Good news and bad news for the Capital Crescent Trail expansion - victim of the troubled Purple Line

CCTBridge

Workers building the Purple Line, and with it the Capital Crescent Trail, have stopped construction as the companies they work for quit the project.  This will likely delay the opening of the trail by at least a year. .

Contractors closed up the sites and then management was transferred to the state which took over, via MDOT and MTA, some of the contracts. The state says it's committed to completing the project, and using money from the Transportation Trust Fund to do so, but Maryland also says that the departure will result in delays of a year or two, which would push opening to 2024 or 2025. Montgomery County is paying for the trail (and part of the Silver Spring Green Trail), though Maryland is in charge of building it.

The two have been bickering about cost overruns and delays for at least half a year and over the summer a court had to grant a restraining order to temporarily prevent the contractors from walking away while they tried to resolve it, but that has failed and the restraining order was lifted. 

The cost overruns are caused by a combination of coronavirus delays, construction changes demanded by CSX, right-of-way acquisition problems (or failures), code requirements, oh yeah and a stupid lawsuit filed by the anti-transit group the "Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail".

The lawsuit added 266 days and about $200 million 

CCT2

It's mixed news on the lawsuit front

FOCCT (pronounced fəked) continues to sue to shut the Purple Line project down for good, and they continue to lose. In April, a federal judge ruled that the permit that the Army Corps of Engineers issued for the project was proper. And so that ends the suing.  

Just kidding. Nothing but the heat death of the universe can do that as long as some people argue that BRT off the ROW would have been better (The state studied that and decided it wouldn't be). FOCCT, along with resident Leonard Scensny and former Chevy Chase resident John Fitzgerald was back in court in July arguing that the Federal Appeals Court should vacate the permit.  Last month the Army Corps of Engineers argued that FOCCT hasn't identified any material flaws in their permit and urged them to affirm the lower court's ruling. 

Good news - Bethesda Tunnel approved

In a related subject, Montgomery County has committed to building the new trail tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue. For those who don't recall, the Georgetown Branch Trail used to run through the old rail tunnel, but that tunnel will be needed for the Purple Line and can't easily be widened. So instead they're going to build a new, additional tunnel south of the Purple Line tunnel. There will also be an on-street route south of that.

image from www.montgomeryparks.org

In 2017, the County estimated the tunnel would cost $25M, however when they completed 70% of the design that cost went up just a smidge to $54M.

The 1,000'-long tunnel would begin near the north end of Elm Street Park, pass beneath 47th Street and the east leg of Elm Street, continue under Wisconsin A venue and the new Carr Buildings, and emerge at the planned Woodmont Avenue plaza. It would be 16' wide, containing a 12'-wide trail with 2' to either side as shoulders/shy areas to the side walls. It would have about 12' 6" of headroom. It would have two underground curved sections: a slight curve near the west end beneath the Carr Buildings and a tighter curve near the east end beneath Elm Street Park The steepest grade would be 4.9%, within the 5% grade required to meet ADA standards. The tunnel would be well lit and be outfitted with security cameras and emergency phones. 

Construction will take 30 months. 

County Executive Marc Elrich decided not to fund the tunnel in January because it was too expensive and more than 100 residents showed up to complain. Council staff recommended a slightly cheaper tunnel that was narrower and with less headroom. But the County Council ignored that recommendation and in an informal vote(?) in April, voted unanimously for the good tunnel. Work is to begin in 2023 and finish in 2026. 

Arlington and Alexandria seek funds to improve the Mt. Vernon Trail

Arlington County and Alexandria have applied for a SMART SCALE grant that will allow them to widen and improve the Virginia portion of the Mt. Vernon Trail between Roosevelt Island and Jones Point Park. The portion that runs across Columbia Island is in DC and will be funded separately. 

The project widens the trail’s paved surface from between seven and eight feet to 11 feet where feasible, and makes other associated improvements including striping center and edge lines, signage, improved bridges, and realigned trail intersections.

NPS completed a comprehensive Mount Vernon Trail Corridor Study in May 2020. The study recommends major capital improvements in the Arlington and Alexandria sections of the trail; these are included in the SMART SCALE application.

SMART SCALE funding is pretty competitive, but it's encouraging to see this get such high priority. NPS has been talking about widening and realigning the trail for at least 15 years and it's well past time to do so. 

Much of what this grant would do is covered in the Corridor Study, which I have not written about before, but it calls for creating a much better trail and fixing many of the problems that trail users have just been living with.

It should come as no surprise that the study determined that the trail is crowded and conflicted; has too many crashes; is showing it's age in some places and is out-of-date with best practices. And if nothing is done, most of these problems will get worse. 

In order to modernize and improve the trail, they have a long list of suggestions including signage; bridge replacement; at-grade crossing improvements; new trailheads; and trail widening and realignment. Also the section in Fairfax County has significant issues with root heave and needs to be repaved in sections. 

Four bridges are already scheduled and funded for replacement, including the long bridge (#31) under the TR Bridge. 2 others are in need of replacement soon, 25 need maintenance and 9 have chain railings that should be upgraded to metal ones. Bridge 31 is to be replaced and widened and the intersection will be improved for safety. 

Bridgerepair

On signage they report that

Signage is highly variable throughout the trail. Many key sites lack site entrance/orientation signs. The use of regulatory/warning signage also varies considerably and is sometimes excessive. Emergency signs are weathered and may not communicate up-to-date information. Wayfinding/directional signage tends to be weathered, under-sized, and vary widely in terms of style. Signage at at-grade intersections with roadways also varies and is missing completely in some locations. There is a lack of signage for the on-street portion of the trail in Alexandria.

And then they recommend both near and long term changes. They also recommend adding a full time trail manager, bike parking, bridge treatments that reduce slippage and new trail counters. 

In the longer term they want the trail in Arlington County widened to at least 11 feet where possible, with bridges that are 4 feet wider than the trail. They recommend adding trail intersection enhancements, such as implementing trail roundabouts, at the 14th Street Bridge and Four Mile Run Trail and implementing bicycle-pedestrian separation at areas like Gravelly Point. 

KeepEmSeparated

Another trouble spot they explicitly called out is the Daingerfield S-curve. Without going into specifics they suggest realigning and widening this area when the rehabilitate Bridge 28, which I think is the bridge just north of there.

Other intriguing recommendations include:

  • Develop a connection from the Mount Vernon Trail to the south side of Theodore Roosevelt Bridge
  • Conduct alternatives analysis to provide off-road trail connection from the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge to Arlington Ridge Park
  • Reduce motorist lane width from 20 ft to reduce motorist speed at Airport Crossing Trail or add rumble strips
  • Remove stop and dismount signs at Airport Crossing Trail and replace with yield signs
  • Install bicycle traffic lights, which would remain green unless a vehicle approaches, at Airport Crossing Trail
  • Add button or pressure actuated sensors to active crossing warning lights at Arlington Memorial Bridge
  • Provide formal access to the MVT from the northern side of Arlington Memorial Bridge
  • Provide grade separation at crossings at Arlington Memorial Bridge
  • Add half-mile markers along the MVT
  • Conduct a feasibility study for the time and financial costs of plowing the northern half of the trail (north of Alexandria) during winter weather

Unfortunately, there's nothing about improving the very narrow part of the trail under Arlington Memorial Bridge, but that is an admittedly large ask. I think the best idea I've heard on that is to build a boardwalk that goes over the river and under the bridge's westernmost arch.

Only somewhat related, but if DC gets statehood maybe part of that whole map reworking should include the transfer of Columbia Island and TR Island to Virginia (at least jurisdictionally, as we've done with the Alexandria waterfront). It just makes more sense.  

Anyway, going back to the original article, another project Alexandria is seeking money for is 

to $40 million for what it calls the Upper King Street Multimodal Improvement project. The project “would fund design, right-of-way and construction of traffic/multimodal and streetscape improvements along King Street (VA 7) between Quaker Lane / Braddock Road and Menokin Drive,” adjacent to Arlington’s Fairlington neighborhood.

Suitland Parkway Interchange work will create a new DC-295 crossing

The new Douglass Bridge, currently under construction, promises to significantly upgrade one of the Anacostia's few bicycle crossings. But what has been less celebrated is that it will result in a new place where cyclists and pedestrians can cross the DC-295/I-295 barrier.  Though not as much of a bottleneck as the river, there are only a little more than a dozen places where one can cross 295 by bike in DC over a 5.5 mile stretch. And fewer when the railroad tracks are taken into account.

image from washcycle.typepad.com

The crossing is part of the new I-295/Suitland parkway. The old interchange, built in the early 1960's had no sidewalks and there were none added in the 2011 South Capital Street FEIS.

But by 2013, the design included three alternatives, one with a 10' sidewalk, one with a 12' one and one with a 10' shared-use path separated by a small barrier, all on the west side.

Screenshot 2020-06-18 at 5.57.56 PM

The preferred alternative was a sidewalk. Later a shared-use path was added to the other side with an at-grade crossing of the ramp.

Screenshot 2020-06-19 at 8.47.18 PM

But in 2014, there was a Revised Preferred Alternative that changed the ramp and put the path through an underpass below "Ramp B". The path doesn't show up in this 2014 drawing.

image from washcycle.typepad.com

By 2018, the plans clearly showed where the sidewalks and paths would be. A network of sidewalks and paths will connect the bridge and the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail to new sidewalks along Suitland Parkway and Firth Sterling; and existing sidewalks along Howard and S. Capitol Street will be replaced and improved. 

Screenshot 2020-06-19 at 8.28.17 PM

Work on Ramp B and the tunnel is underway. Here's what it looked like in 2019.

Screenshot 2020-06-19 at 8.36.47 PM

And in 2020.

IMG_3490

Unfortunately, this won't create a direct connection to the Suitland Parkway Trail. After passing through the tunnel and under 295, trail users will need to go east on Firth Sterling along the sidewalk and then south on Howard and Sheridan for about a half mile to get to the trail head. DDOT is working on a redesign of the trail (which is in shameful shape anyway) and maybe that will include a better connection. 

 

Let's make the Fort Circle Trail better

The Fort Circle Trail located east of the river is one of DC's oldest bike trails. Though underused, and a fraction of what it was once promised to be, it's beloved. The trail provides a mountain biking opportunity within the district as well as a natural hiking path through wards 7 and 8, but there steps - some simple and some not - that we could take to make it better. 
 
The FCT is a 7-mile long, mostly unpaved, trail through the east side of DC from Fort Stanton to Fort Mahon - though many maps and sites (such as this one) show it covering a shorter distance. It was supposed to be more.
 
image from washcycle.typepad.com
1974 Fort Circle Plan
From 1930 to 1965 NPS planned a Fort Circle Drive for people tour the forts by car, and they spent decades trying to acquire the necessary land, starting with the War Department handing over the forts themselves in 1933.  But in 1968 they produced a new management plan which replaced the drive with a continuous hiker-biker trail because the drive was deemed impractical and impossible to build due to residential expansion into the area.  Detailed plans for the full trail were created and the first sections of the trail, a section in Rock Creek Park along Military Road and the one in east DC, opened in 1971.  The plan was still to build a 23 mile long arcing trail from Fort Greble in far SW to Fort Marcy in Fairfax County as part of preparation for the bicentennial. But only one other section of the trail, a portion of the C&O Canal towpath that predated the plan, was ever completed. Funds earmarked for the Fort Circle trail were used to cover bicentennial cost overruns elsewhere, and no further money was ever allocated. 
 
In 1987, NPS developed a plan to improve the trail. It included extending the trail to Kenilworth Park, the Frederick Douglass home and the Suitland Parkway as well as repairs and smaller improvements. A year later, WABA submitted a report that advised against paving the trail at this time, as it was a unique and useful facility as it was, and NPS dropped it from consideration. Not that it mattered, as little from the '87 plan was ever done.
 
In 2004, NPS again updated the management plan and this time they dropped the idea of a continuous hiker/biker trail for environmental and aesthetic reasons. They deduced that it would have required bridges, switchbacks, tree removal, retaining walls and trail widening that would have lost the "sense of wildness" in the existing parks. Instead they would encourage development of a foot trail consisting of the sections from 1971 and existing sidewalks, as well as connection sidewalks and signs. It was to be designed in coordination with DDOT, but no such planning has occurred. 
 
It's unfortunate that NPS closed the door on a multi-use path, especially since there is space for one.  (They have mapped out an on-road bike route for part of the way). It would be similar, though not identical to what was mapped above. The bridge across the Anacostia would be in a different place, for example, and perhaps that would push the route west to the MBT trail instead of north to Eastern Avenue, but fundamentally the same and forming a sort of inner bicycle beltway.
 
But, let's assume the door on that is closed for a generation, there is still room for improvement with what we have. As it is, the FCT is the only mountain bike trail in DC. It is officially a hiker/biker trail, but ped volumes are low and generally the pedestrians using the trail are walking dogs or hiking. This makes it ideal for mountain biking, but still usable for transportation.
 
One problem is that how to get to the trail is not obvious.  DDOT/NPS could improve that by doing a better job connecting it to nearby trails, as it gets extremely close to several of them.  On the southern/western side of the FCT, it comes within a city block of the Suitland Parkway Trail, and it could be connected via a small extension behind the Anacostia Museum using the existing foot trail and a small connector.
Suitland connector
 
In the middle, the trail already connects to the Pennsylvania Ave SE sidepath, but a less stressful connection to the ART is possible by developing a short segment of trail along the existing gravel road in Anacostia Park and then pass underneath DC-295 by going over the derelict Shepherd Railroad Spur. On the east side, trail users could continue along the blue line below, along G Street SE to reach the southern side of Fort Dupont, where a nature trail takes cyclists over some charming footbridges, into the main valley of Fort Dupont, and riders can continue up to reach the main line of the trail system. 
 
Alternatively, once on the east side of 295 a trail could be built along the red line below along the Ft Dupont Tributary through the green space between F and G and then across Minnesota Avenue. Maybe the tributary could be daylighted on the west side too.
ART connection
NPS could also develop connections within the park to the Ice Arena and the Nationals Youth Baseball academy (light blue lines).
 
If some expansion was in the cards, carrying the trail across the Suitland Parkway at Stanton Road and then building another trail on the south side, up the valley on St. Elizabeths campus to the Entertainment Arena and the Capital Heights Metro station. 
Extension

The trail network in this area is developing into a truly world-class network, but DDOT needs to connect the different facilities, while continuing to expand the overall network and improve neighborhood access. A trail along the Shepherd Branch would aid with this too.
 
 

Uber Sells Jump to Lime

image from mma.prnewswire.com

In a headline that would be complete gibberish 5 years ago, Uber announced that it was selling Jump to its competitor Lime, which it also owns part of. Jump started in New York back in 2010 and came to DC in 2017. It offered a new kind of dockless bike, one that was both electric and lock-to. It started out with 100 bikes, plans to go to 400 and a desire to get 1000. This was when DC had suddenly been inundated with cheap, dockless bikes as part of a pilot, bikes like Ofo, Spin and MoBike that disappeared from DC's streets in 2018 almost as quickly as they came, but Jump survived and when DC showed an interest in moving to lock-to, it seemed that they had the inside track. I rarely saw freejacked Jump bikes on the street or abandoned ones in the river. They seemed to be different in that sense too. 

Lime survived too though, but only by changing. In the beginning the had cheep green and yellow bikes, but later switched to electric scooters. 

image from twt-thumbs.washtimes.com

In April 2018, Uber bough Jump reportedly for $100M, and then integrated the service into their app. It appeared they were positioning themselves to become and integrated transportation company, and that looked like good new for Jump too. 

The deal gives Uber access to Jump’s 12,000 dockless, GPS-enabled bikes in 40 cities across six countries — a vast network in the bike-share world that will certainly become even larger as Uber’s capital will help to scale it even further. It also helps fulfill one of the company’s missions to branch out into new modes of transportation.

In the same month there was more good news as DDOT withdrew its plans to charge dockless bikes fees, require lock-to and demand bike rack installation. [In private conversations with Jump management I know they preferred lock-to and were eager to install more bike racks as long as all competitors had to as well]. WAMU asked at the time if dockless bikes and scooters were a fad or a fixture, and the answer appears to be a little of both; or at least that they're here to stay but that the marketplace is still changing quickly. 

By late 2018, the cheap bikes were gone and Jump was one of five applicants for a permit to provide dockless bikes. And though they were pulling out elsewhere, by late 2019 they were the only company offering both e-bikes and electric scooters and they had 975 e-bikes (pretty close to their start-up aspiration); though new e-bike provider Helbiz joined the DC market, launching in late January 2020. Meanwhile in April, Lime, Bird, Bolt and Razor were all kicked of DC streets when they failed to secure permits and Jump was allowed to expand up to 2,500 bikes if they chose to. A month later Covid-19 caused them to pause their service. 

Then Uber sold Jump to Lime, but then also bought more of Lime with an option to buy all of it later.

Lime’s acquisition of Jump occurred as part of a $170-million investment in Lime, partly led by Uber, which already owned a small part of Lime (even though Lime was a competitor of Uber’s Jump the whole time). The latest deal also allows allows Uber to buy Lime in 2022, if it wants.

At the same time, it announced layoffs.

 The company also announced it was laying off 3,700 employees, around 14 percent of its workforce. At the end of April, Lime also laid off roughly the same percentage of workers, amounting to 80 employees without jobs.

The industry was already in turmoil and consolidating/rebalancing. Covid-19 has made an unstable industry even more wobbly.

Things have moved so quickly and with so many changes, it's impossible to say what will happen next. Maybe dockless will get bigger. Maybe it will go away. Maybe it will be companies we recognize. Maybe it will be all new ones. All I can say is hold on to your butts. 

9 recently funded projects will help make the region more bikeable

The COG's Transportation Planning Board recently approved 15 projects to share in the $857,266 of funding from the federal Transportation Land Use Connections (TLC) Program.

TLC provides short-term consultant services to local jurisdictions for small planning projects that promote mixed-use, walkable communities and support a variety of transportation alternatives. The program provides consultant assistance of $30,000 to $60,000 for planning projects, and up to $80,000 for design or preliminary engineering projects.

Of those 15 projects, at least 9 have a bicycle component. They are

District of Columbia -- Independence Avenue SW Transportation Assessment

Local and federal agencies are collaborating to improve connectivity, multi-modal use (walking, biking, transit, and curbside uses), safety, and the quality of the pedestrian experience traversing north-south between the National Mall and the SW waterfront and neighborhoods, and east-west along Independence Avenue SW.

Arlington County -- Micro-Mobility Transit Hub Prototype

This design project will develop plans for a prototype installation of a micro-mobility hub that can be added to high ridership transit stops and stations. Micro-mobility refers to transportation options that are often shared like bikes or scooters used for short trips. The prototype should include parking/docking and battery charging facilities for bikeshare, e-scooters and other shared micro-mobility devices, components for parklets, public art, informational displays, accommodations for people with disabilities, and seating/waiting areas for transit passengers.

Prince George’s County -- Cool Spring and Adelphi Pedestrian and Bicycle Access Improvement Project

There is a lack of infrastructure to facilitate bicycle and pedestrian connection between the Cool Spring Neighborhood and the Purple Line station at the University of Maryland Campus. The project will develop preliminary engineering designs for a separated pedestrian/bicycle facility along Cool Springs Road and a crossing at Adelphi Road.

Prince George’s County -- Riggs Road Neighborhood Bicycle Boulevards Project

This project will develop design plans for bicycle lanes and shared use roads on several local streets in the Langley Park area. The project will greatly improve pedestrian and bicycle access to the future Purple Line station.

City of Takoma Park -- Maple Avenue Complete Street Design

Maple Avenue is a well-traveled neighborhood street connecting residents and visitors to schools, jobs, housing and recreation, while also providing linkages to the Takoma Metro station and the Sligo Creek Trail. This TLC project will redesign Maple Avenue as a complete street which prioritizes pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users in order to provide safer, more convenient, and more comfortable travel for all users.

City of Bowie -- Feasibility Study for Pedestrian Overpass over Maryland Route 214

The proposed crossing would be a crucial segment of The Bowie Byway recommended in the city's Trails Master Plan and the Countywide Master Plan trail shown the 2006 Bowie and Vicinity Master Plan (Collington Branch Stream Valley Trail). It will link the neighborhoods of Ternberry and Collington Ridge and South Lake to the Pointer Ridge neighborhood and the Hall Road transit hub and public library.

City of Frederick -- Rails with Trails Phase 3 Bypass Design

The Bypass will connect an existing shared-use path through the Clemson Corner neighborhood with the northern end of the shared-use path now undergoing final design and construction ("Phase 2").

East Street Rails with Trails will create a north-south bicycling spine for the City of Frederick connecting its downtown MARC station with neighborhoods and regional shopping destinations to its north before continuing beyond to the town of Walkersville.

Fairfax County -- Fairfax County Parkway Trail and Cross County Trail Connection

The Fairfax County Parkway Trail runs for 28 miles through communities from Reston to Lorton, while the Cross County Trail runs for over 40 miles through Regional Activity Centers including Annandale and Fairfax. The county seeks assistance to design a shared use path connection between these two trails, to improve a gap where pedestrians currently travel in a narrow roadway.

Town of Herndon (Fairfax County) -- Shared Micromobility Feasibility Study

The study will analyze current trends and future needs in shared micromobility like Capital Bikeshare, e-bikes, scooters, and others, specific to the Town of Herndon, and provide implementation recommendations for a shared micromobility system that best connects those working, living, and visiting Herndon to transit, trails, and activity centers.

In addition, the North Capitol Cloverleaf Urbanization Study: Replacing Highways with Human Scale Infrastructure could create some bike facility within the area currently used by the cloverleaf. The 2010 feasibility study did. 

image from washcycle.typepad.com

2019 State of the Commute - Free Parking is bad

Late last year, the Council of Governments presented the results their latest State of the Commute survey. There was nothing too Earth-shattering in it and it was, as usual, hampered by combining walking and biking in most statistics, but it does show - again - a connection between free parking and solo-automobile commuting. 

For the region, walking, scootering and biking (WSB) made up 3.3% of all commute trips with nearly half of that (1.4%) biking. Despite all the changes in recent years (dockless scooters for example), a 50% increase in reported benefits and 30% saying it's gotten easier (much higher than any other mode), the WSB percentage is unchanged since 2016.

Combined
Combined

Bike commuters tend to live close to work and be young, white, male and well-paid (but not exclusively any of those)

Character

17% of people in DC are WSB commuters but only 1% in the MD suburbs and 2% in VA. About 6% of white commuters bike, but only 1% of black or 2% of Hispanic. 

For those that don't own a car, 16% WSB commute, but that drops to 2% if the household owns a car. 

Average commute distance for bike commuters is 4.2 miles and 24 minutes long. 

And of course, WBS commuters are the most happy

Cantgetno

The main reasons WSB commuters use their modes are - in order - exercise, avoid stress, save money, save time and flexibility. 

And of course, when parking is free - people drive alone much more often. (I would have really preferred a pair of pie charts here).

FreeParking

Battery Lane plan includes a separated bike lane, protected intersection and improved Bethesda Trolley Trail

Battery+Lane+District+illustrative+FEB+2020

Developers got a second round of approval for a new Battery Lane District plan last week. The plan includes a two-way separated bicycle facility along the south side of Battery Lane, replacing the current bike lanes, and an improved Bethesda Trolley Trail (a.k.a. North Bethesda Trail). The improved trail would be in a linear park with nearly an acre of extra land, have separate paths for cyclists and pedestrian and have an addition pedestrian connection to Woodmont Avenue. 

The Bethesda Trolley Trail is a multi-use trail between Battery Lane Park and the Twinbrook Metro built primarily on the right-of-way of the old Tennallytown and Rockville Railroad. This new plan includes a few hundred feet of the trail to the NIH property. 

MapBTT

Previous plans called for a two-way separated bike lane on the south side of Battery Lane from Old Georgetown Road to the Trail and on the north side from the Trail to Woodmont Avenue. However, MCDOT has determined d that the south side of the street was the preferred alignment to facilitate safe and efficient travel across the Battery Lane / Woodmont Avenue intersection and Wisconsin Avenue/ Battery Lane/Rosedale Intersection, and coordinate with previously approved bicycle lanes east of the project along the 8280
Wisconsin Avenue frontage. [Note the image at top has the bike way on the north side] The applicants will also build a protected intersection at Battery Lane and Woodmont Avenue.

Bike way

Plans also call for a pedestrian connection going east from Woodmont Avenue, through the rear of the properties on the north side of Battery Lane, to the Bethesda Trolley Trail. Furthermore

On Site D (below) of the Preliminary Plan, the Sector Plan recommends an expansion of Battery Lane Urban Park, referred to as the North Bethesda Trail Urban Greenway (Page 82 of the Sector Plan) and calls for this to be a green and active linear park connection between the National Institutes of Health and Woodmont Triangle. The Sector Plan recommends the expansion to be approximately 0.9 acres in size and wide enough to allow stream improvements, including daylighting of the existing piped stream, environmental interpretation and play elements. The proposed configuration of Site D will allow for an expansion of a neighborhood green as recommended in the Sector Plan, with the details of size and design to be reviewed at the time of Site Plan, as conditioned.

The Applicant proposes to enhance the existing Bethesda Trolley Trail which will separate the pedestrian and bicyclists on two separate paths. 

Sites

Because the project is being phased in, the applicant will have to implement the two-way separated bicycle facility along the south side of Battery Lane as both an interim and ultimate condition. They'll need approval of the Interim Separated Bike Lane Facility between Old Georgetown Road and Woodmont Avenue before getting a building permit. They need to build the protected intersection before getting the first occupancy permit. Approval of site plans is dependent on the design of the ultimate bike lane, and final occupancy of the sites is dependent on the construction of - or financial contribution toward - the separated bike lane. 

A new separated bike lane, a protected intersection, a trail through a wider park with a daylighted stream and a new pedestrian connection to the trail makes for a nice set of improvements in this area. 

Seat Pleasant could become a trail crossroads

Seat Pleasant, located right next to Washington, DC's eastern corner, updated their Master Plan in 2018 and while it doesn't contain many specifics, it does in general plan for a more bike-friendly city, envisioning a future with more bike lanes connecting to regional bike infrastructure and taking advantage of the planned Central Avenue Trail.

Screenshot 2020-04-23 at 12.01.39 AM

Looking at the open space plan above, it becomes clear that what Seat Pleasant might lack in current facilities, it more than makes up for in potential. Along the east side runs Cabin Branch, a green corridor which Prince George's County has identified as trail corridor in their 2040 plan. On the south side is Central Avenue, a priority corridor which should be hitting 100% design some time soon. On the east is the only piece of remaining railroad ROW from the old Chesapeake Beach railroad. And running near the north end is MLK, Jr. Avenue, a priority trail corridor and one that WABA wants to be see built sooner rather than later. There are also two metro stations just beyond the south side of town, and an Orange line station that would be only 1.5 miles away on a Cabin Branch Trail that extended to it. That's a pretty nice starting point.

A Cabin Branch Trail, which the Master Plan mentions once, isn't even really a twinkle in the county's eye, but could become a trail from Cheverly to Capitol Heights where it starts about 1200 feet from Watts Branch. The plan seems to show it only from MLK to Drylog Street, which would be a mistake, but I guess it depends on who owns the land along it between Drylog and Central.  

The plan shows the current "Chesapeake Beach Rail Trail" extended north from Crown Street to MLK and then rebranded as "Maker's Alley" - a connector along which quiet maker spaces can exist with access to nature. Unfortunately for the trail, the whole CB railroad ROW has been built on within DC, but in MD the ROW picks up again to the east where the Blue line goes under ground again.  The addition of a boundary stone park at the NE Corner with DC is a nice touch. This would create an opportunity to connect to the Marvin Gaye Park Trail, which ends only 3 blocks away, if they can coordinate it with DC. 

MLK Jr. is also built on a former railroad ROW - the WB&A, which becomes a legit bike trail farther north. It currently has some unappealing bike lanes on it, but it's a good location for a protected bikeway. And here again, coordination with DC could continue it along Dix to the Marvin Gaye Park Trail.

Central

The rendering above shows the bikeway on Central, but nothing on Addison. That's unfortunate, because a bikeway along Addison Road (north-south) and another on Drylog Street, with its extension through "Innovation Village" to the west, would complete the network and leave everyone within a few blocks of the bike network. 

Seat Pleasant has enviable opportunities to build a bikeable and walkable town, with the chance to serve as a connecting point for the Marvin Gaye Park, Anancostia Tributary, WB&A and Cheseapeake Beach Railroad trails, but the follow through will be critical. 

Arlington's 2020 Resurfacing Projects for Complete Streets

Arlington County is accepting comments on their 2020 Resurfacing Projects for Complete Streets now through tomorrow April 21st. 

Staff have reviewed the annual list of projects up for routine maintenance and identified a subset of streets for potential projects. Community feedback about current experiences with the street segments, along with other available data, such as plan guidance and crash data, will help inform the development of concept plans.

2020 potential projects

2020 Engagement

Wilson Boulevard – N Larrimore Street to McKinley Road (Dominion Hills/Boulevard Manor)
Potomac Avenue – S Crystal Drive to Alexandria City Line (Potomac Yard)
Clarendon Boulevard – N Nash to N Oak Street (Clarendon-Courthouse/Radnor/Fort Myer Heights)

With all of these they want to Improve access and safety for people walking, biking and driving and they want to know "how you currently use the street and how you would like to use it in the future." On Potomac Avenue in particular the goal is to "Improve bike safety along Potomac Avenue and improve connectivity between Crystal Drive, Four Mile Run Trail, and Potomac Yard Trail."

2019 Engagement

N Lorcom Lane – Old Dominion Drive to N Taylor Street and N Military Road – Lorcom Lane to Old Dominion Drive (North Arlington) – These projects were open to public feedback in 2019, and moved to 2020 implementation because of construction around Dorothy Hamm Middle School.

Things they can do are paint bump outs, medians, buffered bike lanes or create painted traffic controls

Trafficcontrol

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