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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel
See JDLand's CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel Project Page
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Yards/Icon Theater
DC Water HQ
1333 M St.
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250 M St.
New Marine Barracks
Nat'l Community Church
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1000 South Capitol
SC1100
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Capitol Quarter ('12)
225 Virginia/200 I ('12)
Foundry Lofts ('12)
1015 Half Street ('10)
Yards Park ('10)
Velocity Condos ('09)
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909 New Jersey Ave. ('09)
55 M ('09)
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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)
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Capitol Hill Tower ('06)
Courtyard/Marriott ('06)
Marine Barracks ('04)
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76 Blog Posts Since 2003
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I'm now back from a much-needed respite in north-central and northeast Wyoming, where the buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play (sometimes in your yard), and where the skies are (mostly) not cloudy all day.
While I'm miffed that all work in Near Southeast did not grind to a halt while I was gone, I will still pass along these quick tidbits of news, for those who weren't doing their own newsgathering over the past 10 days.
* CRANES A'PLENTY: The residential projects at 801 New Jersey and 1111 New Jersey have now joined the lineup of sites where tower cranes are in place. This of course means that vertical construction at these locations won't be too far off, should everything go according to plan. And there's probably a crane coming before long at 909 Half as well. (Speaking of cranes, they are often lightning rods--literally, as the Dock 79 crane found out last week.)
* ROADS A'CLOSING: On Wednesday, June 24, Virginia Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Streets SE was closed and fenced, as part of initial Virginia Avenue Tunnel work. And a missive from CSX a few days ago says that the expectation is that Virginia will close between 4th and 5th "on or about" Wednesday, July 1. (But the cross streets will remain open.) Drivers will need to use K Street over to 5th to then continue north under the freeway, or to continue east on Virginia Avenue until that portion of road is closed as well.
* PIZZA PIZZA: There's still the pesky detail of actual construction, but at last a building permit has been approved for Nicoletta, the pizza/pasta carryout kiosk long planned by Osteria Morini's Chef Michael White in one of the small retail bays beneath the Yards Park overlook, on the Riverwalk.
* BARDO DELAYED: The plans for an outdoor park and "brew garden" on the west end of the Florida Rock site are "now looking like a fall opening," according to WBJ--"if we're lucky." "Red tape" is the reason given. WBJ also notes that the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that was looking for $200,000 to help fund the venture closed with $4,330 in contributions.
There's probably more to come, but that's good enough for now.
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More posts: 1111 New Jersey, 82i, CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, development, Florida Rock, nicoletta
 

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The meat of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel expansion project appears to be edging closer, as CSX sent out an announcement today with a preliminary heads up that the first full "for the duration" closures could happen by the end of June:
* Virginia Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Streets, SE, will close to traffic and parking "as soon as Monday, June 22."
* Virginia Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets, SE, will close to traffic and parking "as soon as Monday, June 29."
In both cases, fencing will be installed along the project site's perimeter, plus a temporary sidewalk will be installed between 2nd and 3rd.
Look for traffic to increase on the detour routes along I and/or K Streets in these blocks.
In addition, the recreation area under the Southeast Freeway/I-695 at 2nd Street will not be accessible from the south, which means no walking to and from Garfield Park in that spot until tunnel construction is cleared from that location. (The rec area will still be accessible, but only from the north/Garfield Park side.) There will also be fencing installed along the south side of Garfield Park by the rec area.
There will also be temporary closures of the left lane of Virginia Avenue between 5th and 7th Streets for a few weeks, starting perhaps as early as June 17.
This doesn't mean the start of actual digging or pile driving is nigh in these blocks--there are still apparently utility relocations and "other preparations" to complete before excavation work is to begin.
And when they say "as soon as," they really are doing a bit of ballparking. So if the blocks don't close on the above dates, don't assume that they've changed their minds.
For more about the project, check out my Virginia Avenue Tunnel page or the official web site.
Note: I'm not going to pass along every single construction update from CSX, so best to join the mailing list or follow the project on Twitter if you require minute-by-minute information, but I will highlight big milestones as they are announced.
UPDATE: I've said it so many times that I didn't think about mentioning it AGAIN, but I will mention AGAIN that the cross-streets in the zone of the project--3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th--will all remain open, allowing for continued vehicle and pedestrian traffic across Virginia and under the freeway. At some point there will be closures of a number of days to install the wooden planking on the intersections above the tunnel digging, but those streets are not scheduled to close for months and months. And neither is the exit ramp from the freeway to 6th Street, though all cars will have to turn left/north and go under the freeway.
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A missive from CSX just now:
"CSX today started the major construction phase of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project. The support of excavation work now underway consists of drilling 42-inch holes for steel and concrete pilings that will support a temporary retaining wall necessary to construct the first new permanent tunnel elements. This work is taking place at the west end of the project site in public space near 2nd and H Streets, S.E."
It goes on to say that similar work will get underway at the eastern end of the tunnel near 11th & M SE "within the next few weeks."
As always, to get more information, check out my Virginia Avenue Tunnel page (which probably needs a bit of freshening) or the official VirginiaAvenueTunnel.com web site, where you can also sign up to be on the project mailing list.
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel
 

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Today Judge Christopher Cooper has denied the Committee of 100's appeal of his April ruling denying the group's request for an injunction to prevent CSX from moving forward on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel construction while the C100 lawsuit works its way through the process.
Quoting from the order: "The Committee contends that new information gleaned from the recently-produced administrative record demonstrates that the federal and local agencies involved in the environmental review of the reconstruction project unlawfully predetermined its outcome. The Court concludes, however, that the Committee’s new evidence does not satisfy its burden to demonstrate that the agencies failed objectively to consider the environmental impacts of the reconstruction. Accordingly, it will deny the motion."
The Committee of 100 had filed their appeal in May, saying that new access to the "full record in the case," all 130,000 pages of it, showed "persuasive evidence of improper predetermination that was not available to the District Court" at the time of the initial injunction denial. But Judge Cooper wrote that "the portions of the administrative record provided by the Committee do not support its position that DDOT unlawfully predetermined the NEPA outcome or that FHWA failed to independently consider the environmental effects of the tunnel reconstruction."
You can read the full opinion/order for more detail.
(And, whaddya know, C100 is still using my photo on their web site! UPDATE, 5/27: It took a bit of back-and-forth, but the photo is now taken down.)
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A series of press releases over the past few weeks have said that initial utility relocation work was about to get underway Any Minute Now at the intersection of 4th and Virginia, but today the wishcasting seems to have finally come true, as you can see.
In addition, it was announced that "as soon as" today, "utility relocation work will start near the intersections of Virginia Avenue and 5th, 6th, 8th and 11th Streets, S.E." And indeed I spied work underway today at the corner of 8th and Virginia as well.
"Work will include surveying, pavement removal, trenching and other activities associated with utility relocations. Traffic lanes in these areas may be shifted and some parking spaces will be occupied. Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians should use caution when traveling through this area and be prepared to follow temporary traffic controls. This work is expected to continue through September."
Another item scheduled to happen Any Minute Now is the fencing of a significant portion of Virginia Avenue Park, on a line that will spare the community garden but will bring about the closure of the dog park. (I saw no evidence of any fence just now on the park's western end at 9th Street, but I can't confirm or deny any work elsewhere in the park at this moment.)
As stated in CSX's release on the matter: "Access to the portion of the park being fenced will be restricted through the duration of the tunnel project. CSX apologizes for any inconveniences that these restrictions may create. Access will be restored and enhancements will be made to the park at the completion of the tunnel-construction project. "
In other words, unless something happens with the lawsuit, this is the beginning of a many-months-long stretch of work just to the south of the freeway.
If you wish to pelt an official with questions about it all, you can join CSX assistant vice president Chuck Gullakson for "Coffee with Chuck" on May 20 from 7:30 to 9:30 am at the Courtyard by Marriott (RSVP here).
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The Post reported on Monday that the Committee of 100 has filed an appeal of the recent ruling denying its injunction motion, with an emergency motion to reverse the previous ruling and to "suspend the effectiveness of the Environmental Impact Statement, thereby preventing construction of CSX's Virginia Avenue Tunnel until the Court can issue a decision on the merits of the case."
Sayeth the Post: "Last month, District Court Judge Christopher R. Cooper ruled that rebuilding the 111-year-old tunnel is in the best interest of the public, and said that the Committee failed to establish grounds for a preliminary injunction."
The actual lawsuit, which "questions the legality and transparency of the project's federal environmental review process and says there were violations of federal and DC law," is still pending.
In the meantime, initial site work has supposedly now gotten underway at 2nd and 4th streets, though I have not witnessed this with my own eyes when I last looked on Monday evening. The official VirginiaAvenueTunnel.com web site is posting updates on items related to the project, should you wish more information.
And by the way, Committee of 100, I'm pretty sure that's a bad blow-up of one of my photos you are repeatedly using on your site, without permission or attribution. Your teams of lawyers should know better. (UPDATE, 5/7: I've received an apology from them, and they've taken down the photo, for which I thank them on both counts.)
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CSX has put out the word that there will be two utility relocation sites related to the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project gearing up starting on Monday, April 20, or thereabouts:
* Traffic lanes on 4th Street SE between the westbound lanes of Virginia Avenue and I Street will "temporarily shift to accommodate utility relocation work." The work will happen between 7 am and 7 pm on weekdays only and is expected to last about two months. "Some parking spaces will be temporarily occupied during the work period to accommodate lane shifts."
* There will also be utility relocation work under the Southeast Freeway in the "ad hoc recreation area," that little pass-through popular with the skateboard kidz where you can walk from 2nd Street under the overpass and into Garfield Park. "Access to the area will be limited during construction hours and visitors are encouraged to be cautious when traveling near the area." There's also the note that in the coming weeks "this work will extend into the intersection of 2nd Street S.E. and Virginia Avenue."
If you wish to discuss any of this with CSX, there will be an open house on April 23 from 4:30 to 7:30 pm at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel at 140 L St. SE. There's also expanded hours at the CSX community office on New Jersey Avenue: it's now open from 7 am to noon Mondays and Wednesdays and noon to 8 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also contact them by e-mail, phone, or web.
I wrote a few months ago about the initial construction plans, under which "utility relocation" qualifies.

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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, Traffic Issues
 

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Today US District Judge Christopher Cooper ruled against the request for an injunction in the lawsuit brought by the Committee of 100 over the plans and process around the expansion of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel.
You can read the opinion here, but here's a quote that gets at the meat of the ruling, on page 3:
"Before the Court is an application by the Committee for a preliminary injunction prohibiting DDOT from issuing the necessary permits for reconstruction of the tunnel to begin. The bar for obtaining a preliminary injunction pending resolution of a suit on the merits is high, and the Court concludes that it has not been cleared here. On the record before the Court, the Committee has not established that its suit is likely to succeed on the merits. Nor has it shown that the potential environmental harm of reconstruction outweighs the public benefit from modernizing the tunnel. The Court will, accordingly, deny the Committee's application."
There then follows 40 pages of discussion of the legal merits of each of the Committee of 100's points of contention, before concluding:
"The Court concludes the balance of the equities tips decidedly in the Defendants' favor, and particularly towards the public interest. As discussed above, the Committee's contentions that a new tunnel will lead to more accidents and a greater risk of terrorist attack are speculative at best. And with the exception of the removal of some 200 trees, the Committee has not established that any environmental effects of the construction activity will be severe or irreparable."
It goes on to say that, while a resident's misgivings about a large-scale construction project outside her windows are "understandable," those concerns "do not outweigh the broader public's substantial interest in modernizing this deteriorating and outmoded tunnel."
This is not necessarily the end of the lawsuit--it just means that there is nothing preventing DDOT from issuing the permits that would allow CSX to begin work on the project while the lawsuit continues to wind its way through the process.
See my Virginia Avenue Tunnel page for an overview of the project; and back in February I looked at the staging plans for the first few months of construction, which can begin once the required permits are in CSX's hands.
And perhaps this is as good a time as any to mention that CSX's next quarterly open house is scheduled for April 23 from 4:30 to 7:30 pm at the Courtyard by Marriott at 140 L St., SE.
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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
 

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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
 
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