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It's 11:35 pm....
Jan 31, 2008 12:36 AM
.... and the council hearing on Tommy Wells's Performance Parking plan has just ended.
You guys owe me. (Though at least I'm home in my fuzzy slippers watching the telecast.)
But despite there being more than six hours of testimony (which I need to admit here I missed the 90 minutes of, since it wasn't broadcast), I don't really see a lot of new headlines, especially if you've been following along as I've posted on this bill over the past six weeks or so. Here's my impressions of the 4 1/1 hours I did see (I'm guessing the part I missed was a tutorial on the basics of Performance Parking, which I've now seen three times):
* The vast majority of the witnesses who testified were in support of this plan to regulate curbside parking in areas near the ballpark. Residents, business owners, smart growth advocates, and others expressed concerns about certain aspects of the bill, but there were only two people (unless I dozed off somewhere) that came out completely against it. Five ANC 6D commissioners testified (Litsky, Sobelsohn, Hamilton, McBee, and Siegel, and Moffatt was supposed to but wasn't there).
* DDOT director Emeka Moneme says that his agency expects to release specifics on the bill (streets, enforcement hours, meter prices) by the end of next week (so, Feb. 8ish).
* What parking is going to be like on Opening Day was not addressed during the portion of the hearing I saw, which at this point is probably as pressing as any other issue. You can see my report from last week's town hall on Opening Day parking information that filtered out during that session. This may be part of what DDOT is releasing next week.
* Enforcement, enforcement, enforcement. Witness after witness hammered on this point, that all the plans and fines in the world won't work if there isn't strict enforcement of whatever rules are put into effect. Tommy Wells did mention that more enforcement can be handled by the same number of workers under this new plan, since with printed receipts from kiosk meters a parking attendant only needs to check a vehicle once to see if it's within it's legal time limit, rather than showing up once to inventory the cars that are parked in a zone and then return hours later to see which ones are still there and parked illegally. Jim Graham seemed a tad bewildered that Ward 6 residents want *more* enforcement, when so many of his Ward 1 constituents complain about too much enforcement. His comments about lack of resources at DPW and "only so much of the pie" didn't go over too well. Moneme said that he has assurances from DPW that "the resources will be there."
* The desire for strong community involvement in not only the setting of rates but in determining the success of the plan was another theme hit on repeatedly by witnesses who fear that the draft version of the bill gives all power to the mayor and the executive branch without any sort of community input or council oversight. Wells, Moneme, and Jim Graham all seemed to get religion on this point, pledging to make sure that some sort of mechanism is in place to involve the ANCs and get feedback from businesses and residents.
* Guest passes are still a thorny subject, especially whether people will try to copy them (they're going to have holograms) or create a hot black market by selling them. Church parking is equally delicate, though Tommy mentioned the possibility of starting Sunday enforcement of parking laws at 1 pm, to better accommodate churches but prevent all day parking by baseball fans.
* Moneme mentioned a number a times the idea of being able to pay for your parking via your cellphone (which could also send you an alert when your meter was about to expire), although this raised the hackles of witnesses who envisioned Nats fans and Capitol Hill workers repeatedly "feeding the meter" from their seats in section 401 or their desks in the HOBs. (Tommy said that this could probably be addressed.)
* Michael Stevens of the Capitol Riverfront BID testified in support of the plan, but said that the BID feels there should be no on-street parking at all on game days in the blocks north of M between New Jersey and South Capitol, because of the likelihood of traffic congestion. He also asked for the plan to be expanded south to cover Buzzards Point, and mentioned that future revenues from the parking plan should go to amenities such as streetscape improvements and Canal Park.
I believe they will attempt to get this passed at the Feb. 5 city council legislative meeting as emergency legislation, though I don't have that confirmed.
If you want to watch the hearing, you'll be able to do so at your leisure, once it's posted and when you have 25 percent of a day to spare. I'll be checking it out when to see the first portion that I missed, and will update if there's additional news.
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More posts: parking, Nationals Park, Traffic Issues

Producing the Pope, Noose Hearing, Parking Hearings
Jan 30, 2008 9:21 AM
This morning's tidbits:
* It doesn't say anything about smoke machines or laser light shows, but this press release announces that "Showcall, Inc., an event production company based in Maryland, was selected by the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. to produce Pope Benedict XVI's public Mass at the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium on April 17, 2008." As for what that means: "Showcall, Inc. will provide stage and set design and layout, audio visual production, and overall show direction of the public Mass. Showcall will utilize its unique skill set in producing high-profile, high-threat level events and will coordinate with the Washington Nationals to host the first major event in its new baseball stadium. Showcall will work closely with GEP Washington, the overall DMC firm for the visit."
* Kwame Brown's Committee on Economic Development is having its hearing on the ballpark's "noose incident" today at 1 pm. I don't see it on the Channel 13 lineup, but perhaps it'll get shown live or will be broadcast later on.
* Today's two hearings on parking issues in front of the council's Committee on Public Works and the Environment are at 5 pm and 6 pm. My "real life" is on overload for the next few weeks thanks to Super-Duper Tuesday and the metro-area primaries, so I can't make these hearings in person, but I will watch the coverage later this evening and sum up.
* There's also now a joint hearing between the Public Works committee and Kwame Brown's Committee on Economic Development on the Ballpark Traffic Operations and Parking Plan (TOPP) scheduled for Feb. 28 at 6 pm. There should be explanations at this hearing as to how all aspects of getting to and from the ballpark are going to be handled (at first, at least). I believe that this information will be released to the public well before Feb. 28, though I don't know exactly when.
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More posts: parking, Nationals Park, Stadium Events, Traffic Issues

Waterfront Fair Tidbits (250 M, Bridges, More)
Jan 26, 2008 7:22 PM
This afternoon's Anacostia Waterfront Community Fair appeared to be very well attended, at least during the 90 minutes or so I was there. (Even Marion Barry showed up.) There were three long tables of displays and information from city agencies, commercial developers, and non-profit organizations, and Near Southeast was well-represented--JPI, Velocity, Monument Half Street, Williams C. Smith (250 M Street), Forest City (Capper/Carrollsburg, The Yards), the Anacostia Community Boathouse Association, and the ballpark all had people on hand. (There was also plenty of swag--hope you didn't miss out on your DC WASA lanyard!)
Two news items I came across:
* First, confirmation that 250 M Street will start construction in either late spring or early summer, although they don't yet have any office or retail tenants to announce.
* Second, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for South Capitol Street (including a new Frederick Douglass Bridge) is going to be released on February 8, with a public comment period to follow. There are two build alternatives that would reconstruct South Capitol Street and the Suitland Parkway (and its interchange with I-295), but neither has been identified yet as a "preferred" alternative. (No design from the four options for a new Douglass Bridge has been chosen yet, either.) There will be public meetings in late February about the Draft EIS, and the web site will be updated soon with information on the draft. I'll write more about this when the Draft EIS is officially released, but it's this study that will decide whether a big traffic oval is built at South Capitol and Potomac, and whether the South Capitol/M interchange could be reconfigured into an "at-grade" intersection (i.e., no more tunnel).
I should have asked about the status of the reconfiguration of the 11th Street Bridges now that that EIS is complete, but I could never get close enough to the table to talk to anyone. (See update below.)
Other developments such as the Southwest Waterfront and Hill East had displays as well, but since my brain can't process anything outside of my borders, you'll have to hunt down information on those projects elsewhere.
UPDATE: I'm finally looking through the pile of flyers I picked up, and here's a few timelines in the official brochure for the event (they're called "targeted schedules", so best not to pen them in just yet):
* Douglass Bridge Replacement: Begin construction Spring 2010, complete in Winter 2015.
* 11th Street Bridges Replacement: Begin construction Spring 2009, no completion date listed.
Also, the 500,000-sq-ft office building by Forest City at the site of the old Capper Seniors building at 600 M has a Spring 2009 start date in one of Forest City's flyers. The other Yards start/completion dates in the brochures are on target with what I've written about previously (see my Yards Phase I page for details).

Stadium Traffic and Parking Plan Hearing Summary
Jan 11, 2008 10:11 PM
Having just about reached my limit when it comes to writing about stadium parking, I'm going to cut to the chase and pass along the biggest items from today's hearing by the Committee on Economic Development on parking and traffic issues at the new Nationals ballpark. (It's a torrent of words, so I've bolded the most important items.)
The session began with ANC representatives testifying about the community's concerns that no traffic and parking management plan has yet been unveiled, and with not many days to go (no one was sure whether it was 82 or 81 or 80 days--it's actually 79, but I didn't pipe up), neighbors are getting increasingly nervous that plans and signage won't be ready by Opening Day. While Tommy Wells's proposed Performance Parking plan could eventually become the mechanism for handling on-street parking near the ballpark, it won't be able to be in place by Opening Day, and so residents want to know how parking is going to be restricted to prevent stadium-goers from descending on nearby streets in search of free parking and bringing what has frequently been referred to as "controlled chaos."
Kwame Brown became frustrated when trying to find out who is actually in charge of coordinating all the government agencies who have a hand in the ballpark and communicating information to the public--"Who do I call? Who's driving the train?" he asked a number of times. After much back and forth with Greg O'Dell of the Sports and Entertainment Commission and Judi Greenberg from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, it was finally agreed that DDOT is now in charge of organizing and implementing the stadium's traffic and parking plans.
Determining this was a good step for this hearing that had been convened to discuss those plans, except for one small detail--council member Brown's Committee on Economic Development does not have oversight responsibilities for DDOT, so no one from the agency was in attendance.
Oops. (Apparently there had been plans to hold this hearing jointly with Jim Graham's Committee on Public Works and the Environment, which oversees DDOT, but that did not come to pass.)
It was said that DDOT will be unveiling the traffic operations and parking plan next week, though of course no one from DDOT was actually there to confirm or deny this.
Greg McCarthy of the Nationals testified about the team's continuing efforts to plan for the onslaught of fans, ranging from the mailing next week of parking information to season ticket holders to a planned media onslaught beginning in February to educate stadium-goers about the best ways to get to the park. (Short version: Take Metro! Walk! Bike! Park in Metro parking lots! Don't drive to the ballpark unless you've already got a parking pass!)
There still is no signed agreement between the Nationals and the city for use of RFK as free satellite parking for non-season-ticket holders, though clearly both sides anticipate it will get done, especially since the Nationals are working out the best routes for the free shuttle buses they plan to provide from RFK to the new stadium. (But Kwame Brown did not seem too enthused that the city might not be getting any revenue from the parking spaces.)
The team anticipates having 5,000 spaces for season ticket holders available in lots within walking distance to the ballpark--and, other than one lot that sits on the west side of South Capitol Street underneath the freeway, all lots will be in Southeast and none will be in Southwest.
Tommy Wells focused a number of times on the idea of the neighborhood embracing the ballpark as part of its culture and part of the character of the community. How neat it will be for residents to be able to walk to games, he said, expressing his hopes that the ballpark is a positive experience for both fans and residents. (Putting the stadium there "was not a hostile act by the government," he said). He also spoke of how the stadium's on-time and on-budget completion should be a real celebration for the city, but that he doesn't want it to become known as the "ballpark with a traffic catastrophe."
My favorite moment of the hearing was when discussion turned to how exactly the onslaught of papal groupies will be handled when the Pope comes to the ballpark on April 17: I realized that all this time I had assumed Pope = Mass = Sunday, when in fact the event will be on a Thursday morning, which will make traffic and parking that much more of a challenge. Start planning your vacation day now.
Other items of interest:
* Charter buses are expected to be parked across the South Capitol Street bridge during games.
* The Nationals have secured 4,000 of the 5,000 spaces they are eyeing near the ballpark, and expect to have the other 1,000 by Opening Day. There will be about 3,000 spaces at RFK, in Lots 7 and 8, and the team will be running a test of the RFK shuttle buses on Friday.
* There will be 130 handicapped parking spaces in the two lots on the ballpark site.
* The Navy Yard Metro station is expected to be ready by Opening Day.
* The Nationals will be responsible for clean-up around the ballpark and surrounding streets after games, most likely through an augmentation of the Capitol Riverfront BID's "clean teams".
* There are still plans for two job fairs to be held in Southwest, perhaps on Feb. 9 and 23 at Greenleaf Rec Center.
There's probably other items I missed that some people might be interested in, but I think that's more than enough for a Friday night.
It's anticipated that a joint hearing of both the Committee on Economic Development and the Committee on Public Works and the Environment--which oversees DDOT--will be scheduled soon.
The broadcast of the meeting is already available on demand, if you have three hours of your life you're not doing anything with. I've also posted the prepared statements of the witnesses from today, which you should definitely read to get more information than I've been able to summarize here. Also available is a press release from Kwame Brown's office about the hearing, in which he calls for "enhanced coordination from DC agencies and increased public involvement."
UPDATE: Here's the WashTimes article on the hearing. And the Examiner's.
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More posts: ANC News, Metro/WMATA, parking, Nationals Park, Traffic Issues

Ballpark and Beyond, and Stadium-Related Tidbits
Dec 20, 2007 9:06 AM
This week's Ballpark and Beyond column in the Post is my summary of ANC 6D's deliberations on the ballpark liquor license. It also references a meeting held last night between community leaders and city and team representatives (though my deadline was before the meeting, so the column couldn't actually include anything *from* the meeting).
The meeting included updates on the road improvements in the area and the Navy Yard Metro station upgrades, both of which are still on track to be basically done by opening day (the Metro station might "still need another coat of paint", it was said, but will be "serviceable").
The Nationals are still working out their parking plans, not only in terms of the lots near the ballpark but also the satellite parking at RFK, and all the additional planning that goes with it (traffic flow, signage, shuttle buses, drop off/pick up locations, etc.). It appears as of now that there might not be season-ticket-holder lots in Southwest at all, not even at Buzzards Point. There was also mention that stadium-goers will not be funneled through the South Capitol Street exit of the freeway--the team is going to try very hard to move fans through all the other close-by freeway exits, but not South Capitol Street.
Circulator buses will not be part of the transit plans for the first season. But they're planning plenty of bike racks around the ballpark perimeter, and are also still working on a bicycle "valet" parking service.
Also, there's tentative plans for two stadium job fairs, possibly on Feb. 2 and Feb. 26 (details still being worked out).
And, everybody knows that the first few games will be "a challenge."
The general tone of the meeting was more cooperative and collegial than some of these meetings have been in the past (maybe because Tommy Wells was there for the first part and everyone wanted to be on their best behavior). There's plans for more meetings and workshops between these "stakeholders" (I really hate that word) to try to hammer out the best plans for traffic, pedestrian flow, and "curbside management" (aka on-street parking) before it's all then unveiled to the community at public meetings. There was also agreement that the group should get together after the first homestand in April to talk about what works/what doesn't.
UPDATE: Speaking of public meetings, here is the official announcement about the Jan. 11 city council Committee on Economic Development oversight hearing on "Parking and Traffic Plan for the Nationals' Stadium." It contains information on how to testify at the hearing, if you're so inclined.
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More posts: ANC News, circulator, Metro/WMATA, parking, Nationals Park, Traffic Issues

City Working on New On-Street Parking Plans Around the Ballpark, in Southwest, and on Capitol Hill
Dec 14, 2007 8:31 PM
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

Ongoing Douglass Bridge Lane Closures
Nov 28, 2007 4:10 PM
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

Quick Links: Parking, Bridges, Streetcars
Nov 23, 2007 9:12 AM
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 DCTransitFuture.com, 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.

Hearing on Bridge Projects
Nov 16, 2007 2:30 PM
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

Douglass Bridge Lane Closures This Weekend - Inbound Sidewalk Open
Nov 15, 2007 1:02 PM
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

ANC 6D Presentation Meeting Tonight
Nov 5, 2007 1:49 PM
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

Douglass Bridge Weekend Lane Closures Cancelled
Oct 31, 2007 2:22 PM
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

Work Continuing on Douglass Bridge
Oct 19, 2007 3:19 PM
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

Outbound Douglass Bridge Closure This Weekend
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

Design for 11th Street Bridges Reconfiguration Chosen
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

Weekend Douglass Bridge Inbound Lane Closures
Sep 25, 2007 11:40 AM
While the worst of the Douglass Bridge Extreme Makeover pain is now over, there's still some work to be done, and this weekend the inbound lanes of the Douglass Bridge will be closed starting Friday, Sept. 29 at 9 pm, until as late as Monday, Oct. 1 at 4 am. Here's the DDOT press release with details. Quote: "The second phase of construction includes additional work on the swing span area of the bridge and streetscape improvements along South Capitol Street. Upgrades include new environmentally sensitive lighting, pedestrian access improvements such as handicap ramps, pedestrian traffic signals and new sidewalks. Resurfacing work will also take place this weekend on the inbound lanes on South Capitol Street up to N Street."
More posts: Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues

Douglass Bridge Reopened
Aug 30, 2007 9:11 AM
As expected, the Douglass Bridge did indeed reopen overnight, at approximately 4 am, and the traffic cameras at South Capitol and M and at the Suitland Parkway show vehicles moving across newly laid pavement. Channel 4 has a piece on the reopening, as does Channel 5, Channel 9, WAMU (audio only) and WTOP (though it's mostly an updated version of their it's-going-to-open piece from yesterday). And since I missed them yesterday, here's Channel 7 and Channel 4's it's-going-to-open stories.
More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues

Douglass Bridge Reopening Ceremony - Photos Posted
Aug 29, 2007 3:48 PM

This afternoon there was a ceremony marking the pending reopening of the Douglass/South Capitol Street Bridge, with remarks by Mayor Fenty, DC Delegate Norton, Council Member Barry, and others. I'll post photos in a little while, but did want to get the news bullets out first:

* They will start opening the bridge around midnight tonight, but it will take a little while to coordinate the opening of the various intersections on each side of the bridge.
* For the first week or so, no left turns will be allowed through the intersection at South Capitol and Potomac, and the intersection stoplights will be a constant flashing yellow. They want people to get used to the new configuration at its most basic before adding in some of the new "options."
* The intersections with O and P streets probably won't be opened for another week or so as well.
* Work on the medians and sidewalks on South Capitol Street, the railings on the bridge, and other improvements will continue for a few more weeks. The emphasis was on getting the roadway back open, but there is still additional work to be done that can be handled while traffic flows. (But watch for some lane closures during off-hours.)
* (Added) The streetscape improvements along South Capitol won't be completely finished until spring, when the stadium is ready to open.
* Everyone still wants a new bridge. This is stopgap work while the city tries to get the funding for a completely new bridge. Congresswoman Norton remarked that the city's performance in getting this project done early and on budget has not gone unnoticed on Capitol Hill as she works to get the new bridge fully funded.
UPDATE: I've now added a bunch of photos of the new South Capitol-and-Potomac intersection to my Douglass Bridge Extreme Makeover page, and there's also additional photos in the Extended Archive. (Didn't take any new shots further up South Capitol; I'll wait until the streetscape improvements are farther along.) And here's the DDOT announcement of tonight's reopening.
UPATE II: I'll put the links to news coverage of the ceremony here. (There will be a new post tonight/tomorrow for the actual opening.) Here's WTOP's piece. And Channel 9.

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

Douglass Bridge Opening Thursday
Aug 28, 2007 11:32 AM
Word is out that the Douglass Bridge will be reopened early Thursday morning. More soon.
UPDATE: Here is the media advisory from DDOT; there will be a ceremony with invited speakers on Wednesday afternoon, and then sometime during the overnight hours, before Thursday morning rush, the bridge will be opened to vehicles and pedestrians. It was originally scheduled to reopen Sept. 6, so for those of you counting at home, that means the work will have been completed a week ahead of schedule.
UPDATE II: And here come the torrent of news stories: WashPost, WTOP, Channel 7, Channel 9, Channel 4, Examiner. With more to come, I'm sure.
If you're wandering through here from a web search about the bridge, be sure to check out my Douglass Bridge Extreme Makeover page to see photos from before and during the bridge's rehabilitation.
More posts: Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues

Lots of New Photos - Stadium, SouthCap, Onyx, Etc.
Aug 19, 2007 9:20 AM
With Saturday being one of those glorious clear days, I of course raced out with camera to make the rounds. 70/100 I, Onyx on First, and 100 M continue to rise, so the usual photos of those are now posted. The Stadium Construction Gallery is updated with views of the ballpark's northern and western vistas, which are changing markedly thanks to the work being done on the parking garages and on South Capitol Street in conjunction with the Douglass Bridge work.
And while you might think it's pretty much become rote for me to watch these changes, I must admit that when I scurried very briefly out into the middle of South Capitol Street at P Street to grab a shot or two, I was just about overcome by what it's all starting to look like. The holes are cut for the new South Capitol median, the curbs are being put in place for the new wider sidewalks, and the stadium's fake-limestone (I'm sorry, "precast concrete") exterior just pops in the late afternoon sun. Check my Douglass Bridge Extreme Makeover page photos that try to capture the new vista, along with a new Expanded Project Archive that I built if you can't get enough of looking at the before-and-afters of this stretch of road.
UPDATE: Oops, forgot to add the obligatory link to all the new photos on one page. There are also some additional here-and-there shots of spots that needed fresh photos.
More posts: 100 M, 70/100 I, jpi, Onyx, Douglass Bridge, Nationals Park, Traffic Issues
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