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NPS Announces Safety Improvements To Capital Crescent Entrance


Read below for a press release from the National Park Service concerning safety improvements on the Water Street entrance to the Capital Crescent Trail.

C&O Canal National Historical Park News Release
Release Date: June 18, 2013
For Immediate Release
John Noel, Public Information Officer, (301) 491-6422

Visitor Safety Improvements along Capital Crescent Trail

DC – Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) hikers and bicyclists should anticipate construction on June 20th, 2013, as the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park makes improvements to the Water Street entrance following increasing concerns for public and visitor safety.
An increasing number of cars are parking along the trail and landscaped area upstream of the Alexandria Aqueduct, leading to an increasing number of vehicles reported driving on the CCT in search of I-495 Beltway or Dulles Airport.

“In recent months we have become concerned for the safety of Capital Crescent Trail visitors at the end of the trail on Water Street in Georgetown as one serious injury and an increasing number of near-miss accidents between bicyclists and cars have been reported,” confirmed Park Superintendent Kevin Brandt, “Before another serious injury occurs we will take actions to minimize the risk posed to park visitors using the trail for recreation.”

Plans to enhance visitor safety and improve the aesthetics of this historic area include filling in all ruts and depressions in the drive-through arch of the Alexandria Aqueduct to create a smooth and level surface. Installation of a bicycle-friendly gate at the Georgetown side of the aqueduct will prevent vehicles from driving upstream and replace the single bollard located 200 feet upstream that had previously served this purpose but that was knocked over frequently by errant cars. Signage and striping to warn visitors as they approach the gate and direct them towards the 5 ½ feet-wide opening will be installed. Additional signs will be posted that alert visitors to the fact that they are leaving a non-motorized trail and entering a public road.

The grassy landscape that used to exist in this area will be restored upon project completion. Two weeks ago DC Water turned on the odor control scrubbers which will remove the smell emanating from the eight-foot-diameter Dulles Interceptor sewer line that is buried a few feet below the area where cars park upstream of the Alexandria Aqueduct, making this area much more conducive to visitor enjoyment of the Potomac River waterfront.

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park is interested in your ideas and suggestions for improvements to the Capital Crescent Trail and in particular the Water Street entrance. To submit suggestions or report problems or other maintenance requirements please email John Adams, Safety Officer & Acting Chief of Maintenance, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park at john_adams@nps.gov.

Photo by Flickr user Daquella manera


This is a good move by the Park Service to start solving some serious safety issues.  For next steps Jorge got it just right.  Signs are really important  to deflect all that random traffic which can be especially scary as people turn around and peel away to make up lost time.  Yes, more signs throughout.

Also critical is the re-education of cyclists who whiz  through the Aqueduct Bridge arch like they were sprinting for the finish.  This "mixing bowl" has too many people and too many diverse activities.  Everyone passing through there should be taking their time.   WABA, please will publicize the need for cyclists' cooperation



Dear WABA: what will the NPS and the DC Government do to address two additional issues at this location:

1. Lack of signage on Water St. NW alerting drivers that this road is a dead end/no outlet? This is the real issue at hand. Drivers are frequently directed by the their GPS to this location as a means for accessing Key Bridge. Others just assume this is the route. Many of us who work in this area act as unofficial tour guides when asked how a driver can get to their intended destinations. "DEAD END" and "NO OUTLET" signs need to be added as part of the solution, and placed as far up as 34th St. NW. All this current "solution" by the NPS serves to do is make life more complicated for those using the various homes and facilities in this area as well as for cyclists who now must content with cars that have no where to turn around effectively.

2. Educate cyclists that this is an active and busy street used by patrons of local facilities on Water St, as well as cyclists, pedestrians etc.

To not address both of these points is simply to relocate the issue a few hundred feet north along Water St.


Dana McIntosh
Dana McIntosh

As long as they don't kill all of the free parking under the bridge / by the boathouse, I'm in support. Arent there already pylons on the path just upstream of the boathouse?

Matthew S. Schwartz
Matthew S. Schwartz

"An increasing number of cars are parking along the trail and landscaped area upstream of the Alexandria Aqueduct, leading to an increasing number of vehicles reported driving on the CCT in search of I-495 Beltway or Dulles Airport." :D

David Muhlbaum
David Muhlbaum

Great. How about some signage along Water Street to indicate to people that, no matter what their GPS might suggest, they are not on the Whitehurst Freeway. Several times a week a rental or car with out-of-state plates goes roaring northward only to pull up short at the trail entrance, three-point-turn, and come back.

Julie Starling
Julie Starling

Glad to hear! It has been dicey getting through the last few times i was there.

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