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Changes Proposed for Rock Creek and Rose Parks

Local and federal government agencies are seeking public input on the proposed rehabilitation of the Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail, including a section in Rose Park.

A collaborative effort among local and federal agencies could change and rehabilitate sections of near Georgetown and in Georgetown. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is cooperating with the National Park Service (NPS) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on drafting and later evaluating an Environmental Assessment (EA) on the proposed rehabilitation of the Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail. Wednesday, Feb. 23, residents can attend a public meeting where project officials will explain the project, present possible alternatives, and provide the public with an opportunity to comment.

The project would impact sections of the trail from Broad Branch Road to P Street, and also would 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, would cover a 3.7-mile segment of the existing Rock Creek trail and a 3,000-foot segment of the existing Rose Park trail.

The goal is to "improve the safety and connectivity of the deteriorating Rock Creek Park multi-use trail system," according to NPS project documents. One of the primary objectives is to "provide improved access to the trail from surrounding communities and the larger bicycle and pedestrian network."

After the initial public comment period, the agencies will work to develop a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) by the spring, according to Austina Casey, an environmental policy analyst at DDOT. That document would also be open for public comment with a final EA likely by the summer. Should the NPS and FHWA determine the project has no "significant impact" the project could then move to the design and construction phase.

One hitch in the plan could be funding. Currently the proposal is funded through the EA stage. DDOT would then have to request funding from the FHWA to move forward with design and construction phases of the project.

At last month's ANC2E meeting, the commission adopted a resolution opposing modification of the path as per the request of Friends of Rose Park. One concern was that expanding the path would make it more appealing to bike riders, whom several neighbors at the meeting said already made walking on the path dangerous at times.

Whether you want to see changes or just want to learn more about the various proposals for rehabilitating and updating park space near Georgetown, you can comment online on the EA or at the public meeting next week. The meeting will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the National Zoo visitor center auditorium at 3001 Connecticut Ave. The last day for public comment is Feb. 28.

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