National Park Service

National Park Service Considers Whether to Keep Section of Beach Drive Closed to Traffic

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The National Park Service is deciding what to do with the northern section of Beach Drive NW through Rock Creek Park, which has been closed to cars since the pandemic began.

Beach Drive is a major connector from upper Northwest D.C. to downtown. 

The National Park Service closed a four-and-a-half-mile section of the road from Broad Branch Road NW to Maryland to vehicular traffic in April 2020 so people could have a place to get outside while maintaining social distance. Three segments of upper Beach Drive from Broad Branch Road to the Maryland state line have been closed to cars seven days a week. Before the pandemic, the stretch of Beach Drive was only closed on weekends and holidays.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton asked the National Park Service to keep it closed to traffic. The D.C. Council voted nine to four to ask the Park Service to keep it closed.

”I can tell you that there’s a lot of interest in whether or not the road stays open or is closed permanently or some hybrid of that,” said Julia Washburn.

“I think it’s fair to say that this … section is possibly the most beautiful part of the park. It’s right along Rock Creek and it’s surrounded by marvelous forest on both sides.”

Before the pandemic, about 8,000 drivers a day used the road, and drivers say it will need to go back to a commuter route in some capacity.

The Park Service is accepting comments online through Sunday. A decision is expected in December or January.

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