Renderings of Long Bridge Park Phase II show extended esplanade

Arlington County has released videos showing the four proposals for the Long Bridge Aquatics and Fitness Center, which constitutes phase II of the project. In addition to the fitness center, Phase II will extend the bike trail along the east side about 2 weeks to the GW Parkway. Eventually the plan is to carry this trail over the parkway to connect with the Mt Vernon Trail and possibly a pedestrian/bicycle path across the Potomac on a new Long Bridge.

The videos show some shots of the trail and I've tracked to capture those below.

From Forrester/EYP


Screenshot 2017-10-20 at 4.09.34 PM

Screenshot 2017-10-20 at 4.09.34 PM
Screenshot 2017-10-20 at 4.09.34 PM

And from HESS/VDMO

Screenshot 2017-10-20 at 4.09.34 PM

Screenshot 2017-10-20 at 4.09.34 PM

You can see the trail going over the GWP on the far left. 

The Coakley Williams/Page video even more clearly shows that.

Screenshot 2017-10-20 at 4.24.15 PM
Screenshot 2017-10-20 at 4.24.15 PM
Screenshot 2017-10-20 at 4.24.15 PM
Screenshot 2017-10-20 at 4.24.15 PM

Christman/HOK doesn't show the trail crossing the parkway but does highlight their 1-mile jogging* path

Screenshot 2017-10-20 at 4.28.13 PM
Screenshot 2017-10-20 at 4.28.13 PM
Screenshot 2017-10-20 at 4.28.13 PM

*Someone here once said that "no self-respecting runner will say they jog."

Reconstructed Monroe Street Bridge will feature bike lanes and light-controlled MBT intersection

Reconstruction of the Monroe Street Bridge began in late August and will last 600 days. During that time, cyclist riding over the bridge will use shared lanes, but once it is complete, the bridge will feature dedicated bike lanes in each direction. (Presentation materials called these "new" but there have been bike lanes on the bridge for some time now).

MonroeBridge

In the meantime, cyclists are encouraged to take the lane.

image from static1.squarespace.com

For cyclists, the intersection of 8th and Monroe (where the Met Branch Trail passes through) will get a traffic light, which should make crossing easier, and a path through the intersection;

image from washcycle.typepad.com

and 8th will get improved landscaping south of Monroe and a block long "place holder" cycletrack.

image from washcycle.typepad.com

But alas, there will be no tunnel under Monroe as was once envisioned because DDOT caved to the Dance Place developer. A former WABA director wrote:

DDOT caved to the Dance Place developer on the underpass. There was supposed to be a trail from 8th underneath Monroe to connect to the trail on the east side of Monroe Street Market. If I recall WABA gave the Dance Place developer a letter of support for their project because that connection was promised.

MARC trains now have bike racks (that you can't use for 10 months)

At the beginning of the year, MARC announced that they would spend the year adding bike racks to their trains. 

the Maryland Transit Administration will spend $196,000 over the next year to add bicycle racks to its 22 daily commuter trains. The goal is to have at least one car equipped with bike racks on each train by spring 2018, officials said.

Because MARC currently only allows fold-up bicycles, which are generally more expensive, on weekday commuter trains, few of its estimated 39,000 daily riders bring bikes with them, said MTA Administrator Paul Comfort.

MARC began allowing bikes on its weekend Penn Line trains in 2014 by replacing seats on one side of a car with a long rows of racks, but those cars aren't practical for weekday use because the racks take up too much valuable seat space.

Instead, MTA will outfit 15 train cars with a more out-of-the-way solution: a pair of vertical bike racks plus storage space at the end of a car, replacing three seats in the corner.

Well, someone (Matt C) finally spotted one of these new racks post-installaion and sent me a photo

BikeRackMARC

But it looks like, according to the sign, you won't be able to use them until Summer 2018.

The cars will be marked on the outside, so bicycle-toting riders can find them. Each car can accommodate two bicycles. Conductors will monitor the number of bicycles on the racks, and as demand increases, officials will add bike rack cars on each train, MARC director Erich Kolig said.

"We're going to start small: one per train," he said. "We'll see how it goes from there."

The MTA doesn't track how many passengers ride their bikes to MARC stations and lock them up before boarding the train.

Of course not. Why would you?

The current weekend cars, with their full rows of bike racks, average about five bikes at any given time

It's going to be hard to bring a full-sized bike and rely on being able to bring it with only 2 spaces per train. We'll see how they handle that. 

In other MARC/bike news, they replaced a bunch of bike parking at stations this summer

MARC Train is replacing bicycle racks at several stations.  Please take note of the stations and dates below.  On the dates indicated, the old bike racks will be removed and new racks installed, therefore there will be no bike racks available on the dates indicated.  Any bikes that are attached to the old racks will be removed.

  • Odenton: August 21 - 23
  • Laurel: August 24
  • Frederick: August 28
  • Germantown: August 29 - 30
  • Brunswick: August 31

Not sure if this was a one-for-one replacement or if now they have more, or if the parking is better. But it is newer. [Also, sorry if you lost your bike]. While we're at it, check out the covered bike parking in Baltimore as seen in this Baltimore Sun video. Just a little bit of tin, but it goes a long way.

Here's MTA's bike policy for you policy nerds. 

Help Name the Capital Trails Network

image from capitaltrailscoalition.org
Hello,

Do you have two minutes?

As you might already know, the Capital Trails Coalition is a collaboration of public and private organizations, agencies, and citizen volunteers working to create a world-class network of multi-use trails that are equitably distributed throughout the Washington D.C. metropolitan region. The regional trails network will transform public life by providing healthy, low-stress access to open space and reliable transportation for people of all ages and abilities.

The Coalition would like your feedback as we develop a unified identity for the existing and planned trail network in the Washington, DC region. We've got a few ideas that we'd like to hear your thoughts on, and you'll have a chance to share your own at the end of this very quick survey.

Take the survey

Thank you so much for your time. We'll keep you posted as we move along in the process.

Sincerely,

Katie Harris

Trails Coalition Coordinator

 

WC: But not Traily McTrailface as that is already the name of the trail network for the Vatican. 

Phase II of the Washington Boulevard Trail contract approved, work could begin this year

Last month, the Arlington County Board voted to approve the contract fort Phase II of the Washington Boulevard trail. The new trail section will connect Columbia Pike to S. Walter Reed where it will connect with Phase I.  Phase I connects Water Reed to Arlington Blvd.  The trail will primarily be located within the highway right-of-way but will also pass through the property of the U.S. Navy Supply Facility and Arlington County’s Towers Park.  Access to the public streets will be provided at Walter Reed Drive, 6th Street, 9th Street and South Rolfe Street.

image from washcycle.typepad.com

This trail was originally identified 23 years ago in the 1994 Bicycle Master plan and so it has taken quite a bit of time to get here. When Phase I was completed back in 2009, the idea was that the second phase work would start soon thereafter, but neighbors complained about all the trees that would be cut down (~180), despite the facts that many of these trees were invasive or dead, that more trees would be planted to replace them and Arlington will give you a free tree so, y'know, maybe people should just do that, but... bygones. There's now a design that everyone seems content with (though I'm not sure the new design is better as Jay Fisette claimed) 

The original design had a 10' wide trail, separated from the road by a 1.5' wide concrete barrier, 2' wide paved buffer and a 10' shoulder while removing 198 trees. Instead they're building a 10' wide trail separated from the road by a 2.5’ wide curb and gutter and a 5’ wide landscaped buffer which only removes 84 trees.

Trail users will now be 6' closer to the traffic lanes. 

The project also includes an extensive planting plan that includes 263 new trees.

Fort Myer Construction won the $2.8M contract which came in about $900,000 high because of increased construction costs everywhere. That gap will be covered with TCF-NVTA Local balances from the Complete Streets Program. Work could end by the end of the year, but since the contract was awarded at the end of their window (Summer) it might not start until early 2018.

 

New York Avenue Trail design gets some changes

NYAvenorth

DDOT hosted the 4th public meeting on the New York Avenue Trail last month and there are a few changes since the July meeting, including a change in the already-installed 4th Street cycletrack. 

One of the biggest changes is in the arrangement of the area north of NYAve. In July the bike facility was placed between the tree boxes and the sidewalk and now it is farther from the street, with the sidewalk between it and the tree boxes as is shown in the rendering above. This will result in a mixing space at 4th and New York, whereas before, the bike facility continued west.  The new design is on top and the old one on bottom. 

New NYA

New design
New NYA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old design

This allows for a redesign of the intersection of 16th and NYAve that allows for the bike facility to stay behind the sidewalk instead of mixing as was done previously.

16th

At the intersection of 3rd and M, there was an unusual set of sharrows to let cyclists know how to navigate the intersection where the cycletrack moves from one side of the street to the other, but that has been removed. 

Sharrowbox

Along 4th Street from Morse to NYAve the plan was to add sharrows, but that's now listed as an interim design with a protected bike lane (PBL) as the ultimate design. The new design also removes a connection from 4th to the old rail spur to Morse

West Virginia Ave has been changed too. In the old design, it had a raised two-way cycle track on the north side between 16th and New York and now it has a pair of one-way cycle tracks on each side at street level (which was an identified alternative in the old design). That change also comes with a removal of the path across the south half-circle at Montana. 

NewCircle

New Circle
NewCircle

Old Circle

 The new design also identifies a "potential future bike facility" on the south side of NYAve from Montana to Blandesburg and bike lanes (instead of sharrows) on T Street east of Blandensburg Road. 

Finally, the new design adds some sidewalks to 24th south of S and potential interim bike facilities on Montana and S Street. 

Eastside

But these changes in most cases are small, and the trail will fundamentally perform the same way. It will connect to the MBT in three places - on street at M Street, via stairs on the south side of NYAvenue and via a ramp on the north side on NYAve.

 

It will proved 5365 linear feet of separated bicycle facilities and the bike facility on NYAve will get its own lighting. It will also realign some bus stops, remove a few trees and plant over 300 more and add storm water management elements to the area. 

DDOT is still moving its way through the process which will include future studies of the New York Avenue/Montana Avenue intersection (which I hope will recommend a name for that circle) and of a Bladensburg Road to South Dakota Multimodal
Connection.

They've identified 6 phases, but not when or which order in which to do them. A final report on 

Metropolitan Branch Trail Wayfinding Study (past)

This meeting happened several months ago, but I thought it was worth bringing up anyway. I suspect the study is still being performed. 

Improvements to MBT wayfinding was recommended by community members participating in the 2015 MBT Safety and Access Study.

In coordination with DDOT, the NoMa Business Improvement District engaged Alta Planning + Design to complete a wayfinding study of the MBT from Union Station to Michigan Avenue. Your input is needed to make sure we get a great product.

Other improvements recommended in the Study that have been implemented to date include:

- signage annoucing the MBT

- new safety mirrors and safety signage along the MBT

- meeting point at M Street ramp

- several new murals along the MBT

Stormwater project to relocate block of Northwest Branch Trail

Prince George's County is planning to build a storm water management pond in a place where a small section of the Northwest Branch Trail is. As part of the project they will relocate a very short section of the trail north of University Boulevard. This will likely be a benefit, because the trail in that area is too narrow and in terrible shape, but not much of it will be rebuilt.

Swmpondlocation

The purpose of the project is to treat runoff from up to 7.9 acres of impervious surface along University Boulevard. The county looked at 11 alternatives, including one that would conflict with the Purple Line, and settled on lucky number 8. 

Under Alternative 8, an off-line wet stormwater management pond would be constructed on the north side of University Boulevard, northwest of University Boulevard and Northwest Branch within M-NCPPC property at Adelphi Manor Park. The inflow for the pond would be created by diverting runoff into the pond from the existing storm drain system. Based on the existing conditions analysis, an off-line wet pond was designed in order to provide the most beneficial treatment for the area.

Interestingly, there's no discussion of the trail in the Environmental Assesment, not even in the traffic and transportation section. Even in that section when discussing the existing conditions it only lists the various roads in the area. For the traffic impacts, they note that

The construction of the BMPs would take place in close proximity to University Boulevard. Construction-related traffic and potential lane closures during construction would result in a minor, short-term adverse impact.

In fact the trail isn't mentioned in the text - only on a technical drawing. I've highlighted the existing trail in yellow below. The re-aligned trail would be the dark grey portion near middle. It would create a larger mixing area and a new connection to Judson Street. 

Swmpond1

UMD Cycling Safety Study

The Urban Computing Lab is currently working on an NSF-funded project focused on cycling safety. We have created a website to collect cycling safety ratings from cyclists like you and we are spreading the word asking people to participate. Participation is really easy, cyclists just need to go to the website, watch as many cycling videos as they can and provide a 1-5 rating with respect to cycling safety in the video.
 
This is the link to the website:
 
www.cyclingsafety.umd.edu
 
Washington's Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) talked about the project recently in their blog:
 
http://www.waba.org/blog/2017/07/help-with-this-research-how-safe-is-this-street/

10 things to hate about the I-66 trail

The I-66 trail, as currently proposed, is going to be better than nothing. People will use it for both recreation and transportation. It will be fine, a "gentleman's C" if you will. Nonetheless, the thing isn't going to win any awards or have people in other cities asking "why can't we have something like that." It looks like what it is, a trail that was added to - and around - a design for a road. One could imagine how different I-66 would look if they put the trail in first and built the road around it instead. Here, are ten things you might choose to hate about the I-66 Trail. 

The placement inside the sound wall. It wasn't originally supposed to be like this, but as I'm sure you know, VDOT is planning to build the trail between the sound wall and the highway. The problem is not so much that it's beside the highway - as many have noted, lots of trails are built next to highways - it's the placement inside the sound wall that's a problem. This means that the sound from the highway is actually amplified at the trail, and that road exhaust is trapped there too. It means little to no shade. It means that in a crime situation a jogger would have no place to escape to. And it means that neighbors can't build gates or walkways that connect themselves to the trail. Though the trail will be 10-20 feet away, some people might have to ride a mile or more to get to it. I think it is only marginally less safe, but it is terribly less pleasant and much less useful. 

image from 4.bp.blogspot.com

The argument is that the soundwall can't be flipped without taking more land, and I finally figured out what they're talking about . Here's the image of the trail inside the wall, followed by the image of outside the wall.

Inside
Inside

In the first, the wall+trail need 16.6 to 20.6 feet and in the second 20.6 to 23.6 feet. There are a few differences, but the main issue is that 4' concrete..whatever it is...between the barrier and the sound wall if the trail is put on the outside. This means that 3-4 extra feet are needed. I find it hard to believe that this can't be found with a combination of reasonable acquisitions, narrowing of the trail or narrowing of other items in the right of way.  But we may never know. Fairfax County Supervisor Linda Smyth recently stated in an email that

VDOT/EMP is not going to spend time or money on figuring out the amount of ROW needed to put the trail on the residential side of the sound wall. It would require surveying and preliminary engineering to come up with a reasonable estimate.

So when they say it will take more lane, just know that they don't actually know that for sure and they don't know how much or where. This is why they can't and don't answer those questions. 

They also claim that the outside the wall design prevents utility work, but I find this unconvincing as well unless the utilities are to be below that 4' concrete base. But they haven't done the work mentioned above, so I don't see how they can know that.  It's pretty clear from emails sent by Smyth that this is about people not wanting the trail next to their house and not about engineering.  

Long Detours - The trail suffers from the same problem that complementary trails to a multi-modal project suffer from: it's viewed as secondary. By that I meant the road was designed first and then the trail was added in afterward. How different it would look if they designed the trail they wanted and then built the road around it. Alas, this process leaves cyclists with long detours. At Fairfax County Parkway, for example, they have to travel north, south and west if they want to go east. (The trail is the lime green line). A cyclist travelling on the path through this section will travel about 2100' farther than a car on I-66 will.  And they have to make an at-grade crossing of Fairfax County Parkway.

FairfaxParkway

No direct W&OD Trail connection - despite the fact that the W&OD trail passes through the project area, the I-66 trail doesn't connect to it directly. Instead it peters out more than a mile away at the intersection of Gallows Road and Stenhouse Place (below), where a "potential shared use path" could someday connect the east end of the I-66 trail to the W&OD Trail. Until then, this is your connection

East trailhead

And while we're at it, it sure would have been nice if this had included a new W&OD Bridge to straighten out the trail along the old RR right of way (the red line below).

Straight W&OD

Connectivity opportunities missed - The trail has more missed connections that a Valentine's Day issue of the City Paper. It could easily connect to Lotus Lane in Centerville, Heron Dr, Crown Rd, Rosemallow Circle, Fair Oaks Mall, etc...but it doesn't. And the connection to Dunn Loring Metro involves going north a block, crossing Gallows at grade and then going south two blocks. 

Here it passes beneath Wapples Mill Road, which appears to have a bike facility that suddenly stops, without connecting to it.

Wapples mill

Or here, where the trail could be easily connected to Quail Creek Lane if a connection were built across the red line and up the right side of the image below.

Route 50

Gaps - There's a gap in the trail from Nutley to Blake, and another from Route 50 to West Ox. Those sections are to be built by VDOT/FXDOT as part of other projects but I'm not sure what will fill them. Trail? Bike lanes? Sharrows? They look to be on-road facilities that follow a longer path. That one of these gaps is in the area near the Vienna Metro is only more disheartening.

Crossing over -  At Route 50, the trail crosses from the north side to the south side and then dead ends. At the other end of this gap, it crosses back over to the north side. Why not stay on the north side?

Route 50

Close up of the transition to the south side

Route 50 detour

South side route

The break at Stringfellow - In order to avoid a stormwater management pond, the trail will hit Stringfellow Road at two different places. Trail users will need to cross at grade and then use this sidepath. Instead of going over Stringfellow like drivers will. 

Route 50

The trail ends at Centreville - I-66 expansion goes on to Haymarket.  Sure, there are plans to extend the trail as well, with work performed by VDOT, FXDOT, Fairfax County Park Authority and Northern Virginia Parks Authority, but I suspect this will mean a lag in completion. 

I-66 trail west

For most of the way, the trail is only on one side. Maybe hate is too strong for this, but a trail on both sides would serve many more destinations. 

The proposer is allowed to use reduced trail widths.

Route 50

The trail is still going to make it easier to bike through the area, and will likely serve many cyclists, runners and walkers, but it isn't anywhere near as good as it could be. 

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