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 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:
- 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 mile) section of the Piney Branch Parkway trail from Beach Drive to Arkansas Avenue, NW;
- 1,929-foot (0.4 mile) 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 mile) of 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 District of Columbia right-of-way. A section of the trail passes through 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.
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.
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.
The next steps for the project are to finish the design of the trail improvements, followed by construction. DDOT has funding programmed in fiscal year 2014 to initiate final design and construction funds will be available when the design in complete.