Little Paint Branch Trail extension out for re-bid, work could begin before summer

Earlier this year, M-NCPPC put the Little Paint Branch Trail extension project out for re-bid earlier this year. This project, for which design began in 2012, has been repeatedly delayed, in fact on M-NCPPC's website they still announce that work will commence in 2016 (they also still report the results of the 2015 National Harbor 5K race at the top of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail page, so maybe they're a little behind), but it seems as though start on the work is coming soon. The bids were due at the end of February, with work expected to start in the Spring of this year. 

This project, part of the Intercounty Connector environmental Stewardship program, will extend the Little Paint Branch Trail - part of the Anacostia Tributary Trail System - by 2.2 miles from its current terminus at Cherry Hill Road just inside the Beltway, to the Little Paint Branch Trail north of BARC. 

image from washcycle.typepad.com

Starting at the Paint Branch Trail at Cherry Hill Road, just inside the Beltway, the project will build a new trail bridge over Little Paint Branch and then a trail along the south and west sides of Cherry Hill Road.

LPBT south

To get over the Beltway, it will use the existing, narrow sidewalk along Cherry Hill Road. 

Sidewalk transiton

At Sellman Road, the trail will cross Cherry Hill Road at grade and then proceed along the north side of Sellman. 

At-grade

Just past the driveway to the Beltsville Community Center, it will turn north, running between the driveway and Little Paint Branch all the way to the Little Paint Branch Trail, just before the parking lot. That trail extends along the east side of I-95 all the way to Ammendale Road. 

Driveway

The trail will be 10' wide (except over the Beltway) and the bridge will be 12' wide. It will be primarily asphalt, but for a section near Buck Lodge Road and west of Woodbine Road.

Improvements coming to lower Four Mile Run Trail

NewBridge

If you've ridden the lower Four Mile Run Trail in the last 6 months, you've surely noticed the work going on there as part of the demonstration project for the Four Mile Run Restoration, primarily because of the detour. The restoration is meant to improve the stream’s water quality and recreation potential as defined in the 2006 Four Mile Run Master Plan

The existing stone rip rap that currently covers the stream banks will be removed and replaced with native vegetation that will improve the habitat quality and aesthetics of the stream channel.  Some of the stone will also be reused to create the living shoreline features. Living shorelines are a more environmentally sensitive way to protect stream banks and coastal areas, with wetland plantings behind small stone breakwaters.

FMR Restoration

But trail users will get more than an improved view. The trail will also remove the existing asphalt trail adjacent and rebuild it to current standards including a new sub-base and asphalt surface. Workers will install new trail railings and a new observation platform. It will also add a new trail along the wetland on the Alexandria side.

Trail standards

 

The Master Plan also calls for a new bridge (seen at top) just upstream of the Commonwealth Ave/S. Eads line.

Bridge location

But wait, there's more.

On the north side of Four Mile Run between Route 1 and Potomac Avenue is Land Bay K, a small rectangle of land that is part Alexandria and part Arlington (because the line didn't move when Four Mile Run was straightened out). That is being turned into a park, despite the objection of some neighbors, and the park will include an improved trail and connections. There was a public meeting on this last month, and 3 more planned. 

South Park

The current switchback between Potomac Avenue and the trail is in Alexandria and Alexandria is a little behind Arlington in this case so not much will be done there, but in the first phase - to start early in 2018 - Arlington will build a new trail connection that links Route 1 to the Four Mile Run trail, and it appears rebuild the existing trail to current standards.

Connection

In the second phase, scheduled for 2022, the park will be constructed. The major impacts on the trail will be lighting and improvement of the area under the old railyard bridge. 

Finally, on the Alexandria side of Four Mile Run, there are still two other parks planned, which will also have trails. Along the stream is "Crescent Park" and then along the west side of Potomac Avenue is Potomac Yard Park. This will include the top of the old railyard bridge (Urban Deck). These parks are being built with help of the developers nearby.

Crescent Park shall be 2.3 acres and include a stormwater pond, a promenade, a civic park pavilion, and both active and passive uses. The developer will design and construct, or the City will receive a $8.7m (in 2010 dollars) contribution, for Four Mile Run Park Improvements, including the Urban Deck, bank improvements, and trail connections

The draft plan for the North Potomac Yard area was completed this year and can be seen here. They're accepting comments for 9 more days. Hurry! 

The highlights are an expansion of the Potomac Yard Trail from Braddock Road and the planned Metro Station to Four Mile Run, and the Four Mile Run Trail will be extended along the south side from Route 1 to the Mt. Vernon Trail. Many of the new roads will be considered "bike routes", some of which may have sharrows. The plan also requires bike parking and bikeshare stations.

LandbayEF

So yeah, the trails along the lower Four Mile Run are about to go through a few changes.

200th Anniversary of the Bicycle

The 200th Anniversary of the invention of the bicycle is coming up this June and against my better judgement, I'd like to plan SOMETHING for it. I have some very low-impact plans. If you are interested in being part off a planning committee for something like this, please email me at dcwashcycle@gmail.com. The rest of you put something on your calendar for June 10, 2017.

Cyclist charged with traffic violation in crash that killed pedestrian

From the Post

A 27-year-old bicyclist has been charged with disobeying a traffic device after police said he fatally struck a woman who was trying to cross a street at Franklin Square in Northwest Washington.

Zakkai Stanley Kauffman-Rogoff of Northwest Washington was issued a citation, said Aquita Brown, a spokeswoman for D.C. police.

Kauffman-Rogoff’s attorney, David Benowitz, said that his client “denies culpability in this unfortunate event, and that he has cooperated and will continue to cooperate with the investigation.”

This is a first as far as I can tell. If all he gets is a traffic ticket, he should consider himself lucky. 

DC's year of trails

Ever since the 2005 Bicycle Master plan, there have been about 7 bike trail projects out there either making no progress (Rock Creek) or very slow progress (Met Branch) - as well as a couple others, like Watts Branch and the Anacostia trails, that have progressed nicely. I kept saying that this was going to be the year (well the fiscal year at least) that the logjam breaks and so it seems to be.

A review:

In late September, work began on the federal government's portion of the Rock Creek Park Trail as part of the rehab of Beach Drive. And in a rare turn of events, part of that trail rehabilitation was moved up on the schedule, not back.

The first segment was originally supposed to re-open this spring, but Barnum said it will take two more months to finish the work. Once crews started ripping things up, project managers decided to fix the walking and biking trail now instead of later.

“But in the long run, we are preventing future inconveniences down the road, so to speak, by taking care of the trail work now, rather than delaying it into the future, having to come back and re-close the road that’s already been rehabilitated,” Barnum said.

Phase I will wrap up this summer, but the whole project will last into 2019.

image from www.oxonruntrailproject.com

A few weeks later, in early October, work began on the rehabilitation and expansion of the Oxon Run Trail. That project will modernize the section of trail from South Capitol Street, S.E. to 13th Street, S.E. and add something around a half mile of new trail sections. 

The Oxon Run Trail runs through a Districtowned park in Southeast, Washington, DC. The project is designed to improve access within Oxon Run Park and the non-motorized network connections to surrounding destinations by rehabilitating the existing trail, as well as extending the trail network. The project will also be installing new trail lights, wheelchair and bicycle ramps, benches, tables and bicycle racks

The four phase project is now into phase 3 and it's expected to complete around mid-July. 

Screenshot 2017-04-13 at 12.44.44 AM

And that project now has its own website. Hooray!

By the end of October 2016, the Anacostia Trail's Kenilworth section was opened

In addition to Oxon Run and phase I of the Rock Creek Park Trail rehab, this summer will likely see the opening of the Klingle Valley Trail (a little behind schedule). 

image from static1.squarespace.com

And, if that isn't enough, it looks like work on the Metropolitan Branch Trail's next section could begin this year

That's five major projects that either started, ended or will run their course in a 12 month period. That's a pretty big year for trails in DC. 

Capital Bikeshare to Prince George's by next spring. Trolley trail gap soon?

Some big announcements coming out of PG County. First of all Capital Bikeshare is expected to come to the northern and southern parts of the county as early as next spring. And it will expand into College Park in 2019 as the MBike contract expires. 

Karyn McAlister, the bicycle and pedestrian program manager with the county, gave a presentation to the Hyattsville City Council on April 3 about the upcoming addition of bike sharing to the county. The county has selected Capital Bikeshare for the county program and stations are anticipated as early as spring of 2018.

Over the past two years, Prince George’s County initiated and held a feasibility study to launch a bike share program. Since the completion of the study, the county has been working on developing a phased plan for an area of 36 square miles that includes the county’s hubs, such as National Harbor, cities bordering the District of Columbia like Mount Rainier, and transit areas such as Hyattsville.

[Hyattsville] will likely engage in talks about specific locations this fall, according to council documents. City staff will brief the council in Fall 2017 on specific recommended locations prior to the locations being finalized for Spring 2018 installation

Overall, the county plans to install 67 stations and 670 bikes over the next several years in five phases. The first phase will include 25 stations with 250 bikes throughout parts of Hyattsville, Mount Rainier, Brentwood, Riverdale Park, Cottage City, Colmar Manor, Bladensburg and National Harbor.

“The county’s plan is to roll out Phase 1 and 1a next spring, 2018. Phase 2 is anticipated in 2019 and would coincide with M Bike’s contract expiring,” McAlister said, explaining that the expansion into College Park would be at the same time the current bike share program in the city is set to expire.

image from thesentinel.com

Hyattsville is in Phase 1 of the rollout of the Capital Bikeshare program in Prince George’s County, and McAlister came before the council to discuss the partnership and what role the city will play in the process. 

Perhaps by then the gap in the Trolley Trail at Riverdale Station will be filled. In a hopeful sign, the Whole Foods at the development opens today.

The first Whole Foods Market in Prince George’s County will open April 12 on Baltimore Avenue in Riverdale Park. The 40,000-square-foot store will be the primary anchor for Riverdale Park Station, the mixed-use development by Calvin Cafritz Enterprises that includes 160,000 feet of retail space and 37,000 square feet of office space.

Transportation staff to present final striping plan for Washington Blvd bike lanes on April 19th

image from arlingtonva.s3.dualstack.us-east-1.amazonaws.com

Arlington County's first open house on the Washington Boulevard Bike, Pedestrian and Roadway Enhancements project, held in early March, resulted in an extensive list of comments, including the following concerns:

Bicycle lane will be used as parking lane

Bicycle lane not as good a buffer for pedestrians as the parking lane is  

Bicycle lanes that are not protected or separated from traffic are not safe enough, especially if this increases cyclists

Bicycle lanes will encourage more bicycles to use a dangerous roadway meant for vehicles when a sufficient trail is nearby

As well as a few about lost parking (people care about that? Well now I've seen everything). 

The 2nd Open House, which will include the final re-striping plan for the boulevard, will be held on April 19th, from 5-7:30pm at Reed School Gymnasium. 

ANC 2E votes unanimously to support protected bike lanes on Water/K Street NW

At a meeting of ANC 2E last week, the ANC unanimously voted to support plans to add a protected bike lane to Water Street between 34th and 30th streets NW, improved and expanded crosswalks, an improved system for tour bus drop-off and a new left-turn lane from K Street westbound onto Wisconsin.

Those improvements — estimated at a price tag in the “low six figures,” according to the business group’s Will Handsfield — could come at a cost to some stakeholders as well. Between 30 and 35 parking spots on Water and K west of Wisconsin would be eliminated, as well as 10 others east of Wisconsin, Department of Transportation planner Benito Perez said

image from washcycle.typepad.com

This is the first phase of the improvement plan, and work will commence immediately following PEPCO construction demobilization this fall. Phase 2 will be done in coordination with the streetcar.

A turnaround at Water and 34th streets NW — previously slated for the project’s first phase — has been delayed until 2019, when the Key Bridge reconstruction is complete. Long-term plans for K and Water streets include accommodating the proposed DC Streetcar extension by relocating the bike lane onto a pathway through Georgetown Waterfront Park

While there was some grumbling about lost parking, the ANC demonstrated strong support and the BID is looking for parking spaces in nearby garages that can be used to offset the loss. 

Numerous residents praised the plan, saying they think a significant number of motorists who currently clog up K and Water streets searching for parking won’t bother if they know they won’t find it. But several ANC 2E members expressed concern that removing parking will inconvenience residents and visitors while also failing to resolve existing congestion there. “I think it’s unrealistic to think the drivers are going to stop driving because they can’t find parking,” commissioner Monica Roache said, adding that she’s “very uncomfortable” with losing more than 40 spots

On the Road: Morgantown

IMG_6270 

The Caperton Trail passes by an historic train station

If you follow me on twitter, you might now that at the end of March I spent a week in Morgantown, WV. I didn't have a bike there and the only place that rented them wasn't open late enough for me to get one (due to my work schedule and their lying website - I'm sorry but you clearly are NOT open until 8pm on Mondays), but I still got to spend some time on the trails, I just had to run which means I could only see about half a mile of each trail, because I needed to be back at the hotel in about an hour. Ok, I run a little faster than that, but not much.

IMG_6271

The trail, with the PRT above

If you've never been, Morgantown - and much of WV in general - is kind of a rail trail paradise. There are two major rail trails that meet in Morgantown. There is one series of trails (but really it can be thought of as one trail)  that runs north-south along the Monongahela River and another trail that runs to the east along Decker's Creek. They're both nice trails.

IMG_6274

The rutted path of the Mon River Trail South

In town, the Monongahela trail is called the Caperton Trail and outside of the city it becomes the Mon River Trail North or the Mon River Trail South, but they all use the same abandoned rail line. The Mon River is one of those rare rivers that runs north, and it really is disorienting (at least to me it was). The Mon River Trail South is quiet and unpaved. I never saw anyone else on it, but as it came into town it turned into the paved trail going past industrial buildings and a Lock and Dam. Once you get to the edge of downtown, you come to the junction with the Decker's Creek Trail and then through the very nice Riverfront Park. Continuing north, the trail passes beneath the tracks of the PRT, which I admit to joyriding, and then it opens up into more green space closer to the University. The trail system continues north all the way to the Pennsylvania state line and across it to the southern edge of Port Marion, PA. To the south it goes 19 miles to the Marion County Trail (MCTrail).

Screenshot 2017-04-09 at 12.23.17 AM

The MCT starts at the north end with the Meredith tunnel, which is a good bit longer than the Dalecarlia, and ends at Prickett's Fort State Park. At Prickett's Fort there is an abandoned railroad bridge across the river, but it doesn't seem there are any plans to restore it for trail use. 

  IMG_6292

Exiting the Meredith Tunnel

But at 29 miles (plus the nearly 3 mile MCTrail) this is really just a starter trail. Advocates want to extend the trail north another 34 miles to Connelsville, PA and the Great Allegheny Passage. That trail connects to the C&O Trail and thus, Washington, DC. So, someday DC and Morgantown could be on the same trail. The northern extension would also connect to the Cheat Lake Trail. 

To the south, there is a proposal to extend the trail along the ROW to downtown Fairmont. Just south of Fairmont, the same railroad ROW is used for the 14.5 mile long West Fork River Trail (which can be reached from the southern end of the MCT via an on-street route). It goes all the way to the south end of Shinnstown, WV. South of that it is again used for the Northern Harrison County Bike and Hike Trail, and then south of that as the Southern Harrison County Bike and Hike Trail with the gap between being the city of Clarksburg. To the west of Clarksburg is the North Bend Rail Trail which goes almost all the way to Ohio. 

And there are plans to use all of these trails, and more to create the Industrial Heartland Trail System, which would connect Morgantown to Pittsburg, Cleveland, Akron, Erie and Parkersburg.

Screenshot 2017-04-09 at 12.35.37 AM

The Decker Creek Trail runs 19 miles to the east of Morgantown. The trail is along a stream in a narrow and steep valley, so you really feel like your out of town once you get on it. It also means there are few connections to the trail outside of the west end. But with the narrower stream and the frequent parks (including a trailer park) it's a very different experience from the Caperton's industrial and wide-open feel. There are plans to extend this trail as well. It would be extended from it's current terminus just SW of Reedsville to Kingwood, which is not far from the state line. In Kingwood it would connect with yet another planned rail trail, the West Virginia Northern Rail Trail from Kingwood to Tunnelton, WV, but it would not pass through the 1 mile plus long Kingwood Tunnel that gives Tunnelton its name.

So Morgantown has a access to ~50 miles of rail trail and could one day be part of an interstate network of trails that would be one of the country's most impressive. Not bad.

There are a few things Morgantown is missing, like bike share. With so many trails; a working public transit system; and a large supply of young, broke college students, it seems bike sharing could really improve mobility. And unfortunately they have a mandatory helmet law and city-wide badn on sidewalk cycling. But those are easily fixed.

IMG_6284

Final phase of WB&A has begun, bridge across the Patuxent

After more than 2 decades, the WB&A trail has entered into its final phase, one that will connect the two pieces (and two counties) of the trail by crossing the Patuxent. The Prince George's section and the Anne Arundel section are currently within spitting distance of one another.

WBA gap

Anne Arundel County's Phase V, the bridge, kicked off in January and last week there was a public meeting about it. Design of the bridge will occur this year and construction next year. In addition, the County is currently building a parking lot for trail users on Patuxent Road at Bragers Road.

At last week's meeting alternatives were presented for the bridge. This part is a little trickier than people thought it was going to be back in 1995. Back then, it was expected that the trail would follow the right-of-way for the old WB&A interurban railroad and cross at the same spot where that did (the abutments of the bridge used by the railroad are still there). But AA county was unable to get access to a section of the ROW north of the river and so a detour - leading to delay - became necessary.

In addition to the no-build option, the County has presented two alternatives, which can be seen on the map below (I also drew the ROW in lime to give an idea of the detour length)

WBA alternatives

Alternative 2 is the shortest connection between the two trails, with all the cost and environmental benefits that entails, but it will have a steep section and some wetland impacts

image from i2.wp.com

Alternative 3 is longer, has more impact and requires an easement, but it avoids the steeper sections and it utilizes an area that has already been cleared.

image from i1.wp.com

I don't know the area that well, but I think I prefer the northern crossing more. The PG Trail on the north side continues on to Bowie State, so the southern crossing will add some distance to those travelling between Bowie State and AA County, but it depends on how steep that steep section is. 

Comments are being accepted through April 17. WABA is taking petition signatures supporting their position which is that the no-build option is bad. 

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