As Fall settles in, the progress of the Metropolitan Branch Trail construction could be viewed as a half-full/half-empty depending on the observer:
- Asphalt has been placed from the Franklin St/8th St northern terminus down to the Rhode Island Ave overpass; and from T St down to just before R Street, but,
- The gap from Rhode Island to T St appears to be waiting on significant grading work necessary to account for large drop-off on the western shoulder of the Trail.
- Solar light-posts have been installed along the paved sections (and should be working at night already), but,
- No fencing has been erected (save the small section down the 8th St ramp) to discourage vandalism and squatting. Broken bottles are starting to crop up along the paved sections and homeless storage is appearing along the Trail.
- Access paths have been partially constructed at 8th St, S Street and T Street, but,
- R Street and V Street access paths have yet to begun. The pedestrian bridge that connects the Trail to the Rhode Island Ave Metro Station is more than a year away.
- Finally, the Trail nearing a milestone (a fenced, paved path from Franklin St to R Street), but,
- The segment from R Street to just under the New York Ave overpass may not be completed until the Spring. This would mean the Trail will continue to not connect to any Metro Station and require users (after taken a large detour around Pepco and FedEx property) to still cross the Florida Ave/New York Ave intersection.
The last bullet-point is the most critical issue. It must be noted that DDOT has been working hard to move this impasse created by WMATA and has hinted (not promised) that the segment could be completed this November. They have also indicated their interest in completing the Trail as soon as possible by suggesting that the cold weather may not prevent completion of this short segment (assuming WMATA delivers their paperwork) since the asphalt is being produced just a few blocks away at Fort Myer Construction’s plant–allowing it to be delivered plenty hot for its placement.
Thanks goes to DDOT for devoting such efforts to a project that is tiny, in terms of monetary values, for their overall portfolio, yet extremely large, in terms of its value to our community.