Last week, the vegetation between the “C” block building of the Monroe Street Market (Catholic U) development and the Metro tracks was cleared. While normally I am not a fan of clear cutting in the name of development, a lot of it was overgrown shrubs and vines, and with the exception of two smaller evergreens, I don’t think there were any true viable trees in the bunch. The good news is that this area will become a stretch of the Met Branch Trail and will connect with a part of the MBT that exists now, which is routed along a sidepath of John McCormack Road on Catholic U’s campus. This will bring the trail one small step closer to being a completely off-road trail. I am hoping/assuming that there will be quite a bit of re-planting once the trail is complete, as the renderings of the development show a line of trees along the border of the property and the Metro tracks. I am not sure when this stretch of the MBT will be complete, but since the C block is slated to be delivered by June/July 2013, I am assuming it will be ready by then or sooner. So, as a reminder, here is how the MBT is supposed to look when complete (lower left of the rendering below).
As a frequent rider on the Met Branch Trail (MBT), I view the abrupt ending of the trail under the Franklin St. bridge with mixed feelings. On one hand, it is a huge mental milestone – I am practically home! On the other hand, I have to get back into “city biking mode” – minding traffic, street conditions, pedestrians and the like. Often, I have wondered when the trail will finally be connected to Silver Spring as originally planned. The frustration with two years of inactivity towards MBT completion was recently explored in this post over at the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’ s blog. The post is a call to action and lays the blame for inactivity squarely at the feet of both the city of DC and Montgomery County.
“Bicycle boulevards are low-volume streets that have been optimized for bicycle travel through traffic calming and diversion, signage and pavement markings, and intersection crossing treatments.”
For this solution to be viable, the Franklin Street bridge would have to be expanded to accommodate a bike lane. The writer, Richard Layman, puts forth that this may be the only way to provide a continuously bike-friendly environment when all is said and done. This is needed because Abdo / Catholic University plans have the MBT running between Michigan and Monroe Streets along the new development, but there will still be a gap between the end of the current trail and Monroe Street. Current development plans address this gap by having bikers riding along 8th Street – on the sidewalk.
So what to do? I think the 9th Street “bike boulevard” is an interesting idea. But, while 9th Street is not the busiest street, anyone familiar with that stretch knows that because of this, cars regularly fly down it at very high speeds. So there will be an enforcement element needed. But more that anything, will bikers really cross the Franklin Street bridge, bike 8 blocks, and then cross back over the tracks on the Monroe Street bridge to get back on the trail? Or will the shorter distance between two points be more tempting? I think that the latter is more likely. Thoughts?
The Rails to Trails Conservancy is hosting a Community Tree Care Event this Saturday, August 11, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on the Met Branch Trail (MBT). Last spring Casey Trees and Rails-to-Trails planted several trees along the Trail. They are now asking for volunteers to help weed and water those trees. Meet the group at the S Street Entrance of the MBT. A few things to note:
Lunch will be provided but they ask that you bring your own water bottle.
Each volunteer must turn in a signed Volunteer Waiver Form. You can complete one in advance or on-site. Those under 18 years of age must turn in a Volunteer Waiver form signed by their parent or legal guardian, and be supervised at all times.
Dress comfortably and for the weather. Closed-toe shoes are required. Casey Trees will provide safety gloves and vests.
They will meet rain or shine!
In addition, attendees will also learn basic tree care information that they can apply to their own backyard. As we all know, this summer has been a scorcher, please help ensure all the trees in the greater Brookland area continue to thrive by watering those thirsty trees!