|Categories||Education and Advocacy, Public Engagement and Motivation|
|Keywords||Metropolitan Branch Trail, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Washington DC|
|Viewed||776 times, 1 today|
From the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy:
More than two decades ago, as the rail-trail movement was gathering momentum, residents of the District of Columbia had a vision known as the Metropolitan Branch Trail. Their plan: to create a trail along an active railroad line, stretching from Union Station to out beyond the edge of Washington D. C. The corridor, which descends into the heart of the city, commands exceptional views of the Capitol and provides an opportunity to traverse the diverse neighborhoods of the District.
Like many rail-trail projects, this vision experienced challenges, disappointments and celebrations of success. Funding was an initial hurdle, but an early appropriation alleviated that concern. In time, bits and pieces of the trail were established, though sometimes only as an on-road bike lane. Unfortunately, no piece connected people to destinations in a way that would enable the trail to be widely used.
All that is changing as a primary segment of the trail, from New York Avenue to Franklin Street is about to be built. This segment will not only connect existing pieces but will instantly open the trail to a number of neighborhoods allowing people to use it to get to work, school, run errands, and visit community facilities. It is also long enough so people who want to engage in recreational activities, either by foot, bicycle, wheelchair, inline skates or skateboards, will be able to do so in a safe environment separate from increasingly busy on-street traffic.
Like any community facility, the trail will be used to the extent it is embraced by the community and addresses their multi-faceted needs. With this in mind, Kaiser Permanente partnered with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to determine the facilities, resources, infrastructure and programming needed to insure the maximum use of the trail by a diverse group of users.
Based on Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s 21 years of rail-trail building experience, current research on trails and physical health, and numerous meetings with community organizations and key stakeholders, a list of recommendations was created. If implemented, these recommendations will increase local trail awareness and provide unique opportunities for the diverse local population to engage in the growth and sustainability of this new community asset. Physical activity levels among residents will substantially increase as more community members become aware of the trail’s location and begin to incorporate the trail into their daily commute, as a way to access community amenities, and as a venue for recreation.