Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail

News about the Trail

Tribute to John Dugger

October 23, 2014

Supporters and Users of The Capital Crescent Trail;

With great sorrow The Coalition For The Capital Crescent Trail (CCCT) reports the passing of John Dugger. An advocate for the trail from it's beginning, John served many years on the CCCT board. John and his wisdom will be missed for years to come.

Please take note of the tribute to John Dugger placed along the trail at mile marker 6.5.

Sincerely,

Ron Tripp, Chair,
The Coalition For The Capital Crescent Trail



We had reported on the Sept. 12, 2014 dedication of this plaque
HERE.

October 11 Bike Rodeo and Free Bells & Whistles.

Saturday, October 11, 10:00am - 1:00pm

A fun event for the whole family along the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda!

On the rodeo course

Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail (CCCT) Board Members will be giving out FREE bicycle Bells and Whistles to trail users to promote giving warning on the trail (note: bells only available if installed with bike present) 10am - 1pm.

MD National Capital Park Police staff will give safety awareness tips to children along with the Bike Rodeo which will demostrate basic cycling skills through a variety of fun activities 11am - 1 pm.


These events will take place along the Capital Crescent Trail where it intersects with the Washington Episcopal School parking lot on Landy Lane, just off of River Road by the CCT overpass (look for the "Washington Episcopal School" sign).

For more information contact mikeh@cctrail.org


The window of opportunity for having a new CCT tunnel
under Wisconsin Avenue may reopen briefly next year.

Oct. 1, 2014

CCT tunnel at the Apex building
The Apex bldg. over the Bethesda trail tunnel.
Hope for a new trail tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue appeared to be extinguished when the county council accepted a recommendation from Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett at a Sept. 16 closed session to end negotiations to raze the Apex building. As reported by the Washington Post:
MoCo drops plan to redevelop Bethesda building for roomier Purple Line station, the council agreed with the county executive that the $70M price tag to induce the owner to redevelop the building and for the county to build a new trail tunnel was too high.

Just as it appeared to be over, a representative of the building owners came forward to say they were still interested in making a deal and were disappointed they had not been given an opportunity to make a counter offer - see the report at mymcmedia: Apex building owner hoping to revive deal with county to raxe building. Hopes were boosted further on Sept. 30, 2014 at a county council Purple Line status update when MTA's Deputy Executive Director for Transit Development told the panel that there would be an opportunity to reopen the matter "very briefly" after the vendor is selected to build the Purple Line next year and prior to the start of construction on the line. Several council members expressed their strong desire to support continuing the negotiations. A more complete report of the Sept. 30 status update is at Bethesda Magazine: Brief window remains on possible Apex building deal for Purple Line station

CCCT continues to advocate for a tunnel crossing of busy Wisconsin Avenue. The benefit of a safe, grade-separated crossing of Wisconsin Avenue for the region's most heavily used trail should be obvious to all. Razing the Apex building would not only open the space needed to build a new trail tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue, it would also allow a much better Purple Line station, better elevator connections to the Red Line platform, adequate bike parking at the station, and elimination of the ventilation tower and tail tracks that will otherwise mar Woodmont Plaza in the heart of Bethesda. David Lublin outlines the many benefits to the whole Bethesda community of a better Purple Line station in his Seventh State blog: Mediocre Bethesda Terminus.

The risk of losing a trail tunnel crossing of Wisconsin Ave. makes building the best possible alternative at-grade trail crossing even more important. That crossing is proposed to have a full width, protected trail down the north side of Bethesda Ave., cross Wisconsin Ave. in a reconfigured crosswalk, and continue along Willow Lane and 47th Street as a protected trail to reconnect with the CCT in Elm Street Park.


Proposed surface and tunnel routes for the CCT
(Source - M-NCPPC Public Hearing Draft Plan)

CCCT continues to participate in the advisory group that MCDOT has established to develop the alternative surface route design. MCDOT will be presenting the proposed design at a public workshop this fall.


John Dugger, Capital Crescent Trail Visionary Honored

Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail (CCCT), Montgomery Parks, and the Montgomery Parks Foundation honored trail advocate John Dugger with a special plaque September 12. Parks installed the plaque on the trail just south of the rest area by the Washington Aqueduct. John, as board member and past chair of CCCT was one of the leading voices for turning the abandoned B&O rail line from Georgetown to Silver Spring into a multi-use trail for walkers, joggers, bikers and rollerbladers. Today, the trail is the most heavily used in the greater Washington region.


Mike Riley, Director of Montgomery County Parks,
accepts the plaque with the Dugger Family.

Bicyclist Henri Bartholomot, also recognized on the plaque, helped Dugger secure federal funds to develop the trail and was personally involved in acquiring and developing extra right-of-way that makes up the 11-mile Capital Crescent Trail. After Dugger's retirement as naval officer and specialist in international law, he led the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail for much of the 90's. He was at the forefront of the push to remove the rails and open the section of trail from Elm Park in Chevy Chase to Silver Spring.

It's been almost 30 years since CSX abandoned the Georgetown Branch rail line and almost 20 years that residents and neighbors have enjoyed the Capital Crescent Trail. For most of the last three decades, the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail shaped public opinion and gained county support and federal funding to make the trail a reality.

Dugger, who recently turned 90, wasn't able to make it to the ceremony. Julie Dugger, sent the proceedings using Face Time so Dugger could watch live from home. Paul Schmitz, who led the initiative to honor Mr. Dugger, and Greg Drury, board member, welcomed public officials, trail volunteers, the Dugger Family and friends to the dedication.


Councilmember Nancy Floreen and CCCT Board Member Paul Schmitz
with the Dugger family and dedication guests at the plaque.

Henri Bartholomot shared the rich history of CCCT activities culminating in gaining Montgomery County support and Federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) funding in the early 1990's. Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson and Council member Nancy Floreen, a former member of the Planning Board, shared memories of some Bethesda neighborhoods' concern on seeing the former railroad bed turned into a trail. Mike Riley, Director of Montgomery Country Parks, accepted the plaque and expressed appreciation for the commitment of volunteers to create and preserve the trail for all to enjoy.


CCCT Annual Meeting Monday, June 9

2007 Annual Meeting sceneThe annual CCCT general membership meeting and picnic will be at the Elm Street Park in Bethesda on Monday June 9, 2014 beginning at 6:00 p.m. Rain or Shine!

All CCCT members and supporters are welcome to come to enjoy a casual evening in the park and to meet our CCCT Board and other trail advocates. We will have free food and drink, and children are welcome. We will have a brief business meeting to give a summary of our activities and goals, and to elect our board for the next year. This will be a good opportunity to share your ideas and concerns for the CCT with the Coalition Board Members.

The Elm Street Park is between Willow Lane and Elm Street, just one block east of Wisconsin Avenue. It is adjacent to the Interim CCT/Georgetown Branch Trail, with direct trail access from the east end of the Bethesda Tunnel. There is a public surface parking lot adjacent to the south side of the park on Willow Lane, behind the Montgomery Farm Women's Co-op Market at 7155 Wisconsin Avenue.


County Council commits $95M to finish the CCT.

On May 15, 2014 the Montgomery County Council approved a six year Capital Budget that programmed $95M to rebuild the CCT and extend it into downtown Silver Spring alongside the Purple Line light rail. This is the current cost estimate from MTA for the trail portion of the joint Purple Line/Capital Crescent Trail project. Under the agreement between the county and MTA, the county will be responsible for funding the trail costs. This approved Capital Budget shows the county is fully commited to building the CCT with the Purple Line as promised.

MTA is expected to release the Request for Proposals (RFP) within a few weeks. Four teams have been qualified to bid to build and operate the Purple Line under a Public-Private Partnership (P3) with the state. Construction could begin as early as 2015 if matching federal funding is received under the FTA "New Starts" Program.


Aerial Map of planned CCT at Rock Creek -
See the MTA website www.purplelinemd.com/en/maps-graphics
for the aerial maps from Bethesda to Silver Spring, in larger scale.

The details of the CCT design will be determined as the selected Purple Line contractor team completes the final design. But the major features have been set as requirements under the RFP, consistent with the preliminary design approved in the federal Record of Decision. The major features of the planned CCT between Bethesda and Silver Spring are described in the MTA website at www.purplelinemd.com. Those features include a 12' wide trail, paved, continuous into downtown Silver Spring, with bridges or underpasses at Connecticut Avenue, Jones Bridge Road, and Colesville Road. Crossings of Bethesda Avenue and 16th Street depend respectively upon how the Apex Building and CSX right-of-way issues are resolved within the next few months.


Pilot Snow Removal Program to begin next year.

Councilmember Roger Berliner announced that a pilot snow removal program has been created for the CCT in a March 27, 2014 press release. The program should be ready by next winter.

CCCT Chair Ron Tripp described the importance of this program: "The Capital Crescent Trail serves a rapidly growing number of bicycle commuters each day through out the year. Each of these riders represents one less car on the roads, or one less seat occupied on Metro. Clearing the trail after significant snowfalls will allow bike commuters to maintain their regular commutes. The Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail applauds all efforts to keep the trail open year round."

Thanks to Councilmember Berliner and outgoing Parks Dept. Director Mary Bradford for creating this important program.


CSXT reversal may force changes to planned CCT "final mile" into downtown Silver Spring

CCCT presented testimony to the Mont. Co. Planning Board on 20 March 2014 at the Purple Line/CCT mandatory referral to emphasize our major design and construction issues for rebuilding the CCT alongside the Purple Line between Bethesda and Silver Spring. The CCCT testimony is available online here.

MCDOT announced at the same hearing that CSXT has apparently reversed its position, and will no longer grant right-of-way for the Trail in the 'final mile' into downtown Silver Spring. The blog www.silverspringtrails.org reported on the meaning of this new position, and the most attractive alternate CCT alignment. That blog post is copied below. CCCT will be working with MCDOT and MTA to try to get the best outcome for the trail in the 'final mile' into downtown Silver Spring, and hopes to report more here soon on how this is being resolved.

From silverspringtrails:

I had reported last fall that MTA appeared to be well on its way to negotiating trail right-of-way with CSXT, at Purple Line nears agreement with CSXT on the Trail. MTA had received a letter from CSXT indicating that it would grant right-of-way if a 50' standoff requirement could be met, and MTA was confident it could meet this requirement. Everything appeared on-track for completing the CCT into downtown Silver Spring as long planned.

CCT plans now appear to be up in the air again. Gary Erenrich, MCDOT's Purple Line project coordinator, broke the news at the 20 March 2014 Planning Board Purple Line/CCT mandatory referral. Mr. Erenrich announced that CSXT was now refusing to grant right-of-way to MTA for the CCT, MCDOT was now responsible for any further negotiations with CSXT for trail right-of-way, and that as things stand now the CCT would end at Talbot Avenue as an off-road trail. I have since had an email exchange with Mr. Erenrich, and he has clarified that MTA received a letter from CSXT mid-January stating they would not grant any CSXT right-of-way for a trail alone, and that MCDOT was now evaluating the physical feasibility and the cost of alternative trail alignments. Mr. Erenrich expects their preliminary evaluation of the alternatives to be completed in a month or so.

At issue is an approximate 1300' of the planned CCT alignment behind the Park Sutton Condominium Building. The CCT can still be extended with the Purple Line to Talbot Avenue, where the trail will cross the CSX tracks on a new Talbot Avenue Bridge. There is non-CSXT right-of-way that can be used for the trail from the Talbot Avenue Bridge to Lyttonsville Road. County owned Third Avenue right-of-way will be used from 16th Street south to Colesville Road. But a significant bypass of CSXT property will be needed behind the Park Sutton building if CSXT refuses to grant trail right-of-way there.

It is time for "Plan B"!


The master plan trail alignment at Park Sutton (in green)
and an alternate "Plan B" alignment (in red).

Fortunately there is a good alternative trail alignment that can avoid CSXT property behind the Park Sutton building, shown above. This alternative would go around the front of Park Sutton by using Lyttonsville Road and 16th Street. Lyttonsville Road is overbuilt, and that extra wide road right-of-way can accomodate a full width trail with no need to 'take' private property. A trail along the west side of 16th Street will require either taking a strip of right-of-way from the Park Sutton Condominium Association, or putting 16th Street on a "road diet" and closing a southbound lane of the roadway for trail and sidewalk use.

Toole Design Group has done a preliminary assessment of these and other alignment alternatives that were developed by M-NCPPC, and they reported their conclusions at Assessment of Bicycle and Pedestrian Issues Along the Purple Line Corridor (pp. 27-29). Toole Design Group assesses the bypass route to be less desirable than the more direct alignment in the CSXT right-of-way, and urges trail planners to make every effort to continue working with CSXT to achieve this alignment. Toole cites the bypass route's longer distance and a roadway and parking lot crossing as deficiencies that make the bypass less desirable. But missing from the evaluation is any consideration of elevation changes along the alternative routes, and that is a MAJOR omission which, in my view, invalidates the Toole rankings!

The terrain behind the Park Sutton building is challenging for building a trail. Even if CSXT reverses itself yet again and agrees to grant right-of-way, the trail will be required to maintain a 50' standoff from the railroad tracks vs. the 25' standoff that had been assumed in the earlier master plan alignment. That additional standoff will push the trail down the side of the railroad berm, to be at or near the very low elevation of the Park Sutton parking lot. Take a "walk about" in this area and you quickly realize that if the trail drops to the parking lot elevation, then the trail must rise 30-40' in elevation in a short distance to rise out of the parking lot to the 16th Street Bridge at its south end. Extensive and expensive switchback or elevated structures will be needed to manage the trail elevation change along this alignment. In contrast, the total trail elevation change along the bypass option alignment would be much less because this alignment skirts around the low elevation of the parking lot. Most trail users would much prefer the much gentler grades along the bypass option alignment, even if there is an additional distance of 500' and a crossing of a driving lot entrance and driveway. The bypass alignment also has the significant advantage of being less isolated, with more "eyes on the trail" and more escape opportunities, for better perceived and real safety.

Toole correctly recognizes in their alternatives assessment that the 1300' section behind Park Sutton is not the only area where trail planners will need to work with CSXT. There are other small areas where CSXT right-of-way or construction easements will be wanted. (At Talbot Avenue, under the 16th Street Bridge, and at Colesville Road come to mind.) MTA and MCDOT should continue to make every effort to engage CSXT in discussion of trail issues. But in my view, opting for "Plan B" now at Park Sutton can take the major 1300' long sticking point off the table in CSX negotiations. That can improve the chances of getting CSXT cooperation on the remaining much smaller pieces. Any remaining pieces could be portrayed as not significantly challenging the overall CSXT corporate policy of no right-of-way for trails.


Apex owners still debating move, hope for a new Bethesda Tunnel is still alive.

Bethesda Now reported on April 2, 2014 that the owners of the Apex building are still considering redevelopment of their building site, see Pharmacists Group Still Debating Apex Building Redevelopment. We reported here last November (below) that time was running out. That is true more than ever now, but it is encouraging to learn that the building owners are considering this very seriously. We will likely know the outcome within a few months.




More news is available in our Crescent Newsletter, available online at our Newsletter webpage.

Some past website stories are at:
2013 Archived News
2011-12 Archived News
2010 Archived News
2009 Archived News
2008 Archived News
2007 Archived News
2006 Archived News
Trestle Archived News

Safety is NO ACCIDENT - Courtesy is Contagious