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Douglass Bridge Closure Mere Hours Away - Updated With More Story Links
Jul 5, 2007 4:40 PM
Enjoy your access to the South Capitol Street/Douglass Bridge today, because that's it until August. As I've mentioned ad infinitum here, it's closing tonight (12:01 am Friday July 6) so that the portion of the viaduct north of Potomac Avenue can be demolished and the rest of the northern approach lowered so that the bridge comes to ground level at Potomac Avenue. Here's my page with the graphics, links and photos explaining it all. Dr. Gridlock addresses it today in his Get There blog, and there are short blurbs out today by WJLA and Fox 5. While the plans are for the bridge to be closed through the end of August, the contractor can receive up to $1 million in incentives by finishing sooner.
And we'll see what happens with tomorrow's rush hour; officials are warning commuters to add 30 minutes to their normal expected commute time while the bridge is closed. Feel free to send me your Day 1 traffic experience.
UPDATE: More stories in advance of the closure, from WTOP (which says that the contractors will be working 20-hour days), NBC 4, WUSA, and another reminder from DDOT.
More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues

South Cap and L SW Parcel Sells for $5.5 Million
Jul 4, 2007 1:54 PM
We know that I only grudgingly look at what's happening on the west side of South Capitol Street given how full my hands are with all points eastward, but I did manage to notice within the past few weeks that the KFC/Taco Bell on the southwest corner of South Capitol and L (barely visible here and from M Street) has been boarded up. And I now see in the DC property sales database that on June 1 the property was purchased for $5.5 million by "URA Venture LLC." Quick searches don't yield me anything concrete on this company name, so I guess we'll have to wait and see who it is and what they're up to. If you know, feel free to share.
UPDATE, 5 minutes later: The contact address for URA in the sales database appears to match with this entry in the city's LSDBE database for Urban Realty Advisors LLC, which has now led me to their web site. (And I was unaware that Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart had entered the DC real estate market!) Still no words on the plans for the KFC site, though. And e-mails to their contact address bounce.
More posts: South Capitol St.

Douglass Bridge Closure Countdown Begins
Jun 29, 2007 12:40 PM
With less than a week to go now until early morning July 6, when the two-month closure of the Douglass Bridge to shorten and lower the bridge's northern portion begins, the media blitz is now getting underway. Here's the DDOT press release summarizing what's going to happen and what the impacts will be; it's a good link to e-mail around if you need to alert people to what's happening. The Post's Dr. Gridlock is mentioning the release and summarizing some of the other commuting impacts as well. One tidbit: they're telling people to expect morning delays of around 20 minutes, and afternoon rush delays of between 20 and 30 minutes.
My Douglass Bridge Fixes page has lots of links, drawings, and graphics explaining exactly what's going to be happening, and of course I will be there with camera in hand throughout the project to capture the changes. But while getting a new boulevard-like South Capitol Street is A Good Thing, I must take a minute to mourn what will be lost: three of my beloved perches where I've shot photos of the ballpark's progress over the past 15 months. (Though, it must be said, those spots would have lost their stadium view eventually anyway with the construction of the "knife-edge" Nationals administration building along South Capitol.)
More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Nationals Park, Traffic Issues

Douglass Bridge Closure Date Still July 6 (Technically)
Jun 27, 2007 9:32 AM
Thanks to reader Barbara for the heads up that an electronic sign has appeared on South Capitol Street this morning saying that the Douglass Bridge is going to close at noon on July 5; at the briefing on the bridge's two-month closure and "Extreme Makeover" a few weeks ago, July 6 was announced as the date the bridge would close. I'm trying to find out if there has indeed been a change, and will update this post when I have details.
UPDATE: The bridge is closing at 12 midnight (not 12 noon), but at the end of the day July 5; in other words, the very start of July 6. Take your pick--think of it as closing at 11:59 pm on the 5th, or 12:01 am July 6.
More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues

Maryland Commuter Bus Plans During Bridge Closure
Jun 18, 2007 2:27 PM
The Post's Dr. Gridlock has a blog entry today about the Maryland Transit Administration's plans for how MTA commuter buses will be diverted during the two-month shutdown of the Frederick Douglass/South Capitol Street Bridge that begins on July 6. Quoting: "MTA says that after listening to passengers, it has decided to bring some of its routes into the Branch Avenue and Suitland Metrorail stations for those who wish to transfer to the subway, but continue in and out of dowtown Washington for the other riders willing to tough it out through the congestion. (The buses will be stuck in the same congestion as the cars.)" See the entry for specifics on each bus route. Metro's bus route changes were announced a few weeks ago. (And thanks for the link, Dr. G!)

Raze Permit for Normandie Liquors
Jun 13, 2007 1:02 PM

A raze permit has now been filed for 83 M Street, which is the address of the defunct Normandie Liquors on the southwest corner of First and M. It's working its way through the approval process, so who knows when demolition might actually take place. Willco Construction is planning an office/residential/retail project for that entire stretch of First between M and N, but haven't as yet announced any timeline. Plans submitted during the request to close an alley on that side of block indicated that the project would have 324,000 sq ft of office space and 430 residential units; I don't know whether that's still the case. Hopefully we'll hear something soon. (Hint, hint, Willco.)

UPDATE: I forgot to also mention that raze permits have also been requested for the properties on the site of Camden Development's 1325 South Capitol Street residential building, across from the stadium.

More posts: 1325sc, South Capitol St., staddis, Square 701

More Details on Douglass Bridge Extreme Makeover
Jun 7, 2007 1:01 PM

This morning DDOT had a big press briefing about the plans for the coming Douglass Bridge "Extreme Makeover"; there was a gaggle of media in attendance, so I imagine there will be lots of play on TV tonight and in tomorrow's papers, so in the interest of time (mine, not yours), I'm going to hit the high points right now and wait for the reports from the big players to roll in for additional detail.

*The bridge will be shut down on July 6 (after the July 4 holiday). As soon as it's closed, crews will be on site beginning the demolition of the viaduct from Potomac Avenue northward, using "big shears" (DDOT's description) to drop it down. At the same time, the existing South Capitol Street will be ripped up, with infrastsructure and utility work done, and with the streetscape improvements started as well, which will include new "globe" lighting, a median with trees, etc. (Incidentally, by spring 2008 there will also be some sprucing up of the M Street overpass, with the chainlink fences removed and new historic iron railings installed.)
* It is expected that the 580 feet of the bridge from the Anacostia River to Potomac Avenue will begin to be lowered on July 20. They are going to put jacks under the bridge, cut the existing columns, and then lower it down. They should sell tickets for this part.
* The bridge itself will see its roadway milled, and the existing rails and chainlink fences replaced with a new special fancier railing; this railing will be affixed to the outside edge of the bridge, allowing the sidewalks on both sides of the bridge to be widened. (The bridge has already gotten a new paint job, have you noticed?)
* DDOT is creating an additional lane on I-295 between the Suitland Parkway and South Capitol Street to help improve the traffic flow.
* The closure of the bridge is planned for 60 days; however, the contractor (Corman) can receive up to $1 million in incentives if the work is finished sooner.
There are some new before-and-after renderings of what the approach to Potomac Avenue will look like, and I've added those to my Douglass Bridge makeover page, along with some photos taken on a barge tour today beneath the bridge. (You get to see the osprey nests!)
DDOT has also produced a spiffy video about the plans for the bridge (as well as information about a new Douglass Bridge, which is a few years and $300 million away from now); when they post it on their site, I'll link to it (UPDATED: now online). You'll probably see portions of it in tonight's media coverage. And just to warn you, a certain Near Southeast blogger puts in a very brief appearance, but don't let that prevent you from watching.
I'll update this entry as the day goes on with other media coverage.
UPDATE I: .... such as Dr. Gridlock's posting on the briefing, discussing the commuting impact of the closure. And the DDOT press release.
UPDATE II: And WTOP. And NBC. And ABC. But not a lot of news in any of them.
UPDATE III: Here's the Post and the Examiner.
UPDATE, 6/11: And another Examiner piece, focusing a bit more on the eventual new bridge. (But I wish their headline writer had correctly spelled "South Capit*ol*.")

More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues

Square 696 Sold for $69.4 Million
Jun 3, 2007 2:57 PM

Thanks to the latest update of the DC Property Sales database, I can now report that the entire block known as Square 696 (bounded by 1st, I, K, and Half) changed hands on April 12; the Pedas family sold its three lots, totaling 54,700 sq ft, for $49.834 million; Potomac Development Corporation received $19.544 million for the 19,600-sq-ft lot on the northeast corner of the block (home to a firewood business for many years). The database lists the buyer as "99 I Street SE LP"; we know from the signs that have gone up that the square is being developed as an office/retail project by DRI Development Services (a wholly owned subsidiary of Transwestern). No details yet on exactly what's coming, or when. (And a hat tip to the Pedas family, who adds this $49.8 million take to the $51.6 million payday they were part of when Ron Cohen bought Square 699N one block to the south in Sept. 2005 and the $4.5 million garnered from their sale of the Domino's lot at the corner of South Capitol and M in August 2005. Apparently you can make some money in this real estate biz.)

With this transaction now official, I've created a DRI/99 I Street page, with not-terribly-exciting photos of the block and my previous news items, and have added it to my main map and project directory.

1325 South Capitol's Zoning Hearing
Jun 1, 2007 9:51 AM
On Thursday night the Zoning Commission had another hearing on Case 06-41, Camden Development's 276-unit residential project at 1325 South Capitol Street. It's been a long trek for this project, having been caught in limbo as the Capitol Gateway Overlay was expanded to include their location and as the city's Inclusionary Zoning law came into being, and so they were back for another hearing because it was decided that in order to properly handle the case it needed to be resubmitted as a Planned Unit Development--I can't bear to try to get anymore specific than that, so here's the transcript from the March ZC hearing on the matter. The submitted plan last night was basically same as at their February hearing (here's the transcript).
Commissioner Turnbull led the questioning, and he seemed exasperated by the western facade of the project, expressing much concern it since will be facing the low-rise residential neighborhood in Southwest; even though the developer had added some additional articulation since the last hearing, he considered it "bland" and remarked that it's not just the back of a building, because it's very visible to the surrounding neighborhood. Turnbull also asked for information on where the affordable housing units will be in the building, wanting to make sure they wouldn't only be on the west side of the building; the developers responded that they are spread throughout floors 1-6 on three sides of the building. Turnbull also took issue with the non-green design of the roof, but the developers explained that they had to put the air conditioning mechanics on the roof to lessen the noise impact on the neighbors. The other two commissioners present, Hood and Parsons, expressed their strong support for all of the issues brought up by Turnbull.
Joel Lawson of the Office of Planning testified in support of the project, mentioning that the landscaped courtyard in the back will be a "nice feature" for neighbors; he said that additional articulation of the rear of the building would be fine, but that OP was happy with the current massing. It was also noted that ANC 6D supports the project as well. And the wife of one neighbor who had originally wanted to testify in opposition to the project announced they were now supporting it, after the ANC negotiated a deal for the neighors at 2, 4, 6, and 8 O Street to be able to lease parking spaces in the project's garage for 50% off the market rate.
The commission asked for documentation on the affordable-housing unit layout and some additional work on the rear side of the building; the submittal, response, and draft order process is to be completed by June 21, with a vote to be scheduled soon afterward.
More posts: 1325sc, South Capitol St., zoning

Last Douglass Bridge Weekend Closure
May 30, 2007 1:22 PM
From DDOT, a reminder that the last weekend closure of the outbound/southbound lanes of the Douglass Bridge (i.e., the South Capitol Street Bridge) is on tap, starting at 10 pm Friday June 1 and reopening sometime before the Monday June 4 afternoon rush hour. Of course, in a few weeks we'll all be dreaming of the days of mere weekend closures, when the bridge is closed in both directions for all of July and August for its Extreme Makeover, when "the bridge's elevated northern approach will be lowered to become an at-grade roadway with a new intersection at South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue. Additional improvements will occur such as paving and painting the entire bridge. Ultimately, nearly three blocks of elevated roadway--which currently act as a barrier to access across South Capitol Street--will be removed and replaced with at-grade intersections that will help knit the neighborhood together."
More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues

Northbound South Capitol Access at Potomac Ave. [Sometimes] Closed; Briefing on Bridge Plans
May 27, 2007 11:57 AM

For those of you who like to drive the loop around the stadium site to check out the latest progress, be advised that you can no longer go will often find the road closed north from Potomac Avenue on the mini-South Capitol Street that runs on the east side of the viaduct (pictures here); it's been closed as prep work gets underway for the lowering of the Douglass Bridge starting in July. The work now starting on the new Nationals office building that will run along the southern end of South Capitol Street (see my stadium renderings page for drawings) has spilled out into that access road from time to time over the past week or sol. If you don't make that drive yourself and are hoping for an update to my Stadium Construction Gallery, I'm somewhat hamstrung by the overcast weather this weekend (which makes for pretty icky photos), so unless there's a break in the cloud cover it may possibly be a few days before I add a new batch of shots.

Speaking of the bridge work, on June 7 DDOT is having a press briefing on the project, which they are now calling an "Extreme Makeover" -- hmmmm, I think I said that first ;-). The briefing will discuss traffic detours, construction plans and schedule, commuting solutions (such as Bridge Bucks), and the additional improvements to South Capitol Street that are coming. In other words, soon we'll finally get the details on how this is all going to shake out.
UPDATE: Apologies for the mix-up in the comments above about the street closure; it's open today, when no work is going on at the stadium site. And, just to repay you for that boo-boo, I went out and took pictures even though the sky is not bright blue; will probably have them posted tomorrow.

More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Nationals Park, Traffic Issues

WMATA Approves Temporary Altering of Douglass Bridge Bus Routes
May 25, 2007 10:05 PM

I mentioned this in my preview of Thursday's WMATA board meeting, but then missed it in my summary of what happened, so we'll throw it over to the Post: "Fares on four Metrobus routes that will be detoured in July and August, when District officials will close the South Capitol Street Bridge for a major construction project, will be temporarily reduced, the Metro board said.The fare on the A9 route will go from $1.25 to 75 cents, and the express bus fare on the P17, P19 and W13 routes will drop from $3 to $1.25 during construction. The routes will temporarily end at Metrorail stations on the Green Line to help buses and commuters avoid traffic detoured by the bridge closing. The A9 (South Capitol Street Line) will end at the Anacostia station, and the P17, P19 (Oxon Hill-Fort Washington Line) and W13 (Bock Road Line) routes will end at the Southern Avenue Metrorail station."

The Post piece also briefly mentions the vote to move the Southeastern Bus Garage to DC Village, and you can read my entry from yesterday for more detail on how exactly the debate went, and also for links to various documents about the move. There was no word today that I've heard as to whether the city had reached a deal on moving the shelter beds currently at DC Village--remember, if that doesn't happen by Thursday May 31, the boards' approval vote of the move and the various next steps does not take effect. And you can listen to the archived audiocast of the meeting if you're especially interested.

More posts: Metro/WMATA, South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues

Bridge Bucks Program Debuts
May 23, 2007 12:55 PM
A couple weeks back I posted about DDOT's new "Bridge Bucks" program, which offers $50 per month toward transit fares and vanpool fees for people who will be affected by this summer's Extreme Makeover: Frederick Douglass Bridge. DDOT sent out a press release yesterday saying that the program has now launched, and you can visit the Bridge Bucks site for more details. Or, as I said then, avoid it all and just take a nice eight-week summer vacation; you could spend it camping at 4th and L.
More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues

WMATA Board Meeting - Bus Garage Move, Route Changes for Bridge Closure
May 22, 2007 3:33 PM

On Thursday the WMATA board has on its agenda the approval of series of recommendations to continue moving forward on the plan to relocate the Southeastern Bus Garage from its current spot at Half and M to DC Village. The recommendations are the same as what came out of the Planning and Real Estate Subcommittee earlier this month to hold a public hearing on the project, advertise the Phase 1 construction contract, negotiate with the city to aquire the DC Village property, apply for a Federal bus facility grant, and authorize the sale of the garage and its parking lot (presumably to Monument Realty, though I've yet to see any official announcement that Monument was the source of the unsolicited offer in April for the property). The plan would then be to come back to the board in September with a land transaction agreement to be executed, and a construction contract to be awarded. As I've mentioned previously, WMATA is very much wanting to be out of the Half and M garage before the Nationals ballpark opens in March 2008. In addition to the documents for Thursday's meeting, the background documents from the May 11 subcommittee meeting also have lots of good detail on the proposed move, as do my last few entries on the subject.

And also on the agenda (good thing I scrolled down!) is a request to approve temporary changes in the routes and fares for the A9, P17, P19, and W13 bus lines during July and August's Extreme Makeover: Frederick Douglass Bridge. If you ride these buses, be sure to read what's being proposed, but the gist is that because the detour route's expected congestion would impact bus schedules, WMATA is proposing to temporarily end those bus routes at subway stations on the east side of the river, but reducing the fares to help offset the higher cost of riding the subway.
If you're really interested in this meeting, WMATA provides live streaming and archived audiocasts of its meetings. (Yay!)

Douglass Bridge Closures CANCELLED This Weekend
May 18, 2007 1:02 PM

UPDATE: This planned closure for this weekend has been cancelled because of the rotten weather forecast. Original entry:

Once again, the outbound side of the Douglass Bridge will be closed this weekend; here's the scoop from DDOT: "Improvements to the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge (sometimes referred to as the South Capitol Street Bridge) will continue this weekend, as crews continue repairs on the southbound or outbound lanes. Following the evening rush hour on Friday, May 18 at 10 pm, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will temporarily close the southbound (outbound) lanes on the Douglass Bridge. All lanes will be reopened in time for the Monday (May 21) evening rush hour. Outbound bridge drivers will be directed to follow signed detours to I-395 South across the 11th Street Bridge to I-295 South. Drivers also may consider taking either New York Avenue or Benning Road as alternate routes." This is of course all in preparation for The Mother of All Bridge Closures, coming in July and August when both sides of the bridge will be shut down to demolish the northern 800 feet of the viaduct, and lower the exit of the bridge so that it reaches ground level at Potomac Avenue.

More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues

Meeting Wrap-Up - 250 M Approved, ANC Thumbs Down on Parking
May 15, 2007 12:11 PM

Let's go around the horn and see what happened at last night's various meetings.

* The Zoning Commission voted to give final approval to the plans for 250 M Street, William C. Smith's planned 190,000-sq-ft office building on M Street just east of what will be Canal Park. The building, which is actually part of the Capper/Carrollsburg Planned Unit Development (and will help fund all the redevelopment at Capper), is expected to start construction at the end of 2007.
* ANC 6D had three Near Southeast items on the agenda--unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend, so I'm giving you the quick and dirty results, and will hopefully have links later for additional details. First, they gave their approval (again) to the 276-unit residential building planned by Camden Development at 1325 South Capitol Street, but this was pretty prefunctory since they approved it a few months back and nothing has really changed except a bureaucratic need to resubmit the plan to the Zoning Commission in a different manner; the ZC hearing is on May 31. Second, they voted not to support Zoning Commission Case 07-08, the request to amend the city's zoning laws to allow temporary (no longer than five years) surface parking lots on certain squares in Near Southeast to help provide parking for the new stadium. There was also a presentation by the DC Housing Authority on what's been happening with Capper/Carrollsburg and the Capper seniors buildings, but of course you've been reading this site religiously and so know it all already.
UPDATE: Apparently the feelings against the parking case ran pretty strong; and I understand that Andy Litsky of the ANC will be testifying in opposition at the Zoning Commission hearing next Monday (May 21).

'Bridge Bucks' to Help With Summer Douglass Bridge Closure
May 8, 2007 9:11 AM
New from DDOT: "The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) today started an innovative program to spur greater use of transit and ridesharing by commuters affected by this summer's repairs of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge (sometimes referred to as the South Capitol Street Bridge). The program will help commuters affected by DDOT's planned July-August closure of the bridge. Modeled after a successful similar effort carried out by the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project, DDOT's 'Bridge Bucks' program will provide $50 per month toward transit fares and vanpool fees to encourage commuters to switch out of their cars and into an alternative travel mode." There's a Bridge Bucks web page with more information. Or you could just take that eight-week summer vacation!
UPDATE, May 8: Here's a WTOP piece on the Bridge Bucks plan, and The Post's Dr. Gridlock (Bob Thomson) is addressing the program and the concerns from commuters about the plan to close the bridge in his Get There blog today.
More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues

The Green Ballpark (And a New Rendering)
May 7, 2007 11:14 PM
Don't know how new this is, but a page on the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission's site about the steps being taken to make the new Nationals ballpark "green" includes a graphic describing the various environmentally conscious aspects of the stadium--and the graphic also has a stadium rendering I haven't come across before (looking at the stadium from its northwest corner) with the best view I've seen so far of the garages planned for the north end of the site, as well as good detail of the South Capitol Street facade of the stadium. I've added the graphic to my Stadium Renderings page.
More posts: parking, South Capitol St., Nationals Park

Early Heads Up - First Outbound Douglass Bridge Closures This Weekend
Apr 30, 2007 8:12 PM
From DDOT: "Improvements to the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge (sometimes referred to as the South Capitol Street Bridge) will continue this weekend, as crews begin repairs on the southbound or outbound lanes. Previous recent weekend closures affected inbound lanes only. (View a map of weekend detours) Following the evening rush hour on Friday, May 4 at 10 pm, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will temporarily close the southbound (outbound) lanes on the Douglass Bridge. All lanes will be reopened in time for the Monday (May 7) evening rush hour. Outbound bridge drivers will be directed to follow signed detours to I-395 South across the 11th Street Bridge to I-295 South. Drivers also may consider taking either New York Avenue or Benning Road as alternate routes. Following this weekend's closures, the outbound lanes on the Douglass Bridge again are scheduled to close on the weekends of May 19 and June 2. Closure of the bridge's outbound lanes follows six previous weekends of closing the bridge's northbound or inbound lanes. The off-peak weekend closures and repairs are needed to prepare for a major rehabilitation that will take place on the Frederick Douglass Bridge in July and August--at which time all lanes on the bridge will be closed in both directions."
More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues

Weekend Closures and Cleanups
Apr 18, 2007 1:32 PM
A reminder that the inbound lanes of the Frederick Douglass Bridge will again be closed this weekend (from 10 am Friday, April 20 until before the Monday, April 23 morning rush hour). In May and June, the weekend closures will be shifted to the outbound lanes. And, of course, in July and August, the bridge will be shut down completely for Extreme Makeover: South Capitol Street, aka the demolition of the northern end of the bridge to allow for the bridge to arrive at ground level at Potomac Avenue.
Also, see my previous entry about various Earth Day-related activities around Near Southeast and the Anacostia River. Alas, my calendar has an unmoveable commitment for Saturday, otherwise I was all ready to make the Canal Park cleanup a JDLand meet-and-greet. But don't let that stop you from participating; and be sure to ask the organizers if you can help them move the school buses (heh heh).
More posts: Canal Park, South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
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