The new trail that will connect Fishers Lane to the Rock Creek Trail
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Here I'll provide information about the new trail
and updates on construction (once it's begun)
Fishers Lane is a short street that crosses Twinbrook Parkway ("TP") from the southern part of the Twinbrook neighborhood in Rockville MD -- I live in Twinbrook, hence my interest. On the corner of Fishers and TP is the headquarters of the United States Pharmacopeial Convention, and at the eastern terminus is the rear entrance (usually closed) of Parklawn Cemetary. On the south side at that end of Fishers is the old FDA headquarters, currently being gutted and renovated. (Coincidentally, I worked there before and after my 1st year of law school in the summers of 1983 & '84; yes, I'm olde....)
On the north side of the east end of Fishers, the new National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) headquarters is under construction. Ubiquitous developer JBG is putting up the NIAID building, and is required (by the County) as part of the project to build a hiker-biker trail from Fishers Lane to the Rock Creek Trail ("RCT"). This will be wonderful because (1) it will pass through some lovely woods and fields, and (2) it will provide easy hiking / cycling access from the southern part of Twinbrook to the RCT, which is currently dangerous (Veirs Mill, terrible shoulder, very fast cars) or inconvenient (Linthicum, ok if you're going north to Lake Needwood or Lake Frank, way out of the way if you're going south):
UPDATE: 19 June 2016
Work has begun! From McParks in April:
The first phase, starting at Veirs Mill, is underway. The contractor has installed tree protection fence and sediment controls and has proceeded with the tree clearing. The work includes the large bridge across Rock Creek and we anticipate completion of this phase in about three months.I rode around in there on 18 June -- the yellow line is my route (riding mostly on WSSC temp roads) superimposed on the path the trail is going to take (purple/red):
Once we receive the aforementioned easements and permits for the second phase, the anticipated construction duration for phase two will be about four months. We hope to have the trail completed in November, but this schedule may be impacted by the work performed by WSSC. We have had several coordination meetings with them at the site and, for now, they anticipate that they will need access through the site for much of 2016. They will need to use the temporary access roads until their work is complete. We will be able to complete our project once the mats have been removed.
UPDATE: 4 April 2015
The final, approved Forest Conservation plan is here. Lots of nice details. From McParks:
JBG received bids from contractors on this project. Parks staff met with JBG representatives and went over the bids together two weeks ago. We agreed on the implementation strategy and JBG is working with the low bidder to clarify certain bid items. Hopefully they can finalize the contract soon. In the meantime, JBG and the Commission need to enter into an agreement to build the trail. We hope the construction can start this summer to take full advantage of the prime grading/construction season.
UPDATE: 12 July 2014
Current revised plan, soon to go out for bids -- the path is shown in purple, with bridges and boardwalks in red (click on it to see it much larger):
UPDATE: 29 Jan 2014
The revised plan was approved by the Planning Board on 23 Jan -- the staff report is here and the staff slides here. JBG is committing $900K and will work with Parks staff to build the trail, and if it costs more than $900K then Parks will strive to come up with the money, or the trail will remain uncompleted until Parks can finish it. While not optimal, I think this is a reasonable resolution that gets the project moving. The “design and permit plans for the full length of the Trail” are due 1 Apr. Below is a slightly revised map of the new alignment shown roughly in red:
UPDATE: 8 Nov 2013
From McParks' Steve Findley:
"Not a done deal yet, but more progress. The applicant (JBG) continues to offer resources considerably exceeding their required PAMR payment to get the trail built, but are concerned that the cost of constructing the trail will be well above that level of payment. The Planning Department has agreed to cap the total financial commitment from JBG. The Parks Department appears willing to step in and provide the rest as long as costs to them are not exorbitant, and to potentially provide an interim natural-surface trail connection until the entirety can be paved. Next steps: Parks Department engineers will work with JBG’s consulting engineers from VIKA to “value engineer” the trail design to reduce costs. Then hopefully JBG can finish the design and secure permits, then bid out the trail for construction. Bidding the project cannot occur until the final design is completed, and permits are secured. The likely time line is that the project will be bid sometime next summer. The actual cost from the bid will determine how far JBG’s commitment will go and how much the Parks Department has to provide to fund completion of the trail. Everyone agrees that we want to see it done, and that it is a priority. A couple of weeks ago, I was concerned that this trail might not happen after all. The willingness of the Parks Department to take on some of the construction cost has revived the project. In the meantime, we are working on a Site Plan amendment to allow JBG’s Federal client, NIAID, to occupy the building just after the first of the year."Sigh.. . . . . . . .
UPDATE: 24 May 2013
Below I've superimposed the path of the new trail in pink on an aerial shot of the area -- [UPDATE] with the new alignment shown roughly in red:
UPDATE: 11 May 2013
Yay, from McParks' Steve Findley:
"JBG and the Parks Department have tentatively agreed on a revised alignment that roughly follows the approved plan but moves the trail off of Viers Mill Road and puts it on Montgomery County Park land parallel to the road. The biggest issues now are: (1) This requires a separate bridge over Rock Creek to carry the trail, requiring both more cost and additional engineering; and (2) this will require additional permits from Maryland Department of the Environment for wetland and floodplain disturbances. We have met in the field with MDE, and they have indicated a willingness to grant the permit if they feel the impacts are justified. The Parks Department is going to write a letter to MDE in support of JBG’s permit request.
"Meetings are now occurring between the Parks Department, the Planning Department, and JBG and their consultants to expedite the new engineering and plan amendments to make this happen. I have to give credit to JBG for taking on the additional work and expense of the revised alignment, and to the Parks Department for agreeing to take more of the trail, with its impacts, maintenance and policing responsibilities onto their property to make this happen. It isn’t a done deal yet, but, absent any “stoppers” it is moving toward a solution. This will take a few more months to get to construction, but we are beyond the impasse."
UPDATE: 17 February 2013
I recently learned that problems have arisen with the plan shown above, because of plans Maryland has for Veirs Mill that will use some or all of the existing huge shoulder. As a result, they are evaluating alternatives -- I don't know what they are yet.
So, pup and I took a hike. I parked in the soccer fields lot, walked along the cemetery driveway to the southwest side of Rock Creek, and walked along the southwest side up to Veirs Mill, then back along the Veirs Mill shoulder (not pleasant, that last part):
26 September 2012
When I first learned about this trail, I walked around the area to try to figure out where the trail would go. I found some pink wire+plastic markers with VIKA written on them, which is the name of the engineering contractor designing the trail: