Before dawn on Wednesday, WTOP traffic reporter Dave Dildine was checking for Ida-related flood damage, and Broad Branch Road was one of his stops.
Broad Branch Road NW will need to be closed. In addition to large storm debris, the force of flood water has compromised a section of the road, lifting slabs of asphalt downstream. @311DCgov @WTOPtraffic pic.twitter.com/5O5LuXPwoH
— Dave Dildine (@DildineWTOP) September 1, 2021
Here’s another view of the road damage, in daylight.
#broadbranchroad N of Brandywine St looking washed out with pavement uprooted. #Ida seems upset @DDOTDC plans to redo the roadway did not include a #bikedc climbing lane. @marycheh pic.twitter.com/tfNu0qNuVu
— Steve Seelig (@compdc) September 1, 2021
Indeed, Broad Branch was closed between 27th Street and Ridge Road.
I came across the closure because as usual, I wanted to see for myself what Ida had done to our local streams and trails.
I started at the Soapstone Valley Trail near the dead end of Audubon Terrace, and found water still coming down the stormwater outfall from the dead end at Linnean Avenue.
The stormwater had moved more rocks, making the trail even more treacherous and the steps more to the first Soapstone stream crossing more difficult to navigate.
At the crossing, many of the usual stepping stones were underwater. There was no way to cross without getting my feet wet.
The second stream crossing was also more difficult, but it was manageable. On the other side, many plants had been mowed down by floodwaters. That served to open up a trail that had become narrowed by their growth.
The third and final stream crossing before Broad Branch Road was completely reshaped, with rocks and sediment from upstream piling up on both sides.
I crossed using two large concrete objects as stepping stones. Upon closer inspection, they appeared to have broken off something, perhaps from the casing of a Soapstone sewer pipe.
That concerned me. The Soapstone Valley sewer system here is more than a century old, and due to decades of erosion it is vulnerable to rain and flood damage. This is is why DC Water will begin tackling a rehabilitation project in the coming winter. But I recently learned that the agency is using outdated rain predictions in its planning. Would that compromise the integrity and longevity of the reconstruction?
After that, I got to Broad Branch Road and saw the debris and the road closure at Ridge Road.
I pressed on. Along Black Horse Trail along Rock Creek, the water roared by right next to me. At one point it invaded the trail.
North of Joyce Road where the trail continues, a section was so obstructed by water that this hiker had to turn back and take the trail going west along Military Road.
What I saw was nothing in comparison to the damage and loss of life at flooded apartment buildings in Rockville, and of course to the devastation Ida brought to the Gulf Coast. As we continue to see both locally and nationally, stormwater is a mighty force.
— Jennifer Delgado (@JenDelgadoFOX) September 1, 2021