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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: Southeast Blvd.
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The Office of Planning has posted the final version of its Southeast Blvd. planning study that was undertaken in early 2014 after Tommy Wells and ANC 6B found DDOT's initial designs for reconfiguring the stretch of road between 11th Street and Barney Circle decidedly lacking.
I wrote about OP's concepts after its public meeting back in December, and the designs in this final report are the same, still including elevating the road to the height of L Street directly to the north and the extensions of 13th, 14th, and 15th streets, along with varying approaches to including residential development in the median (or not) and including (or not) the underground bus parking so close to DDOT's heart.
The report reminds readers that the "purpose of this planning study was not to identify a single 'preferred alternative,' but rather to develop concepts that respond to the planning goals and objectives for the District and the community, which could be advanced through further study."
However, it goes on to say that OP has recommended developing a "hybrid concept," "based largely on the street network and development program described in Concept A, but incorporate pocket parks or other public open space interspersed throughout the new development parcels in ways that enhance the neighborhood and support the viability of new development."
And now that this study is finished, DDOT is undertaking its own feasibility study, "to determine the project development process and the economic viability of integrating the land use concepts that emerged from the Office of Planning’s (OP) Southeast Boulevard Planning Study with the transportation alternatives."
Once THAT is done, it will be all rolled into the Barney Circle-Southeast Blvd. Transportation Planning Study that began back in 2013.
In the meantime, of course, DDOT went ahead and built the road, opening it in late 2014.
I am admittedly giving short shrift to the final OP report, so if the fate of the road is of interest to you, be sure to read the whole thing, along with my post about it from last year.
Representatives of OP and DDOT will apparently be providing an update on all the Barney Circle-Southeast Blvd. studying tonight (Wednesday, July 8) at 7 pm at the Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, as part of ANC 6B's Transportation Committee meeting.
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More posts: Southeast Blvd., Traffic Issues
 

DDOT announced that today (Dec. 22) they have opened Southeast Blvd. between 11th St. SE and Pennsylvania Avenue at Barney Circle.
Considering it looked like this nine days ago, the pedal must have been put to the metal.
Anyone want to report from there? I'll be interested to see how the signalized section at 11th Street handles the presumed new influx of east/west traffic.
The planning project to come up with concepts for how the road could look and function in the future continues.
UPDATE, 9:15 PM: Dark? Rainy? What a perfect time to try out a new road! I was coming home a little while ago on the SW/SE Freeway from Virginia, so decided to follow them there new signs for "Southeast Blvd."
I crossed 11th Street at the bottom of the exit ramp from the SE Freeway, then drove east on the new road to the light/merge at Pennsylvania Avenue just before the Sousa Bridge, where I'd still be sitting if I hadn't decided to finally run the light after waiting and waiting and waiting. (The stretch of road that continues eastward under Barney Circle is not reopened, though there is line striping for a lane to eventually head that way, it's just blocked off.)
Then, after a fun reversing of course that involved doubling back via DC-295 and two of the new ramps to and from 11th Street SE/MLK Blvd., I went westward on Pennsylvania Avenue and took the exit "To I-395." That goes under Barney Circle as it used to, and eventually I returned to 11th Street SE at the new signalized intersection where I could have chosen to go straight to get onto the westbound SE Freeway.
Impressions? Hard to tell in the rain. The MC Dean folks were out working on the signals, there's still a lot of cleanup work going on in the median, and a lot of heavy construction work is still in evidence on the eastern end by Barney Circle.
But if the city wants to rake in the dough, they'll set up speed cameras to enforce the SPEED LIMIT 30 signs that I LOL'ed at as I drove past them. Call it a "Boulevard" or call it a limited-access divided highway, but it is not a streetscape that screams 30 MPH.
(Photos will have to wait until the sun is actually out.)
UPDATE, 12/23: Via my very poorly paid stringer (Mr. JDLand), one shot of the now-uncovered signage for Southeast Blvd. eastbound on I-695/SE Freeway.
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More posts: Southeast Blvd., Traffic Issues
 

I finally got my lazy self over to 11th Street with my camera this past weekend, and got quite the view of the soon-to-arrive Southeast Blvd., the reconstituted road between Barney Circle and 11th Street that runs along the path of the old sunken east end of the Southeast Freeway.
A kind official, taking a wild guess at who that old lady shooting photos of construction might possibly be, guided me in for a quick peek over the crest of the hill, eastward toward Barney Circle:
The new road will be two lanes in each direction, separated by a fair amount of non-road area, as you can see. At the new signalized intersection with 11th Street, the lanes align with the new ramps to and from the Southeast Freeway. Here's what the approach to 11th Street looked like in 2012, when the freeway still ran beneath 11th, along with the similar-but-higher-up view now. (Click to enlarge, and use the massive freeway pylons and flyover to orient yourself, especially in terms of the vertical change.)
As I have written about previously, there has been a fair amount of consternation over this road, both in terms of what some people feel is a rush to get it reopened along with much unhappiness when DDOT unveiled its initial concepts for the road's long-term design. The Office of Planning has since been working on a new set of designs to better meet a goal of reintegrating this area with the surrounding neighborhood, and last week there was a public meeting to go over these concepts, seen below and laid out in detail in the presentation slides.
When comparing these concepts to the road about to open, you can see that the general layout of the traffic lanes and available space are the same, though Concept B has just one lane in each direction just one new two-lane boulevard heading eastward while A and C have two lanes in each direction (UPDATED to fix how B is characterized). (And bike lanes! There are bike lanes!) However, all three would build up the boulevard so that it would become level with L Street, and would then allow 13th, 14th, and 15th streets to intersect with the boulevard for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
At right is a side view showing the proposed elevation for Concept A, running from L Street at left over to the train tracks and then down to the river.The CSX train tracks that run to the right of the road's footprints prevent further connection of these streets to M Street and the river, but there could be pedestrian bridges built to bring people across the tracks. (Note that all three concepts show the position of the planned 1333 M Street residential project just south of the boulevard.)
Two of the designs call for development within the huge median, either of low-rise multi-family buildings or townhouses or some combination thereof (at right is a rendering of the Concept A vision). The third design leaves it as a wide-open park space. And two of the three plans show the parking beneath the boulevard for buses that seems to be a requirement from DDOT's point of view.
I'm not going to go into great detail about what was said at the meeting--you can browse the presentation slides and read Capitol Hill Corner's report, which includes the many concerns of nearby residents, especially the ones who don't have much interest in connecting L, 13th, 14th, and 15th to this road.
At this stage, these truly are just concepts. There would next need to be a feasibility study/traffic flow analysis done by DDOT, an undertaking that has no timetable. There is also the issue of this land having been turned over to the city by the feds with the requirement that it be used for "transportation purposes," which raises questions about whether plopping residential buildings in the middle of it all would be an issue.
In the meantime, the new version of this road should open early in 2015.
Here's one more before-and-almost-after, looking eastward from down in the depths back in 2012 (left) and then an expanded version of the current view. Use the apartment building and retaining wall at left to orient. The embankment in the median in the "before" photo is the remnant of the ramps from the old 11th Street Bridges to and from RFK.
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More posts: Southeast Blvd., Traffic Issues
 

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
 

ANC 6B commissioners Brian Flahaven and Kirsten Oldenburg have both written about a new batch of design concepts for Southeast Blvd., the planned stretch of road between 11th Street SE and Barney Circle where the sunken far eastern portion of the Southeast Freeway used to run.
Almost a year ago, DDOT presented five designs for the new road that basically, as Flahaven puts it, "replaced the freeway with ... a freeway completely separated from the neighborhood grid." The designs were not well received, and with a push from councilmember Tommy Wells, the Office of Planning stepped in to conduct a "rapid response" study of the neighborhood and the project. And on Aug. 4, these new designs were unveiled at a public meeting.
The boards show both two-lane and four-lane designs for the road, some with direct access to the Anacostia Waterfront and extension of the street grid to the boulevard, some without. The Office of Planning now plans to take community feedback--which apparently was considerably more positive this time around--and move forward with three final concepts that can be presented to the community and to DDOT this fall.
However, it also turns out that DDOT is planning to go ahead and reopen this stretch of road by the end of the year, with the traffic flowing through the new signalized intersection on 11th Street SE where the exit ramp from the Southeast Freeway recently opened. Oldenburg describes what she see as the "major implications" of this move: "First, this freeway segment becomes the No Build option in the study. Second, in my view, it will take the pressure off city officials to get the NEPA study completed in a timely manner, hopefully, incorporating some of the fresh ideas generated by the OP study."
Flahaven is urging residents to contact Mayor Gray and council members with their thoughts on this.
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More posts: Southeast Blvd., Traffic Issues
 

Despite it being four weeks after the fact, JDLand's strict operating requirements still dictate that I document the new exit ramp to 11th Street SE from eastbound I-695.
With thanks to Mr. JDLand for chauffeuring, here's what it's like to venture along this new route, if you haven't done it. (And sure, I could have Vined it, or YouTubed it, or whatever, but what fun would that be?)
The view driving east on the Southeast Freeway (which is now I-695, if you haven't gotten the memo). If you always get off at or before the 6th Street SE exit, this may be an unfamiliar vista to you. The left lanes head toward the outbound 11th Street Bridges, while the right two lanes are the new movement that didn't exist before this whole project got underway. (And is that hidden part of the 11th Street sign maybe an eventual pointer to Southeast Blvd.?)
Behold, the new ramp! You also get to see the two new flyovers at left that have been built as part of this project, which has been underway since 2009. Sneaking up in between is the new on-ramp from 8th Street SE, which opened not long ago. At right is Virginia Avenue Park. Note also the sign pointing toward Anacostia Park--this would take you down 11th to the new local bridge and to the park that-a-way.
And now you come to the intersection at 11th. Turning left takes you north toward Pennsylvania Avenue and Lincoln Park, while turning right takes you to M Street, the Navy Yard, and the local bridge. Note the blocked-off third lane that is striped for left turns as well--I assume there will come a time when the middle lane will be for traffic continuing straight on Southeast Blvd.
Wrapping up our little journey, here's a quick look backward at the road just traveled.
Need a reminder of what this spot used to look like? Remember the phrase "sunken freeway"? Here's a reminder, from street level and from above.

And, because I am a complete nutcase (which we already knew), here is a bunch of photos--strung together as a slideshow--that I took just as the 11th Street Bridges project was getting underway in early 2010, showing what it used to be like to drive across the Anacostia on that route. Apologies for the dirty windshield.
(I know, my archive just gets more and more alarming.)
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More posts: 11th Street Bridges, Southeast Blvd., Traffic Issues
 

On Sunday I ventured out for a long overdue survey of the 11th Street Bridges project. While I know that pictures of ramps and flyovers don't elicit quite the swooning that images of new residential buildings do, the changes at street level and above since this project began in 2009 are as wide-ranging as anything else in the area short of probably Nationals Park. Here's what I saw (click on photos to embiggen):
On 8th Street just north of Virginia Avenue, the new ramp to outbound I-695 (aka the 11th Street freeway bridge) looks pretty far along, as seen at right. This ramp has an "early spring" projected opening, and it doesn't appear to be too in danger of missing that.
The lanes to the left of this new freeway entrance carry the outbound I-695 traffic, while the ramp to the right that used to lead to the old outbound flyover and bridge will now be the new exit from the freeway to an intersection at 11th Street SE north of L. You can also see this new exit ramp from 8th and Virginia (below left), running next the footprint of the now-demolished old entrance ramp. The 11th Street interchange still has a ways to go (below right), but is projected to open in early summer.
I also finally checked out 12th Street, which no longer lives quite so deeply in the shadow of the ramp from the old inbound 11th Street Bridge to M Street. The in-water piers of the old bridge are still standing, as you see at left, but otherwise the ramp's footprint has been cleared. (I kind of miss the staircase, though.)
The 12th and O intersection still needs a lot of love even with the embankment gone, but it's at least somewhat less apocalyptic now (below left)--and it will be seeing more traffic with M Street east of 13th temporarily closed, which has also moved the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail route onto its "real" Water Street path. Meanwhile, one block to the north, there's about to be an actual intersection with N Street (below right), allowing for traffic to access 11th Street in either direction without having to go up to M. (You can see the rest of the new 12th and N angles and how they've changed, too.)
So many of the new 11th Street Bridges movements are finished--the bridges themselves, the new inbound and outbound flyovers, the two-way traffic up 11th Street from the local bridge, and the on- and off-ramps at M Street. This also means that the centipede-like old inbound flyover seen in the two photos below can now be demolished like three others before it (the RFK ramps and the outbound flyover), for one final change to the skyline above 11th Street.
It's pretty hard to pull together these changes into a single page, so if you really want to get a feeling for the progression over the past four-plus years, I'd dive into these parts of my photo archive:
* 12th and M, especially looking north and northwest;
* 11th and N, looking north and south; and
I know, it's exhausting. But for someone enamored of striking before-and-after shots, it's a goldmine.
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More posts: 11th Street Bridges, photos, Southeast Blvd., Traffic Issues
 

* 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?
 

Cleaning out the pending file:
* DIG IT: The shoring and sheeting permit has now been approved for the residential building currently known by the spiffy moniker of Parcel N at the Yards, which means that the parking lot on the southwest corner of 4th and Tingey should start being dug up any time now (beyond just the DC Water digging up that's been going on for a while). This building will have 327 residential units and 20,000 square feet of ground-floor retail when completed in either late 2015 or early 2016.
* MMMM, BEER: Bluejacket is going to start offering tours of its brewery, beginning Jan. 31. The offerings range from a free tour with one complimentary taste of a Bluejacket brew to a $22 "tasting tour" to the $75 "Beer and Food Experience Tour." See the web site for more details.
* A REVIEW: Alas, the Post's Tom Sietsema did not have particularly good things to say about the food at the Arsenal (but he did like Bluejacket's brewed offerings).
* ANC VACANCY: The Board of Elections has officially certified the vacancy in 6D02 after Ed Kaminski's resignation, and the wheels are now turning for a special election. Petitions may be picked up at the BOE and circulated until Feb. 3, with challenges to those petitions allowed through Feb. 12. If more than one person successfully makes it through the petition process, an election will be held, most likely at 6D's March business meeting. If only one candidate qualifies, that person automatically fills the vacancy. So, if you're itching to be an ANC commissioner and you live in Capitol Hill Tower, or Velocity, or 909 New Jersey, or across the way in the northeastern sections of Southwest, here's your chance.
* SOUTHEAST BLVD: ANC 6B's Brian Flahaven has posted the commission's draft comments on DDOT's initial plans for the rebuild of Barney Circle and Southeast Blvd. Spoiler: "The committee recommended a number of clarifying changes to the comments including the addition of an opening sentence that conveys the commission’s opposition to the design concepts presented to the community on Nov. 21, 2013. The committee also wanted to make it clear that other stakeholders besides DDOT need to be brought into the project discussion."
 

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.
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More posts: meetings, Southeast Blvd., Traffic Issues
 
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