We’ve got some great trails in our region, but they don’t all connect to each other.
So imagine with us for a minute: seamless trail connections to monuments, to rivers, to parks, and to the places we need to get to every day. A network that doesn’t leave gaps at bridges and busy road crossings, where people on foot or on bikes can connect in an easy, low-stress way to all of the places that make our region great.
That’s the vision that National Park Service (NPS) has laid out in the National Capital Region Draft Paved Trails Study, released in April.
The study includes a set of goals and 120 capital and programmatic recommendations, in addition to a framework for prioritizing regional funding of trail-related projects. We are thrilled that the Park Service has taken this on, and pleased with the results.
So what’s in the study, and why are we giving NPS a round of applause?
Here is just a small sample of the priority projects:
- Extension of the existing cycle track south on 15th Street from Pennsylvania Avenue, NW to the 14th Street Bridge. (You know, that connection we’ve been asking for for years?)
- A feasibility study for a cycle track or trail along the Military Road, NW right of way, from Glover Road, NW to 16th Street, NW.
- A feasibility study for an extension of the Suitland Parkway Trail from the D.C./Maryland line to Henson Creek Trail.
- Improved wayfinding and standardized signage so that it’s easier to navigate the trails system.
- The development of comprehensive trail design standards and guidelines for the region that address trail width, snow removal, clearances, safety features, and more.
- Fixing numerous bridge access problems, including the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, Tidal Basin Inlet Bridge, and 14th Street Bridge.
- Connecting the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail to the Wilson Bridge, by way of Blue Plains and Oxon Hill Farm.
WABA is pleased that NPS is being so strategic about the quality and connectivity of paved trails in the National Capital Region. These are important corridors for commuting, running errands, recreating, exercising, and connecting to our natural surroundings. For those of us who believe that the best way to experience the National Parks is by bike or on foot, this is a welcome investment in a connected, world-class trail network.
High-volume corridors, many of which are vital commuting routes, warrant special design, maintenance and operational considerations. With this plan, NPS is acknowledging that these trails are transportation systems, and should be treated as such. This represents a major paradigm shift for NPS.
Why does this stage in the process matter?
In essence, NPS is laying out the next 20 years of work in regards to paved trails under their jurisdiction. Now is your time to show your support and encourage adoption of all of the recommendations.
Will you stand with us and tell NPS you support the recommendations outlined in the Paved Trails Study?
Your voice matters, especially right now. From bridge connections to wayfinding signage to snow removal, the recommendations in the Paved Trails Study will elevate the regional trail network from “almost great” to truly incredible. The comment period closes on May 19, so take action today.
The Washington region needs a connected, easily-accessible trail network. Now is the time to let NPS know that you support their recommendations!
Want to read the study or submit additional comments to NPS? You can find that information here.