Georgetown looks to transform C&O Canal

Bringing a new edge to Georgetown's C&O Canal (ABC7)

The landscape architect behind New York City’s Highline has big plans for Georgetown.

The project would transform a one-mile stretch of the C&O Canal and Towpath in the heart of Georgetown. New features would include new paths, lighting and landscaping.

The New York based company, James Corner Field Operations, gathered feedback from the community at a meeting Wednesday night.

“It’s a vein of life in Georgetown. It’s a lifeline,” said District resident Jo Anne Brignolo.

The Georgetown Business Improvement District, Georgetown Heritage, The National Park Service and District leaders are teaming up for the project..

Leaders told ABC7 News they are in the planning stage and about 18-months from having a substantial plan. They stressed that the restoration will not look like the Highline because the 180-year old canal is unique.

In the 1800s, the waterway was a major transportation line for goods coming from as far as Ohio. Now, it’s mainly used by bikers, hikers and walkers. Five million people visit the area every year.

“A lot of people think the National Mall as the nation’s front yard,” said Kevin Brandt with the National Park Service. “The C&O Canal could be called its back yard-- where you go out and you play.”

It’s not clear yet how much the project would cost, but the National Park Service is already restoring two of the canal’s locks for $6.3 million. The District is contributing $3 million, which will help pay for a new boat.

“I would give my soul to preserving what is part of human heritage, you know, and that is what we have here,” said Brignolo.

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