Plans to tear down old DC streetcar bridge on hold again

A little piece of D.C. history is safe again from the wrecking ball, for now.

It’s the 120-year old Foundry Branch Trolley Trestle in Glover-Archbold Park in Northwest.

No trolley has crossed the bridge in 60 years, but it used to take people from Georgetown to Glen Echo Park. Metro, which owns the bridge, was moving toward tearing it down. But this week, D.C.’s Court of Appeals stopped that in a case brought by the D.C. Preservation League.

“We are not persuaded by the arguments of WMATA and the Mayor’s Agent,” the court said.

Metro submitted a permit to tear down the trestle a few years back, claiming that the transit agency will face economic hardship if the permit is denied. The transit agency said the bridge had to be torn down due to its deteriorated condition, and because their main focus is keeping the transportation system safe for its passengers.

Some hope the trolley bridge can be saved and maybe become part of a trail to help students get to the new MacArthur High School.

The District Department of Transportation had offered to take ownership of the bridge and consider repurposing it into part of a new walking and biking trail. But following the completion of a feasibility study, DDOT decided in 2020 not to take control of the bridge.

According to the D.C. Preservation League, the Foundry Branch Trolley Trestle, built in 1896, is one of the few remaining pieces of the old streetcar system that carried District residents around the city for a century, long before the Metro existed.

In a pervious statement about the trestle, the league said, “WMATA’s own 2017 inspection of the Trestle revealed that 19 of the Trestle’s 22 vertical supports could be repaired and that the remaining three replaced in-kind. While the structure’s present condition is poor, it is demonstrably repairable.”

There’s no timeline on when a decision might be made about the historic bridge.

WTOP’s Michelle Basch contributed to this report. 

Kyle Cooper

Weekend and fill-in anchor Kyle Cooper has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years, Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP, Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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