C&O Canal National Historical Park - Georgetown Comprehensive Master Plan
The National Park Service, in partnership with Georgetown Heritage, the District Office of Planning (DCOP) and the Georgetown BID (GBID) is engaged in comprehensive planning and design for revitalizing the one-mile section of the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) in Georgetown. In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the NPS is preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) to evaluate the potential impacts to the natural and human environment as a result of the action. Concurrently, the NPS will conduct consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (NHPA).
The purpose of the proposed action is to develop a plan to enhance the one-mile portion of the C&O Canal NHP in Georgetown, from the Zero-mile marker to the Alexandria Aqueduct. The plan will focus on addressing deferred maintenance issues and related safety and accessibility concerns associated with the towpath; improving connections between Georgetown and the C&O Canal towpath; enhancing visitor experience through increased signage and optimizing underutilized areas. The plan will be developed in a matter that addresses the identified needs, while also preserving the historic character and cultural significance of the C&O Canal NHP and the Georgetown Historic District (DC Landmark, National Register of Historic Places, National Historic Landmark).
The Georgetown Canal plan is needed to provide a coordinated approach to address the following concerns:
• Portions of the towpath are uneven, narrow, and poorly lit, creating potential safety hazards;
• Visitors with limited mobility can only access the towpath from Grace Street, NW (south of the canal). All other access points are not compliant with the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standards (ABAAS);
• Many access points to the towpath are not readily visible or unknown due to lack of signage;
• The park desires to expand opportunities for interpretation, education, and cultural programming;
• The park has limited amenities and facilities for visitor comfort such as seating, drinking fountains, and rest rooms; and
• Several plazas along the canal are underutilized and could be developed to provide additional recreational activities.