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After a four-year hiatus to complete some additional studies, the Environmental Assessment to improve the desolate stretch of road between 11th Street SE and Barney Circle known as Southeast Blvd. is now back underway, with a public meeting scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 16, at Chamberlain Elementary School at 1345 Potomac Ave., SE, with an open house beginning at 10 am and presentations starting at 10:30.
Officially, this EA "will evaluate conversion of the existing facility into an urban boulevard consistent with the expected multimodal travel demand and the character of the adjacent neighborhood." On the spiffy new web site for the EA, project elements listed include:
* Reconfiguring Southeast Blvd. upwards to match the elevation of L Street SE;
* Adding sidewalks, bicycle facilities, trees, parking, and "green infrastructure";
* Taking the "surplus transportation right-of-way" and converting it to other uses, such as parks;
* Extending 13th, 14th, and 15th Streets SE so that they connect to Southeast Blvd.;
* Adding pedestrian and bicycle links to the Anacostia waterfront (which includes getting across the train tracks that run along the boulevard's southern side);
* Reconfiguring Barney Circle; and
* Building an "under-deck bus transit support facility with bus access via 11th Street SE and/or Barney Circle." (I bet they say this one really quickly and quietly.)
I cannot bear to rehash many years' worth of meetings and designs here, but I would point interested readers to my post from early 2016 about the DDOT Southeast Blvd. Feasibility Study. If I may plagiarize myself: "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'."
I also wrote about the Office of Planning's Southeast Blvd. Planning Study, which had as its purpose "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." Those concepts looked like this:
And so now we continue onto the Environmental Assessment. See my SE Blvd page for more history (including the demolition of the old freeway and DDOT's quickie reinstallation of a new road), or just scroll down through my previous posts on it, if you dare.
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More posts: Southeast Blvd., Traffic Issues
 

I don't get truly surprised too often anymore after 13-plus years in this gig, but when I clicked the link for this Washington Post article, "DC Unveils Plans for New Frederick Douglass Bridge," I most certainly did not expect to see a completely new design of the bridge that has been on the boards to be replaced for well over a decade.
Gone is the arched bascule design that was chosen many moons ago, replaced with a showier look using three sets of parallel arches. (I will await more detailed renderings before assuming that the bridge has the same multi-use paths on each side of the bridge as the previous design did, though the Post article says there is at least one.)
The plans for building the new bridge immediately south of and parallel to the old bridge have not changed, and there will still be large traffic ovals on both ends.
A $441 million design-build contract has been awarded to a joint venture of Archer Western Construction and Granite Construction Company, and AECOM is the lead designer. This phase also includes the reconstruction of the interchange of Interstate 295 and the Suitland Parkway.
The Post article says that the new bridge is "projected to open in 2021."
Here's a few more graphics purloined from the Post piece--hopefully DDOT will post their video of the design soon and I'll add the link.
It'll take me a little while to update my South Capitol Street Bridge project page, but in the meanwhile it's a nice trip down memory lane and includes more information (current as of the last time the city announced information about the project) about the ovals and whatnot.
And my South Capitol Street project page explains how this bridge and the interchange project are the first of a multiphase plan to rework much of South Capitol from the Southeast Freeway to the Suitland Park.
UPDATE: There is a new URL for an official web site for the project, newfrederickdouglassbridge.com. You can see the rendering video by scrolling down a touch or clicking on "Gallery." There's a lot of additional drawings, including these two from above, which show the traffic ovals and also do show multi-use paths on both sides of the bridge. See also the siteplan to get your bearings about the new bridge and ovals and 295 interchange.
Also, the project web site says that construction is expected to begin in "winter 2017."
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More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
 

My focus is elsewhere these days, but I haven't completely stopped keeping an eye on things. Just not any real big news to report. So here's some little news:
* INAUGURATION: It might be a challenge heading north out of the neighborhood on Jan. 20. Here's DDOT's page on the inauguration, with a map of the close-in detours and closings, and the pedestrian routes, and more.
* TUNNEL OPEN HOUSE: The next Virginia Avenue Tunnel open house is Thursday, Jan. 12 (tomorrow), from 6 to 8 pm at the Courtyard Marriott at New Jersey and L, SE. "A brief presentation and Q&A session with residents will be held at 7 p.m., in response to requests from neighbors." Also, CSX says it expects to reopen 3rd Street at Virginia during the week of Jan. 23-27. After that, there will be another temporary closing of 4th St. SE at Virginia to move a utility manhole. And 7th should be reopening at Virginia Any Minute Now.
And, a tidbit that is neither traffic nor tunnel, but is welcome:
* A BRIGHT LIGHT IN THE DISTANCE: Nationals pitchers and catchers report to the new West Palm Beach spring training facility on Feb. 14, with position players arriving by Feb. 17. (WaPo)
What else is going on these days?
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, inauguration, Traffic Issues
 

At 8 am on Friday, Dec. 23, the first double-stacked train passed through the newly built southern tunnel under Virginia Avenue, SE, marking the official completion of that phase of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project.
(Alas, the photo at left shows a train coming through the old tunnel, before the rails were laid into the new one, but whaddyagonnado.)
Now Phase II of the project is kicking into gear, which is the rehabilitation and expansion of the existing 100-plus-year-old northern tunnel. That work is expected to be completed, along with the streetscape restoration improvements to Virginia Avenue, in mid-2018.
If you want to see some photos from inside the new tunnel as work was being completed, CSX has them in this presentation.
As part of the work on the northern tunnel, the intersection of 7th and Virginia is expected to close Any Minute Now for about two weeks. Of course, 3rd Street remains closed at Virginia for similar work of demolishing the temporary deck over the now-completed new tunnel and rebuilding it over the northern tunnel; it is expected to reopen in January.
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, Traffic Issues
 

* I STREET REDESIGN: ANC Commissioner Meredith Fascett reports that DDOT is hosting a meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 14, on proposed plans to redesign I Street SE to make it work better for pedestrians, bicyclists, and even vehicles. It's at 6:30 pm in the lobby at 70 I Street (70 Capitol Yards). Meredith wrote back in August about the early discussions for safer bike lanes, crosswalks, parking adjustments, and more.
* BIXBY RIBBON-CUTTING: Apparently there will be a ribbon cutting at the 195-unit mixed-income Bixby at 7th and L on Tuesday, Dec. 13.
* NATS PARK BILLBOARDS: On Dec. 6 the DC Council gave first approval to the proposed large display boards at the ballpark, though the Hill Rag reports that the count has dropped to five boards from 10, lowers the allowed brightness, and prohibits them from facing toward South Capitol Street, the Anacostia River, M Street, and 1st Street between M and N.
* ONYX SALE, AGAIN: A reader reports that the tell-tale binder appeared in the lobby of the Onyx apartment building recently, indicating that AvalonBay has contracted to purchase the 260-unit building for $95.5 million. (The binder contains the offer required by DC law for the tenants to instead buy the building themselves, if they have $95 million in coins under their sofa cushions.) The building last sold in 2013 for a smidge over $82 million.
* SWEET BABY JAMES: It's been announced that James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt will be playing Nats Park on July 14, 2017. Tickets are on sale now.
* TUNNEL DOINGS: Most folks are probably aware that 3rd Street is now closed at Virginia Avenue for the next several weeks. If you are wanting more info on the current status of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project, the last "Coffee with Chuck" of 2016 is Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 8 am at the construction office at 861 New Jersey Ave. SE. Hard to believe that most of the structural work on the new companion tunnel is finishing up, with work moving to "track level"--preparing the railroad bed, installing cross ties, etc. (Good timing to be in the enclosed spot during the winter.) But of course this is not the end of the project, as work will then shift to the reconstruction of the existing 100-year-old tunnel.
 

* HOMICIDE: The neighborhood's first second* non-ghaslty-workplace-mass-shooting homicide since March 25, 2004 happened on Sunday, when neighborhood resident Anthony Young was shot to death in the 600 block of L Street, SE; a woman with him was wounded. Police charged Babajide Pittman, 31, with second-degree murder while armed and assault with a dangerous weapon, and said that the the shooting was a dispute between two people who knew each other. ANC 6D Commissioner Meredith Fascett wrote about Young, saying that he was "working to mentor neighborhood kids and had planned to volunteer at the Community Center." (WaPo) UPDATE (VERSION 2): *Originally this update was to say that there were in fact two homicides in the neighborhood in 2016, but after seeing the second one listed as being in the 1000 block of 8th St., SE, I misremembered it as the shooting that happened in the barber shop there. After being corrected in the comments, I went looking, and found this murder from May, but it is described as having happened north of the freeway at the time, but is now in the MPD crime stats as being south of the freeway.
* HOMICIDES 1987-2004: If you haven't come across the overview I wrote in 2010 of the 64 deaths in Near Southeast during the worst of the city's violence epidemic, it might be worth a read. The map and rundown is here.
* MORE CRIME: The actual map part of my big crime database has probably been busted for months, but no one's mentioned it so no one must ever look there. But it's fixed now.
* OOPS: A car flipped in the 300 block of K Street on Tuesday night, and one passenger required extrication from DC Fire/EMS. On-the-spot photography by a JDLand reader here.
* MORE ON BILLBOARDS: The Post writes about the Nats Park digital billboards controversy.
* ACROSS THE WAY: A report on the Zoning Commission's look at the new DC United Stadium. (WaPo)
(If you follow me on Twitter and feel like these tidbits all seem familiar, you are correct! If you don't follow me on Twitter, or don't ever scroll through the Twitter box on the right side of the JDLand home page, you are missing out on what is still a pretty active news feed. It's a way for me to keep the info flowing when I don't have time to post. So, keep an eye on it...)
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More posts: crime, Nationals Park, Traffic Issues
 

While these dates are always subject to change, CSX announced on Friday that it expects to reopen 4th Street just south of the freeway by Wednesday, Nov. 23, as it completes the demolition of the Phase 1 temporary bridge deck over the new tunnel that is being built, and construction of the new Phase 2 deck over the existing tunnel that will now be rebuilt and expanded.
Once the 4th Street intersection opens, the next big closure will be prepped, with the expectation that 3rd Street SE will close at Virginia Avenue for up to eight weeks, beginning perhaps on Monday, Nov. 28, to do the same demolition of the Phase 1 deck and construction of the Phase 2 deck.
Note that, unlike when the Phase 1 deck was built over 3rd Street earlier this year in a way that allowed northbound traffic to continue to flow, this is a full closure. (Though pedestrian access will remain in place, as will access to the Capitol Quarter driveway entrance on 3rd.)
This does not affect access to I-695 from the 3rd Street ramp.
If you want to see recent photos of the new tunnel and all the related construction, the Coffee with Chuck slides from Nov. 16 have a pile of them. (The slides also note that this is month #18 of the expected 42 months of total construction.)
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, Traffic Issues
 

With work having progressed on the expansion phase of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel, CSX is announcing that 4th Street SE between Virginia and I Street will be closed for three to five weeks, starting perhaps on Thursday, Sept. 29, so that the existing temporary bridge deck can be removed and the tunnel's roof completed in that spot. Then a new deck will be built across the next area to be excavated to work on the other half of the tunnel project, at which point the area will reopen to traffic.
UPDATE: The weather has forced a postponement of the closure until likely next week, Oct. 3-7. UPDATE 2: And the intersection did finally close on Monday, Oct 3.
This means that drivers coming south on 4th Street SE from Capitol Hill will need to detour either to 3rd Street or 7th Street in order to cross under the freeway to the promised land.
Pedestrian access along this stretch of 4th will apparently be maintained during the closure, as will the 4th Street exit from the Capitol Quarter driveway.
This is the first of these sorts of closures and detours that will need to happen along all of the north-south streets that cross Virginia Avenue as work on the first phase of the tunnel wraps up and the decks need to be reestablished a smidge to the north to cross above the existing tunnel while it is rebuilt.
At right is the estimated timeline for these other closures as shown in the Sept. 21 Coffee with Chuck presentation slides (click to embiggen). Third Street's temporary closure for this work is on deck (so to speak) for mid-to-late October, 5th in mid-to-late December, and 7th and 8th sometime in 2017. (The deck work on 11th Street will happen without any full closure.)
The slides also say that Phase II pile driving is expected to begin near 4th Street in October.
The next quarterly open house for the project is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 20, and the next Coffee with Chuck will be on Wednesday, Nov. 16.
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, Traffic Issues
 

CSX has announced (now posted on the official web site) that the two-year closure of the remaining eastbound lane of Virginia Ave. east of 6th will begin after the morning rush hour tomorrow, Sept. 22. Because I'm a little pressed for time, I'm just bringing this post that I wrote back in August on the change to the top of the pile.
Original post from Aug. 22:
The biggest disruption to traffic flow so far* near the Southeast Freeway in connection with the Virginia Avenue Tunnel expansion is now on the horizon, with CSX's announcement on Friday that it expects to close the one remaining open eastbound portion of Virginia Avenue, between 6th and 8th Streets, SE, sometime in mid-September.
This closure is anticipated to last until the completion of the tunnel project in mid-2018.
During this closure, the stretch of Virginia between 6th and 8th on the north side of the freeway that is currently one-way westbound will become two-way traffic, as shown in my alarmingly nifty graphic below. Traffic coming off the 6th Street exit ramp will all turn left to go under the freeway and then have the option to turn right on Virginia to continue eastbound, or to turn westbound or to continue northward.
The streets that cross Virginia will remain open during this time, so north/south traffic will continue to move in its current configurations on 3rd, 7th, and 8th Streets, with 4th remaining a southbound-only crossing and 5th/6th a northbound crossing.
(It is expected that the 5th Street intersection that has been closed for the past few weeks to install the temporary decking will reopen this week, allowing traffic to once again come north on 5th from K and cross under the freeway.)
If you don't trust JDLand's high quality graphics, here's the announcement from CSX and its own map of the new traffic flows.
The most recent "Coffee with Chuck" meeting to update interested parties was on Aug. 17, and the presentation slides are here. The next Coffee with Chuck will be on Sept. 21, followed by the quarterly Open House on Oct. 20.
* At some point there will be the most disruptive closure of all, when the freeway exit ramp is closed temporarily for some few weeks to be reconfigured to allow the tunnel construction to expand northward under the current ramp footprint. But that ramp closure is not part of this change in September. BIG UPDATE: Or not! CSX has contacted me to say that while they will "have to temporarily narrow the [6th Street exit] ramp late this year or early next," they "expect that at least one lane of the ramp will remain open at all times."
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, Traffic Issues
 

As part of the continuing reconstruction of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel, the intersection of 5th Street at Virginia Avenue will be closed starting Aug. 1 for three to four weeks for the installation of a temporary bridge deck.
The 6th Street exit ramp from eastbound I-695 will still be open during this closure, and traffic coming off the ramp will still be able to turn left to head north on 6th or continue straight on the one lane of Virginia Avenue open between 5th and 7th.
However, if you are south of Virginia Avenue and want to go north of the freeway, you will need to use either 3rd, 7th, 8th, or 11th Streets, SE. (The 7th Street intersection is expected to reopen from its own multi-week closure on Friday, July 29.)
Local traffic will still be allowed for the block of 5th Street north of K, including traffic to the Capper Seniors building.
See CSX's informational slides on this closure for additional details, or marvel at the wonder that is my own informational map above.
UPDATE, AUG. 2: The closure is officially underway.
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, Traffic Issues
 
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