Beach Drive would reopen to through traffic after Labor Day under a proposed plan by the National Park Service, which has mostly closed the road since April 2020 to allow for more room for physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
NPS is accepting comments until 11:59 p.m. Thursday Aug. 11 on its plan, which would formalize weekday closures between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That would increase the existing policy to close the 4.2-mile stretch on weekends and holidays, but rolls back what had been a nearly-2.5-year closure to allow for more physical distancing during the pandemic. That closure has allowed for a dramatic increase in daily use by runners, cyclists, walkers and more.
“Like many throughout the community, we think NPS should reconsdier reopening upper Beach Drive to cars to maintain an important trail connection through Rock Creek Park throughout the year,” said Kalli Krumpos, manager of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s Capital Trails Coalition.
The pandemic and subsequent road closure followed just months after the completion of a three-year, $33 million project to completely rebuild 6.2 miles of Beach Drive between the Maryland line and the bottom of Shoreham Drive. The preference comes despite support from both the D.C. and Montgomery County councils to continue the closure.
“In this decision, we were really trying to strike a balance,” said Rock Creek Park Superintendent Julia Washburn, “to create equity for the various people who need and want to use the road.”
Describing the decision as multi-layered, she cited concerns that increased park use over the last two years had bled into forested areas, where users created their own trails, often with unleashed dogs. Users had notably created pathways between 16th Street NW and Beach.
“We have seen a vast increase in the social trails or basically off-trail use of the park and an increase in dogs off leash in that part of the park throughout the year, so we’re hoping with having the road part of the time open to vehicles during a lot of the year, that may hopefully lead to a decrease of the impacts that we are seeing to the forest and to the habitat,” Washburn said during a July 18 meeting.
Allowing greater pedestrian use during the summer months would coincide with when the vegetation was thickest, discouraging the formation of social paths.
Washburn also recounted concerns that closure to motorized traffic limited enjoyment of the park by users with mobility concerns.
Although the 4.2-mile stretch of Beach Drive was initially closed entirely to traffic, NPS opened portions of the road north of Joyce Road to allow for access to various picnic areas. A total of 2.7 miles of Beach, along with the entirety of Ross Drive and Sherill Drive, are closed to traffic, with sections of 0.6 miles, 0.5 miles and 1.6 miles of Beach Drive closed.
Though NPS considered closing one lane of Beach Drive to allow for non-motorized use, those plans were dismissed out of safety concerns and limitations posed by park police staffing levels.
Washburn stressed that the plan was dynamic and subject to change,
“We’ll be reevaluating at certain times and we have the option to create a different management alternative in the future based on how everything is going,” she said.
However seriously NPS has taken concerns about social trail formation, little to no signage discouraging that behavior has been on display in and around Rock Creek Park over the last two years.
As local road races find their footing in the post-pandemic world, along with attracting racers, they also need to be well-staffed with volunteers to handle all of those things that make a race worth running.
Fairfax County Detectives have arrested and charged a 42-year-old Herndon man with crimes related to indecent exposures near the Washington and Old Dominion Trail in August, the department reported.
Fairfax County schools and a few local guests raced at Burke Lake Saturday, with the Potomac School’s Charlie Ortmans and W.T. Woodson and Herndon’s Gillian Bushee and West Springfield leading…
Assaults on the W&D Trail, a stabbing on the Custis Trail, an extension for the Beach Drive closure, new bridges and trails and honors for local cross country/track runners and coaches.
The 18th annual St. Rita 5K & Fun Run is a fall classic on treelined streets through beautiful Alexandria, Va.
Certified & chip-timed 5K follows a flat, fast, out-and-back course through Potomac Yard.
The morning festivities includes a live DJ,
The Association of African Methodist Episcopal Scouts’ (AAMES) 1st Annual 5K In-Person/Virtual Run-Walk Race
Saturday, October 8, 2022 at 8:00 A.M.
Fort Washington National Park, 13551 Fort Washington Road, Fort Washington, Maryland 20744