The Met Branch Trail continues to plod along at its nearly glacial pace. It appears that construction on the Pepco Substation north of the New York Avenue Metro Station has begun. If you recall, this construction is necessary for the trail to be extended north to R Street. Eric Gilliland of WABA reported that the city still has some land acquisition issues to work out, but hope to break ground in March.
In Maryland the news is not so good. Because of a lengthy redesign of the Maryland options, the report may not make it to the County Council until fall of this year, causing greater delays in the project. In addition the first explanation for why the bridge and tunnel option (option 1) is so expensive was given.
DPWT staff now estimates that Option 1 would cost up to $21M, while the lowest cost Option 5 would cost up to $9.5M. These estimates are about 4 times as high as the cost of comparable trail projects built recently in the area. A principal cost driver is the need to use a small amount of CSX/WMATA r.o.w. to build the trail alongside Selim Road and to build the trail tunnel under Burlington Avenue. A DPWT survey for this project shows that the CSX/WMATA r.o.w. boundary is several feet closer to Selim Road than had been assumed in the earlier M-NCPPC study - a small difference with big consequences for cost. While the amount of r.o.w. needed is very small, use of any CSX/WMATA r.o.w. at all forces the project to comply with expensive safety and separation requirements there for facilities built near operating railroads.
So that does not bode well for building a quality trail in the Georgia Avenue/Burlington Avenue area - unless the county can come up with $21 million, which is unlikely.
On the good news side is this report about the Silver Spring Transit Center receiving additional federal money. It doesn't specifically mention money for bicycles, but since budget problems were causing the county to trim bicycle facilities, including connections with the Met Branch and Green Trails, it can only help