Calls renewed for ‘woefully underused trail’ to become bike path to new DC high school

Capital Trails Coalition is working to help connect trails in the region. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
With D.C. opening a new high school in the Palisades neighborhood, there are renewed calls to pave the Palisades Trolley Trail to create a bike path for resident and student use.

When you are walking on the grassy Palisades Trolley Trail you’ll notice plenty of beautiful views of the Potomac, but very few other people.

“It’s a woefully underused trail,” said Brett Young, who lives in the Palisades near MacArthur High School. “And there’s no bike lanes in this neighborhood.”

Young is also a member of the Ward 3 Bicycle Advocates and for nearly a decade has tried to persuade city leaders to pave a 10-foot-wide bike path on the existing two-and-a-half mile trail.

He told WTOP that with the addition of the new high school, the trail is more important than ever, as more and more cars will likely clog surrounding streets as they drop students off at MacArthur.

“The path will connect multiple neighborhoods to get to schools, by biking and by walking in a safe environment and in a safe corridor. Why aren’t we doing this?” Young said.

The trail currently runs from the Palisades Recreation Center to Q Street NW.

But concept plans released by the District Department of Transportation in 2019 showed that the trail could eventually connect to Georgetown with the addition of new bridges at Maddox Branch and Clark Place NW.

For the trail to be extended to Georgetown, D.C. would likely also need to buy the dilapidated Foundry Branch Trestle Bridge that parallels Canal Road near Georgetown University.

“It’s not in great shape but these things can be restored,” Young said.

The bridge is currently owned by Metro who tried to demolish the structure but was halted by a court order after a case was brought by the D.C. Preservation League.

The D.C. Council had discussed buying the bridge but the last mention of funding came in this summer’s budget, which showed that they would not purchase the bridge this fiscal year.

“It’s not, ‘Do we have the money?’ It’s how we allocate the money and what our priorities are. And ultimately the priorities always seems, for all the Vision Zero talk, it generally favors, when it comes to money, if it’s more expensive, it just goes to automobiles,” concluded Young. “This is a perfect project for them.”

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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

Sign up