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In a conference room at Nationals Park on Wednesday night, a bevy of representatives from CSX, DDOT, and FHWA along with consultants galore showed the public for the first time a series of 12 "project concepts" for how to handle CSX's desire/need to expand the capacity of the 3,800-foot-long Virginia Avenue Tunnel that runs from 2nd to 12th Street SE.
The concepts are now posted on the project web site, and can be grouped as seven "rebuild" options along with four other "reroute" options that would bring about the abandonment of the tunnel altogether (and, it must be said, are probably a just smidge less likely to be one of the alternatives chosen).
Three of the rebuild options are along the lines of what's been discussed for more than two years now, which would be the running of a temporary track in an open trench while the expansion work is done on the existing tunnel. While having the trench on the south side of the tracks (Concept 2) has been the "default" discussion and has to be assumed to be CSX's preferred choice, Concept 3 shows the possibility of running the trench on the north side of the tunnel, which would be right next to the Southeast Freeway (and which I'm imagining would run into some issues with having to make sure all freeway supports are adequately protected). Concept 4 runs a "serpentine" trench both north and south of the existing tracks.
Concept 5 is an intriguing new notion, where a second permanent tunnel would be built parallel and south of the existing one. There's also the idea of just widening the current tunnel either while trains continue to use the tunnel (Concept 6) or with freight traffic temporarily rerouted either to Union Station (Concept 7A) or outside the District entirely (with a route shown that would take trains from Richmond through Ohio and up to Buffalo before turning back to the East Coast).
The "reroute" options all propose abandoning the tunnel, either building a nine-mile-long freight tunnel from National Airport to the Deanwood Metro station about 80 feet underground (Concept 8) or building other alignments proposed in recent years by the National Capital Planning Commission (Concepts 9 and 10), or running on CSX's existing tracks out to Ohio and then northward.
But of course, these are concepts, and one of the reasons for going through a NEPA process is to study the different ideas to then come up with alternatives, accompanied by scads of data on noise, vibration, pollution, traffic, and timeline impacts. And to determine how much the various alternatives would cost--because it's likely that CSX is not going to be too gung-ho on the options anticipated to run into the billions of dollars.
It's expected that the public meeting where the alternatives will be unveiled will be in February of 2012, at which point so many of the questions that residents have been asking for so long about how the tunnel construction will affect the day-to-day lives of people who live near and use Virginia Avenue will get some concrete answers.
Faisal Hameed of DDOT, who ran much of the meeting, emphasized a number of times during the Q&A that this is a unique project: a private company is doing work they are paying for themselves on a right of way that they own some (but not all) of, but the impacts on vehicle/pedestrian/bicycle transportation are expected to be extensive enough that DDOT requested this environmental assessment before getting to the point of signing off on any permits that CSX will need to do the work. (There is also apparently still some negotiating going on between CSX and DDOT about exactly whose right of way is where, but it was said that no portion of the project will enter private land, though some small incursions will happen on the Marine bachelor enlisted quarters' site west of 7th Street.)
The Q&A was a pretty peaceful one as these things go (which makes a cranky blogger so very happy!). Most of the wrangling between audience members and CSX was over the route that hazardous materials take when they are forced to go around the District because of various city laws and federal regulations; the audience members were trying to get CSX to admit that there's an existing route bypassing the city that's shorter than anything shown in the concepts, while CSX wasn't going to get anywhere near telling people where hazardous materials travel.
In response to one audience question (coming as a result of the new FAQ posted on the project web site), CSX did say that they are going to "strongly pursue" getting a waiver to stop the currently required blowing of horns anytime a train enters the tunnel, and that they think it should be a "strong possibility" that it can happen, though of course they weren't wanting to commit.
There were also questions that will be better asked when the alternatives are unveiled, about construction staging, safety during construction, noise and vibration impacts, traffic flow, emergency planning, alley access, and what CSX will do to restore or even improve the Virginia Avenue streetscape when construction is finished. (As for any historic preservation impacts, a Section 106 review of the project is being done concurrently with this NEPA assessment.)
Comments are being accepted on these 12 concepts for the next 30 days, either by using the web site or e-mailing contact@virginiaavenuetunnel.com. (About 530 comments were received after the September scoping meeting.) It's hoped the environmental assessment will be completed with a final NEPA decision by the summer of 2012; though, if there is a finding that there will be a "significant environmental impact" from whichever construction alternative is chosen, then a full Environmental Impact Study (EIS) would then have to be done.
Comments (4)
 
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Comments

Bruce says: (12/1/11 6:28 PM)
I'm glad they showed us some concepts..it will be a long process.


F says: (12/2/11 9:39 AM)
I wonder how many of those are "serious" concepts. It seems as though CSX is presenting some so-called alternate concepts to make it look like they're considering options when they've already decided on Concept 2 or something close to it.


MJM says: (12/3/11 3:43 PM)
If Concept 5 is a dig, build, cover, repeat as you go instead of one open long trench that may be the best option of them all. Can anyone confirm that is how Concept 5 would be constructed?


Douglas Willinger says: (12/4/11 3:30 AM)
Concept 5 also preserves a wider space making it easier to construct a below ground cut and cover tunnel for replacing the elevated SE Freeway- and would even be better if the new northern tunnel was shifted closer to the new southern tunnel.

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Recent Crime Incidents Archive  
200 B/O L ST SE   THEFT F/AUTO /  07/30/14
L ST SE AND 2ND ST SE   THEFT F/AUTO /  07/30/14
70 B/O I ST SE   MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT /  07/29/14
70 B/O I ST SE   THEFT /  07/29/14
1100 B/O NEW JERSEY AVE SE   THEFT /  07/28/14
400 B/O K ST SE   THEFT /  07/24/14
1000 B/O 1ST ST SE   THEFT /  07/23/14
1600 B/O SOUTH CAPITOL ST   THEFT F/AUTO /  07/20/14
400 B/O M ST SE   BURGLARY /  07/20/14

Active Public Space Permits Archive  
1011 1ST ST SE    Pepco Holdings Inc 
Issued
excavation; new  
 06/26/14
to
08/26/14
1331 2ND ST SE    Carlton Ray 
Assigned
paving; streetfixture; excavation  
 02/10/14
to
02/09/15
908 3RD ST SE    Rachel Frankel 
Issued
streetfixture; new  
 07/24/14
to
09/21/14
1026 3RD ST SE    Wash Gas & Light Co. 
Issued
excavation; new  
 06/26/14
to
09/04/14
1331 4TH ST SE    Forest City Forest City 
Issued
excavation; new  
 01/10/14
to
02/10/15
913 5TH ST SE    Wash Gas & Light Co. 
Issued
excavation; new  
 06/26/14
to
08/28/14
1100 - 1199 BLOCK 1ST ST SE    tom cash 
Issued
excavation; new  
 06/27/14
to
08/25/14
410 M ST SE    Pepco Holdings Inc 
Issued
excavation; new  
 07/11/14
to
09/08/14
800 NEW JERSEY AVE SE    Pepco Holdings Inc 
Issued
excavation; new  
 06/20/14
to
08/22/14
880 NEW JERSEY AVE SE    WASHINGTON GAS 
Issued
excavation; new  
 07/28/14
to
09/26/14
301 TINGEY ST SE    Potbelly Sandwich Works LLC 
Issued
new  
 03/21/12
to
11/27/14

Recent Issued Building Permits Archive  
1011 1ST ST SE   
08/06/14 
TOLL DC LP / MITCH A. PERMUY
E1407892 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
08/11/14 
TOLL DC LP / ALBERT J. PEARCE
FB1400108 / SUPPLEMENTAL
1259 1ST ST SE   
08/11/14 
CAPITAL RIVERFRONT HOTEL LLC / CAPITAL RIVERFR HOTEL LLC
AH1400636 / CONSTRUCTION
AFTER HOURS FOR PERMIT NUMBER B1401471 FOR 8 / 12 THROUGH 9 / 11 FROM 5AM TO 7PM MONDAY THROUGH SATURDAY.
1265 1ST ST SE   
07/30/14 
CAPITOL RIVERFRONT HOTEL LLC /
P1407417 / SUPPLEMENTAL
1212 4TH ST SE   
08/07/14 
TAKOREAN / FVI 2020
B1410615 / CONSTRUCTION
REVISION TO TL1400052 TO INCLUDE OUTDOOR SUMMER GARDEN WITH 14 SEATS AND 7 TABLES.
1201 4TH ST SE   
08/12/14 
JBG/FEDERAL CENTER LIC / JIM CALABRESE
AN1400129 / CONSTRUCTION
PLEASE EXTEND PERMIT AN1300174 THIS IS THE FIRST EXTENSION AND PERMIT WILL BE VALID UNTIL 1 / 31 / 2015.
1212 4TH ST SE   
08/01/14 
MIKE LENARD 1451 BELMONT ST NW SUITE 214 / PAUL THIEBERGER; MIKE LENARD 1451 BELMONT ST NW SUITE 214; PAUL THIEBERGER
P93379840 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
08/05/14 
FC 1212 LLC / THE YARDS
TL1400165 / CONSTRUCTION
FIRST TIME TENANT LAYOUT FOR NEW MANAGEMENT OFFICE 2ND FLOOR TOTAL OF 780 SQ FT RENOVATION LIMIT TO MECHANICAL ELECTRIC AND FIRE LIFE SAFETY ONLY
1331 4TH ST SE   
08/14/14 
F. C. 1331 LLC / FVI 2020
B1402843 / CONSTRUCTION
CONSTRUCTION OF A BRAND NEW 11 STORY BUILDING. THE BUILDING IN TOTAL IS 350 000 SQ FT. ADDING 327 RESIDENTIAL RENTAL UNITS 20 000 SQ FT. IN COMMERCIAL SPACE AND 3 BELOW GRADE PARKING LEVELS.
   
08/15/14 
CLARK CONCRETE
AH1400650 / CONSTRUCTION
AFTER HOURS TO POUR CONCRETE ON JOBSITE FROM 7AM TO 7PM FROM SUNDAY TO SATURDAY 8 / 15 / 2014 TO 11 / 15 / 2014
1000 5TH ST SE   
08/07/14 
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA HOUSING AUTHORITY / KIM MITCHELL CDKM CONSULTING LLC
FD1400029 / CONSTRUCTION
FOUNDATION TO GRADE TO INCLUDE UTILITIES
   
08/13/14 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA /
FD1400132 / CONSTRUCTION
NEW FOUNDATION TO GRADE PERMIT FOR NEW COMMUNITY CENTER INCLUDING UTILITIES. REVISION TO FD1400029 TO REVISE STRUCTURAL DETAILS OF COLUMS.
1015 HALF ST SE   
08/12/14 
HALF ST SE LLC / SAM HOLLEN RAMCO OF DC INC.
TL1400162 / CONSTRUCTION
INTERIOR TENANT LAYOUT OF 1ST FLOOR PERFORMANCE STUDIO SPACE AND OFFICE SPACE. PARTITIONS FURNITURE MECHANICAL ELECTRICAL AND LIFE SAFETY. CBS
   
08/15/14 
HALF ST SE LLC / ROBERT L HUNTER
M1402951 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
08/16/14 
SAM HOLLEN / DONALD VEALS; SAM HOLLEN; DONALD VEALS
E83010192 / SUPPLEMENTAL
1201 HALF ST SE   
08/01/14 
LIVE NATION / JOSE VEGA A-1 ENGINEERING
TN1400164 / CONSTRUCTION
TO PLACE A TENT IN PUBLIC SPACE FOR SPECIAL EVENT AT NATIONALS PARK
200 I ST SE   
08/08/14 
DANIEL RILEY / OMAR BIAGAS; DANIEL RILEY; JOHN BIAGAS
E47247428 / SUPPLEMENTAL
37 L ST SE   
07/31/14 
GRETA SILVERMAN / JAMES SILVERMAN
B1410329 / CONSTRUCTION
UPGRADE EXISTING ROOF
601 L ST SE   
08/06/14 
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA HOUSING AUTHORITY / JOSEPH M MAGNOLIA
P1407161 / SUPPLEMENTAL
20 M ST SE   
07/30/14 
JOHN GIUSEPPE-RAMCO / ALEXANDER KIM; JOHN GIUSEPPE-RAMCO; UWE NEUMANN
AR45710386 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
08/06/14 
SOUTHEAST REALTY LLC /
P1407613 / SUPPLEMENTAL
100 M ST SE   
08/06/14 
SQUARE 743 INC /
P1407610 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
07/31/14 
SQUARE 743 INC. 100 M ST SE / PAUL THIEBERGER; SQUARE 743 INC 100 M ST SE; PAUL THIEBERGER
P83348948 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
08/16/14 
NORTHWOOD INVESTERS LLC / STANLEY HUBBARD; NORTHWOOD INVESTERS LLC; STANLEY HUBBARD
E14516088 / SUPPLEMENTAL
901 M ST SE   
08/14/14 
CARLTON RAY
AH1400642 / CONSTRUCTION
TO PERFORM TEMPORARY LANE CLOSURES
1201 M ST SE   
08/14/14 
CARLTON RAY
AH1400641 / CONSTRUCTION
TO PERFORM TEMPORARY LANE CLOSURES
1100 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
07/31/14 
SQUARE 742 LLC / SPRINT ADVANTAGE ENGINEERS
AN1400072 / CONSTRUCTION
AS PART OF SPRINT'S 2.5 MHZ LTE PROJECT SPRINT WILL BE ADDING ONE EQUIPMENT CABINET THREE PANEL ANTENNAS AND THREE REMOTE RADIO HEADS TO THE EXISTING WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS FACILITY
1111 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
08/12/14 
NJA ASSOCIATES LLC / COLIN CLARK
B1308085 / CONSTRUCTION
CONSTRUCT A NEW 13 STORY APARTMENT BUILDING WITH THREE BELOW GRADE PARKING LEVELS FIRST FLOOR RETAIL A PRIVATE SWIMMING POOL PROJECTIONS OF BAY WINDOWS 324 UNITS TO INCLUDE MECHANICAL PLUMBING ELECTRICAL AND ELEVATOR WORK.
1500 SOUTH CAPITOL ST SE   
08/04/14 
LIVE NATION / DAVID VEGA
AH1400629 / CONSTRUCTION
TO CLOSE OFF STREETS FOR LOADING AND UNLOADING OF STADIUM EVENTS 7PM - 7AM
300 TINGEY ST SE   
07/30/14 
FC BOILERMAKER LLC / SHELBY FIGAROORE
P1407430 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
07/30/14 
FC BOILERMAKER LLC / NABIL MUKHAR
E1407660 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
08/05/14 
FC BOILERMAKER LLC / PHILLIP B MOBLEY
M1402818 / SUPPLEMENTAL
AH = After Hours; B = Alteration & Repair; D = Demolition; E = Electrical; FB = Boiler; M = Mechanical; P = Plumbing and Gas; PC = Post Card; R = Raze; SG = Sign; TL = Tenant Layout; TN = Tent; RW = Retaining Wall;

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