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I did not attend last week's meeting on the plans for Virginia Avenue's streetscape once construction on the tunnel is completed, but detailed notes taken by DDOT have been posted. And there are some items that caught my eye:
* TREES: It's reported that 176 trees have been cut down as part of the tunnel construction, and that there will be approximately 305 new trees planted once the work is done. DDOT's preferred species include oaks, elms, and honey locust, and the planting scheme is such that it is expected to provide 50 percent "canopy coverage" after 20 years, 10 percentage points higher than the required minimum.
* PARKING: "The design team recognizes that parking is a critical issue for the neighborhood, and will ensure that the number of parking spaces in the neighborhood remains the same. DDOT will explore the possibility of providing additional parking."
* I STREET: Plans to have the 400 block of I Street end in a stub east of the church have apparently been shelved: "Based on community feedback, the connection of I Street to the 400 block of Virginia Avenue has been restored." As seen in this revised image.
* MORE VIRGINIA!: My personal favorite out of all of this: "The Architect of the Capitol will complete their construction project in 2018, and has indicated willingness to reopen Virginia Avenue between South Capitol Street and 2nd Street SE." This would also "enhance" connections to Garfield Park, allowing for passage in locations other than just the skate park-area under the freeway.
* TWO-WAY: Once construction is over, the 800 blocks of both Virginia Avenue and L Street SE will be converted to two-way traffic.
* LIGHTING: Replacement streetlights will be LEDs, which emit a whiter light than the current streetlights. There are apparently LED streetlights now installed on 1st Street near the ballpark as a test case for the city, and the "fixtures specified for Virginia Avenue will be similar to the first series of lights on the right hand side of First Street moving away from M Street."
* VIRGINIA AVE. PARK: The final post-construction design of Virginia Avenue Park is actually the responsibility of the Department of Parks and Recreation, and there will be a "design charrette" to discuss the park's future on Oct. 15 at 7 pm at the Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE.
Go ahead and read the notes for more details (and you can even see all the comment sheets handed in by the attendees). And the most recent designs for the streetscapes are here, plus you can check out my look at the initial designs.
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, meetings, Traffic Issues

Some transportation-related meetings are on the calendar for next week that may be of interest to neighborhood folks:
* DC STATE RAIL PLAN OPEN HOUSE: The project to create an official "State Rail Plan" (ahem) for DC is kicking off, and DDOT is holding an open house on Monday, Sept. 28 to "introduce the plan to the community." This rail plan is a requirement for any state (again, ahem) wishing to be eligible for grants and other federal financial assistance, and is going to focus on "passenger and freight rail infrastructure shared by CSX, VRE, MARC, Amtrak, and Norfolk Southern." The intent is to have a completed plan that will provide a high-level strategic framework, goals, and objectives to leverage the District’s rail network for continuing economic competitiveness and quality-of-life investments while also addressing ongoing concerns about rail safety and oversight."
The open house will run from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at Friendship Public Charter School-Chamberlain Campus, 1345 Potomac Avenue, SE. This start time is 30 minutes earlier than originally announced, because....:
* VIRGINIA AVE. STREETSCAPE RESTORATION REVIEW MEETING: Also on Monday, Sept. 28, beginning at 6:30 pm at 200 I St. SE, a joint meeting by DDOT and ANCs 6B and 6D will go over CSX's draft plans for rebuilding Virginia Avenue once construction is complete on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel. The first 30 minutes will be an open house, and then presentations and discussions will begin at 7 pm. There will also be a special public meeting of DDOT's Public Space Committee about the plans on Nov. 12.
(And then maybe for Christmas we can pitch in and get DDOT a group calendar, to perhaps avoid in the future scheduling two meetings with a very similar audience on the same night at nearly the same time in not-particularly-adjoining locations.)
* CIRCULATOR STOP CONSOLIDATION MEETING: On Wednesday, Sept. 30, DDOT is having a public meeting to talk about possibly consolidating some stops on the Union Station-Navy Yard line "to improve on-time performance and reliability." The only south-of-the-freeway stops on the potential chopping block are the ones at 4th and M SE in both directions, with the 6th and M stops being the closet ones to use instead. (The announcement gives the full lineup.) The meeting is from 6pm to 8pm at the Southeast Neighborhood Library, 403 7th Street SE.
* CSX'S "COFFEE WITH CHUCK": If you want to go for the 72-hour quadfecta of transportation sessions, there's also the next edition of CSX's monthly meetings with the community to discuss the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project, on Wednesday, Sept. 30 from 8 to 9 am at the Courtyard by Marriott at 140 L St. SE. Items that might be up for discussion include the coming closure of the 300 block of Virginia Ave. (in "early October") and also the temporary closures of 4th Street SE from just north of the I-695 underpass down to I Street from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm this week and probably into next week.

I recently took you along the multiple blocks of Virginia Avenue that are in the process of getting dug up as part of CSX's tunnel expansion and reconstruction project. But even though it's going to be a few years before the tunnels are completed, the process is underway to talk about what Virginia Avenue will look like after the construction is over.
CSX is in charge of this streetscape-and-landscaping upgrade and has submitted draft plans to various groups for review, and has posted some big (BIG) PDFs on the project web site. Meanwhile, ANC 6D commissioner Meredith Fascett put out the call last week looking for volunteers to join a neighborhood working group on the restoration plans.
But for those who don't want to wade through the PDFs, here are some partial screen grabs of CSX's submittals for the new Virginia Avenue, and I'm sure the bike/ped paths (both shared and separate) will be of interest, along with the plans to perk up Virginia Avenue Park.
These first two screen grabs show the general landscape and "roadway" plans from 2nd to 4th Street, and from 4th to 5th (click to enlarge):
For the westernmost blocks, there will be a shared porous asphalt path on the street's south side. Then, starting at 4th Street, there will be separate asphalt bike path and a companion walking path with permeable pavers. The second image also shows the expanded pocket park between 4th and 5th that will be created thanks to the planned realignment of Virginia. Note that it also has a bike path that runs down to the I Street stub--which will make for a decent cut-over to I and its bike lanes from 3rd St. SE all the way into Southwest (well, once that little part between 2nd and New Jersey opens!).
The split paths continue from 5th Street to 9th Street, as you see below (once you click to enlarge, that is):
East of 9th, into Virginia Avenue Park, the path being built by CSX disappears, but the park design seen at right shows a path that runs along the north end of the park to 11th Street, where we can all dream of a day that it hooks up with the path that is supposed to be built alongside Southeast Blvd. to Barney Circle, making for an alternate route to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail near RFK without having to go along M Street SE.
As for the park itself, the current dog park will be reconfigured, with both "large dog" and "small dog" areas. Some of the original paving stones recently uncovered will be placed in the park as well.
A public meeting to receive resident comments and feedback is expected to be happening soon, which I'm sure will be announced two minutes after I finish this post. UPDATE: Yup, less than 24 hours later, I'm seeing that the public meeting will be on Monday, Sept. 28 at 6:30, at a location to be determined.
Take a look at the full lineup of PDFs for better detail.
UPDATE, 10/7: After the meeting, updated block-by-block designs were made available (including a revision to reestablish the connection between the 400 block of I Street and Virginia Avenue), along with notes from the meeting.

If you are not one who sees much of Virginia Avenue SE in your day-to-day travels, or if you just cross it on your way to other locations, you might not be fully aware of the current scope of the initial work on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel reconstruction.
But never fear, my feet and my camera worked very hard in recent days to bring it all together for you.
Let's take a walk from west to east, shall we?

* FROM 2ND TO 3RD: The little-used stretch of Virginia from where the tracks first go underground at 2nd Street east toward 3rd was the first to close, depriving me of a good Park Chelsea/800 New Jersey vantage point (waaah!).
There's still pedestrian access right up against 200 I as you see at right, but the street itself is mostly gone, except for the portion that allows access to 200 I's loading dock.

* FROM 3RD TO 4TH: The thorniest part of the entire project is of course the 300 block of Virginia, where the townhouses on the south side of the block are taking the lion's share of residential impact during the reconstruction. As you see below, the trees along both sides of the street are gone, and access to the houses' front sidewalk from the east end is gone, as prep work is done for a new temporary driveway from 3rd Street to the alley that runs behind the houses. It's anticipated that this block will close to traffic completely next month.

* FROM 4TH TO 5TH: The intersection of 4th and Virginia is shrinking as prep work begins to build the temporary decking that will allow traffic to cross over the tunnel construction. The stretch from 4th to 5th has been stripped of its asphalt, as you see in the second photo below and the one at the top of this post. You can also see in the below right photo why there will be a temporary closure for a few weeks next spring of the 6th Street exit ramp from the freeway, so that it can be shifted north to allow for tunnel work.

* FROM 5TH TO 7TH: Those coming down the freeway ramp are now greeted with a sea of orange, and with the loss of the right lane. (And pedestrians have lost any sidewalk access to this block.) This block will remain open with reduced lanes into 2017.

* FROM 7TH TO 9TH: The small stretch of Virginia between 7th and 8th is currently untouched, but the street is closed from east of 8th to 9th (as I grumble about how part of this area was JUST ripped up and rebuilt as part of the 11th Street Bridges project).
With help from a tree stump, I was able to get a look at not only the initial work on Virginia but the clearing of a big chunk of Virginia Avenue Park, all the way across to 11th Street. The community garden remains untouched, however.

* FROM 10TH TO 12TH: The construction bends south in Virginia Avenue Park to meet up with L Street at 10th (below left), and L is now closed at its intersection with 11th (below middle). East of 11th the construction site continues (below right), but after all of this walking I failed you and did not get across there to peek in. It's in this final section where CSX reports having found more than 8,800 original paving stones buried a few feet below ground, apparently laid sometime during the 1880s-1890s. CSX says it will use some of the stones in its restoration of Virginia Avenue Park and will provide the rest to DDOT.
The sidewalk on the west side of 11th between the freeway and M Street is closed, but a recent missive from CSX says this is temporary "while we install pilings and temporary bridge decks, and work on utility relocations."
E-mail updates on closures and other construction aspects are sent out by the project team pretty regularly, if you are not already signed up. The next monthly "Coffee with Chuck" meeting with the project's chief engineer is scheduled for Sept. 30 at 8 am at the Courtyard by Marriott. (Though perhaps at some point though there needs to be a "Warm Milk/Nightcap with Chuck" for folks who don't operate well before noon.)
And my Virginia Avenue Tunnel project page is now refreshed with a fair number of before-and-after pairings to be able to see the changes at the various intersections along the construction footprint.
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, Traffic Issues

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

CSX has put out the word that there will be two utility relocation sites related to the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project gearing up starting on Monday, April 20, or thereabouts:
* Traffic lanes on 4th Street SE between the westbound lanes of Virginia Avenue and I Street will "temporarily shift to accommodate utility relocation work." The work will happen between 7 am and 7 pm on weekdays only and is expected to last about two months. "Some parking spaces will be temporarily occupied during the work period to accommodate lane shifts."
* There will also be utility relocation work under the Southeast Freeway in the "ad hoc recreation area," that little pass-through popular with the skateboard kidz where you can walk from 2nd Street under the overpass and into Garfield Park. "Access to the area will be limited during construction hours and visitors are encouraged to be cautious when traveling near the area." There's also the note that in the coming weeks "this work will extend into the intersection of 2nd Street S.E. and Virginia Avenue."
If you wish to discuss any of this with CSX, there will be an open house on April 23 from 4:30 to 7:30 pm at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel at 140 L St. SE. There's also expanded hours at the CSX community office on New Jersey Avenue: it's now open from 7 am to noon Mondays and Wednesdays and noon to 8 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also contact them by e-mail, phone, or web.
I wrote a few months ago about the initial construction plans, under which "utility relocation" qualifies.

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

Some brief links, because I think I've used up my allotment of words over the past few weeks, but also because the continuing web site problems have just utterly worn me down. (Reminder: if you get a 503 Service Unavailable error, or the site is loading but with all sorts of formatting problems, just count to 10--or maybe 20--and reload. They are supposedly investigating, but I may have to be committed before they manage to fix it.)
* RAMP CLOSURE SATURDAY: The ramp from M Street at 11th to the outbound 11th Street freeway bridge will be closed for "pavement striping modifications" on Saturday, April 11, from 7 am until 5 pm. The local bridge will be the detour. (DDOT)
* NO HOLIDAY FOR METERS: If you are thinking that you can park for free in metered street spaces near Nats Park on game days that fall on Sundays and holidays, you would be wrong. (DDOT)
* DOUGLASS BRIDGE $$$: Mayor Bowser's proposed FY16 budget includes $512.7 million for the new Douglass Bridge. (WBJ)
* BEST BAR BLUEJACKET: Esquire's "Best Bars in America" visited Bluejacket, among other spots, calling it the "Willy Wonka of beer breweries." (HillNow)
* FAIRGROUNDS LAMENT: "The Fairgrounds is a dying breed of the Nats fan experience." (WaPo)
* BREAKING ICE CREAM NEWS: Ice Cream Jubilee has added "Chocolate Matzo Crack," "Fig, Port, & Goat Cheese," and "Cherries Jubilee" as springtime flavors. And milkshakes!
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More posts: icecreamjubilee, Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues

With the arrival of spring comes the expansion of the hours of operation for the Union Station - Navy Yard Circulator route. Beginning today (March 30), the hours of operation will be from 6 am to 9 pm on weekdays, and 7 am to 9 pm on Saturdays. These new summer hours also apply to buses on the Skyland route.
There's also the expanded service for Nationals games, with buses running when there are Sunday home games from 10 am to 10 pm and until midnight when any home game starts at 4 pm or later.
And, as mentioned previously, today also marks a change in the route's stops near Union Station, with buses headed toward Navy Yard only serving the stop at Massachusetts Avenue and Columbus Circle. This means buses will no longer stop at 1st and Mass and 2nd and Mass.
And perhaps later this year the route will be extended to the Southwest Waterfront, though there's been no recent new news on that.
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More posts: circulator, Traffic Issues

This morning broke clear and sunny, and with a full slate of photos on my agenda, I headed south down New Jersey Avenue from north of the freeway, snapping merrily along, until I came to the 82 I construction site on the northwest corner of New Jersey and I.
With new sidewalks not yet in place in front of the Park Chelsea/800 New Jersey developments on the east side of the street, and with 82 I apparently not being covered under the regulations that resulted in the wide wide sidewalks you see all along the rest of the avenue, excavation and site work has been taking place right up to the (former) curb line on the only side of the street where pedestrians can walk. This has been going on for a few weeks, and while the temporary in-the-road-but-separated-by-plastic-barriers pedestrian path isn't optimal, it's also not unusual in these situations.
But this morning a large truck was parked in the former pedestrian path, with flagmen directing traffic in what had become just two very narrow north-south traffic lanes--and now there was absolutely nowhere for pedestrians to walk, in a location where it's very hard to take an alternate route on foot, unless you want to walk allllllll the way over to South Capitol and alllllll the way back to New Jersey once you get north of the freeway and train tracks, or backtrack southward to K so you can then walk north on 2nd or 3rd.
I've sidestepped a lot (A LOT) of construction during my 12 years of JDLand-ing, and I am generally pretty laid back about it--I'm not walking a dog, or pushing a stroller, so I just kind of grumble and pick my way through.
But the situation this morning--when two flagmen on either end were each telling me a different lane in the street in which to walk, and later exacerbated by seeing the line of seven or more dump trucks that were idling back to and around onto K Street while waiting to haul off excavated dirt--well, it escalated past even my high bar of tolerance, especially since I know how many people now walk along New Jersey to go to Capitol South, or the Capitol complex, or wherever.
And with the Nats returning to the neighborhood one week from today, and with thoughts of the number of stadium-goers who also do that New Jersey Avenue walk before and after games, I did the normal thing in 2015--I mentioned the situation on Twitter.
Which led to a lot of other people speaking up on Twitter, many of whom have been complaining about the issues surrounding this construction since it began back in February. Before long, Ward 6 council member Charles Allen tweeted that he had contacted the director of DDOT, and that "he's looking into it."
And while it shouldn't be the case that residents' complaints are ignored until either a) a loudmouth blogger fires off a tweet or b) baseball arrives, the truth is that the Nats' 2015 season is going to present a lot of challenges for anyone arriving in any way other than coming out of the Metro at Half and M.
There will be less parking available this year (which I'll detail in an upcoming post), and with 13 active construction sites east of South Capitol between the freeway and Nats Park, cars and pedestrians and bikes and fans and residents and commuters will be fighting a lot of battles, even though for the most part there won't be at gametime the sort of active work that snarled New Jersey and I this morning.
In addition to this New Jersey Avenue construction possibly bedeviling fans using Capitol South, the blocking of the sidewalk on the west side of 1st Street south of M for Ballpark Square construction in the block just north of the stadium--and the apparent temporary loss of the bike lane there as well--will end up making lots of fans just walk in the street instead of crossing back to the east side of the street, away from the ballpark.
And there are other spots where sidewalks are now blocked off or narrowed, or where street parking is temporarily banned, which are the sorts of issues that lead to grumpy drivers and grumpy pedestrians, which can lead to bad things.
One hopes that there will be attention paid to ways to ensure a safer passage to the ballpark, but one also hopes that any real effort to mitigate these construction/sidewalk/traffic/pedestrian issues doesn't happen only during the hours that red-and-white-bedecked masses are around.
In the meantime, be careful out there, and not just right where you see construction. (I watched a dump truck blow through a red light at 1st and Potomac, taking me back to the last era of crazy amounts of construction, but that was in 2007 when the resident population was about 1/10th of what it is now.)
UPDATE: One thing I should have emphasized more clearly is that this was obviously a Saturday-type operation, where the assumption is that such a setup will be less disruptive than on a weekday, and so the contractor can then get more done (in this case, hauling of dirt) in a shorter timespan. This intersection is just a tough one, since, as I said above, it doesn't easily allow for alternate north/south passage if something is going on.
UPDATE II: I went back on Sunday, where, as I expected, things were much quieter. And I also saw that part of the reason for the closure of the pedestrian walkway on Saturday was to build a new curb, and also pour some new concrete. I had noticed actually on Thursday that the old asphalt had a big crack in it and seemed to be dropping off toward the new excavation hole, so obviously this was a fix for that, and probably a pretty critical one.
Note also at the bottom of the photo evidence of old cobblestone.
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More posts: 801nj, Pedestrian/Cycling Issues, Traffic Issues

* SOUTH CAPITOL SPEED CAMERAS: MPD has announced the latest batch of speed camera deployments, and it includes South Capitol Street between O Street and Potomac Avenue--alongside Nationals Park and just north of the Douglass Bridge--in both directions. "The 30 day educational phase, or 'warning period', will commence on or about March 23, 2015. During this period, violators will receive warning citations. After the 30 day warning period, MPD will begin issuing live moving citations to violators."
* NATS PARK MAGNETOMETERS: There was a media event on Monday to unveil the new magnetometers at all entrances to Nats Park. (I'll note that this sign about the procedures will probably not be met with glee.) I wasn't at the event, but I did get my own shot on Sunday of the new installations at the Center Field Gate, as you see at right. The new security screening procedures will be in place starting with the April 4 exhibition game against the Yankees. Arrive early! (WaPo)
* US-NY CIRCULATOR CHANGE: "From 3/29, catch the Union Station bus to Navy Yard only at Mass Ave and Columbus Cir 1st & 2nd St stops discontinued." (@DCCirculator; more here)
* YARDS PARK WORK: "We're almost ready for Splash Season! Please 'pardon our dust' as we prepare the water features and basin. We'll update here when finished!" (@YardsPark)
* PEEKING AT CSX: At right is a shot of the now-cleared area just south of the freeway and behind the 70 and 100 Capitol Yards apartment buildings. This work has had hearts aflutter that there could be some new development coming there, but it is actually just CSX clearing its considerable tract of land as prep work continues for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel.
* PEEKING AT EVERYTHING ELSE: I'm going to have to recalibrate my normal mission to over-document projects in blog posts, given the breadth of work underway in the neighborhood. That said, I can't pass up a quick sharing of the cellphone photos I took Sunday afternoon while peeking through fences at the Homewood Suites, 82 I, Hampton Inn/Ballpark Square, and 909 Half sites. (Click all to enlarge.) It would have been even better if I had included the other holes in the ground, at 1111 New Jersey, 800 New Jersey, and Florida Rock, but I failed.
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