Parks and cycling enthusiasts alike gathered at the National Zoo Wednesday evening to get a look at proposed options to rehabilitate and change sections of in the District. The National Park Service (NPS), working in conjunction with the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) (EA) on the proposed rehabilitation of the Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail. The section of the plan that directly impacts Georgetown is .
The options for Rose Park include a "No Action" plan where the path would remain under its current conditions. The other two options would help improve the connection between P Street and M Street that allows path users to easily travel between Dupont Circle and Georgetown. One "action" option would resurface the path at its current alignment to a standard six foot width, the other would increase the width to eight feet. According to the presentation given Wednesday evening the existing trail at Rose Park varies in width from five to six feet.
The Rose Park section of the trail will be evaluated under a separate option in the EA "due to comments received during the 2009 and 2011 scoping periods," according to a DDOT document.
As previously reported, the ANC adopted a resolution opposing modification of the path as per the request of Friends of Rose Park. The park supporters sent a letter to agency heads in early February stating its three long-held priorities for the park: the path should not be relocated or widened, though it should be renovated for safety and future use should be limited to pedestrians (no cyclists).
A Q&A session Wednesday allowed attendees to propose solutions to be included in any plan. Greater Greater Washington reported neighbors made suggestions such as "building a fence to separate the Rose Park trail from the playground and using brick pavers to slow down cyclists."
Jim Sebastian, a supervisory transportation planner for DDOT, said about the suggestions that his agency and the park service would consider them when refining the plan for the neighborhood park.
When asked about the choices for the width of the improved path—why six or eight feet—Sebastian said the national standard for a sidewalk is 10 feet, but that "would be a bit much" in Rose Park. The six foot path would allow two people to pass one another and for a stroller to comfortably maneuver the space, he explained. Whatever option the agencies decide to go with, based on public feedback, the NPS intends to keep the path multi-use, rather than pedestrian-only.
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 public can comment online during this scoping period until Feb. 28.
After this initial public comment period, the agencies will work to develop a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) by the spring; 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.