|Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail|
Archived 2008 CCT News
Index:CCCT comments on the Purple Line AA/DEIS
CCT Receives 2008 Best of Washington Award
Purple Line Update
Georgetown Waterfront Park open
Robberies reported near the Bethesda Tunnel
CCCT Board elects its officers
Caution Advisory during Construction on Trail.
Weekday closures of the Trail June 2-13
A random act of kindness on the CCT
MTA presents their Purple Line/CCT plans
Woodmont East II plan revised
Decisions are being made now on Boathouse EIS
M-NCPPC Planning Staff pushes for a parking lot
November 18, 2008
The Board of the CCCT has submitted its comments for the November 18, 2008 MTA Hearing on the Purple Line AA/DEIS. The full text of the comments is available as a pdf file: CCCTPLprinciples.pdf.
CCCT does not make any endorsement of any Purple Line option, but instead lists basic principles that any option must satisfy to be acceptable. In brief they are:
1. Continuity - the end result of the Purple Line project must be a continuous, off-road trail without interruption between downtown Bethesda and the Transit Center in downtown Silver Spring.
The CCCT testimony also includes this observation regarding one of the options, Bus Rapid Transit on Jones Bridge Road (as a medium investment variation):
"...as advocates for the Capital Crescent Trail we note that this alternative has the least adverse impact to the Trail and it provides direct Trail access into Bethesda through the Wisconsin Ave Tunnel on the west, and a direct Trail access through the CSX tracks into Silver Spring on the east. However, due to lack of specifics for this and other options, the CCCT is not prepared to endorse any option at this point."
The CCCT Board is continuing its evaluation of the AA/DEIS and will submit more extensive comments to MTA in writing before the public comment period ends on January 14, 2009.
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U.S. Local Business Association’s Award Plaque Honors the Achievement
WASHINGTON D.C., November 13, 2008 -- Capital Crescent Trail has been selected for the 2008 Best of Washington Award in the Parks category by the U.S. Local Business Association (USLBA).
The USLBA "Best of Local Business" Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USLBA identifies companies that they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.
Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2008 USLBA Award Program focused on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the USLBA and data provided by third parties.
About U.S. Local Business Association (USLBA)
U.S. Local Business Association (USLBA) is a Washington D.C. based organization funded by local businesses operating in towns, large and small, across America. The purpose of USLBA is to promote local business through public relations, marketing and advertising.
The USLBA was established to recognize the best of local businesses in their community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations, chambers of commerce and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to be an advocate for small and medium size businesses and business entrepreneurs across America.
SOURCE: U.S. Local Business Association
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October 20, 2008
The Maryland Transit Administration released its Purple Line Alternatives Analysis/Draft Environmental Statement (AA/DEIS) on October 17. The AA/DEIS is available online at the MTA website at www.purplelinemd.com/aadeis. A 90 day long public comment period has begun. Written comments can be sent to MTA anytime during the comment period by email or letter to the addresses listed at the bottom of the MTA AA/DEIS web page.
There will be four public hearings in November. The dates and locations of the hearings is given at www.purplelinemd.com/aadeis/aadeis-public-hearings. A link at the bottom of this MTA web page will take you to the instructions for giving testimony during any of the hearings. Those wishing to testify can pre-register starting on Nov. 3, although speakers can also sign up at the door. Pre-registered speakers will have priority.
Our latest Crescent Newsletter gave this report on the Purple Line:
The Board of the CCCT has been closely following the studies currently being conducted by the Maryland Transportation Authority proposing a “Purple Line” transitway on portions of the Georgetown Branch right-of-way. The Montgomery County Park and Planning Commission appointed a Citizens Advisory Group last year to assist it in reviewing the various alternatives being studied. Peter Gray, Chair of the Coalition, is representing the CCCT. Other current and former Board members are also participating in those meetings.
Sometime this Fall, possibly as early as the end of September, the State will issue a Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) which will detail the impacts of eight possible alternatives. There will be a review period during which the Board of the Coalition will actively represent the interest of trail users. The transitway issues are very complex and are difficult ones for many organizations and individuals. Most important to the CCCT Board is its desire to maximize our ability to help realize a first class hiker-biker trail within the Georgetown Branch right-of-way continuous from Silver Spring to Bethesda. Among the many impacts, the focus of the Coalition Board will be to insure that, whatever transitway alignment and vehicle mode are chosen as the preferred alternative, (1) the trail remains adequate, safe and attractive to all users; (2) the trail connects, off road, directly into both Silver Spring and Bethesda; and (3) the trail’s construction and maintenance be guaranteed permanently. We have recently seen that the trail associated with the Inter County Connector is in jeopardy—we will insist that the CCT not suffer a similar fate.
If there is to be a transitway on the trail right of way, there is no question but that the replacement trail and associated tunnels and overpasses will be very expensive and will require a commitment by local and State officials to guarantee that design, construction and maintenance will be of the highest quality, and that the funding be adequate to achieve that goal.
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October 6, 2008
The National Park Service has just opened a new section of the Georgetown Waterfront Park. This offers a new park destination that is easily accessible from the CCT.
A new shared use path runs along the north side of the park adjacent to Water Street, from 34th Street to Wisconsin Avenue. This path offers an attractive alternative to cycling or walking on Water Street to connect to the CCT. There is also a walking path along the river side of the park that offers great river views.
Many commuting cyclists will choose to remain on Water Street rather than enter the park only to have to reenter the street in a few blocks. But recreational riders will find the park path to be very attractive.
The NPS is continuing work to expand the park, and expects to open an extension between Wisconsin Avenue and 31st Street in 2010.
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Sept. 30, 2008
Katherine Shaver reports in the Washington Post that there have been two assaults with robberies on the Georgetown Branch Trail just east of the Bethesda tunnel in the Elm Street Park area. The first assault occured on Thursday, Sept. 25 and the second on the following day. Both occured at mid-day. In each case the victim was walking alone and was surprised by two or three teenage boys, who knocked the victim to the ground and took money, a cellphone or an iPod. No weapons were shown, and the victims were slightly injured. In both cases the teenagers escaped by running west through the tunnel toward Woodmont Avenue.
The Montgomery County Police are increasing patrols in this area, and recommend using the trail in pairs and not wearing headphones.
The Bethesda Tunnel has been open for over 10 years, and is used over 10,000 times each week by trail users. This is the first assault in the tunnel/Elm Street Park area that we are aware of. We hope this is only an aberration.
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Sept. 8, 2008
The CCCT Board elected its new officers for the 2008-09 board year at its September 8, 2008 meeting at the Bethesda Library. The 10 person Board had been presented to the membership for approval at the June CCCT Annual Meeting in Elm Street Park. Officers are normally elected from among the Board Members at the next regular meeting in July, but this year's July meeting was dedicated to the presentation of the new CCT safety measures by Mary Bradford, Mont. Co. Parks Department Director, and the public question and answer period that followed. There was no monthly meeting in August.
The 2008-09 officers and board are:
The Chair, Peter Gray, issued this message on behalf of the CCCT Board:
The Board has noted with concern a serious incident on the Trail involving a Board member, Mr. Hantman, an incident dealt with by the District Court of Montgomery County, which placed him on probation with a fine. Mr. Hantman has served for eight years as a Board member, and has a distinguished record of accomplishment both on the Board and as a volunteer for the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail. Mr. Hantman has given the Board assurances that this serious incident was an aberration of a kind which will not recur. The Board had determined that Mr. Hantman should be permitted to continue to serve the Coalition as a Board member, although not in a leadership position.Return to top of page.
Sept. 4 update - Construction appears to be complete and all warning signs have been removed.
The National Park Service has issued this advisory:
"320 feet of the Capital Crescent Trail will be paved where new drainage structures were recently installed. Work should begin about July 14, 2008, and last four to six weeks. There will be increased construction traffic on the trail during that time. When completed this construction project will result in the removal of the trail by-pass located near Mile 7."
This is the repair project that we last described in Nov. 2007 in Repair project is putting trucks on Trail at Palisades.
THE MARYLAND-NATIONAL CAPITAL PARK AND PLANNING COMMISSION PRESS RELEASE
May 14, 2008
SECTIONS OF CAPITAL CRESCENT TRAIL CLOSED DURING FIRST TWO WEEKS OF JUNE AS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS MAKES SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS TO TRAIL
BETHESDA, MD — Sections of the Capital Crescent Trail will be closed Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, June 2–13, 2008 as the Montgomery County Department of Parks makes significant improvements to the trail.
“We expect these changes will improve safety and provide a better experience for all trail users,” said Department of Parks Southern Region Division Chief Brian Woodward.
For up to two weeks, June 2 – 13, sections of the Montgomery County portion of the Capital Crescent Trail, about 5.5 miles of paved surface trail from Bethesda Avenue to the District line, will be closed to public access as the department’s contractor adds a center line to the trail, marks trail intersections and crosswalks and installs and marks speed limit signage along the trail. The 15 mile speed limit signage will be the first time a speed limit has been posted on the trail. The work is anticipated to proceed as follows:
- The first section to be improved on or about June 2: Bethesda Avenue to Little Falls Parkway
“Our contractor will work as quickly as possible to finish before June 13, weather permitting,” added Woodward. “We appreciate trails users’ patience as we get this important work completed.”
The Capital Crescent Trail will remain open for use on weekends, Saturday and Sunday, during the project and at peak bicycle commuter times during the week, before 9:00 am and after 3:00 pm, to minimize service disruption. Park Police officers will also be stationed along section endpoints during project work hours to ensure the expeditious completion of the work.
“It is unfortunate that the trail has to be closed for any amount of time, but we are pleased that this work is being done in that it will enhance the safe use of the trail for all types of users,” said Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail Board Chair Peter Gray. “We also are appreciative of the consideration given to bikers who use the trail to commute to and from work.”
For more information or updates on the project, please call 301-299-0024, visit www.MontgomeryTrails.org.
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April 7, 2008
The Gazette and Washington Post have presented stories recently that portray "trail rage" as typical. See the Gazette article Cyclists, pedestrians paths cross on safety of trail. CCCT takes the trail safety issues that result from the trail overcrowding and the inconsiderate behavior of a few very seriously. But we should not not let that take away from also seeing the acts of kindness and consideration frequently seen along the trail. A recent example:
"I learned recently how many kind souls are out on the Capital Crescent Trail. I was biking home on Wednesday night, April 2, approaching the detour near milepost 7. Suddenly, my rear tire went flat. (It turned out that I'd picked up a skinny one-inch nail.) Unfortunately, I am pitifully short on mechanical know-how. Not wanting to waste the time it would take to walk five miles home, I pulled out my phone to call my daughter for a ride. Then a biker pulled over & offered help. This proved to be a relatively difficult patch job, but this Good Samaritan (an architect from Silver Spring) stuck with it, inserted his own tube, never complained, refused my offer of money, etc. His only request, as he headed off, was that I call his wife & say he was running late. She told me she was about to eat dinner solo, having given up on him. Several others asked if we needed help, & one woman offered us a new tube."
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March 20, 2008 (Revised)
The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) presented their latest concept plans for the Purple Line transit and trail at the March 10 CCCT Board Meeting at the Bethesda Library. Over 30 trail supporters attended.
Project Engineer Deirdre Smith presented a Powerpoint slide presentation showing typical Purple Line/CCT profiles for key locations between Bethesda and Silver Spring. Project Manager Mike Madden summarized the project schedule. This proposed project would greatly change the character of the CCT between Bethesda and Silver Spring. If the Purple Line is built, the park character of the trail between Bethesda and Rock Creek will be greatly reduced, but the trail will be completed through Silver Spring neighborhoods into downtown Silver Spring. There was far too much project information presented at the meeting to be shown here, but much of the information is at MTA's www.purplelinemd.com website.
The MTA powerpoint presentation had profiles of most of the important sections and "choke points" for the CCT between Bethesda and Silver Spring, but did not include any profiles of how the CCT would cross Rock Creek. MTA indicated the trestle would be removed. The berm that now carries the Interim CCT on its top would be lowered by having about 15' removed from the top, so the modified berm would be wide enough to carry the Purple Line on the top. The CCT would be rebuilt on the south side of the berm, lower than the Purple Line. The Purple Line and the CCT would each have a new bridge over Rock Creek. Peter Gray asked MTA to please provide a concept sketch. We have received it, and show it below.
Like the project as a whole, the proposed crossing of Rock Creek Park has strong positives and negatives for trail users. We would lose the trestle and the views from high above the valley, but we would get a much better trail connection to the Rock Creek Trail and the Park. The concept sketch above is not to scale, and does not accurately represent the elevation of the trail. The trail elevation will not be fixed before the preliminary design if the project moves forward. But nonetheless CCCT is pressing upon MTA and M-NCPPC planners the importance of keeping the CCT as high as possible while maintaining good separation from transit.
There were many questions and spirited comments from those attending. One of the many issues discussed was the MTA proposal to not include the CCT in the Bethesda Tunnel with either the Light Rail low cost or medium cost options. It is CCCT's strong position that the CCT must remain in the tunnel with all transit options. Another major issue raised was the potential closure of the Interim CCT during the several year construction period. The MTA asserts it will be the responsibility of Montgomery County to provide construction detours. CCCT insists that the County and MTA must work together to phase construction and to develop workarounds to keep the trail open during construction.
At the end of the briefing CCCT Chair Peter Gray asked if MTA could evaluate a trail width greater than the 10' width in the MTA concept plans. Peter spoke of the overcrowding and the dangers from collisions between trail users on the CCT in Bethesda. (See Cyclists, pedestrians paths cross on safety of trail, Gazette, March 19 2008.) Mike Madden replied that it is the responsibility of Montgomery County to set the CCT design goals, and MTA would evaluate a wider trail if asked to do so by Montgomery County. M-NCPPC bikeways coordinator Chuck Kines commented that there are negative impacts associated with a wider trail, including higher construction impacts and possibly a reduction in the width of the buffer between the trail and transit. CCCT considers this to be an important issue, and will continue to pursue it.
The CCCT Board will continue to follow this project very closely and to participate in the numerous focus group meetings, MTA open houses, and Master Plan Advisory Group meetings. The CCCT continues to take no formal position to either support or oppose the Purple Line project, but will advocate at every opportunity that if this project does go forward, then the CCT must remain in the Georgetown Branch Corridor and be completed into downtown Silver Spring as a high quality trail. The CCCT formal statement on its Purple Line position is at our Action Page.
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March 6 update:
February 27, 2008
The Woodmont East II project plan is scheduled to be reviewed by the Montgomery County Planning Board during their March 6, 2008 meeting. This project, and the associated request for the abandonment of Reed Street, are on the agenda at 9:00 a.m. as agenda items #4 and #5, see March 6 Board Agenda for links to the M-NCPPC staff recommendations and project plan submissions.
We reported here in an October 2007 post that we had received a commitment from the developer that the trail tunnel would remain open during construction. Then we reported in a November 2007 post that the strong concerns expressed by the CCCT and the public at the first Planning Board plan review had resulted in the project being sent back to the drawing board for revision to better address trail and open space issues. Now the new project plan is before the Planning Board.
The new plan is responsive to some of the concerns CCCT has raised. The proposed hotel has been pulled further back from Woodmont Avenue to make room for open space at the corner of Bethesda Avenue and Woodmont Avenue. The "bridge" building section over the shared used corridor to the tunnel has been reduced in height to two or three stories and has been moved back closer to the tunnel. The shared use corridor has been reduced in width from the previous 75' to now 50', but the retail and cafe seating uses previously proposed to be along the south side of the corridor have been removed. The new plan proposes no non-trail uses in the corridor near the tunnel other than the uses by the theater and Gifford's Ice Cream as is there now. The CCCT Board believes the potential for conflicts between CCT users and pedestrians is greatly reduced because most new open space activities will be at a location separate from the trail corridor. In the previous plan the open space and trail corridor were combined. The new plan reserves space in the north side of the hotel building so that in the event a tail track for the proposed Purple Line light-rail transit takes space in the corridor, then the CCT could be moved into a 15' wide "gallery". Space is reserved in the building for the switchback ramp needed to elevate the CCT over light-rail inside the tunnel, as in the previous plan.
The CCCT Board will present testimony at the March 6 review, and will continue working with the project team to gain further improvements in the design. CCCT wants to see a clear definition of the trail in the more detailed site plan to follow, with paving colors or textures and other landscaping elements being used to give a clear message to all where trail traffic should be expected. The project team is pursuing the CCCT idea of removing the bike lanes to make room for an off-road trail along Woodmont Avenue, to serve as the temporary bypass trail during construction. This and other temporary trail bypass plans must be resolved before the site plan is submitted and approved.
We are moving forward toward better plans for this area with the developers and M-NCPPC planning staff. But we may be moving backward toward older, disfunctional plans with our own Montgomery County DPWT. DPWT asserts that it intends to disregard the Woodmont Avenue crosswalk location recommended by the development team and M-NCPPC staff, and instead move the crosswalk to be adjacent to Bethesda Avenue. That DPWT proposed crosswalk alignment is marked by the dashed red line in the sketch at right. All pedestrians and trail users would be forced to follow the circuitous route across the much longer crosswalk. This would also force all CCT users to pass through the proposed new open space area, to create maximum biker/pedestrian conflicts. DPWT asserts this arrangement will result in the best circulation pattern for all users of the intersection - motor vehicles, pedestrians, and trail users. But pedestrians and trail users, who outnumber the motor vehicles at this intersection during many time periods, will find this DPWT assessment to be nonsense.
We need someone in a position of leadership in Montgomery County to help DPWT understand this entire area is a vibrant public space, and not just another intersection to be owned by motor vehicles. Stay tuned - this issue will heat up as DPWT moves to rebuild the crosswalk.
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January 15, 2008
In June, 2006 the National Park Service released its Environmental Assessment of the proposed Georgetown University Boathouse. Soon thereafter we identified major deficiencies in the assessment and called for a full Environmental Impact Study (EIS).
The National Park Service has agreed to perform a full EIS and is now deciding what should be included in the study. The NPS is accepting comments on the scope of the EIS until this Friday, January 18. NPS expects the EIS to take until about June to perform. A decision on the Georgetown Boathouse may be made this summer, after the public comment period that will follow the release of the EIS.
There is still time to submit comments on the scope of the EIS by email if you act quickly. Emails can be sent to C&O Canal National Historic Park Superintendent Kevin Brandt at NCR_Georgetownboathouse@nps.gov. Some major issues the CCCT has identified that should be in the EIS include:
1) the EIS should give serious consideration to locating the Georgetown University boathouse at 34th Street, adjacent to the proposed GW boathouse.(January 18 addendum: The CCCT has sent a letter to the Park Service expanding on these points.)
This article gives more information on the Boathouse EIS issue:Boathouse Environmental Assessment released - CCCT calls for a full Environmental Impact Study. (First published on this website in June, 2006)
Georgetown University proposes to build a large boathouse adjacent to the CCT, and to convert an 800' long section of the CCT to a shared use access roadway.
NPS performed an Environmental Assessment in an effort to address these objections, and they assert that their study finds the proposed boathouse location and footprint to be acceptable. The study is available online at parkplanning.nps.gov.
The Environmental Assessment falls far short of addressing the key issues of size and location. No alternative locations were evaluated. Two alternative boathouse designs with lower rooflines were evaluated. One boathouse with a slightly reduced footprint was considered. But all alternative designs considered were so large that 800' of CCT would be replaced by a shared access roadway.
While the CCCT is principally opposed to the size of the proposed boathouse, other groups take the position that there are other locations available where the boathouse would not have such a severe impact on the environment. The CCCT is joining with the Defenders of the Potomac River Parkland, www.savethecanal.org, to call for NPS to perform a full Environmental Impact Study (EIS) to address these key issues. We believe that since the NPS is considering swapping parkland to make room for this boathouse, and since the proposed boathouse would have such a high impact on the CCT and on the C&O Canal Historic Park, a full EIS should be performed. A full EIS would require a thorough evaluation, which was not done for this Environmental Assessment.
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January 3, 2008 update:
December 30, 2007
The Washington Episcopal Day School is requesting rezoning to permit expansion of their day school and a new residential building on their property on the east side of the CCT at River Road. The Planning Board hearing and decision will come on January 3, 2008, see the agenda Item #6 at the MC M-NCPPC website.
M-NCPPC staff are recommending that a new eight car parking lot be developed immediately adjacent to the CCT at the north end of the River Road trail bridge, as a "public amenity". The parking lot would be mostly within the CCT r.o.w. owned by the County. Cars would be parked less than a car length from the edge of the trail. A site map in the staff report shows the parking lot would be in the middle of the area the CCCT is proposing to develop as a public/private partnership as a rest area and plaza for trail users.
Washington Episcopal Day School has been a good neighbor for the CCT, and we have no objection to the expansion they propose on their property. But CCCT strongly objects to the M-NCPPC planning staff recommendation that this parking lot be imposed on the Day School project as a condition of approval. Planning staff indicate in their staff report that they intend these parking spaces be for the benefit of trail users. But they have no effective plan to ensure these spaces will not be taken chiefly by visitors to the Day School, to the new residential building, or to any of the nearby businesses. Our recently ended ten year long experience with the Minkoff parking lot on the opposite side of the trail at this end of the bridge shows that most spaces will be taken by non-trail users.
We are dismayed that, just as CCCT is preparing a formal application for a Private/Public project partnership with the Parks Department for a trail rest plaza buffered from adjacent streets by trees and shrubs, M-NCPPC planners think it is a good idea to push for a new parking lot in the center of this area. Washington Episcopal Day School can best contribute an amenity to the community by giving trees, shrubs, and other natural landscaping elements in this area instead of being asked to put more concrete and asphalt on scarce park land adjacent to the CCT.
CCCT is pushing back. CCCT has sent a formal letter to the Planning Board to protest this parking lot, and will present more information to the Planning Board on its vision for a rest plaza here during testimony at the Jan. 3 hearing. But "regular" neighbors and trail users need to speak out as well.
Trail supporters who wish to give a practical end-of-year "gift" to the CCT can send a short email explaining in their own words that this public land should be a park, not a parking lot. Emails can be sent to Planning Board Chair Royce Hanson at
More news is available in our Crescent Newsletter, available online at our Newsletter webpage.
Safety is NO ACCIDENT - Courtesy is Contagious