Since January, 2003

January 22, 2006

May 6, 2008
Half at O, Looking West-Southwest (see more)

Earlier this week the Federal Highway Administration and DDOT gave notice that the in-process National Environmental Policy Act study of CSX's Virginia Avenue Tunnel project will be switching mid-stream from an Environmental Assessment to a more detailed Environmental Impact Statement study.
Since the outcome of an EA is often the instigation of an EIS, this is probably serving mainly to speed up the process and get started on an EIS that most likely would have been needed anyway. The NEPA web site mentions that "[i]f a federal agency anticipates that an undertaking may significantly impact the environment, or if a project is environmentally controversial, a federal agency may choose to prepare an EIS without having to first prepare an EA," both of which would certainly seem to be ways this project could be described.
If you want to see how extensive an EIS can be, check out the ones completed for the 11th Street Bridges reconstruction and the planned South Capitol Street corridor improvements.
The information already gathered and feedback already garnered during the EA process will be incorporated into the EIS. CSX representatives tell me that they expect the switch to add about six months to the environmental review process, and the project's web site now has a Spring 2013 date listed for the Final EIS/record of decision. CSX has always wanted the project to be done in 2015, to coincide with the opening of the expanded Panama Canal, but that timeline is starting to look a bit dicey given that construction has been expected to take 2-3 years.
The public meeting to unveil the chosen "alternative" designs that the EIS is studying is currently being planned. You can read my write-up from the last meeting to see more about the initial group of concept designs, which ranged from expanding the tunnel to building a separate parallel tunnel to leaving the tunnel untouched to closing it and having CSX reroute all their traffic rerouting the double-stack traffic and through traffic out of the city (UPDATED to fix my mistake--there is no proposal that would close the tunnel altogether). (It probably isn't hard to guess which alternatives are preferred by the Capitol Quarter Homeowners Association, with CQ's homes on Virginia Avenue standing mere feet away from any construction.) UPDATE: It's been requested that I mention that, while the CQ HoA letter above lists a group of possible signatories, at least three of them (ANC 6B, Barracks Row Main Street, and the Committee of 100) have all already voted against co-signing the letter.
For those blissfully unaware of this project (I wish!), CSX is needing to expand the 105-year-old tunnel that runs beneath Virginia Avenue between 2nd and 12th streets, SE so that a second track can be added and double-height cars can be accommodated. With initial plans calling for the extended closure of Virginia Avenue and a temporary track in an open trench to run trains through during construction, residents on both sides of the freeway have been greatly concerned about how the work will be designed and carried out, which then spurred DDOT to request a formal environmental review (despite this being a project being carried out by a private entity on a right-of-way that they own some of).
My pile of posts over the past few years on the subject may also be enlightening, or may not.
UPDATE: This flyer just posted on the VirginiaAvenueTunnel.com web site says that the next public meeting, announcing which concepts will be looked at in the EIS, is scheduled for May 21 from 6 to 8 pm at Nationals Park.
 

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Comments

Alex B. says: (5/3/12 9:25 AM)
I completely understand the reasoning of the CQ neighbors (to a degree - construction impact, sure; but operational impact of increased train traffic in a tunnel? I don't buy it), but they do realize they're favoring the $4+ billion alternative, right?

MJM says: (5/3/12 9:38 AM)
Let's not forget the tracks have been there for 100+ years and a super majority of CQ residents knew CSX was planning construction but they signed on the ......line

Shogungts says: (5/3/12 12:15 PM)
Forgive me for my ignorance of railways and if this was mentioned elsewhere, but what does DC get out of this? Do they get some type of usage fee/toll for every train that comes through? What is the incentive for DC to allow CSX to build out the tunnel? Higher tolls, just keeping them from leaving DC altogether?

Gladiator says: (5/3/12 8:36 PM)
Yes, there does not appear to be ANYTHING for DC in this deal. While DC appears to have driven a hard bargain (perhaps too hard) with Whole Foods, e.g., there was at least some clear benefit to the city from having a Whole Foods in Near SE. But while everyone would have to acknowledge that there will be many detrimental impacts to DC of a CSX tunnel project -- the question is only just how MASSIVE will be the scale of the damage to DC economically, environmentally, etc. -- the only gains discussed for the District are promises from CSX of how they will plant a few trees or something in the aftermath of the damage left in the wake of this project.

While the alternatives may involve entail significant expense to CSX, its not clear why DC should care, any more than CSX cares about the impact their proposal would have on the District. This is really a question of how much market share of the NE corridor freight CSX will get, relative to its competitors. Why should DC care if CSX competitors are advantaged because CSX is unable to avail itself of the lowest cost/highest damage alternative for moving its freight through the region?

Gladiator says: (5/3/12 8:43 PM)
Interesting that even though EYA has stated that they did not know about the CSX project until the end of 2010, MJM thinks that a "supermajority" of CQ residents knew CSX was planning construction when they bought their homes.......So they knew something that the people selling them the houses did not know (and certainly did not disclose, as they more recently began to do to potential buyers)??

JD says: (5/3/12 8:50 PM)
No, it was late summer 2009: link While some of the Virginia Avenue houses were still being sold. I know because I talked with some people who were wanting to know more about the tunnel project before buying.


JD says: (5/3/12 8:55 PM)
And, if we go to the photo archive, we can see it was February/March 2010 when the Virginia Avenue homes started getting built: link


BillP says: (5/4/12 9:10 AM)
As part of the NEPA process, CSX posed all of those as legitimate alternatives. Therefore, it is my understanding that the CQ HOA chose to support all of the non-invasive alternatives as its initial position. By moving from the EA to the EIS and as part of the NEPA process, this list of alternatives will be narrowed and modified and so the CQ HOA will obviously modify its position in accordance with the new alternatives.

While I would not presume to speak for the HOA board or all CQ homeowners, many of us feel that some type of tunnel construction is inevitable and we would simply like to mitigate these circumstances so that the worst case but very real scenario does not come to fruition - freight trains running through a completely open tunnel, only a few feet from some homes, that separates much of the near SE neighborhood from points north for three years or more.

Bob says: (5/4/12 9:36 AM)
CQ residents have told me that CSX told them at the first community meeting about the project that CSX didn't even know there were houses there. This would be a great issue for Tommy Wells to oppose. He could re-do Marion Barry's opposition to freeways running through the middle of DC in the '60s. Instead of "No White man's highways through Black man's bedrooms", Tommy could do "No corporate train tracks through gentrifriers front yards." Not as catchy, but it could work.

Alex B. says: (5/4/12 10:06 AM)
@Shogungts:

<i>What is the incentive for DC to allow CSX to build out the tunnel? Higher tolls, just keeping them from leaving DC altogether?</i>

There is no incentive. DC has little leverage. While the right of way is public, CSX (as most railroads do) have very strong legal rights of access via perpetual easements. This makes sense, as if you were running a railroad, it wouldn't be possible to operate if suddenly someone decided they wanted to remove your tracks.

Railroad rights of way vary, either from easements to outright ownership. I'm not sure exactly where this falls, but what is known is that:

a) CSX has the right to operate trains there,
b) they have the right to improve that right-of-way,
c) they are offering to do it with their own money.

Those three things means that, practically, DC has little leverage at all. They can't force CSX to go elsewhere. Perhaps they could provide an incentive to do so, but as I noted, the alternative is a $4+ billion bypass of the DC area. I think CSX's early cost estimates to re-do this tunnel were on the order of $150 million. That's quite a gap to make up.

Furthermore, this is a project of national importance. This and the rail bottlenecks in Baltimore are key elements of the entire east coast freight rail network. The required geometry of railcars, combined with the geography of the east coast and the hills of the fall line, plus the water bodies of the Chesapeake Watershed mean that there are only a few viable options for where tracks can go. Building a bypass isn't like directing trucks to just take another highway.

GGW posted on this a few years back:
link

Andrew in DC says: (5/4/12 12:55 PM)
@Alex B.
"a) CSX has the right to operate trains there,
b) they have the right to improve that right-of-way,
c) they are offering to do it with their own money. "

The greatest issue I have is with point "b". While they do have the right to improve their existing tunnel, the law which provided the B&O the right to dig the tunnel in the first place did not allow for trench work beyond the 5th year past the passage of the law. Nor were temporary tracks permitted at all, for that matter. CSX's proposed plans are in violation of each of these.

Further, CSX's "preferred" alternative requests a significant expansion of the ROW than B&O utilized. Since B&O did not use it, and was, by law, restricted from digging it back up to use it, a case could clearly be made that they forfeited the "full" ROW established in the law, and therefore CSX only inherits the ROW currently in use.

So please, by all means, CSX has the right to improve on their ROW... so long as they abide by the restrictions set out for them.


Gladiator says: (5/5/12 10:01 AM)
JD -

Yes, it was indeed the end of 2009 (not 2010) when EYA claims they were first made aware of the project. But that was still after the fact (and yes, there were a couple of stray news reports before then, but EYA itself is on the record in writing saying they only became aware of the project near the very end of 2009).

What CSX or EYA is not going to tell you is that most Virginia Ave home-owners had to put down huge deposits well before that time. And of course many other CQ homes as well. What you seem to be ignoring is that the VA Ave homeowners were required to put down very large deposits well in advance of when their homes were actually built. THey then faced a Hobson's choice of losing tens of thousands of dollars by walking away, or having a tunnel dug through their front yard.

MJM says: (5/6/12 2:34 PM)
8 May 2008 - CSX released a vague press release that something was going to happen here in DC in the near future - so I have a feeling EYA is being less than truthful about when they really knew what was happening. Its kinda like moving next to an airport and complaining about the noise or future expansion?

link

Alex B. says: (5/8/12 9:21 AM)
Andrew,

There have been decades of legal precedent concerning rail rights of way - I don't think DC would be breaking any new ground by opposing this project.

I don't know how wide their ROW is, but I doubt it's limited to the tunnel alone. Rail ROWs are often far wider than just the tracks themselves.

Those restrictions are all well and good, but again: this is a project of national importance. I don't think the concerns of neighbors give them a right to veto this project. Their concerns should be addressed, of course.

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Records added or updated recently displayed here; click the "archive" links to see additional detail and older records. All data from DC Government databases and RSS feeds. JDLand takes no responsibility for errors, omissions, etc. (read CapStat disclaimer). Data is retrieved daily.

Recent Crime Incidents Archive  
100 B/O L ST SE   THEFT F/AUTO /  04/05/14
1500 B/O SOUTH CAPITOL ST   THEFT /  04/04/14
330 B/O K ST SE   THEFT /  04/04/14
16 B/O M ST SE   THEFT /  04/04/14
700 B/O L ST SE   THEFT /  04/03/14

Active Public Space Permits Archive  
1011 1ST ST SE    COLIN CLARK 
Pending
excavation; new  
 03/03/14
to
05/01/14
    COLIN CLARK 
Approved (Pending Payment)
paving; landscaping; new  
 04/23/14
to
06/27/14
1331 2ND ST SE    Carlton Ray 
Assigned
paving; streetfixture; excavation  
 02/10/14
to
02/09/15
1201 M ST SE    Michael Manoski 
Pending Document
excavation  
 05/06/13
to
05/05/14
1333 M ST SE    WASHINGTON GAS 
Assigned
excavation  
 05/01/13
to
04/30/14
1111 NEW JERSEY AVE SE    NJA Associates LLC 
Assigned
paving; streetfixture; landscaping; excavation; new  
 06/03/13
to
06/02/14
301 TINGEY ST SE    Chuchart Kampirapang 
Assigned
 
 06/07/13
to
06/06/14
    Potbelly Sandwich Works LLC 
Issued
new  
 03/21/12
to
11/27/14

Recent Issued Building Permits Archive  
1011 1ST ST SE   
04/09/14 
MILLER?LONG
AH1400386 / CONSTRUCTION
AFTERHOURS TO TAKE DOWN TOWER CRANE WITH 200 TON CRANE SAT ? SUN 4 / 12 / 2014 AND 4 / 13 / 2014 FROM 5AM TO 9PM
   
04/21/14 
TOLL DC LP / DELAWARE ELEVATOR INC
EN1401543 / SHOP DRAWING
TYPE OF ELEVATOR : ONE (1) MRL / STEEL / FRONT OF BLGD / PASSENGER. (VELOCITY RIVER PARK / PLASE 2 / CAR A)
1381 1ST ST SE   
04/07/14 
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA /
SB1400233 / CONSTRUCTION
INSTALLATION OF 3 GEO SOIL BORINGS TO A DEPTH OF 30FT 4' DIAMETER USING GEOPROBE 3 OUT OF 3 ARE TMMW
1212 4TH ST SE   
04/09/14 
GSA GSA / BRIAN FREW; GSA GSA; JOSEPH RICHARDS
E37554102 / SUPPLEMENTAL
1000 5TH ST SE   
04/04/14 
DC HOUSING AUTHORITY / KIM MITCHELL CDKM CONSULTING LLC
B1404942 / CONSTRUCTION
TEMPORARY CONSTRUCTION TRAILER TEMPORARY CONSTRUCTION FENCE AROUND THE PERIMETER OF THE PROPERTY AND TWO PORTA POTTIES AND TO INCREASE TO A TOTAL OF 4 PORTA POTTIES AT THE PEAK OF CONSTRUCTION. TRAILERS WILL BE ON BLOCKED ON TEMPORARY CMU BLOCKS - POWERED FROM TEMPORARY SERVICE BY PEPCO TRAILERS WILL BE EQUIPPED WITH RESTROOM SYSTEM THAT WILL BE SERVICED - NO PLUMBING LINES AS THEY ARE SELF CONTAINED
   
04/11/14 
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA HOUSING AUTHORITY / KIM MITCHELL CDKM CONSULTING LLC
SH1400015 / CONSTRUCTION
SHEETING ? SHORING FOR NEW COMMUNITY CENTER
1220 12TH ST SE   
04/15/14 
WASHINGTON GAS LIGHT CO / STEPHEN R. HOLMAN
P1404623 / SUPPLEMENTAL
1015 HALF ST SE   
04/09/14 
HALF ST SE LLC / SAM HOLLEN RAMCO OF DC INC.
B1405731 / CONSTRUCTION
INTERIOR RENOVATION FOR 1ST FLOOR SERVICE CORRIDOR. PARTITIONS DOORS MECHANICAL ELECTRICAL AND LIFE SAFETY.
75 I ST SE   
04/07/14 
DRI DEVELOPMENT SERVICES LLC / JOSE S ALVARADO; DRI DEVELOPMENT LLC; JOSE S ALVARADO
E16994763 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
04/07/14 
DRI DEVELOPMENT SERVICES LLC / JOSE S ALVARADO; DRI DEVELOPMENT LLC; JOSE S ALVARADO
E10943636 / SUPPLEMENTAL
409 I ST SE   
04/07/14 
SCOTT A FAULK TRUSTEE / RALPH THREATT
E1404619 / SUPPLEMENTAL
309 K ST SE   
04/06/14 
GERRITT LANG
PC61450444 / POST CARD
REPLACEMENT OF NOT MORE THAN 1 GAS APPLIANCE ON A RESIDENTIAL COMMERCIAL OR INDUSTRIAL PROJECT.
306 L ST SE   
04/17/14 
MICHAEL THOMPSON
B1311538 / CONSTRUCTION
1.CRAWL SPACE FOUNDATION REPAIR CRAWL SPACE UNDERPINNING AND EXCAVATION 2. ADD CONCRETE SLAB AND EGRESS WINDOW. 3. UPGRADE EXISTING ELECTRICAL PLUMBING AND MOVE MECHANICAL CLOSET
601 L ST SE   
04/21/14 
DC HOUSING AUTHORITY / ANGEL REYNOLDS
SH1400035 / CONSTRUCTION
TEMPORARY SHEETING AND SHORING REQUIRED TO ALLOW CONSTRUCTION PF NEW BUILDING AT 601 L ST SE.
50 M ST SE   
04/17/14 
KEN FINKELSTEIN ENGLEWOOD LLC / DAVID BOOKBINDE ECS MID-ATLANTIC LLC
SB1400244 / CONSTRUCTION
A TOTAL OF 6 BORINGS WILL BE ADVANCED ACROSS THE PROPERTY WITH A GEOPROBE DRILL RIG TO A DEPTH OF 25 FEET BELOW SURFACE GRADE. THE DIAMETER OF THE BOREHOLE WILL BE 2.25 INCHES. SOIL WILL BE SCREENED THROUGHOUT THE DEPTH OF EACH BORING AND EACH 5-FOOT COMPOSITE SAMPLE WILL BE ANALYZED. GROUNDWATER WILL BE COLLECTED FROM TEMPORARY WELLS IN THREE BORINGS IF ENCOUNTERED. ALL BORINGS WILL BE GROUTED WITH APPROVED BENTONITE SLURRY UPON COMPLETION. SEE WORKPLAN FOR ADDITIONAL DETAILS.
901 M ST SE   
04/14/14 
CARLTON RAY / DANIEL SCHAALE
AH1400397 / CONSTRUCTION
EXCAVATION IN ROADWAY
1201 M ST SE   
04/14/14 
CARLTON RAY / DANIEL SCHAALE
AH1400396 / CONSTRUCTION
EXCAVATION IN ROADWAY
   
04/14/14 
SAMUEL PAXTON
PC81065987 / POST CARD
REPLACEMENT OF NOT MORE THAN 1 PLUMBING FIXTURE ON A RESIDENTIAL COMMERCIAL OR INDUSTRIAL PROJECT.
86 N ST SE   
04/17/14 
BELFAST VALLEY CONTRACTORS / KIM MITCHELL CDKM CONSULTING LLC
TC1400011 / CONSTRUCTION
ERECT TEMPORARY TOWER CRANE AT 1ST AND N ST SE
1000 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
04/14/14 
PHILIP BROWN
PC47087282 / POST CARD
REPLACEMENT OF NOT MORE THAN 1 GAS APPLIANCE ON A RESIDENTIAL COMMERCIAL OR INDUSTRIAL PROJECT.
1500 SOUTH CAPITOL ST SE   
04/07/14 
WASHINGTON NATIONALS STADIUM LLC / FRED GRIFFITH; WASHINGTON NATIONALS STADIUM LLC; JAY LIVESAY
E53144683 / SUPPLEMENTAL
301 TINGEY ST SE   
04/11/14 
NA NA NA
EHOP1490466 / HOME OCCUPATION
   
04/11/14 
NA NA NA
EHOP1490467 / HOME OCCUPATION
301 WATER ST SE   
04/04/14 
FC LUMBER SHED LLC / RICHARD V CAREY
P1404549 / 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;

Real Property Sales Archive  
No commercial transaction records added or modified in the past two weeks.


Projects Underway
Twelve12/Yards
Park Chelsea
Southeast Blvd.
River Parc
  
Nationals Park
Visiting Nats Park
What's New Around the 'Hood
Food Options Map
Parking/Transportation
Ballpark Construction Photos
Stadium Event Photos
In the Pipeline
Hampton Inn
1111 New Jersey
800 NJ/Whole Foods
Lofts at Capitol Quarter
Ballpark Square
New Douglass Bridge
Yards at DC Water
Virginia Ave. Tunnel
99 M St.
Monument/Half Street
Community Center
Capper Apartments
250 M Street
Florida Rock
909 Half Street
Congressional Square
1000 South Capitol
SC1100
New Marine Barracks
Factory 202/Yards
Nat'l Comm. Church
Completed
Lumber Shed ('13)
Boilermaker Shops ('13)
Canal Park ('12)
Capitol Quarter ('12)
225 Virginia/200 I ('12)
Foundry Lofts/Yards ('12)
1015 Half Street ('10)
Yards Park ('10)
Velocity Condos ('09)
Teague Park ('09)
909 NJ Ave. ('09)
55 M ('09)
100 M ('08)
Onyx ('08)
Nationals Park ('08)
70/100 I ('08)
Seniors Bldg Dem. ('07)
400 M ('07)
SoCap Bridge Fix ('07)
US DOT HQ ('07)
20 M ('07)
Capper Seniors 1 ('06)
Capitol Hill Tower ('06)
Courtyard/Marriott ('06)
Overviews
Capper/Carrollsburg
Ballpark District
New Jersey Ave.
M Street
South Capitol St.
WASA
The Yards
Lower 8th Street
East M Street
Boathouse Row


Links of Interest

JDLand.com Wins 2008 Knight-Batten Citizen Media Award
As part of the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism, JDLand was given the 2008 Citizen Media Award. Read all about it.

Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District
Covering Near Southeast & Buzzard Point.

Studies/Initiatives/Government Documents:
11th Street Bridges EIS
South Capitol St. Bridge EIS
South Capitol Gateway Corridor/Anacostia Access Study
Anacostia Riverwalk Trail
NCPC's New Vision for South Capitol Street (2005 Update)
Anacostia Waterfront Initiative (2005)
Near Southeast Draft Urban Design Framework (2003)
Urban Land Institute South Capitol Street Corridor Report (2003)
Neighborhood Strategic Action Plan (2002)
DC Streetcars (may run down M Street SE someday)

Capitol Gateway and Southeast Federal Center Zoning Overlays
Two documents that spell out in extreme detail exactly what the requirements are for developments along South Capitol, M, in the Ballpark District, and at "The Yards". Read also my short explanatory treatise on these two overlays.

Pre-Redevelopment Media Overviews:
A Transformed Neighborhood Awaits Stadium (WP, 8/15/05)
      includes huge map of development plans
The Morphing of a Forgotten Neighborhood (WP, 9/2/2004)
      A brilliant take on the neighborhood!
Betting Big on Near Southeast (WP, 7/15/04)
Hope for the Waterfront (WBJ, 01)
Seeking a Better View On the Waterfront (WP, 3/8/98)
 

DC Government
Mayor's Office
Planning/Economic Development
   Office of Planning
DC Consumer & Regulatory Agency
DC Office of Zoning
DC Municipal Regulations | Zoning
DC Dept. of Transportation

DC City Council
Tommy Wells

ANCs: 6D | 6B
David Garber (6D07)
Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04)
Police: MPD-1D | PSA 105

Other Organizations
National Capital Planning Commission
Earth Conservation Corps
Capitol Hill Restoration Society
Barracks Row Main Street
Marines Community Integrated Master Plan
 

 

News Publications
The Hill Rag
The Southwester

Other DC Neighborhood/City Blogs
SW DC - The Little Quadrant That Could
The Hill is Home
Congress Heights on the Rise
Greater Greater Washington
WashCycle
Penn Quarter Living
Frozen Tropics
The Triangle
14th and You
The 42
Beyond DC
Richard Layman
 




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