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Residents Give Mayor a Tunnel Earful; Plus, a Dissent
Jan 20, 2014 10:07 AM
Both the Post
and City Paper
have reports on Thursday's meeting with Mayor Vince Gray where residents had the chance to air their grievances about the plans for the renovation and expansion of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel
between 2nd and 12th streets, SE.
City Paper's article
opened thusly: "Navy Yard residents still unequivocally don't want the the city to give a complex Virginia Avenue Tunnel construction project the go-ahead, and last night, hundreds of neighbors came out to let Mayor Vince Gray know just how horrible they think the project is." CP wrote that Mayor Gray "facilitated the meeting and took what he referred to as 'copious notes' throughout. He didn't say much about the project itself, only promising that the city would never sign on to a project that would endanger lives: 'There's no way we would be involved in a project like that.' "
CP also has this: "Skip Elliott, vice president of public safety, health and environment at CSX, said there would be no 'unit trains' with crude oil going through the tunnel. When the meeting attendees screamed he was lying, he clarified that while there would be no unit trains—or a group of trains that typically carry a single commodity—there would be some rail cars that would carry crude."
The Post notes
that "[s]ome residents say they fear the estimated three to six years of construction will lower home values and slow growth in the neighborhood." It quotes resident Natalie Skidmore: "With an open trench, we have concerns about how people are going to get around. We are going to lose parking spots, trees and access." And the article closes with a quote from James McPhillips, one of the leaders of the DCSafeRail
opposition group: "We really thought the neighborhood was up and coming. It had a beautiful, inviting and diverse community[.] This project has the possibility of destroying that."
In the wake of the meeting, ANC 6D07 commissioner David Garber told his mailing list that "I believe this issue is finally on the mayor's radar -- but we need to KEEP IT THERE," suggesting that "[w]hile a hashtag won't save the world (yet) -- please consider tweeting to the mayor and including the hashtag #MayorNoBuild."
However, the commissioner for another ANC single member district that will be affected by the project came out of the meeting with a different point of view, and has posted her concerns with the concerns of Virginia Avenue residents.
KIrsten Oldenburg, commissioner of ANC 6B04--which mainly covers Barracks Row but also includes lower 8th Street and Virginia Avenue from 7th Street to 11th Street--posted today a detailed look
at the issues that the opposition groups are so vociferously arguing about, saying that "[t]his is not to say that those stridently opposed to the project don’t have a right to conduct a politicized campaign. [...] But, I don’t have to agree with the way they are using and perpetuating misinformation about what we know about the project."
OIdenburg addresses the proposed alternatives, saying that it is "Not True" that all proposed build alternatives involve running trains through open trenches, since one of the alternatives has trains running through the existing closed tunnel during construction. She notes that the draft EIS says "the maximum duration is 3.5 years for alternatives with open trench train operations and 5.5 years for the closed tunnel version," meaning that there may be a tradeoff between open-vs.-closed trench and shorter-vs.-longer duration.
She also looks at the hazardous materials and rail accidents arguments, and notes that the issue of CSX's HazMat transportation has been around since before the tunnel became a cause. After pointing out that trucks carry "unknown quantities of hazardous materials along I-695 (parallel to Virginia Avenue)," Oldenburg says that "[t]he alarms being raised on hazardous materials are diverting attention away from other more probable problems an open trench might cause."
On the issue of street closures, she looks at the disruptions as they have been outlined from the beginning of the EIS project: "But, aside from 2nd Street, all north/south crossings of Virginia Avenue will remain open during construction. Will these streets be closed occasionally and for short periods of time? Yes. Will the I-695 exit ramp at 6th Street and on ramp at 8th Street be closed for the duration? No. Will each have to be closed for a short time while decking is installed at these intersections with Virginia Avenue? Yes. Does the DEIS show special lanes to be set up to provide continuing access for residences and businesses in close proximity to the construction area? Yes."
The issue of community benefits in the wake of such a long construction project is one she feels needs more discussion, noting that 6B and others have already been advocating for green space with a pedestrian/bike patch from 3rd Street to 11th Street, along with a major redesign of Virginia Avenue Park. "But, is a linear park that will revitalize a lifeless space and serve all residents both north and south of the Freeway enough? Is it possible to equalize burdens and benefits? ... What more could/should we ask for?"
She closes with reference to the comments submitted to the DEIS, saying that the issues raised are "excellent contributions toward making the FEIS a major improvement over the DEIS," but that, "[I]n the end, the FEIS may improve our comfort level about this project but it will never satisfy everyone."
Meeting with Mayor on Virginia Ave. Tunnel Jan. 16
Jan 9, 2014 9:32 AM
Resident groups alarmed at CSX's plans to renovate and expand the Virginia Avenue Tunnel
have secured a public meeting with Mayor Vince Gray to air their concerns about the projects and its impacts, which range from the use of the tunnel for hazardous materials transport to the presence of asbestos to increased vibrations on surrounding structures to the "potential for stalled neighborhood development" and traffic congestion.
It is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 16, at 6:30 pm at 200 I St. SE (the old Post Plant).
For more information on the meeting and on the residents' battle, see DCSafeRail.org
. For more information on the tunnel project, which is currently awaiting the any-minute-now release of the Environmental Impact Statement, see my project page
or CSX's official site at VirginiaAvenueTunnel.com
Saturday Community Meeting on Virginia Avenue Tunnel
Nov 22, 2013 3:42 PM
On Saturday, Nov. 23, DC delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton is having a meeting with residents
to discuss the CSX/Virginia Avenue Tunnel project
. It's at 2 pm at the Capper Seniors building at 900 5th St., SE.
With the Environmental Impact Statement for the project expected to be released before too much longer (you can see the draft EIS here
), residents are seeing this as perhaps a last opportunity to voice their concerns and push back against what one resident called Norton's willingness "to simply regurgitate CSX talking points" in a recent press release
A train fire last week
that began in the tunnel also has the residents who have been fighting the project intensifying their efforts to get answers they are seeking on health and safety concerns.
To that end, a new web site has also been launched, DCSafeRail.org
, to lay out residents' arguments.
UPDATE, 11/26: There was a considerable kerfuffle after Saturday's meeting, at which Federal Highway Administration rep Michael Hicks said, "They're going to have to close the interstate, two exit points on the Interstate, 6th and 8th St., I believe, for the duration of the project...So that's why I'm involved." Putting aside that the only 8th Street SE exit is on the north side of the freeway and so would be nearly impossible to be impacted by the tunnel construction, this statement went against the Draft Environmental Impact Statement as well as many comments by CSX and DDOT during the process that the 6th Street exit ramp would not be closed.
As I expected, there is now a statement that's been sent out by CSX, from Hicks:
"My apologies to the community, turns out I made a misstatement regarding the duration of closures of the 6th St exit and 8th Street on ramp to I-695 and I understand that statement, unfortunately, has gotten widespread exposure. Hopefully the clarification to follow is equally widespread; no highway ramps would be closed for the duration of construction. As outlined in the DEIS, erecting the temporary decks at 5th/6th and 8th Streets SE may require the short term closure (approximately a week or less) of I-695 ramps at these locations. CSX would work with DDOT, community leaders and local first responders to ensure access for community members in the event of emergencies!
"During the very preliminary stages of project development it was thought the ramps might possibly have to be closed; however, alternatives were developed that no longer required extended closures of those ramps. Again, I apologize for any concern or alarm my misstatement may have caused. Thank you."
Southeast Blvd. and Barney Circle Public Meeting Nov. 21
Nov 21, 2013 1:28 AM
DDOT is hosting another public meeting tonight
(Thursday, Nov. 21) on its project to both turn the old sunken portion of the Southeast Freeway into "Southeast Blvd.
" and also to remake Barney Circle.
This meeting will "seek community feedback on updated design concepts" that "illustrate ways to transform the Southeast Freeway between 11th Street SE and Barney Circle into a boulevard that integrates with adjacent neighborhoods and provides new connections to the Anacostia River."
The meeting is from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Payne Elementary School, 1445 C St., SE.
This is a study that I'm actually pretty interested in, but I missed the previous meeting and ensuing discussions owing to my Annus Horribilis, so I can't give you a whole lot of details on how it has all gone up to now. The project web site
has the basics, including the presentation slides from the first meeting
, and ANC commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg posted 6B's first comments on the concepts back in April
Some of the work on Southeast Blvd. has of course already begun, with tons and tons of dirt already having filled in the former underpass
beneath 11th Street, so that traffic coming from the freeway will be able to exit to a signalized intersection at 11th. But little work has been done east of 11th, which is good since it's this study that is to determine exactly what that work should be.
Also, if you can't get enough of public meetings on transportation issues, you can also mark your calendar for an upcoming DDOT meeting regarding updates to the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative Transportation Master Plan. It's on Dec. 12 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Capitol Skyline Hotel at South Capitol and I streets, SW.
Cobbled-Together Coverage of Half Street Market Hearing
Apr 26, 2013 9:39 AM
I wasn't able to be at Thursday's hearing on the fate of the federally owned warehouse at Half and L Streets, but I can cobble together an update thanks to the folks who were there:
: "A group of Capitol Riverfront residents has been pushing to turn a vacant warehouse at 49 L Street SE into a community amenity called the Half Street Market
. But if a congressional hearing there this morning was any indication, they may be facing an uphill battle."
: "An official for the General Services Administration, which manges federal real estate, told the representatives that the 32,013-square-foot brick building was no longer needed by the government and that the agency was in the process of preparing it to be sold or traded for construction services on other projects, for which the GSA is in need of funding.
"'Given the high real estate value and rate of growth in the surrounding Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, the 49 L Street property presents us with many potential opportunities to find a better use for or to dispose of a vacant property from the federal real estate inventory and provide considerable savings to taxpayers,' said Michael Gelber, acting deputy commissioner of the GSA’s Public Buildings Service."
: "D.C. Councilman Tommy Wells, D-Ward 6, testified, saying that the District could be willing to put up the $19 million price tag for the property. U.S. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., spoke passionately in support of the project.
"The will is certainly there. But what of the way?
: "The GSA, however, is not in the business of giving away property at a discount even if its acting administrator, Dan Tangherlini, is a former D.C. city administrator and transportation official. Gelber reiterated in an interview that the agency’s preference was to trade the building for construction services, similar to the way the GSA is trying to use the J. Edgar Hoover Building as a trading chip for a new FBI headquarters elsewhere in the region.
"GSA has not disclosed how much it believes the L Street warehouse is worth but Gelber said putting it up for auction, as the agency did with the West Heating Plant, would likely fetch the highest price. Adding a requirement that a market be part of the redevelopment wasn't likely to help the sales price — quite the opposite. 'The more conditions you put on a sale the more that you affect valuation,' he said.
: "So it appears likely that the feds will be selling the property to the highest bidder—and with Union Market and Eastern Market both within a few miles of the site, the highest bidder probably won't want another market there."
: It's also worth noting that 50 M Street, the empty lot on the south end
of the warehouse's block, fronting M Street directly across from the Navy Yard Metro station entrance, is now on the market
, making it possible for a developer to have the entire block if it were to gain control of the warehouse and buy the 50 M site.
"A sizable contingent (for a Thursday morning) came out to the meeting in support of the Half Street concept, and Councilmember Tommy Wells and ANC 6D Commissioner Ed Kaminski testified in support of the project. Kaminski brought up a potential revenue stream that could help fund the market and culinary incubators on the ground floor: a boutique hotel on the upper floors could send a stream of cash to the GSA. Generally, Kaminski felt that the air rights over the warehouse could be utilized in a profitable manner.
The representatives seemed supportive of the local officials, and were open to the prospect of putting in motion a process that would lead to selling the building to the city. However, the question remains: can DC afford it?"
Congressional Hearing April 25 on Empty L Street Warehouse
Apr 18, 2013 9:23 PM
News came via Twitter
on Thursday that the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform's Government Operations subcommittee
will be holding a hearing
on the future use of the empty warehouse owned by the Feds at Half and L SE, the building being eyed by neighbors
as the potential Half Street Market
Tommy Wells and ANC 6D02 commissioner Ed Kaminski will be testifying in support of returning the building back to DC's control, and to make it all even more festive, the hearing is going to be held in the warehouse itself, at 9:30 am on Thursday, April 25.
Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), who is the chair of the committee, has been making his displeasure known
about the (lack of) speed with which GSA has been disposing of excess property. And, as Housing Complex puts it today
, "At the time, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) said the subcommittee would consider holding hearings at vacant federal properties around the country if GSA didn't start moving on them more quickly. Now, the congressmen appear to be making good on their pledge."
Public Meeting Feb. 21 on Southeast Blvd., Barney Circle Planning
Feb 18, 2013 11:26 AM
With the reconstruction of the old Southeast Freeway east of 8th Street into the new Southeast Blvd
., DDOT is running a transportation planning study that is looking how best to integrate this rebuilt stretch of road with the adjacent neighborhoods between 11th Street and Barney Circle. To that end, there is a public meeting about this "opportunity for adaptive reuse"
being held this Thursday, Feb. 21, at 6:30 pm at Payne Elementary School at 1445 C St., SE. Representatives of DDOT and the technical team working on Southeast Blvd. will be there to provide details about the study and future plans for the area, as well as to answer questions.
This would probably be the perfect forum to ask some of the questions that have been posted in the comments here, such as whether the new boulevard will have an intersection with 13th Street, and how the pedestrian/cycling trail planned to be built alongside the boulevard will be handled.
Half Street Market Public Meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 19
Feb 18, 2013 10:51 AM
The resident organizers of a drive to transform
the warehouse at Half and L Streets SE into a "Half Street Market
" are holding a public meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 7 pm at 200 I Street
(aka the Post Plant, aka 225 Virginia Avenue).
The "idea and design team" -- now with neighboring ANC 6D07 commissioner David Garber taking on a larger role and 6D02 commissioner Ed Kaminski having "stepped away," according to Garber -- are wanting to have the building become a "public market, restaurant(s), and culinary incubator/training center."
There's no indication from GSA that the building's move to the surplus list is imminent, and there's also questions on how exactly the building (on such valuable land, just north of the Navy Yard Metro station's Half Street entrance) would escape being auctioned to net the feds millions of dollars and instead be transferred to the city and/or some as-yet-uncreated nonprofit group. This would have to happen under the federal guidelines for acquiring federal real property for educational purposes
, which includes applying to the Department of Education to sponsor the transfer
and which would seem to require that the incubator/training center be the centerpiece of the building's new mission. On the other hand, Garber recently described the project in an e-mail to his neighborhood mailing list as "still in its infancy and constantly evolving," so no doubt the organizers of the drive to acquire the building have a plan they feel will meet the feds' requirements.
I probably won't be at the meeting, so if you're interested in the project, best get thee to 200 I on Tuesday rather than looking for a summary here.
Public Meeting Thursday to Discuss Capitol Power Plant
Jan 23, 2013 7:00 PM
For those in the neighborhood who have some concerns about the lovely Capitol Power Plant
, which sits just north of the Southeast Freeway but which reaches down to I Street SE just west of 70/100 I, there is a public meeting Thursday, Jan. 24
, hosted by Tommy Wells.
Withthe recent application
by the Architect of the Capitol for changes to the plant's permits bringing renewed push-back from the community about the plant's continuing burning of coal, Wells has organized the meeting to "hear your concerns and discuss next steps." The District Department of the Environment will be there to present background information about the plant, and Wells is also intending to include a discussion of "strategies for addressing broader concerns about the power plant, particularly the ongoing use of coal as a fuel source."
The Architect of the Capitol has posted these responses
to the questions raised about the permits. (Unfortunately, I can't suppress a snicker at the photo used to show the plant, taken on tulip-filled spring day from one of the parks along D Street SE, showing the plant in a fabulously bucolic setting. My photo
might be a bit more realistic.)
The meeting is at 6:30 pm at United Methodist Church, 421 Seward Square SE (just south of Pennsylvania Avenue between 4th and 5th streets).
Another Virginia Avenue Tunnel Meeting Scheduled for Sept. 27
Aug 20, 2012 11:24 AM
The August edition of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel newsletter
is out, with the news that another public meeting on the project is scheduled for Sept. 27, from 6 pm to 8 pm at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. The meeting is described as providing an update on the project and to "share information about the alternatives being evaluated in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)." In other words, this isn't the meeting to unveil the draft EIS, which is expected to come this fall.
There isn't much else of note in the newsletter (noise studies ongoing, Section 106 historic preservation review ongoing, how to comment, etc.), so I'll admit this post is mainly a sneaky way to once again point out my new Virginia Avenue Tunnel page
, where you can get an overview of this project and see the concepts currently being evaluated, along with plenty of photos from along the tunnel's path.
11th Street Recreation Bridges Meeting Tonight
Jun 19, 2012 10:13 AM
The Office of Planning
isn't exactly lighting up the Intertubes promoting this, but apparently there's another "informational meeting" on the notion of turning the old outbound 11th Street Bridge
into a "recreational bridge" tonight at 6:30 pm
at the Lumber Shed in the Yards Park
According to an e-mail forwarded around by ANC commissioner David Garber (I haven't seen mention of the event anywhere else), the meeting's primary purpose is to get ideas about the kinds of attractions and features that OP would then want to put into the design competition they plan to hold for the bridge. There's no funding for any actual construction at this point, and a private partner would probably have to be found to foot the not-miniscule tab to build a new decking across the river on the footings that will remain now that the current deck is being demolished
ANC 6D Agenda: Parking Update, Capper PUD (and the Wharf)
Jun 8, 2012 10:10 AM
The agenda for the June 11 ANC 6D meeting has been sent out (and hopefully posted soon
). The big-ticket item is a vote on the Stage 2 PUD for the Southwest Waterfront plans, which I doubt will be a lightning-quick discussion--when the agenda has it budgeted for 90 minutes, you know it's gonna be long.
I'm not yet up to sitting through a meeting of that length (though I'm coming along), so if these items are of interest, get thee to 1100 4th St. SW at 7 pm on Monday.
Virginia Avenue Tunnel Meeting Presentation Slides, Boards
May 29, 2012 11:51 AM
I wasn't able to attend last week's public meeting on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel, but the presentation slides
and display boards
are posted on the project's web site
This is the stage of the Environmental Impact study where the initial lineup of possible concepts
have been winnowed down to the four that will be evaluated for the final EIS:
* Concept 1 - "No Build" (i.e., leave as is);
* Concept 2
- Rebuild tunnel with a temporary track running in an open trench to the south of the existing tunnel;
* Concept 5
- "Permanent Twin Tunnels," with a new tunnel built via open trench to the south of the existing tunnel, which would be rebuilt as well;
* Concept 6
- "Rebuild Online," where the current tunnel would be rebuilt via open trench along the existing alignment, and trains would run in that same trench during construction.
Also contained in the slides
is information about how traffic would be routed with the closure of Virginia Avenue on the south side of the freeway between 2nd and 11th. As has always been stated, north/south traffic on the numbered streets would be maintained across Virginia, and temporary driveways/access are shown on 3rd and 4th Street for Capitol Quarter and the 200 I/225 Virginia loading dock. It's also shown that Virginia Avenue north of the freeway would become two-way between 6th and 8th streets, so that traffic exiting the Southeast Freeway at 6th would all be directed left under the freeway and then would be able to continue to 8th Street on Virginia.
There's also some slides
on the vibration and noise analyses being done, and how Virginia Avenue might be improved after construction is completed (with bike lanes being a possibility, which immediately warmed David Garber's heart
The draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be released this fall, in which the design for construction will be identified; the entire process would be completed in spring, 2013. Comments can be submitted to email@example.com
or via the web site
This Week: Virginia Ave. Tunnel, M St. Meetings, First Front Flick
May 20, 2012 11:30 AM
To allow you to properly plan your calendar for the week, I'm posting this nice and early:
And, speaking of the tunnel, the noise and vibration field studies required as part of the EIS will be happening this week
. (But no fair stomping on the ground and gunning your car's engines for hours at a time.)
* M Street SE/SW Transportation Study
: The meeting to update the public on the progress of the M Street SE/SW Transportation Study
is on Thursday, May 24, from 6:30 pm to 8 pm
at the Capitol Skyline Hotel, 10 I St. SW. The study area covers
the stretch of M from 12th Street, SE to 14th Street, SW, along with the adjacent areas from the Southeast/Southwest Freeway south to the Anacostia River/Washington Channel. DDOT is looking at "how to integrate transit, bicycling and walking with motor vehicle traffic," while also trying to figure out how to balance residents' preferences for how M Street should be configured versus how visitors, workers, and commuters expect it to flow. The first meeting was in January
, and the final report is expected in the fall.
* Front Flicks
: If you are looking for something slightly more entertaining than either of the week's meetings, don't forget that the Capitol Riverfront BID's free Front Flicks Summer Outdoor Movie Series
begins this week on Thursday, with "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" leading off the lineup of treasure hunt-themed offerings. Movies start either at 8:45 pm/sundown at Tingey Plaza, just behind USDOT
at New Jersey and Tingey.
Alas, I won't be at any of these events, because first thing Tuesday I'm headed to the disabled list, to get some health issues dealt with that have been dragging me down for awhile now. There will be a few weeks of recovery time, so I ask all parties to please refrain from making any news before, say, mid-June, or at least make it something simple and/or something that won't require my attendance. (DDOT is already On Notice if they do indeed partially open the 11th Street Local bridge
when I can't document it.)
I imagine I'll reappear on Twitter
fairly quickly, since I know better than to think I can stay off the Internet while I'm doing little but laying around. But most likely the bulk of my narcotics-tinged/boredom-induced missives will be via my non-official @jacdupree
account, if you want the entertainment.
In the meantime, feel free to use this post's comments to discuss this week's meetings and as a general open thread, but I will be watching and popping in, so don't you kids think you can throw a wild party while Mom's not looking! And hopefully I'll be back to photo taking and other obsessive-compulsive pursuits before too long.
Florida Rock Update at ANC 6D: Tweaked Designs, More Retail
May 16, 2012 7:56 AM
At Monday's ANC 6D meeting, representatives of MRP Realty made a presentation showing the updates to the RiverFront on the Anacostia
project (aka Florida Rock) that they will be taking to the Zoning Commission later this year.
These designs are part of the quest to make changes to the original design approved by the commission in 2008
, chief of which is to switch the first phase of the 1.1-million-square-foot mixed-use project from an office building to a 300ish-unit apartment building at 1st Street and Potomac Avenue, along with a series of other changes that I've written about previously
. (Dear heavens, don't make me write it all again.)
Here are the slides that were presented by the developers
, which should be of interest even without the accompanying narration. The renderings are much more detailed and "showier" than those given to the Zoning Commission back in February, which was part of what the developers were tasked with providing in their next go-round with the ZC.
Most obviously, the developers appear to have gotten the "more retail!" message that had been delivered pretty clearly at the last two
zoning commission sessions on the new design, with 18,650 square feet of retail now covering most of the first floor of the Phase I residential building, bumped up from 12,520 sf in the previous version (some of which the developers had been wanting to mark off for "temporary resident uses" until the market for retail in the area could be proven). The entire site is now designed to have 48,360 sf of retail, but this is still down from the 64,200 sf that was in the plans approved by the Zoning Commission back in 2008
. (This increase in retail also means that the "four red doors" facing Potomac Avenue that sent zoning commissioner Michael Turnbull through the roof back in February
are now gone.)
There was also much time spent on the designs for the public spaces that span the 5.5-acre site. With large lawns, wetlands-type areas that would actually be bio-filtration mechanisms, quieter tree-covered spaces, and a marina that could potentially have 40-50 slips, the additions could be seen as echoing the Yards Park
a couple blocks to the east.. But there are also some "beach" areas where sand would be placed, and a large sculpture could be included in the "Riverfront Plaza" at the foot of 1st Street. The esplanade is still a major part of the design, but there is no longer a separate bike path--pedestrians and cyclists would share the boardwalk as it runs through the entire site, from South Capitol Street to Diamond Teague Park
. And there may even be locations where some of the concrete blocks from the old concrete plant site would be incorporated into the public spaces.
I could write more about the specifics, but since the project will be back in front of ANC 6D looking for a resolution of support in July, and then at the Zoning Commission on Sept. 20, I'd prefer to save some words for the presentations to come.
I've added some of the renderings from this presentation
to my Florida Rock project page
. And, when looking at all of this, remember that the western two buildings (phases 3 and 4, an office building and a hotel), are not be able to be built until the new South Capitol Street/Douglass Bridge
is built a bit to the south of the current bridge, which now runs directly through the Florida Rock footprint. And there's as yet no timeline for that new bridge.
ANC 6D Recap 2: Canal Park, Community Center, CSX Letter
May 15, 2012 1:35 PM
Moving from the "P" portion of Monday's ANC 6D meeting (pylons and parking
) to the "C"s:
* Canal Park
: Chris Vanarsdale of the Canal Park Development Association gave an update on construction, the bottom line of which has not changed from what's been mentioned the past few months, that because of unexpected issues, the park's opening has been delayed until November. Unmapped utilities that required a redesign of the stormwater management system have been a big stumbling block, but Vanarsdale also mentioned the soil-related difficulties when building on the site of an old canal. Construction is now 60 percent complete, and the work on the pavilion is almost done. Here are the presentation slides
, and you can also check out the official web site
for more details (along with my project page
). Oh, and they're thinking about offering Zamboni driving lessons!
* Community Center
: The DC Housing Authority has filed a request with the Zoning Commission for an extension for construction of the planned Capper Community Center
, which already received one extension back in 2010
that 6D supported
. DCHA has apparently requested that the Zoning Commission act within 30 days on the request, news of which the ANC received on Monday. So the commissioners voted unanimously to send a letter urging postponement of the zoning case so that the ANC can address the request and form a response with a vote at next month's meeting. Commissioners Litsky and McBee also both commented that the project shouldn't be getting another extension.
Here is the letter sent on behalf of DCHA
to the Zoning Commission asking for the extension: it would be for two years, requiring building permits by July 1, 2014 and construction underway by July 1, 2015.
* CSX/Virginia Avenue Tunnel
: The commissioners voted 6-0-1 to send this letter
to the appropriate parties laying out the ANC's opinion on the plans to reconfigure the Virginia Avenue Tunnel
. After listing the various ways that the proposed construction "would put people, homes, businesses, and fragile historic resources at risk," the letter states: "[W]e strongly believe that the best options for our community are for CSX to either leave the Virginia Avenue Tunnel in its current state (Concept 1) -- with the suggestion that if this option were chosen that the tunnel would be fully maintained for the safety of both the trains below and the communities above, or to reroute additional train traffic outside the District of Columbia [...] instead of in an expanded Virginia Avenue Tunnel." But, if the construction does occur, "it is absolutely imperative that the health and safety of our many residents, the economic and physical well-being of our businesses, parks, religious institutions, homes, and historic buildings, and the north-south access for all existing modes of transportation be preserved and enhanced." A number of Capitol Quarter
residents in attendance also spoke in support of the ANC's support. The next public meeting
on the plans for the tunnel will be May 21 at 6:30 pm at Nats Park.
One more recap post to go, probably tomorrow.
ANC 6D Recap 1: Water Pylons, and Parking
May 15, 2012 9:49 AM
It was a busy ANC 6D meeting on Monday night for Near Southeast-related issues, so I'm going to put it all in a series of posts:
* New Jersey Avenue Underpass Art
: The Capitol Riverfront BID
gave an update on the "Water Pylons" art installation, which is now moving forward after being "dormant" for about a year. This is the project partially funded by a grant from the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities
that will paint and light the pylons holding up the Southeast Freeway in a "modern representation of water that announces New Jersey Avenue, SE as a gateway to the Capitol Riverfront community." The reflective blue paint should go up in July, followed by light fixtures in August, and the installation should be dedicated in September, which will be right around the time that DCCAH moves into its new nearby digs at 225 Virginia/200 I
. Passers-by may note that new fences and LED overhead lighting have already been installed along New Jersey as part of the transformation of the underpass. The BID's presentation to the ANC, with more information about the project
, is here.
* Parking Parking Parking
: There was a discussion about issues with game-day parking
in the neighborhood, specifically the prohibition of parking along K and L streets, as well as other restrictions that have made residents unhappy. Damon Harvey of DDOT says that the agency is "reassessing" the current configuration, to figure out how to provide better access to residents while not allowing stadium-goers to then hog all the parking. He expects that changes will be announced in a month or so that will allow for "greater residential protection during games." One other non-game day change for residents has already gone into effect: meters are now turned off at 6:30 pm (but still 10 pm on game days).
However, those who came to the meeting hoping to hear about changes in the Residential Parking Permit system that would allow residents in the high-rise buildings west of Canal Park to park on the street throughout Ward 6 were disappointed, as DDOT continues to hold that large residential buildings in mixed-use neighborhoods will not qualify for RPP. (Harvey used the Ellington on U Street as a specific example of this being the case elsewhere in the city, but there are more buildings in this situation than just that one and the Near Southeast ones.)
Also, in somewhat related news the ANC unanimously passed a resolution protesting the plan in the mayor's new budget to redirect most performance parking
proceeds to other areas, such as Metro, rather than their being used as originally intended, to fund non-automotive transportation improvements in the neighborhood.
ANC 6D Monthly Meeting Comes to Near Southeast May 14 (Updated)
May 14, 2012 11:14 AM
For its May 14 business meeting, ANC 6D is venturing east of South Capitol Street, holding the session at the Courtyard by Marriott
at 140 L St., SE, starting at 7 pm. The full agenda isn't posted
yet, but a flyer sent around by chair Andy Litsky includes the following items: ANC 6D CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel
letter, Update on Canal Park
Construction, Discussion of Game Day Parking Issues, and New Jersey Avenue Public Art Piers (which I assume is the "Water Pylons
" project that the BID received a grant for a while back).
I bumped this to the top of the page as a reminder, since the meeting is tonight. The agenda has been posted
, and now includes an update on the Florida Rock/RiverFront
plans, in addition to the items mentioned above along with some issues of importance in Southwest and various races and events that want approval to come through the neighborhood(s).
Judging from a new case filed with the Office of Zoning, it looks like the Florida Rock folks are asking for a one-year time extension on their previously approved PUD, but I imagine that will all be discussed this evening.
UPDATE II: Should clarify that the original PUD extension was through June 27, 2012, which was going to be pretty hard to meet with their filings from earlier this year to change the first phase from office to residential still working through the process. This new request would give them until June of 2013 to either get their requested modifications approved, or revert back to the original approved plans.
M Street SE/SW Transportation Study Public Meeting May 24
May 8, 2012 9:08 AM
The study area covers
the stretch of M from 12th Street, SE to 14th Street, SW, along with the adjacent areas from the Southeast/Southwest Freeway south to the Anacostia River/Washington Channel. DDOT is looking at "how to integrate transit, bicycling and walking with motor vehicle traffic," while also trying to figure out how to balance residents' preferences for how M Street should be configured versus how visitors, workers, and commuters expect it to flow.
The first meeting, back in January
, included an introduction to the study before attendees broke up into small groups to give feedback about the issues they feel need addressing.
According to the web site
, a draft study report is expected this summer, with the final report and a final public meeting coming in the fall.
Next Virginia Avenue Tunnel Public Meeting May 21
May 4, 2012 9:06 AM
, just posted on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project web site
, announces that the next public meeting about the project will be on May 21 from 6 to 8 pm at Nationals Park
. "During this public meeting, the concepts to move forward in the EIS will be announced." Read my post from Wednesday
for more information on the whole EIS thing, and this one from the last meeting
to find out more about the initial concepts that were looked at, and that will form the basis for the ones chosen to be studied further.
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