Plan to demolish old streetcar bridge gets thumbs down from DC board

WASHINGTON —  A plan to knock down the last old streetcar bridge left in D.C. just hit the brakes, but a final decision on its future has yet to be made.

Metro, which owns the 120-year-old Foundry Branch Trolley Trestle, warned back in January that it was in danger of imminent collapse.

The bridge is part of Glover-Archbold Park in Northwest D.C., which is controlled by the National Park Service. Fencing is in place to prevent people from walking on it and a trail that passes underneath the bridge has been closed since August 2016.

“There is debris actually falling off the bridge now; you can see that on the ground,” said Jim Ashe, Metro’s manager of Environmental Planning and Compliance at a public hearing before D.C.’s Historic Preservation Review Board.

“Our goal is not so much to demolish the bridge, but to make the area safe in a manner that’s consistent with WMATA’s mission.”

Ashe said spending money to repair the bridge is not a priority for his agency.

“WMATA’s situation is well-known,” he said. “We have a $25 billion list of capital needs.”

Others want to see the bridge saved.

D.C.’s Department of Transportation has offered to take over responsibility of the trestle and help turn it into a hiking and biking trail. But first, the agency will conduct a monthslong feasibility study.

A yay-or-nay from DDOT is expected in less than a year.

“Work to repair and reuse the trestle as part of the pedestrian-bike trail system would stabilize and repair this historic resource,” said Rebecca Miller with the D.C. Preservation League, one of several people who spoke out against Metro’s plan.

“They’ve done absolutely nothing about fixing this bridge,” said Palisades resident Brett Young. “This is a classic case of demolition by neglect.”

The board voted against granting Metro’s permit application and to refer the matter to what’s called the Mayor’s Agent for a final decision.

Michelle Basch

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

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up