Ward 5 Works is an effort that came out of Mayoral Executive Order to established a task force to create a strategy for the modernization and adaptive use of industrial land in Ward 5. The Ward 5 Industrial Land Transformation Task Force, comprising residents, business owners and District agency representatives, and they have created the Ward 5 Industrial Land Transformation Study entitled Ward 5 Works.
From that report on current condition:
Ward 5 boasts one of the most popular bike trails in the District—the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT)—which runs along the Metrorail Red Line, connecting the NoMa neighborhood to Fort Totten. There are plans to expand this off-road trail from Fort Totten to Silver Spring, Maryland, which will further enhance its connections to neighborhoods. Regionally, the MBT will connect to other important trails, such as the Capital Crescent Trail, Anacostia Trails System, and be integrated into the East Coast Greenway. Another off-street bike trail has been built along South Dakota Avenue on the east side of the study area. This trail, however, lies only between New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road, and is not connected to any designated bike lanes.
Other than the MBT, pedestrian and bicycle amenities are limited in both quality and quantity within the study area. The industrial character and reliance on vehicular transportation contribute to an environment that is generally not conducive to walking and biking other than on designated bicycle lanes. There are some bike lanes that have been built around the study area, such as 12th Street and 18th Street, but very few bike lanes penetrate. There are numerous Capital Bikeshare stations in Ward 5, but they tend to be concentrated along the MBT and in the center of adjacent neighborhoods. In general, the New York Avenue portions of the study area have few bicycle-friendly streets and few destinations to ride to.
The proposed improvements for biking are:
The District Department of Transportation and Office of Planning should plan and create new bicycle lanes and pedestrian connections from Ward 5 industrial locations to public transit and local business districts. New pedestrian connections should include South Dakota Avenue, Bladensburg Road and Rhode Island Avenue. Public realm improvements, including sidewalks as shown in the map on page 107, should be provided along Queens Chapel Road, West Virginia Avenue, Montana Avenue, Adams Place and streets in the Ivy City neighborhood.
Additional Capital Bike stations should be considered at Union Market, Ivy City, Fort Totten Metrorail station and Rhode Island Avenue Metrorail station. Bike lanes and other enhancements should be encouraged where their inclusion would not negatively impact truck turning movements.
And to reduce reliance on automobiles
Some areas of Ward 5 are disconnected from convenient, non-automobile modes of transportation. Decreased car and bus use will, in turn, lessen emissions. Expanded neighborhood bicycling routes in areas such as Ivy City, Trinidad, Woodridge and Brookland, in combination with additional bicycle parking facilities, will encourage transit between isolated residential areas and retail, restaurant and grocery store sites.
They also call for a linear park (the "New York Strip") along the north side of New York Avenue with a bike/ped path. You can see it on the image below.
the bottom orange line coming in from the right is pointing at it.
Bike lanes on West Virginia all the way to South Dakota Ave and then along South Dakota Avenue to the PG County Connector Trail, along with bike lanes running the length of Rhode Island Avenue and a new bike trail along the north side of New York Avenue would go a very long way toward making Ward 5 as bikeable as any other ward in the city, and would be useful to bike commuters coming in from PG County as well.
WABA is hosting a walk along the route. If you don't go, you lose the right to bellyache about the trail for 6 months (unless you get a note from your Mom).
In July, we shared the news that DDOT is moving forward with design of this phase. And while we can show you plenty of diagams and pictures, it can't beat seeing the real thing.
This Saturday, September 20th, join us for a walk along this unbuilt northern phase of the trail. Starting at the Fort Totten Metro station, we will walk the planned route towards Takoma. Along the way, you'll get a first person perspective on the future trail alignment and hear about some of the history of this exciting community project.
Event Information September 20, 2014 at 1:00 pm - 3:30 pm Fort Totten Metro Station 300 Galloway St NE, Washington, DC 20011 Sign Up Here!
Since the Met Branch Trail's Eckington section opened, there has been some well-documented problem with lights. One problem has stemmed from jurisdiction issues between DDOT and WMATA, but DDOT recently reported at the latest BAC meeting that that problem has been solved, as WMATA has transfered the statiom area trail structure to DDOT which will allow them to maintain those lights themselves. They're trying to get those lights added to the current maintenance contract.
The two videos below show the rear and front camera views of the incidents surrounding a crash between a car and a cyclist along the on-street portion of the Metropolitan Branch Trail on 8th Street NE. I don't see the actual collision as it appears to occur on the opposite side of the car from the camera.
It looks like two cyclists were riding along (possibly two abreast, though one is a little ahead of the other). The driver pulled up and honked at them twice. When they didn't move over, he gunned it, passed over the double-yellow line and passed too closely to the far cyclist. Then he stopped in the road and when they pulled up beside him - one on either side - he took off again, hitting the far cyclist in the process. Then he left the scene.
Now, cyclists are not allowed to ride two abreast if there is a car behind them, but this road was so narrow that it would have done him no good if they had arranged themselves in single file, but continued to take the lane. And then, it was illegal and unsafe for the far cyclist to cross the double yellow line to pass the stopped car, as it appears he did.
But, those are pretty trivial when compared to the litany of illegal, rude and unsafe maneuvers that the driver took part in. Honking (illegal and rude). Crossing the double yellow line (illegal and unsafe). Passing with less than 3 feet (illegal and unsafe). Hit and run (illegal and unsafe). And there was probably some speeding in there for good measure.
It's hard to say who's at fault for the actual crash.
This incident has been reported to the police and better images of the plates show the license plate number clearly. Let's see if MPD follows up.
To follow up on last week's posts on the Metropolitan Branch Trail's L Street ramp, below are some images from the conceptual rendering of the ramp for which there are two different schemes. These are not final engineering designs or even proposals, just ideas. I'm not sure why the "trail easement" is shown to be just the trail, as I understand the whole plot to be a trail easement, but perhaps there is some other distinction at play. It's all WMATA owned easement.
Longitundinal section for Scheme 1
You can see that while the trail is only on the western side of the easement, there are terraced green areas, a walking path and a grand staircase on the east.
Aerial view of Scheme 2
The main difference between the schemes is the space between the trail and the parking lots. In 1, it's a retaining wall, leaving more room for green space on the east, and in 2 it's a grade modified green slope.
Both designs, I'll note allow for a connection to a future extension of Pierce Street NE (visible in the top left of the 2nd image) and a gate for use by WMATA to access the tracks. They could include an acoustic barrier like along the Wilson Bridge to make it a quiter setting as well.
View of Scheme 1 from L Street
View of Scheme 2 from L street
View of Scheme 1 toward L Street
There is some "park" space here in the form of benches and trees, but I'm not sure where a playable art installation would fit if it were to be included here.
View of Scheme 2 toward L
And finally, here's some views of the trail landing at the top of the ramp.
When work started on the New York Avenue Metro station, property owners in the immediate area made contributions to that project. One of the contributions they made was of an easement for the Metrorail line and another for the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT). Most of the MBT easement is currently being used, except for the southernmost portion - the ramp to L Street. Instead a temporary path connects to L Street via a staircase with a bike trough. A neighborhood connection to M Street is being used as the temporary route for the trail, but that connection - with the 180 degree turn - does not meet AASHTO standards.
The easement for the L Street ramp is still there, owned by WMATA, but the ramp has not been built, some 10 years after the Metro station opened. DDOT has said in the past that they want to wait for the development of the lot at 1st and L, behind which the ramp will pass, to begin so that the work can be done contemporaneously. But, with the current owner showing no signs of starting development soon, DDOT began tomove away from that plan and instead wanted to build the ramp independently from any project on the lot. To that effect they created a conceptual design of the trail. That design includes a wide trail with terraced retaining walls, setback lights and trees and all the amenities that a finished trail would need. They've also been negotiating with the landowner to begin work, but issues involving core samples and contaminated soil have slowed those negotiations. So, for now, the ramp is not moving forward.
Meanwhile, people in NoMa need park space and the NoMa BID applied to partner with the DC Office of Planning to design a Playable Art installation to fit onto the currently unused portion of the easement between the current trail and the rail line. The unused portion is about 15' wide on the north end, 25' wide on the south end and about 400' long. There is no design or concept for what that installation will look like, or how much space it will use.
That's where things stand right now. DDOT wants to use the easement to build a ramp, but they only have a conceptual design and thus aren't sure how much of the easement they need or when they'll need it. NoMa wants to use some of the easement for a Playable Art installation but has no idea what that will look like or how much space it will take up. So, what that means for the trail all depends on one's perspective.
It's possible that DDOT will have a breakthrough in negotiations and be able to move forward on the ramp design before the art installation is finalized. NoMa BID does not think that is realistic and that a ramp could be 5 or 10 years away (or that it will never happen). Or it's possible that someone - OP, DDOT, NoMa BID or WMATA - will pull the plug on the art installation and it will never be built. WMATA may not want kids playing on an art installation a few feet away from their tracks, for example.
But if the art is installed it could preclude the future ramp, even while it leaves the current trail untouched. Again, it's all about how one foresees future events.
The pessimistic view for trail supporters is that the art installation creates a constituency for preserving the unused east side of the easement and that DDOT gives in to this constituency by building a narrow trail between retaining walls for a Death Star trench feel or, worse, not build the ramp at all.
An optimistic view would be that the trail design will leave enough space for the art installation and a trail with all the necessary width to provide for terraced retaining walls, set back lights, set back trees etc... Residents will get access to a playable art installation and cyclists will get the trail they were promised. Everybody wins.
A slightly less optimistic view would be that the art installation would temporarily fill some of the unused easement but, when ramp construction begins, it is moved to a permanent location.
However, even with those optimistic possibilities in mind, it's naive to think that the installation doesn't add at least some risk to the L Street ramp. It doesn't kill the project for sure, but it does reduce the probability of it happening - or of being as good as it could be - by some amount greater than zero. There is probably no one who will fight to keep the "gravelly/weedy" strip east of the trail, but likely some(one?) who will fight to preserve their kid's play area.
So that's the question, do we leave a gravelly/grassy strip between the trail and the tracks for years to maximize the chances of the best possible ramp being built; or do we maximize the use of that space sooner, while recognizing that it places the ramp in some measure of jeopardy?
If there were more guarantees that the ramp took absolute precedence over the art installation it would be less worrisome. But, unfortunately, DDOT has shown a willingness to shortchange bike facilities to accommodate local or political interests, and OP - who has the final authority on the art installation (though not the easement) - has stated that they will defer to DDOT on trail matters. So NoMa BID's assurances that they are bike friendly and that they support the ramp are nice, but not too relevant since DDOT and OP are the ones who will make the final decision, and who knows how the community will feel about these things when that time comes? Or how DDOT and OP will react to the community?
Luckily for everyone, I see a pretty simple way out of this (no charge for my services) - move the art installation onto the lot west of the easement.
NoMa BID has talked to the property owner and they support the art installation on the easement. The lot is currently a lightly used parking lot and it seems that some space could be found there to add the art installation on a temporary basis. So maybe the owner will support the art installation off the current easement.
There are a lot of advantages to this placement.
Moves it off the WMATA easement, which takes them out of the decision-making, while also moving the installation away from the tracks
Leaves the easement untouched for future trail construction and removes the risk that the trail could be impacted or precluded.
By re-purposing some of the parking lot, it could make for a more environmentally beneficial option.
Removes the design constraints of the narrow strip between a trail and a train (though a design not tailored to this strip could not be moved onto it after the ramp is built).
Since it's more likely that the ramp is built before the building than the other way around, the art installation would be able to stay where it is longer before having to be moved.
The property owner might get a tax advantage from donating the use of the necessary land - and they'd likely also need to be protected from litigation.
But if the installation is to go on the easement, that places the ramp at some risk. Assurances that the installation will not impact the ramp are hard to put absolute faith in since neither the final design of the trail nor the art installation are known. And while current attitudes may be that the ramp is absolutely something people in the neighborhood want, creating a Playable Art installation will likely create a constituency for the status quo.
DDOT probably shouldn't sign off on another use for the easement until they're sure they won't need it for the MBT ramp. And there is no way that they can be right now.
Wouldn’t it be nice to ride the Met Branch Trail straight down to L Street (no more stairs!) and on to the trail at 2nd Street on or the new cycletrack on 1st Street, as was originally envisioned in the Met Branch Trail Concept Plan and the Met Branch Trail Environmental Assessment?
One of the difficulties in completing the trail is acquiring land (as we have seen near Fort Totten).Luckily, when the New York Ave metro station was built, advocates were able to secure property and build the trail with the station.Between L and M Street, WMATA secured separate easements for the metro tracks and for the Met Branch Trail. Because the property at M Street had already been redeveloped and the property on L Street was still a vacant lot, the neighborhood connection was built at M Street, but the trail to L Street was put on hold with the expectation that it would be built as the adjacent site was redeveloped.That redevelopment did not occur as quickly as planned, but the easement still exists and the trail connection plans are still underway.
Sadly, plans for the area continually threaten the trail rather than incorporating it.First came the NoMa BID’s Public Realm Design Plan, which proposed using the L Street connection right-of-way for a plaza without a facility for bicycles.
Next came the NoMa BID’s Underpass Design Competition which invited artists to design a park space along L Street, without mentioning that this is the Met Branch Trail.
Now the Office of Planning has awarded NoMa BID, through the Playable Art program, the Met Branch Trail easement as the site of a children’s playground.
An initial public meeting on "a new playable art sculpture in the neighborhood along the Metropolitan Branch Trail between L & M Streets, NE" was held last Saturday to discuss plans for this play area.
The MBT ramp to L Street has been planned for almost a decade now, and a connection to 2nd Street has already been built. The owner of the land next to the ROW supports the building of the MBT ramp. The swithcback to M was never intended to be the primary route for the trail. It was built as a temporary route and then later a neighborhood connection. The neighborhood certainly seems to need a play area, but not at the expense of rerouting the trail to M Street permanently. We must find a way to meet the needs of both groups.
In addition to announcing that more CaBi stations were to be installed soon, DDOT had announcements about other project progress at last week's Bicycle Advisory Council meeting.
They have issued an RFQ for a study on a north-south cycletrack from Florida Avenue in Shaw to Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown. They're looking for a route on one of the roads between 5th and 9th, NW and the study will help to determine which road is the best for that. MoveDC has cycletracks on 5th and 6th.
DDOT kicked off Phase 2 of the design of the next section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail last week. This is the section between Bates Road (a.k.a. Big Stinky) and the Takoma Metro. NPS, which controls much of the land the trail will be built on, has agreed to proceed to the design phase and Toole Design Group has been hired to design the trail segment.
DDOT is scoping a project to resurface the Suitland Parkway Trail. Complete reconstruction of the trail is being included in the Douglass Bridge replacement project with a timeline for completion in the 2018-19 time frame.
The 30% design of the Oxon Run Trail rebuild is done, with full design starting soon.
The South Capitol Street Trail project will need to move a wall at Bolling Air Force base in order to be built to the standard that DDOT wants. That's being negotiated.
DDOT is currently resurfacing the South Dakota Avenue NE sidepath from Bladensburg Road to the new Costco. They'd also like to improve biking on V Street NE if they can too.
It moved several projects from "Ready to go" to "Installed Lanes" (M Street NW, 1st Street NE, 13th St NW, G and I NE, New Hampshire Ave NW, Piney Branch Road/13th Streeet and Washington Avenue SW) and there are also now sharrows on Ft. Totten Drive NE.
Several other projects moved up to "Ready to Go" including 49th St NE, Galveston St SW, Harewood Rd. NE, MLK SE, and Malcolm X Ave.
A new bike lane project on 2nd Street SE between East Cap and Independence is listed as "In Design" as is a side path on 2nd NE btween F and L, a bike lane on 19th St from Potomac Ave SE to Benning Road NE, and a cycle track on M Street NE between 1st and Delaware.