- The Washington Times
Thursday, November 3, 2022

The upper portion of Beach Drive in D.C.’s Rock Creek Park, initially closed to motor vehicle traffic in April 2020, will now remain closed year-round, the National Park Service said Wednesday.

“This decision prioritizes park access for recreational use. … In selecting the year-round closure over the previously proposed seasonal closure, the NPS recognizes that the closure has allowed outdoor recreation in the park to flourish,” the NPS wrote in its announcement.

A new traffic signal will be added and traffic signal times adjusted inside and adjacent to Rock Creek Park.

“Opening this section of Beach Drive to pedestrians and cyclists has provided our community with increased opportunities for healthy recreation, greater access to nature and outdoor enjoyment. We hope to continue seeing you all on Beach Drive,” Julia Washburn, Rock Creek Park superintendent, said in the statement.

The change affects around five miles of road in three sections of Bingham Drive, Sherrill Drive and Beach Drive: from Broad Branch Road to Joyce Road, from Picnic Area 10 to Wise Road, and from West Beach Drive to the D.C./Maryland boundary.

“Between Joyce Road and picnic areas 6-10, Beach Drive will remain open to motorized vehicles only to access group picnic areas and parking lots. Ross Drive will reopen to motorized vehicles,” the NPS said.

Activist groups have approved the move by the NPS to keep much of Rock Creek Park free of motor vehicles.

“Rock Creek Park was one of the first national parks established, so it’s fitting that it’s leading the charge and figuring out how to manage amazing natural areas in the 21st century,” Jeanne Braha, executive director of the nonprofit Rock Creek Conservancy, told DCist.

Peter Harnik, the coordinator of the People’s Alliance for Rock Creek, said in a statement quoted by WUSA 9 that “we are ecstatic that the 40-year effort for ‘Rock Creek Park Seven Days a Week’ has finally succeeded. We applaud the National Park Service for its courage in preserving and improving this great urban park for the people of the nation’s capital.”

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.

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