CSX is alerting nearby residents
and businesses that it will soon begin demolishing a 370-foot section of the existing Virginia Avenue Tunnel
between the tunnel's west entrance and 3rd Street, SE, a process expected to take several months and one that will include early morning starts, the intermittent stoppage of train traffic, and the use of excavators equipped with hydraulic hammers.
"Based on the railroad’s network-wide operational constraints, including consideration for maintaining scheduled commuter operations, the demolition work must occur during the early morning hours of each weekday: workday preparations and safety inspections will start as early as 4:30 a.m. and actual demolition activities will start as early as 5:30 a.m., continuing to late morning. This work is planned to begin on Monday, January 18, 2016, and is estimated to continue into late March or early April." There may also be overnight work on Sunday nights in late January and early February, beginning between 7 and 9 pm.
As one might imagine, this is not expected to be a quiet process.
In its newsletter about the demolition
, CSX says that it has "coordinated extensively" with DDOT to optimize when the work will occur in order to "limit the impact on the community to the greatest extent possible." Mitigation measures to be deployed include installing "noise-dampening blankets" on perimeter fencing and at "appropriate locations north, south, east and west of the demolition site."
The closest buildings to the demolition site are the DC government's 200 I Street
office (known to some as the renovated old Post Plant), which as you can see in the photo will have a front-row seat to the work. Then there are some Capitol Quarter
townhomes only a little further away, at 3rd Street.
The company also says it will be using "best-in-class demolition equipment to minimize mechanical noise generated from the equipment itself," and that the plan is to have the demolition debris collected by trucks operating within the tunnel itself that will then haul the material westward along the path of the tracks to the open yard at New Jersey Avenue.
In addition, construction crews and vehicle operators are being directed "minimize travel near adjacent residences and businesses and restricting all possible site access to only the western entrances from H Street and 2nd Street before normal project hours, limiting or avoiding entirely any traffic at the 3rd Street entrance to the work area before 7 a.m."
And because the work can't be done in the dark, there will be temporary lighting erected as well, which is supposed to be "directed away from adjacent properties."
With good timing, the next quarterly open house on the project is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 28 at the Courtyard Marriott, but CSX is also ready to answer questions on the work through its web site
or the project's toll-free number, 800-494-1049.
Would it make you feel any better to know that in the same newsletter CSX says that the project is "on schedule" to be completed in 2018? The company says that "significant progress" was made in 2015, and that "more than half of the necessary support pilings have been drilled, 4,500 truckloads of soil have been excavated, [and] 4,400 cubic yards of concrete have been poured[.]"
Yeah, I didn't think so.
In the meantime, here are two photos I took earlier this month that don't really have to do with the demolition itself, but do show the progress of excavation along Virginia Avenue west of 7th Street, and then peering down into the hole west of 5th Street to see just how far down they've gotten.