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I think a couple of before-and-afters tell the story as well as a pile of words. First, looking west from 2nd Street SE on Feb. 3, 2005, and then today, Feb. 8, 2016:
And the reverse view, looking east from New Jersey on Feb. 23, 2004 and today, Feb. 8, 2016:
And here's a few more shots, because I'm a crazy woman. Note that the sidewalks on the south and west sides of the Park Chelsea are now open, meaning that you can now walk on the east side of New Jersey north of I--at least until you get to the fences that mark the Agora/Whole Foods project, at which point you'd need to cross back to the west.
In case you haven't been around, it was the former DPW/trash transfer station, demolished in 2012, that long ago was built on a diagonal footprint, created from back when the Washington Canal was dug.
And now I at last will be able to photograph the intersections of 2nd and I and New Jersey and I without having to walk down to K and back up to I. And bike to Southwest without having to do the same down-and-back.
I would note, though, that pedestrians and cyclists need to be veeeeeery careful at this intersection--I saw a lot of confusion this morning, and of course the continuing construction right up to the property line at 82 I adds to the difficulties.
Comments (19)
More posts: 880 NJ/Park Chelsea, parkchelsea, Traffic Issues
 

Last week DDOT released its Southeast Blvd. Feasibility Study, in which the agency "evaluated the feasibility of transitioning a segment of the former Southeast Freeway from 11th Street to Barney Circle into an urban boulevard more consistent with the expected travel demand and the character of the adjacent neighborhood."
This study was a follow-on to the Office of Planning's Southeast Blvd. Planning Study, which came about after residents expressed displeasure with the initial efforts seen in the Barney Circle-Southeast Blvd. Transportation Planning Study.
And what does the feasibility study say? DDOT's report determines that changing the current Southeast Blvd. from the limited-access quick route between 11th Street SE and Barney Circle to a street with connections to its north and south and development along the footprint is feasible, but the transformation "would be neither inexpensive nor quick."
The study then goes through the issues that make clear this would not be a snap-the-fingers-and-make-it-so proposition:
*Ownership: There are two small parcels within the study area owned by the National Park Service--and we know quickly either arranging for a change in ownership or "coordinating" with NPS can go. The study refers to it as being clear "that there would be significant process requirements and challenges to disposing the NPS and incorporating them into private development." That the process to "surplus" any excess land along the footprint not needed for the road(s) itself is governed by the Federal Highway Administration would also not point to a lightning-quick resolution.
* Transit Garages: The inclusion of some location that would allow for the parking of tour buses, transit buses and streetcars {cough}--a big part of DDOT's wishes for the area but something that residents are not particularly keen on--"could be provided at Southeast Boulevard that takes advantage of the location and topography of the site to minimize visual impacts to surrounding neighborhoods and so that vehicles accessing the facility would not use residential neighborhood streets."
* Cost: The study's "cursory assessment" says that constructing the transportation elements of the project would cost around $120 million, with a transit garage adding about $65-70 million in costs (in 2015 dollars). This includes reconfiguring Barney Circle into an at-grade signalized traffic circle, raising Southeast Boulevard to the same level as L Street, and constructing a four-lane street that includes sidewalks, bike facilities, and traffic signals. Plus some contingency costs built in.
* Schedule: The graphic at right breaks out a not-short ballpark timeline of 10 years for both the "transportation" portion of the project and the land redevelopment project.
With all of that, DDOT says that the first step forward is to restart the Barney Circle and Southeast Blvd. Transportation Planning Study begun in 2013, though even that now has a road block, that this Environmental Assessment now can't be completed "until a financial plan for project implementation is identified and included in the regional Constrained Long-Range Transportation Plan (CLRP)." DDOT advises interested groups "to continue discussions with a broad spectrum of stakeholders during the EA to confirm community support for the project, engage with AWI Signatories, and evaluate project costs and funding options."
This final draft was presented to ANC 6B's Transportation Committee on Jan. 6, and Capitol Hill Corner reports that DDOT's representative told the committee that there were no "fatal flaws" in any of the Office of Planning's three concepts for reimagining the road--but that it will be "up to ANC 6B to push the project forward" by requesting the environmental assessment.
I am skimming it all, so if this project is of interest to you, be sure to read the feasibility report, and perhaps attend ANC 6B's meeting on Jan. 12, at which a draft letter will apparently be considered to support going ahead with the EA.
You can also wander through my posts on the subject from the past few years, especially on the completion of the OP study back in July and the three general concepts advanced for how to remake this stretch of land that currently serves as such a barrier between Capitol Hill/Hill East and the Anacostia River.
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More posts: Southeast Blvd., Traffic Issues
 

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!
Comments (11)
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
 
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