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NoMa project maximizes Met Branch Trail access

Preliminary work has started on the Washington Gateway project, the three-building development on the triangle between Florida Avenue NE, New York Avenue NE and the Metropolitan Branch Trail. The project will take several positive steps to embrace its position as a neighbor to the trail and to maximize the opportunity that the trail will present.

Washington Gateway site plan.

The highlight of the project is the Metropolitan Branch Trail Atrium (circled in red above).

This three story space will create a bike-friendly entrance to the project unlike anything in the DC area. It will include a paved and signed entrance to the atrium which includes LED lighting and automatic doors that will allow cyclist to ride into the atrium. There will be an automatic bike pump for maintenance; a water fountain; a refreshment area with vending machines, tables and chairs; indoor bike parking and a natural ventilation system to supplement the HVAC system in appropriate seasons.

WABA has been invited to provide programming for the space and will be allowed to use the site for staging rides. It will not be open 24 hours a day, but it will be open at most times of the day.

In addition, the project will improve the trail along the building line. The developers will replace the trail surface, landscape the area along it, and replace the solar trail lighting with lights on the side of the building. A portion of the trail will be enhanced for pedestrian use with different paving patterns and treatment to encourage trail use for commuters walking from the Metro station and to separate users.

The atrium will be at the elevation of the trail, so users will have to go down stairs or an elevator to access the plaza in the center of the site and from there access the surrounding streets. The stairs will have a bike trough as will stairs from the plaza to the sidewalk along the New York Avenue Bridge.

The first building to go up will likely be the western building, which will be residential. The developers will build a temporary 6- to 8-foot-wide paved connection from the trail to this building while they wait to build the two office buildings on the east that will include the atrium. The residential building will have indoor bike storage as well as outdoor visitor bike parking. One of the office buildings will have a fitness facility that will give commuters access to a shower.

DDOT worked with the developers on the PUD to make sure that the project would be permeable for cyclists and pedestrians, and from all appearances this has the potential to be a flagship example of how development should work with adjacent trails. I predict future Bicycle Summit tours of DC to include this as a must-see stop.

Cross-posted at the WashCycle.

David Cranor is an operations engineer. A former Peace Corps Volunteer and former Texan (where he wrote for the Daily Texan), he's lived in the DC area since 1997. David is a cycling advocate who serves on the Bicycle Advisory Council for DC.  


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Any idea of the timeline for completion?

by John on Feb 23, 2012 1:10 pm • linkreport

BAD location, blocks sole remaining substantial area next to NYA for an I-395 tunnel and infringes upon the space for the Grand Arc- what is this obsession about cramming development so close to the B&O anyway without sensible space for service roads?

I wrote about this in 2008, so the develoeprs can be considered to have been warned.

Its yet another demolition special- the order of chaos

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 1:26 pm • linkreport

And for those that are unaware:

Washington D.C.'s future grand northern mall, erased from Extending the Legacy by the political elites (who I want overthrown):

Cramming development that closeto the rail corridor is wrong, likewise with that at least partial demolition special of the recently erected Securities and Exchange Commission building that intrudes on Union Station/Grand Arc's north-east side boulevard.

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 1:38 pm • linkreport

The Grand Arc is a lost cause and resides in the dustbin of a million grand plans. Give it up.

by spookiness on Feb 23, 2012 1:40 pm • linkreport

And regarding the I-395 tunnel extension:

That illustration does not show the spot in question, but one can see how it would continue beneath O Street and then split in the very area of that folloishly placed project.

Eminent domain after all is Constitutional for public use.

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 1:41 pm • linkreport

The new development with amazing Metropolitan Branch Trail access and upgrades sounds fantastic to me! Wonderful news.

by MrTinDC on Feb 23, 2012 1:42 pm • linkreport

No- eminent domain remians so that we don't remain hostage to bad decisions (and could always be built notched with future eminent domain to correct it.

WDC should not be so cut up by surface railways.

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 1:43 pm • linkreport

Also, @Douglas Willinger, I'm not sure what crazy underground superhighway plan you're talking about but sounds like an auto-centric pipe dream. It's best to embrace the rail line and bike trail with dense walkable and bikeable development.

by MrTinDC on Feb 23, 2012 1:45 pm • linkreport

Keeping that vehicular traffic on the surface subverts your laudible goal Mr TinDC

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 1:47 pm • linkreport

Any idea if there is a plan to put a Capital Bikeshare station there? I would be good to have one directly adjacent to the trail.

Another thing I like about this plan is that it will bring a lot more people to the trail, which should have a very positive impact on the crime that has been going on there.

by Dave Murphy on Feb 23, 2012 1:51 pm • linkreport

One thing that would make this a little better would be if it were easier to connect to New York and Florida Avenues from the trail at this access point. It sounds like that will still be a little tricky by bike.

by Dave Murphy on Feb 23, 2012 1:57 pm • linkreport

Placing the highways underground with NYA a boulevard and the Grand Arc boulevards would create an at grade intersection making tha way more feasible.

But no, we need quick real estate development, and infrastructure asides from an unsightly surface railway bisection, be damned.

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 2:06 pm • linkreport

I think even Lance can agree that Douglas Willinger's ideas are a bit extreme.

by Rayful Edmond on Feb 23, 2012 2:25 pm • linkreport

I think it's a great idea for the community and as somebody who bikes quite often I'm looking forward to this project getting underway.

As a resident & taxpayer in DC I have no wish to see any more highways built diving up neighborhoods or holding off real possible wins with imaginery underground super highways.

by JohnDC on Feb 23, 2012 2:29 pm • linkreport

JohnDC-the highways would be underrgournn and this not cutting up neighborhood,, ony connecting them.

Meanwhile the railroad does the latter but alo cuts up the city, such as keeping CUA more isoltaed form the east (which I dare say is the true reaon why we have this divorce from common sense with these semianynomous anti Grand Arc /pro keep WDC chopped up by railyards commenters).

I suppose that such commenters have no problem with the pentagon bloat or the criminal mercantilim for cigarettes, all costing multiples annually, so their sudden fiscal concervatism here is somewhat questionable.

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 2:37 pm • linkreport

if the congress cuts the pentagon budget they have lots of other things to do with that money aside from undergrounding DC railroads and highways. At this point I would say further discussion of the Grand Arc project is cluttering a discussion of a really interesting integration of a big new development with a bicycle trail.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 23, 2012 2:40 pm • linkreport

@Douglas Willinger: I would dearly love a grand arch on this side of town, but the money doesn't seem to be coming for that , or for the proposed big dig.

I like that the developers seem to be dealing with fiscal realities and making good use of existing (already paid for) infrastructure.

I'm looking forward to the project, but I'd like to see one of the commercial spaces serve the community more. Perhaps the intersection of NY and Florida would be a great location for a second, bike accessible, JCC?

by Mike on Feb 23, 2012 2:57 pm • linkreport

@Douglas Willinger, Highways don't "connect" neighborhoods. They serve a purpose of quickly allowing drivers to get from Point A to Point B, where respective points are nowhere near each other.

At first I thought you were just stirring the pot, however every reading your blog I've confirmed you're stuck in the 1960s. Grow up, Old Man. It's 2012.

by Rayful Edmond on Feb 23, 2012 2:58 pm • linkreport

No, further consideration of this Washington Gateway project clutters the B&O MB Grand Arc corridor, particularly with the inanane placing immediately adjacenet to the raiload without the setback of a street.

It represents the inanity of the recent Securities and Exchanges commission building which needs to be partially demolished.

The Garnd arc would produce an infinitly better environment for everyone, particularly the users of the MB bike road, especially if it brings the long buried Tiber Creek back to the surface.

Instead, we simply sell this all out.

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 2:58 pm • linkreport

Other such things include a 19th Street freeway tunnel in SF, and the I-287 and I-78X tunnels with railway to Long Island, the latter via a Brooklyn linear City project.

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 3:00 pm • linkreport

Tunnels are awesome. They're pretty cheap, too, right?

by Steve D on Feb 23, 2012 3:02 pm • linkreport

Highways ceratinly connect neighborhoods that are distant, and if underground are not dividing any such locally. Stop pretending that that elevated surfae set of railways don't dispoil and divide the area and that they should not be covered- that's the CUA attiude towards covering the railroad in Brookland.

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 3:02 pm • linkreport

"No, further consideration of this Washington Gateway project clutters the B&O MB Grand Arc corridor, "

Im am not speaking of what clutters a particular corridor, but about thread jacking. You will note the title of this thread is about the trail. Blatant threadjacking is annoying, and does not reflect well on you or your cause.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 23, 2012 3:03 pm • linkreport

Steve D-

compared to the money spent on the Pentagon and the courts/prisons etc for enforcing the 1906+ cigaqarette mercantilism, sure.

Especially considering the reletive merits.

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 3:04 pm • linkreport


Stop pretending that the staus quo best serves the bike road. Grand Arc provides an infintly nicer context, yet we have these semianynomous commenters who, if they had lived a centrey earlier would have perhaps been defending the railstation directly on the mall, even if it ran east west rather than thankfully north south accross the National Mall.

Washington D.C. and the MBBT can do way better than these rash, wierdly close to the railroad, real estate devlopment projects.

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 3:06 pm • linkreport

"It represents the inanity of the recent Securities and Exchanges commission building which needs to be partially demolished."

"...especially if it brings the long buried Tiber Creek back to the surface."


@DW surely you're joking about all this?

by MrTinDC on Feb 23, 2012 3:13 pm • linkreport


i am not opposed to real estate development near the railroad, only that which isists upon being jammed up directly alongside, such as the stupidly placed US securities and exchange commission buildong intruding upon the Union Station-Grand Arc north-east surface boulevard.

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 3:13 pm • linkreport


OK for a railroad and or surfcae streets to bury a creek, but not ok for an railroad undergrounding underground highway surface park to restore it???

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 3:15 pm • linkreport

Whats a cigaqarette? I think we can all agree if only 95 and 66 were tunnels under the city that all of our problems would be solved, and that would be the last traffic jam the DC area ever had! Should only cost 100 billion /eyeroll.

I think the building looks awesome. This may be one of the most bike friendly buildings ever built. Super cool for sure! Great addition to the trail!

by Kyle W on Feb 23, 2012 3:20 pm • linkreport

Here's something for all of you concerned about "costs"

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 3:33 pm • linkreport

Hey Doug W. The horse died a few years ago, was buried, and is nearly decomposed. It's probably time to put down the beatin stick.

by John on Feb 23, 2012 3:38 pm • linkreport

can some post an article about the Grand Arc, so comments on it (and on funding for it, including discussion of military spending, drug laws, etc) can be directed there?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 23, 2012 3:48 pm • linkreport

Aready done- see the urls within my 3:31 comment above

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 4:07 pm • linkreport


that's some attitutde towards Tiber Creek- ok I gmust deduce if its buried by anything other than an underground highway surface park?!

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 4:08 pm • linkreport


I mean somewhere at GGW you could post, so you could be told not to post this stuff (more than once or twice) in threads where its marginally relevant.

if this were my blog almost all of your above posts would be deleted.

not for censorship, but to avoid distraction from the discussion of this building.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 23, 2012 4:17 pm • linkreport

I not that building right where Tiber Creek srfaced, before the subsequent B&O MB RR extended its burial further north?

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 4:48 pm • linkreport

I'm now enjoying reading all of Douglas Willinger's posts. Reminds me of when I was younger when we would drink a couple cans of Jolt then run around the playground chasing one another.

by Rayful Edmond on Feb 23, 2012 4:54 pm • linkreport


googling, there are no references to Grand Arc DC other than your blog, or blogs you've commented on.

Why don't you take some time off from GGW, and go write up a wikipedia article on the Grand Arc?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 23, 2012 5:07 pm • linkreport

In an attempt to refocus the conversation..

Seems like they're only going to start the residental component. No start dates for the other parts? Also when will they actually break ground? I know people were getting hyped when the billboards came down but I believe a rep from the developer said they're sitll waiting on permits and whatnot.

by JohnDC on Feb 23, 2012 5:19 pm • linkreport

Douglas, people needing to drive through the city quickly already have an option - the Beltway. We are in the last stages of a massive rebuild of the southern side of the Beltway/Springfield Interchange/Wilson Bridge so that it can handle the through traffic correctly. Also, with the improved connections coming with the 11th street bridges a highway connection through the city will be realized.

by NikolasM on Feb 23, 2012 5:27 pm • linkreport

JohnDC, not sure when it will start or when it will be finished. They're still in the permitting phase.

I too wish there were a direct trail ramp to Florida Avenue - perhaps along the north edge - but I get why there isn't.

by David C on Feb 23, 2012 5:29 pm • linkreport

WRT the bike atrium, seems like it would be a great spot in which to base some kind of security presence for the lower portion of the trail, too. Although hopefully by the time this project is completed, use levels will be high enough to limit the opportunity for crime.

by Arl Fan on Feb 23, 2012 5:32 pm • linkreport


The slither of DC at Jones Point hardly counts as a drive quickly through the city, and the 11th Street Bridge does nothing to service northern Washington, D.C. and represets the culmination of the Petrr S Craig-Sammiee Abbot allince to push the burden more disproportionately in SE (with no realization there of any tunnelifaction- mitigation- representing a class example of northern WDC hypocrisy.

Besides, that spot of land now planned to be covered by this misplaced Washington Gateway real estate development project, is the best spot for the restored Tiber Creek to descend a waterfall into its transition to the remaining undergrounded segment to the south.

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 5:55 pm • linkreport

This seems like a nice idea . . . if only it wasn't within a stone's-throw of some of the most violent housing projects in the city, that are a millstone around the neck of the entire NoMa neighborhood. The reason this whole neighborhood - which is otherwise prime property - went downhill in the first place was the housing projects that became the city's open-air drug market; housing projects that are, for the most part, still there.

by Born in L.A. on Feb 23, 2012 6:22 pm • linkreport

This is by far my favorite NoMa project. Ground floor retail, wider sidewalks, bicycle upgrades, activating an ugly corner, etc. The PUD even included money for public art in the underpass under the tracks. This is a great use of an odd site.

This should also help calm traffic on Florida, especially with the new traffic light at 2nd NE (paid for by the developer), and help make it more of a neighborhood street again. Next up, we need to get DDOT to widen the sidewalks adjacent to this project by narrowing Florida to 4 lanes (like it is everywhere else). That will help this project, and neighboring developments, succeed.

As for trail security, I'm encouraged that in addition to this project, there are also ~1000 new residents moving in soon just North of here at Eckington & Q NE. Many of them will walk the trail for recreation, shopping and commuting.

by Tony G on Feb 23, 2012 8:11 pm • linkreport

Born in L.A. -- you'd have to be on the moon to be able to throw a stone as far as New York Ave. and N. Capitol or to Sursum Corda from this site, wrt your comment about violent public housing. Yes, those places aren't great. But the Thomas Court apartments have been demolished for years at this point, and the Northwest One redevelopment process is moving forward.

In any event, those places are far away and pretty much irrelevant to this location anyway, unless you think that the apartment buildings at 1st and M Streets NE (where the Harris Teeter is and across the street) are similarly at risk.

by Richard Layman on Feb 24, 2012 5:53 am • linkreport

I live around here, and I have *no idea* what Born in LA is talking about. The neighborhood's significantly safer than many other areas in DC that do not attract the same sort of comments (ie. Columbia Heights)

by andrew on Feb 24, 2012 11:25 am • linkreport

A great addition to the neighborhood on a piece of land PRIME for development. Right next to the NY Ave Metro station, the bike path, and two of the busiest roads in the city. Absolutely what is needed on that patch of dirt and overgrown grass. No complaints necessary.

by Reality on Feb 26, 2012 2:21 pm • linkreport

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