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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel
See JDLand's CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel Project Page
for Photos, History, and Details
In the Pipeline
1244 South Capitol
Yards/Parcel O
Virginia Ave. Tunnel
New Douglass Bridge
JBG/Akridge/Half St.
Ex-Monument/Half St.
Yards/Parcel A
Southeast Blvd.
Yards/Icon Theater
1333 M St.
Capper Apts.
250 M St.
New Marine Barracks
Nat'l Community Church
Factory 202/Yards
Congressional Square
1000 South Capitol
Parc Riverside ('14)
Twelve12/Yards ('14)
Lumber Shed ('13)
Boilermaker Shops ('13)
Camden South Capitol ('13)
Canal Park ('12)
Capitol Quarter ('12)
225 Virginia/200 I ('12)
Foundry Lofts ('12)
1015 Half Street ('10)
Yards Park ('10)
Velocity Condos ('09)
Teague Park ('09)
909 New Jersey Ave. ('09)
55 M ('09)
100 M ('08)
Onyx ('08)
70/100 I ('08)
Nationals Park ('08)
Seniors Bldg Demo ('07)
400 M ('07)
Douglass Bridge Fix ('07)
US DOT HQ ('07)
20 M ('07)
Capper Seniors 1 ('06)
Capitol Hill Tower ('06)
Courtyard/Marriott ('06)
Marine Barracks ('04)
Posts on Food/Fun
Retail News

Go to Full Blog Archive
68 Blog Posts Since 2003
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* SOUTH CAPITOL SPEED CAMERAS: MPD has announced the latest batch of speed camera deployments, and it includes South Capitol Street between O Street and Potomac Avenue--alongside Nationals Park and just north of the Douglass Bridge--in both directions. "The 30 day educational phase, or 'warning period', will commence on or about March 23, 2015. During this period, violators will receive warning citations. After the 30 day warning period, MPD will begin issuing live moving citations to violators."
* NATS PARK MAGNETOMETERS: There was a media event on Monday to unveil the new magnetometers at all entrances to Nats Park. (I'll note that this sign about the procedures will probably not be met with glee.) I wasn't at the event, but I did get my own shot on Sunday of the new installations at the Center Field Gate, as you see at right. The new security screening procedures will be in place starting with the April 4 exhibition game against the Yankees. Arrive early! (WaPo)
* US-NY CIRCULATOR CHANGE: "From 3/29, catch the Union Station bus to Navy Yard only at Mass Ave and Columbus Cir 1st & 2nd St stops discontinued." (@DCCirculator; more here)
* YARDS PARK WORK: "We're almost ready for Splash Season! Please 'pardon our dust' as we prepare the water features and basin. We'll update here when finished!" (@YardsPark)
* PEEKING AT CSX: At right is a shot of the now-cleared area just south of the freeway and behind the 70 and 100 Capitol Yards apartment buildings. This work has had hearts aflutter that there could be some new development coming there, but it is actually just CSX clearing its considerable tract of land as prep work continues for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel.
* PEEKING AT EVERYTHING ELSE: I'm going to have to recalibrate my normal mission to over-document projects in blog posts, given the breadth of work underway in the neighborhood. That said, I can't pass up a quick sharing of the cellphone photos I took Sunday afternoon while peeking through fences at the Homewood Suites, 82 I, Hampton Inn/Ballpark Square, and 909 Half sites. (Click all to enlarge.) It would have been even better if I had included the other holes in the ground, at 1111 New Jersey, 800 New Jersey, and Florida Rock, but I failed.
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, South Capitol St., Nationals Park, Traffic Issues

Everybody enjoying their snow day? (Except for those of you who work for places that don't close, like, say, daily newspapers.) This was a nice little snow, but I remain spoiled by the ghost of 2009-10, the winter that this snow lover will always remember. (This Nats Park shot is from Feb. 7, 2010, in between the two mammoth snowstorms. It was a pretty different neighborhood that I traisped around in getting photos....)
On to the tidbits:
* SNOW CANCELLATIONS: The BID's Mardi Gras celebration planned for today has been cancelled (except for beads still being handed out), and the Van Ness Elementary fundraiser at Nando's has been rescheduled for March 24. (But the latter gives me an excuse to mention that I have finally built a Van Ness project page!)
* SNOW CANCELLATIONS/CSX: Today was supposed to be the hearing on the Committee of 100's move for an injunction to prevent CSX from moving forward on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel until the lawsuit itself is heard, but Mother Nature has forced a postponement, to a date to be determined. But you can still read the Post's preview piece on the hearing.
* TRAPEZE SCHOOL MOVE: It had started to seem like the Trapeze School's long-planned move to the southwest corner of Spooky Park at New Jersey and Tingey wasn't necessarily a given, but HillNow reports that the school has now confirmed the move, likely to happen this fall. In the meantime, there's a zoning case to be heared in March to allow them to stay in their current spot during this year, while their new home is prepped.
* SECURITY THEATER: The photo of construction outside the Nats Park centerfield gate at right that I posted a few weeks back brought much speculation, but it's now confirmed that the work was/is to install magnetometers (WaPo).
* CHANGE AT WILLIE'S: Eater DC reports that both chef Rock Harper and his brother/general manager Ed Howard have left Willie's Brew & Que. No hints on why.
* THE GLOBAL REACH OF SNARK: Technically off-topic, but I learned last week that tossing out snarky comments on Twitter can sometimes have a reach beyond just my followers. (See paragraph #5.) Thank heavens I spelled "artisanal" correctly.
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, Nationals Park, trapezeschool, Van Ness Elementary, willies, Parcel A/Yards

Tonight a gaggle of representatives from CSX and Clark/Parsons held an open house to provide information on what will happen during the first four months of the multiyear project to expand the Virginia Avenue Tunnel.
If you were unable to attend, the meeting boards are here, covering a wide range of topics.
Of greatest interest to observers outside of the "front row" homes along Virginia Avenue would probably be the boards laying out the planned flow of construction during the project's first four months, from the construction of fences to the relocation of public utilities to the removal of trees (all those little red dots--ow) to the installation of temporary sidewalks and driveways.
(Best to fire up the PDF and zoooooom in to read the legend and the graphics on the construction maps, because there's no way I can summarize it all here.)
The first part of the project will be to build the new companion tunnel immediately to the south of the existing tunnel, which CSX says is expected to last 18-20 months. The work won't happen all at once along all 10 blocks of the project, nor will it proceed in an orderly wave from west to east. The first eight-foot-high fences will go up west of 2nd Street and in the "pocket park" block between 4th and 5th, and with utility relocation happening throughout the first four months across most of the other blocks along Virginia.
During this first 18ish-month phase, traffic coming off of the Southeast Freeway will be able to continue eastward on Virginia Avenue to 8th Street, albeit with a reduction in the number of lanes. (No, the freeway ramp isn't going to be closed for five years.)
When work then shifts to the expansion of the existing tunnel, the stretch of Virginia between 5th and 7th will be closed and traffic coming off the freeway will be routed onto the portion of Virginia north of the freeway, which will become a two-way street during this part of the project.
The cross streets--3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th, and 11th--will remain open throughout construction, albeit with temporary closures to build the decking across the tunnel trench. (No, the cross streets aren't going to be closed for five years.)
One new-to-me tidbit this evening is that the little stub of I Street east of 4th that runs around the south side of the pocket park will be permanently closed, with the green space of that block reconfigured, and with Virginia Avenue shifted northward to align it correctly with the rest of the street. (UPDATE: Note that the drawings show that during construction [and I presume afterward] the stub will stay open up to the driveway between St. Paul's and the CQ houses. The stub of the stub, as it were. I am asking for clarification.)
Air, noise, and vibration monitoring stations will be set up soon at a number of locations along the construction zone, as part of the overall construction mitigation plan.
CSX has agreed to a number of items outside the tunnel construction itself both as part of the Section 106 historical/archaeological agreement and community mitigation plans. The tunnel's portal stones will be reused, as will the original Virginia Avenue paving stones, and the control tower at 2nd and Virginia SW will be restored. (And interpretive signs! Let's not forget those!) They have also pledged to restore Virginia Avenue Park and nstall improved lighting and traffic signals/crosswalks, a better connection to Garfield Park, a new bike path, wider sidewalks, and a new dog park.
For the "front row" residents along Virginia Avenue, there is also the Residential Mitigation Plan, which includes $500 payments for 42 months, an additional payment of as much as $75,000 if a resident sells their home during construction (to "offset the sale prices required to market [the] home"). There is also a pre-construction inspection process underway in case a resident needs to file a claim for damage during the project.
And now that I've tried to hit the highest of high points, and knowing that you didn't click on the PDF link despite my telling you to, here are the other display boards of most general interest (though you're still going to want the PDF to read the maps):
* Safety
The big question of course is, when will this "real" construction start? While some site preparation is already underway, the company must receive approval of public space permits from the city before the fences go up, which hasn't yet happened.
Then there is the lawsuit filed by the Committee of 100 to try to get a new environmental impact study, which would of course delay the project considerably (it's almost like that's their plan!). While the case itself won't be heard until June, on Feb. 17 there will be a hearing on C100's request for an injunction to prevent the city from issuing permits for work on the tunnel during the course of the lawsuit.
On Jan. 26, Judge Christopher Cooper heard--and denied--the group's request to subpoena a wide range of CSX documents "about information that wasn’t addressed in the final environmental impact statement about the project or in the administrative record," according to (subscription req.).
CSX representatives have told me that, until the judge tells them otherwise, they will continue to move forward on the project.
I point you to my Virginia Avenue Tunnel project page for more information and for photos of the length of the street, and to CSX's Virginia Avenue Tunnel web site as well.
All told, the project is supposed to last somewhere between 30 and 42 months. Give or take.
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel

This morning's Approved Building Permits feed included an entry that you might imagine immediately caught my eye:
I wondered, Is this the biggie? The one that would allow start of construction on the expanded Virginia Avenue Tunnel, if lawsuits and judges don't bring a halt (temporarily or permanently) to the proceedings?
I contacted CSX, and was told that no, this permit is just to allow the start of site-preparation work on CSX property at both ends of the tunnel, and does not cover any work that might occur on public space.
Construction trailers are expected to appear within the next few weeks at the New Jersey Avenue site, and there will also be "some minor work on CSX property at the north end of the tunnel."
As for the project itself, to expand the single-track tunnel into two one-track tunnels, those permits are not yet issued.
If you have questions about this permit or about any other part of the project (!!!), CSX is holding an open house on Thursday, Feb. 5, from 4:30 to 7:30 pm at the Courtyard by Marriott at 140 L St., SE., in the Admiral Ballroom.
In the announcement of the open house, CSX says that it will be providing information "about upcoming construction activities near the Virginia Avenue Tunnel, including the general locations where activity will occur, the type of activities and a preliminary schedule."
There will be "information displays detailing constructions activities, locations and timelines," and "representatives of CSX and Clark/Parsons, CSX’s design-build contractor, will be on hand throughout the event to answer questions."
But of greater interest may be the ability to register for the "CSX-funded pre-construction inspection program," which will allow construction-area residents and property owners to "document the current interior and exterior condition of properties and will help expedite processing of any construction-related claims that may be made in the future."
The company is offering a free shuttle to the hotel from the Capper Seniors building at 900 5th St., SE.
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* M STREET CLOSURE: DDOT has put out the word that M Street SE between 8th and 11th will be closed on Saturday, Dec. 13 from 6 am to 9 pm, weather permitting, to complete final surface paving and striping between 10th and 11th.
* CSX OUTREACH: There may be a lawsuit pending, but that hasn't stopped CSX from giving their Virginia Avenue Tunnel web site a big makeover, and also rebranding the existing Twitter account as @VATNews. The web site has all sorts of new sections and documents, though I would imagine Opinions Differ in some quarters about the contents.
* METRO PAYMENT PILOT: Navy Yard-Ballpark is one of the Metro stations that's part of WMATA's Payment Pilot program, testing out the "secure fare payment system of the future" that will allow the use of NFC-equipped credit cards and smartphones. So, if you've seen a shiny new fare gate being installed at the station lately, this is why. The program is expected to start in January, and you can still apply to be a tester
* BOATHOUSE EXPANSION: (Boats are transportation, right?) The Hill Rag reports that there are plans underway to renovate facilities along Boathouse Row, the stretch of marinas and buildings along the west side of the Anacostia between the 11th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue bridges. The Historic Anacostia Boating Association outlined for ANC 6B last month a proposed facility with a 228-slip marina, a pier for water taxis, and a boat ramp, along with other outdoor activity space. Fundraising is apparently now underway.
(And of course I'm sure you already read my post from yesterday about the Circulator's planned extension of the Navy Yard route into Southwest.)
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More posts: Boathouse Row, CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, Metro/WMATA, Traffic Issues

In a move that will surprise absolutely no one, the Committee of 100 on the Federal City is announcing today that a lawsuit is being filed to challenge last week's Record of Decision on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel.
In a press release, the committee's vice president, Monte Edwards, is quoted thusly: "The official Record of Decision fails to address the severe safety and security impacts the proposed project will have on the immediate community and on Capitol Hill, the constraint on the expansion of passenger and commuter rail service in the District, and the pre-approval by DDOT of the project before any environmental review had been conducted."
OJ Simpson-era readers will recognize this phrasing: "Edwards also emphasized that there is no need to rush-to-judgment on the CSX proposal. The EIS expressly states that the current CSX tunnel has 'decades' left of useful service."
Also an Edwards quote: "Issuance of the Record of Decision ends the administrative process, and litigation is the only option to obtain a new EIS that addresses our concerns. Until we have a new EIS, no permits should be granted by the District or federal officials."
The group also plans to file a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop any further action until the court issues a ruling.
There will be a press conference on the front steps of the US District Courthouse this morning at 11 am.
UPDATE: Here's the statement from CSX in response:
"The reconstruction of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel has been approved by the Federal and District of Columbia governments following a lengthy public oversight, review and comment process that shaped the final design of this project. CSX is committed to doing this project the right way, safely, respecting our neighbors and working closely with residents and businesses to minimize impacts and to ensure that they are informed about construction plans. Modernizing this tunnel will help alleviate freight and passenger rail delays and stimulate economic growth by removing a significant transportation bottleneck. CSX believes the project should move forward promptly."
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This afternoon--5 pm on Election Day--the Federal Highway Administration released its Record of Decision on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project, which approves the chosen preferred alternative for the project, while also approving "short-term closures of I-695 ramps at 6th and 8th Streets SE" and "occupancy of a portion of the 11th Street Bridge right-of-way located on I-695."
It also brings to a close the NEPA process on the project that began a thousand years ago, give or take. (Okay, it took about three years.)
This design will replace the current tunnel with two new permanent tunnels, constructed sequentially. It is expected to take somewhere between 30 to 42 months to complete.
CSX immediately issued a press release saying that this decision will enable the company "to complete the tunnel’s design and initiate the construction permitting process" with the District Department of Transportation.
CSX's release also says that "major construction is expected to begin in the next several months, following receipt of the required permits." But somehow I am guessing that the path from this ROD to shovels in the ground isn't necessarily a smooth one, especially since the Committee of 100 has already let it be known that any decision short of an indefinite delay of the project would result in a lawsuit.
The entire ROD document is close to 300 pages long--feel free to dive right in.
I'll update as more statements, stories, and rending of garments come in.
UPDATE: Here's the Post's initial story, and a lengthy quote from it: "CSX Transportation can now move into the local permitting phase, followed by what could be about three and a half years of construction. Although the company must obtain permits from the city to move forward, there is every indication that the process will go smoothly. Even before completion of the mandated National Environmental Policy Act review, the D.C. Department of Transportation had agreed to let CSX take over the roads near the tunnel for the purpose of rebuilding it. Crews could start securing the site as early as this fall, officials said."
UPDATE II: A quote from page 3 of the ROD, about the approach to the tunnel work: "Implementation of the Selected Alternative will involve replacing the existing Virginia Avenue Tunnel with two new permanent tunnels constructed sequentially. The south side tunnel will be constructed first as train traffic will continue to use the existing tunnel. Once completed, train traffic will shift to the new south side tunnel, and the existing tunnel will be demolished. Most of the north wall of the existing tunnel will remain in place so that the structural integrity of the I-695 viaduct will not be affected. Following demolition, the north side tunnel will be constructed. At the end of construction, each new tunnel will have a single railroad track with enough vertical clearance to allow double-stack intermodal container freight trains. "
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel

A few tidbits to throw your way, but first let's start off with one of my favorite photos, taken eight years ago yesterday while standing at 1st and M. You can see more shots from Sept. 17, 2006 in the archive.
* UNLEASHED BY PETCO: It was rumored back in May, and there's still been no official announcement from Forest City, but a building permit issued last week seems to be the final confirmation that Unleashed by Petco is coming to the Boilermaker Shops.
* CSX: The Post reports that "It could be a few weeks before the Federal Highway Administration releases a decision on the proposed expansion of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel in Southeast Washington." The "Record of Decision" hasn't yet been finalized. In the meantime, the Committee of 100 has let it be known that any decision short of an indefinite delay will result in a lawsuit. (Shocker!)
* HALF STREET: WBJ talks to new Half Street poobah Jair Lynch about his group's plans for the Half Street hole, now that they've bought it from Monument Realty. "While the project is expected to remain a mix of residential, retail and hotel, Lynch said he is now considering condos in addition to apartments, tweaking unit sizes, adding green features and amenities and bringing in a 'completely different retail mix.'" (Longtime area observers note that in Monument's original plans, the two residential buildings at the south end of the block were planned to be condos and apartments. And of course it's easy to "change" the retail mix when there isn't any to begin with.) They hope to get underway by 2016, WBJ says.
* MLB LATE NIGHT WITH METRO: WTOP: "Although the Washington Nationals have clinched the NL East, the team has not reached a deal with Metro to keep trains running past midnight during home playoff games." The Metro policy is that the Nationals would have to pay at $29,500 deposit to stay open an extra hour during the week; some of you may remember that back in 2012, the Nats did not step forward to pay, so Livingsocial offered to foot the bill.

These are all items I had hoped to write about more fully, but at this point I'd better just pass them along.
* FLORIDA ROCK: MRP Realty is now in control of the land at the Florida Rock site that will become the 350-unit apartment building that is the first phase of RiverFront on the Anacostia. A $65 million loan is expected to be finalized soon, and the developers say that the project will "commence construction by late summer 2014." (WBJ)
* BEVY OF PERMITS: If you browse the teeny type in the right margin of the JDLand home page, you'll already know that building permits have been approved in the past few weeks for the apartment projects at 1111 New Jersey and 1331 4th Street (aka Parcel N at the Yards, aka Arris). A tenant layout permit has also been approved for CBS Radio's first-floor performance studio at 1015 Half Street. Also, fresh off its zoning approvals, developers of the Homewood Suites at 50 M have filed for shoring/sheeting/excavation permits.
* LATEST ON 1333 M: Late last year plans were filed with the Zoning Commission for a three-building, 673-unit residential project on M Street east of the 11th Street Bridges. After some delay, a Dec. 1 hearing date has been set, and WBJ takes a look at recent filings, including some new renderings.
* THE YARDS, ONE PIECE AT A TIME: "Rather than purchase all 42 acres up front, Forest City buys each parcel from the General Services Administration as it is ready to build. The latest: The $28.37 million acquisition of 1331 Fourth St. SE, site of the 327-unit Arris apartment project." Total land costs so far across the Yards? $46 million. (WBJ)
* TUNNEL LATEST: With a council hearing about the project coming on Aug. 26, the Federal Highway Administration has postponed its final decision on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel until at least Sept. 15. But the delay is affecting residents and businesses. (WaPo)
* SCHOOL BOUNDARIES: The planned reopening of Van Ness Elementary next year passes another milestone, as its boundaries get included in the city's revamped map, released earlier this week. The final boundaries cross into Southwest south of M Street, shifting some students over to Van Ness from Amidon-Bowen, "to better align school building capacity with population and with boundary participation rates, and to support racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, where possible." (WaPo)

The second public meeting about the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Final Environmental Impact Statement has now been scheduled for 6:30 pm on Thursday, July 31, at the Capitol Skyline hotel at South Capitol and I streets, SW.
The release from the tunnel folks says that this meeting "will include a presentation responsive to input by citizens from the public meeting held on July 1, 2014 with a question and answer period focused on the July 1 input."
This is the additional meeting sought by DC delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, along with the extension of the comment period from 30 to 60 days.
The official web site has the presentation and boards from the July 1 meeting.
I already posted the video animation released to show how the construction would go, and now I see this additional video showing the completed east and west portals (entrances) to the tunnel, along with how Virginia Avenue is expected to look after construction is finished.
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, meetings

From the Washington Post's piece on the extension of the comment period on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Final EIS, a video provided by DDOT and FHWA showing the expected progression for the tunnel's construction.
I am miffed, however, that the animation doesn't include a red-headed photographer sticking a camera over the fences.
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel

A gentle reminder that the public meeting to discuss the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel is tonight (July 1) at 6:30 pm at the Capitol Skyline Hotel at South Capitol and I Streets, SW.
It will no doubt be your garden variety public meeting--residents filling the seats and asking pointed questions, public officials carefully making well-vetted statements, consultants scurrying around the perimeter consulting, and opponents protesting out front beforehand.
UPDATE: Before the meeting even gets off the ground, DC Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton has announced that USDOT has agreed to extend the comment period from 30 to 60 days (though she had asked for 90) and to hold a second public meeting before the end of the review period.
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, meetings

(I am, as they say, out of pocket, so I hope you will have patience with me for being in cut and pasting mode today.)
Here is the release sent out on Wednesday from the DCSafeRail folks about the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Final Environmental Impact Statement released last week:


(June 19, 2014) Washington, DC--According to documents in the Environmental Impact Statement for the CSX Tunnel at Virginia Avenue, SE, released last Friday, it appears that the District Department of Transportation has predetermined the EIS and apparently rubber-stamped CSX’s proposal for a partially open-trench construction project that will carry hazardous cargo less than a mile from the U.S. Capitol and through the heart of a growing residential/business community. It also appears to contradict Mayor Gray’s promise, made to over 400 people in January, that “…there is no way that we are going to allow people’s safety and security concerns to be compromised” by the CSX Tunnel.

In Appendix A (pg. 47) of the Final EIS appears to show that DDOT entered into a previously unknown agreement with CSX to grant occupancy permits to expand the tunnel’s right of way beyond its existing footprint. Additional agreements apparently indicate that upon conclusion of the project, CSX would be entitled to a permanent right-of-way to cover the expanded tunnel.

“We hope that the District Government has not thrown us under the freight train,” said Helen Douglas, a member of DCSafeRail, the coalition committed to the health, safety and security of the people in and around the CSX proposed expansion site. “We ask Mayor Gray to honor his commitment to us and withdraw any pre-EIS approval for these permits and conduct a true EIS with real alternatives to the CSX Tunnel fully analyzed.”

DCSafeRail will also ask the City Council, through Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmember Mary Cheh, chair of the Council’s transportation oversight committee, and our own Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells to hold hearings on the whole CSX Tunnel EIS.

The CSX Tunnel project will route freight trains with hazardous cargo, including occasional Bakken crude oil, through a partially open construction trench for almost four years. DDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) prepared the EIS.

“At best, this indicates that the District government is failing to uphold basic principles of good government, including transparency and accountability,” said Douglas.” At worst, it suggests that the environmental study is a farce because it rubber-stamps the CSX open-trench proposal.”

The Washington Post had a short piece on this response, with DDOT's response to the response: "DDOT spokesman Reggie Sanders said in an e-mail that the permit relative to Virginia Avenue SE and adjacent streets 'will have no force or effect until a build alternative is approved via Record of Decision.' Other requests for comment regarding the city’s commitment to the project have not been answered."
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I'm not going to wait to post until I read the whole thing (448 pages!), so here it is.
But I glanced at the Executive Summary, and here's the money graf:
"Preferred Alternative - Two New Tunnels (originally Concept 5 and identified as Alternative 3 in the Draft EIS): Alternative 3 was selected as the Preferred Alternative. It involves replacing the existing Virginia Avenue Tunnel with two new permanent tunnels constructed sequentially (see Figure S-2). Each new tunnel will have a single railroad track with enough vertical clearance to allow double-stack intermodal container freight trains. A new parallel south side tunnel will be built first as trains continue operating in the existing Virginia Avenue Tunnel. After the south side tunnel is completed, train operations will switch over to the new tunnel and the existing Virginia Avenue Tunnel will be demolished and rebuilt. With the exception of operating in a protected open trench for approximately 230 feet immediately east of the 2nd Street portal (within the Virginia Avenue SE segment between 2nd and 3rd Streets SE), trains will operate in enclosed tunnels throughout construction under the Preferred Alternative. Throughout most of the length of the entire rebuilt tunnel, the two tunnels will be separated by a center wall. This center wall will be the new centerline of the two tunnels, and it will be aligned approximately 25 feet south of the existing tunnel centerline, between 2nd and 9th Streets SE. Due to new columns associated with the rebuilt 11th Street Bridge, the tunnels will be separated on the east end starting just west of Virginia Avenue Park, resulting in two separate single-track tunnels and openings at the east portal. "
I will keep reading, and either update this post or write in the comments thread below as I see more items of note.
UPDATE: Here's the Post on the release. "Following the meeting, the federal agency is expected to release a record of decision, which could give CSX approval to seek construction permits for the project. CSX would need to go through the District’s permitting process before construction could begin, but company officials say they hope to break ground on the $170 million project this year."
UPDATE II: The VAT fact sheet, with these bullet points on pledged improvements post-construction:
* Improving access to Garfield Park for wheelchair-dependent individuals (page 5-65);
* Building a continuous bike path between 2nd and 9th Streets connecting Garfield Park and Virginia Avenue Park (page 5-98);
* Straightening the alignment of Virginia Avenue SE within the 400 block to be consistent with the original L’Enfant Plan (page 5-59);
* Improving the traffic lane configuration between 5th/6th and 8th Streets to provide safer and calmer traffic conditions (appendix M, roadway layout sheets 2 and 3 of 4); and
* Installing landscaping and improved street lighting, traffic signals and crosswalks (page 5-84).
UPDATE III: In the EIS itself, I recommend reading Section S.7, "Key Issues Raised by Community and Responses," which starts on page 52 of the PDF. It's a big FAQ about a lot of very small details that have come up over the months/years.
UPDATE IV: From a DDOT press release (and I'm sure from somewhere in the EIS as well), some additional key features and mitigations:
* The dual tunnel construction ensures that there will be no trains operating in an open trench near residences;
* Cross streets will be maintained throughout construction;
* Residential mitigations include a one-time payment to the Arthur Capper senior residence ($250,000), a payment of $500/month to those residences on the front line of construction, and possible reconciliation payments of up to $75,000 to certain owners that need to sell their homes;
* Enhancements fund for the project area ANC;
* Creation of a historic preservation fund;
* Reconstruction of Virginia Avenue SE to include improved sidewalks, new trees, and a bike lane;
* ADA improvements to the Garfield Park; and
* A new dog park at the Virginia Avenue Park.
CSX will also enter into District resident hiring and local business (CBE) utilization agreements.
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Word is hitting the streets that the public meeting for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel's Final Environmental Impact Statement is scheduled for July 1, from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. Presumably the actual document will be available before then...?
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, meetings

Yesterday was the day that opponents of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel got to testify before the DC council about their concerns.
While the hearing was technically about a proposed resolution asking Congress to hold their own hearing on the project, those opposed to the plan and CSX both used the time to go through the pro and con arguments that have been aired many times in recent months.
The media was very much in attendance: the Washington Post, City Paper, NBC4, and WUSA9 all covered the event.
If you want to watch the hearing for yourself, you can watch the on-demand video, once it's actually posted.
At this point, everything is pretty much in a holding pattern until the Environmental Impact Statement is released, which should be, as you'd expect, Any Minute Now.
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel

* UNARMED: Since I watched it get built (and remember the problems it's had since the beginning), I'll pass along the story of the woes of the Curly W scoreboard clock. (WaPo)
* THIS WEEK IN CSX: In case you haven't heard, a new date has been set for the DC council's hearing on a proposed resolution to tell the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to have a hearing about the Virginia Avenue Tunnel. It's now set for April 30 at 10 am (moved from March 25), and the announcement explains how you can be heard at this hearing, should you choose to be heard.
Other than that, I got nuthin. Unless you know someone who grew up in northeastern Wyoming many years ago and might be in this batch of uncaptioned photos handed down through my family. (Great-aunt Lucy was a teacher out there, so there's lots of pictures of kids in front of small rural schoolhouses.)
UPDATE: To flesh these tidbits out a bit, I'll add this just-posted WaPo piece on when the Nats should sell naming rights to the ballpark.
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, Nationals Park

* CSX I: Eleanor Holmes Norton tells USDOT to get moving: "I ask that you help ensure the prompt release of the Final EIS for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project so that the surrounding community is aware of the preferred alternative, any impacts this project may have on them, and any mitigation and benefits to the surrounding community."
* CSX II: ANC 6B writes to Mayor Gray: "We have serious concerns about the VAT project proposed in the draft environmental impact statement, and we urge you to ensure those concerns are adequately addressed before the District issues the requisite approvals for the project."
* POCKET CHANGE: The Wall Street Journal reports that "Investors who own the storied Hawk ‘n’ Dove bar and other Capitol Hill eating spots owe more than $9 million to D.C. restaurateur Xavier Cervera and his partners who sold the restaurants to them in late 2012." An earlier WSJ piece gives a wider view of the mess of financing this all appears to be.
* FOR THE RECORD: In Precinct 131 (Near Southeast), Muriel Bowser received 40 percent of the vote, Tommy Wells 30 percent, and Vince Gray 24 percent. And in the Ward 6 council race, Charles Allen beat Darrel Thompson 57-43. A grand total of 444 people cast ballots out of the 2,085 registered voters in the precinct. So, yay to 21.29 percent of you!
* BLUEJACKET AND BASEBALL: It seems like the brewery has already been here forever, but Bluejacket is about to embark on its first season of providing refreshments to Nats fans. They've announced that they will be "tailgating" on their patio at 10 am Friday for the season opener, and that their new outdoor grill will be open for business "weather permitting, all season long Thursdays through Sundays from 11 am until 10 pm and on all game days beginning two hours before the first pitch."
* SWEET!: Sweetgreen has gotten its tenant layout permit to begin the buildout of its space in Twelve12, on 4th Street across from Bluejacket.
* THROWBACK THURSDAY: I did a bit of purging in my office over the weekend, and found at least two museum-worthy items (here and here). That's in addition to the Canal Park groundbreaking shovel I still trip over on a regular basis.

* CSX NEAR: The Kojo Nnamdi Show hosted on Monday a roundtable on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project, with David Garber and others. You can listen to it here.
* CSX FAR: Heads will explode, but I will pass along that CSX's J&L Tunnel Modification project has recently won two engineering awards. What is this tunnel? "The J&L Tunnel was constructed in the 1880s as part of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad to allow trains to run beneath the former J&L Steel Company’s Pittsburgh Works Southside facility." And what was the project? CSX "increased the vertical clearance of a 130-year-old tunnel running through Pittsburgh’s SouthSide Works, a mixed-use residential and commercial development. CSX worked closely with public officials, local businesses and residents to minimize noise and disruption during construction. Upon completion of the tunnel work, CSX restored trees and plantings, and invested in landscaping improvements that left the overlying Tunnel Park a more usable recreational space."
* HAMPTON: The building permit has been approved for the 168-room Hampton Inn just north of Nats Park. (The shoring permit was approved back in December.)
* THE MASTER PLAN: DDOT has officially released its update to the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative Master Plan. This covers projects like the new Douglass Bridge and South Capitol Street makeover, the Barney Circle/Southeast Boulevard redo, the M Street SE/SW transportation study, the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, and all other manner of projects and studies for infrastructure updates and improvements in the area. (Though, at 194 pages, maybe the Executive Summary will be a good place to start.) If I were a good blogger, I'd write a big in-depth entry about this, but, well, we know the answer to that these days....
* POLITICS: The Post grades the recent Southwest/Near Southeast Mayoral Forum, and the Hill Rag looks closely at the Ward 6 council race. Primary day is now less than a month away, on April 1. And note that tonight (March 4) there is a forum with the candiates at 7 pm at Westminster Church at 400 I St. SW, and there will be a Ward 6 candidate forum on education issues on Thursday, March 6, at 6:30 pm at Stuart-Hobson Middle School.
* DE-W'ED: Have you noticed that the Curly Ws are gone from various freeway signs? Here's why.
* PASTOR MILLS: Unfortunately, a sad piece of news to mention is that Karen Mills, pastor of the St. Paul's church at 4th and I SE, passed away on Feb. 21. I only met her a few times, but she was a very welcoming and pleasant presence, and condolences go out to her family, friends, and members of the church.
Anything else catching peoples' eyes?

* PREPARING TO DIG: After a couple of articles highlighting residents' opposition to the Virginia Avenue Tunnel, the Post takes a look at how CSX and some rail experts view the reconstruction and expansion of the tunnel as a necessary step.
* PREPARING TO DECLARE: Also, there's now scheduled a council hearing about the tunnel project, on March 25 at 11 am. The hearing is actually on proposed resolution PR 20-601, "Sense of the Council for a Hearing on the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project Resolution of 2013," which "is to the declare sense of the Council that the Unites States House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Highways and Transit should hold a hearing on the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project." (So it's a hearing by one governmental body about whether they should tell another governmental body to hold a hearing.)
* PREPARING TO DE-SPOOK: The arrivial of bulldozers and dumpsters on site at the old NGA building at 1st and M SE has sharp-eyed observers tapping their toes waiting for the demolition to start, but as was mentioned previously, it's going to take about six months to complete. But maybe they can at least knock out some exterior walls before Opening Day, as a statement of intent to Nats fans who haven't kept up with the latest news (tsk, tsk).
* PREPARING TO ROCK: I showed a touch of hard-won skepticism last week in reporting that developers told ANC 6D that they expect to begin work on the first phase of Florida Rock's redevelopment in June. So I will follow that up by noting that, two days later, they appear to have filed an application for a shoring/sheeting permit. (Not seeing an application for any building yet, though.)
* PREPARING TO WANT: The WashBiz Journal last week looked at the retail states of four "hot neighborhoods" (subscribers only), highlighting what they "flaunt" and what they "want." After the flaunting (20 restaurants, Nats Park, Vida Fitness, and Whole Foods), Michael Stevens of the BID listed the "wants": child care facilities, apparel retailers, a large home furnishing store, and college classrooms (saying that the area "is positioning itself as a satellite campus destination for those maxed out on their space"). Non-subscribers can watch some video of Stevens's talk at the BID's annual meeting, at least..
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, Florida Rock, Retail, The Yards, Parcel A/Yards
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