The NoMa Parks Foundation is having a Community Conversation focused on NoMa Green on Tuesday, October 25th from 6:30pm-8:30pm at the Hyatt Place Hotel at 33 New York Avenue - along the Metropolitan Branch Trail.
This meeting will focus on the NoMa Green, with brief updates on other parks projects. NPF is excited to introduce you to the landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz, who was selected to design the NoMa Green. A light dinner will be served starting at 6pm, and children are welcome to attend. You can RSVP for the meeting here.
NoMa Green is the park that is being planned adjacent to the Metropolitan Branch Trail between New York Avenue and the Z-curve.
the south tower, according to the application, is meant to “attract creative tenants.” Designed by SK&I Architecture with a dark metal frame holding a grid of light grey concrete, “warm wood elements on the facade” and a stone base, the heart of the building is a two-story, public bicycle lobby linking the Metropolitan Branch Trail with the Washington Gateway plaza.
The $1.2 million bike lobby, designed by Gensler, would include a grand stairway and bike trough (essentially, a bike stairway), plus bicycle storage, a trail map, station maps, an automatic tire pump and drinking fountain.
As proposed, the residential north tower is configured “to define a strong urban street edge along New York Avenue and the Metropolitan Branch Trail.”
As part of its latest proposal, MRP has offered to pave, landscape and light a portion of the Metropolitan Branch Trail, at a cost of $150,000
That sounds good, though It's not 100% accurate. They aren't going to pave the trail (which is already paved) they're going to "improve the paving, landscaping and lighting along the Metropolitan Branch Trail." But it's not clear what form those improvements will take. It looks like there will at least be trees between the trail and the north tower.
The north tower will be built first and during that interim period, the developers will build a trail connection to the plaza on the site of the south tower.
For the North Tower
Architectural treatments and residential stoops are utilized along the Metropolitan Branch Trail to bring a pedestrian scale and then active residential and amenity uses line the Trail to increase its use.
For the South Tower
The proposed two-story bike lobby is located in the South Tower and is accessed from the bike path on the second floor of the tower. Inside the lobby, a grand stair with a bike trough will mediate the grade difference to allow riders to easily access the plaza located on the ground floor. In addition to bike storage, the lobby will have space designated for information about the trail and surrounding neighborhoods, station maps, an automatic bike tire pump, drinking fountain, and bicycle racks.
The one concerning part is public access.
Public access to the plaza from the New York Avenue stair is from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and from the Metropolitan Branch Trail Atrium to the plaza from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
I don't know how stair access is closed, but the lobby can pretty clearly be closed. Not sure how much use is impacted by closing it for 9 hours every night, but I'd really prefer a 24 hour a day facility that doesn't rely on a property manager. Because leaving trail access up to property managers has its own set of issues. For example, the elevator between the trail and the NY Ave Metro station is often closed, even during the hours (7am-7pm) when it is supposed to be open. This is not due to maintenance issues but it simply not being turned on/opened by the property manager. One frequent user kept a record of elevator availability over two months and found it was not available 56% of the time (based on 16 attempts).
In addition (although not entirely related) the top of the elevator has become a de facto homeless shelter with people frequently sleeping there.
Limited hours with the elevator has not been proven to work, I'm not sure I would support extending that to the Lobby. It appears that the lobby is just a two-story walk through area, with doors to the building that can be locked. Why not keep the lobby open, and just close those doors to the fitness and residential areas (but it would need to be patrolled for the sleeping people issue)?
Below you can see the plaza level of the bike lobby and then the trail level, with doors, below that.
The DDOT engineering team assigned to the bridge rehabilitation says it’s because of the lack of right of way on the south side of the bridge. When design option A1 was presented in 2004, the lot at the corner of 8th Street and Monroe Street NE on the south side of the bridge was a “wooded lot.” Since then, it has been developed, and the trail right of way was not secured beforehand. The engineering lead said that if the right of way had been secured before that building was constructed, then the tunnel beneath the Monroe Street Bridge would have been a possible option, but with the current set up, the trail alignment beneath the bridge is not going to happen because there is not enough space between the buildings and tracks.
As long as the building was within their property line, DDOT should have asked for the easement before the construction happened. That didn’t happen. Now the buildings are built and the alignment is much more difficult.
There were other trail easement issues along the right of way. I'm not sure it is "DDOT's" fault as securing easements isn't really their bag, but then they do probably have to request it. I'm not sure how the sausage is made, actually. I was told that some of the other easement issues occurred because the lawyers who were needed to buy the old Eckington Rail Yard north of New York Avenue, were busy acquiring land for the baseball stadium. Once they were available it was too late, PEPCO and others had already bought it. That's why the trail has the Z-curve at R Street and why it's jammed to one side or the other instead of rolling through a park as was imagined in WABA's Concept Plan.
Anyway, even if they had the easement, there is no plan to rebuild the abutment and no room to go between the abutment and the tracks, otherwise the lack of an easement would possibly be moot.
Still, WABA is hoping for a protected intersection at 8th and Monroe. That would be a great consolation prize.
Too late for the first movie, but still three more...
WHO: EVERYONE is invited! Bring your blanket or chairs. Co-sponsored by Friends of Edgewood and Met Branch Trail 5K WHERE: On the Met Branch Trail by the Rhode Island Ave NE Pedestrian-Bicycle Bridge WHEN: At dusk (8:30ish) every Thursday in July WHAT: Thursday, July 7: Back to the Future Thursday, July 14: Lean On Me Thursday, July 21: Inside Out Thursday, July 28: Cool Runnings
(Rain dates: August 4 and 11)
Just like last year, short films about other DC nonprofits' good work will precede each family-friendly feature presentation. Movies will be shown with closed-captioning so no one misses anything. We're excited!
Friends of Edgewood Recreation Center, Inc., 501(c)(3)
Doing Good in the Neighborhood
DC DPR Community Garden Park Partners, and Office of the Clean City Adopt-a-Block Partners
Last week, the Postal Service sold the 79,380-square-foot historic building, located on a 2.5-acre lot, for $12.25 million. The buyer is a subsidiary of Reno, Nevada-based Amerco (NASDAQ: UHAL), the parent company of U-Haul.
The block long building on the south side of W was built adjacent to the tracks to access the railroad via a small spur. (in fact, you can still see the track poking up through the pavement on W)
On the south side is a sprawling and almost always empty parking lot. It would seem that, being so close to Metro, downtown and a major bike trail it would be an ideal place for urban infill - even if the historic building has to be preserved.
This would be an opportunity to create a more welcoming trailhead/gateway at W, if they needed any sort of PUD, but it doesn't appear they will.
Amerco representatives did not return requests for comment, but we are told by officials familiar with the deal that the likely use of 2135 Fifth is self-storage, with U-Haul truck parking on the surrounding lot. At the very least, Amerco is expected to pursue a by-right use. The site is zoned for medium-density commercial and production, distribution and repair uses.
The tour begins at The Lobby Project – 1200 First Street NE 6pm-8pm || Mural Tour begins at 6:30pm Join us in the Lobby Project for happy hour with some of the POW!WOW! artists. At 6:30pm, we will tour the neighborhood and check out a few of the murals.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
The National Park Service's National Capitol Region (NCR) recently released a draft version of its "Paved Trails Study", which serves as a plan for how NCR sees the paved trail network, both within and outside of the parks, developing in the future and as an update to the 1990 plan. In addition to identifying several high priority capital projects, the NPS Paved Trails Study also identifies some lower priority capital projects which it groups by park.
Here are all the paved trail projects identified for the National Mall and Memorial Parks.
Immediate (0-2 years)
(N1.1) Remove stairs at Ohio Drive SW Tidal Basin Inlet Bridge to connect to Ohio Drive Trail; narrow travel lanes on inlet bridge to widen sidewalk; mark bike lanes along East Basin Drive to connect to proposed new cycle track extension on Maine Avenue with connection to 14th Street Bridge Trail - this is a high priority project that was covered in this earlier post.
(N1.4) Coordinate with DDOT for development and installation of signage
(N1.5) Install sharrows for shared facility on Jefferson Drive from 3rd to 15th Street
(N2.4) Improve safety of all at-grade trail crossings from the National Mall leading up to the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge; Improve crossing of existing Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway at the Belvedere/ Constitution Avenue extension; Provide new crossing of Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway to connect Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway Trail to volleyball courts and bridge approach; Provide additional signage; Expand trail width on both north and south sides of bridges - this is a high priority projects that was covered in this earlier post.
(N2.2) Conduct a feasibility study at Lincoln Memorial Circle to develop set of recommendations to improve visitor safety and reduce conflicts for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. Alternatives should improved connections across the bridge and along the Parkway and Ohio Drive to trails. - this is a high priority projects that was covered in this earlier post.
(N4.1) Provide crossing improvements from existing George Mason Memorial/ Bikeshare station across East Basin Drive SW to Jefferson Memorial and across Ohio Drive to East Potomac Park
(N4.2) Develop trail crossing of the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway from F Street NW to Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway Trail (Not sure why this isn't part of the Rock Creek Park portion)
Short term (0-2 Years)
(N1.2) Extend cycle track south on 15th Street between Pennsylvania Avenue NW and Constitution Avenue by removing vendor/ street bus on west side of street. Extend cycle track on 15th Street between Constitution Avenue and Maine Avenue in area between existing sidewalk and road/or move sidewalk to accommodate lane. Reclaim a southbound lane of Maine Avenue from Kutz Bridge to Jefferson Memorial and East Basin Drive for cycle track connection/dedicated bike lanes. Will require coordination between DDOT and NAMA for 15th Street ROW between Pennsylvania Avenue and Constitution Avenue. - this is a high priority project that was covered in this earlier post.
(N1.6) Implement preferred alternative from the National Mall Walkway Study to improve access, ADA and user conflicts on the National Mall Trails (outer perimeter loop trails). Work with Denver Service Center on study of discrete signage options for future separation of user needs.
(N2.2) Conduct an EA at Lincoln Memorial Circle to develop set of recommendations to improve visitor safety and reduce conflicts for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. Alternatives should improved connections across the bridge and along the Parkway and Ohio Drive to trails. - this is a high priority project that was covered in this earlier post.
(N2.3) Implement signage enhancements and access improvements from Lincoln Memorial Loop to Arlington Memorial Bridge in coordination with DDOT.
(N2.4) Implement signage enhancements and access improvements from Lincoln Memorial Loop to the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge.
(N3.3) Develop a multi-modal regional trailhead at the MBT endpoint at Union Station.
Mid-term (5-10 years)
(N1.3) Analyze route alternatives for a new path between FDR Memorial and West Potomac Park ball fields to include marked or separated bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
(N1.7) Study feasibility for on-street bike facility on west bound Independence Avenue from 23rd Street SW to 17th Street SW. Sign/mark bicycle loop from MLK Jr. Memorial to Lincoln Memorial, to Vietnam Veterans Memorial, north of Constitution Garden to 15th Street NW and down to Independence Avenue and back west to MLK Jr. Memorial
(N2.1) Build dedicated bike/ped. trail via new CSX bridge (aka Long Bridge); Connect to Mount Vernon Trail and Long Bridge Drive (Long Bridge Park) and Boundary Channel Drive on west side of Potomac River and to Ohio Drive SW and Rock Creek Park Multi-use Trail on east side of Potomac River.
(N3.1) Develop a local/NPS trailhead which may include signage, bike repair station, water, etc. at East Potomac Park where the 14th Street Bridge is.
(N3.2) Develop a local/NPS trailhead at existing Bikeshare station to include bike repair station, water, etc. at the intersection of Ohio Driver and West Basin Drive (study actually says East Basin, but image shows West)
(N5.1) Assess options to expand the width of Rock Creek Park Multi-use Trail along Ohio Drive
The 1990 Paved Trails plan calls for improving several facilities and widening trails, some of which I assume has happened and others (like widening the shoreline trail beside the Kennedy Center, or the sidewalks along Ohio Drive through the underpasses) have not. But in general, they've done a good job either doing these things or rolling them forward
There's one good idea that is missing
Encourage the Architect of the Capitol to establish east-west bicycle routes past the Capitol, connecting Mall traffic to East Capitol Street.
Update: Here's a map of the Lincoln Memorial Circle idea from 1990. I like the trail along the loop ramp between the Memorial Bridge and Ohio Drive and the similar one on the loop ramp from Ohio Drive to the Circle
Not really something that's appropriate any longer, but interesting is that one of the recommendations was to repave the roads of the Ellipse as they "are periodically used for bicycle races and rallies." Also, one of the projects on the list, widening the Kutz Bridge sidewalks is just now finishing up - though it is to address ADA compliance, not to "relieve pedestrian and cyclist congestion."
In addition, I'm disappointed not to see more mention of bikeshare and where NPS would be willing to allow stations. Granted this is a paved trails plan, but how one rides them is nearly as relevant as where they go.