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District Department of Transportation

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Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail Rehabilitation Project

Rendering of Proposed Updated Trail

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the National Park Service (NPS), and with the cooperation of the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) to assess the potential effects of various alternatives for the rehabilitation of the Rock Creek Park multi-use trail in Washington, DC. The EA, which identified the agencies’ Preferred Alternative, was released for the agency and public review in November 2011. The public comment period ran from December 2, 2011, to January 13, 2012.

A public hearing was held on December 14, 2011. Subsequently, the Final EA, which was prepared to address agency and public comments received on the EA, was released on June 26, 2014. The EA evaluated the potential environmental impacts of the No Action Alternative and two Action Alternatives, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and other applicable laws, regulations, and policies.

Rock Creek Park is a 2,896-acre park under the jurisdiction of the NPS. The trail is in northwest Washington, DC, and extends from Wise Road, NW to Military Road, NW, then from Broad Branch Road south to the Lincoln Memorial Circle. The proposed action includes the rehabilitation of the following:

  • A 3.7-mile section of the Rock Creek Park multi-use trail from Broad Branch Road to P Street NW;
  • 4,300-foot (0.8 miles) section of the Piney Branch Parkway trail from Beach Drive to Arkansas Avenue NW;
  • 1,929-foot (0.4 miles) section of the Rose Park trail from P Street, NW to M Street, NW; a 363-foot ramp connecting the Rose Park trail to P Street, NW; and
  • 1,247-foot section (0.2 miles) of the social trail from Broad Branch Road to Peirce Mill (referred to as the Peirce Mill trail spur).

The proposed action includes resurfacing, trail widening where environmentally feasible, modifications to the trail alignments and road crossings, directional and interpretive signage, and connections to and from the trails to other pedestrian and bicycle facilities. In accordance with the project objectives established to meet the project purpose and need, two action alternatives for the rehabilitation of the Rock Creek Park multi-use trail were developed. In addition to the action alternatives, two options for the visitor-made social trail from Broad Branch Road to Peirce Mill, and three options for the Rose Park trail were analyzed as part of the EA. The work being proposed for the Peirce Mill trail spur and the Rose Park trail options are included in the EA for the Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail Rehabilitation project to improve surrounding communities’ access and connectivity to the Rock Creek multi-use trail: however, the implementation of any of these options would not affect the implementation of the work proposed for the Rock Creek Park multi-use trail. Based on public comments and environmental analysis, DDOT in conjunction with FHWA and NPS identified the following Preferred Alternative and associated preferred option for the Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail Rehabilitation project:

  • Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail Alternative 3: Trail Resurfacing and Widening
  • Peirce Mill Trail Spur Option B: 8-foot Paved Trail Spur
  • Rose Park Trail Option B: 6-foot Resurfaced Trail

Rock Creek Park and the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway are under the jurisdiction of the NPS, but the implementation of the proposed action will be administered by DDOT and funded by FHWA. The majority of the proposed improvements are located on NPS land, with some improvements located within the District of Columbia right-of-way. A section of the trail passes through the National Zoological Park property. The proposed action does not involve any transfer of ownership or change of jurisdiction of the trail or the land within the project area. Ownership of the trail and land within the project area will remain with the current owners.

NEPA Decision

The FHWA has determined that the Preferred Alternative and associated options identified in the EA will not have a significant impact on the natural, human, or built environment and has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail Rehabilitation project. The FONSI was also released on June 26, 2014. The FONSI is based on FHWA’s review of the Final EA, from which FHWA determined that the Final EA adequately discussed the need, environmental issues, and impacts of the proposed project and appropriate mitigation measures. Additionally, FHWA determined that the Final EA provides sufficient evidence and analysis for determining that an environmental impact statement is not required. The issuance of the FONSI completes the NEPA process for the Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail Rehabilitation project.

Preliminary Design

DDOT completed a 30-percent engineering design and performance specifications for the Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail Rehabilitation Project based on the Preferred Alternative selected in the EA. The 30 percent design plans may be downloaded from below.

Final Design

The final design for Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail Rehabilitation and Pedestrian Bridge Project is complete. This project will increase bicyclist and pedestrian safety and connectivity, as well as increase ADA accessibility for the more than 2,000 daily users of the trail.

The project consists of streambank stabilization, significant storm drain improvements, reconstruction of an existing retaining wall, trail reconstruction, and widening, including the utilization of permeable pavement. The upgraded trail will be 8 feet to 10 feet wide and the surface material used will be dense mix asphalt and porous asphalt. These improvements will help drain stormwater from the project and result in reduced erosion and trail maintenance.

A key feature of the project is a new 110-foot pedestrian bridge just south of the existing Beach Drive tunnel near the Smithsonian National Zoo. The new bridge will move bicyclists and pedestrians away from the current narrow sidewalk directly adjacent to vehicular traffic to a safer, dedicated path that will improve connectivity between the Rock Creek Multi-Use Trail and the Zoo Loop Trail. The project will repair the streambank and trail that has previously collapsed near the National Zoo. The project will also add 0.9 miles of newly constructed trail alongside Piney Branch Parkway between Beach Drive and Arkansas Avenue NW, which will provide new access to the park and trail.

Construction

The Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail Rehabilitation and Pedestrian Bridge Project held a pre-bid meeting on April 29, 2019. The bid opening was held on May 20, 2019, and the bids received were too high. As a result, District Office of Contracting and Procurement (OCP) canceled the advertisement for bidding on the construction project. DDOT reanalyzed the cost estimate and obligating funds. The project is readvertised in the Summer of 2020. And the new bids opening was held on July 30, 2020. Construction will start on March 29, 2021. The duration of construction will be 730 days and the anticipated completion date of the project construction will be spring 2023.

DDOT has awarded the construction management of the project to a firm with excellent technical knowledge and in-depth experience to manage this unique project. Construction of the project will progress south to north in seven maintenance-of-traffic (MOT) stages with significant detours to both vehicular traffic and bicyclists and pedestrians. District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and National Park Service (NPS) will host a virtual public meeting to introduce the Rehabilitation of Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail and Pedestrian Bridge project. DDOT will rehabilitate and construct more than 3.7 miles of the paved, multi-use trail spanning Wards 1 through 4 from M Street in Georgetown to Broad Branch Road NW. This public meeting will give residents and stakeholders an opportunity to learn more about the project, the construction schedule, maintenance of traffic, and what to expect during construction. A public meeting will be held on March 18, 2021, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.