Perhaps I missed the press release* but in the last few months, DDOT began work on the Oxon Run Trail Rehabilitation Project in Ward 8.
Oxon Run is a Potomac River tributary that starts in District Heights, MD, crosses into DC just north of the Southern Avenue Metro, runs through southern DC, then back into Prince Georges Count at 1st Street SW and finally empties into Oxon Cove. There is a system of trails on both sides of the stream through much of DC, and that system is being rebuilt, improved and expanded.
Map of the current trail system
It appears that the rehabilitation is being done in phases and that the phase currently underway extends from the Winkle Doodle bridge at South Capitol and Southern to Atlantic Street, SE.
The trail was in terrible condition. Though I don't have any photos of the section being rebuilt now, I did get photos of the trail sections north of Atlantic which are indicative of the state of the trail south.
The existing trail is being removed and replaced with a wider trail, routed along lines that make more sense and with more connections to the nearby streets. It will also be extended from its current terminus at South Capitol along South Capitol to Southern. Along South Capitol the trail will become a sidepath, which will replace the sidewalk and be set farther from the road.
Plan for trail along South Capitol
Trail under construction along South Capitol
The Concept Plan recommended extending the trail south along the east side of Oxon Run, crossing Barnaby Run in Maryland just before it meets the Run and then meeting up with, and repaving, the existing "trail" at Audrey Lane in Maryland. It also recommended a trail connection from MLK Avenue and Joliet Street to DC Village, but it doesn't appear that those sections are being built at this time, if they ever will.
The Concept Plan also recommended a separate trail bridge over Oxon Run at South Capitol, but instead the trail will utilize the narrow sidewalk.
Concept plan for Oxon Run Trail at South Capitol
Paving Plan for Oxon Run Trail at South Capitol
North of South Capitol the trail will be greatly improved both from a state or repair standpoint and for its utility.
North of 13th Street, the Concept Plan called for the trail to connect to Southern Avenue - and thus Maryland - via side paths and bike lanes, but the Paving plan does not extend beyond 13th.
DDOT is doing most of what it can to improve this forgotten trail. But the trail's value will reach full potential once it extends south to the Oxon Cove trail (and thus to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge) and north to the Naylor Road Metro and an extended Suitland Parkway Trail. But all of that depends on Prince Georges County making some progress on those efforts.
Another future project that could improve the trail is the restoration of Oxon Run itself. About 40% of Oxon Run and its tributaries within the Oxon Run watershed have been relegated to either pipe or concrete-lined channel (like the Los Angeles River).
As a result of this reduction in natural channel and the high percentage of impervious surface in the watershed, the stream tends to witness flashy, intense flows.
Most of the unnatural portions are in DC. Seeing the stream restored and daylighted would make the trail more pleasant while bringing many environmental benefits as well. DC would like to do so, but it won't be easy.
The concrete lined portion of Oxon Run, running between South Capitol and 13th Streets, SE, a 7,920 foot long stretch, is perhaps the most difficult section to restore.
Stream restoration of Oxon Run to help accommodate the urban hydrology regime is extremely ambitious. Yet, as already mentioned, stream restoration may be the only way to meet the spirit, if not the rule, of the Clean Water Act. Restoring Oxon Run, and in the process Oxon Run Park, would improve the both the environmental and social aspects of the stream corridor. Stream restoration, would allow for the reestablishment of benthic communities in the stream. It would also provide a tremendous educational, recreational, and ecological resource for the communities of South East DC. Stream restoration would be a capstone to the long positive trend of redevelopment in this once forgotten, but still underserved area. The monetary costs associated with this project, however, will be high. The USFWS, in 2004, estimated that stream restoration in the DC portion of Oxon Run would cost $6,888,888 and stormwater treatment wetlands would cost an additional $1,094,000. This is a rough estimate and may be low, the rising cost of materials, and the technical difficulty of this project will likely inflate the cost.
*The project website also makes no note that work has begun, but they were putting the project out to bid this summer. Perhaps people noticed that work had begun while on the 50 States Ride.