Spelunking in Georgetown
Who's responsible: National Park Service
Number of votes to fix: 10
Entering the Foundry Branch Tunnel feels a bit like an Orphean descent, as cool, damp air rushes up toward bikers and joggers crossing under the C&O Canal and the adjacent Canal Road on their way between the Crescent Trail and the Foxhall neighborhood of Georgetown.
That the lights have been out since the spring -- giving the tunnel an eerie feel even in the middle of the day -- only has added to the effect.
"If it's cloudy and there's more than one person in there, the perspective gets thrown off and you can't tell if they're coming or going," said Mimi Castaldi, one of nearly a dozen people who flagged this problem.
Castaldi said the tunnel was popular with bike commuters seeking access to the Crescent Trail, which runs up to Bethesda and Silver Spring, and that the lighting issue hadn't been addressed even though the tunnel recently had been cleared of vegetation recent. She sent in several photos demonstrating the darkness of the tunnel, which also has a bit of graffiti (although nothing like what it had 12 years ago). An incident-light meter wasn't sensitive enough to measure what little illumination did filter in.
"It's not as easy as changing the light bulbs," Justice said. "It's an electrical issue."
Bill Justice, spokesman for Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, initially thought the lights were a city problem, but after additional research realized the National Park Service would need to deal with it. The park has brought in a contractor to look at the issue but isn't sure when a fix will be made.
Christopher Dean Hopkins
June 16, 2010; 5:02 PM ET
Categories: The District , Unfixed | Tags: Foundry branch, bike commuting dc, bill justice c&o, c&o canal, crescent trail, foundry branch tunnel, foxhall, georgetown
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