Metropolitan Branch Trail – DDOT drops the ball

UPDATE: As DDOT continues to keep silent on the matter, we are left with speculation on what happened to cause this huge delay to the project (Spring ’10). Read two different explanations: a Rails-to-Trails Conservancy representative commented to this post here and the WashCycle commented to its own post here.

Having sailed by the July 22 contract deadline, and offering no reasons to the public for the delay, DDOT may have to finally fess up if the Trail gets delayed until Spring 2010!

The issue? Not securing right-of-way permits from WMATA for the section of the Trail from R ST NE to the New York Ave Bridge.  DDOT cannot push blame onto a huge private entity like Pepco this time.  No, this is an issue between two neighboring government agencies–one that DDOT should have addressed long ago and one it had experience with when the original segment of the Trail was constructed on WMATA right-of-way in 2003.

So what will that leave us with?

  • A trail that connects Franklin St to R St and a Trail that connects New York Ave Bridge to L St.
  • No trail access to either the Rhode Island Ave Metro Station or New York Ave Metro Station by the residents of Eckington or Edgewood.

I have hesitated asking for a “call to action” for the MBT’s incessant delays over the few years I have written this blog, but I feel now may be the time to try to seek help from fellow residents concerned about this trend.

To contact the Mayor’s office, via his chief of staff, Carrie Kohns, call (202.724.8815) or email her and the DDOT representatives your concerns.  At a minimum, DDOT should provide a temporary path connecting the Trail’s R ST and New York Ave Bridge terminus so that its provides safe, off-street pedestrian and cycling access from the neighborhoods to the New York Ave Metro Station.

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3 thoughts on “Metropolitan Branch Trail – DDOT drops the ball

  1. When I saw that the trail stopped at R St., I had a feeling that they weren’t going to be going any farther. I foresee them taking so long to pave the trail that weather and use will ruin it. Then, they will have to delay again in order to redo all the grading work. I really don’t expect this trail to open for several more years. Why something that is so valuable to the community is being given such a low priority is beyond me.

  2. Hello,
    My organization, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), is working to ensure that community members in neighborhoods adjacent to the trail can access the trail safely and fully integrate the trail as a community amenity that will provide more opportunities for non-motorized transportation and healthful recreation. In my capacity at RTC, I work closely with the parties involved in developing the trail and promoting its use in adjacent neighborhoods. However, my comments below do not reflect the views of my organization, I’m simply responding to your most recent post as an interested citizen and trail advocate.
    I would like to disagree with your latest assessment of the issues and fault of the current delay on the trail. Working closely with the trail developers, I know that DDOT has been in contact with WMATA prior to November 2008 (when it was first determined that due to the narrowness and slope of the trail property, a storm water trench would be most simply built on an adjacent WMATA parcel). WMATA expressed support, was given plans, and WMATA engineers signed off on the project months ago. Unfortunately, the permit sat in the WMATA permitting office even though WMATA was made aware that the delay in issuing the permit would not allow the trail to be completed until spring 2010.
    It is interesting to note that WMATA, at the same time, has hired a consultant to propose ways to enhance pedestrian and bicycle facilities at the New York Ave. Station. While bike/ped advocates should commend WMATA for their efforts in this regard, it is frustrating that the delay in the permitting process is preventing the timely completion of the Met Branch Trail connection, arguably the most important ped/bike enhancement to the New York Ave. Metro Station.
    Perhaps your call to action should be directed to the WMATA staff
    who have postponed this section of the project and who (because they own several more parcels along where the trail is to be built as well as the landing of the Rhode Island Ave. ped/bike bridge) could potentially delay or prohibit future development of the trail and connecting bridge.
    Thank you for your interest in the Met Branch Trail!
    -Kelly Pack

    • Thank you for the information.

      As we are all limited by the information given to us by DDOT, and as DDOT has yet to issue any explanation of the delays since the contract deadline of July 22nd, I simply interpret DDOT’s silence as a sign of their admitting fault.

      In this case, maybe they are not completely at fault. But maybe there was a person (or persons) who were tasked with regularly following up with WMATA about the drainage permits. Surely a call to the offices of the Mayor and/or Del. Norton (both of whom have participated in press conferences/ground-breaking ceremonies for the Trail) during the 1-year contract duration could have spurred action from WMATA. Did DDOT just hope the permit would arrive in their mailbox?

      And why not build a temporary path from R St to New York Ave. Bridge? Does DDOT have no better plan than to just throw up a fence at the end of the Trail at R St?

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