Since January, 2003
            
 (a random before-and-after moment)
May 20, 2006
January 6, 2019
3rd at K, Looking Northwest (see more)

As you approach the South Capitol Street exit on the Southwest Freeway, there's a small blue sign overhead, dwarfed by its siblings and probably all but invisible to everyday users of the highway.
It's a Gas - Food - Lodging sign, ubiquitous across this great land of ours and often a very (VERY) welcome sight, when the gas gauge has fallen below the Empty line and panic has begun setting in.
And while regulations generally say that an establishment can be located within three miles of the exit in order to allow for such a sign to be posted, in urban settings stressed low-fuel drivers have some level of expectation that when they get to the end of the ramp they will be greeted with at least one gas station within view, or a sign pointing where to go to find it and how far it will be.
Up until about nine years ago, that's exactly what would happen when taking the South Capitol exit. There were Exxons on the east side of the street (at I) and the west side (at K). There was a BP Amoco station at N, plus a Sunoco at Half and M and another Exxon at 11th and M if one wanted to stray a little or a lot.
But then they started to close, and were all gone by 2008, though I will note that not a single one of those sites has been developed as of now.
So, if you are a desperate driver looking for gas, and you see that sign, and you start to head south on South Capitol Street, where is the first gas station you'd come across? You'd have to be smartphone-equipped to find your way 3.4 miles to the King Gas Station on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, just north of the intersection with Malcolm X Avenue.
But more likely you'd stay on the Suitland Parkway, and perhaps your Spidey Sense might then lead you north on Alabama Avenue to the BP at the intersection with Alabama, Naylor, and Good Hope Roads, 4.6 miles away from your exit.
Chances are though that you'd follow the Suitland Parkway until you are alerted otherwise. There's no signs as far as Google Street View shows for stations at Naylor Road (4.8 miles) and Silver Hill Road (6.3 miles), though the stations at the latter can probably be seen once you passed the exits, launching just the sort of in-car recriminations that end up being the highlight of so many car trips.
Eventually you end up at a T-intersection with Rt. 4/Pennsylvania Avenue, where if you are lucky--and clearly you aren't--you will guess that you should turn left, and be rewarded with a BP about a mile later, a total of 14.1 miles and God knows how many minutes since you exited the Southwest Freeway.
If instead you decide to keep heading forward in your same general direction, you could be all the way to the Sunoco in Lothian before you at last find your station, though of course you would totally have run out of gas somewhere during the 19.7-mile divorce-inducing trek.
The reality is that Pennsylvania Avenue SE is a frantic driver's best bet from the South Capitol Street exit, either by getting back on 695, heading across the 11th Street Bridge, and then going north on DC-295 to the Sunoco at the Pennsylvania Avenue interchange (2.7 miles), or by getting yourself north of the freeway and then taking a pick of the stations at 9th, 12th, or 13th (we're just going to ignore the Platinum-Coated Exxon at 4th and Pennsylvania), all of which are 1.5 miles-ish from the exit.
Residents figure these things out, so there's not the same scenario of needing gas, seeing a sign, and expecting a relatively simple path to a fill-up. And it's not exactly a news flash that gas stations are becoming increasingly scarce in the downtown core.
But maybe this poor blue sign could be moved to the spiffy newish 11th Street/Southeast Blvd. exit.
Ditto on all of this for the similar blue signs pointing drivers coming south out of the 3rd Street Tunnel to the South Capitol Street exit.
(And to think that this was originally just going to be nothing more than a snarky tweet of the photo of the blue sign!)
Comments (9)
   
 
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Comments

Alan says: (1/11/15 8:42 PM)
While out walking the dog, I get stopped multiple times each month by people asking where the gas station is.


SWer says: (1/12/15 3:31 AM)
I moved to SW (from Nova) just as I began to see all of the gas stations disappear? I reached out to the SW Preisident Kael Anderson to see when any would return. His reply was that they would not. That DC was moving towards a more green, walkable/bikeable community. That's perfect for any other city....especially one that is not inviting visitors in via the baseball stadium & future stadiums. Further, what is proposed in the meantime? I moved here with a car & am not able to walk or bike to my clients in VA, MD, NJ & NY. This green plan by the SWNA would have been appreciated before I decided on moving to SW. However, I doubt seriously that SWNA really had any "play" in the matter. Ya think?


E. Masquinongy says: (1/12/15 10:41 AM)
Loss of gas station is not limited to urban areas, but is a nationwide issue: the total number of US gas stations has been in decline for years. link shows a decline from north of 200,000 in 1994 to 168,000 in 2004. The current number is 121,000.

What causes the loss of gas stations is the loss of profitability; high land cost and low margin for fuel sales. (Joe Mano says his company is mainly real estate investment.) It has little to do with "DC is moving towards a more green, walkable/bikeable community".


JES says: (1/12/15 11:36 AM)
Regardless of DC's green initiatives, DC isn't obligated to provide gas stations right off its highways for the convenience of through traffic. There are plenty of gas stations just off the highways in MD and VA and if you're on a road trip that's longer than 10 or 15 miles, you're guaranteed to pass at least one of them. As far as local residents buying gas, there are still plenty of places on Capitol Hill to get gas. You just have to drive over to PA Ave SE.


MJM says: (1/12/15 11:54 AM)
Oh you can get gas on Cap Hill but you might as well............(NSFW). Have you noticed the the little price gouger at PA and 4th SE is almost $2 more per gallon than places in Arlington?


JD says: (1/12/15 11:56 AM)
Why do you think I called it the Platinum Coated Exxon? :-)


Realist says: (1/12/15 11:57 AM)
Long time reader, first time commenter...LOL for "19.7-mile divorce-inducing trek"! Poor/missing/misleading signage is one of my pet peeves, and we certainly have plenty of those in the DC metro area. Desperately needing gas and following a gas sign to non-existent gas stations is infuriating. I had a flat on a rental car on I-95 recently and followed a blue gas station sign, only to drive over 5 miles with my heart in my mouth before I found a gas station. Perhaps the appropriate DC or US highway agency can make your suggested sign changes promptly and without the need for extensive studies and stakeholder meetings.


Tom says: (1/12/15 8:33 PM)
SW'er, try the Exxon and Sunoco up on Pa. Ave. near 12th/13 st., SE. Not that far.


Tom says: (1/12/15 8:33 PM)
SW'er, try the Exxon and Sunoco up on Pa. Ave. near 12th/13 st., SE. Not that far.

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Recent Crime Incidents Archive  
1300 B/O WATER ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 02/18/19
400 B/O M ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 02/17/19
400 B/O 2ND ST SE   THEFT FROM AUTO
Theft (theft From Motor Vehicle)
 02/16/19
70 B/O I ST SE   ASSAULT WITH A DANGEROUS WEAPON  02/15/19
500 B/O L ST SE   ROBBERY  02/14/19
1400 B/O SOUTH CAPITOL ST   THEFT FROM AUTO
Theft 2nd Degree (theft From Motor Vehicle)
 02/13/19
1100 B/O 2ND PLACE SE   THEFT FROM AUTO
Theft (theft From Motor Vehicle)
 02/13/19
200 B/O I ST SE   THEFT FROM AUTO
Theft 2nd Degree (theft From Motor Vehicle)
 02/13/19
200 B/O M ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 02/11/19
100 B/O L ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 02/10/19
500 B/O L ST SE   THEFT FROM AUTO
Theft 2nd Degree (theft From Motor Vehicle)
 02/09/19
1200 B/O HALF ST SE   THEFT
Theft First Degree (theft From Building)
 02/07/19
300 B/O L ST SE   THEFT FROM AUTO
Theft (theft From Motor Vehicle)
 02/07/19
1100 B/O NEW JERSEY AVE SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 02/05/19
1000 B/O 8TH ST SE   THEFT FROM AUTO
Theft (theft From Motor Vehicle)
 02/04/19
1100 B/O 1ST ST SE   THEFT FROM AUTO
Theft 2nd Degree (theft From Motor Vehicle)
 02/02/19
1100 B/O NEW JERSEY AVE SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 01/25/19
900 B/O M ST SE   ROBBERY  01/25/19
100 B/O M ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 01/24/19
1100 B/O NEW JERSEY AVE SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 01/24/19

Recent Issued Building Permits Archive  
4 I ST SE   
01/31/19 
USGBF WATERFRONT STATION LLC / TAMIKA STATON; OTIS
EN1900813 / SHOP DRAWING
Install 2 New Elevators - 3500LBS @ 350FPM
   
01/31/19 
USGBF WATERFRONT STATION LLC / TAMIKA STATON; OTIS
EN1900814 / SHOP DRAWING
Install 1 New Elevator - 4000LBS @ 350FPM
2 I ST SE   
01/28/19 
MCDONALDS CORPORATION / ROGER LEE MOORE
M1901295 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
01/30/19 
MCDONALDS CORPORATION / null
E1903887 / SUPPLEMENTAL
150 I ST SE   
01/31/19 
WILLIAM C SMITH CO / TAMIKA STATON; OTIS
EN1900205 / SHOP DRAWING
Install 1 New Elevator - 3500LBS @ 350FPM
   
01/31/19 
WILLIAM C SMITH CO / TAMIKA STATON; OTIS
EN1900206 / SHOP DRAWING
Install 2 New Elevators - 3500LBS @ 350FPM
   
01/31/19 
WILLIAM C SMITH CO / TAMIKA STATON; OTIS
EN1900207 / SHOP DRAWING
Install 1 New Elevator - 3500LBS @ 350FPM
   
01/31/19 
WILLIAM C SMITH CO / TAMIKA STATON; OTIS
EN1900208 / SHOP DRAWING
Install 1 New Elevator - 4000LBS @ 350FPM
   
01/31/19 
WILLIAM C SMITH CO / TAMIKA STATON; OTIS
EN1900209 / SHOP DRAWING
Install 1 New Elevator - 3500LBS @ 200FPM
   
02/04/19 
SQUARE 737 LLC / RUSSELL M COX
B1904148 / CONSTRUCTION
THIS PERMIT SERVES AS A REVISION TO B1709058 FOR ELEVATOR REVIEW ONLY
   
02/19/19 
SQUARE 737 LLC / DANIEL R. RUDE
P1903909 / SUPPLEMENTAL
(4) Fire pits (1) Water Coolers (4) Rooftop units Sanitary piping, Storm piping
   
02/21/19 
WILLIAM C SMITH CO / null
E1904635 / SUPPLEMENTAL
250 M ST SE   
01/29/19 
SQ 769 LLC / ILAKKIYA THAMBI
AH1900470 / CONSTRUCTION
Requesting after hour permit to CCTV the sewers
   
02/01/19 
SQ 769 LLC / ILAKKIYA THAMBI
AH1900481 / CONSTRUCTION
After hour permit to CCTV the sewers
   
02/15/19 
SQUARE 769 LLC / STEVEN CHEN
AH1900542 / CONSTRUCTION
After Hours Permit - Drilling of Piles
   
02/15/19 
SQUARE 769 LLC / JENSEN HUGHES
MVQ1900481 / CONSTRUCTION
NFPA 20 2010 EDITION, SECTION 4.12.2.1.1 AS REFERENCED BY 2012 IBC CODE SECTION 913.1. BUILDING PERMIT B1813732
   
02/21/19 
SQUARE 769 LLC / BRIAN C STROTT
B1813732 / CONSTRUCTION
9 story office building with 3 levels below grade. 188,000 gross sqft
861 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
02/05/19 
CONSOLIDATED RAIL CORPORATION / THOMAS M. KESSLER
P1903515 / SUPPLEMENTAL
(2) Gas generators
880 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
02/21/19 
880 NEW JERSEY AVENUE LLC / CLYDE HURST; CHRISTOPHER P COWIE
B1901729 / CONSTRUCTION
alterations to an existing 688 SF vacant space to add mechanical, plumbing and electrical fixtures to accommodate a future tenant. Future tenant fit out will be provided under a separate permit. This permit is for the landlord work only. The existing space is recently constructed building shell that has not been occupied by a previous tenant.
520 TINGEY ST SE   
02/01/19 
BROOKFIELD PROPERTIES / MAHMOUD KHACHAN
SB1900114 / CONSTRUCTION
Three soil borings, six-inch diameter, 25 feet deep.
227 TINGEY ST SE   
01/31/19 
FOREST CITY WASHINGTON / TAMIKA STATON; OTIS
EN1900809 / SHOP DRAWING
Install 1 New Elevator - 3500LBS @ 350FPM
   
01/31/19 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / TAMIKA STATON; OTIS
EN1900802 / SHOP DRAWING
Install 1 New Elevator - 3500LBS @ 350FPM
   
01/31/19 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / TAMIKA STATON; OTIS
EN1900803 / SHOP DRAWING
Install 1 New Elevator - 3500LBS @ 350FPM
   
01/31/19 
FOREST CITY WASHINGTON / TAMIKA STATON; OTIS
EN1900807 / SHOP DRAWING
Install 1 New Elevator - 3500LBS @ 350FPM
   
01/31/19 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / TAMIKA STATON; OTIS
EN1900808 / SHOP DRAWING
Install New Elevator - 4000LBS @ 350FPM
   
01/31/19 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / TAMIKA STATON; OTIS
EN1900799 / SHOP DRAWING
Install 1 New Elevator - 3500LBS @ 200FPM
   
01/31/19 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / TAMIKA STATON; OTIS
EN1900800 / SHOP DRAWING
Install 1 New Elevator - 3500LBS @ 200FPM
   
01/31/19 
FOREST CITY WASHINGTON / TAMIKA STATON; OTIS
EN1900806 / SHOP DRAWING
Install 2 New Elevators - 3500LBS @ 200FPM
   
02/08/19 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / DFM DEVELOPMENT SERVICES, LLC
B1901392 / CONSTRUCTION
Yards Parcel L1 - Revision to Building Permit # B1801074 to add build-out of hotel restaurants and bars, and to incorporate changes required by DC Water. Includes 1st floor restaurant with 132 indoor seats and 48-seat Summer Garden;1st floor bar with 59 seats and 24-seat Summer Garden; Rooftop Bar with 48 indoor seats; Rooftop restaurant with 67 indoor seats and 48-seat Summer Garden. TPR
   
02/08/19 
FOREST CITY WASHINGTON / DFM DEVELOPMENT SERVICES, LLC
AH1900513 / CONSTRUCTION
Yards Parcel L-2. Afterhours permit for the purpose of dismantling the tower crane on private property. Work to take place Friday, 2 / 8 / 19 and Saturday 2 / 9 / 19 between 7pm-10pm as well as Sunday, 2 / 10 / 19 between 10am-7pm.
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  
1117 3RD ST SE   12/06/18
$ 5,000,000
SQUARE 769 LLC WILLIAM C SMITH & CO INC
 


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