Abandoned DC streetcar bridge could be demolished

WASHINGTON — A 120-year-old streetcar bridge, the last of its kind still standing in D.C., could be torn down.

The Foundry Branch Trolley Trestle in Glover-Archbold Park in Northwest, is owned by Metro.

It was part of a streetcar line that used to carry people between D.C. and the Glen Echo Park amusement park that was abandoned after D.C.’s streetcars stopped running in the 1960s.

Metro warned in January that the trestle was in danger of falling down, and a trail that runs under the bridge has been closed since August of 2016 for visitor safety due to “aerial hazards.”

Now, Metro has applied for a permit to have the trestle demolished.

No action will be taken anytime soon because the permit application has to go through a review and public comment process.

For years, the D.C. Preservation League has had the bridge on its list of most endangered places in the city.

League director Rebecca Miller said it is possible that the trestle could be restored for use by hikers and bicyclists.

“DDOT has offered to do a study on keeping the trestle and (assessing) its current condition, and WMATA’s response to that was to file this application for demolition. So, we don’t see that as working in good faith with other parties involved,” Miller said.

District Department of Transportation spokesman Terry Owens said his agency is still planning a feasibility study.

“Also, under the (D.C. Historic) Preservation Act, there is a requirement to show alternatives to demolition, and obviously WMATA has not looked at that, given that DDOT hasn’t had the opportunity to do their study yet,” Miller added.

The Preservation Act applies in this case, according to Miller, because the bridge is a contributing structure within the Glover-Archbold Park Historic Area.

Metro spokeswoman Sherry Ly said in an email:

“Metro continues to work with all the agencies and stands ready to transfer the Trestle to any one of them. Unfortunately, no one has stepped forward. Metro must focus on repairing and keeping the Metro system safe for the millions who rely on it. Over the last several years, maintenance and investment has been deferred causing a $15 billion need. That is and will continue to be our priority.”

Ly also stated that the bridge “must” be demolished because of its condition, and there are no plans to save parts of it for placement in any museum because “that would also require an agency or party to come forward to accept it.”

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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