A proposed biking and walking path that would pave over a former trolley line has divided residents of communities near the path’s entrances, many of whom object over the development of the area.
News of the path has been met with different reactions in the various communities possibly affected by the trail. Residents in the Foxhall Crescent neighborhood have voiced opposition to the plan over concerns that the improvements to the trail are unnecessary to satisfy the community’s demands. Residents have posted flyers along the trail saying “The trail is great in its natural state,” according to local news outlet Greater Greater Washington.
The proposal plans to transform the former trolley line into a 3-mile walking and biking path beginning at the intersection of Prospect and 37th streets and extending through the Foxhall Crescent neighborhood to end at Galena Place in the Palisades, according to Greater Greater Washington.
Washington, D.C.’s Department of Transportation plans to hold its first of two meetings on the planned trail March 7.
The Transportation Department has been working on the proposal for the last several months to determine the feasibility of the trail, the extent of work required to create and maintain the trail, and what to do with the trestle bridges that scatter the former trolley line. The proposal is set to be completed in August. However, a date has not yet been set to make an ultimate decision on the proposed trail.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal as well as the Capital Crescent Trail, which both run parallel to the proposed path, may affect its popularity, according to Elliot Colla, Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Georgetown and resident of the Palisades neighborhood.
“I’m skeptical because I don’t know who would use the bike path to get anywhere, because it’s duplicating one that already exists in the capital crescent and this one joins up with the capital crescent in about a mile and a half,” Colla said.
Residents of communities surrounding the entrance of the proposed trail that sits near Georgetown have not expressed significant opposition to Transportation Department’s proposal, according to Greater Greater Washington. The trail’s proponents have said that it will provide better accessibility between the the Palisades and Foxhall Crescent neighborhoods
The current trail contains gaps between various sections and overgrown brush along its edges. The trail itself, however, is mowed down to a short grass and maintains a relatively decent amount of traffic in its current state even without consistent maintenance from any government agency.
The Palisades Trolley Trail preliminary design project, which has also funded a feasibility study to identify issues in developing the Palisades Trolley Trail, costs roughly $600,000. Additional funding will be required if the proposal for the trail is approved, according to The Wash Cycle, an organization that promotes cycling in the D.C. area. If approved, the trail would likely gain funding from the “Move DC” initiative, a 25-year plan to modernize transportation throughout the District.
Debates over the proposed trail are raising questions about the use of the former trolley line that previously surfaced in May 2018 when local historical preservation advocates objected to the removal the old Foundry Branch streetcar bridge in the Glover Archbold Park area of the Palisades. Ultimately, the D.C. Board voted against allowing the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, who owns the bridge, to demolish it.
Alyssa Kasher (COL ’15), former captain of Club Triathlon, said the trail would present an exciting possibility for students.
“It would be pretty cool to have access to a trail that starts right on campus,” Kasher said.