CWL #7 Bethesda to Dickerson

Corridor #7 on this list is also known as Utility Corridor #1 in Montgomery County's Bike Plan. It stretches from Bells Mill Substation just outside the Beltway to the Dickerson Generation Station along the Potomac. It covers 22 miles. On  the east side it ends about 3 miles from the Grosvenor Metro and on the west side it ends about 1000 feet from the C&O Canal Trail. Along the way it intersects with 6 other utility corridors including #12 and #8 on the list. The center portion, about 5 miles in length was turned into a trail this year


Here, as with yesterday's corridor, Montgomery County is planning to build a trail on almost the entire corridor - in this case from Dickerson Road (Route 28) to Tuckerman Lane. 

On the Bethesda side, while the bike plan ends the trail at Tuckerman, the corridor goes past Tuckerman to Westlake Drive. Tuckerman is the straightest shot to the Grosvenor Metro, but they should extend the trail to Westlake. 

On the Dickerson side, the trail ends at Dickerson. Via bikeable shoulders on Dickerson, trail users could reach the Dickerson MARC station 1.2 miles away and the C&O Canal Trail in 3 miles. Future bike planners should create a direct connection to the C&O Canal at this point.


The utility corridor runs parallel to and just south of the MARC rail line and then it turns south before heading to Bethesda. On the east end, where it diverges from the rail line and moves through denser area, it might someday make a great corridor for Bus Rapid Transit, with a bike trail of course. It's wide enough to support both. A BRT line from Darnestown Road to the Grosvenor Metro would be a nice extension of the transit system. 

Foundry Branch Trestle raze application hearing set for Jan 11

The D.C. Historic Preservation office has announced that a public hearing to consider the application to raze the Foundry Branch Trestle between Foxwood and Georgetown will occur on Friday, January 11, 2019, at 9:30 am, at 1100 4th Street SW, Room E200, Washington DC 20024.

The applicant's claim is that failure to approve the raze permit will result in unreasonable economic hardship.

Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANC) are invited to participate in and offer testimony at this hearing. ANC representatives testifying in support of or opposition to the application may simply appear at the hearing and give evidence without filing in advance or requesting party status. Any ANC testimony or statements on this case already submitted to the Historic Preservation Review Board are automatically referred to the Mayor's Agent as part of the case record.

Any affected person or group who wishes to be recognized as a party to the case is required to file a request with the Mayor's Agent no later than Thursday, December 27, 2018. This request shall include all items listed on the enclosed information sheet. Any requests for party status should be sent to the Mayor's Agent by email to or by mail to 1100 4th Street SW, Suite E650, Washington DC 20024. If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Julianna Jackson at 202-442-7631 or

The Foundry Branch Trestle is the last remaining streetcar trestle in Washington, DC. Advocates support restoring it for bike/ped use

CWL #8 Germantown to Middleton Bridge

This is another long one. It's more than 80 miles from Germantown, around DC, across Prince George's County and down to the Morgantown Generating Station next to the Middleton Bridge (formerly Nice). Most of the way, it's pretty far out from DC too far to connect with any existing trails, but it intersects with the WB&A trail and 14 other corridors on the way, many of which are part of this series.  Unlike other corridors on this list, there is an existing plan to put a trail on a several miles of this corridor. MDHook

Montgomery County

On the west end, the trail starts at the recently opened PEPCO trail (Utility Corridor #1 in the plan and #7 on this list) near South Germantown Recreation Park in Montgomery County. The new Montgomery County Bike Plan places a trail on the entire corridor in the county from there to the Prince George's County line. The plan calls this "Utility Corridor #2". This alone would be a ~24 mile long trail. It was pass to the north of Gaithersburg and end just north of Burtonsville. 


Prince George's County

In PGC it crosses through more developed areas, a trail would have to cross I-95, the Route 1 corridor, the BW Parkway and the Patuxent Research Refuge. These are difficult, but not impossible barriers. Then it crosses through Bowie to the WB&A Trail and south to within a short distance of Six Flags and Andrews Air Force Base. This part would not be relatively east to build on, even though it has a few barriers like US-50 and Pennsylvania Avenue. South of Pennsylvania Avenue, the corridor crosses Rosaryville State Park and Cedarville State Forest before leaving the county. There is no technical reason why a trail can't be built the whole way across the county on the corridor, a PG Cross-County Trail if you will. It would be amazing. 

Charles County

Charles County is out of my usual service area, but the opportunity to take a trail right to the base of the Middleton Bridge, which should get a bike-ped crossing over the Potomac when rebuilt, is too appealing to pass on. In Charles, the corridor travels to the east of the more developed parts like Waldorf which increases it's ease of construction but would need connectors to improve its utility. A connection to the Indian Head Rail Trail, 3 miles away, would be key, for example. The corridor does pass over SOME farm land, but there is room to easily go around that. The corridor defines the border of the Zekiah Swamp Natural Environment Area (which might mean boardwalks) and the Allen Fresh Natural Area and then past Newburg to the bridge. Here again there is not a lot of built on land that would prevent a trail. 

It's not impossible to believe that a trail could be built across all three counties, connecting to a new Potomac River Crossing on one end, a recently built and soon to be expanded bridge on the other; and to a major trail and more than a dozen other power corridors along the way. I wouldn't count on making the trip anytime soon, but if it were done it would be spectacular. 

CWL #9 Lorton to Middleburg

Today's utility corridor runs 30 miles along the south side of Fairfax County from Lorton all the way to Middleburg in Loudoun County, passing briefly through Fauquier County. Just outside of Middleburg the power lines split, going north and south along Wancopin Creek, but the corridor is too thin and goes over too much farmland to be useful. On the east end, the corridor connects with what will be #3 on this list and in between it connects to six other corridors including #12, #11 and #5 on this list. Where it connects with #12 in Centreville, it forms part of the Cub Run Trail System, which is built on numerous utility corridors. And like so many other corridors on the list, it too intersects the future I-66 Trail. This corridor is long and straight, and because of where it is, is more feasible than most of the ones on this list.


Though it's far from the denser parts of the area, that's what makes this such a great opportunity. There is almost nothing else built on it. No one has started to fence it in as part of their yards. There is unlikely to be much conflict. And there aren't that many barriers. There are streams and roads to traverse for sure, but the only two big ones are I-66 and US-29. But getting past I-66 would be a snap, because of the I-66 trail. That trail will connect the north side of this corridor to Compton Road where the I-66 Trail will pass under I-66 and then corridor #12 could connect the south segment of this corridor the short distance to to that crossing. 


[Corridor #12 is in red, and the I-66/Cub Run trail is in yellow]

The corridor remains clear all the way into Loudoun up to the James Madison Highway in Blue Ridge, and then it starts to run over farm land, making any further extension difficult. But that still leaves 24 out of 30 miles available.

The Fairfax County Bike plan doesn't show any bike facilities in the area of this corridor, but the area is starting to fill in with sprawl. Now might be the time for the county to start staking a claim to a trail here. 

The only bit of bad luck is that though it intersects with a VRE rail line (another barrier to be crossed), it is right in-between two far away stations. If only there were a station in Clifton. 

CWL 2018 #10 Norbeck to Laytonsville

At a little more than 6 miles, this is one of the shorter utility corridors. It already has a 1 mile long trail on part of it and Montgomery County calls it "Utility Corridor #3" in the new bike plan and plans to build another 1.5 miles of trail on it. Unfortunately they won't connect the two.


On the north end the trail starts at a T-junction with a corridor that runs from Germantown to the Nice Bridge (#8 on this list), but until, and only if, a trail is on that corridor the natural stopping point would be Mt. Zion Park just south of that corridor. Building a trail from that park to the north end of MoCo's planned trail at Bowie Mill doesn't seem like it would be difficult. It only crosses a few roads and doesn't seem to interfere with any other land use, while connecting into a few subdivisions along the way.

MoCo's planned trail would run from Bowie Mill to Cherry Valley Drive, so that is actually something that could happen. Along the way it connects to Utility Corridor #4 where a trail exists that MoCo wants to expand. 

From there it's only about 4000 feet to Emory Lane where a sidepath that Google Maps calls the "Georgia Avenue Trail", but is really just part of the ICC Trail, can be found. 

The trail here isn't much - it's a little narrow - but it follows the power lines to Georgia Avenue and then south to the ICC Park and Ride. From there the "Georgia Avenue Trail" continues as a buffered and flexpost delinated bike lane along the west side of the access road to Thistlebridge, a short sidepath south of then and then ends, just north of Norbeck Road. At Norbeck Road the power lines continue but the corridor basically ends. 

From Norbeck, the MoCo Bike plan calls for a separated bikeway to the Matthew Henson Trail.

This is a short trail opportunity that would extend a trail MoCo is already investing in and connect to another one they already did, in an area where lots of other facilities are planned. 

Little Paint Branch Extension to open soon

By the end of the month, the Little Paint Branch Extension project should be finished. The project will create a connection between the Paint Branch Trail, part of the Anacostia Tributary Trail System, and the Little Paint Branch Trail which is entirely within the Little Paint Branch Park in Beltsville. That trail connects via other bike facilities all the way to Fairland Regional Park near Laurel

The project is called the Little Paint Branch Extension, but the website says it's the Paint Branch Trail that's being extended. It's all in how you look at it I guess.

The Little Paint Branch Trail Extension Project is a 2.1-mile extension of the Paint Branch Trail from Cherry Hill Road to the Beltsville Community Center. Extending the Little Paint Branch Trail will provide a shared use path route across the Beltway and connect two M-NCPPC park facilities: the Paint Branch Stream Valley Park with the Little Paint Branch Stream Valley Park.

image from

This is the first extension of the ATTS since the Anacostia Trail was extended to US-50 in 2012. It's also creates only the 2nd of the system's trails to extend outside the Beltway.

Closing this gap in the Anacostia Tributaries Trail System will create a continuous 75-mile trail route from Fairland Regional Park near Laurel, Maryland to Purcellville, Virginia at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

image from

CWL 2018 #11 Fairfax to Centreville

One of the shortest corridors on the list, the corridor that runs parallel to Braddock Road could be seen as a neighborhood complement to the Braddock Road sidepath - and likely a more appealing option to that minimal facility.


The corridor is 11 miles long with a 1.5 mile spur. On the west side it runs parallel to I-66, but I just connected it to the I-66 trail there and on the east side it connects to the Lee Meadows neighborhood after crossing Long Branch Stream Valley Park. Along the way it passes through neighborhoods; past parks, an elementary school and shopping areas; and a short way from George Mason and Eagle Bank Arena. For most of the way, it's both a power and gas corridor, but in Centreville, they split up and the shorter one goes south along Little Rocky Run where it meets up with a longer corridor between Middleberg and Lorton (#9 on this list). In the map above, the little blue line in the top left corner is corridor #12

Near Clifton Road, it connects to two corridors that go north to I-66 and Penderwood and one that goes south to Clifton (Not one of the 12 on the list). 

In three places, the corridor is immediately adjacent to Braddock Road, so the existing trail uses it, meaning that this corridor could be a complete trail with four pieces, each of which would be easy to do. 

On the east side the a corridor trail would connect neighborhoods and 3 parks all on a route that's flatter than the Braddock Road path.


The center portion has fewer parks but passes two churches, two golf courses and Willow Spring Elementary School. It also has two other corridor connections.


And one of the two west side sections connects to the future I-66 Trail, businesses and a park; and the other follows a stream bed which could host a trail going farther north and south. 


It's not very long, and in places a little redundant, but nonetheless the corridor could help make some important connections. 

DC's Vision Zero grants awarded, but I'm not sure how or why

DC announced three new Vision Zero grants this week. 

Ward 7 Business Partnership - $87,000

Residents and businesses in the Deanwood neighborhood will launch “Walkable Ward 7,” a year-long safety program and campaign that will use tactical urbanism and smart cities technology to implement demonstration projects. The project will leverage significant community engagement and existing data to identify problematic locations, and generate new data using sensors and computer vision to measure and evaluate the effect of interventions. The project will explore improving signage, pedestrian crossings, pick-up drop-off zones, and neighborhood festivals with tactical urbanism techniques.

Gearin’ Up Bicycles - $108,000

Gearin’ Up Bicycles is a non-profit full-service bicycle shop, located in Ward 5, that focuses on career development for youth from underserved communities. Gearin’ Up’s Vision Zero grant will support “Bike Force,” a series of mobile bicycle pop-up shops staffed by youth mechanics that provide free bicycle maintenance, repairs, and education. Gearin’ Up will serve more than 1,200 District residents at 50 pop-up events, with special emphasis on locations East of the Anacostia River, where no bicycle shops exist. Gearin’ Up will continue to align its programming with District of Columbia Public Libraries (DCPL), District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) events.

Safe Routes to School National Partnership - $117,000

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership will create “Safe Routes for Youth,” a program for teens in Wards 7 and 8 to support a youth-led Vision Zero agenda, develop youth leadership, and to implement activities that promote a culture of injury-free, healthy active transportation. The Vision Zero grant will support the goal of reducing collisions and fatalities over the medium to long-term by positioning youth in Wards 7 and 8 as community leaders who can engage their peers and District agencies on transportation safety and establish a youth-centered, culturally responsive transportation agenda. The program will prioritize approaches and design strategies that increase transportation safety for youth and conduct youth-led traffic safety education for young people. It will also seek to build understanding around safety issues affecting youth in Wards 7 and 8, including traffic injuries, street harassment, and street violence.

It's hard to be against them, and I'm a big fan of Gearin' Up, but some of them have a tenuous connection to Vision Zero. I guess the point is to innovate and see what works, so maybe I should judge these two harshly, but I'm skeptical these will do much for safety. They seem like good programs I would support anyway, so I'm not too bothered by it. 

When I look at the ideas here, some are better than others. Improved pedestrian crossings, youth-led traffic safety education for young people and pretty easy to connect to vision zero. Pop-up bike shops, neighborhood festivals and building leaders (all of which I love, I'll note) are a little harder.

I'm not sure how these were chosen or by whom either. I hope it's not slush-fundy. 

Maybe, I'm just grumpy. Bah humbug.

CWL 2018 #12 Clarksville, MD to Manassas, VA

The first utility corridor on the list is a long one. Like really long. Like the name of this post doesn't actually do it credit. It's a gas corridor (or perhaps two) that goes south all the way to Moorseville, NC and north to Jacksonville, MD on the north side of Balimore. But for the sake of everyone's sanity I decided to limit things to the close in counties, which in this case means Montgomery and  Fairfax Counties. In both cases I push the corridor a little farther so that it can connect to worthwhile things, like the future i-66/Custis trail.  This corridor is the only one on the list  to cross the Potomac and be in two states (though plenty of other corridors do, they just didn't make the list). This section is 40 miles long, though the map shows the 35 miles north of it too. [On all the maps, Green is the line the post is about, Blue are trails already built on corridors and Red are other corridors without trails]


There are eight sections of the corridor that already have trails on them, three in the Rockville-Olney area and five in Fairfax County. One, the Gude Trail, even has a name.


Filling in the two gaps between the pieces in the Rockville Olney area would create a 7 mile trail from E. Gude Road in Rockville to Manor Oaks Park in Brookeville. The new Montgomery County Bicycle Master Plan includes part of this as "Utility Corridor #4", which would extend the existing middle trail in Olney to the ICC Trail at Muncaster Mill Road. This would create a de facto connection to the Rock Creek Trail and the Gude Trail, using the ICC Trail and the trails around Lake Needwood. A better connection from the ICC to Rock Creek would be great, but obviously it would make sense to go around Lake Needwood. There is a golf course in the way of this trail, but it's on the section that MoCo plans for the trail already so they must think it is manageable.  And of course, this section meets up with another utility corridor in Olney that goes a few miles north and south. The MoCo bike plan calls this "Utility Corridor #3" and plans a 1.5 mile long trail on it centered on the intersection with this corridor.


South of Rockville

On the south side, the corridor first goes to the Potomac. It passes through Rockville, just past Montgomery College, on land that now has parking lots and subdivisions. It would be hard to build a trail on any of it, and then it would need to cross I-270. The one exception is on the west side of Montgomery Avenue, the corridor opens up there until it reaches the Millennium Trail. Then it runs into the Lakewood Country Club golf course. South of that, the corridor is fenced in to a lot of yards.

I'm not saying they own that land or the rights to it, but there would be a lot of people fighting a plan to put a trail literally in what they see as their back yard. At around Piney Meeting Road it opens up some more, but is still fenced in all the way to River Road. It would be a diplomatic challenge to put a trail on much of this, which is why it likely isn't in the plan. 

At River Road, the corridor meets up with the Potomac Water Filtration Plant and the Potomac River. I get that a bridge across the Potomac here would be tough, but not as tough as other places, and the location actually makes sense. It's about 1/3 of the way from Chain Bridge and White's Ferry, an area where there are no bike/ped crossings, so it would fill a big gap. It would be cheaper to build a crossing here than at the American Legion Bridge - though both would make sense. It would create a connection to an island in the Potomac that can now only be reached by boat (something NPS might see as a feature). It would connect the C&O Canal Trail with the Potomac Heritage Trail. And since the area is already clear of trees to make room for the pipeline, it would have less environmental impact than one located elsewhere. It might be the best place to build a new Potomac Crossing to Fairfax.


A bridge could connect on the VA side with local streets, but the corridor quickly becomes back yards and parking lot space again.

That changes around Georgetown Pike. From there it might be possible to build a trail all the way to Wiehle Avenue, and if Hidden Creek Country Club is redeveloped, to the W&OD Trail. That would require crossing Leesburg Pike and Baron Cameron Avenue, but there's already a small neighborhood trail on part of it near the Uplands Pool.


South of the W&OD Trail, the corridor runs into the Dulles Toll Road corridor, Reston National Golf Course and some more development that would make a trail difficult; but south of South Lakes Drive, a trail would be possible to add a trail all the way to I-66. 

This section already has some trails in it. In other places it might make sense to use existing paths in a similar corridor - like the bike lanes on Colt's Neck Road - but most of the way it could just be built in the corridor. Most noteworthy among the existing trails is the 1 mile one from West Ox to Percheron Lane and the 1.9 mile trail in the Cub Run Park area. Building along this corridor - and connecting across the Dulles Toll Road by building a real bike facility in the Reston Parkway corridor would create a trail system from the new I-66 Trail to Georgetown Pike, connecting to the W&OD Trail and Cub Run Trails. Furthermore, at Cub Run, the trail runs into another corridor that will be #9 on this list. 

None of this is in the Fairfax County Bike Plan.

North of Olney

North of Olney, the corridor starts to run into the back yard problem, but it might at least be possible to connect the existing piece to the Rachel Carson Natural Surface Trail. 

Then around Clarksville it opens up again for a few miles south of the Tridelphia Reservoir, though that section would need a bridge over the Patuxent River. But north of that, the pipeline goes under a lot of farmland - and crosses into Howard County.


The corridor is long, and it connects to the Custis/I-66, W&OD, C&O Canal, Millennium and Rock Creek Trails; giving it enormous potential. But the nature of gas lines is that they allow more development on the ground - mostly lawns, parking and golf courses - and so there is more conflict. In addition, crossing the Potomac is no small task - it's both costly and requires building on NPS land next to a secure facility.

At least Montgomery County has chosen to take advantage of the lowest hanging fruit. 

Christmas Wish List 2018 - Utility Corridors


Cherry Creek Trail passes under power lines in Denver, Colorado

After a long hiatus, the Christmas Wish List is back. 

This year it's going to highlight the potential that utility corridors - those that allow for gas or electricity lines - have for multi-use trails.  Montgomery County has been a leader lately in recognizing this, but there are opportunities in Prince George's and Fairfax too (the inner jurisdictions, less so). Montgomery County required PEPCO  to tolerate trails on their corridors in order to allow for the merger with Exelon, and in their recent Master Bicycle Plan they included several trails on utility corridors.

Utility corridors can be used for trails, but they aren't as natural a fit as railroad right-of-ways for trails for several reasons. For one thing, there aren't any in DC proper because power lines aren't allowed in the L'Enfant city. Another problem is that the land is often used by something else -  farms, parking lots or golf courses - beneath or above. That's great for land use, but it makes adding a bike path through a corridor difficult. Finally, the nature of power lines is that they, unlike trains and bikes, can easily traverse rough terrain or bodies of water so there is no pre-existing earthworks like cuts and bridges to reuse. Some of the corridors stretch across 50 miles or more and adding a trail would cost many millions, take decades and require extensive negotiation with dozens of landowners.

Still, utility corridors can help to expand the trail network. They can help create a "breezeway" network that connects towns like the one Montgomery County is planning if they're capitalized on correctly.  After all, one of the regions most popular trails - the W&OD Trail - was a utility corridor at the time the trail was built. Sure, it's best known as a railroad corridor - having hosted one for more than 50 years - but it then became a power line corridor before VEPCO sold the land to NVRPA to build the trail.

It's doubtful any of the corridors I'll mention over the coming days will ever be as popular as the W&OD or that any will become a bike trail in their entirety. Most aren't even vaporware at this point.  But they represent a great opportunity for intercity biking and could be a boon to the communities they pass through. 

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