The meeting tonight about the current status of the Metropolitan Branch Trail offered some insight which has yet to appear in any media sources. The meeting was conducted by Heather Deutsch and Jim Sebastian of DDOT.
1. A contractor, Fort Myer, has been selected for the design-build contract. Once the contract is signed (more on this below) the work will be required to be completed in 12 months. Although some aspects of the trail have been stipulated by DDOT, the firm will be tasked with developing much of the design plan.
2. The contract can be signed upon delivery of funds for this section of the trail from the Federal Highway Administration. FHWA will release these funds as soon as the land from New York Ave to R St is given to the city by its current owner, Pepco.
3a. Pepco has in their possession the forms/documents prepared by DDOT to give this 15 ft-wide easement to the city. There is no time-mandate to spur Pepco to sign. Pepco has also asked DDOT to pay for and perform an appraisal of the land for their tax purposes.
3b. DDOT must conduct this land appraisal.
Ultimately, the start of this section of the trail is dependant on Pepco. 1 month, 3 months, maybe much longer. Outside efforts to get Pepco to move on this may be needed.
– The easement from New York Avenue to R St will be 15 feet wide (11 ft paved) while sections north of R St may have potentially much wider easement.
– There is the possibility of writing into the contract language that would schedule the construction to work north from New York Avenue, allowing phased openings of trail sections as the 12 months progress.
– The steps from L St to the elevated portion along the rail tracks have recently been completed.
The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 14th (time/place TBA). Thanks to the Big Bear for hosting us.
Update – While the local media may not be covering the MBT, it is apparent the community is definitely concerned: other area bloggers at the meeting also included bloomingdale (for now) and Eckington DC Living, though I have no idea what either of them look like.