Archive for the ‘Rock Creek Trail connection’ Category

Is the Future CCT headed for gridlock?

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Preliminary Engineering by the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) for the Purple Line and Future CCT is nearing completion. MTA has begun its second round of neighborhood work group meetings to present the next level of design to the public. Purple Line/CCT design features were presented for the Bethesda Station area on December 18, 2012 and for the Lyttonsville and Woodside Station areas on January 16, 2013. The most recent powerpoint presentations, sketches and maps for those areas are available now at the MTA website.

A sample of the information available at the MTA website for neighborhood work groups Bethesda, Lyttonsville and Woodside:

Purple Line and CCT bridges over Rock Creek
Proposed Purple Line and CCT bridges over Rock Creek
(source: MTA at

Partial map of Future CCT at Rock Creek
The future Purple Line and CCT alignment at Rock Creek
(see MTA Lyttonsville Map for a more complete view)

The new MTA drawings show some changes from prior CCT plans, including:
1) The new 5-7′ wide sidewalk alignment through the Bethesda Tunnel, with the main trail shunted to the surface route (surface route not shown – that is under design by MCDOT),
2) The north-side location for the switchback connection to the Rock Creek Trail,
3) A new underpass alignment under the Purple Line tracks that is closer to the Rock Creek bridges,
4) A trail bridge over the CSX tracks that is further north from the Rosemary Hills Elementary School, and
5) A new, grade separated crossing under the east end of a proposed new Talbot Avenue Bridge.
These changes reflect some difficult trade-offs, but by-and-large can result in a high quality off-road trail from the center of Bethesda into the center of Silver Spring. While the decision to take the trail out of the Bethesda Tunnel and across Wisconsin Avenue at-grade has been a disappointment, the trail would have only one other at-grade crossing between Bethesda to downtown Silver Spring (at relatively quiet Stewart Avenue in Lyttonsville). At-grade crossings at three state highways (Connecticut Ave., 16th Street, and Colesville Road) on today’s Georgetown Branch Trail would be eliminated.

All of this planning is in serious danger of going onto the shelf, with no progress for building either the Purple Line or for completing the CCT for many years to come!. The facts:

  • All funding for Purple Line planning ends in 2014, and there is no funding available for construction to begin.
  • To avoid a shut-down of work, the state must submit an application for a “Record of Decision” to the FTA this summer to get federal construction funding. The application must include a credible financial plan to show how the state will meet its proposed 50% share of the construction costs.
  • The state transportation trust fund has been depleted and the state has no money to start any new highway, bridge or transit projects. The state cannot submit a credible financial plan for its share of the Purple Line unless a serious transportation funding package is approved by the state legislature now that will restore the Transportation Trust Fund in the immediate future.

The impact of the uncertainty in state funding for Purple Line upon completion of the CCT is already showing – with the recent accouncement that funding to build the CCT is being delayed: See Montgomery County projects tied to Purple Line delayed

If the governor and state assembly do not act in this legislative session, it will likely be many years before the transportation funding issue is addressed again in any substantial way. Next year is an election year and little will get done that involves political courage. The Purple Line will lose its place in line for federal construction funding. It could be many years before the project can be revived, and much of the design work will then need to be updated.

If the Purple Line project stalls, progress on completing and paving the Future CCT between Bethesda and Georgetown will also stop. We will not get the right-of-way in the CSX corridor that is crucial to completing the trail.

There is no alternative trail alignment for an off-road trail into downtown Silver Spring that does not require using CSX right-of-way in several places. But CSX has a strong general policy of not allowing any trail uses within its right-of-way. Purple Line project manager Mike Madden confirmed in an email exchange with me on November 26, 2012 that MTA had sent Purple Line plans to CSX for comment last fall, and CSX had responded in a letter to MTA to indicate it would not grant right-of-way for any trail use. MTA responded in turn with a letter to CSX to request that an exception be made for the state Purple Line/CCT project. Mike Madden told me at the 16 January Lyttonsville/Woodside neighborhood work group meeting that CSX has not yet responded to this request.

CSX right-of-way needed at 16th Street Bridge
The grade-separated trail crossing under the 16th Street Bridge
is one of several places where CSX right-of-way is critical
(source: MTA at

The state has considerable leverage it can use to bring CSX to the negotiating table regarding right-of-way for the Purple Line and CCT. CSX has many business interests statewide that are before the state for consideration, including requests for increasing its freight infrastructure capacity along its Brunswick Line. CSX cannot easily brush the state request for CCT right-of-way aside so long as the state makes the CCT an integral part of its high priority Purple Line project. But if the Purple Line project stalls, CSX right-of-way negotiations with the state will stop. Montgomery County has no leverage to bring CSX to the negotiating table for a trail-only project.

Paving the existing Georgetown Branch Trail between Bethesda and Lyttonsville will also likely remain gridlocked without the Purple Line, for several reasons:
1) The county council will be extremely reluctant to approve funding to pave the existing trail so long as there is any hope that the trail will be torn up and rebuilt for shared use of the corridor with transit in the not-to-distant future. Transit use has always been proposed for this corridor since the county bought it in 1988 – in fact the corridor would never have been purchased by the county if not for this future shared transit/trail use. Even if the Purple Line stalls, the need for better rapid transit between Silver Spring and Bethesda will only continue to grow. Neither East-West Highway nor Jones Bridge Road can be expanded to have the dedicated transit lanes that are essential for “rapid” transit on these congested roads, at any reasonable cost and impact. This Georgetown Branch transportation corridor will continue to be the only, and obvious, choice for better east-west rapid transit, whether as light-rail or as Bus Rapid Transit. Trail supporters cannot reasonably expect that this corridor will be surrendered to them for exclusive trail use if the Purple Line stalls.
2) Transit supporters will vigorously oppose placing anything in the Georgetown Branch corridor that may make it politically more difficult to advance transit in the future. I believe some limited trail development is worthwhile and should proceed in this corridor – I was in the lead in advocating for opening the Rock Creek Trestle in 2003. But I cannot dispute that “Save the Trail” advocates have used “we got here first” to build opposition to transit in the corridor, with no regard to the fact that the trail would not exist today if not for the promise of future shared transit and trail use.
3) There will be significant oppositon to paving the trail from local neighorhoods and other users. Pam Browning, past president of “Save the Trail”, was on record in opposition to paving the trail unless it is done without replacing the existing gravel path and without cutting any trees. Those conditions are, of course, impossible to meet. There are many other local residents, joggers, and recreational cyclists who would like to see the Interim CCT stay as it is – uncrowded and natural. They fear paving will open the CCT to speeding cyclists.

Trail users should be very concerned that the Purple Line is in danger of stalling because the state Transportation Trust Fund is running on empty. If the project stalls then completing and paving the future CCT will stall along with it. If that prospect bothers you and you live in Maryland, then now is the time to contact your Maryland State Representatives and urge them to fix the Transportation Trust Fund.

New Lyttonsville West plans for the CCT bear watching

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

The MTA briefed its new plans for the Purple Line in the Lyttonsville area at a March 14 neighborhood meeting. The Gazette summarized the plans at Residents pleased with revised Lyttonsville Purple Line plans. I think trail users can be pleased with the plans, but with one important issue that bears watching closely as the design is refined – that is the proposed trail underpass near the Grubb Road/Terrace Drive access path.

The MTA has made the March 14 presentation materials available on its website at work sessions – Lyttonsville Area. The presentation includes this map of the new CCT alignment:

The CCT is on the neighborhood (south) side of the Purple Line
(click on the map for a larger view)
(source: MTA work sessions – Lyttonsville Area)

A larger areal map of the proposed new arrangement is at Map of Refined Lyttonsville Alignment. It shows details much better than the map above.

Overall I like the new proposed trail alignment better than the previous one that I had reported on here last fall. This new plan returns the trail to the neighborhood (south) side of the Purple Line project, for easier access to the trail from the neighborhood. This trail access is most improved in the area of Kansas Avenue and of Talbot Avenue at the east end of the Lyttonsville neighborhood, where the prior plan had the trail cut off from the neighborhood by the Purple Line tracks.

The new plan does have some drawbacks, however. One is that it will have the trail cross Stewart Avenue at-grade. While traffic there will be light and safety can be managed, it is nonetheless a loss from the previous plan that would have realigned Stewart Avenue there and would have given a grade-separated trail crossing.

Proposed location of CCT underpass near Grubb Road
(source: MTA Map of Refined Lyttonsville Alignment)

But the biggest concern I have with the new plan is at the western end of this area study – near the Grubb Road/Terrace Drive access path. The new plan proposes to keep the trail on the north side of the Purple Line from the west, then cross under the Purple Line tracks to the south side in an underpass just to the west of the Grubb Road/Terrace Road access path. MTA asserted at the March 14 meeting that their studies were showing the previous plan, to bring the trail under the Purple Line at the Rock Creek bridges, was proving to be creating too much difficulty and expense for the bridge designs. MTA has decided it will be easier to keep the trail on the north side of the Purple Line across Rock Creek and Rock Creek Park and to make the crossing with an underpass at this new point farther to the east.

I think MTA will be forced to reconsider this new plan for a trail underpass, because the existing terrain in this area will not support an underpass. The Purple Line will need to stay low as it climbs up from its Rock Creek bridge. The old B&O railbed (and the existing Interim Trail) are in a cut at the Grubb Road access for this reason. The Purple Line will not likely be elevated much higher than the existing old railbed is here, because that would force the Purple Line to climb too steeply from the Rock Creek crossing. But the trail cannot easily stay at an elevation that is even lower than the Purple Line, to cross in an underpass here, without being in a very deep cut, or in a long tunnel. Either will be very undesirable.

We need to watch this proposed trail crossing very closely as it evolves. I think as MTA gets into the design process, MTA will find that it needs another location, likely to the west, where the trail crossing will not have to go to war with the existing terrain.

New Lyttonsville area Purple Line/trail plans

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Cross posted at GreaterGreaterWashington and at Washcycle.

MTA has posted the materials it presented at the Sept. 13 Lyttonsville neighborhood work group meeting. The presentation and project maps are on their website at Lyttonsville station area.

The most useful of these project maps for understanding the new plans for the future CCT through this area is the Design Option Roll Map.

Lyttonsville station area Purple Line map
Partial view of the Design Option Roll Map
(Click on image for the full map.)

I will attempt to list the significant changes for the CCT in the area plan, from the Rock Creek Park east to the CSX corridor. I recommend that the Design Option Roll Map be used to follow along.

  1. At Rock Creek: The CCT remains on the north side of the light rail tracks. The prior plans called for the CCT to switch from the north to the south side of the tracks at the Rock Creek trail bridge. The new plan holds the trail on the north side. The trail bridge is simpler since it does not have to twist under the Purple Line bridge. The access ramp from the CCT down to the Rock Creek Trail would be like before, except that it would be built on the north side of the berm. (Note that this access ramp is still under discussion between MTA and M-NCPPC. There are concerns about cost and the impact on the trees on the side of the berm, and a decision could be taken to just continue to use the existing connection on Susanna Lane.)
  2. At Grubb Road: A new bridge will carry the access path across the Purple Line tracks to the CCT on the north side. The drawings show a long switchback ramp to provide the elevation needed for the new access bridge. But the access path is roughly along the same alignment as the old Brookville Road bridge that crossed over the B&O tracks here long ago. The old bridge abutment can still be seen on the north side of the corridor from the Interim CCT. The railbed elevation is already well below the elevation the access path has now, and I believe the extent of the switchback ramp shown in the drawing is grossly overstated. When I asked Purple Line project manager Mike Madden about this, he indicated the ramp in the drawing was only conceptual and was not based on any elevation measurements, so it is likely overstated in the drawing.
  3. Grubb Road to Steward Avenue: An access trail paralleling the main trail. The drawing shows two trails alongside each other along the south side of Brookville Road. The main CCT is the wider trail (to be 12 feet wide) that is next to the Purple Line tracks. It goes under the Lyttonsville Place bridge and under the relocated Stewart Avenue bridge. The access trail is the narrower trail (to be 8′ wide) that is adjacent to Brookville Road and between Brookville Road and the main CCT. It serves as a Brookville Road sidewalk and also gives access to the main CCT between the Lyttonsville Place and Stewart Ave. bridges. The access trail crosses Lyttonsville Place and Stewart Avenue at-grade at the north end of the bridges.
  4. At the Lyttonsville station: The CCT is on the north side. Under the old plan, the Purple Line tracks and station were on the south side of the storage tracks in this area, and the trail was on the south side adjacent to the industrial lots through this area. Under this new plan, the trail and PL tracks are flipped to the north side closer to Brookville road. Note that MTA is considering moving the transit station location further east, closer to Stewart Ave. This would place the station closer to the entrance to the Walter Reed Annex – the area’s largest employer.
  5. At Stewart Avenue: A grade-separated crossing. It is proposed to shift part of Stewart Avenue to line up with the main entrance to the Walter Reed Annex, and to have Stewart Avenue cross over the CCT and the Purple Line on a new bridge. The old plan had both the trail and transit crossing Stewart Avenue at-grade. This change would remove the only at-grade roadway crossing on the CCT between Bethesda and Silver Spring, making the rebuilt trail 100% grade separated.
  6. At the CSX corridor: A relocated trail bridge. The CCT would cross over the CSX tracks on a new bridge similar to the old plan, but the bridge would be shifted to the north closer to Kansas Avenue. This would not be a significant change for the trail, but does reduce the impact of the Purple Line on Talbot Avenue. Talbot Avenue could remain as a two way street as it is now, and much less r.o.w. would need to be taken from the several homes on Talbot Avenue.

Overall I consider flipping the CCT from the south to the north side to be roughly an even trade for trail users. Access will be slightly more inconvenient from neighborhoods to the south, but easier from the neighborhoods and businesses on the north. The trail will be closer to Brookville Road – with more traffic noise. But it will also have a new grade-separated crossing at Stewart Avenue. Much like the lengthy discussion of north vs. south in Bethesda/Chevy Chase, your preference will be determined largely by whether you live or work on the north vs. the south side of the corridor. As always, much will depend on the details to be developed during the next design phases.

The MTA map of the Impact Comparison shows that the overall footprint of the project is little changed through this area. A few feet of r.o.w. would be taken on the north side, but a comparible area is spared on the south side. The notable exceptions are the parking structure for the Purple Line maintenance yard employees that would be built where the car storage lots are now, and the realigned section of Stewart Avenue that would be built where the landscaping stone storage yard is now.

Some residents from neighborhoods on the south side of the project are making claims that the new plan will impact them much more than the older plan, Proposed Purple Line stop for Silver Spring raises residents’ eyebrows. But I don’t buy it. The most active part of the project, the Purple Line main track and station, are moved farther from the south side neighborhoods. The storage tracks and maintenance building are only a few feet closer to the south side residences than in the older plan, and still have good separation from the residences. The parking structure will be closer to the Claridge House high-rise, but will a parking structure used by the approx. 200 employees really be that much worse than the car storage lots and landscaping business lots that are there now? Detailed noise studies have been promised by MTA.

Trees vs. trail at Rock Creek Park

Monday, September 20th, 2010

This post continues the discussion of proposed design changes for the future CCT between Bethesda and Silver Spring. The last post The Rock Creek bridges presented information on the new trail alignment that would have the trail cross directly beneath the Purple Line transit bridge above Rock Creek. This post will discuss a proposal to eliminate the switchback trail that would connect between the future Capital Crescent Trail and the Rock Creek Trail (RCT). The approximate location of that switchback is shown in the plan view drawing in that previous post, and is also shown in an MTA aerial photograph at, under “maps-graphics/aerial-photographs”, map Lyttonsville 1. A Google Maps aerial view of the area is shown below for convenience, although it does not show the proposed switchback.

View Larger Map

Aerial view where the CCT and RCT cross at Rock Creek Park

A switchback ramp has long been proposed here on the south side of the old railroad berm, to provide an off-road trail connection between the CCT and the RCT. Even though the CCT passes directly over the top of the RCT, one must now use one of two indirect on-road routes to get from one trail to the other. See Access to a real park for a map of the two on-road connecting routes.

MTA Purple Line project manager Mike Madden announced at the Sept. 13 briefing to the CCCT that MTA was considering eliminating this switchback connection from the plans. MTA is considering, as an alternative, improving the existing on-road connectors with better way-finding and street improvements, or finding yet another route (although MTA could not yet share what other route would be possible). Madden stated that the MTA was concerned about the large number of trees that would have to be removed from the berm for a switchback ramp there. This prompted the cry “Now you are starting to think about the trees?” from among the guests. Madden assured that the decision is far from settled – there will be stakeholder meetings with the public and coordination meetings with Mont. Co. DOT and MNCPPC planners before a decision is reached.

The view of the railroad berm from the Rock Creek Trail at Ray’s Meadow.
The Interim CCT is in the trees, at the top of this berm.

A concept sketch for an earlier switchback ramp plan at this location can help us get a perspective on how trees would be cut from the side of the berm. The sketch below is from the Facility Plan for the trail with the single-track Georgetown Branch Trolley. The CCT is shown higher on this drawing than it would be with the two-track Purple Line where the trail will be lower on the side of the berm. But nonetheless, there will be some separation between the trail and each leg of the switchback ramp that can hold trees. The sketch is labeled to suggest planting more trees along the south side of the berm. There are already a significant number of trees extending out into the flood plan from the south edge of the berm, and there is room for many more to be planted without encroaching into the soccer field in Ray’s Meadow. I believe that we can build a switchback ramp here while leaving enough trees standing so that the view of the berm from Ray’s Meadow will be much as it is today – looking into a mass of trees with very little trail visible.

Concept drawing for the CCT/RCT connector alongside the single-track Georgetown Branch Trolley (source: MNCPPC Facility Plan for the
Capital Crescent/Metropolitan Branch Trail, 2001)

I am unsettled by the MTA suggestion that this trail connector should be cancelled to save trees. I recall the SHA making a similar assessment for crucial parts of the ICC bike trail late in the ICC decision process. SHA decided that after laying plans to slash trees in parks to build a four lane highway with a median and shoulders, they had to draw the line and delete the trail to save trees. Unfortunately planners at MNCPPC and many environmentalists bought into this, and SHA prevailed.

I continue to hold that for the CCT the differences between the Purple Line and the ICC are much greater than are the similarities, see Lessons from the ICC bike trail. But trail supporters will need to speak out to defend the CCT/RCT connector from this threat. We can reasonably consider deferring the construction of this connecting trail for a few years after construction of the main CCT and Purple Line transit. The CCT itself must be built with the Purple Line because they will share grading, retaining walls and other structural elements. But this CCT/RCT trail connector would share little structure with the main trail and transit, and can be built later with little increase in cost. If trail funding sources are stretched to their limit for the initial construction, then construction of this connector can follow when additional trail funding sources such as state transportation enhancements become available in a later budget cycle. I can accept a reasonable delay in building this connector if funding is not available at first, but we should oppose MTA’s suggestion that they remove it from the plans to save trees.

In the next post the discussion will turn to Bethesda, and a pleasant surprise in the proposed Tunnel design.

The Rock Creek bridges

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

MTA briefed the CCCT board on the Purple Line trail design plans at the board’s Sept. 13 meeting. I reported at Close, but still waiting that the briefing came up short on plans for the trail at the Silver Spring Transit Center. But there was much new information presented about the latest plans for other parts of the future trail. This post will address what’s new in the plan for the trail crossing of Rock Creek.

The old trail plan for this area is discussed at Access to a real park and is shown on the MTA website in the engineering drawing LPA-08.pdf. In summary that plan shows the trail as being 10′ wide and approaching from Bethesda on the north side of the Purple Line tracks, but at approx. 800′ west of Jones Mill Road the trail would be elevated and cross the Purple Line tracks on a trail bridge to the south side. The trail would then drop in elevation to run alongside the Purple Line on the south side, with both transit and trail crossing under Jones Mill Road in an underpass. The existing trail trestle at Rock Creek would be removed and the existing berm that holds the trail high above the Park today would be “shaved down” by about 15′, so that the top of the berm would become wide enough to carry the two Purple Line tracks across the Rock Creek stream valley. The trail would be held on the south side of the berm with retaining walls, about 20′ below the elevation of the Purple Line tracks. Both transit and trail would cross the Rock Creek stream on their own new bridges, then rise slowly on the berm as they continue east, to meet the current trail elevation at the east side of the park. There would be a long switchback trail to connect the future CCT to the existing Rock Creek Trail on the south side of the berm.

The major changes in the plan is that the newer plan has a 12′ wide trail and removes the trail crossover bridge that was to be west of Jones Mill Road. Instead, the trail would remain on the north side of the transit tracks, and would pass under Jones Mill Road and drop down to about 20′ below the Purple Line much as before except now the trail would be on the north side of the berm instead of the south side.

Under this new plan the trail will cross to the south side of the Purple Line directly over Rock Creek, at the trail and transit bridges. The trail bridge will be on a diagonal alignment below the transit bridge, so trail users will go directly under the bottom of the transit bridge. Once across Rock Creek and on the south side of the Purple Line, the trail would continue east on the south side of the berm as in the older plan. For this newer plan, the trail would be approx. 35′-40′ above Rock Creek at the bridges (compared to approx. 70′ above Rock Creek for the trail on the trestle now.) The Purple Line tracks would be about 20′ above the trail.

An image taken from the plans distributed by MTA at the meeting is below – my apologies for such a crude image. The trail is shown as dashed where it is directly beneath the transit bridge. The switchback ramp down to the Rock Creek Trail is shown on the lower right.

Plan view of future CCT at Rock Creek
(click on image for a large image)
source: MTA Plan and Profile – Trail, dated September 2010

MTA stated that a major reason for the change in plan was to eliminate the trail crossover bridge approx. 800′ west of Jones Mill Road. They did not elaborate. I believe it most likely the elevation changes required to bring the trail high over the Purple Line for that crossover, then bring the trail low enough to pass under Jones Mill Road, would be very difficult to achieve with an acceptible trail grade within that distance. The new plan reduces the change in trail elevation required in this area.

Guests at the briefing expressed concern that passing directly under the transit bridge would be unpleasant for trail users. MTA responded that they were committed to developing an attractive transit bridge design that would have a cover on the bridge understructure. The bridges that we see in lower Rock Creek Park when on the Rock Creek Trail come to mind.

An outdated MTA concept drawing for the Purple Line at Rock Creek.

The concept drawing MTA presented for the older plan, shown above, might give us some idea what MTA thinks is visually appropriate for the Rock Creek Park crossing. This drawing is out of proportion in the vertical scale and does not show the trail bridge as being on a diagonal directly under the transit bridge, but it does give us an idea of what a covered, arch span bridge can look like in this location.

The devil is often in the details of execution for a concept, and that will be especially true here. The details of the design will determine if MTA can succeed in providing visually attractive bridges, and whether the trail can pass on a diagonal directly under the transit bridge while maintaining both good trail overhead room and good trail elevation above Rock Creek.

MTA also indicated they are considering a second major change for this area, i.e. removing the switchback ramp connector between the future CCT and the Rock Creek Trail. That is a big deal and deserves its own post, to follow on this blog soon.

Lost at Rock Creek

Friday, January 1st, 2010

New Years Day 2010 Update:

altered directional trail signSomeone has “defaced” the directional trail sign at the Grubb Road access path to the Georgetown Branch Trail – by cutting away some green paint at the arrow to Silver Spring so that it now points right instead of left. This is one time when defacing a sign makes it much better, or at least more accurate.

Now if we can only do something about the milage, it is over 2.0 miles to Silver Spring. And also about the spelling of “Future Capitol Cresent Trail”.

November 29, 2009:

The Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail (CCCT) website reports at its News and Events page that Montgomery County DOT has recently placed new wayfinding signs on the Georgetown Branch Trail at Rock Creek Park. As CCCT notes, the new signs were badly needed to replace the very confusing wayfinding signs that predated the opening of the Rock Creek trestle over six years ago.

One of the new signs needs a “redo”. This sign appears on the Trail where the access path from Grubb Road/Terrace Drive meets the Trail. This sign puts Silver Spring to the west, west of Rock Creek and near Bethesda.

At least the sign does not say “Silver Springs”.

Access to a real park.

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

The future CCT can give Silver Spring and its neighborhoods direct and safe off-road access to Rock Creek Park.

The Georgetown Branch Trail goes to Rock Creek from downtown Silver Spring. It takes you to the park at Ray’s Meadow where the Rock Creek Trail can be used to reach the nearby play lots, ball fields, horse stables, and picnic facilities in Ray’s Meadow and Candy Cane City. But the Georgetown Branch Trail is only an on-road bike route in Silver Spring, with several dangerous crossings of busy streets. At Rock Creek the trail passes high above the Park on the trestle, with only an indirect connection down into the Park on neighborhood streets.

Source: CCCT, at

The CCT, if completed, will give Silver Spring a direct off-road connection to Rock Creek Park. Cyclists of all ages and abilities could reach the Park with a short bike ride from Silver Spring neighborhoods. The at-grade crossings of Colesville Road, Spring Street, and 16th Street would be replaced by trail bridges or underpasses. The trip to the park on the CCT would become a major part of the attraction.

Purple Line opponents are quick to complain that construction of the Purple Line will result in the removal of the CCT trestle now over Rock Creek. And they have a point – the trestle is a very attractive feature, and gives good views from high above Rock Creek. But Silver Spring is very poorly served by the trestle since it is hard to reach from Silver Spring. We knew when the trestle was built that it was not meant to be permanent. The trestle deck was built from modular sections so it can be disassembled and used elsewhere when the time comes to build the Purple Line.

The trestle will be replaced by a new trail bridge over Rock Creek if the Purple Line is built. A new shared use path will be built to connect from the CCT down to the Rock Creek Trail. All trail users connecting between the rebuilt CCT and the Rock Creek Trail will find the connection much easier and more direct than it is now. Trail users staying on the CCT to cross Rock Creek will still have a direct crossing on a trail bridge, although the bridge will be lower than the trestle is now. The rebuilt CCT will stay low enough to pass under Jones Mill Road in an underpass. Trail users will no longer have to wait at the pedestrian signal west of Rock Creek to cross Jones Mill Road at grade.

Purple Line and CCT at Rock Creek Park
Source: MTA at

I was out there advocating to build the trestle from the start, and I wish we could find a practical way to keep the trestle and also complete the CCT. I have posted a Show us what we are missing challenge for anyone to show how to complete the CCT into Silver Spring as a safe off-road trail without transit. I will take the grade separated CCT crossing of Jones Mill Road, the much better access from the CCT down into Rock Creek Park, and the completion of the CCT through my Silver Spring neighborhood as more than fair compensation for the loss of the view from the trestle.