What’s going on with the Met Branch Trail in Ward 4?

On Tuesday, December 5, the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee for Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B is hosting an informational meeting to discuss and debate the merits of the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) in Ward 4. This meeting is a key opportunity for Ward 4 residents and 4B neighbors to get to know the project and encourage elected commissioners to support the trail as planned. If you want a continuous biking and walking trail connecting Silver Spring and Downtown that also makes Blair Road safe for all, come to Tuesday’s meeting!

ANC 4B PWI meeting on the Met Branch Trail
Tuesday, December 5
5:30 pm – walking tour meets at Peabody St. & Blair Rd NW
6:45 pm – indoor meeting at Takoma Village Co-housing (6827 4th St. NW)

Let us know you’ll be there

If this sounds familiar, it should. Since June the District Department of Transportation has been seeking ANC feedback on the MBT 30% design plans so that design can continue towards construction. In that time, the PWI committee, ANC commissioners, and the full ANC have held numerous meetings on the details of the route, design, benefits, and impacts of the MBT. DDOT’s plan routes the trail off-street alongside Blair Road from McDonald Pl to Rittenhouse then in a repurposed travel lane from Rittenhouse to Aspen St.

In October, the ANC passed a resolution supporting just 1500 feet of the 1.6 mile trail plan in Ward 4. On January 22nd, Commissioners will finally vote on a resolution considering the rest.

What is at stake?

Despite strong attendance from trail supporters at meetings, more than 150 petition signatures from 4B residents, and dozens of emails to commissioners asking for support on DDOT’s plan, many commissioners oppose routing the trail on Blair Rd at all, claiming that Blair is somehow too dangerous for traffic calming to work or that delaying drivers for the sake of non-driver safety is unfair and suggesting instead that trail users go to Eastern Ave or 3rd St or other roundabout “alternatives.”

Many options were considered by DDOT during the past four years of planning and community input and found to be unworkable. At this stage, altering the route has dire consequences for the usability and success of the trail, adds years of delay and prevents needed safety improvements on Blair Rd. Traffic studies indicate that the trail as planned could add as many as six(!) seconds per block to peak driver travel times along Blair Road. This is not a good reason to delay a critical regional connection for people biking and walking.

Based on the regional importance of this trail segment, DDOT could decide to move ahead without ANC 4B support, but WABA hopes the Commission will support this long-anticipated addition to the neighborhood.

What can you do to help?

  1. Attend Tuesday’s meeting. Get to know the project, and demand that your neighborhood representative support DDOT’s plan for the MBT and a safer Blair Rd. RSVP
  2. Join our Facebook Group. Get involved in rallying support for the Met Branch Trail in Ward 4.
  3. Sign and share our petition. Help show your elected neighborhood leaders the broad community support for the Met Branch Trail.

You can learn more about the routing and plans for the Met Branch Trail on this interactive map or at metbranchtrail.com/resources.

Contract Awarded for the Met Branch Trail Extension to Fort Totten

A bird’s eye rendering of the Met Branch Trail around the Fort Totten Metro (Source DDOT)

This morning, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced a key milestone for the extension of the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) from Brookland to Fort Totten. After a long procurement process, DDOT awarded the contract to complete the design and construct the next phase of the popular multi-use trail!

This new trail will extend the sidepath on the east side of John McCormack Dr to the base of the hill across from the Fort Totten waste transfer station. Instead of turning up the hill, as it does today, the trail will continue north alongside the train tracks. At the Fort Totten Metro, the trail will climb up and over the Green Line tunnel portal, descend to street level and continue on First Pl NE towards Riggs Rd.

Existing MBT in green, new segment in blue, interim on street route in red (Source Google Maps)

This phase of construction will add nearly a mile of new trail, improving walking and biking access to the Fort Totten transit hub and the new development surrounding it. The project will include stairs for a direct route down to the Metro entrance and an improved trail through Fort Totten Park westward to Gallatin St, where the interim MBT route continues to Silver Spring. The new 10-12 foot wide trail will include lights and a relatively gradual grade compared to the steep climb up Fort Totten Dr. For more renderings and detailed design drawings, go to metbranchtrail.com/resources/.

When complete, the Met Branch Trail will span more than 8 miles between Union Station and the Silver Spring Metro Station. So far, the southern 5.5 miles are a mix of off-street trail, protected bike lane, and low traffic streets. Once built out from Bates Rd to Fort Totten, about 2 miles will remain to be built through Ward 4 to the Maryland line. Completing final design and construction should take roughly 18 months or by spring 2019. This new timeline is almost a year behind the schedule published in May 2016.

Celebrate Silver Spring’s First Protected Bike Lane on Oct 14!

Downtown Silver Spring is taking a huge step towards being a bikeable, walkable and livable community! Over the past few months, crews have been piecing together downtown Silver Spring’s very first protected bike lane on Spring and Cedar St. Over the past three weeks, the project has been taking shape, with new lane striping, green paint, and flex-posts appearing every day along the 0.8 mile corridor. Well, It’s just about complete, and it’s time to celebrate.

On October 14, we are throwing a party to celebrate the first of many protected bike lanes around and through the downtown, promising low-stress, convenient, and safe trips by bike. Join the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, neighbors, community advocates, County Councilmembers and staff to celebrate and take the inaugural ride on these new bike lanes! Starting at 10am come over to Woodside Urban Park for a festive celebration with activities for the whole family. Then, help us thank county leaders and staff who are leading the charge for more bikeable and walkable communities as we cut the ribbon on the first major piece of the Silver Spring Circle.

Once the ribbon is cut, join us on a community bike ride down Spring St to see and feel what low-stress urban biking is all about. The route will be a kid-friendly loop around downtown with an easy stop at the farmers market before returning to the start. Activities include kid-friendly bike ride, design your own bike lane, playground, face painter, Bike Master Plan team, Montgomery County Commuter Services, and tons of conversation about fun and low-stress biking in Silver Spring and beyond.

We hope you’ll join us to celebrate this first big step for the Silver Spring Circle!

I’ll Be There!

This week only: “How’s My Driving” Scavenger Hunt!

Help us make a case:

We’re looking for pictures and videos of professional drivers behaving unprofessionally. You know, blocking bike lanes, passing unsafely, blocking sidewalks and crosswalks. Stuff you probably encounter every day. We’re also on the hunt for photos of professional drivers parking, stopping, or unloading correctly on streets with bike infrastructure, and driving safely around bicyclists and pedestrians.

So we’re hosting a scavenger hunt and keeping a scorecard of sorts:

To sweeten the deal. We’ll be giving away a WABA t-shirt to the person who submits the most photos or videos. We’ll announce the winner on Friday, October 5th.

Here’s how to participate::

  • Post a photo or video of a Fedex, Mail, UPS truck in a bike lane (Or parked appropriately next to a bike lane) (1pt)
  • Post a photo or video of a driver in a bike lane picking up or dropping off someone(Or discharging passengers appropriately next to a bike lane) (1pt)
  • Post a photo or video of a delivery truck in a bike lane (or unloading appropriately next to a bike lane) (1pt)
  • You can post on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and use the hashtag #StreetsForPeopleDC , and tag us (@WABADC) when you post
  • Double points for photos and videos in NE, SE, SW (unsurprisingly, we have a lot of photos of 14th St NW)
  • You can also submit pics with your name or Twitter handle via email to renee.moore@waba.org

Get your submissions in by Friday, September 29th at 6 pm

Here’s what we have so far:

 

Support the 2017 Youth Bike Summit!

WABA is committed to building the capacity of our communities to advocate for themselves.  The Youth Bike Summit helps our community of youth to find their voice to speak up for their needs now, and develop their skills for a lifetime of civic betterment.

This year, the National Youth Bike Summit will be held in Crystal City October 6-8.  The Youth Bike Summit is a three-day conference geared toward youth, bikes, education, advocacy, and leadership. People from across disciplines, backgrounds, and ages gather to learn, share, network, and explore how bicycling can be a catalyst for positive social change.

The Youth Bike Summit will feature keynote speakers, hands-on workshops, panel presentations, and other opportunities for youth and adults to exchange ideas about what biking can mean for children, teens, families, schools, communities, and our planet.  This national event will also feature a dynamic and thought-provoking visioning session where youth and adults can articulate, share, and develop new ideas to bring back to their local communities.  By creating a space where voices of all bicyclists can be heard, the Youth Bike Summit fosters an inclusive national dialogue that address the issues, rights, and concerns of all bicyclists.

Learn more about how to attend or volunteer here:

youthbikesummit.org/support-ybs17/

Fairfax County has two bike-relevant meetings on Thursday

A chance for a new bike-ped bridge:

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) will host a community meeting to discuss proposed bicycle and pedestrian crossings on the Fairfax County Parkway Trail at the Dulles Toll Road Ramp on Thursday, Sept. 14, 6:30 to 8 p.m., in the cafeteria of Dogwood Elementary School, 12300 Glade Drive, Reston. Two options that are under consideration include at-grade intersection improvements and a pedestrian-bicycle bridge. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/bike/pkwytrail-dullestollrd.htm

More bike lanes!

Fairfax County will hold a public meeting on September 14, 2017, to solicit comments on the proposed FY 2019 Transportation Alternatives Projects. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, 4050 Legato Road, Suite 400, Fairfax, VA 22033. At the meeting, county staff will make a presentation about the program, followed by a question-and-answer session. More details here: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/news/2017/17_004.htm

 

Attend these DC project meetings in September

This September weather may be perfect for biking, but there are still too many year-round barriers to bicycling in DC. Attend these meetings and speak up for better bicycling!

Rehabilitation of Eastern Avenue NE Project 
Thurs, Sept 14 6:30pm to 8:30pm
EF International Language Center – Lecture Hall
6896 Laurel Street NW

DDOT is rehabilitating Eastern Ave from New Hampshire Ave NE to Whittier Street NW and improving the street with bike lanes and safer intersections for people on foot. Learn more.

Final Meeting: Alabama Ave SE Safety Study
Sat, Sept 16 10:30am to 1:00pm
Giant at the Shops at Park Village
1535 Alabama Avenue SE

DDOT is studying a road diet and various options for bike lanes, buffered or protected bike lanes along the 4.5 mile corridor. Learn more.

Southeast Boulevard Environmental Assessment
Sat, Sept 16 10:00am to 12:00pm
Chamberlain Elementary School
1345 Potomac Avenue SE

This is an early scoping meeting for the conversion of the Southeast Freeway between 11th St. SE and Pennsylvania Ave into a boulevard with options for extending the city grid, better river access, and bikeways. Learn more.

Final Meeting: New York Ave Streetscape & Trail
Tue, Sept 19 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Gallaudet University King Jordan Student Academic Center
800 Florida Avenue NE

This is the final project meeting for the proposed trail / protected bike lane between NoMa and the National Arboretum. Learn More.

Long Bridge Environmental Impact Statement Level 2
Wed, Sept 27 4:00pm to 7:00pm
DCRA Building, Room E200
1100 4th St SW

DDOT & the Federal Railroad Administration are studying options to replace the Long Bridge, a 2 track railroad bridge that links SW DC with Crystal City. This is the only new Potomac bridge likely to be considered in the next century, so it had better include a high-quality trail. Presentations at 4:30pm and 6pm. Learn more.