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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: meetings
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As preparations ramp up to reopen Van Ness Elementary School this fall, DCPS is holding a "Design Slam" on Wednesday, Jan. 28, at 6 pm in the school's auditorium at 5th and L streets, SE.
As the flyer says, the goal of this session "is to listen to your ideas in order to develop a design that celebrates the best characteristics of the Van Ness community," looking toward what elements of the neighborhood's history and its riverfront location should be incorporated and "celebrated" in the design.
Architectural firm Quinn Evans is working on the project, and the bidding process for the construction itself will happen this spring.
Free childcare and food at the Slam will be provided by the Van Ness Parent Group.
And while it's still a couple of weeks away, this is a good time to also mention that the Near Southeast Community Partners group is hosting a Van Ness Elementary School Fundraiser on Feb. 17 at Nando's Peri-Peri. From 6 pm to 10 pm, the restaurant will donate 40 percent of its receipts from all sales made to people with the fundraiser flyer in hand. [insert "Winner winner chicken dinner reference here]
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More posts: meetings, Van Ness Elementary
 

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If you are looking for some light Christmas reading, you can sit down by the fireplace with all 335 pages (plus appendices!) of the newest revision to the plans for reconfiguring much of South Capitol Street, including the construction of a new Frederick Douglass Bridge.
This document, technically known as the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS), describes the new "revised preferred alternative" (RPA) design that tweaks the original preferred alternative in the Final EIS released back in 2011.
The bullet points for what the project plans are north/west of the Anacostia River are in the graphic at right (click to enlarge). The changes in this new RPA include:
* Changing the design of the bridge from a moveable span to a fixed-span bridge, which would save approximately $140 million in construction costs;
* Shifting the orientation of the new Douglass Bridge to an alignment parallel to the existing bridge, 30 feet down river, which avoids the need and lengthy process to acquire some land from Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling as well as a number of expensive relocation and reconstruction issues that a new alignment avoids (see page 2-91 of the SDEIS for details);
* A slight reduction of the size of the traffic oval on the western side (at Potomac Avenue):
* Replacing the previously designed circle on the eastern approach with an oval, located entirely in the DDOT right-of-way;
* And several other changes on the east side of the project that I will leave to others to discuss in detail. (See page ES-6 of the SDEIS.)
The initial design of the ovals and of the bridge itself were met with some consternation during this revision process. The SDEIS notes that in response to these concerns, DDOT has created a "Visual Quality Manual" for the project, which identifies design goals that are to "reflect the vision of providing a grand urban boulevard, which will be a gateway into the nation's capital, an iconic symbol of the District's aspirations in the 21st century, and a catalyst to revitalize local neighborhoods and the Anacostia Waterfront." (page 2-26).
As for the bridge itself, the version in this RPA will support three travel lanes in each direction, along with 18 feet of bicycle and pedestrian paths on *both* sides of the bridge--an 8-foot lane for pedestrians and a 10-foot birdirectional bike path. (Enlarge the image at right to see that I'm not lying about the bike/ped stuff.)
And the design of the bridge is to "make its primary aesthetic impact through its position (alignment), and the shape and sizes of its structural elements" and is to " aesthetically appear to be part of a continuous urban corridor." This includes the avoidance of "using elements, solely for aesthetic effect, which do not contribute to the support of the bridge." (page 2-28)
Plans for the reconfiguration of South Capitol Street as a "grand urban boulevard" have all along called for changing the intersection of South Capitol and M streets to an "at-grade intersection" (page 4-79), which would also mean that K and L would have signalized four-way intersections with South Capitol, unlike today. The wide median seen south of N would be established on the north end of the street as well, now all the way to D Street SE in the RPA. Also changing in this new plan are a few new left-turn options at I Street SE/SW and L Street SE.
Revisions have also been made to the ramps from South Capitol Street to I-395 and I-695, but the basics from the original plans remain, most notably the demolition of the existing suspended ramp from northbound South Capitol to the SE/SW Freeway.
Even with the revisions made to cut the costs of the new Douglass Bridge, this isn't a cheap project. The five phases together are anticipated to cost over $1 billion, with Segment 1, including the new bridge and traffic ovals, estimated at $480 million. The "grand boulevard"-izing of South Capitol Street is estimated at $153 million, and planned streetscape improvements to New Jersey Avenue between D and M streets SE at $42 million, plus another $358 million in east-of-the-river improvements (page 2-11).
Worn out yet? I sure am! (I've mostly lost track of how much of this is truly even "new" news at this point.) But perhaps you can regain your strength by Jan. 22, 2015, when the public meeting on this SDEIS will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Matthews Memorial Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, 2616 Martin Luther King Ave., SE. The public comment period is running until Feb. 2. DDOT is also still amidst the design/build proposal process, with proposals expected sometime in the spring.
The SouthCapitolEIS.com web site is now focused mainly on this SDEIS, of which clearly I've just scratched the surface; you can slog through my piles of posts on all of this over the years for the historical rundown.
UPDATE: Here's the WashCycle take on the latest plans, from a bike/ped perspective.
 

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A community meeting is on tap for Thursday (tomorrow), Dec. 11, to discuss the future Southeast Blvd., specifically the ideas emerging from the neighborhood study currently being spearheaded by ANC 6B, the Office of Planning, and DDOT.
The meeting is from 7 to 9 pm at Friendship Chamberlain Elementary School, 1345 Potomac Ave., SE, across from the Jenkins Row Harris Teeter.
Councilmember Tommy Wells will be there, and will be part of the discussion on how to best integrate into the neighborhood this road that will run from Barney Circle to the new intersection at 11th Street, SE, along the path of the old sunken portion of the Southeast Freeway.
A "temporary" version of the road is opening in early 2015, and residents have been concerned both about this becoming the de facto new version of the road, a feeling that came on the heels of the original new designs put forth by DDOT, that were basically replacing an old freeway with a new freeway, albeit it one that has a stoplight at 11th Street rather than just a free-and-clear approach to the Southeast Freeway. After those designs were released, with a push from Wells, the Office of Planning stepped in to help shepherd a neighborhood study--initial design concepts were unveiled back in August, and this week's meeting is to continue the process of refining the possibilities.
(And I am well aware that I have completely failed at keeping up with photographs of that area of 11th and of the work underway on the temporary road. All of the construction there, and the futzing with the traffic flow configuration of 11th Street while work continues around it, have made me very cranky about going over there to take pictures. Maybe this will finally spur me.)
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More posts: meetings, Southeast Blvd., Traffic Issues
 

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As part of the path toward the planned reopening next fall of Van Ness Elementary School at 5th and M streets, SE, DCPS has scheduled public meetings on Nov. 18 and Nov. 20 for residents in Near Southeast and Southwest to learn about the plans for the school, and to be able to provide feedback on those plans.
These sessions follow a meeting back in September between parents' groups and Dr. Nathaniel Beers, DCPS's head of specialized instruction, in which the parents were displeased with some of the information coming from the school system, specifically the plans to not have a principal in place during the planning process, and also DCPS's intent to open the school with only two PK-3 and two PK-4 classrooms, and no kindergarten.
A subsequent communication from Dr. Beers to the Van Ness Parents Group indicated, however, that an "Executive Director" will be put in place in early 2015, a person "whose primary responsibilities are to functioning as the leader of Van Ness, including engaging deeply with future parents and community members and actively recruiting students to ensure Van Ness opens fully enrolled."
In addition, the plea from parents for kindergarten offerings in the initial 2015-16 school year was not fully ignored, with DCPS agreeing to review community analysis data again before making a final decision. This has the parents' group working hard to find kindergarten-age children who could be sent to Van Ness in 2015.
These meetings should also have some information on the School Improvement Team process for the school going forward.
The meeting schedule:
* Tuesday, Nov. 18, from 6 to 8 pm, at Van Ness Elementary; and
* Thursday, Nov. 20, from 6 to 8 pm at the James Creek Resident Council Office, 100 N St. SW.
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More posts: meetings, Van Ness Elementary
 

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I'm not sure how many people made this afternoon's meeting on the SE/SW Transportation Improvement Study (I sure didn't thanks to that 4 pm start time), but apparently there is a web site devoted to the project, and the meeting materials are posted there: seswdc.com.
This study is actually an Environmental Assessment, meaning there are very specific structures and steps that DDOT will be following.
Its stated purpose is "to develop a premium transit system that improves transportation capacity, connectivity, mobility, and safety through an integrated, multimodal transportation corridor" across Near Southeast, Southwest, and the Anacostia Historic District.
Also, the study is to address "east-west transportation needs between the Southeast and Southwest Washington communities of Anacostia and the Waterfront."
One tidbit in the materials that may be news to people: If streetcars are chosen as the area's "premium transit mode," there will be a need for storage and/or maintenance, and so this Environmental Assessment "will review and analyze potential sites for a Streetcar facility."
Eight potential sites meeting the initial minimum requirements have been identified: three near M Street, SW, three at Buzzard Point, and two along 7th Street, SE, including, believe it or not, the Blue Castle, aka the Navy Yard Car Barn, where streetcars were stored and maintained during the many years they ran through the city before being shut down in the early 1960s.
A second public meeting is expected in early 2015, with the draft Environmental Assessment and associated public hearing in spring and the final document late in the year.
(Thanks to Josh Hart for the heads up about the web site, and no thanks to DDOT, who didn't mention it in their releases about the meeting. BAH!)
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From DDOT: On Wednesday, Oct. 22, DDOT and the Federal Highway Administration will be holding a public meeting to discuss the Southeast/Southwest Transportation Improvement Study and Environmental Assessment, which is actually now a formal NEPA study (hence the presence of FHWA).
Officially, "The purpose of the study is to develop a premium transit system that improves transportation capacity, connectivity, mobility, and safety."
This is an off-shoot of the first M Street SE/SW study from 2011 and 2012 as well as the subsequent Special Events transportation study that was completed earlier this year. In other words, the study after the study after the study.
The meeting will be held at at Van Ness Elementary at 4 pm (! - I asked if that was a typo, and was told no). DDOT's announcement of the meeting says that "the public will be provided an opportunity to discuss the transportation issues and potential solutions that will be addressed in the study."
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More posts: meetings, Traffic Issues
 

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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
 

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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
 

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At a public meeting on Wednesday night, the team working with the DC Housing Authority unveiled what programs the consultants will be recommending be offered at the Capper community center, a list that grew out of the recent survey about residents' wishes.
The recommendations are:
* A 7,000-square-foot gymnasium with basketball court that can also be divided into two smaller courts when needed;
* A 3,600-square-foot day care center, which would also include a secured outdoor play area;
* Three multipurpose fitness rooms (for yoga classes or the like):
* Two multipurpose classrooms;
* One individual fitness area, which could include treadmills and weights; and
* A small "soft play area" for little kids.
The recommendations are not a written-in-stone marching order, however. Soon the Housing Authority will be putting out an RFP to find the organization that will run the community center (though apparently we're now calling it a "community building," because #branding). The operator would then have "flexibility" in what it offers, while ostensibly guided by the survey results.
There were 473 responses to the survey, and the meeting slides show both the demographic breakdown of respondents as well as the top vote-getters in both fitness and "enrichment" activities.
The slides also include conceptual drawings of how the two-story building could be laid out to handle the recommended offerings, though it was stressed that the operator will be making the final decisions on layout and whatnot. (You may remember that there was at one time a basement planned for the building, but it's now been removed from the design.)
Attendees at the meeting did not rise up in fire-breathing opposition to the presentation, though concerns were raised about the lack of garden space, the seeming preference of fitness activities over learning/cultural/enrichment activities, and the need for space and kitchen access to accommodate private events like kids' birthday parties.
Even though the consultant's report is due to DCHA next week, the team still wants to hear comments, if you've got them.
The slides also said that the groundbreaking for the building is "about to happen," which of course translates to JDLand Speak as "Any Minute Now."
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More posts: Capper, Community Center, meetings
 

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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
 
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