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A timeline of the Metropolitan Branch Trail

I thought it might be instructive to create a timeline for the Metropolitan Branch Trail, both past and present, to give an idea of how much has been done and how much there is left to do.

Pphoto by M.V.Jantzen on Flickr.

This is a pretty complicated project with many moving parts including DC, Montgomery County, Prince George's County, CSX, WMATA, PEPCO, Catholic University and other private land owners involved. A project like that takes a while to finish.

1988: The idea was conceived and pitched by Brookland resident and planner Patrick Hare.

1989: The first exploratory ride was held.

1997: The DC Department of Public Works completed an engineering feasibility study.

1998: Congress allocated $8.5 million in demonstration project money to fund the trail.

1999: WABA published the concept plan for the trail. A formal groundbreaking ceremony was held. The first section of the trail, a one mile long side-path along John McCormack Dr NE, was built.

2001: WABA published a study describing the necessary acquisitions needed for the trail.

2002: WMATA agreed to build a section of the trail as part of the New York Avenue Metro Station project. M-NCPPC completed a feasibility study and concept plan of the Maryland section of the trail.

2005 DDOT concept plan map. Click to enlarge.
2003: Bike lanes painted on 1st St NE from G St to K St.

2004: The New York Avenue Metro Station opened with 2000 feet of trail. A half mile of the trail was built, unpaved, in Takoma Park, MD along Takoma Avenue and Fenton Street. A bridge over the railroad tracks to Jessup Blair Park was built.

2005: DDOT completed a comprehensive concept plan.

2006: Takoma Park trail section is paved.

2008: Stairs from the New York Avenue Metro Station section to L Street NE, a sidepath section of the trail under the tracks along L Street NE and along a three-block portion of 2nd Street NE were completed.

2010: Prince Georges County Connector in Avondale, MD from the DC/MD line to 19th Avenue opened. A 1.5 mile section of the trail from New York Ave to Franklin Street opened.

Future plans:

2010: Fall: Completion of the Rhode Island Avenue Bridge design. Design begins of the trail from Michigan Avenue to 1st St, NE.

2011: Spring: Work begins on the Art Walk development and with it a one block section of the trail between Monroe Ave and the CUA Metro.
Spring or summer: Completion of the Silver Spring Transit Center. This includes the northern trailhead and a temporary section of the trail. The section will be finalized when the Purple line is built through the center.
Fall: Rhode Island Avenue Bridge to open.

2013: Completion of the Transportation Access Improvements for 1st Place and Galloway Street, NE. This will include a section of the Met Branch Trail to Riggs Road, and the Prince Georges County Connector to South Dakota Avenue.

2016: Completion of phase 1 of the Montgomery County Section, from the Silver Spring Transit Center to Georgia Avenue - including the bridge over Georgia Avenue.

2019: Completion of phase 2 of the Montgomery County Section, from Georgia Avenue to Montgomery College.

On indefinite hold: Prince Georges County Connector from 19th Ave to Chillum Road.


  • Construction of the section from Michigan Avenue to Fort Totten.
  • Design and construction of the 1st St, NE to DC-MD line section.
  • Design and construction of the PG County Connector from South Dakota Avenue to the DC/MD line.
  • Ramp built from 1st St NE to trail above L Street. This is dependent on construction beginning on a building to replace the parking lot at the NE corner of 1st and L.
Crossposted 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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Note that while many people call the MBT a "rail-trail", only a small section that was just completed is a conversion. The vast majority of the alignment is along local roadways that parallel the Metropolitan Branch and consequently there are multiple crossings and right of way issues will inherently make construction more challenging. However there is momentum to complete the trail by the time the Purple Line is constructed in 2016 to allow for a "bicycle beltway" around Washington with branches to nearly all the major trail systems that radiate from the city. This connection will allow for commuters to have an alternative over gridlocked roads and unreliable transit systems.

by Cyrus on Aug 27, 2010 1:42 pm • linkreport

Hey! Only 31 years (not including the TBDs). That is, if they stay on schedule.

Also, what happened to the $8.5 million that Congress allocated in 1998? I realize that's not enough to do everything, but did it get effectively used? Is it still sitting around?

by Steve O on Aug 27, 2010 5:36 pm • linkreport

I believe the $8.5 million was all spent. I should ask Jim Sebastian next time I see him.

by David C on Aug 27, 2010 10:07 pm • linkreport

The $8.5 million MBT earmark was largely or entirely spent to construct the New York Avenue Metrorail station, including the elevated MBT segment adjacent to that station.

by Allen Muchnick on Aug 28, 2010 12:53 pm • linkreport

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