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Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT)

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The Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) is a proposed 8-mile multi-use trail that runs from the Silver Spring Metro Station in Maryland to Union Station in the District of Columbia, generally following the path of the Metro's Red Line. This Environmental Assessment (prepared by DC Department of Transportation) explores alternatives for trail alignments on or near portions of land managed by the National Park Service (Rock Creek Park), specifically in the vicinity of Fort Totten.

The National Park Service supports the completion of the Metropolitan Branch Trail and is working with the Federal Highway Administration and the DC Department of Transportation in considering the proposed trail alignments. The National Park Service preliminary preferred alternative is a combination of segments A1, B2 and C1 with minor amendments to use existing roadways and sidewalks wherever possible. This combination of segments (with proposed amendments) would limit use of National Park Service managed land to areas already disturbed by the construction of the Washington Metrorail system within Segment A1 and a small portion of land in Segment C1.

he National Park Service has released a Finding of No Significant Impact for the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) Project, Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C.

As shown in the Final EA, the MBT is a multi-use trail that will stretch between Union Station in Washington, D.C. and Silver Spring, Maryland. The MBT is divided geographically into nine segments, three of which (Segments 6-8) affect NPS land in Northeast Washington, D.C. in the Fort Totten section of the Civil War Defenses of Washington. Proposed alternatives are described in the EA and FONSI for each of these three segments (A1-A4 for Segment 6, B1-B2 for Segment 7, and C1-C3 for Segment 8).

The NPS approved alternative is A1 for Segment 6, B2 for Segment 7, and C1 for Segment 8. This combination of alternatives provides continuous trail access while minimizing impacts to parkland. The approved alternative utilizes existing roads and sidewalks where feasible, creates continuous sidewalks where gaps exist, and provides off-street connections where necessary.

DDOT will construct the MBT on NPS land subject to a Special Use Permit and design review/approval from the NPS. After construction, MBT segments on NPS land will be maintained by DDOT under an agreement with the NPS.

UPDATE: The EA for this project was written in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations (40 CFR 1500-1508), NPS Director's Order #12, FHWA's Environmental Impact and Related Procedures (23 CFR 771), and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) and its implementing regulations (36 CFR Part 800 Protection of Historic Properties). The EA analyzed impacts of project alternatives on NPS land. On November 15, 2010, DDOT and FHWA released a Draft EA for 30 days of public review and comment. A Final EA that addressed all agency and public comments was released on July 14, 2011.

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Nick Bartolomeo