As the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) makes steady process on its goal of completing the Metropolitan Branch Trail from Silver Spring, MD to Union station, the question of what route to take to cover the last few miles still lingers.
To the south there is celebration, as the Washington Area Bicyclists Association reports that DDOT recently let a contract to begin design-build of the trail extension to Fort Totten. Traveling north, a jogger will emerge from Ft. Totten, meander through the South Manor Park neighborhood and be deposited somewhere in the vicinity of Blair Road NW and Kansas Avenue NW. That is when things get difficult.
ANC 4B and DDOT have been studying the Metropolitan Branch Trail for months and still have not agreed on an ideal path that meets everyone’s criteria for success. DDOT’s current plan is to run the path along the sidewalks and green space adjacent to Blair Road until it meets Underwood St. NW. From there, the trail would be carved out of the current right traffic lane, which would drop the number of north-bound driving lanes from two to one. This 10 foot wide bike/jogging trail would be slightly elevated and be protected from traffic by a 42 inch high concrete barrier.
It is no surprise that nearby neighbors are not thrilled about that prospect. Although it would provide the benefit of slowing dangerous traffic, losing a driving lane in an area that is already choked with traffic during most rush hours will not be an easy sell.
To help shed some light on the issue, several current and former ANC 4B members organized a field trip and a meeting on Wednesday. The group met at Rittenhouse Street and Blair Road and walked approximately a mile in brisk weather to survey current conditions and try to imagine how a trail would fit in that alignment.
ANC Commissioner Judi Jones (SMD 4B07) was present at the beginning of the walk, as well as representatives from DDOT and Councilmember Todd’s office.
I was not able to stay for the meeting portion of the event to determine if any progress toward agreement had been made. If you were there, please leave your thoughts or impressions in the comments below.