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There has been much discussion by residents and city officials over the impending "apocalypse" of traffic and parking congestion with the opening in April of the new ballpark. Residents not only in Near Southeast (all 400 of you) but in Southwest and on Capitol Hill have been waiting for the city to announce exactly how on-street parking will be handled during games, as there is great concern as to whether residents will still be able to park on their streets and won't have to deal with hundreds or thousands of cars circling the neighborhoods looking for free parking.
It's been thought that the model used at RFK--special parking permit stickers for residents to put on their cars--would be ported over to the new ballpark area, but over the past few months council member Tommy Wells and his staff, along with DDOT, have been working on a pilot plan they hope could address not only the parking issues at the ballpark but also the parking problems seen on Capitol Hill along Pennsylvania Avenue, Barracks Row (Eighth Street), and the streets around Eastern Market. They are looking for ways to balance the needs of residents with the impact on businesses if parking is hard to come by, and are looking at a concept called "Performance Parking." Here's my five-cent summary:
"Retail" streets would have the hours of metered parking extended to seven days a week until late in the evening, and with the prices to park at the meters raised to a level that would discourage some people from arriving by car, opening up more spaces and reducing double-parking and congestion. The adjacent residential streets, now covered by Zone 6 parking rules that ostensibly only allow two hours of visitor parking during weekdays (but are dependent on the parking enforcement folks tracking the cars to know how long they've been there) would see the installation of meter kioskson one side of the street, where nonresidents could park for no more than two hours even until late in the evening and on weekends. (Residents could park on both sides of the street as long as they want.)
These rules would extend with slight tweaks to the streets around the ballpark: "Retail" streets in these areas would allow longer stretches of parking (four-plus hours), but would have rates for metered parking comparable to the amount charged in pay lots, to discourage ballpark-goers from believing that on-street parking would be any cheaper than what's available in existing lots and garages. And with the residential streets having meters that wouldn't allow parking for longer than two hours, most people going to three-hour-plus baseball games would avoid parking on those blocks.
In other words, these restrictions would tell visitors--park in a lot, or take Metro, or walk, or ride your bike, but don't expect to drive down and find a space for free on a street somewhere.
One other facet of this plan would be to use the revenue from these much higher on-street parking rates to pay the cost of the new kiosk-type meters (that cost about $7,800 a pop), the cost of the extra enforcement needed to make the plan work, and also improvements to the streets and the communities to make alternative modes of transportation more enticing (fixing sidewalks, adding bike racks, making bus shelters better, etc.).
This plan has been previewed for local businesses and the ANCs (today it was the media's turn), and it's hoped that a bill creating this special pilot project can start its path through the city council process in early January. Alas, this would not be enough lead time to get it all in place before Opening Day, so there will probably be some tumult during the early part of the season as the city tries to keep stadium visitors from taking over the residential neighborhoods.
You'll no doubt be reading much more about this idea over the coming months, and there will be public meetings and refinements and many words written about it all, I'm sure. And of course one other piece of the puzzle--the locations of the various lots where the Nationals will be directing season-ticket holders to park--has yet to be made public. Eventually Wells's office will release maps (perhaps soon) showing the streets that could be designated as retail or residential, along with other documents providing far more detail than what I've previewed here.
In the meantime, I'm going to do something I've never done in the nearly five years that I've been running this Near Southeast site--I'm going to open up the floor to comments about this idea, that then hopefully can be read by city officials and other residents to see what people's impressions are of the plans. But be forewarned, if this little low-tech experiment goes off the rails and people start getting out of control, I'll close it down and won't be inclined to give it another shot. So behave. Of course, you'll be commenting on something you probably need to learn much more about to truly be informed, but when does that ever stop anyone on the internet?
UPDATE: Here's a story from the Post on Wells's parking plan. " 'The ballpark visitors are going to be very tempted to look for cheap parking' on city streets, said Neha Bhatt, a planner in Wells's office. 'We've got to get that out of people's head that free parking exists here.' " The story also reminds me to mention that plans are to make Buzzards Point off-limits to on-street parking during ballgames (though it's likely some cash lots will be built there).
Also, there's going to be an Committee on Economic Development oversight roundtable on "Parking and Traffic Plan for the Nationals' Stadium" on Jan. 11 at 10 am. (It was originally scheduled for this Monday, the 17th, but they felt like there hadn't been enough public notice. I'll say--I hadn't even heard about it!)
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More posts: parking, staddis, Nationals Park, Traffic Issues

An advisory from DDOT is out today about off-peak lane closures at the Douglass Bridge over the next few months: "The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) throughout the coming two months will continue its highly publicized repair and restoration of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge (also known as the South Capitol Street Bridge) and the adjoining South Capitol Street corridor. [...] The next phase of construction work includes railing installations, touch-up painting of railings, bolt torqueing, steel repairs and sidewalk repairs."
The upcoming lane closures are described thusly:
* One outbound lane on the bridge will be closed to traffic from 6 am until 2:30 pm on weekdays until mid-January 2008.
* One inbound lane on the bridge will be closed to traffic on weekdays from 10 am until 5 pm until mid-January 2008.
* There will be weekend lane closures (no full closure, just lane restrictions) on the bridge in both directions from 7 am to 5 pm until December 23, 2007.
More posts: Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues

I just can't bear to go completely dark for too many days in a row, so here's some light reading for your post-turkey haze:
* These are almost a month old now (oops), but the Hill Rag has an opinion piece on the plans for the 11th Street Bridges, plus an article on the community concern on Capitol Hill and in Southwest over the planning for ballpark parking.
* Today's Washington Business Journal looks at the plans for the return of streetcars to DC, a very long-term project that could eventually have light rail running down M Street SE and across both the 11th Street and Douglass bridges. But that's a loooong ways off--first they have to finally get a long-delayed test line in Anacostia off the ground, and then the H Street NE corridor would be next. There used to be a good web site on the project at, but that site is now hijacked with a fake blog, so the best I can give you is this DDOT page with a few links.
* There's also a WBJ article on PNC Bank securing the naming rights to the Diamond-level seats (the second priciest) and the club lounge at the ballpark. Still no word on naming rights for the stadium itself, though a few weeks ago we heard that there might not be a sponsor during the inaugural season.

Here's my in-depth learned summary of today's city council hearing on proposed bridge projects in the city, about 98 percent of which focused on the future plans for the 11th Street Bridges:
* Some people are against it.
* Some people are for it.
The three-hour hearing should be posted soon on the Channel 13 On Demand lineup for this week, if you want to see for yourself the specifics. But really, it all boils down to arguments over capacity, over whether local streets will see a reduction in cut-through commuter traffic, and differences between Capitol Hill residents and advocacy groups and east-of-the-river residents and advocacy groups, none of whom spoke with any sort of uniform voice.
And since no one spoke about any of the preferred design's impacts on Near Southeast specifically (of which there are a few, mainly the revamped interchanges at 11th and M), I'll just leave it to others to go into more detail.
UPDATE: The Capitol Hill Restoration Society was concerned enough about the plans for the 11th Street Bridges that it hired its own traffic consultant--that report is now posted on the CHRS web site. Plus, DG-rad of And Now, Anacostia attended the hearing and has posted some notes, along with this link to slides DDOT presented about the project at this week's ANC 6B meeting, showing lots of graphics and numbers that were the source of much contention at the hearing.
More posts: 11th Street Bridges, ANC News, Traffic Issues

Word has just come out from DDOT that there will be lane closures on the Douglass Bridge this weekend, weather permitting: "Two inbound lanes on the bridge will be closed to traffic from 7 a.m. on Saturday, November 17 until 5 p.m. on Sunday, November 18. [and] Two inbound lanes on the bridge will be closed to traffic from 7 a.m. on Saturday, November 17 until 5 p.m. on Sunday, November 18." The advisory also says that the outbound sidewalk will now be closed for repair, and the the inbound sidewalk will now be opened to pedestrians and bicycles, which makes me really happy because now I'll finally get back some of my photo perches that have been inaccessible since late June.
More posts: Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues

Apologies for the late notice, but tonight ANC 6D is having an "presentation meeting", to break out the issues that people and organizations want to bring in front of the ANC but which don't require an official vote. This is an attempt to shorten the monthly business meetings, which can run for hours and kill numerous brain cells of all in attendance. The meeting will be at 25 N Street, SW, at either 7:00 or 7:30 pm (now confirmed). Items on tonight's agenda include WASA talking about lead pipe replacement in the neighborhood and an update on Arena Stage construction and schedule.
There's also going to be a presentation by a group called the Coalition of Concerned Citizens of Eastern Washington, who are raising questions about the various road and bridge projects planned along the Anacostia and who have been contacting city officials over the past few months requesting that a new "traffic mobility study" be undertaken. (Here's their flyer and a copy of a letter to Mayor Fenty they sent back in August.) I imagine this group will also be interested in the Nov. 16 hearing before the City Council's Committee on Public Works and the Environment on "Major Bridge Construction Projects in the District".
More posts: 11th Street Bridges, ANC News, Traffic Issues

DDOT has cancelled plans to close two outbound lanes on the Douglass Bridge from 7 am to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 3 and 4). So now you can take a weekend jaunt and buzz the new South Capitol Street and its renovated bridge without backups!
More posts: Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues

The Post's Dr. Gridlock has a blog entry today about the work that continues on the Douglass Bridge: "Out of sight below the deck, in a big box-like area of pale gray steel, workers are riveting new bolts into place while either refurbishing or replacing aging parts of the structure across the Anacostia River. Aside from making the whole thing look better as a southern gateway to central Washington, the work will extend the life of the bridge until it can be replaced by a new structure the city plans to build right nearby." DDOT hopes to wrap up the work on the bridge, and on the streetscape improvements to South Capitol, Potomac, First, and I, by February.
More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues

Oct 11, 2007 11:22 AM
Another few days' worth of lane closures on the Douglass Bridge this weekend, this time the outbound/southbound lanes, according to a DDOT press release. The outbound lanes of the bridge will be closed beginning on Friday, October 12 at 9 p.m. until as late as Monday, October 15 at 4 a.m. They're working on the swing span area in the middle of the bridge, repairing the steel framing. And apparently they're expecting the work on the bridge and the accompanying streetscape improvements to South Capitol Street to continue through February.
UPDATED to add link to press release.
More posts: Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues

Oct 5, 2007 6:10 PM
Here's some late Friday news for you: the 11th Street Bridges Environmental Impact Statement has been completed, and a preferred plan for the reconfiguration of the bridges has been chosen, at an estimated price of $465 million, taking an estimated five years to complete. No start date has been announced.
You can read the summary, check out the Preferred Alternative and the other alternatives, plow through the entire thing at once (36 MB), or pick and choose the sections you want to read. When even the summary is 24 pages long, it's hard to give a quick description of what is being recommended, but here's my best shot:
* There will be two new bridges built on exactly the alignments of the existing two bridges, allowing the use of the existing piers but requiring their widening to allow for wider bridges. Two new ramps will be built on the east side of the Anacostia River, providing access at last to the northbound Anacostia Freeway from the Southeast/Southwest Freeway and to the freeway from the southbound Anacostia Freeway. One of the two bridges would be dedicated to freeway traffic, and the other to local traffic, with the total number of **freeway*** lanes unchanged, but with four new local lanes and with added paths for bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as "accommodations for transit," such as the proposed light rail system.
As for what would happen to the interchange with the bridge in Near Southeast, it's hard to digest, but this is what I'm seeing by looking at the diagrams in the Alternatives section (here's a Google Maps satellite view of the current bridges, which you might need):
* The current on/off ramps at N Street would be moved to M Street (see page 15), with local traffic and paths to and from Anacostia being routed on the western of the two bridge spans (officially known as the Officer Welsh Bridge), and traffic bound for the Anacostia Freeway routed onto the 8-lane eastern span. This also means that the local traffic coming north from Anacostia would be routed along a newly two-way portion of 11th Street up to M.
* The exit ramp now between Ninth and 10th streets would be moved to Ninth Street.
* There would also be a new entrance to the westbound freeway from 11th Street (perhaps taking some of the pressure off the Third Street ramp?).
(In a separate project, the existing Southeast/Southwest freeway between 11th Street and Barney Circle is apparently going to be downgraded to a new Southeast Freeway Boulevard, which would be accessed by exiting the freeway and going across 11th Street at-grade. As part of this, the sneaky little route to Pennsylvania Avenue from 9th Street and Virginia Avenue would be removed, too.)
As for the impact of the reconfigured bridges on the boathouses nestled between them on the west side of the river, the EIS says that "it has been determined that construction of any of the build alternatives, including the Preferred Alternative, will not require the whole or partial demolition of either of the two ACBA buildings." Boathouse operations would have to be relocated during construction, but the documents state that DDOT is committed to maintaining the operations during this time, having agreed to provide temporary structures on a Washington Gas-owned space a few hundred yards to the north. (See Section 7.3 for more about the boathouse impact.)
Finally, the document states that the bridges project will not impact the Virginia Avenue Park at 9th and Virginia.
I doubt anyone is still reading at this point, so I'm going to quit while behind and hope that all sorts of media outlets give some real coverage, and take me off the hook. If you're at all interested in this, especially in the impacts east of the river that I haven't addressed, I suggest browsing the entire document. You'd be amazed how much detail is in there.
There's now a public comments period, through November 20. See the EIS web site for more about the entire study process.
If you're not real familiar with this area of Near Southeast, visit my East M Street page for photos and links.
UPDATE, 10/11: I erred in this above item when stating that the total number of lanes would be unchanged from the current configuration; having misread the EIS wording that referred to the number of freeway lanes being unchanged. The two spans currently have eight freeway lanes, which will be the case with the new bridge; but those eight lanes will be carried on a widened version of the upstream span, and the downstream span will carry four local lanes.
More posts: 11th Street Bridges, Boathouse Row, Traffic Issues
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