Met Branch Trail Brookland-Fort Totten Extension is Open

You might have already seen the celebratory posts on twitter last week indicating that the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) extension from Brookland to Fort Totten is open. It is indeed something to celebrate. It is a short but very well done piece connecting those of us on the northern end of the trail near Fort Totten Metro station to points further south. It really does make the trip from Fort Totten to Catholic University, Brookland, & Edgewood feel a lot shorter. It is certainly more pleasant than some of the other routes I’ve cooked up over the years to get to the MBT further south.

I walked the trail earlier this week after work one evening. There are a few police cameras at regular intervals along this short extension, including one near the pedestrian staircase by Fort Totten Metro station. It seems like if there is an emergency on this portion of the trail, emergency vehicles should be able to easily pinpoint where the emergency is. I like the gooseneck lights and the treatment of the retaining wall near the northern part of the extension. I also like the fence treatment by the concrete plant which serves a dual purpose in screening the plant from the trail but also reducing the glare from the sun. Also, once the native plants get established, it should all be quite lovely.

Here are a few photos

Those of us approaching the trail from east of Fort Totten Metro station, south of Riggs Road NE have a few options to get to the trail. Galloway Street NE, Ingraham Street NE, and Kennedy Street NE all have pretty steep inclines, so you can just pick whichever hill you like best to get a little workout in and roll with it. Work is being done on the 3rd Street NE extension. That will be open in a couple months off Kennedy Street. From either one of those streets, one can get to the south side of Galloway, take the sidewalk around to 1st Place NE, and make a U-turn onto the trail. Alternatively, one can take the street on Galloway, follow the curve around to 1st Place, dismount to lift the bike over the curb, and then continue onto the trail.

3rd Street NE construction off Kennedy Street NE with temporary pedestrian path, May 2, 2022.

Also worth noting that the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) continues to work on other parts of the trail. The agency presented some initial ideas for the 8th Street NE connector from Monroe Street NE to the southern off-street portion of the trail. The initial thought is to have a two-way protected bike lane on the west side of 8th Street, a one-way northbound travel lane on 8th Street from Edgewood to Monroe, and parking that would switch sides along different portions of 8th Street. This is just an initial concept plan taking into consideration a bunch of factors, like all of the charter schools in that area, loading for the businesses along 8th Street, and impacts to parking for residents in the area. DDOT hopes to have the gap filled in time for the start of the 2022-2023 school year. Below are screenshots of just a few slides from the presentation. Comments can be sent to michael.alvino@dc.gov.

Work also continues on the Fort Totten to Takoma extension and the Blair Road to Piney Branch Road portion of the trail. Good news is that it looks like there is federal funding available to have part of the Fort Totten to Takoma extension that is currently planned to be on street moved off street to align more closely to the red line tracks.

I know the MBT was conceived long before I moved to Riggs Park, and the southern part of the trail has been open for a while. It is nice to now have the trail connected to this neighborhood and I am very grateful for the work of everyone getting this done, during a multi-year pandemic no less. Kudos to DDOT.

Take the Met Branch Trail (Blair Road to Piney Branch Road) Survey by tomorrow January 7

The design survey for the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) from Blair Road to Piney Branch Road will close tomorrow January 7, 2022. Take the survey here. The project website for this part of the trail is https://metbranchtrail.com/blair-rd-to-piney-branch.

You can read comments from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association on this part of the trail at https://waba.org/blog/2022/01/metropolitan-branch-trail-blair-road-to-piney-branch-road-design-survey.

Met Branch Trail – Blair Road to Piney Branch Road Meeting Documents/Survey

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) now has a webpage for the part of the Metropolitan Branch Trail that will run from Blair Road to Piney Branch Road, available at https://metbranchtrail.com/blair-rd-to-piney-branch. This is the final section of the trail. DDOT states they expect construction to be complete by 2024/2025. The presentation on initial design/concepts from the December 7, 2021, meeting is available on the site.

For those interested, there is also a survey on design and alternatives for this part of the trail.

Submit Comments on the MBT Fort Totten to Takoma Segment Design by December 14, 2021

On November 30, 2021, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) presented the full design of the Fort Totten to Takoma segment of the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT). View the meeting materials on the project website at https://metbranchtrail.com/met-branch-trail-fort-totten-to-takoma. It is worth taking a look at the presentation if you care about the trail at all.

DDOT is accepting comments on the design of this trail segment until December 14, 2021. Submit comments to metbranchtrail@dc.gov.

Status of other segments of MBT & Other Nearby Trails

DDOT representatives briefly covered the status of other parts of the trail during the meeting. The Brookland to Fort Totten segment is on track to be completed by the end of this year (!). The project website for that segment is https://www.metbranchtrail-forttotten.com. The site includes lots of photos and information regarding that part of the trail.

DDOT will hold a virtual workshop presenting draft concept designs for the segment of the trail that will run from Blair Road to Piney Branch Road on December 7, 2021.

Construction of the trail segment along Eastern Avenue between Piney Branch Road and Baltimore Avenue was completed in June 2021.

In response to a question regarding a trail from Fort Totten to Avondale (this is the trail that is supposed to run along Gallatin Street NE to connect to the MBT), DDOT stated they do not have a status update about planning for that trail.

Interim measures for Fort Totten to Takoma Extension

A full traffic signal at 1st Street NE and Riggs Road NE is technically part of the Fort Totten to Takoma phase of the project. Recall though that DDOT expedited the installation of an interim traffic signal at that intersection. That work is currently underway, and DDOT expects the light to be operational by the end of this year. The interim signal will not include a bike signal. That will be added later.

There are still plans to conduct an environmental assessment of a potential realignment of the planned on-street portion of the trail in Manor Park along 1st Street NE and along McDonald Place NE offstreet closer to the tracks along National Park Service (NPS) land.

Fort Totten to Takoma Extension

A few residents aired grievances about overarching issues that DDOT is not going to change at this point of the project. DDOT rejected alternative locations of this trail segment along North Dakota Avenue NW and along 3rd Street NW. So despite grumblings from a couple of folks that Blair Road NW is not an optimal location for the trail given the amount of traffic and the amount of curb cuts along Blair, this part of the trail will run along Blair and DDOT is taking a number of steps to minimize conflicts as much as possible. See the design roll showing a number of proposed marked crossings and other features here.

A couple of residents chimed in to repeat concerns about the planned on-street portions of the trail, especially on 1st Street NE. One resident noted that DC Bilingual is currently undergoing plans to expand enrollment at the school. The resident thinks that there will be a lot more traffic along 1st Street that will not necessarily be mitigated by expedited installation of a traffic signal at 1st Street and Riggs Road.

Other than that, there was a lot of detail presented about the key intersections along Blair Road, including on impacts to parking. Northbound Blair Road will be reduced to one travel lane north of Peabody Street NW, which will be interesting. Also, DDOT stated more than once that they cannot close curb cuts as part of this project. To minimize conflicts, DDOT will install signage and markings along the trail. The median on Blair just north of Kansas will be extended so that drivers cannot turn left out of the 7-Eleven onto Blair. In response to a question about the bike lanes on Kansas Avenue approaching this portion of the planned trail from the east and west, DDOT stated they will look at filling in the gap.

Check out the presentation for details about each focus area of the trail.

Timeline

DDOT anticipates that construction on the Fort Totten to Takoma segment will start in summer/fall 2022 and will be completed in fall 2024.

December 7: MBT Blair Road to Piney Branch – Virtual Workshop

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will host a public meeting to discuss The Metropolitan Branch Trail (Blair Rd to Piney Branch Rd NW). DDOT will present an overview of the project, draft concept designs, next steps, and get feedback from the community.

WHAT: Metropolitan Branch Trail Virtual Workshop
WHEN: Tuesday, December 7, 2021
TIME: 6:30 pm- 8:00 pm
TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MEETING:

Attendee Link: https://rebrand.ly/MBTTakoma
Meeting Number: 2302 624 1146
Meeting Password: December7!
Dial-in Option (audio only): Call +1-202-860-2110. Access Code: 2302 624 1146. An Attendee ID is not required; press # to join.

Can’t Make a Meeting?
Materials from this meeting will be made available at www.metbranchtrail.com within 48 hours of the conclusion of the meeting. For more information, contact Project Manager Michael Alvino at michael.alvino@dc.gov or 202-497-7153.

Reminder: MBT Fort Totten to Takoma 100% Design Meeting Tonight

WHAT: Public Meeting for the Metropolitan Branch Trail Fort Totten to Takoma Design Project
WHEN: November 30, 2021
TIME: 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MEETING: Please use this link to join the meeting:
https://rebrand.ly/MetBranchTrail_FortTottentoTakoma

How to Join via Phone:
• Dial the US Toll – Washington D.C. Phone Number: +1-202-860-2110
• Dial the meeting’s Access Code: 2314 363 2000, followed by the # key.
• The Webex system will prompt you for an Attendee ID, this is not required. Press the # key to
join the meeting.

Can’t Make a Meeting?
Materials from this meeting will be made available at https://www.metbranchtrail.com within 24 hours of the conclusion of the meeting.

November 30: MBT Fort Totten to Takoma Extension Final Design Public Meeting

November 15, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contacts:

Mariam Nabizad – (202) 359-2678, mariam.nabizad@dc.gov

Metropolitan Branch Trail
Fort Totten to Takoma Public Meeting

(Washington, DC) – The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will host the final design public meeting to discuss the design of the section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT). The MBT is an important transportation route, providing connections to neighborhoods where residents live , work, and play. Once fully completed, the MBT will be an eight-mile trail that runs from Union Station to Silver Spring, Maryland. The latest section being designed connects the Fort Totten Metro Station to the Takoma neighborhood. The preliminary design for this section was completed in 2016. A public meeting was held in February 2021 to update the public on the progress of the final design. DDOT is nearing the completion of the final design of this section. The key elements of the next section of the MBT include:

▪ New off-street and on-street trail segments
▪ Traffic calming features
▪ Storm water and low-impact development
▪ Traffic signals & Lighting
▪ Lighting & Utilities
▪ Maintenance of Traffic plans
▪ Landscaping plans

For more information about the project, please visit http://metbranchtrail.com If you have questions, please contact the PM Samer Alhawamdeh at metbrachtrail@dc.gov or Phone: (202) 369-4637.

WHAT: Public Meeting for the Metropolitan Branch Trail Fort Totten to Takoma Design Project
WHEN: November 30, 2021
TIME: 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MEETING: Please use this link to join the meeting:
https://rebrand.ly/MetBranchTrail_FortTottentoTakoma

How to Join via Phone:

• Dial the US Toll – Washington D.C. Phone Number: +1-202-860-2110
• Dial the meeting’s Access Code: 2314 363 2000, followed by the # key.
• The Webex system will prompt you for an Attendee ID, this is not required. Press the # key to join the meeting.

Can’t Make a Meeting?

Materials from this meeting will be made available at http://metbranchtrail.com within 24 hours of the conclusion of the meeting.

Do you need assistance to participate?

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is committed to ensuring that no person is excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, its projects, programs, activities, and services on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability as provided by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act and other related statutes. In accordance with the D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977, as amended, D.C. Official Code sec. 2-1401.01 et seq. (Act), the District of Columbia does not discriminate on the basis of actual or perceived: race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, disability, source of income, status as a victim of an intrafamily offense, or place of residence or business. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination which is prohibited by the Act. In addition, harassment based on any of the above protected categories is prohibited by the Act. Discrimination is a violation of the Act will not be tolerated. Violators will be subject to disciplinary action.

If you need special accommodations please contact Cesar Barreto at 202-671-2829 or Cesar.Barreto@dc.gov 72 hours in advance of the meeting.

If you need language assistance services (translation or interpretation), please contact Karen Randolph at 202-671-2620 or Karen.Randolph@dc.gov 72 hours in advance of the meeting. These services will be provided free of charge.

Progress on North Michigan Park Pedestrian Path & Met Branch Trail

Fort Totten – North Michigan Park Pedestrian Access Improvement Project

After a lengthy delay, construction of a pedestrian path between Gallatin and Galloway Street NE through Fort Totten Park is resuming. This path should be completed in a few months.

View from Galloway Street NE, July 27, 2021. Photo credit: Deborah Grimstead

Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) Brookland to Fort Totten Extension

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) publishes weekly progress reports, photos, and other info on the project website at https://www.metbranchtrail-forttotten.com.

View of MBT construction from 1st Place NE near Fort Totten Metro station, July 27, 2021. Photo credit: Deborah Grimstead

MBT Fort Totten to Takoma Extension Design Update

Fort Tottten to Takoma MBT Extension Overview from DDOT

On February 10, 2021, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) presented the 65% design plan for the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) extension from Fort Totten to Takoma. View the presentation here.

DDOT is accepting comments on this draft design plan until March 10, 2021. Send written comments to metbranchtrail@dc.gov.

There is a lot happening in this design that is a lot for a blog post, so if you care about this part of the project and missed the presentation, it is worth it to take some time to look at it. The design should be done this spring, with construction anticipated winter 2022 and project completion fall 2023.

A few highlights from the presentation

  • Speed humps have been installed on 1st Street NE.
  • DDOT anticipates construction on the new traffic signal at 1st Street and Riggs Road NE to take place some time this spring. The timing is dependent on the existing work that Pepco is doing for the Capital Grid Project on Riggs Road. When that signal is installed, it will not have a bicycle signal. The bicycle signal will be added later once construction on the trail begins.
  • New traffic signal at McDonald Street NE/New Hampshire Avenue NE/South Dakota Avenue NE planned as part of the trail design.
  • The plan includes a bunch of stuff around the Peabody Street NW/Kansas Avenue NW/Blair Road NW/North Dakota Avenue NW intersection to avoid conflicts between bicyclists and left-turning motorists from southbound Blair to Kansas.
  • There will be a separate access trail for the community garden on Blair Road.
  • There was a lot of discussion about impacts to parking along Blair Road and discussion about how DDOT will deal with the many driveways along Blair with signage, markings, and etc.
  • The 6600 block of 3rd Street NW will become one-way southbound (at Whittier).
  • A lot of discussion about Blair and Aspen Street NW. Really a lot of discussion about almost every intersection along Blair given that Blair is a well-traveled road, so take a look at the presentation for the details.

ANC 4B Draft Resolution

ANC 4B has a draft resolution regarding the design update on the agenda for its upcoming public meeting on February 22. View that draft resolution here. The ANC’s main takeaways, as copied from the resolution, are:

➢ As the design plans for the Fort Totten to Takoma section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail are finalized, the Commission requests that the District Department of Transportation include a turn signal and/or turn lane at the intersection of Aspen Street NW and Blair Road NW for vehicles on Aspen Street that are attempting to turn onto Blair Road.

➢ ANC 4B prefers relocating the 1st Street NE and McDonald Place NE sections of the trail to the nearby National Park Service land. The Commission requests that the District Department of Transportation expedite investigation of the alternative route with NPS, as the alternate route is safer for trail users and residents and has the support of the residents of 1st Street NE and McDonald Place NE currently impacted by the “temporary” route.

➢ The Commission supports the proposed enhancements that would turn the 6600 block of 3rd Street NW into a one-way, and further requests installation of a four-way stop at the intersection of 3rd Street NW and Whittier Street NW.

➢ At the intersection of Blair Road and Van Buren Street NW, the Commission requests inclusions of improved lighting under the adjacent rail corridor underpass.

My own thoughts about this portion of the trail are that while I still think this extension is pretty much an extra wide sidewalk with a portion being on the street, I am glad it is happening. It would be nice to have the trail aligned closer to the tracks through the South Manor neighborhood on 1st Street NE; hopefully NPS will approve that adjustment sooner rather than later. There are a lot of curb cuts on Blair Road. I travel that way from time to time, but it is unclear to me how active many of those driveways are. During the meeting, a representative from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association suggested placing maybe large planters or some other object to informally block off or narrow those driveways that are clearly not in use. Unclear if that is something DDOT will consider. Another person recommended public art along the wall on Blair Road to make it a little more attractive. More to come on that I suppose.

The project website for the Fort Totten-Takoma extension where you can find all project-related documents is http://metbranchtrail.com/met-branch-trail-fort-totten-to-takoma. The DDOT project manager/point of contact is Samer Alhawamdeh (email: samer.alhawamdeh@dc.gov).

Other MBT Section Updates

Other MBT Section Updates from DDOT

DDOT also took some time to provide a status report on other sections of the MBT.

  • 8th Street NE: In design; completion anticipated December 2021
  • Brookland to Fort Totten extension: Under construction, completion anticipated December 2021
  • South Manor Off-street Alignment: Future environmental assesssment (ANC Commissioner Alison Brooks (4B08) requested a vigorous discussion with National Park Service to expedite this future alignment)
  • Blair Road to Piney Branch Road: Planning and preliminary design to begin in 2021
  • Eastern Avenue: Under construction; completion anticipated June 2021

February 10: DDOT Met Branch Trail Fort Totten to Takoma Extension Meeting

From DDOT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 25, 2020

Media Contact
Lauren Stephens — (202) 465-6112, lauren.stephens@dc.gov
Mariam Nabizad – (202) 359-2678, mariam.nabizad@dc.gov  

Metropolitan Branch Trail Fort Totten to Takoma Public Meeting 

(Washington, DC) – The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will host a public meeting to discuss the progress on the design of the remaining sections of the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT). The MBT is an important transportation route, providing connections to neighborhoods where residents live, work, and play.  Once fully completed, the MBT will be an eight-mile trail that runs from Union Station in Washington DC to Silver Spring, Maryland. The latest section being designed connects the Fort Totten Metro Station to the Takoma neighborhood.  The preliminary design for this section was completed in 2016. DDOT is currently completing the final design of this section. The key elements of the next section of the MBT include:  

  • New off-street and on-street trail segments 
  • Traffic calming features 
  • Storm water and low-impact development  
  • Traffic signals & Lighting 
  • Lighting & Utilities  
  • Maintenance of Traffic plans 
  • Landscaping plans 

For more information about the project, please visit metbranchtrail.com . If you have questions, please contact Samer Alhawamdeh at samer.alhawamdeh@dc.gov or (202).369.4637

WHAT: Public Meeting for the Metropolitan Branch Trail Fort Totten to Takoma Design Project 

WHEN: February 10, 2021 

TIME: 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. 

TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MEETING: : Please use this link to join the meeting:  rebrand.ly/MetBranchTrail  

How to Join via Phone: 

  • Dial the US Toll – Washington D.C. Phone Number: +1-202-860-2110 
  • Dial the meeting’s Access Code: 180 173 7522, followed by the # key.
  • The Webex system will prompt you for an Attendee ID, this is not required. Press the # key to join the meeting. 

Can’t Make a Meeting? 

Materials from this meeting will be made available at metbranchtrail.com within 24  hours of the conclusion of the meeting.   

MBT Fort Totten to Takoma

MBT Fort Totten to Takoma extension. Source: http://metbranchtrail.com/wp-content/uploads/ANC4BMeetingPersentationJune22.pdf

At ANC 4B’s public meeting on June 22, 2020, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) presented design plans in progress for the Metropolitan Branch Trail extension from Fort Totten to Takoma. View the presentation here.

A more detailed presentation of the design plans released in May 2020 is available on the MBT Fort Totten to Takoma extension website at http://metbranchtrail.com/met-branch-trail-fort-totten-to-takoma. The 100% final design plan is expected to be completed by winter 2020 with construction anticipated to begin in fall 2021.

DDOT plans to expedite installation of a full traffic signal at Riggs Road and 1st Street NE. DC Bilingual Public Charter School is near this intersection and residents and school staff have long advocated for pedestrian safety improvements along this corridor. The traffic signal will be installed in early 2021 and DDOT will later add bike specific signals when the MBT extension is constructed. There will also be a full traffic signal installed at New Hampshire Avenue NE/South Dakota Avenue NE/McDonald Place NE as part of the extension.

ANC Commissioner Alison Brooks (4B08) noted that some residents continue to express concern about the plan to have the trail along 1st Street NE and along McDonald Place NE. DDOT noted that separate from this design plan, the agency continues to look at an alignment closer to the red line train tracks through National Park Service land.

ANC Commissioner Geoff Bromaghim (4B07) commented about the need to look at east-west connections to the trail and to make the experience riding through a fairly industrial area a little more friendly. DDOT noted that the agency has worked with the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities to commission public art along completed portions of the trail and so that could likely be an option for the extension as well.

There are still design decisions the agency needs to make. I have always thought the plans for the segment along Blair Road look more like an extra wide sidewalk rather than a trail, but there are a lot of driveways that the agency has to take into consideration. DDOT is considering an alternative that would remove the northbound curb lane along Blair and put a protected bike lane on the street, but there are drawbacks to that option.

In early June 2020, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association distributed communication about the design plan for the Fort Totten to Takoma extension with four recommendations:

Full time Parking for Blair Road at Rittenhouse Street (Option 3) – North of Kansas Ave, speeding is a chronic problem on Blair Road. To help calm traffic, create parking for local businesses, add new safe crosswalks and make a more pleasant trail experience, DDOT should convert the extra northbound travel lane into full-time parking, add curb extensions, and add new crosswalks starting at Rittenhouse Street

Trail Priority at Driveways – Frequent driveway crossings are the biggest challenge to a low-stress and safe trail along Blair Road. DDOT must take great care in designing how and where vehicles are permitted to cross the trail, so that trail users are always given priority. Where possible DDOT should:

1. Close curb cuts to eliminate conflicts entirely
2. Shrink the width of driveway entrances and reduce turn radius to reduce speeds
3. Use striping, different paving materials, and signage to highlight the trail’s path across a driveway and communicate that trail traffic has priority

Keep the Trail in Met Branch Trail – On Blair Road, DDOT proposed an alternate design which would send walkers onto an existing sidewalk and people on bikes onto a new curbside protected bike lane. While it may be simpler to build, this design will be too stressful for kids or less confident bicyclists as iit puts people on bikes right next to car traffic and leaves them completely exposed at every driveway.

Aggressive Traffic Calming on First St NE – To ensure the trail is actually safe and low-stress, First St NE needs far more than speed bumps to slow car traffic and discourage non-local trips. DDOT should explore mini-roundabouts, chicanes, diverters, and traffic calming techniques.

If you have thoughts about specific segments of the extension, let your ANC commissioner know. In addition, written comments may be sent to metbranchtrail@dc.gov.

January 2020 Development Roundup

Here is a new year roundup with the status of a few neighborhood development projects to the best of my knowledge.

1. Art Place at Fort Totten

I have received a lot of questions about Art Place at Fort Totten, particularly regarding the first phase, which was completed in late 2017 at South Dakota Avenue NE between Galloway and Ingraham. Ramdass Pharmacy and Shining Stars Pediatric Dentistry have been open for a while now. Here is what we know or have been told so far about the rest of the retail spaces. The gym (24 Hour Fitness) and daycare (Love & Care Child Development Center) are under construction with completion anticipated the end of June this year. No word on when the urgent care center might open. A number of other retail spaces are under negotiation, but the developer is not prepared to share information at this stage about what those retailers might be. If you have specific retailers that you either have a connection to or want the developer to reach out to, please let the developer know (seriously).

As for the second phase, which will be located on South Dakota Avenue between Ingraham and Kennedy, as we know, it will be anchored by Meow Wolf, and will have an Aldi grocery store, Explore! Children’s Museum, food hall, maker spaces, around 270 rental units, and ground floor retail. Meow Wolf held community meetings last year and will continue its community outreach this year. The DC Council held a first vote on the closure of 4th Street NE between Ingraham and Kennedy on January 7, 2020, for this phase of the project. Construction is anticipated to begin first quarter of this year, but considering the DC Zoning Commission has not yet entered an order for this phase, it is unclear when we will start to see construction on the site.

2. Fort Totten South

What we have known as the Fort Totten South project, or the second phase of Fort Totten Square planned for the southeast corner of South Dakota Avenue and Riggs Road NE, should finally be breaking ground this year. The “Coming Soon” sign and webpage for what they are now calling “Riggs Park Place” are up. This is the project that started out as mixed use rental apartments above retail that changed to a back-to-back townhome project with ground level retail that then changed to traditional townhome units with retail. As of June 2019, the project changed again to traditional townhomes with rental apartment units for seniors above ground floor retail. Look for activity likely around spring of this year.

3. Rocketship Charter School

Interior renovation of the warehouses at 5450 Kennedy Street NE is ongoing for Rocketship Charter School. In addition to elementary instruction provided by Rocketship, AppleTree Learning Center will provide pre-kindergarten instruction, and the Social Justice School will provide middle school instruction. The campus is scheduled to open in fall 2020

4. Chick-fil-A

Stay tuned for more details about the Chick-fil-A planned to replace the KFC/Taco Bell on the corner of 3rd Street and Riggs Road NE. We have it on good authority that Chick-fil-A now plans to have interior seating. They are working on revised plans and hopefully will have those ready along with their traffic study in time for ANC 4B’s February meeting.

5. Lamond-Riggs Library

The design team is finalizing the design for the new Lamond-Riggs Library. An interim library will be housed at the Modern at Art Place on Ingraham Street NE. Given the regulatory and permitting processes required, DC Public Library officials cannot say exactly when the existing library will close, but they anticipate closing the existing library mid-year 2020 with the interim library opening a few weeks afterwards. View the planned design on the project website at https://www.dclibrary.org/newlamondriggs.

6. Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT)

Projected completion of the MBT extension to Fort Totten has been pushed back to September 2020 due to project delays.

Residents will likely get updates on these projects from ANC 4B and ANC 5A as the year progresses, so be sure you are signed up for email notification for your ANC.

MBT Phase B Construction Starts Next Week

DDOT sent another update that, weather permitting, construction will begin next week on Phase B of the Met Branch Trail extension. As noted in this post from two weeks ago, Phase B is the area between Gallatin Street NE and First Place NE. The project will include reconstruction of the existing trail in that location, as well as the installation of new lighting, security cameras, and improved drainage and stormwater management. A temporary trail will be added to ensure that pedestrian access to the Metro and schools will be maintained during construction activity. Please see the handout with map for more information. As you can see on the handout, it looks like the extension of the MBT from Brookland to Fort Totten is now anticipated to be completed in 2020 rather than December 2019 as previously expected.

Met Branch Trail Update: Phase B

Construction on the extension of the Metropolitan Branch Trail from Brookland to Fort Totten was suspended between January and March earlier this year so that DDOT could focus on finishing up the design. Construction resumed in April. I received information from DDOT that up next for construction is Phase B, which will include reconstruction of the existing trail between Gallatin Street and 1st Place NE. A temporary trail will be constructed adjacent to the existing trail to maintain access between Fort Totten metro station and the buildings west of the station. The MBT Fort Totten extension website should be updated with a new construction schedule soon.

Fort Totten needs better bike access

Guest post by Gavin Baker

Thanks to the 58 neighbors and bicyclists who responded to my survey between February 5 and 19, we now have more information about why and how to make the Fort Totten Metro station and the future Metropolitan Branch Trail more accessible to folks on bikes.

From the south: Galloway Street

Galloway Street is one of the most important access routes for bicyclists to Fort Totten Metro station and the future MBT trailhead, but also the route most in need of improvements, according to the survey results.

Galloway Street option

Galloway Street was the:

  • Most preferred route if bike facilities were installed (51.8%, more than double the second-most preferred option);
  • Least preferred route under current conditions (26.8%); and had the
  • Lowest percentage of respondents who would be comfortable biking the route without new facilities (15.1%).

Several respondents identified the heavy vehicular traffic, the climb, or the combination of both as challenges with biking on Galloway:

  • “I live at the Modern so I bike the hill up Galloway frequently. It is packed with cars especially during the morning rush hour so getting up the hill and under the tracks is very tricky on a bike. Usually I either have to wait in line with the cars, or resort to the sidewalk. It’s not fun.”
  • “I bike from my home on Hamilton St NE to Ft Totten metro station. That hill is really tough, and is often a deterrent for me to bike.”
  • “I bike it now and it sucks. I’ll still keep biking it, but it feels very unsafe at rush hour with buses coming up Galloway, delivery trucks idling outside the Modern, and commuter cars in a rush to drop people off.”

My recommendation: Separate bike facilities should be installed on Galloway. While only 15.1% of respondents would be comfortable biking the route today, 71.7% would be comfortable if bike lanes were installed.

While the survey did not ask about an off-street trail along Galloway, it would likely serve the same need as an on-street bike lane, and probably even better. The District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) 2014 moveDC plan includes a future trail along Galloway St. from the Fort Totten trailhead to South Dakota Avenue. Reportedly, DDOT is looking at options to make that happen. A trail alongside Galloway would not only significantly ease access to the Metro and MBT, it would also link to the future trail between Galloway and Gallatin Streets and the planned MBT segment continuing east to the planned Prince George’s County Connector.

From the north: Kennedy Street (or…)

Access routes north of Galloway Street are also important, according to the survey results, with a slight preference for Kennedy Street over Ingraham Street.

Kennedy Street option

Kennedy Street was the:

  • Most preferred route under current conditions (39.3%); had the
  • Highest percentage of respondents who would be comfortable biking the route without new facilities (34%); and would be the
  • Second-most preferred route if bike facilities were installed (25%), after Galloway Street

Ingraham Street was slightly behind Kennedy Street on all counts, with responses rating it in between Galloway and Kennedy.

Some respondents commented that the Kennedy route is too roundabout or too far out of their way, especially those coming from the south (Galloway to Kennedy is an additional quarter-mile up South Dakota Avenue). However, a few respondents indicated that they use Kennedy currently and prefer that route:

  • “I’ve ridden Kennedy and 3rd to reach Fort Totten from Lamond-Riggs, and much prefer it to Galloway, even as is.”
  • “This is the way I usually now access the Metro station on my bike. The incline is more spread out with a break between Kennedy and Galloway. The same issue applies, though, with traffic back ups at underpass and traffic circle.”
  • “This is the way that I currently ride from my house (near Riggs and Eastern) to get across to NW. The ramp would be important, also the connection to the trail from the dead in at Kennedy St would need to be improved, it is always a big puddle and is getting worse. Also some lights on the trail would be a big safety improvement.”

My recommendation: Bicyclists should consider both Kennedy and Ingraham streets as potential options to access the Metro and MBT. Minor improvements could improve access, most importantly installing a curb ramp where 3rd Street ends and the asphalt trail begins. Signage could also be helpful. At the asphalt trail, drainage and security (lighting and visibility) should be addressed. Street adjustments to better accommodate bicyclists should be considered (such as a bike lane on Kennedy, traffic calming, and reduced speed limits).

Farther north

While this survey focused on the area between Kennedy and Galloway, access from farther north will also be an issue. Riggs Road, South Dakota Avenue, and the WMATA/CSX railroad tracks form considerable barriers for bicyclists.


2014 moveDC plan. Blue dotted lines indicate a planned off-street trail, purple dashed lines indicate a planned cycletrack (or protected bike lane), orange dotted lines indicate a planned on-street bike lane, black dotted lines indicated a planned new street

DDOT’s 2014 moveDC plan includes protected bike lanes along Riggs Road and South Dakota Avenue, and in fact, one respondent indicated their preferred route with new bike facilities would be Riggs Road. But I don’t know if any progress has been made on those proposals. Additionally, the moveDC plan includes a new railroad crossing near Longfellow Street NE, which would connect to a future segment of the MBT. Those are improvements that would benefit our neighbors farther north in Lamond-Riggs and Manor Park, but their path forward is unclear.

The Met Branch Trail is coming to Fort Totten. Now, how will we get there?

Guest post by Gavin Baker

Take my survey to tell me what you think, or read on for more information.

The Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) is a multi-use trail that will run from Silver Spring to Union Station when completed. Today, the trail segment connecting Fort Totten to the south is under construction and expected to open in 2020. When it opens, Lamond-Riggs and adjacent neighborhoods will have access to a great facility for walking, jogging, and biking. To access the MBT, the Fort Totten trailhead will be located on 1st Place NE, just west of the Fort Totten Metro station. The trailhead will connect to the sidewalk network, as well as the trail spur that connects west to Gallatin Street NE (which will be repaved as part of this project).

Overview map of the area, including approximate location of the new trail

But for those of us who live in Lamond-Riggs, the question is: How are you going to bike there?

Bicycling is one of the primary purposes of the MBT, whether for recreation or commuting. However, Lamond-Riggs currently has no bike facilities, other than a single bike lane on Kansas Avenue, a mile away from Fort Totten. (Michigan Park and North Michigan Park also have no bike facilities.)

Biking on sidewalks is legal in this area, but not recommended. (Bicyclists on sidewalks have to yield to pedestrians, and are at greater risk of being struck by drivers at road crossings.)

Since there are no bike facilities and we don’t want to bike on the sidewalk, then that leaves biking in the street. Four streets provide access to the Fort Totten trailhead from Lamond-Riggs: Riggs Road, Galloway Street, Ingraham Street, or Kennedy Street (via 3rd Street). Riggs Road is a difficult option for cyclists because of high traffic speeds and volumes, so let’s look at the others. Galloway, Ingraham, and Kennedy streets all share another challenge for bicycling: a big hill. The climb on Galloway Street from South Dakota Avenue to the Fort Totten trailhead is comparable to Meridian Hill! I’ve watched many bicyclists humping up that hill, and none looked like they were having fun.

Up a big hill

Route

Distance

Climb

Incline

Galloway Street NE from South Dakota Avenue to the Fort Totten trailhead

2,255′

85′

3.8%

16th Street NW from U St. to Euclid St. (Meridian Hill)

2,284′

85′

3.7%

(Data from Google Maps)

Of course, that hill is exactly why Fort Totten is where it is: to have a commanding view of Confederate advances. While that topography served the Union Army well, it’s not so great for a leisurely ride.

Combine topography with traffic and this will be a frustrating spot. Drivers don’t want to be behind an exhausted bicyclist going uphill . . . and that bicyclist doesn’t want to be in front of drivers. Notably, Galloway Street is the route for several Metrobuses, as well as parking and kiss-and-ride for the Fort Totten Metro station.

The MBT is meant to be enjoyed by people of all ages and ability levels. But under the current conditions, reaching the MBT by bike from Lamond-Riggs may be an unpleasant experience for many people.

However, there may be opportunities to make some improvements so our neighborhood can have better access. There have been various plans for bike facilities on or next to Galloway Street. The District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) 2014 moveDC plan includes a future trail along Galloway St. from the Fort Totten trailhead to South Dakota Avenue. That trail segment would continue along Gallatin St. to the District line, to a connection with the Northwest Branch Trail in Maryland. If built, that segment would connect our neighborhoods to many more miles of trails. However, at this time there seems to be no concrete plan for building it.

2014 moveDC plan. Blue dotted lines indicate a planned trail

More modestly, last year DDOT listed a climbing lane as a “possible 2018 installation” on the lower portion of Galloway Street, from South Dakota Avenue to 4th St. NE (the alley through the Modern). A climbing lane is an on-street bike lane in the uphill direction only. While that would be a start, bicyclists would still have to mix with vehicular traffic the rest of the way uphill, and all the way downhill from the trailhead. More to the point, 2018 is now over and it didn’t happen yet. (However, the recent February Lamond-Riggs Citizens Association, a DDOT representative said that the planned sidewalk would be installed on the south side of Galloway Street in this location some time in 2019. Maybe the sidewalk and the bike facility are related?)

Looking north, the Cafritz Foundation’s Art Place development sits between Ingraham and Kennedy streets. Maybe new bike facilities could be built as part of any transportation changes arising from that development. In fact, the developers have stated that they would like to realign Kennedy Street in a future development phase. Realignment would involve new paving and curbs: if appropriate, maybe new bike facilities could be included.

These are some of the issues and ideas as I see them. How about you? Take my survey to tell me what you think, and let’s work together to find solutions for our neighborhood. If folks respond to the survey, I’ll share the responses out with the community.

MBT Progress Report

DDOT has a dedicated website for the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) Brookland to Fort Totten extension. The agency posts weekly progress reports and two-week look ahead reports on the site, so it is a good way to stay abreast of where work is being performed and will be performed in the future. At the ANC 5A meeting on November 21, I managed to catch up with DDOT Bicycle Program Specialist Michael Alvino to get an update. I left before his formal presentation to the ANC, as the discussion around Pax Liquor took up most of the meeting. We spoke separately though, and he gave me a few updates on the trail.

The project is being done in phases. Construction work is currently taking place on Phase A near the southern end on John McCormack Drive NE. DDOT is finishing up design for Phase B, the northern end near 1st Place, Gallatin Street, and Fort Totten Drive NE. Residents will start to see some construction impacts near the northern end around February/March 2019, especially those who access Fort Totten metro station from the northwest.

As the most recent progress report notes, the agency has combined Phases C & D. This is the longest and the most complicated portion of the trail, going from Bates Road to 1st Place NE. Part of it will wrap around the Fort Totten metro station tunnel. There have been some concerns that DDOT does not have approval from Metro for this part yet. That is because it is still in the design phase, and Metro is reviewing that part of the plan to make sure everything is okay. Things like what kind and weight of construction equipment will be near the tunnel, adequate plans to properly protect the tunnel during construction operation, are all things that Metro is looking at. In addition, the middle portion will be built close to the train tracks in essentially what is a ditch. That ditch apparently carries stormwater from the Aggregate Industries cement plant. If DDOT is going to cover that ditch with a trail, DDOT will need to have an appropriate stormwater plan in place, so that also needs to be addressed in the design. The design is mostly done, and DDOT does not expect issues with getting the final design approved. Mr. Alvino said he expects construction on this phase to begin around summer 2019.

Mr. Alvino noted that the contractor is behind schedule, but he did state that the project is still on track to be completed in 2020. Expect a visit from DDOT’s team to the neighborhood early next year to discuss the impacts on the northern end near Fort Totten metro station. Until then, be sure to visit the project website for weekly updates.

MBT Extension Construction Phases

DDOT released information on the construction phases for the Met Branch Trail extension from Brookland to Fort Totten. This information may change over the course of the project. For up-to-date information, visit the project website at https://www.metbranchtrail-forttotten.com

From the website:

Metropolitan Branch Trail Projected Design and Construction Schedules

Phase A – John McCormack to Bates Road
Design – October 2017 to July 2018
Construction – July 2018 to September 2018

Phase B – Gallatin Street to First Place
Design – October 2017 to October 2018
Construction – October 2018 to December 2019

Phases C and D – First Place to Bates Road
Design – October 2017 to December 2018
Construction – December 2018 to January 2020

Actual schedule of completion for each phase will vary based upon several factors including, but not limited to weather conditions, size and degree of difficulty of the area, material and contractor availability, crew sizes, and complexity of the changes that may be inevitable after construction has already begun.

 

MBT Fort Totten Extension Website

DDOT has a dedicated website for the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) extension from Brookland (John McCormack Drive NE) to Fort Totten metro station. DDOT presented preliminary information at the Lamond-Riggs Citizens Association meeting on May 7. Work will begin in June 2018 (weather permitting) and is scheduled for completion in December 2019. DDOT expects to begin work on the southern portion first, then will begin work on the northern portion (as early as June or July), and expects to complete the middle portion last. Construction trucks will mainly be using John McCormack Drive and Fort Totten Drive NE. There may be some impact to pedestrian walkways on Gallatin Street NE and on 1st Place NE once work begins closer to the metro station. The dedicated website has links for construction updates, a two-week look ahead schedule, and progress reports, so be sure to check the site come June for upcoming work.

Picture of DDOT MBT Fort Totten Extension Website

 

 

 

MBT Brookland to Fort Totten Extension to Proceed

DDOT officially announced it’s a go for the Metropolitan Branch Trail extension from Brookland to Fort Totten.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contacts

Terry Owens — (202) 763-8635, terry.owens@dc.gov
Maura Danehey — (202) 306-1668, maura.danehey@dc.gov

(Washington, DC) — On October 31, 2017, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) issued the Potomac Construction Company a Notice to Proceed for the design-build construction of the next phase of the Metropolitan Branch Trail. The new trail will connect the existing trail from John McCormack Drive in Brookland to the Fort Totten Metro Station. This is the next major milestone toward the completion of the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

The Metropolitan Branch Trail will be an 8-mile multi-use trail that connects Union Station in the District of Columbia to Silver Spring, Maryland. The new trail segment will provide a direct off-street route for bicyclists and pedestrians traveling through the Fort Totten area. It will include LED lighting, security cameras, and way-finding signage, and permeable pavement, along with bio-retention facilities, which are similar to rain gardens.

Using a design-build process for construction of the Metropolitan Branch Trail streamlines the final design process and construction, which is expected to be conducted, weather permitting, within the next 18 months. For more information about the Metropolitan Branch Trail, visit metbranchtrail.com.

This announcement demonstrates the continued effort on the part of DDOT to complete the District’s major trails and close key gaps. DDOT recently completed another upgrade to the Oxon Run Trail in Ward 8. The Oxon Run Trail project created new connections to Oxon Run Park and surrounding neighborhoods and included installation of new benches, tables, bicycle racks, and LED lighting. The project also uses porous pavement and additional green infrastructure to improve water quality in Oxon Run.

The mission of the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is to enhance the quality of life for District residents and visitors by ensuring that people, goods, and information move efficiently and safely with minimal adverse impact on residents and the environment.

Follow us on Twitter for transportation-related updates and more; like us on Facebookand visit the website at www.ddot.dc.gov. Visit goDCgo.com for more information on transportation options in the District.