Metropolitan Branch Trail – the ever-changing desgin

As I alluded to in the previous post, it appears that the design plans for the Metropolitan Branch Trail have again undergone a significant change–albeit without any public disclosure.

MBT - R street to NY Ave section

MBT - R street to NY Ave section

Above is the proposed Trail layout from Randolph to the New York Ave Bridge as provided in the draft plans on the metbranchtrail.com website.  As you can see, there is an access point at R St and one just north of the Pepco building.  Evidently, the R St access point is now the last access point south to the Metro Station.

The reason I learned of this change is upon my pestering of the MBT folks at DDOT to construct a temporary access path along the proposed path in the draft layout (just north of the Pepco building).  Being told that DDOT would need permission from Pepco to construct such, I inquired why, since they were supposedly ceding the land to the District for this access point anyways.

DDOT informed me that this access point was no longer part of the plan.

First issue:  DDOT has in their hands the final design plans of the MBT, yet they have not published the drawings or even listed the modifications from the original draft layout on the metbranchtrail.com or DDOT websites.

Second issue: Residents south or R St as well as XM employees will have to walk several blocks out of their way to use the R St access point.  As this will result in longer travel times than simply crossing New York and Florida Avenues, many will skip the Trail–preventing pedestrian traffic at this intersection from their full lowered potential.

We’ll have to see what the next MBT “surprise” is….

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8 thoughts on “Metropolitan Branch Trail – the ever-changing desgin

  1. Does this mean that DDOT never received the $55,000 from Trammel Crow or that the funds are being shifted to construct the R Street entrance? TCR’s commitment to design and CONSTRUCT a path was part of their PUD approval. I suppose the language in the PUD doesn’t specify the location of the path, but we clearly expected that it would be the entrance at Harry Thomas Way.

    See below…

    “9. The Applicant shall make a contribution of $55,000 to DDOT for the design and construction of a connection to the Metropolitan Branch Trail consisting of a 10-foot wide path, solar scale lighting, and call box(es). No building permit shall be issued for the project until DDOT provides a written statement to the Zoning Administrator acknowledging such payment.”

    Stacie

  2. So, if I understand this post correctly, DDOT is now quietly eliminating the access point to the trail at the south end of Harry Thomas Way? (It is represented on the drawing as blue line on the right side leading to the Trail, correct?)
    Wouldn’t the developers of the fields be irate over this as well? After all, this is a valuable selling feature for their future properties.

    It seems that if this is the story DDOT is sticking to, then we need to get some powers-that-be involved in this issue.

  3. This is a huge deal for neighborhood walkability, especially for the future residents of the TCR property (dog field)…but it affects everyone because it will reduce the attractiveness of walking as an option, and it means there will continue to be pedestrians walking across New York Ave and Florida Avenue.

    We need to find out what’s going on here and fight to change it. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  4. I second that, J.T. It is about overall attractiveness of the neighborhood. Walkability is a huge plus factor for a neighborhood in any city.

    If we need a coordinated effort to bring this problem to the appropriate person’s attention, then I will gladly assist.

  5. Thanks for being a great resource for the neighborhood. Hopefully there is still time to get pressure on this and fix it. The more accessible and used this bike path, the better.

    Speaking of which, I know it is very early in the Florida Market redevelopment planning process and as this scenario shows, plans change, but if you look at the preliminary plans DC Mud put in their article recently, http://dcmud.blogspot.com/2009/05/dcs-newest-development-district-isthe.html , it looks like eventually there are plans for an exit going east on Florida. Having used the trail several times now, I don’t really see how this could be implemented given that the metro is right next to the path on a bridge at the point they have drawn, but interesting.

    Enough of the tangent though, lets make sure that by the end of the summer we have this trail up and running the way it was promised!

  6. First Trammel Crowe was going to construct the access point, then it became more convenient for them to “contribute” the money to the city. Everyone assumed this was more of a sure bet, that we wouldn’t have to ride TC to actually get the work done.

    Maybe we should have been more suspicious, since (as far as I know) no law says the city actually has to use the money for its intended purpose. Once the money goes into general funds, maybe it’s up for grabs. I wonder if this has happened in the past.

  7. J.T. wrote a nice email to the DDOT MBT point person that I would like to share:

    “A recent grant program funded by Kaiser Permanente and administered by Rails to Trails sought to find out what kinds of things could be done to increase usage of the new Metropolitan Branch Trail in this relatively low-income high diabetes zip code. One of the important findings was that many inviting well-maintained access points to the trail is key. I was deeply disappointed to learn that the important access point connecting the new Q Street extension through Trammel Crow Residential’s development at Harry Thomas Way & Eckington Place to the Metropolitan Branch Trail is no longer in the plans. Because of the diagonal trajectory of the trail along the tracks…Many residents at R Street and south to Florida Avenue would have to go out of their way to use the access point north of it near 3rd and R NE. So, many people would continue to walk to the Red Line Metro Stop by crossing New York and Florida Avenues. As one who walks to the metro from Quincy Place NE, I’m sure you can understand how deeply disappointing it was to hear about the removal of the southern access point. Why is it being removed from the plans? What can we do to put it back in the plans?

    Thanks, J.T. Engelhardt
    Eckington Resident”

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