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Crosstown Study lays out three concepts, comments due today

At the 2nd workshop for the Crosstown Multimodal Transportation Study, DDOT presented three concepts over the three geographic areas, each with a different set of winners and losers. They're accepting comments on the concepts (click on "Take a Survey") through today which will inform their next workshop on June 9th.

The Crosstown Multimodal Transportation Study (Crosstown Study) is a study of improvements along Michigan Avenue/Irving Street corridor designed to address safety concerns, optimize mobility and operations, and improve efficiency for all modes along the corridor. The Study area follows Irving and Michigan from 16th Street NW to South Dakota Avenue NE.

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Following the first workshop, DDOT came up with three concepts over three sections of the corridor, and the survey asks for comparisons and general feelings about each concept in each section.

All the concepts include improved intersections throughout the corridor, bike facilities from one side to the other, transit improvements for at least part of the way, a redesign of the Irving/North Capital cloverleaf and the simplification of the Michigan Ave/Park Place/Hobart/Columbia Road Clusterfuck by turning it all into a street grid. But how these things are done differ from one concept to the other.

Concept 1 could be considered the "direct bike" option. It creates a seamless bicycle connection along Harvard and Michigan Avenue from one side to the other with a two-way cycle track along Harvard and Michigan until Monroe Street, and then bike lanes to South Dakota Avenue. Transit improvements would be limited to the Western Section. The southern loops of the cloverleaf are retained and the street grid at Park Place is the most rigid.

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Concept 2 is the MoveDC option. It creates a pair of one-way cycle tracks on Kenyon and Irving, combining into a single two-way cycletrack on Irving between Hobart and Michigan. Then it uses a combination of a shared bike/bus lane, existing bike lanes, new bike lanes and sharrows to zig-zag across the corridor. Transit improves go as far east as Brookland, Irving keeps its curving diagonal shape west of the Washington Hospital Center and only the NW and SE loops of the cloverleaf are retained.

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Concept 3 is the balanced option. It starts on the west end with a two-way cycletrack on Kenyon from 16th to Irving, transitioning to a shared use sidepath along Irving and Michigan. The sidepath would have a gap from Monroe to 10th, and cyclists would instead use the existing bike lanes on Monroe and new ones on 12th to get back to Michigan. Dedicated transit lanes would stretch from 16th NW to the eastern intersection of Michigan and Irving; the west side of Irving would now loop back to Michigan, but with the grid rebuilt west of it, and most of the cloverleaf would be removed.

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From a bike standpoint, I'm not sure which one I would choose. In the western section, I like concept 2 the best, because I feel like a pair of 1-way cycletracks creates less conflict and confusion. In the central section I like the shared-use path from concept 3 best - especially if it's on the north side of Irving where there will be less conflict with driveways.

But in the eastern section, why not combine all three? Bike lanes from Monroe to 10th; a shared use path along Michigan to South Dakota (though I worry about driveways and intersections); bike lanes on 12th and sharrows on the zig-zag from Randolph to 14th.

Based on the online poll (at the time of writing), Concept 2 is much more popular than the others except on the east side where Concept 1 wins. Almost every idea is well received except for transit in shared lanes along Michigan Avenue.  

DDOT calls the Shepherd Branch rail line "soon to be acquired"

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."

Driver in fatal Fauerby-Rosenbusch crash pleaded guilty to manslaughter

Last October a drunk driver struck and killed John Henrik Fauerby, 64, and Lynne Frances Rosenbusch, 58 as they rode their tandem bike near Chesapeake Beach, VA. On Friday the driver pleaded guilty to two counts of automobile manslaughter.

The charges hold a maximum sentence of 10 years each. According to her plea deal, Lyon’s sentencing guidelines call for an active sentence of three months to eight years, but a pre-sentence investigation was ordered.

Catherine Frances Lyon, 62, was indicted on a variety of charges, including four counts of negligent homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence, two counts of automobile manslaughter, homicide by automobile while impaired by alcohol and driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and a single count of driving a vehicle while impaired by alcohol, according to court records.

If she only gets sentenced to 8 years, she'll get off much easier than Jenny Mate did.

From the archives: Tales from the Crypt

This one doesn't come from old newspapers, but rather the archives of the Architect of the Capitol, but it's still pretty fascinating. For starters, in the late 1800's and early 1900's the Capitol Crypt, located directly below the large circular room located directly below the rotunda used to be a bike parking area.

image from www.aoc.gov

Here's what it looks like today.

image from www.aoc.gov

Needs more bikes

The AOC has a whole page on this and the time they bought the Lawn Cycle Stand, a wooden bike rack that was only manufactured for a few years and is now sold by antique dealers, to provide bike parking.

Image1

It is nice to have a place on the veranda, the room set aside for cycles or wherever cyclists congregate, to store your bicycle. Finally, a way to protect my bric-a-brac!

It's Bike to Work Day!

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Ride like Marilyn or ride like Steve, just ride in a way that makes you happy.

Advocates ask DDOT to create a two-way protected bike lane on R Street NW

A change.org petition is asking DDOT to create a two-way protected bike lane on R Street that would connect Sheridan Circle - and nearly the Rock Creek Park Trail - to the Metropolitan Branch Trail. 

R Street is a main thoroughfare for cyclists, connecting the Metropolitan Branch Trail to Shaw, Logan Circle, Dupont Circle, and Georgetown. Despite it being a major cycling corridor and a crucial part of the bicycle network, it is only protected by paint and currently only travels West. And for East-bound riders, there is no direct connection between Dupont Circle and the Metropolitan Branch Trail. 

R Street currently has enough space to accommodate an auto parking lane, an auto travel lane, and a two-way protected bike lane. 

There's a west bound bike lane between Sheridan Circle and Florida Avenue, and a west-bound protected bike lane between Harry Thomas and Eckington Place. This project is calling for bike facilities in both directions. 

Such a facility is not included in the MoveDC plan, and there is a bike lane on most of Q Street going in the other direction, though it has a gap at Rhode Island; but this is not a terrible idea - if there is space. 

The Georgetown Streetcar Extension and bike lanes

I didn't go to the meeting last nigh, but looking at the posted build alternatives I see two major changes.

On K between 3rd and 7th, the existing bike lanes would be replaced with either protected or buffered bike lanes.

Buffered streetcar

And, on New Jersey Ave NW between I and H, the road would be converted to two-way traffic with bike lanes (perhaps protected?)

NJAve streetcar

I don't think they show what happens around Mt. Vernon Square where once they planned "cycletracks".

Benning Road will get better, but not perfect

DDOT is having a public hearing on the Benning Road Transportation Improvement Project tomorrow night, and I had planned to write about it in detail today, but then WABA covered most of it earlier this week saving me the trouble. [GGW has an article on the streetcar element of it].

Long story short, the EA proposes including a 6-10 foot (including the 1 foot buffer) wide bi-directional protected bike lane from Kingman Island to 36th Street where MoveDC had called for a 10-foot wide bicycle and pedestrian trail from Oklahoma Avenue to East Capitol Street. Update: This is only an "option." The standard  build is no bike lane. 

In some cases the bike lane would pass behind a floating bus/streetcar or bus stop.

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The Viaduct Bridge (I'm so glad I know what to call that now) will be completely rebuilt and made much better. The 5' (width varies) sidewalk on the south side will be replaced by a pair of 10 foot walks on either side.

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On the west side of the Viaduct Bridge the problematic intersection at 36th Street, where Benning Road splits to either go over the Viaduct or onto ramps to access DC-295, will also be redesigned. Accommodations would be made for the new north-side sidewalk. The south side crosswalk would be moved east for a more direct crossing, and then - y'know - painted. It would unfortunately work on a 'beg' button (Update: or not, TBD), but I'm not sure what the alternative would be. WABA says it will "encourage crossing against the light" but I don't think there's going to be a light there. I see this as more of a HAWK beacon, which is a pretty good option for a trail crossing of a high speed road. 

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The lack of a bicycle facility east of Minnesota is unfortunate, but likely unavoidable.

Update: DDOT has not finished looking at it, but there may be enough room to widen the sidewalk on the south side into a sidepath. I suggested finding a way to connect the semi-paved Fort Mahan Trail to the intersection of Minnesota Ave and Benning Road, There is a "paper" alley between the 7-11 and the Metro PCS store that connects to the trail (See it here or on the map below) and it seems like this could be used to make a bike facility. Improve the north side sidewalk from Minnesota Avenue to the green strip between the WMATA property and 7-11 (owned by WMATA) and then on the alley to the trail. Perhaps NPS would even be willing to allow DDOT to improve the trail, and extend it to both 41st, 42nd Streets and Brooks Street. Bike signage/facilities on Brooks and 45th could then connect to the Benning Road Metro station. It was odd that despite a sign showing that it was there, there was no mention of the Fort Circle Trail at all. At the bare minimum, this project should connect the trail's crosswalk with the actual trail (just up the hill in this streetview).

Fort mahan bypass

Update: Despite all the talk of improved safety at the intersection of Minnesota and Benning Road, the poster for it had four recommendations - all of which were designed to improve throughput.

I see this as the usual way of progress, which I define as "This horrible thing is going to be made much better, but still not as good as it could be." I agree with WABA that a further road diet on Benning between Kingman and the Viaduct would get this to where it needs to be. And I'd rather see 8-10 foot wide, single direction protected bike lanes on each side in that case. Lest you think that is too much, I'll point out that this is the only place a cyclist can go directly from the west side of the Anacostia to the east side of the railroad tracks between Pennsylvania Avenue and Bladensburg.

Benning Extension EA Hearing
Thursday, May 19 6 – 8 pm
Department of Employment Services, 4058 Minnesota Ave NE

Please consider attending and providing testimony. DDOT will also accept written comments until June 2.

The Potomac Yard Trail

Last night I finally got a chance to ride the Potomac Yard Trail in Alexandria  (previously known as the Landbay K Trail) and it's wonderful. The whole thing runs alongside - or part of depending on how you want to think of it - a linear park from East Glebe to Braddock Road, you can see what it looked like last year here. It's pretty much the same now, but with more development across the street. As reported at the GGW link, the plan is to extend the trail north to Four Mile Run. If you haven't yet, you should check it out. The park should win awards.

The only issue I had was in going to the trail. Heading south on Crystal Drive, I got to the intersection of Crystal and 26th and I didn't know what to do next. Crystal Dr. becomes one way north at that point, and the only direction given to cyclist there are signs that read "Bike Lane Ends" on Crystal Drive and "Do Not Enter. No Bicycles" on the transitway [Admittedly, my plan when I started my ride was to ride the transitway because I thought bikes were allowed, so I was dismayed to find out they were not]. Back at 23rd, there is a sign directing people to the right to go to Alexandria, but I was looking for bike-specific wayfinding, with something pointing me to the Potomac Yard Trail or Four Mile Run Trail.

Anticipation: The long wait for the Fort Circle Trail in one 1974 map

The recent NPS trails plan includes a crossing of Rock Creek Park at Military Road and a trail along the Fort Circle path that will connect the Metropolitan Branch Trail to the Anacostia Tributary Trails. It's nothing new. Here is the a map showing the same thing planned - from 1974. That was when Fort Lincoln was "National Training for Boys," Galludet was still a college and the Chesapeake Beach Railroad was still there.

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