In a letter Norton released today, Tara Morrison, Superintendent of Rock Creek Park, says an Environmental Assessment (EA) is currently with the Federal Highway Administration for approval. A Finding of No Significant Impact (or, delightfully, FONSI) document is expected to be signed by FHWA in the “near future” and NPS is currently drafting their own, which will also be reviewed by the District Department of Transportation.
“Construction could begin on the project as early as Fiscal Year 2015,” the letter states.
While any movement is welcome news, Greg Billing from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association says the pace thus far has been frustrating.
Read NPS’ full response here and the press release from Norton’s office below the jump.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Norton Receives Progress Report on Rock Creek Park Trail Project
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) received a response earlier this month to a letter she sent to the National Park Service (NPS) requesting a progress report on the status of the Rock Creek Park trail project and its Environmental Assessment (EA), as well as a timeline for next steps in the process. Norton warned that federal funding, which has been dedicated to this project, could be lost if it is not obligated by the end of 2015. In the response, NPS said that the EA is currently with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for review, and once FHWA signs a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), the District can move forward to complete the trail. The response notes that this is expected to occur in the “near future.” NPS is also required to draft a FONSI, which is expected to be signed this summer. Norton wrote the letter because of excessive delay. NPS released its draft EA in December 2011 with a 30-day public comment period, but there is still no final EA.
“The NPS response and information were much appreciated,” said Norton. “NPS and FHWA must now work expeditiously to allow the long-delayed project to get underway and be completed.”
When Norton sent her letter on March 6, more than 2,400 people, most of whom are D.C. residents, had signed a Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) petition requesting that the Rock Creek Park trail be repaved and rehabilitated as soon as possible. NPS’s response noted a March 7 meeting in which NPS, the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Norton’s staff met with WABA, and where all parties agreed that improved communication by NPS and DDOT with the public, WABA and Norton’s office was critical to meeting expectations about progress being made towards completion of the project.
NPS’s response letter is attached.
Photo by Flickr user TrailVoice