Since January, 2003
            
 Page Through from Before to After

I finally got my lazy self over to 11th Street with my camera this past weekend, and got quite the view of the soon-to-arrive Southeast Blvd., the reconstituted road between Barney Circle and 11th Street that runs along the path of the old sunken east end of the Southeast Freeway.
A kind official, taking a wild guess at who that old lady shooting photos of construction might possibly be, guided me in for a quick peek over the crest of the hill, eastward toward Barney Circle:
The new road will be two lanes in each direction, separated by a fair amount of non-road area, as you can see. At the new signalized intersection with 11th Street, the lanes align with the new ramps to and from the Southeast Freeway. Here's what the approach to 11th Street looked like in 2012, when the freeway still ran beneath 11th, along with the similar-but-higher-up view now. (Click to enlarge, and use the massive freeway pylons and flyover to orient yourself, especially in terms of the vertical change.)
As I have written about previously, there has been a fair amount of consternation over this road, both in terms of what some people feel is a rush to get it reopened along with much unhappiness when DDOT unveiled its initial concepts for the road's long-term design. The Office of Planning has since been working on a new set of designs to better meet a goal of reintegrating this area with the surrounding neighborhood, and last week there was a public meeting to go over these concepts, seen below and laid out in detail in the presentation slides.
When comparing these concepts to the road about to open, you can see that the general layout of the traffic lanes and available space are the same, though Concept B has just one lane in each direction just one new two-lane boulevard heading eastward while A and C have two lanes in each direction (UPDATED to fix how B is characterized). (And bike lanes! There are bike lanes!) However, all three would build up the boulevard so that it would become level with L Street, and would then allow 13th, 14th, and 15th streets to intersect with the boulevard for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
At right is a side view showing the proposed elevation for Concept A, running from L Street at left over to the train tracks and then down to the river.The CSX train tracks that run to the right of the road's footprints prevent further connection of these streets to M Street and the river, but there could be pedestrian bridges built to bring people across the tracks. (Note that all three concepts show the position of the planned 1333 M Street residential project just south of the boulevard.)
Two of the designs call for development within the huge median, either of low-rise multi-family buildings or townhouses or some combination thereof (at right is a rendering of the Concept A vision). The third design leaves it as a wide-open park space. And two of the three plans show the parking beneath the boulevard for buses that seems to be a requirement from DDOT's point of view.
I'm not going to go into great detail about what was said at the meeting--you can browse the presentation slides and read Capitol Hill Corner's report, which includes the many concerns of nearby residents, especially the ones who don't have much interest in connecting L, 13th, 14th, and 15th to this road.
At this stage, these truly are just concepts. There would next need to be a feasibility study/traffic flow analysis done by DDOT, an undertaking that has no timetable. There is also the issue of this land having been turned over to the city by the feds with the requirement that it be used for "transportation purposes," which raises questions about whether plopping residential buildings in the middle of it all would be an issue.
In the meantime, the new version of this road should open early in 2015.
Here's one more before-and-almost-after, looking eastward from down in the depths back in 2012 (left) and then an expanded version of the current view. Use the apartment building and retaining wall at left to orient. The embankment in the median in the "before" photo is the remnant of the ramps from the old 11th Street Bridges to and from RFK.
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E. Masquinongy says: (12/17/14 10:31 AM)
Awesome writeup, JD. Many thanks.


JD says: (12/17/14 10:48 AM)
Shoot, I meant to include a photo I took on Sunday from 12th and M, where you can see the difference in elevation between the new SE Blvd and the train tracks. This is the tiny version--I'll dig out a larger cropped version tonight:

link


Gamble Rogers says: (12/17/14 11:59 AM)
Totally agree with E. Masquinongy -- thanks for the great summary and links, JD. It's too bad that DDOT quietly moved ahead with plans for the freeway reopening without first completing the planning process. If DDOT started the process when they closed the old SE Freeway, the contractor could be building it now.

Any word on whether Charles Allen is interested in this issue? Based on DDOT's track record, I doubt this will move unless Allen keeps the pressure on.


JD says: (12/17/14 12:02 PM)
I said this on Twitter a little while ago--I wouldn't be surprised if this has a hard time moving forward until some developer eyes that big chunk of available land in the median and gets interested in building on it. Then people will be astonished at how fast it moves. :-)



202_cyclist says: (12/17/14 3:38 PM)
I support Concepts A and B because DC desperately needs more housing. Additionally, both Concepts A and B would help improve the feasibility of the 11th Street pedestrian bridge proposal by having more residents and activity nearby, rather than having the bridge isolated as it is now.

There are so many different moving parts to this. How would redeveloping the RFK site affect this? If done proprerly, we can have a really great section of waterfront from the Wharf development in Southwest all of the way to RFK and Kingman Island.


E. Masquinongy says: (12/18/14 10:02 AM)
All three plans show the rehabilitation of Barney Circle, reconnecting it to L Street (I think that is what it is) behind Congressional Cemetery. The new circle will interrupt straight-shot Pennsylvania Avenue that cuts through there now.

Is that really going to happen? Pennsylvania is a major commuter route that backs up pretty bad; I cannot imagine DDOT will do anything to make it worse.

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ASANA PARTNERS / DEBRA MARSHALL; THE DONOHOE COMPANIES INC
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FEDERAL CENTER LP / null
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