Planning is officially underway for a new pedestrian and bike trail parallel to New York Avenue NE. The trail would run from NoMa through Ivy City and out to the National Arboretum.

A rendering of a trail section in Ivy City. Image Rails-to-Trails.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (“RTC”) just completed a study on the possibility, and DDOT and Douglas Development are now working on the first phases of planning for construction.

DDOT has envisioned protected bike infrastructure along this route since at least the 2005 DC Bike Master Plan’s release, but this is the first study to analyze a particular route and provide a cost estimate.  Funding for the study came from a donation from Douglas.

The study recommends a 14 foot trail width, with a minimum of 10 feet, from the NoMa Metro to the Arboretum.  The trail would connect with the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) at its existing M Street NE ramp, go through the Florida Avenue Market/Union Market, and then along mostly-DDOT controlled land on the North side of New York Avenue NE.

New York Avenue trail area map. Image from Rails-to-Trails.

There are several options considered for some segments of the trail.  The exact route will depend on further design and land ownership analysis, but there are some small sections that may be built this year.

DDOT is planning to build protected bike lanes in 2016 on M and 4th Streets NE along the route recommended by the RTC study.  From there, local developer Kettler has a PUD pending at the Zoning Commission for several buildings fronting on to the trail.

As part of Kettler’s project at 300-350 Morse Street NE called “Union Terminal” they will build 1,000 feet of the trail through an alley from Morse Street NE up to a DDOT-owned tunnel under New York Avenue.  Kettler will also build a park at the South end of the tunnel to activate this currently vacant & desolate tunnel portal.

Site plan for Kettler’s “Union Terminal” project, from their PUD application.

In Ivy City, Douglas Development is assembling a collection of shipping containers to become a retail and events space on land leased from the DC Government.  They will build the trail section between Fenwick and 16th Streets NE as part of this project this year.

RTC is estimating that construction of the trail will cost $5 million, excluding a potential $6 million bicycle and pedestrian bridge across Florida Avenue NE.  This would only be built if the developer to the South, Trammel-Crow, can incorporate the trail into their upcoming project at the Central Armature Works site.

Additional funds will be needed to acquire two parcels of land along New York Avenue.  These hold a hotel, gas station, and tire shop.  RTC estimates that acquiring these parcels, which total approximately 36,000 square feet, will cost $5 million.

Section of the trail through an existing tunnel under New York Avenue from the RTC study.

The next step will be starting a more formal engineering study of the various sections, which DDOT hopes to do later in 2016.  The most critical portion will be along the railroad tracks where the trail will be built into the existing embankment between the tracks and road.

Tony Goodman is an ANC Commissioner for 6C06 in Near Northeast/NoMA and member of the DC Pedestrian Advisory Council. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, he is a Construction Project Manager with a Masters degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Michigan and has lived in Washington, DC since 2002.