Nearly a year after a public scoping period on the proposed changes for Rock Creek Park and Rose Park, the National Park Service has released its draft environmental assessment in which it recommends repaving Rose Park's current trail and widening it at points to create a uniform six-foot trail for an estimated $222,770.
The half-mile Rose Park trail runs from P Street to M Street and under current conditions is generally five feet wide, though a small area is six feet in width.
Last January, the Georgetown ANC adopted a resolution opposing modification of the path as per the request of Friends of Rose Park, who were concerned that the changes would encourage more cyclists to use the path over, possibly compromising the safety of pedestrians.
According to the NPS environmental assessment, some community members "called for the exclusion of bicycles from the Rose Park trails." But the NPS determined that "one of the needs of the project is to maintain support of the diverse trail users and groups including pedestrians, bicyclists, runners, those enjoying nature, etc." With that in mind, excluding cyclists was not an option.
The push to expand the path to six feet, for a total increase of 0.20 acres of paved area, would help facilitate more users on the path, according to the NPS report.
"Trail users routinely leave the paved trail surface in order to walk side by side or pass other users," the NPS staff wrote. This has harmed grass along the side of the trail, creating a companion dirt path next to the existing path. By paving in this area, NPS hopes to create a safe space for users to pass one another without having to leave the path.
"It would not be practical to rehabilitate the trail at its existing width because users would continue to migrate from the trail, and replanting would not be successful,” states the report.
Carol Harman, a board member of the Friends of Rose Park, told Patch in an email that the board will discuss the NPS draft document at their meeting this month. At this point, she said their primary concern is still the safety of children and other park visitors.
Georgetown Metropolitan blog writer, Christopher Mathews, wrote that he was "in support of keeping Rose Park open to bikers" and that he was "happy to see NPS keep to its guns on this matter." He suggested better signage asking bikers to slow down could help alleviate neighbors concerns that the trail will become a bike speedway.
The Rock Creek project will impact sections of the trail from Broad Branch Road to P Street, and also will include the Piney Branch Parkway trail from Beach Drive to Arkansas Avenue, NW, and part of the Rose Park trail from M Street to P Street. In total the rehabilitation project, if approved, will cover a 3.7-mile segment of the existing Rock Creek trail.
The public can comment online on the draft environmental assessment through Jan. 13, 2012. You can also mail comments to:
Ms. Austina Casey
District Department of Transportation
Infrastructure Project Management Administration
55 M Street SE, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20003
Attn: Rock Creek Multi-Use Trail Rehabilitation EA