, DDOT sent a request to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments that the FY 2015-2020 Transportation Improvement Plan be updated. It turns out that there is a lot of information in there about new bicycle projects, especially trails, that DDOT is planning once the projects they've been slowly pushing through (MBT, South Capital Street Trail, ART, etc...) but one of the more interesting tidbits is that they included a feasibility study for a Shepherd Branch Trail on what they called "the soon to be acquired CSXT RR ROW." The feasibility study would determine alignment, probability of needing an Environmental Assessment (EA), likely permits needed, and potential construction costs for a trail on the RR ROW. If it is really "soon to be acquired" that may mean that movement is possible on the streetcar through there too.
Other interesting tidbits:
- They added $800,000 to resurface the DC portion of the Capital Crescent Trail in 2016
- They've budgeted $200,000 for a rehabilitation design of the Suitland Parkway Trail
- Construction of the South Capital Street Trail has been pushed back to 2019
- Start of work on the conversion of the former I-695 freeway into Southeast Boulevard, which would "improve pedestrian and bicycle access to the Sousa Bridge and along proposed Southeast Boulevard to the 11th Street Bridges" as well as improve pedestrian and bicycle safety at a reconfigured Pennsylvania Ave/Potomac Avenue intersection, slipped to 2017.
Update: According to the appendices to the FEIS, CSXT agreed to grant DDOT an option to acquire the Shepherd Branch ROW as part of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project. So that project may have a bigger bike element than previously reported.
DDOT also used the VAT process to get the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail bridge over CSX tracks and the Rhode Island Avenue bike/ped bridge built. As part of the 2010 negotiations CSX agreed to
Negotiate with DDOT for permanent easements associated with two different CSXT properties so that DDOT could ultimately build pedestrian and bicycle trails that spanned over CSXT rail lines. [These included the following major projects: (1) The Anacostia Pedestrian Walkway/Trail (Id. Art. VI (C)). This easement was key to complete a 1,185 foot pedestrian and bicycle bridge that was a part of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. See DDOT press release, Exhibit 6; And (2) The Rhode Island Avenue Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge (Exhibit 3, Art. VI (D)). The easement was key to the pedestrian access project, slated to take 18 months to build, which will link the Metropolitan Branch Trail and its connecting neighborhoods to the Rhode Island Avenue Metro Station and adjacent communities.]
Then in 2012 a letter
established when CSXT would grant the District easements over the Parkside Pedestrian Bridge and Anacostia Pedestrian Bridge. [The Parkside Pedestrian Bridge, which was not addressed in the August 23, 2010 MOA, was $22 million pedestrian bridge that spanned CSXT tracks north of the DC 295 and Benning Road interchanges and connect to the Minnesota Avenue Metrorail and Bus transfer stations]
According to the letter, CSXT would only be required to work with the District to seek authority to abandon Shepherds Branch and enter into a Trails Use Agreement after the Virginia Avenue Tunnel construction project was completed.
The Shepherds Branch ROW encompassed two segments of the now inactive stretch of rail, including over 55 acres of land and extending 5.38 miles. See Exhibit 16, Permit attached to October 29, 2013 agreement. Shepherds Branch is key to the District’s plans to construct a 2400- foot, multi-use trail connecting the South Capitol Street Trail with the Anacostia Metrorail Station. Shepherds Branch is also one of the preferred routes for the District’s streetcar program
A Supplemental EIS prepared for South Capitol Street states “the Shepherds Branch right-of-way … is being acquired in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 by DDOT from CSXT."