More than two decades ago, as the rail-trail movement was gathering momentum, residents of the District of Columbia had a vision known as the Metropolitan Branch Trail. Their plan: to create a trail along an active railroad line, stretching from Union Station to out beyond the edge of Washington, DC. The corridor, which descends into the heart of the city, commands exceptional views of the Capitol and provides an opportunity to traverse the diverse neighborhoods of the District.
Like any community facility, the trail will be used to the extent it is embraced by the community and addresses their multifaceted needs. With this in mind, Kaiser Permanente partnered with Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to determine the facilities, resources, infrastructure and programming needed to insure the maximum use of the trail by a diverse group of users.
Based on Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s 21 years of rail-trail building experience, current research on trails and physical health, and numerous meetings with community organizations and key stakeholders, a list of recommendations was created. If implemented, these recommendations will increase local trail awareness and provide unique opportunities for the diverse local population to engage in the growth and sustainability of this new community asset. Physical activity levels among residents will substantially increase as more community members become aware of the trail’s location and begin to incorporate the trail into their daily commute, as a way to access community
amenities, and as a venue for recreation.
The focus of the recommendations is the neighborhoods adjacent to the section of trail being built at the time of publication from New York Avenue to Franklin Street. These neighborhoods include Eckington and Edgewood and the southern section of Brookland.