JDLand.com Search Results for eis
In the Pipeline
1000 South Capitol
25 M
Yards/Parcel I
Yards/Parcel G
Chiller Site Condos
Yards/Parcel A
1333 M St.
More Capper Apts.
Yards/Movie Theater
New Marine Barracks
Nat'l Community Church
Factory 202/Yards
SC1100
Completed
New DC Water HQ ('19)
Yards/Bower Condos ('19)
Virginia Ave. Tunnel ('19)
99 M ('18)
Agora ('18)
1221 Van ('18)
District Winery ('17)
Insignia on M ('17)
F1rst/Residence Inn ('17)
One Hill South ('17)
Homewood Suites ('16)
ORE 82 ('16)
The Bixby ('16)
Dock 79 ('16)
Community Center ('16)
The Brig ('16)
Park Chelsea ('16)
Yards/Arris ('16)
Hampton Inn ('15)
Southeast Blvd. ('15)
11th St. Bridges ('15)
Parc Riverside ('14)
Twelve12/Yards ('14)
Lumber Shed ('13)
Boilermaker Shops ('13)
Camden South Cap. ('13)
Canal Park ('12)
Capitol Quarter ('12)
225 Virginia/200 I ('12)
Foundry Lofts ('12)
1015 Half Street ('10)
Yards Park ('10)
Velocity Condos ('09)
Teague Park ('09)
909 New Jersey Ave. ('09)
55 M ('09)
100 M ('08)
Onyx ('08)
70/100 I ('08)
Nationals Park ('08)
Seniors Bldg Demo ('07)
400 M ('07)
Douglass Bridge Fix ('07)
US DOT HQ ('07)
20 M ('07)
Capper Seniors 1 ('06)
Capitol Hill Tower ('06)
Courtyard/Marriott ('06)
Marine Barracks ('04)
 

Search Blog Entries:

Specify a Time Frame: (opt.)

Starting    Ending

| New Search
 

  

Limit your search to a certain project/topic area:
(hold the CTRL key while selecting to choose multiple entries)

 

Search term: eis : 126 matching blog entries

Tuesday Tidbits: Declaration, Barracks, Road Work, Willow V-Day
Feb 6, 2018 10:53 AM
A few of these deserve their own posts, but, well....
* DECLARATION DECLARING: A press release from Grosvenor says that Declaration will be opening at F1rst, in mid-March, as the building's first full-service dining option. "This new location will be double the size of its counterpart in [Shaw] and will offer pizza and Philadelphia-oriented menu items, including some ballpark staples." The release also says that Barre3 will open in spring late summer or fall [error in press release, I'm told]. With these openings, only one retail space at F1rst remains unleased.
* BARRACKS DECIDING: The Record of Decision and Final EIS for the new Bachelor Enlisted Quarters have been published, ending a study phase that feels like it began in 1936. The chosen site plan is to build the new BEQ immediately to the north of the barracks at 7th and L, SE (Building 25), which will spell doom for either some or all of the athletic field (it's been so long, I don't remember anymore). Read the MBEIS web site for actual details that aren't from memory.
* SOUTH CAPITOL PROJECTING: DDOT announced some temporary lane closures this week in multiple locations "for pre-construction work associated with the South Capitol Street Corridor Project and the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge project." I believe this is the first mention of "pre-construction work" for these projects--or at least they are since the design-build contract was awarded.
* PEPCO DISRUPTING: ANC 6D07 Commissioner Fascett reports that PEPCO will be digging up portions M Street SE between 1st and 6th and 1st south of M to install underground pipes and then cables during February and March. Watch for daytime traffic disruptions weekdays and Saturdays.
* WILLOW VALENTINING: If you are in a red-heart mood on Saturday (Feb. 10), retail boutique Willow is having a Valentine's Day party, from 11 am to 7 pm. There will be valentine-making, cupcakes, a photo booth, and more. (Strangely, the valentines give out all look like this.) Willow is in the ground floor of Arris, on Water Street across from District Winery, just north of the Yards Park.

Tuesday Tidbits: Short and Sweet
Nov 14, 2017 11:49 AM
I have been intending to write more substantively about a few of these things, but now in the interest of actually getting them posted, I'll go with abbreviated versions:
* DOUGLASS BRIDGE MEETING: DDOT is holding two public meetings to "discuss the current status" of the new Douglass Bridge project. There is one in Ward 6 on Tuesday, Nov. 28 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at 1100 4th St., SW (DCRA conference room), and another in Ward 8 on Wednesday, Nov. 29 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Thurgood Marshall Academy, 2427 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., SE. See my project page and/or the official web site for details.
* DOUGLASS BRIDGE BLEATING: The Commission on Fine Arts says the new bridge design "lacks grace." (WBJ)
* 3RD STREET TWEAKING: Watch for the single travel lane on 3rd Street SE at Virginia Avenue to be moved off of the temporary deck and onto new pavement Any Minute Now. This is so the deck can be demolished and restoration work can then continue on both 3rd and Virginia. (CSX)
* BARRACKS EIS RELEASING: Remember those plans to build a new Marine Bachelor Enlisted Quarters, which ended up deciding that the new building would be built next to the existing building at 7th and L? There's actually some movement, with the final EIS expected to be released Any Minute Now, and the Record of Decision expected to follow. I'll write more when the EIS comes out, but in the meantime here's a newsletter from last month with the latest.
* ANC REP REPPING: Read more updates on neighborhood goings-on from ANC 6D07 commissioner Meredith Fascett.
* TASTEBUDS APPROVING: Ana, the restaurant at District Winery, gets good words from the Post's food critic. (WaPo)

Opening Day 2016 - Play Ball, Weather Permitting
Apr 6, 2016 10:54 PM
The weather forecast isn't exactly optimal (hence my use of the photo from the holy-crap-it's-miserable-out Opening Day 2008), but nevertheless we have made it to April 7, when the Nats are scheduled to play their first home game of the 2016 season, vs the Marlins starting at 4:05 pm.
At this point everyone probably knows everything they want or need to know about the plans and festivities, but I'll still do a quick link-filled rundown, because, well, even though I'm coming down with the same cold that clobbered me on Opening Day 2008 (symmetry!), the guilt would be too incapacitating to not post something.
Here's:
* Opening Day Promotions, Festivities, and Events At Nats Park
* What's New Inside the Ballpark | Outside the Ballpark
* Restaurants Near the Ballpark
* Parking Lots Near the Ballpark
* How to Get to the Ballpark: WaPo Version | DDOT Version

As for what will be going on outside the ballpark before and after the game, here's the current lineup:
* Bluejacket Opening Day Fest 2016, 12 to 4 pm, 4th and Tingey Streets, SE.
* Due South Opening Day Pop-Up Beer Garden at Arris, 11 am to 5 pm., 1331 4th St., SE.
* Opening Day at the Fairgrounds/Bullpen, gates open at 11 am, 1201 Half St., SE.
* The Budweiser Clydesdales Procession, starting on 1st Street at 2:15 pm.
(Note that 106.7 The Fan's planned Opening Day party at Canal Park is now apparently re-scheduled for April 22, thanks to the weather forecast.)
Speaking of the Fairgrounds/Bullpen, I see that they are billing this as their final season, which has been my assumption but it's interesting to see it in black and white.
If you haven't been following along, you may not know that this is because it's likely that by the 2017 season construction will be underway on JBG's 420-unit condo/residential building with 65,000 square feet of retail on the south end of that block, which will change the look of Half Street pretty substantially, as seen here. Hard to set up row upon row of cornhole when a massive hole is being dug!
I may continue to update this post if any additional links come in, and/or be doing a lot of retweeting on Twitter. Or I may be in bed. Or both. (Have laptop, will blog.)
Feel free to use the comments as a game thread, should you wish to discuss actual on-field goings-on.

'Top of the Yard' Rooftop Lounge at Hampton Inn Debuting
Apr 5, 2016 12:01 PM
While their web site says that a "grand opening" is still a few weeks away, the rooftop lounge at the Hampton Inn dubbed "Top of the Yard" * is apparently open for business, starting at 5 pm every day and with extended hours on days where games at the ballpark start earlier.
With its location immediately north of Nats Park, and with a view of (most of) the field, it will probably be a destination of interest--and a few occupants were caught on camera during MASN's broadcasts this weekend, and I captured MASN capturing them on camera, as you see above.
The menu (scroll down on the official site) features burgers and hot dog-type offerings along with "snacks and shareables." According to the Post's Going Out Guide, the beer lineup is Budweiser-ish, with Bud, Shock Top, and Goose Island. The space will also be available to rent for private events.
I took some photos up on the roof back in December, right when the hotel opened, so the area wasn't quite finished yet, and the low winter sun made for less-than-optimal peeking into the ballpark, but here are some of those images, until I get up there to replace them. (Note that there are also lovely views of the rest of the neighborhood--see more photos here.)
I also hear tell that the Hampton is looking to open a sidewalk cafe where alcohol would be served.
I've now added this to my What's New Outside the Ballpark page (if you need to catch up) and also my Food Map.
* The logo on the official web site is "Top of the Yard," but all of the site's copy says "Top of the Yards." Looks like someone needs a copy editor.

New Douglass Bridge Update: Final RFP Issued
Mar 30, 2016 1:29 PM
More than two years after four teams were shortlisted for the opportunity to compete for the project, DDOT announced today that it has issued the final Request for Proposals (RFP) for the first phase of the South Capitol Street Corridor reconstruction, which includes a new Douglass Bridge and approach work, plus a new interchange at I-295 and the Suitland Parkway.
The release today says that design/build proposals from the four teams are due this fall, and that DDOT expects to begin construction in the spring of 2017, and complete this first phase in 2020, but, well, We Shall See.
I absolutely cannot bear to write about this in any detail AGAIN, so if you haven't been keeping up with the plans to replace the existing 67-year-old bridge, please check out my post from August 2015, when it was announced that the project got its federal approval/record of decision, or my post from late 2014 about the supplemental EIS that presented some tweaks to the plan that had been stalled after a preferred alternative was identified back in 2011.
But if clicking on one of those links is more than you yourself can bear, I will just plagiarize the summary I wrote in August:
As you can see in the pilfered-from-DDOT graphic above, the new bridge will run immediately parallel and downriver of the existing bridge, with two new large traffic ovals on its approaches. There will also be a much-needed reconstruction of the I-295/Suitland Parkway interchange.
The bridge will have three travel lanes in each direction, along with 18-feet-wide pedestrian/bike paths on both the up-river and down-river edges of the bridge, which will be configured as one 8-foot-wide lane for pedestrians and a 10-foot-wide bidirectional bike path.
The eventual second phase of this overall "South Capitol Street Corridor Project" will be streetscape improvements to the north end of the street, similar to the spiffening that the blocks from N to Potomac received back in 2007 that give the street more of an "urban boulevard" feel. This will include a full redesign of the M Street intersection and a reconfiguration of South Capitol's interchange with I-395.
My South Capitol Street and South Capitol Street Bridge project pages are also good places to go for details.

What's New at Nats Park for 2016
Mar 29, 2016 2:47 PM
The media hordes were taken on the now-annual tour of Nats Park today to get a peek at the various changes, updates, and additions that the team has put in place for the 2016 season, which gets underway officially with the home opener on Thursday, April 7, but also with exhibition games this Friday and Saturday against the Minnesota Twins.
I of course put together a (long!) photo gallery with shots from the tour, from the new Budweiser Terrace to the completely overhauled PNC Diamond Club to the expanded Shake Shack to the new food offerings.
But, while you really should look at the gallery, I'll hit a few high points here.
* Mike Isabella of Top Chef will now have two new offerings, Kapnos at the Park and Catchfly, with Greek dishes and southern food respectively.
* Shake Shack is expanding into the old El Verano Taqueria window, with Verano shifting to a cart.
* The Virginia Biscuit Company is getting a second outlet, up on the Gallery level at Section 315.
* Delta is now the team's official carrier, and so the President's Club area is now the Delta Sky 360 Club.
* The team will be offering limited packages to celebrate kids' birthdays at the park on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with pizza and cupcakes and tickets to the game.
* The Nats will now be running the Team Stores, which they say will result in "better prices, broader selection and 'exclusive styles.'"
* With Budweiser now taking over as Official Beer, the basic brew offerings will be Bud, Bud Light, Goose Island, Shock Top, Stella Artois, and Blue Point Toasted Lager. The old Scoreboard Walk will now be the Budweiser Terrace, and the Red Porch and Red Loft will be the Budweiser Brew House and Bud Light Loft. There will also be a "LIme-a-Rita Lookout" up on the gallery level.
* The PNC Diamond Club has been given a big overhaul, with a new mezzanine level that has its own seating and bar, plus much more seating and bar space on the first floor.
* Metal detectors will now be at all entrances.
* The only smoking pen will now be outside the First Base Gate, and it will require receiving a wrist band and coming back through the metal detectors once you've finished puffing.
There was a lot more than that, but I think those are the high points. And now to give you a few more photos while still telling you to go look at the whole gallery, which also includes plenty of additional information in the captions.
Coming later this week, a guide for What's New Outside the Ballpark, for those who haven't been back to visit since last season.
Comments (12)
More posts: Nationals Park

The Changing Skyline: Catching Sight of Dock 79 and 801 New Jersey
Oct 11, 2015 8:04 PM
As someone who has, shall we say, a pretty firm grasp on the plans and locations for new buildings in the neighborhood, I admit to a jolt here or there when skeletons arise and become visible--especially in spots at which I hadn't yet imagined seeing them.
With the residential buildings at Florida Rock and 801 New Jersey now in the showy above-ground portion of construction, I got jolted quite a few times during a four-hour walk around the neighborhood on Sunday to catch up on photos.
Here's a few images that perhaps might jolt you too, starting with the one above, looking directly at Dock 79 from the DC Water bridge along the Riverwalk, which also should be compared to this view from just before the final demolition of the concrete plant. And while there's this one that I've been waiting to see, looking east along Potomac Avenue from South Capitol Street, with work on the top floor now underway, there's also the "surprise" view from the Yards Park (click to enlarge):
Dock 79 is also quite visible now when looking south along 1st Street, and even from New Jersey and M (in person, not with a wideish-angle lens!).
As for 801 New Jersey, it hasn't risen more than a couple floors, but it's still starting to show itself at locations other than the intersection of New Jersey and I--like along K Street, at 1st and at 2nd Place (I've added a small helpful pointer in case you aren't seeing it). It's going up a total of 13 floors, so it's only going to get more noticeable from more locations.
Of course, if a favored view is being eclipsed by this "progress," my sympathies. At least someone thought to take "before" photos.
(PS: The Reader Poll will be closing soon, so hurry up and vote. Tell us your favorite haunts around the 'Hood, and tell me a little about yourself. Pretty please? There may be a coveted JDLand t-shirt in it for you!)

New Douglass Bridge Gets Federal OK, $587M Funding from DC
Aug 31, 2015 2:19 PM
The process to build a new Douglass Bridge hasn't exactly been moving at lightning speed, but nevertheless an important milestone has been reached: on August 14 it was announced that "the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved the Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement (SFEIS) and issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the South Capitol Street Corridor Project—both indicating federal approval of the project."
And with $587 million in DC's budget already earmarked for the project, DDOT can move forward with the next big step: choosing the design-build team, presumably from among the "final four" bidders identified back in February 2014, a process that is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016.
The current Douglass Bridge is now 66 years old, and has been classified as "functionally obsolete." DDOT says that if it is not replaced "within the next five years, the bridge would require an estimated $110 million in major rehabilitation work and would need to be closed for more than a year."
(And, maybe I'm just getting older and turning into even more of a fraidy cat, but holy moly is the traffic making the current bridge vibrate like crazy when you walk the pedestrian path. I just don't remember it moving that much even six months ago. Which perhaps might explain this bit of crumbling I saw on Saturday.)
This is now at least my 120th post on the bridge and the plans to replace it, so I'll go with a very quick summary (this post from last December is a good catch-up option). As you can see in the pilfered-from-DDOT graphic above, the new bridge will run immediately parallel and downriver of the existing bridge, with two new large traffic ovals on its approaches. There will also be a much-needed reconstruction of the I-295/Suitland Parkway interchange.
The bridge will have three travel lanes in each direction, along with 18-feet-wide pedestrian/bike paths on both the up-river and down-river edges of the bridge, which will be configured as one 8-foot-wide lane for pedestrians and a 10-foot-wide bidirectional bike path.
The eventual second phase of this overall "South Capitol Street Corridor Project" will be streetscape improvements to the north end of the street, similar to the spiffening that the blocks from N to Potomac received back in 2007 that give the street more of an "urban boulevard" feel. This will include a full redesign of the M Street intersection and a reconfiguration of South Capitol's interchange with I-395.
The full Request for Proposals is expected to be released in the spring of 2016.
While waiting for the new bridge to arrive, I may have to put out calls for volunteers willing to let me tether myself to them when I need to take pictures from the existing bridge, because otherwise the authorities will probably have to respond to calls of an old lady frozen in place on the pedestrian path, holding a camera but too terrified to move.

Marines Pick Existing Annex Site on L Street for New Barracks
Jul 2, 2015 3:54 PM
After unveiling a draft Environmental Impact Statement back in April that did not name a "preferred alternative" out of any of the five sites studied as a new barracks location, the Marines have now apparently made their choice: .89 acres of land at the existing "MBW Annex" site on L Street SE between 5th and 7th Streets.
Quoting the EIS web site:
"The Draft EIS comment period concluded on May 26, 2015. The Marine Corps received comments from 14 agencies and individuals, most of which indicated a preference for one of the two alternatives that would construct the BEQ Replacement Complex on Department of Defense-owned land (Alternative 4 - Site D at the Washington Navy Yard or Alternative 5 - Site E at the MBW Annex). The Marine Corps identified Alternative 5 as the preferred alternative based on this agency and public input, as well as its proximity to the MBW Main Post and Annex, the elimination of the need for land acquisition, and the mitigatable environmental impacts of locating the replacement BEQ Complex at this site."
As described in the draft EIS, the choice of this location means that the Marines are expecting to build a six- or seven-story building that wraps around the BEQ that opened in 2004. They also expect to retain the underground parking at the 8th and I/Building 20 site they are trying to move out of (though there is already that nice big four-story aboveground garage at the L Street site that neighbors are so fond of). The playing field along Virginia Avenue is expected to be retained, however.
There is no mention of any possible closures of L Street between 5th and 7th, as had been discussed back in 2010 when the Marines were eyeing Square 882, where the Lofts at Capitol Quarter are now being built. And it was in 2012 that the Department of Defense relaxed its Force Protection Requirements, meaning that any new quarters would need only a 66-foot standoff from the street, compared to the 82 feet the original land search had been operating under.
eis_map-thumb360.jpg ">This would seem to bring to an end the long, long road from when the Marines first launched the public process to find a new site back in 2010, which initially focused on various privately owned properties south of the freeway where the Corps though it could perhaps create a "public-private" location that would provide some services or benefits to the public. But as it became clear that businesses, officials, and residents weren't particularly excited about seeing blocks near Lower 8th Street and the Virginia Avenue Park being turned into secure, fenced locations (especially once the phrase "federal land acquisition will be unavoidable" cropped up), the Marines' choices seemed to narrow to the two federally owned sites, and now to the site that they have controlled all along.
The final EIS is expected in the fall, with the Record of Decision in early 2016.
Comments (7)
More posts: Barracks

Norton Urges Use of Federal Land for New Barracks Site
May 26, 2015 5:14 PM
I wrote a few weeks back about the release of the draft EIS in the ongoing search for a site for a new Marine barracks, and about the five sites the document analyzed, three of which are on privately held land or privately-controlled land (at 8th & Virginia, 11th & M, and in the northeast corner of the Yards), and two of which are at sites under federal control, within the walls of the Navy Yard and on the current Bachelor Enlisted Quarters land at 7th and L.
Today, DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton released her comments on the study, saying that the private sites "should not be chosen because of the significant negative impacts on District residents, District business owners, and the District economy" and that the Marines "cannot now swoop in and take these prized sites in a city that has almost no land left for development for the benefit of its growing population and businesses."
In comparison, she says, the two sites on federal land "will protect private landowners and lessees in the District while at the same time providing the opportunity for increased economic development at the current Building 20 site" (at 8th and I).
The period for commenting on the EIS ends today, May 26. so if you are desperate to add your voice, I would hope you can submit via the web site until midnight.
My post on the draft EIS is far more detailed than this quickie update, so I suggest reading it for further background.
Comments (6)
More posts: Barracks

Draft EIS Released in Marines' Hunt for New Barracks Site
Apr 12, 2015 8:25 PM
eis_map-thumb360.jpg ">Just like the perennials that begin popping up in springtime, the process to find a site for a new Marine Barracks has once again reappeared, with a Draft EIS released late on Friday that provides a deep study of five potential locations but does not identify the usual "preferred alternative."
For those lucky readers who have not been traveling on this path since it began in 2010 (!), the Marines are desperately wishing to move out of the antiquated and not-removed-enough-from-the-streets Building 20 at 8th and I streets, SE. (No, not the historic buildings that run along 8th Street where the Friday night parades are held--this is that lovely midcentury modern monolith on the south side of I Street.)
After the initial round of public workshops failed to magically come up with a solution that met the requirement that any new barracks be within 2,000 feet of the main post, an Environmental Impact Study was announced in 2012 and launched in the fall of 2013 (during my hiatus, so apologies for the hole in my reporting).
This draft EIS identifies five alternatives that meet the requirements that include constructing a 191,405 sf Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ) complex that complies with anti-terrorism/force protection setbacks as well as finding spaces for various support facilities currently housed in Building 20. But, in an unusual situation for a draft EIS, no "preferred alternative" has been identified--the Marines apparently don't have a (publicly stated) preference, and "each of the action alternatives involve trade-offs among economig, technical, environmental, and Marine Corps statutory requirements."
As for the five alternatives, they include:
eis_siteamassing-thumb200.jpg" border="1"> eis_sitecmassing-thumb200.jpg" border="1"> eis_sitedmassing-thumb200.jpg" border="1"> eis_siteemassing-thumb200.jpg" border="1">
* (Left) Taking 3 acres of privately held land on the two blocks bounded by Virginia, 8th, 9th, and Potomac, which would include acquiring 24 privately held properties, demolishing 14 buildings, and closing a one-block stretch of L Street, to build a five-story building with underground parking;
* (Left center) Taking two acres of former Southeast Federal Center land within the footprint of The Yards immediately to the west of Hull Street and the Navy Yard to build an eight-story building with an attached above-ground garage, a move that would necessitate an agreement with both Forest City and the GSA to transfer the land to the Marines and which apparently has already engendered Forest City's "formal opposition" (page 2-21);
* (Right center) Taking 1.67 acres within the walls of the Navy Yard, just south of M Street between 9th/Parsons and 10th, to build a 5- or 6-story building, while demolishing a building currently used by the Marines (Building 169) as well as tennis and basketball courts and a parking lot; and
* (Right) Using .89 acres nestled between the existing BEQ site at 7th and K and its lovely above-ground parking garage on L Street to build a 6- or 7-story building that would wrap around the existing Building 25, while still keeping the footprint of the large soccer/marching band field untouched. Parking would be in the existing underground garage at the old Building 20 site for both this alternative and the Navy Yard one.
(Why am I only mentioning four of the five? Because the Alternative B site is now newly spoken for, though I guess if the Marines really really want it....)
I am of course just scratching the surface of the 300-page document. If you want to learn more, and/or want to provide comments on any of these plans, there is going to be an open house public meeting on Wednesday, April 22, from 5:30 to 8:30 pm at Tyler Elementary School (1001 G St., SE). Comments can also be submitted until May 26, either through the mail or the EIS web site.
Comments (9)
More posts: Barracks

Washington Humane Society Officially Purchases 11th & M Site
Apr 12, 2015 8:25 PM
The notion of the Washington Humane Society acquiring the former Exxon site at 11th and M SE was in the news back in February, and I can now report that the land deal has been completed, thanks to a $5 million grant from the city.
This location will apparently replace the WHS facilities on both New York Avenue NE and Georgia Avenue NW.
But this won't be the agency's only presence on the block: it already operates its spay and neuter clinic in a building at 10th and L adjacent to this Exxon lot.
I had hoped to include more details on the plans for the site, but this post couldn't wait any longer, thanks to the newly released Draft EIS for the Marine Barracks hunt, in which this 36,500-acre lot was identified as one of five possible sites for the new barracks. {Cut to Barracks hunters despondently crossing yet another potential location off their list. Or not.}
This site, officially located at 1022 M St., SE, has been vacant since the Exxon closed and was demolished in 2008, except for a brief residence by a chair.
More to come on the Humane Society plans.

Latest South Capitol Corridor Draft Plan Released; Meeting Jan. 22
Dec 22, 2014 2:33 PM
If you are looking for some light Christmas reading, you can sit down by the fireplace with all 335 pages (plus appendices!) of the newest revision to the plans for reconfiguring much of South Capitol Street, including the construction of a new Frederick Douglass Bridge.
This document, technically known as the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS), describes the new "revised preferred alternative" (RPA) design that tweaks the original preferred alternative in the Final EIS released back in 2011.
The bullet points for what the project plans are north/west of the Anacostia River are in the graphic at right (click to enlarge). The changes in this new RPA include:
* Changing the design of the bridge from a moveable span to a fixed-span bridge, which would save approximately $140 million in construction costs;
* Shifting the orientation of the new Douglass Bridge to an alignment parallel to the existing bridge, 30 feet down river, which avoids the need and lengthy process to acquire some land from Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling as well as a number of expensive relocation and reconstruction issues that a new alignment avoids (see page 2-91 of the SDEIS for details);
* A slight reduction of the size of the traffic oval on the western side (at Potomac Avenue):
* Replacing the previously designed circle on the eastern approach with an oval, located entirely in the DDOT right-of-way;
* And several other changes on the east side of the project that I will leave to others to discuss in detail. (See page ES-6 of the SDEIS.)
The initial design of the ovals and of the bridge itself were met with some consternation during this revision process. The SDEIS notes that in response to these concerns, DDOT has created a "Visual Quality Manual" for the project, which identifies design goals that are to "reflect the vision of providing a grand urban boulevard, which will be a gateway into the nation's capital, an iconic symbol of the District's aspirations in the 21st century, and a catalyst to revitalize local neighborhoods and the Anacostia Waterfront." (page 2-26).
As for the bridge itself, the version in this RPA will support three travel lanes in each direction, along with 18 feet of bicycle and pedestrian paths on *both* sides of the bridge--an 8-foot lane for pedestrians and a 10-foot birdirectional bike path. (Enlarge the image at right to see that I'm not lying about the bike/ped stuff.)
And the design of the bridge is to "make its primary aesthetic impact through its position (alignment), and the shape and sizes of its structural elements" and is to " aesthetically appear to be part of a continuous urban corridor." This includes the avoidance of "using elements, solely for aesthetic effect, which do not contribute to the support of the bridge." (page 2-28)
Plans for the reconfiguration of South Capitol Street as a "grand urban boulevard" have all along called for changing the intersection of South Capitol and M streets to an "at-grade intersection" (page 4-79), which would also mean that K and L would have signalized four-way intersections with South Capitol, unlike today. The wide median seen south of N would be established on the north end of the street as well, now all the way to D Street SE in the RPA. Also changing in this new plan are a few new left-turn options at I Street SE/SW and L Street SE.
Revisions have also been made to the ramps from South Capitol Street to I-395 and I-695, but the basics from the original plans remain, most notably the demolition of the existing suspended ramp from northbound South Capitol to the SE/SW Freeway.
Even with the revisions made to cut the costs of the new Douglass Bridge, this isn't a cheap project. The five phases together are anticipated to cost over $1 billion, with Segment 1, including the new bridge and traffic ovals, estimated at $480 million. The "grand boulevard"-izing of South Capitol Street is estimated at $153 million, and planned streetscape improvements to New Jersey Avenue between D and M streets SE at $42 million, plus another $358 million in east-of-the-river improvements (page 2-11).
Worn out yet? I sure am! (I've mostly lost track of how much of this is truly even "new" news at this point.) But perhaps you can regain your strength by Jan. 22, 2015, when the public meeting on this SDEIS will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Matthews Memorial Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, 2616 Martin Luther King Ave., SE. The public comment period is running until Feb. 2. DDOT is also still amidst the design/build proposal process, with proposals expected sometime in the spring.
The SouthCapitolEIS.com web site is now focused mainly on this SDEIS, of which clearly I've just scratched the surface; you can slog through my piles of posts on all of this over the years for the historical rundown.
UPDATE: Here's the WashCycle take on the latest plans, from a bike/ped perspective.

Not a Shocker: Lawsuit Filed to Stop Virginia Avenue Tunnel
Nov 12, 2014 9:04 AM
In a move that will surprise absolutely no one, the Committee of 100 on the Federal City is announcing today that a lawsuit is being filed to challenge last week's Record of Decision on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel.
In a press release, the committee's vice president, Monte Edwards, is quoted thusly: "The official Record of Decision fails to address the severe safety and security impacts the proposed project will have on the immediate community and on Capitol Hill, the constraint on the expansion of passenger and commuter rail service in the District, and the pre-approval by DDOT of the project before any environmental review had been conducted."
OJ Simpson-era readers will recognize this phrasing: "Edwards also emphasized that there is no need to rush-to-judgment on the CSX proposal. The EIS expressly states that the current CSX tunnel has 'decades' left of useful service."
Also an Edwards quote: "Issuance of the Record of Decision ends the administrative process, and litigation is the only option to obtain a new EIS that addresses our concerns. Until we have a new EIS, no permits should be granted by the District or federal officials."
The group also plans to file a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop any further action until the court issues a ruling.
There will be a press conference on the front steps of the US District Courthouse this morning at 11 am.
UPDATE: Here's the statement from CSX in response:
"The reconstruction of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel has been approved by the Federal and District of Columbia governments following a lengthy public oversight, review and comment process that shaped the final design of this project. CSX is committed to doing this project the right way, safely, respecting our neighbors and working closely with residents and businesses to minimize impacts and to ensure that they are informed about construction plans. Modernizing this tunnel will help alleviate freight and passenger rail delays and stimulate economic growth by removing a significant transportation bottleneck. CSX believes the project should move forward promptly."

FHWA Approves Virginia Ave. Tunnel Plans; Review Process Over
Nov 4, 2014 5:22 PM
(STOP ALL THE NEWS TODAY! I CAN'T TAKE IT!)
This afternoon--5 pm on Election Day--the Federal Highway Administration released its Record of Decision on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project, which approves the chosen preferred alternative for the project, while also approving "short-term closures of I-695 ramps at 6th and 8th Streets SE" and "occupancy of a portion of the 11th Street Bridge right-of-way located on I-695."
It also brings to a close the NEPA process on the project that began a thousand years ago, give or take. (Okay, it took about three years.)
This design will replace the current tunnel with two new permanent tunnels, constructed sequentially. It is expected to take somewhere between 30 to 42 months to complete.
CSX immediately issued a press release saying that this decision will enable the company "to complete the tunnel’s design and initiate the construction permitting process" with the District Department of Transportation.
CSX's release also says that "major construction is expected to begin in the next several months, following receipt of the required permits." But somehow I am guessing that the path from this ROD to shovels in the ground isn't necessarily a smooth one, especially since the Committee of 100 has already let it be known that any decision short of an indefinite delay of the project would result in a lawsuit.
The entire ROD document is close to 300 pages long--feel free to dive right in.
I'll update as more statements, stories, and rending of garments come in.
UPDATE: Here's the Post's initial story, and a lengthy quote from it: "CSX Transportation can now move into the local permitting phase, followed by what could be about three and a half years of construction. Although the company must obtain permits from the city to move forward, there is every indication that the process will go smoothly. Even before completion of the mandated National Environmental Policy Act review, the D.C. Department of Transportation had agreed to let CSX take over the roads near the tunnel for the purpose of rebuilding it. Crews could start securing the site as early as this fall, officials said."
UPDATE II: A quote from page 3 of the ROD, about the approach to the tunnel work: "Implementation of the Selected Alternative will involve replacing the existing Virginia Avenue Tunnel with two new permanent tunnels constructed sequentially. The south side tunnel will be constructed first as train traffic will continue to use the existing tunnel. Once completed, train traffic will shift to the new south side tunnel, and the existing tunnel will be demolished. Most of the north wall of the existing tunnel will remain in place so that the structural integrity of the I-695 viaduct will not be affected. Following demolition, the north side tunnel will be constructed. At the end of construction, each new tunnel will have a single railroad track with enough vertical clearance to allow double-stack intermodal container freight trains. "

A Very Big 10th Anniversary: The Announcement of the Ballpark
Sep 25, 2014 7:17 PM
I dropped the ball and missed by a few days marking a very important 10-year anniversary for this neighborhood: on Sept. 22, 2004, the Washington Post reported that "District officials disclosed plans yesterday to build a publicly financed stadium costing more than $400 million on the Anacostia waterfront near South Capitol Street, amid growing signs that Major League Baseball will attempt to move the Montreal Expos to Washington."
After my jaw came up off the floor, I raced down to get this batch of "before" photos of the ballpark's footprint and immediate surroundings. A lot of my all-time favorite shots are in this lineup, including the one at left, of Half and M.
While there were plenty of plans for the neighborhood already in the pipeline, the jolt that this provided changed the trajectory of the area's redevelopment from a somewhat leisurely pace to a rocket blasting off. And it certainly changed my life.

Next Virginia Avenue Tunnel Meeting July 31; Another Video
Jul 16, 2014 9:02 AM
The second public meeting about the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Final Environmental Impact Statement has now been scheduled for 6:30 pm on Thursday, July 31, at the Capitol Skyline hotel at South Capitol and I streets, SW.
The release from the tunnel folks says that this meeting "will include a presentation responsive to input by citizens from the public meeting held on July 1, 2014 with a question and answer period focused on the July 1 input."
This is the additional meeting sought by DC delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, along with the extension of the comment period from 30 to 60 days.
The official web site has the presentation and boards from the July 1 meeting.
I already posted the video animation released to show how the construction would go, and now I see this additional video showing the completed east and west portals (entrances) to the tunnel, along with how Virginia Avenue is expected to look after construction is finished.

Video Animation of Virginia Avenue Tunnel Construction Plan
Jul 8, 2014 8:59 AM
From the Washington Post's piece on the extension of the comment period on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Final EIS, a video provided by DDOT and FHWA showing the expected progression for the tunnel's construction.
Link.
I am miffed, however, that the animation doesn't include a red-headed photographer sticking a camera over the fences.

Reminder: Public Meeting on Virginia Avenue Tunnel EIS
Jul 1, 2014 12:05 AM
A gentle reminder that the public meeting to discuss the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel is tonight (July 1) at 6:30 pm at the Capitol Skyline Hotel at South Capitol and I Streets, SW.
It will no doubt be your garden variety public meeting--residents filling the seats and asking pointed questions, public officials carefully making well-vetted statements, consultants scurrying around the perimeter consulting, and opponents protesting out front beforehand.
UPDATE: Before the meeting even gets off the ground, DC Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton has announced that USDOT has agreed to extend the comment period from 30 to 60 days (though she had asked for 90) and to hold a second public meeting before the end of the review period.

Opponents Slam DDOT for 'Pre-Approving' Tunnel Plans
Jun 20, 2014 9:02 AM
(I am, as they say, out of pocket, so I hope you will have patience with me for being in cut and pasting mode today.)
Here is the release sent out on Wednesday from the DCSafeRail folks about the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Final Environmental Impact Statement released last week:

DC APPARENTLY PRE-APPROVES CSX TUNNEL BEFORE ENVIRONMENTAL STUDY CONCLUDES

(June 19, 2014) Washington, DC--According to documents in the Environmental Impact Statement for the CSX Tunnel at Virginia Avenue, SE, released last Friday, it appears that the District Department of Transportation has predetermined the EIS and apparently rubber-stamped CSX’s proposal for a partially open-trench construction project that will carry hazardous cargo less than a mile from the U.S. Capitol and through the heart of a growing residential/business community. It also appears to contradict Mayor Gray’s promise, made to over 400 people in January, that “…there is no way that we are going to allow people’s safety and security concerns to be compromised” by the CSX Tunnel.

In Appendix A (pg. 47) of the Final EIS appears to show that DDOT entered into a previously unknown agreement with CSX to grant occupancy permits to expand the tunnel’s right of way beyond its existing footprint. Additional agreements apparently indicate that upon conclusion of the project, CSX would be entitled to a permanent right-of-way to cover the expanded tunnel.

“We hope that the District Government has not thrown us under the freight train,” said Helen Douglas, a member of DCSafeRail, the coalition committed to the health, safety and security of the people in and around the CSX proposed expansion site. “We ask Mayor Gray to honor his commitment to us and withdraw any pre-EIS approval for these permits and conduct a true EIS with real alternatives to the CSX Tunnel fully analyzed.”

DCSafeRail will also ask the City Council, through Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmember Mary Cheh, chair of the Council’s transportation oversight committee, and our own Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells to hold hearings on the whole CSX Tunnel EIS.

The CSX Tunnel project will route freight trains with hazardous cargo, including occasional Bakken crude oil, through a partially open construction trench for almost four years. DDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) prepared the EIS.

“At best, this indicates that the District government is failing to uphold basic principles of good government, including transparency and accountability,” said Douglas.” At worst, it suggests that the environmental study is a farce because it rubber-stamps the CSX open-trench proposal.”

The Washington Post had a short piece on this response, with DDOT's response to the response: "DDOT spokesman Reggie Sanders said in an e-mail that the permit relative to Virginia Avenue SE and adjacent streets 'will have no force or effect until a build alternative is approved via Record of Decision.' Other requests for comment regarding the city’s commitment to the project have not been answered."

Virginia Avenue Tunnel Final EIS Released
Jun 13, 2014 9:09 AM
I'm not going to wait to post until I read the whole thing (448 pages!), so here it is.
But I glanced at the Executive Summary, and here's the money graf:
"Preferred Alternative - Two New Tunnels (originally Concept 5 and identified as Alternative 3 in the Draft EIS): Alternative 3 was selected as the Preferred Alternative. It involves replacing the existing Virginia Avenue Tunnel with two new permanent tunnels constructed sequentially (see Figure S-2). Each new tunnel will have a single railroad track with enough vertical clearance to allow double-stack intermodal container freight trains. A new parallel south side tunnel will be built first as trains continue operating in the existing Virginia Avenue Tunnel. After the south side tunnel is completed, train operations will switch over to the new tunnel and the existing Virginia Avenue Tunnel will be demolished and rebuilt. With the exception of operating in a protected open trench for approximately 230 feet immediately east of the 2nd Street portal (within the Virginia Avenue SE segment between 2nd and 3rd Streets SE), trains will operate in enclosed tunnels throughout construction under the Preferred Alternative. Throughout most of the length of the entire rebuilt tunnel, the two tunnels will be separated by a center wall. This center wall will be the new centerline of the two tunnels, and it will be aligned approximately 25 feet south of the existing tunnel centerline, between 2nd and 9th Streets SE. Due to new columns associated with the rebuilt 11th Street Bridge, the tunnels will be separated on the east end starting just west of Virginia Avenue Park, resulting in two separate single-track tunnels and openings at the east portal. "
I will keep reading, and either update this post or write in the comments thread below as I see more items of note.
The public meeting is on July 1.
UPDATE: Here's the Post on the release. "Following the meeting, the federal agency is expected to release a record of decision, which could give CSX approval to seek construction permits for the project. CSX would need to go through the District’s permitting process before construction could begin, but company officials say they hope to break ground on the $170 million project this year."
UPDATE II: The VAT fact sheet, with these bullet points on pledged improvements post-construction:
* Improving access to Garfield Park for wheelchair-dependent individuals (page 5-65);
* Building a continuous bike path between 2nd and 9th Streets connecting Garfield Park and Virginia Avenue Park (page 5-98);
* Straightening the alignment of Virginia Avenue SE within the 400 block to be consistent with the original L’Enfant Plan (page 5-59);
* Improving the traffic lane configuration between 5th/6th and 8th Streets to provide safer and calmer traffic conditions (appendix M, roadway layout sheets 2 and 3 of 4); and
* Installing landscaping and improved street lighting, traffic signals and crosswalks (page 5-84).
UPDATE III: In the EIS itself, I recommend reading Section S.7, "Key Issues Raised by Community and Responses," which starts on page 52 of the PDF. It's a big FAQ about a lot of very small details that have come up over the months/years.
UPDATE IV: From a DDOT press release (and I'm sure from somewhere in the EIS as well), some additional key features and mitigations:
* The dual tunnel construction ensures that there will be no trains operating in an open trench near residences;
* Cross streets will be maintained throughout construction;
* Residential mitigations include a one-time payment to the Arthur Capper senior residence ($250,000), a payment of $500/month to those residences on the front line of construction, and possible reconciliation payments of up to $75,000 to certain owners that need to sell their homes;
* Enhancements fund for the project area ANC;
* Creation of a historic preservation fund;
* Reconstruction of Virginia Avenue SE to include improved sidewalks, new trees, and a bike lane;
* ADA improvements to the Garfield Park; and
* A new dog park at the Virginia Avenue Park.
CSX will also enter into District resident hiring and local business (CBE) utilization agreements.

Tuesday Tidbits: Very Late Wednesday Edition
Apr 2, 2014 10:46 PM
* CSX I: Eleanor Holmes Norton tells USDOT to get moving: "I ask that you help ensure the prompt release of the Final EIS for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project so that the surrounding community is aware of the preferred alternative, any impacts this project may have on them, and any mitigation and benefits to the surrounding community."
* CSX II: ANC 6B writes to Mayor Gray: "We have serious concerns about the VAT project proposed in the draft environmental impact statement, and we urge you to ensure those concerns are adequately addressed before the District issues the requisite approvals for the project."
* POCKET CHANGE: The Wall Street Journal reports that "Investors who own the storied Hawk ‘n’ Dove bar and other Capitol Hill eating spots owe more than $9 million to D.C. restaurateur Xavier Cervera and his partners who sold the restaurants to them in late 2012." An earlier WSJ piece gives a wider view of the mess of financing this all appears to be.
* FOR THE RECORD: In Precinct 131 (Near Southeast), Muriel Bowser received 40 percent of the vote, Tommy Wells 30 percent, and Vince Gray 24 percent. And in the Ward 6 council race, Charles Allen beat Darrel Thompson 57-43. A grand total of 444 people cast ballots out of the 2,085 registered voters in the precinct. So, yay to 21.29 percent of you!
* BLUEJACKET AND BASEBALL: It seems like the brewery has already been here forever, but Bluejacket is about to embark on its first season of providing refreshments to Nats fans. They've announced that they will be "tailgating" on their patio at 10 am Friday for the season opener, and that their new outdoor grill will be open for business "weather permitting, all season long Thursdays through Sundays from 11 am until 10 pm and on all game days beginning two hours before the first pitch."
* SWEET!: Sweetgreen has gotten its tenant layout permit to begin the buildout of its space in Twelve12, on 4th Street across from Bluejacket.
* THROWBACK THURSDAY: I did a bit of purging in my office over the weekend, and found at least two museum-worthy items (here and here). That's in addition to the Canal Park groundbreaking shovel I still trip over on a regular basis.

Isabella Bringing G Sandwich Shop to Nats Park
Mar 12, 2014 2:04 PM
In news that will certainly have Mr. JDLand enthralled, it was announced today that Mike Isabella of Top Chef fame will be opening a version of his G sandwich shop at Nationals Park, apparently in time for the March 29 exhibition against the Tigers. It will be located on the main concourse near the First Base Gate, behind Section 136.
It will be a much more limited menu than the main G, according to the press release, but will feature G's Chicken Parm and Italian Hero sandwiches, as well as a meatless roasted cauliflower sandwich and a kielbasa sandwich known as "The Drewno." There will also be a "Sandwich of the Homestand" rotating special.
If you want to take the food for a test drive before Opening Day, the flagship G is located at 14th and W, offering sandwiches by day and a tasting menu at night.

Condo Project May Be Coming to Yards; Other Yards Updates
Feb 3, 2014 8:38 PM
During Monday night's Zoning Commission hearing on allowing the move of the trapeze school from "Parcel O" at 4th and Tingey in the Yards to another space at New Jersey Avenue, Forest City's Ramsey Meiser revealed that the company is planning to sell a portion of Parcel O to allow for the development of a condo project there.
Meiser explained that while Forest City doesn't do condo development, "we want to have for-sale product at the Yards," hence the potential deal. The zoning filings say that "Parcel O will be developed in 2014/2015 and construction on Parcel O is expected to be completed by 2016/2017."
I've asked for further detail on this, which I may or may not get anytime soon, and I will update when I receive more.
Other tidbits that came out of the hearing:
* Forest City is in the process of hiring an architect to design a residential building for Parcel H, which is the western half of the parking lot on the southeast corner of 1st and N, directly across from Nationals Park and north of DC Water. There appears to be a desire to develop that site within the next couple of years.
* The company expects the demolition of the NGA building at 1st and M to take approximately six months, and that the reconfiguration of the block to include the trapeze school, a new park on the north end, and a slightly shrunken parking lot would be completed by the end of 2014.
* The new park, which with the rest of the block would be a temporary use until office buildings are constructed, has enough open green space that Forest City expects to work with the BID to activate it for some sorts of smaller sports activities (bocce and kickball yes, softball probably not).
Oh, and the commission voted 5-0 to approve the special exceptions to allow trapeze school and parking lot on the south end of the 1st and M block, on the sites technically known as Parcels F and G. (The park would be on Parcel A.) There was some back-and-forth about the need for trees on the site--they weren't included in the plans because Forest City expects buildings to eventually replace the temporary uses, but Forest City has agreed to work with DDOT and the Office of Planning on the issue, and the zoning commissioners did not feel it warranted delaying their vote.
UPDATE: In my haste to get this posted, I should have mentioned that the original Yards plans did include a condo project--a plan to have PN Hoffman convert Building 202, the red brick building at 5th and M east of what's now Twelve12. But that project has seemed to stall.

Short List Picked for Douglass Bridge Rebuild
Feb 2, 2014 11:21 AM
Last week DDOT announced the four teams that have been chosen to advance to the next round and battle it out for the grand prize of being able to design and build the new Douglass Bridge and its approaches as well as reconstruct the Suitland Parkway/I-295 interchange, a prize package worth at least $608 million.
These four teams will now have the opportunity to respond to DDOT's Request for Proposals on the project, which should be released at some point in the not-too-distant future.
The two reconstruction projects are officially known as Segments 1 and 2 in the two-phase/five-part South Capitol Street Corridor Project, which will also eventually extend the "grand boulevard" feel from a reconfigured M Street intersection north to the Southeast Freeway, build a new on-ramp there, and throw in some streetscape enhancements along New Jersey Avenue as well.
I missed out on a fair amount of discussion of this project last year, including the mayor "announcing the new design" of the bridge that was only marginally different than the design that's been on the boards for a number of years (though the announcement did include a cool video). The announcement was followed by some controversy over the size and necessity of the traffic ovals and even the bridge design itself. (But some cyclists seem okay with it.)
I also didn't get the chance to note that the position of the bridge has undergone some alteration, in that the new bridge's footprint is now designed to run completely parallel to the current bridge, instead of a more diagonal alignment from the original EIS, which you can see compared on pages 11 and 12 of this October 2013 project update.
In the fall, both the National Capital Planning Commission and the Commission of Fine Arts looked at the project, with the latter pooh-poohing the "uninspired" bridge design and calling for a the design-build process to come up with a "more innovative proposal" instead of the Memorial Bridge-like arched bascule design that DDOT has chosen. Both commissions are generally supportive of the two ovals, though NCPC's comments after a November review of the project notes that more discussions of the western oval (just southwest of Nationals Park) "will need to occur to help further the ideas of creating a vibrant destination."
While waiting for the RFP to be released and for the designs of the bridge and the ovals to be "refined" for NCPC/CFA approval, you can check out my Douglass Bridge project page, my South Capitol Street page, and the reams of words I've written about both over the years.

Tidbits: Train Tracks, Training, Treadmills
Jan 27, 2014 5:28 PM
* TRAIN TRACKS I: There was another public meeting about the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project on Saturday, again hosted by DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. It was billed in advance as meeting with both her and representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency. However, EPA decided not to attend, apparently releasing this statement (tweeted out by a DCist staffer) saying in part "EPA remains invested in the views of all stakeholders[.] ... However, the agency believes it is appropriate to first allow the DDOT and FHA time to consider the comments of EPA and others on the draft EIS."
* TRAIN TRACKS II: The Post covered the "heated" meeting, highlighting that "CSX Transportation says residents in a Southeast Washington community who have raised concerns about trains carrying crude oil passing through the District can rest assured that crude oil transportation through the city is rare, and that there is no market in the area for it." CSX stated that it transported three loaded cars of crude oil through the tunnel in 2013, on separate trains, with none of them being the "unit trains" that cause such concern. However, last week the National Transportation Safety Board released recommendations for stricter federal oversight of crude oil transportation. It also quoted Del. Norton as being "totally outraged" about the EPA no show. (And, just as the Tidbits went up, there's another link to add, this summary of the meeting by ThinkProgress's ClimateProgress arm.)
* TRAIN TRACKS III: And there were offerings from the two ANC commissioners whose districts include the tunnel but who have close to diametrically opposed views of the project. ANC 6D07's David Garber's letter to the Editor in the Post says "There is no better time than now for [Mayor] Gray to show his leadership and stop this harmful project before it starts," while 6B03's Kirsten Oldenburg's description and thoughts about Saturday's EPA-less meeting concludes with "[A]ll that can possibly be said about this proposed tunnel reconstruction is out there in the public domain. My hope is that the FEIS is released before we have anymore public meetings hosted by political leaders."
* TRAINING: I mentioned in last week's Tidbits that Teeter and VIDA would be starting the buildouts of their spaces at Twelve12 "very soon," and today VIDA sent out a press release announcing that Feb. 1 is in fact their start date. The release says that it's expected the Penthouse Pool Club will open in early July, Bang Salon in mid-July, VIDA Fitness itself in August, and Aura Spa in October. A few renderings of the VIDA spaces (lobby, pool, and kids zone), courtesy VIDA's Facebook page (click to embiggen):
The release also mentions new-to-VIDA offerings at the Yards such as the "experiential cycling studio," the "Synrgy 360 globular multipurpose exercise apparatus," a hot yoga studio, "well-appointed, gender-specific European sauna and steam rooms," and the 1,000-square-foot Kids Zone shown above.
* TREADMILLS: But what about memberships for cats who like to workout on treadmills? (That's my George.)

Residents Give Mayor a Tunnel Earful; Plus, a Dissent
Jan 20, 2014 10:07 AM
Both the Post and City Paper have reports on Thursday's meeting with Mayor Vince Gray where residents had the chance to air their grievances about the plans for the renovation and expansion of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel between 2nd and 12th streets, SE.
City Paper's article opened thusly: "Navy Yard residents still unequivocally don't want the the city to give a complex Virginia Avenue Tunnel construction project the go-ahead, and last night, hundreds of neighbors came out to let Mayor Vince Gray know just how horrible they think the project is." CP wrote that Mayor Gray "facilitated the meeting and took what he referred to as 'copious notes' throughout. He didn't say much about the project itself, only promising that the city would never sign on to a project that would endanger lives: 'There's no way we would be involved in a project like that.' "
CP also has this: "Skip Elliott, vice president of public safety, health and environment at CSX, said there would be no 'unit trains' with crude oil going through the tunnel. When the meeting attendees screamed he was lying, he clarified that while there would be no unit trains—or a group of trains that typically carry a single commodity—there would be some rail cars that would carry crude."
The Post notes that "[s]ome residents say they fear the estimated three to six years of construction will lower home values and slow growth in the neighborhood." It quotes resident Natalie Skidmore: "With an open trench, we have concerns about how people are going to get around. We are going to lose parking spots, trees and access." And the article closes with a quote from James McPhillips, one of the leaders of the DCSafeRail opposition group: "We really thought the neighborhood was up and coming. It had a beautiful, inviting and diverse community[.] This project has the possibility of destroying that."
In the wake of the meeting, ANC 6D07 commissioner David Garber told his mailing list that "I believe this issue is finally on the mayor's radar -- but we need to KEEP IT THERE," suggesting that "[w]hile a hashtag won't save the world (yet) -- please consider tweeting to the mayor and including the hashtag #MayorNoBuild."
However, the commissioner for another ANC single member district that will be affected by the project came out of the meeting with a different point of view, and has posted her concerns with the concerns of Virginia Avenue residents.
KIrsten Oldenburg, commissioner of ANC 6B04--which mainly covers Barracks Row but also includes lower 8th Street and Virginia Avenue from 7th Street to 11th Street--posted today a detailed look at the issues that the opposition groups are so vociferously arguing about, saying that "[t]his is not to say that those stridently opposed to the project don’t have a right to conduct a politicized campaign. [...] But, I don’t have to agree with the way they are using and perpetuating misinformation about what we know about the project."
OIdenburg addresses the proposed alternatives, saying that it is "Not True" that all proposed build alternatives involve running trains through open trenches, since one of the alternatives has trains running through the existing closed tunnel during construction. She notes that the draft EIS says "the maximum duration is 3.5 years for alternatives with open trench train operations and 5.5 years for the closed tunnel version," meaning that there may be a tradeoff between open-vs.-closed trench and shorter-vs.-longer duration.
She also looks at the hazardous materials and rail accidents arguments, and notes that the issue of CSX's HazMat transportation has been around since before the tunnel became a cause. After pointing out that trucks carry "unknown quantities of hazardous materials along I-695 (parallel to Virginia Avenue)," Oldenburg says that "[t]he alarms being raised on hazardous materials are diverting attention away from other more probable problems an open trench might cause."
On the issue of street closures, she looks at the disruptions as they have been outlined from the beginning of the EIS project: "But, aside from 2nd Street, all north/south crossings of Virginia Avenue will remain open during construction. Will these streets be closed occasionally and for short periods of time? Yes. Will the I-695 exit ramp at 6th Street and on ramp at 8th Street be closed for the duration? No. Will each have to be closed for a short time while decking is installed at these intersections with Virginia Avenue? Yes. Does the DEIS show special lanes to be set up to provide continuing access for residences and businesses in close proximity to the construction area? Yes."
The issue of community benefits in the wake of such a long construction project is one she feels needs more discussion, noting that 6B and others have already been advocating for green space with a pedestrian/bike patch from 3rd Street to 11th Street, along with a major redesign of Virginia Avenue Park. "But, is a linear park that will revitalize a lifeless space and serve all residents both north and south of the Freeway enough? Is it possible to equalize burdens and benefits? ... What more could/should we ask for?"
She closes with reference to the comments submitted to the DEIS, saying that the issues raised are "excellent contributions toward making the FEIS a major improvement over the DEIS," but that, "[I]n the end, the FEIS may improve our comfort level about this project but it will never satisfy everyone."

The Fight Over CSX's Hazardous Materials Transportation
Dec 5, 2013 1:58 PM
Opponents of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel expansion have been passing to me today this article from ThinkProgress (on its ClimateProgress site) about the fight over transporting hazardous materials by rail through DC, specifically through the temporary open trench that is part of the draft plans for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel expansion project.
The article describes the "tense" public meeting two weeks ago at Capper Senior #1 with Eleanor Holmes Norton and representatives of CSX, DDOT, and the Federal Highway Administration. It also gives some history of the city's so-far-unsuccessful fight--and CSX's intense fight of that fight--that began a decade ago to ban hazmat rail transport through the heart of the city.
The article concludes:
"Until CSX can come up with a better alternative for re-routing trains during construction, the residents are gunning for approval of the DEIS’s option number one: No build.
"'For now, our logic is that you inform the public and the media, and they put pressure on the industry to do things safer,' [hazmat consultant Dr. Fred] Millar said. 'At the very least, making it difficult for them to ship crude oil like peanut butter is something we all ought to do.'"
(It's a shame that the article's title, "The Inside Story of the Plan to Send Hazardous Materials Through the Heart of DC," makes it sound like some hazmat materials aren't already coming through town and through the existing tunnel, because they certainly are, as the article goes on to show.)

Saturday Community Meeting on Virginia Avenue Tunnel
Nov 22, 2013 3:42 PM
On Saturday, Nov. 23, DC delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton is having a meeting with residents to discuss the CSX/Virginia Avenue Tunnel project. It's at 2 pm at the Capper Seniors building at 900 5th St., SE.
With the Environmental Impact Statement for the project expected to be released before too much longer (you can see the draft EIS here), residents are seeing this as perhaps a last opportunity to voice their concerns and push back against what one resident called Norton's willingness "to simply regurgitate CSX talking points" in a recent press release.
A train fire last week that began in the tunnel also has the residents who have been fighting the project intensifying their efforts to get answers they are seeking on health and safety concerns.
To that end, a new web site has also been launched, DCSafeRail.org, to lay out residents' arguments.
UPDATE, 11/26: There was a considerable kerfuffle after Saturday's meeting, at which Federal Highway Administration rep Michael Hicks said, "They're going to have to close the interstate, two exit points on the Interstate, 6th and 8th St., I believe, for the duration of the project...So that's why I'm involved." Putting aside that the only 8th Street SE exit is on the north side of the freeway and so would be nearly impossible to be impacted by the tunnel construction, this statement went against the Draft Environmental Impact Statement as well as many comments by CSX and DDOT during the process that the 6th Street exit ramp would not be closed.
As I expected, there is now a statement that's been sent out by CSX, from Hicks:
"My apologies to the community, turns out I made a misstatement regarding the duration of closures of the 6th St exit and 8th Street on ramp to I-695 and I understand that statement, unfortunately, has gotten widespread exposure. Hopefully the clarification to follow is equally widespread; no highway ramps would be closed for the duration of construction. As outlined in the DEIS, erecting the temporary decks at 5th/6th and 8th Streets SE may require the short term closure (approximately a week or less) of I-695 ramps at these locations. CSX would work with DDOT, community leaders and local first responders to ensure access for community members in the event of emergencies!
"During the very preliminary stages of project development it was thought the ramps might possibly have to be closed; however, alternatives were developed that no longer required extended closures of those ramps. Again, I apologize for any concern or alarm my misstatement may have caused. Thank you."

Another Virginia Avenue Tunnel Meeting Scheduled for Sept. 27
Aug 20, 2012 11:24 AM
The August edition of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel newsletter is out, with the news that another public meeting on the project is scheduled for Sept. 27, from 6 pm to 8 pm at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. The meeting is described as providing an update on the project and to "share information about the alternatives being evaluated in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)." In other words, this isn't the meeting to unveil the draft EIS, which is expected to come this fall.
There isn't much else of note in the newsletter (noise studies ongoing, Section 106 historic preservation review ongoing, how to comment, etc.), so I'll admit this post is mainly a sneaky way to once again point out my new Virginia Avenue Tunnel page, where you can get an overview of this project and see the concepts currently being evaluated, along with plenty of photos from along the tunnel's path.

Relaxing of Security Requirements Could Mean Less Land Needed for New Marine Barracks
Aug 19, 2012 6:52 AM
In a newsletter released last week, the Marine Corps announced that a recent relaxation of the Department of Defense's force protection requirements means that the never-ending quest for space for a new Marine Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ) can now be based on the need for a 66-foot standoff distance between any new building and nearby parking/roads instead of the 82-foot standoff that the Marines had been trying to work with up to now.
This means less land would be needed for both the new BEQ and additional support facilities, though the total amount is dependent on what exactly the Marines end up building. A joint eight-story BEQ and support facilities would need approximately 1.6 acres of land, while separating the two needs could mean something closer to two acres if a five-story BEQ is built.
While this is important news from a neighborhood/urban design standpoint, it also impacts the amount of land the Marines may need to, ahem, "acquire" in order to build the BEQ. Early in the search process, it had been hoped that a public-private development partnership could be arranged so that the Marines would not have to take land by eminent domain, but it was announced in April that "federal land acquisition will be unavoidable as a result of recent unforeseen changes in policy and a less favorable funding outlook." And, because of the requirement that the new BEQ and support facilities be within 2,000 feet of the main post at 8th and I, various blocks south of the freeway on and near Lower Barracks Row have long been the sites the Marines have been eyeing as possibilities.
At that time, the Marines said that the EIS would evaluate the two blocks along the east side of 8th between Virginia and Potomac Avenues (Squares 929/930) along with the old Exxon site at 11th and M (Square 976). It was also said that the existing "Annex site" at 7th and Virginia was ruled out for the 100,000 square feet of housing but that it could be used for the needed 60,000 square feet of support space, but one does wonder whether the setback requirement change can return the Annex site back into the mix.
As also announced back in April, the Marines will be preparing an Environmental Impact Statement to both evaluate potential locations for the new BEQ complex as well as the reuse of the current Building 20 barracks on I Street SE. It had been hoped that the formal Notice of Intent for the EIS would have been happening about now, but the new newsletter says this will be delayed until winter. There will then be the attendant public meetings and whatnot.
If you're joining this story late, feel free to read my many posts from the past two years on the evolving BEQ site search, because I really can't bear to try to summarize it all AGAIN. You can also browse the official project web site for lots of materials from the process.
(via WBJ)

Bluejacket Brewery Debuting - The Beers, That Is
Jul 31, 2012 1:28 PM
It may still be a number of months before Bluejacket Brewery opens on the eastern end of the Boilermaker Shops in the Yards, but that's not stopping owner Greg Engert and brewer Megan Parisi from getting a head start on the beers that will be offered at the new restaurant. So, tomorrow (Wednesday, Aug. 1) at 6 pm, Bluejacket's first five beers will be unveiled in an event at sibling ChurchKey.
If you go to the ChurchKey web site and then click on Events (come on, people, direct links!), you'll see hints about the lineup, which are mainly "mashups" created in collaboration with other breweries around the US, but also includes Sidewalk Saison, Bluejacket's first solo brew. (via WaPo)
It's expected that Bluejacket itself will open in early 2013.
UPDATE: At the risk of not being 1 billion percent accurate, I'll draw attention to the fact that two of the beers have already been "released" (Snack Attack and the Black Berliner Techno Weiss) and three are new, with Sidewalk Saison being the only one that is completely Bluejacket's own creation. But since ChurchKey also bills the event on its own web site as "World Premier: Bluejacket 5 Drafts Unveiled," you can just pick which part of "Premier" and "Unveiled" you'd like to focus on.
UPDATE II: More on the brews from WCP/Young & Hungry.

New Project Page: Virginia Avenue Tunnel Expansion
Jul 26, 2012 9:40 AM
A glaring hole in my "project page" lineup is being filled today, as I am at last unveiling an ultra-exciting Virginia Avenue Tunnel Expansion page. (Um, yay?)
It's still just an overview at this point, since there is no design yet chosen and therefore all of the specifics that residents and neighbors are clamoring for about construction impacts and possible potential post-construction improvements to the street and its surroundings aren't yet available.
But I figured it was time to at least prepare for the inevitable before-and-afters with current photos from along the tunnel's 10-block footprint, plus it makes the current "concept designs" being reviewed by the EIS more easily accessible. And it also just finally gives me a page to point people to. (As with yesterday's development map refreshing, this has only been on my To Do list for a couple of years. I've been busy. And lazy. Lazy and busy.)
There's been no new announcements since the last EIS meeting in May; at that time, it was expected that a draft EIS would come out this fall, with a final decision in spring 2013. (Though other EIS schedules I've seen in the past have experienced some slippage, so we'll see how the tunnel's goes.)

Virginia Avenue Tunnel Meeting Presentation Slides, Boards
May 29, 2012 11:51 AM
I wasn't able to attend last week's public meeting on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel, but the presentation slides and display boards are posted on the project's web site.
This is the stage of the Environmental Impact study where the initial lineup of possible concepts have been winnowed down to the four that will be evaluated for the final EIS:
* Concept 1 - "No Build" (i.e., leave as is);
* Concept 2 - Rebuild tunnel with a temporary track running in an open trench to the south of the existing tunnel;
* Concept 5 - "Permanent Twin Tunnels," with a new tunnel built via open trench to the south of the existing tunnel, which would be rebuilt as well;
* Concept 6 - "Rebuild Online," where the current tunnel would be rebuilt via open trench along the existing alignment, and trains would run in that same trench during construction.
Also contained in the slides is information about how traffic would be routed with the closure of Virginia Avenue on the south side of the freeway between 2nd and 11th. As has always been stated, north/south traffic on the numbered streets would be maintained across Virginia, and temporary driveways/access are shown on 3rd and 4th Street for Capitol Quarter and the 200 I/225 Virginia loading dock. It's also shown that Virginia Avenue north of the freeway would become two-way between 6th and 8th streets, so that traffic exiting the Southeast Freeway at 6th would all be directed left under the freeway and then would be able to continue to 8th Street on Virginia.
There's also some slides on the vibration and noise analyses being done, and how Virginia Avenue might be improved after construction is completed (with bike lanes being a possibility, which immediately warmed David Garber's heart).
The draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be released this fall, in which the design for construction will be identified; the entire process would be completed in spring, 2013. Comments can be submitted to contact@virginiaavenuetunnel.com or via the web site.

This Week: Virginia Ave. Tunnel, M St. Meetings, First Front Flick
May 20, 2012 11:30 AM
To allow you to properly plan your calendar for the week, I'm posting this nice and early:
* Virginia Avenue Tunnel: Monday night is another public meeting on the planned Virginia Avenue Tunnel reconstruction, at which it's expected that DDOT, FHWA, and CSX will be presenting the concepts that have been chosen from the original batch to study in detail as part of the project's EIS. The meeting is at Nationals Park at 6 pm.
And, speaking of the tunnel, the noise and vibration field studies required as part of the EIS will be happening this week. (But no fair stomping on the ground and gunning your car's engines for hours at a time.)
* M Street SE/SW Transportation Study: The meeting to update the public on the progress of the M Street SE/SW Transportation Study is on Thursday, May 24, from 6:30 pm to 8 pm at the Capitol Skyline Hotel, 10 I St. SW. The study area covers the stretch of M from 12th Street, SE to 14th Street, SW, along with the adjacent areas from the Southeast/Southwest Freeway south to the Anacostia River/Washington Channel. DDOT is looking at "how to integrate transit, bicycling and walking with motor vehicle traffic," while also trying to figure out how to balance residents' preferences for how M Street should be configured versus how visitors, workers, and commuters expect it to flow. The first meeting was in January, and the final report is expected in the fall.
* Front Flicks: If you are looking for something slightly more entertaining than either of the week's meetings, don't forget that the Capitol Riverfront BID's free Front Flicks Summer Outdoor Movie Series begins this week on Thursday, with "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" leading off the lineup of treasure hunt-themed offerings. Movies start either at 8:45 pm/sundown at Tingey Plaza, just behind USDOT at New Jersey and Tingey.
Alas, I won't be at any of these events, because first thing Tuesday I'm headed to the disabled list, to get some health issues dealt with that have been dragging me down for awhile now. There will be a few weeks of recovery time, so I ask all parties to please refrain from making any news before, say, mid-June, or at least make it something simple and/or something that won't require my attendance. (DDOT is already On Notice if they do indeed partially open the 11th Street Local bridge when I can't document it.)
I imagine I'll reappear on Twitter fairly quickly, since I know better than to think I can stay off the Internet while I'm doing little but laying around. But most likely the bulk of my narcotics-tinged/boredom-induced missives will be via my non-official @jacdupree account, if you want the entertainment.
In the meantime, feel free to use this post's comments to discuss this week's meetings and as a general open thread, but I will be watching and popping in, so don't you kids think you can throw a wild party while Mom's not looking! And hopefully I'll be back to photo taking and other obsessive-compulsive pursuits before too long.

Next Virginia Avenue Tunnel Public Meeting May 21
May 4, 2012 9:06 AM
This flyer, just posted on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project web site, announces that the next public meeting about the project will be on May 21 from 6 to 8 pm at Nationals Park. "During this public meeting, the concepts to move forward in the EIS will be announced." Read my post from Wednesday for more information on the whole EIS thing, and this one from the last meeting to find out more about the initial concepts that were looked at, and that will form the basis for the ones chosen to be studied further.

Study of Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project Switches to EIS Format
May 3, 2012 8:51 AM
Earlier this week the Federal Highway Administration and DDOT gave notice that the in-process National Environmental Policy Act study of CSX's Virginia Avenue Tunnel project will be switching mid-stream from an Environmental Assessment to a more detailed Environmental Impact Statement study.
Since the outcome of an EA is often the instigation of an EIS, this is probably serving mainly to speed up the process and get started on an EIS that most likely would have been needed anyway. The NEPA web site mentions that "[i]f a federal agency anticipates that an undertaking may significantly impact the environment, or if a project is environmentally controversial, a federal agency may choose to prepare an EIS without having to first prepare an EA," both of which would certainly seem to be ways this project could be described.
If you want to see how extensive an EIS can be, check out the ones completed for the 11th Street Bridges reconstruction and the planned South Capitol Street corridor improvements.
The information already gathered and feedback already garnered during the EA process will be incorporated into the EIS. CSX representatives tell me that they expect the switch to add about six months to the environmental review process, and the project's web site now has a Spring 2013 date listed for the Final EIS/record of decision. CSX has always wanted the project to be done in 2015, to coincide with the opening of the expanded Panama Canal, but that timeline is starting to look a bit dicey given that construction has been expected to take 2-3 years.
The public meeting to unveil the chosen "alternative" designs that the EIS is studying is currently being planned. You can read my write-up from the last meeting to see more about the initial group of concept designs, which ranged from expanding the tunnel to building a separate parallel tunnel to leaving the tunnel untouched to closing it and having CSX reroute all their traffic rerouting the double-stack traffic and through traffic out of the city (UPDATED to fix my mistake--there is no proposal that would close the tunnel altogether). (It probably isn't hard to guess which alternatives are preferred by the Capitol Quarter Homeowners Association, with CQ's homes on Virginia Avenue standing mere feet away from any construction.) UPDATE: It's been requested that I mention that, while the CQ HoA letter above lists a group of possible signatories, at least three of them (ANC 6B, Barracks Row Main Street, and the Committee of 100) have all already voted against co-signing the letter.
For those blissfully unaware of this project (I wish!), CSX is needing to expand the 105-year-old tunnel that runs beneath Virginia Avenue between 2nd and 12th streets, SE so that a second track can be added and double-height cars can be accommodated. With initial plans calling for the extended closure of Virginia Avenue and a temporary track in an open trench to run trains through during construction, residents on both sides of the freeway have been greatly concerned about how the work will be designed and carried out, which then spurred DDOT to request a formal environmental review (despite this being a project being carried out by a private entity on a right-of-way that they own some of).
My pile of posts over the past few years on the subject may also be enlightening, or may not.
UPDATE: This flyer just posted on the VirginiaAvenueTunnel.com web site says that the next public meeting, announcing which concepts will be looked at in the EIS, is scheduled for May 21 from 6 to 8 pm at Nationals Park.

Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project Concept Designs Unveiled
Dec 1, 2011 12:14 AM
In a conference room at Nationals Park on Wednesday night, a bevy of representatives from CSX, DDOT, and FHWA along with consultants galore showed the public for the first time a series of 12 "project concepts" for how to handle CSX's desire/need to expand the capacity of the 3,800-foot-long Virginia Avenue Tunnel that runs from 2nd to 12th Street SE.
The concepts are now posted on the project web site, and can be grouped as seven "rebuild" options along with four other "reroute" options that would bring about the abandonment of the tunnel altogether (and, it must be said, are probably a just smidge less likely to be one of the alternatives chosen).
Three of the rebuild options are along the lines of what's been discussed for more than two years now, which would be the running of a temporary track in an open trench while the expansion work is done on the existing tunnel. While having the trench on the south side of the tracks (Concept 2) has been the "default" discussion and has to be assumed to be CSX's preferred choice, Concept 3 shows the possibility of running the trench on the north side of the tunnel, which would be right next to the Southeast Freeway (and which I'm imagining would run into some issues with having to make sure all freeway supports are adequately protected). Concept 4 runs a "serpentine" trench both north and south of the existing tracks.
Concept 5 is an intriguing new notion, where a second permanent tunnel would be built parallel and south of the existing one. There's also the idea of just widening the current tunnel either while trains continue to use the tunnel (Concept 6) or with freight traffic temporarily rerouted either to Union Station (Concept 7A) or outside the District entirely (with a route shown that would take trains from Richmond through Ohio and up to Buffalo before turning back to the East Coast).
The "reroute" options all propose abandoning the tunnel, either building a nine-mile-long freight tunnel from National Airport to the Deanwood Metro station about 80 feet underground (Concept 8) or building other alignments proposed in recent years by the National Capital Planning Commission (Concepts 9 and 10), or running on CSX's existing tracks out to Ohio and then northward.
But of course, these are concepts, and one of the reasons for going through a NEPA process is to study the different ideas to then come up with alternatives, accompanied by scads of data on noise, vibration, pollution, traffic, and timeline impacts. And to determine how much the various alternatives would cost--because it's likely that CSX is not going to be too gung-ho on the options anticipated to run into the billions of dollars.
It's expected that the public meeting where the alternatives will be unveiled will be in February of 2012, at which point so many of the questions that residents have been asking for so long about how the tunnel construction will affect the day-to-day lives of people who live near and use Virginia Avenue will get some concrete answers.
Faisal Hameed of DDOT, who ran much of the meeting, emphasized a number of times during the Q&A that this is a unique project: a private company is doing work they are paying for themselves on a right of way that they own some (but not all) of, but the impacts on vehicle/pedestrian/bicycle transportation are expected to be extensive enough that DDOT requested this environmental assessment before getting to the point of signing off on any permits that CSX will need to do the work. (There is also apparently still some negotiating going on between CSX and DDOT about exactly whose right of way is where, but it was said that no portion of the project will enter private land, though some small incursions will happen on the Marine bachelor enlisted quarters' site west of 7th Street.)
The Q&A was a pretty peaceful one as these things go (which makes a cranky blogger so very happy!). Most of the wrangling between audience members and CSX was over the route that hazardous materials take when they are forced to go around the District because of various city laws and federal regulations; the audience members were trying to get CSX to admit that there's an existing route bypassing the city that's shorter than anything shown in the concepts, while CSX wasn't going to get anywhere near telling people where hazardous materials travel.
In response to one audience question (coming as a result of the new FAQ posted on the project web site), CSX did say that they are going to "strongly pursue" getting a waiver to stop the currently required blowing of horns anytime a train enters the tunnel, and that they think it should be a "strong possibility" that it can happen, though of course they weren't wanting to commit.
There were also questions that will be better asked when the alternatives are unveiled, about construction staging, safety during construction, noise and vibration impacts, traffic flow, emergency planning, alley access, and what CSX will do to restore or even improve the Virginia Avenue streetscape when construction is finished. (As for any historic preservation impacts, a Section 106 review of the project is being done concurrently with this NEPA assessment.)
Comments are being accepted on these 12 concepts for the next 30 days, either by using the web site or e-mailing contact@virginiaavenuetunnel.com. (About 530 comments were received after the September scoping meeting.) It's hoped the environmental assessment will be completed with a final NEPA decision by the summer of 2012; though, if there is a finding that there will be a "significant environmental impact" from whichever construction alternative is chosen, then a full Environmental Impact Study (EIS) would then have to be done.

Land Acquisition, Design Work to Start for South Capitol Street
Sep 28, 2011 2:51 PM
Just sent out by DDOT: "Today the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced the start of land acquisition and preliminary design work for the South Capitol Street Project, which includes replacement of the current Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. [...] While the Record of Decision (ROD) is still pending, the Federal Highway Administration signed the project's Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) following the requisite 30-day public comment period that ended in May."
I'm posting quickly, so I shall now crib unabashedly from my post on the Final EIS, from back in April:
If you are interested in this subject, there is more verbiage and documentation accompanying the plans than you could ever dream of. (Traffic studies! Environmental consequences! Technical reports!) And I've written a lot about the process, which began more than a decade ago with other studies before the EIS got underway. And I'm sure there will be posts on other blogs delving more specifically into portions of the plans. But, since most people probably want to know "what does this mean for me?", you can see this graphic (from the 224-MB chapter 2 of the FEIS) giving a quick overview of what changes are planned along South Capitol Street if the final EIS is signed off on (and, more importantly, if funding is secured). The short version, for the west side of the Anacostia:
eisprefalt.jpg" width=180>* Add "pedestrian amenities" and enhance the streetcape along South Capitol north of I and along New Jersey Avenue SE north of the freeway.
* Replace the existing ramp to the freeway from South Capitol and I with an at-grade intersection. (This would be a left turn onto a ramp to the freeway from under the freeway, near the current Nats HH economy parking lot.)
* Bring New Jersey Avenue SE back to a 160-foot full right-of-way, and add streetscape enhancements.
* "Reconstruct South Capitol Street as an urban boulevard." This means bringing M Street up to an "at-grade" intersection (no more tunnel), and would include new signalized at-grade intersections to allow traffic to cross South Capitol on K and L streets. (M Street would also get reconstructed between the Halfs [SE and SW].) The section of South Capitol north of M would have the same streetscape that the south portion received during its 2007/08 makeover, with wide sidewalks and a tree-lined median.
* Build a traffic oval at South Capitol, Potomac, Q, as the gateway to a new arched bascule-design Douglass Bridge that would have wide "multi-use trails" (i.e., sidewalks!) in both directions. The existing bridge would be demolished, after the new bridge is built somewhat downriver of the current location.
The Executive Summary (220 MB PDF) gives a good overview of the FEIS and preferred alternative (as it should!), but I also suggest wandering through the Chapter 2: Alternatives section, especially if you came to the neighborhood or JDLand after 2008 and didn't get to follow along during the EIS process, or if you're interested in the additional plans for east of the river, which I'm going to leave to others to discuss. My previous posts on all of this may be of interest as well. If you're wanting to see some of the earlier studies referenced in the FEIS, there are links to them at the top of my South Capitol Street project page.
How much would this all cost? The preferred alternative is priced in this final EIS at $806 million in FY 2014 dollars. (New bridges are expensive, you know.) Note that nothing in today's statement from DDOT says anything about funding, or a construction timeline.
You can also check my South Capitol Street and South Capitol Street Bridge page for all the info about the plans, along with my scores of posts over the past few years.

Report on ANC Redistricting Listening Meeting for 6D
Jul 29, 2011 11:00 AM
On Thursday night the Ward 6 Redistricting Task Force held its "listening meeting" for residents and interested parties in ANC 6D to get input as to the feelings about the current ANC and Single Member District (SMD) boundaries and what changes people would be either wanting or not completely detesting.
Interestingly, many of the Southwest residents who spoke--starting with ANC 6D chair Ron McBee and longtime 6D commissioner Andy Litsky--spent much of their time focusing on how important it is to keep Near Southeast in ANC 6D. McBee said both areas have lots of similarities, from housing stock to traffic issues to transportation issues (Circulator, etc.) to the need to build retail, and that coming improvements to South Capitol Street should improve the flow between the two neighborhoods. Litsky, echoing McBee by saying Near Southeast and Southwest "are more similar than dissimilar," also mentioned the coming South Capitol Street reconstruction and how much more difficult it would be to have any sort of negotiations be going on with two separate ANCs in the mix.
Current 6D07 commissioner David Garber did not take a position one way or the other on whether Near Southeast should remain with 6D, saying that he is waiting for his residents to weigh in, but that the vast majority of the feedback he's received so far indicates that residents feel much more "a part of" Barracks Row than Southwest, and that South Capitol Street is much more difficult to cross than going under the freeway. And that while Near Southeast shares a lot of similarities with Southwest, the reality is that a lot of people move to the neighborhood for its proximity to Capitol Hill. Finally, he mentioned the idea that Capitol Hill sees Near Southeast as "their waterfront community."
Residents who spoke at the meeting included Mary Williams, who lives just west of the ballpark in Southwest and who says her community has not been served well by being grouped in with Southwest concerns, and they want to "secede" to the Near Southeast ANC. Other Southwest residents also spoke of how often they go into Near Southeast to go to the ballpark, or the Yards Park. Only one Near Southeast resident spoke, Ms. McCarty (sorry if you're out there, I didn't catch your first name). She said she was "agnostic" about whether Near Southeast is in ANC 6D or ANC 6B to the north, but to please keep all of Near Southeast in the same ANC. She also commented on it being important that Capitol Quarter residents not be cut off SMD-wise from any of the commercial development going on in Near Southeast, since they will be impacted by those sorts of changes and want to have a say.
At the end of the statements, the group gathered around a map of ANC 6D's current boundaries, and discussed issues. Again, there was very little conversation about Southwest other than some ideas for small tinkering.
There seems to be a desire within the task force to even out the number of single member districts across what will probably be five ANCs, and 6B already has eleven SMDs. So, task force chair Joe Engler brought up the concept of bringing the portion of 6B's western edge near New Jersey Avenue and Garfield Park together with Near Southeast to form a new SMD. Using some of the area just north of the freeway to pair with the eastern half of Near Southeast would create a properly sized SMD (or close to it) and could give ANC 6D eight single member districts rather than seven (or six if the eastern part of Near Southeast were moved to 6B), bringing it closer in size to other ANCs.
There seemed to be positive feedback from the group on this concept, with some discussion of the amount of cross-traffic there is between residents and dog owners of Near Southeast using Garfield Park and dog owners near Garfield Park using Canal Park (before it started construction, at least).
I've mocked up a map that shows this general idea in a way that the numbers could work, keeping in mind that the green portion below the freeway was counted in 2010 as having 1115 residents and so would need at least 800 residents from north of the freeway to become a full SMD, presuming the task force adheres firmly to the numerical guidelines of 2,000 residents plus-or-minus 5 percent. You can see on the map (or on this one) that 6D02 in Southwest already bumps up to Independence Avenue, so doing likewise on the Southeast side of things would be somewhat symmetrical. And, given that New Jersey Avenue is also slated for a fair number of improvements as part of the South Capitol Street reconstruction, this would put all of that corridor in the same ANC. It's also possible that the little "notch" near Lower Barracks Row, with only 27 residents, could also come to 6D, though the love of the Virginia Avenue Park by 6B residents might make that a flashpoint.
Of course, as has been discussed repeatedly, Near Southeast's population numbers are already higher than the 2010 census reflects, and with new buildings looking ready to start or open in the next two years at the Yards, 880 New Jersey, Florida Rock, and Half Street, and with Capitol Quarter and the Capper redevelopment continuing to be built out, both of these SMDs would see plenty of new residents in the near future, and who knows how many before the next redistricting happens in 2021. (Dear God, don't let me still be blogging when that comes around.)
ANC 6B will be having its "listening meeting" on Monday, Aug. 1 at 6:30 pm at St. Coletta's at 19th and Massachusetts, SE, and the task force blog's list of questions for 6B residents includes "Is the freeway the proper north-south dividing line? For example, is there an opportunity to move part of a western SMD to ANC 6D that uses the Third and/or Fourth street tunnels to 'connect' the residents on both sides of the freeway?" It will be interesting to see the response, along with how 6B people feel about potentially having their 11-SMD configuration shrunk.
There hasn't been much feedback here in the comments about redistricting--I know I find it more fascinating than most people (it's in my blood, since my father was involved in a lot of Congressional redistricting back in the day), but how do people feel about this concept that Joe Fengler was discussing? And how about the to-be-in-6D-or-not-to-be-in-6D question?
Feel free to play with my interactive map to come up with your own scenarios on how to reach 2,000 residents per SMD.
The task force plans to release its first draft of a new map on or about Aug. 18.
Comments (2)
More posts: ANC News

Tuesday Tidbits: South Cap Meetings, Barracks, Sub Horn, More
Apr 26, 2011 10:42 AM
News and notes, some already Tweeted, some not:
* Don't forget the two public meetings on the Final Environmental Impact Statement for South Capitol Street. The first one is tonight (April 26) at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School at 4th and I, SW, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. The second one is Thursday (April 28), at Savoy Elementary School, 2400 Shannon Place, SE, also from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. My entry from a few days ago gives the rundown on what changes they are looking at to transform South Capitol Street into a "grand boulevard" rather than a commuter speedway.
* ANC 6B commissioner Norm Metzger passes along an update from fellow 6B'er Kirsten Oldenberg on the status of the Marines' search for a new barracks site. A quote: "Now in progress are Installation Master Planning and Support Studies and a Financial Feasibility Analysis. We were only given a brief outline of this work, which will not be made public. A briefing on this 'conceptual' material will be given to the Commandant of the Marine Corps sometime in late May (perhaps). Then once he makes whatever decisions are necessary, work will proceed on putting together the guts of an RFP. This information has to go to various 'stakeholders' and ultimately Congress before the RFP can be finalized and released. One of the developers at the meeting today tried to pin officials down regarding timelines but it proved difficult to do. Bottom line, if all goes smoothly (which is doubtful), a site and developer could be chosen by Fall 2012. (Don't bet on it.)"
* Dan Steinberg writes at his DCSportsBog today about how the Nats went from fireworks to a submarine horn: "A few months ago, when people inside the organization began considering a move away from fireworks, they began researching naval horn options and even went to the Navy Yard to check out alternatives. Their advisers at the Yard advised they go with the sub horn, both for the sound and for the way that sound would carry. The Navy folks also thought the three-blast signal would be appropriate. So the horn was taken to Nats Park and hooked up to a special mic in the press box, where members of the marketing department can fire away after home runs and wins." Nats COO Andy Feffer says that the distinctive sound should make people immediately think "Nationals Park": "'The military is already part of game presentation and the Navy Yard is right next door; not only is it unique and distinctive, but it fit. It fit with our goals, and it fits with what Washington is. It's ours. Someone else can't copy it and say we're gonna do that too. It's Washington's.'"
* In a subscrbers-only piece in last week's Washington Business Journal, the story of Red Hot & Blue's departure from Nationals Park after the inaugural 2008 season gets a bit, ahem, spicier. Five months into that first season, the BBQ outlet told the Nats it was no longer interested in being at the ballpark. "Hold it, says the team, Red, Hot & Blue was still on the hook for $235,000 in regular payments until the end of the 2009 season, still yet to be paid, according to a breach of contract suit that was filed in March in D.C. Superior Court."
* Honda put out a photo gallery of the new 2012 Honda Civic, which includes a number of shots taken at the Yards Park, as well as Anacostia Park and other DC locations. (You have to wander through a bit to find them, but they are pretty neat to see.)

Outdoor Movie Lineup; FreedomFest; Harry's Grand Opening
Apr 22, 2011 9:33 AM
A couple of event tidbits:
* The BID has announced the lineup for this year's "Best of the Oscars" summer outdoor movie series, running on Thursdays from May 26 through July 28. The movies, which are free and open to the public, will start at 8:45 pm (or sundown) at Tingey Plaza, which is directly behind USDOT at the corner of New Jersey and Tingey. There will be food trucks, popcorn, cotton candy, and Micha's sorbet.
* The National FreedomFest, a two-day music and arts festival, is coming to the Yards Park on July 3 and 4. They are advertising "over 40 bands and DJs" on five stages, along with food and craft vendors (and yes, beer, since the event is co-sponsored by Budweiser). Tickets are $19.99 per day or $29.99 for a two-day ticket, or if you're feeling special you can get special VIP and/or "Taste of Freedom" tickets, which get you access to VIP areas, free beer, private bathrooms (!), and more, but which are a bit pricier.
* And, on a somewhat smaller scale (but sooner!), Harry's Reserve has passed along word of its official Grand Opening, scheduled for Saturday, April 30, from 4 to 7 pm. There will be appetizers, wine tastings, and "high-end whiskey tastings" (wheee!). Savita also tells me that they've added a selection of cheeses, patés, and salamis to their lineup, as well expanding their lineup of spirits. Harry's also does wine tastings every Friday and Saturday from 4 to 7 pm.
* I should also mention Marcatus, the "creative art market" being held on the first Sunday of every month at the Yards Park. It's from 11 am to 6 pm, and offers live music and food in addition to artists displaying their works. Next one is May 1.
* And, just as I posted this, the BID sent out the flyer on the summer Wednesday lunchtime concerts, running from May 11 to August 17 from 11:30 am to 1 pm in the Yards Park. This is in addition to the Friday evening concert series at the park that begins on May 13.

South Capitol Street Final EIS Unveiled, Public Meetings Scheduled
Apr 18, 2011 5:10 PM
It's been so long since I've written about this that I forgot it was even still in progress, but DDOT has announced two public meetings to present the "preferred alternative" and the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the South Capitol Street Corridor, first on April 26 at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School in SW and then two days later at Savoy Elementary School in SE. This is the long-term study of how to improve South Capitol Street on both sides of the Anacostia River to better address safety, traffic, pedestrian, and streetscape issues, and includes the construction of a new Frederick Douglass Bridge.
If you are interested in this subject, there is more verbiage and documentation accompanying the plans than you could ever dream of. (Traffic studies! Environmental consequences! Technical reports!) And I've written a lot about the process, which began more than a decade ago with other studies before the EIS got underway. And I'm sure there will be posts on other blogs delving more specifically into portions of the plans. But, since most people probably want to know "what does this mean for me?", you can see this graphic (from the 224-MB chapter 2 of the FEIS) giving a quick overview of what changes are planned along South Capitol Street if the final EIS is signed off on (and, more importantly, if funding is secured). The short version, for the west side of the Anacostia:
eisprefalt.jpg" width=180>* Add "pedestrian amenities" and enhance the streetcape along South Capitol north of I and along New Jersey Avenue SE north of the freeway.
* Replace the existing ramp to the freeway from South Capitol and I with an at-grade intersection. (This would be a left turn onto a ramp to the freeway from under the freeway, near the current Nats HH economy parking lot.)
* Bring New Jersey Avenue SE back to a 160-foot full right-of-way, and add streetscape enhancements.
* "Reconstruct South Capitol Street as an urban boulevard." This means bringing M Street up to an "at-grade" intersection (no more tunnel), and would include new signalized at-grade intersections to allow traffic to cross South Capitol on K and L streets. (M Street would also get reconstructed between the Halfs [SE and SW].) The section of South Capitol north of M would have the same streetscape that the south portion received during its 2007/08 makeover, with wide sidewalks and a tree-lined median.
* Build a traffic oval at South Capitol, Potomac, Q, as the gateway to a new arched bascule-design Douglass Bridge that would have wide "multi-use trails" (i.e., sidewalks!) in both directions. The existing bridge would be demolished, after the new bridge is built somewhat downriver of the current location.
The Executive Summary (220 MB PDF) gives a good overview of the FEIS and preferred alternative (as it should!), but I also suggest wandering through the Chapter 2: Alternatives section, especially if you came to the neighborhood or JDLand after 2008 and didn't get to follow along during the EIS process, or if you're interested in the additional plans for east of the river, which I'm going to leave to others to discuss. My previous posts on all of this may be of interest as well. If you're wanting to see some of the earlier studies referenced in the FEIS, there are links to them at the top of my South Capitol Street project page.
How much would this all cost? The preferred alternative is priced in this final EIS at $806 million (not billion! yeesh) in FY 2014 dollars. (New bridges are expensive, you know.)
(I know that this is a very quick overview of a big study and plan, but there will be plenty of time to talk more about it, especially with the upcoming public meetings.)

ANC Recap No. 3: Traffic Study, 10K Race, Liquor License Items
Apr 13, 2011 11:14 AM
Last missive from Monday's ANC 6D meeting..:
* It's apparently going to be "Neighborhood Day" at Nationals Park on Saturday, April 16. The Nationals said in a press release on Monday that residents will be able to purchase discounted tickets, but you apparently have to be in the know to find the nationals.com/neighborhood ticket sales link. (ANC commissioners got their free tickets for Saturday handed out at the meeting, since they'll be introduced on the field before the game.)
* With a unanimous 7-0 vote, the commission passed a motion authored by David Garber to request that DDOT fund a "comprehensive" traffic study of the M Street corridor and its neighboring streets in both Southeast and Southwest. Much of the discussion ended up centering around the wording of the motion (as is so often the case), with much concern about whether Maine Avenue should be specifically mentioned, especially given that the developers of the new Southwest Waterfront will be undertaking their own traffic study along Maine and Water Street. Commissioner Andy Litsky wondered about the traffic study in Southeast that the Capitol Riverfront BID is looking to fund, and Michael Stevens of the BID said that they would support a "holistic" approach to combining the various studies already done or on the boards (including the one CSX has apparently completed to look at the impact of their planned construction along Virginia Avenue, plus the reports done for the 11th Street Bridges EIS and the in-progress 14th Street Bridges EIS).
The motion was then amended to say that the ANC supports directing DDOT funds "to conduct a comprehensive traffic study and plan for the M Street SE/SW corridor and its feeder and surrounding streets and that all other area studies be integrated for DDOT's review in order to produce a comprehensive study, and that ANC 6D urgently supports the subsequent design process and implementation of a 'complete streets' plan to decrease the speed and volume of automobile traffic, and increase multi-modal transportation safety and efficiency as neighborhoods in 6D continue to evolve and develop."
(If you want to know more about the concept of Complete Streets and how it might inform a redesign of M Street, you can read my report on last year's public meeting held by Tommy Wells to start an "initial dialog" on the subject.)
* The commission also voted 7-0 to support the Pacers Home Run Classic 10K race, to be run on Saturday, June 18. Original plans to start and end the race at the Yards Park ran into some issues with the city's Emergency Management folks not wanting the race to run by the DC Water/WASA plant (and there was no explanation beyond that). So the race will now start and end at Half and N, across from the ballpark, then circle the ballpark down to South Capitol and Potomac before crossing the Douglass Bridge, running along Anacostia Drive in Anacostia Park to the skating pavilion, then doubling back. It's expected there will be 2,000 runners for the 8 am race. (Next year they expect to be able to start and end at the Yards Park and use the new floating bridge to Teague Park to get to Potomac Avenue and the Douglass Bridge.)
* In liquor license matters, it was reported to the commission that Das Bullpen did end up needing to get a new liquor license separate from that of The Bullpen 1.0, and that a new voluntary agreement was written up as well. This was all apparently done very hurredly, on the Tuesday before Opening Day, in order for ABRA to approve the new license on Wednesday in time for Opening Day on Thursday (though as we know Das Bullpen didn't open that day anyway). There's a full hearing on the license scheduled for May 31. If you haven't followed the Twitter flurry, Das Bullpen opened Tuesday (April 13) for the Nats/Phillies game.
* Also on the alcohol front, apparently both Harry's Reserve and Cornercopia are inquiring as to the possibility of the sale of "singles," in their cases to be the sorts of higher-end European beers that typically come in 20 oz or larger bottles. Coralee Farlee, who chairs the 6D ABC subcommittee, asked for some guidance as to whether the ANC is wanting to continue to not consider any exceptions for single sales, as has been the practice. David Garber and other commissioners expressed their support for the higher-end type of sales, and Andy Litsky said that 6D never really had the "singles" problem that lead the H Street NE corridor to ban those sales. Chairman Ron McBee instructed Farlee to check how other ANCs are handling the issue (apparently 6B allows sales of the 20-oz. bottles?), with an eye toward reexamining 6D's stance.

Vote for Summer Movies, and Yards Park Events Gearing Up
Mar 7, 2011 2:55 PM
With "Academy Award Movies" having been the winning theme for the Capitol Riverfront BID's 2011 summer outdoor movie series, the BID is now asking people to vote on which Academy Award movies should be screened. The series starts on May 26, and will once again be on Tingey Plaza, at New Jersey and Tingey just behind the USDOT building. (Last year's screening location, the Canal Park footprint, will be unavailable this summer because the locusts have arrived, dogs and cats are sleeping together, and it appears that construction is about to get underway.)
While the movie series isn't being held at the Yards Park (just a smidge to the north of it) the BID is working on an ever-growing list of events that will keep the park hopping through the year:
* Kicking off the slate, there will be a Family Fun Day on April 2 from 11 am to 4 pm, in conjunction with the National Cherry Blossom Festival. According to the press release, activities at the free event will include sake tasting and a Japanese beer garden by Mie N Yu, lantern making, sushi from Nooshi Sushi, a moonbounce, and more. (Then everyone can take a leisurely walk down M Street to the Southwest Waterfront for the Fireworks Festival, which actually starts at 1 pm and runs until the fireworks kick off at 8:30 pm.) This is also the day of the first Saturday home game of the year at Nationals Park, just two blocks to the west, starting at 1:05 pm against the Braves.
* Sensorium, the "culinary and sensory experience" announced a while back, starts its multi-week run on April 12.
* The previously mentioned DC Music Fest on May 7 has now announced its lineup.
* While the summer movies will be on Thursday nights, the park will also host a free summer concert series on Friday nights from 6 to 8 pm, kicking off on May 13 and running through August 19. This will be in addition the the lunchtime concert series that the BID has run for the past three years, and is expected to feature music ranging from jazz and blues to rock and reggae. (If you're a food provider and you want to serve at the concerts, here's the RFP.)
* July 9 will see MetroDash, the "country's premier obstacle race series," which includes obstacles such as tire flips, rope swings, 15-foot cargo net climbs, wall jumps, monkey bars, the "strongman shuffle." You can sign up here (if you dare), though the web site doesn't seem to be responding right now.
There are also plenty of private events already on the park's calendar, so if you were thinking about throwing your own shindig there, you won't be alone.
UPDATE, 3/20: According to their web site, the May 7 DC Music Fest has been cancelled, "due to lack of funding and sponsorships."

Dad's Rearview Mirror, Con't: Buying a Home, 60s Style
Feb 11, 2011 2:42 PM
Dad's been under the weather for the past few weeks (for the first time in about 30 years), but is thankfully feeling better and has now passed along another batch of memories of life on Capitol Hill.
This time he's written on a subject matter that's almost on-topic for JDLand: residential real estate, with a lot of detail from when he and my mother purchased 127 E St., SE, in early 1964. (He even dug into his files and found the paperwork from the sale, which amounted to all of about four pages, which I've included.) And he recounts a trip through the city bureaucracy to build the garage that's still out back of 127 E today--it wasn't smooth sailing, but I bet it was still a lot easier than it would be now!
He also talks a bit about the old Weisfeld's Market, from when it was at 131 E St. More recent Hill citizens may remember Weisfeld's in its later location, at the corner of 4th and E, where the Capitol Supreme Market now operates. There's also talk of The Rotunda, and a first mention of Mr. Henry's, which he says helped "extend the boundaries of where Hill people felt comfortable going." You know, alllllll the way out to 6th and Pennsylvania, SE.
I also took the opportunity to add some multimedia offerings to give everyone some looks at the 100 block of E during the mid-1960s.
Thanks again to Dad for taking the time to write this all down. Maybe when I get him and Mom down to the neighborhood for a baseball game this year, we'll set up for a bit beforehand somewhere (Das Bullpen?) and interested parties can swing by to chat.
Comments (0)
More posts: Rearview Mirror

11th Street Bridges Newsletter; Info on Later Phases
Jan 31, 2011 10:24 AM
Over the weekend DDOT sent out its latest "Eleventh Street Ledger," the official newsletter of the 11th Street Bridges project. It gives a pretty detailed update on the progress made over the past few months on surrounding infrastructure and the two new "freeway bridges," the inbound one of which now has 48 of its 54 girders set, with the outbound girders soon to follow. These two bridges will be opening in the fall, with the two-way "11th Street Local" bridge expected to open a year after that.
You can read the newsletter for all the information, but it does say (page 2) that coming soon in the 11th/12th/M/N/O corridor on the Near Southeast side of things will be the first of four new piers north of M to connect the new inbound freeway bridge to the existing freeway, and that this summer steel girders for the ramp will be placed above M Street. And the girders of the inbound bridge will soon be set to connect the new bridge itself to the northwest side of the river.
In the meantime, away from the construction zone, the National Capital Planning Commission at its upcoming meeting on Thursday is set to give its approval to the final design of the bridges, and the Staff Recommendation document gives a good overview worth reading of the general plans for the bridges.
There is also a graphic on page 5 detailing the ramps and right-of-ways that would be built in a later, currently unfunded phase of the project, with the bulk of the additional work to be done where the freeway curves at 11th Street. There would be a new wider flyover to take outbound traffic to the bridges; there also would be a change in the current Pennsylvania Avenue approach with a new ramp down to 11th Street, where drivers would go through a streetlight-controlled intersection to either turn left or right on 11th or continue forward toward Pennsylvania Avenue on the new "Southeast Boulevard" (which is what drivers know today as the below-grade route to and from Pennsylvania Avenue and Barney Circle). There would also be new approaches north of M between 11th and 12th to take drivers exiting off the inbound freeway bridge up to Southeast Blvd., where they could turn either left to get to 11th Street or right to go to Pennsylvania Avenue.
These additional routes were all called for in the EIS, but if you came in after the design/build phase of the bridges got underway, you might be unfamiliar with these other connections that DDOT hopes to eventually add, which will make the intersection of 11th Street and Southeast Blvd. quite a happening juncture. This intersection will actually get its start during the bridge's first phase, as within a few years there will be a new ramp allowing northbound traffic on 11th Street to turn left and enter the Southeast Freeway--no more zooming down Virginia Avenue for eight blocks to the 3rd Street ramp. And traffic coming from Pennsylvania Avenue on the first iteration of Southeast Blvd. will be brought to this new 11th Street intersection as well.
The NCPC document also says (page 8) that the path on the local bridge for cyclists and pedestrians has been widened in the final design to 16 feet from 14 feet. And the design is still configured to allow for streetcars to run on the local bridge in shared lanes, with lighting fixtures and other design elements configured for overhead wires, should they be necessary.
Comments (1)
More posts: 11th Street Bridges

Off-Topic Rearview Mirror: Family Memories of the Hill
Jan 9, 2011 11:01 AM
As I've always tried to emphasize when I'm asked about the origins of JDLand, I'm a historian at heart--I love knowing about how areas I'm familiar with looked and functioned in the past, especially the more recent past, when you can still see of few of the strings tying that era to the present day.
This is very much the case for me for Capitol Hill, land of my birth, and I'm lucky enough to have two very good resources to turn to whenever I want to hear some good stories about what my neighborhood was like back in the Mad Men era: my mother and father. Jim and Shirley each moved to DC in 1959, got married a few years later, and lived on the House side of the Hill until 1969, and it's no secret that they look back upon those years with great fondness.
Since I'm all about documenting stuff before it disappears, I recently asked Mom and Dad if they would write up for me their memories of what it was like to live on the Hill during the 1960s. Luckily it's the offseason for both bicycling (Dad) and golf (Mom), so they agreed to squeeze some writing into their schedules, and while the resulting reminiscences are mostly for the family's benefit and enjoyment, I thought that some readers might find them of interest as well, and since the web site has infinite space, and since it's wintertime, when news is slow...
First up is a short post by my dad, talking a little about when he moved to the Hill in 1959, living in the 400 block of New Jersey Ave., SE., with his brother, for $100 a month. (I also tossed in at the bottom some of the home movies showing Hill scenes, most of which I've linked to before, but I figure some multimedia can't hurt.)
If you have questions for Dad about his post or just want to pick his brain for other memories of his, post here in the comments, and I'll make sure he reads them and replies. He's already working on his next offering, so maybe some queries from the peanut gallery will rattle loose some additional nuggets to pass along.
(And hopefully before too long I'll get a submission from Mom, so that she can tell the stories of shopping at Weisfeld's when it was still in the 100 block of E and how Mrs. Weisfeld would just write what you owed on the back of a brown paper bag, and then give you a bill at the end of the month. But I don't want to steal her thunder.)
UPDATE: Like his daughter, Dad has discovered that writing about something interesting can take on a life of its own--he's submitted his second post about the Hill in the early '60s, with tidbits on the Kennedy inauguration (and its accompanying snowstorm) and the construction of the Rayburn House Office Building, along with a few famous names, memories of biking around the Hill, and even a little bit about Southwest. I'll post it in a couple of days.
Comments (5)
More posts: Rearview Mirror

This Week's Events (Traffic, WASA, Cornhole)
May 24, 2010 2:40 PM
Yet another post about upcoming meetings that most of you probably don't have any interest in going to, you slackers:
* I've now received official notice from ANC 6D that the stadium Traffic Operations and Parking Plan meeting is indeed being held tomorrow (Tuesday, May 25) at 6:30 pm; here's the flyer with the details. This meeting was asked for after the previous one was not particularly well attendedby the necessary government agencies.
* Alas, at pretty much the same time and just a few blocks away is a Public Information Meetingon the 14th Street Bridge Corridor Environmental Impact Statement, from 6 to 8 pm at Westminstery Presbysterian Church, 400 I St., SW. This meeting's purpose is "to present preliminary traffic results and scope of the enivonrmental assessment for the [corridor] alternatives" and to answer questions and receive feedback.
* If you want to go to both, there's a second version of the EIS meeting on Thursday evening (May 27) in Arlington; but that conflicts with WASA's public meeting to get the public's comment on their combined sewer overflow long-term control plan and the draft environmental assessment. The meeting is at Watkins Elementary, 420 12th Street, SE (see the flyer).
* And, for that matter, both of those Thursday meetings conflict with the rescheduled Cornhole Tournament at the Bullpen that Nationals communications director Lisa Pagano is holding. This is part of her quest to become the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Woman of the Year award, and she is trying to raise $75,000 by June 12 (more info here and here). The party starts at 6 pm and the tournament itself at 7 pm. There will be live music and raffle items in addition to the tournament. Admission is $5 for the event and $20 for teams of two entering the tournament (with one free beer per player!). More info can be found on Facebook. (The original one was postponed because of inclement weather, which I know we all find astonishing given the gorgeous sunny days we've been having lately.)
* Then there's the usual lineup of BID-sponsored events (lunchtime concert on Wednesday and both the Outdoor Market and Front Run Club on Thursday).

Traffic Meetings, On Top of Each Other (Plus WASA)
May 19, 2010 6:37 PM
I've been waiting to post about this until some sort of official announcement came from the ANC or DDOT, but time's a'wastin, so I'll mention that SWill reported after the last ANC 6D meeting that a follow-up TOPP (Traffic Operations and Parking Plan) meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, May 25, tenatively at 6:30 pm at the Second Baptist Church, 1200 Canal St., SW. This meeting was asked for after the previous one was not particularly well attended by the necessary government agencies.
However, at almost the same time is a Public Information Meeting on the 14th Street Bridge Corridor Environmental Impact Statement, from 6 to 8 pm at Westminstery Presbysterian Church, 400 I St., SW. (There is another one being held two days later in Arlington.) This meeting's purpose is "to present preliminary traffic results and scope of the enivonrmental assessment for the [corridor] alternatives" and to answer questions and receive feedback.
It would seem that the attendees for these meetings might be coming out of the same pool, so it's a shame if they do end up overlapping.
Also, for another on-the-periphery meeting, WASA is having a public meeting on Thursday May 27th at 6 pm to get the public's comment on their combined sewer overflow long-term control plan and the draft environmental assessment. The meeting is at Watkins Elementary, 420 12th Street, SE (see the flyer). Of course, this meeting conflicts with the alternate date for the 14th Street Bridge Corridor EIS meeting....

Upcoming Events (ANCs and Business Summit)
May 9, 2010 9:00 PM
On your agenda for the near future, should you choose to accept the mission:
* ANC 6D (Southwest and most of Near Southeast) meets Monday night at 7 pm at St. Augustine's Church at Sixth and M streets, SW. (When are they moving to their new meeting space, dangit?) The agenda is posted--no big Near Southeast items, except for perhaps an update from the Nationals, a brief update on Traffic/Parking issues from a member of Tommy Wells's staff, and request for support for a liquor license for the new Patriot II river cruise ship operating out of Diamond Teague Park. One other item that might be of interest is an update on the 14th Street Bridge Environmental Impact Statement, which has been quiet for a while.
* ANC 6B (south side of Capitol Hill and Near Southeast south of the freeway east of Seventh [excluding the Navy Yard]) meets the next night, Tuesday, at 7 pm at its new meeting place, the People's Church at 535 Eighth Street, SE. Here's the agenda, which is chock full of liquor license renewals and home remodeling projects.
* Looking ahead a bit to next week, a reminder that the Anacostia River Business Summit is being held on Tuesday, May 18, starting at 1:30 pm at 20 M St., SE. Admission is $30 per person; the agenda includes a presentation on the Anacostia River Watershed Restoration Plan and panels on "Federal and District Leadership Efforts" and "The Business Impact." There will also be an exhibit hall and a networking reception after the sessions. More info here, and online registration available here.

Forest City, Monument Looking at HUD Money
Apr 23, 2010 12:54 PM
From today's Washington Business Journal, for subscribers only right now, "Capitol Riverfront builders turn to HUD in hard times," which talks about Forest City's previously reported dealings with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to back bonds for the affordable housing component of the stalled Foundry Lofts project. Forest City's Ramsey Meiser is quoted as saying, "We are at a stage now where we are going back and forth. We have submitted paperwork. They have replied with questions. Hopefully, we will be back on track no later than this summer." (This is a little different than some recent breathless reporting that said that the project "could" restart this month.) It would then take about a year to finish the 170-unit apartment building that will also have ground-floor retail space.
WBJ also says that Monument Realty is "mulling" Section 220 FHA mortgage insurance to help get the residential part of their Half Street project restarted. But the 220 option, which has been used elsewhere in DC (Yale Steam Laundry and Rhode Island Station), doesn't sound real close--"Monument Realty has not yet applied for the Section 220 program but says it has been investigating the possibility since last summer. Russell Hines, the company's president, said the program's per-unit cost limit is a challenge," although there is federal legislation pending that would increase the per-unit statute.
(And, one correction for WBJ--this sentence could use a little love: "The Forest City and Monument Realty housing projects are just a portion of a four-building development planned at Half Street." The Foundry Lofts building, part of the Yards, is four blocks away from Half Street. UPDATE: It's been corrected.)

11th Street Bridge Construction to Begin (Updated)
Dec 24, 2009 10:31 AM
A press release just out from DDOT (not yet posted online) alerts the city that construction is about to start on the new 11th Street Bridges:
"On or about Tuesday, December 29, 2009, contractors will begin 11th Street Bridge Project construction activities, which may be noticeable to area residents and businesses but ultimately result in a number of important benefits.
"Initial work will include pile driving in the Anacostia River to construct foundations for three new bridges - one for local and two for freeway traffic. Barrier placement, off-roadway clearing, and drainage work is also to begin adjacent to both directions of DC 295, later resulting in shoulder encroachments and minor lane shifts. Eventually, land-side pile driving on both sides of the river will be required to construct new connecting ramps and improve the highway. To minimize impacts, noise and vibration levels will be monitored at all times.
"The new bridges will be constructed between the existing bridges, which are projected to serve almost 180,000 vehicles per day by 2030, allowing contractors to maintain all existing travel movements and 12-foot travel lanes except during approved work in off-peak travel hours.
"In addition, contractors will practice good neighbor construction by establishing designated haul routes, having most materials delivered via the river or highway, controlling dust, and requiring that workers not park on neighborhood streets."
The project is scheduled for completion in mid-2013, and at last report would be costing $260 million (unless they've found more funding). In addition to more lanes for cars and improved vehicle flow, the bridges will have new wider paths for pedestrians and bicycles, as well as the rails for the new streetcars that will connect Anacostia and the west side of the river.
DDOT is having a press shindig on Tuesday to give more specifics about the project; you can see my 11th Street Bridges project page for additional information and graphics, and there's also this PDF from DDOT that gives an overview of what the new bridges and traffic flow will look like.
UPDATE: In wandering around, I found this document, a 69-page Final Environmental Impact Statement "Reevaluation" from July 2009, which details what the changes are in the design from the FEIS "preferred alternative" and what's going to actually be built (now called the "Phase 1 Alternative", and seen in the graphic referenced above):
* The bridges (three, rather than two) will be placed in between the existing bridges on new foundation/substructures, as mentioned above;
* Minor reconfigurations of the expressway interchanges on both sides of the river;
* Reconfiguration of the local access interchange on the east side of the river;
* Ending work on the Southeast Freeway east of the existing Seventh/Eighth Street bridges, without replacing these structures;
* Modifications to the pedestrian and bicycle connections.
The Reevaluation has plenty more details on the above bullet points if you're interested. It also explains that, for now, DDOT is only funding the "Phase 1 interim improvements," which "will include complete construction of the three new river crossings and completion of the interchange on the east side (Anacostia) of the river. On the west side of the river, the inbound movement will be completed from the river to the proposed connection to the Southeast Freeway at the existing bridge over 8th Street. Ramp[s] will also be constructed and the inbound Southeast Boulevard [the old below-grade connector to Pennsylvania Avenue] will be connected to 11th Street. 11th Street will be widened from the Southeast Freeway to O Street on the west side of the river, with widening to the ultimate width from M Street to O Street." It also says that, as additional funding is found, the "remaining elements of the project can move forward in the same design that was approved in the EIS."

Zoning Commission Approves Trapeze School at the Yards; A Revised Tentative Phase I Timeline
Sep 21, 2009 7:47 PM
In a blissfully short 26-minute hearing, the city's Zoning Commission approved tonight the series of amendment requests to allow the Trapeze School New York to set up shop on Parcel O at the Yards, on the southeast corner of Fourth and Tingey.
The commissioners seemed satisfied with the information they had in the Office of Planning report and the submissions from Forest City and the Trapeze School, and asked few questions (Chairman Hood was clearly trying to move things along). This is a temporary approval, allowing the Trapeze School to be at the Yards for five years, or longer if a Special Exception is later granted. The text amendments also waved the on-site parking requirement for the school, with new commissioner Konrad Schlater saying he was "comfortable" with it because parking "is definitely overbuilt" in the area around the ballpark. ANC 6D had voted 7-0 in support of the case as well. It's now expected that the National Capital Planning Commission will address the Trapeze School at its Oct. 1 meeting.
No date for the opening of the school in its new home was mentioned, though it was explained that Forest City was trying to expedite the process since the school is having to vacate its home at the old convention center site. There will still be building permits to be filed for and approved before the tent can be lifted.
Toward the end of the hearing, Ramsey Meiser of Forest City gave a bit of an update on the other projects in the first phase of the Yards. Here's the latest:
* They are continuing to work with the city's Housing Finance Agency to get the money together to (re)start on the Foundry Lofts, with a hoped-for completion date of late 2010 or early 2011.
* The Boilermaker Shop could open in 2011; this dovetails with what a commenter in this thread reported hearing over the weekend, although earlier today Forest City would not officially confirm for me any scheduled start date for the project, only that some retail tenants have been signed, but that Forest City can't name them publicly just yet. (Maybe in October.)
* The first retail in the Park at the Yards (in the old Lumber Shed building) could open in 2012; the park itself is expected to open next summer.
* "Parcel D", on the southeast corner of Fourth and M, is the site of the expected Harris Teeter (though Meiser didn't name them, saying only "a grocery store," since neither Forest City nor Harris Teeter have confirmed this rumor yet), and is now apparently going to be a residential building instead of office, which had been hinted at recently. It's expected delivery date is currently 2013.
* The Factory 202 lofts building at Fifth and M is not expected before 2014.
And all that's just the first phase! Meiser also said that Parcel N, the site of a surface parking lot on the southwest corner of Fourth and Tingey, would probably be the first project of Phase 2. But no date on that yet.
If you want to watch the hearing, visit DCOZ's On Demand Video page.

Long-Rumored Harris Teeter/Yards Deal Closer?
Sep 7, 2009 9:38 PM
Tonight WBJ is reporting that Harris Teeter--which has long been rumored to be the grocery store planned for the southeast corner of Fourth and M at the Yards--has signed a letter of intent, though Teeter isn't confirming.
But don't start making your shopping list just yet--even before the Economic Difficulties, Forest City wasn't expecting to open a building on that parcel before 2011, and that date now looks tough to meet. But there are hints in the article that maybe Forest City is rethinking the plan to have an office building topping the grocery store: "We are currently evaluating the overall development program on that parcel, which may result in a revised mixed-use concept," is the quote from Forest City's Ramsey Meiser.

NCPC Staff Recommends Favorable Comment on 11th Street Bridges Design (Except for the Streetcar Part)
Aug 31, 2009 12:42 PM
The final agenda is now out for Thursday's meeting of the National Capital Planning Commission, and contained in it is a long document setting out the commission staff's recommendations for a vote on the design of the 11th Street Bridges.
For anyone interested in the bridges as a driver, bicyclist, pedestrian, water recreationist, neighbor, or construction enthusiast, it's a worthwhile read (even at 26 pages). To cut to the chase, the staff is recommending that the commission "comment favorably" on the designs for the bridges, even though the designs are still in the very early stages, and there's very little new in this document that we didn't see in the EIS or other releases. There's even mention of how the city's Comprehensive Plan envisions the eventual dismantling of the Southeast-Southwest Freeway, but that the new bridges are needed until the time comes that I-395 comes down (i.e., far past the date I shuffle off this mortal coil).
However, they are not at all happy with DDOT's decision to choose a streetcar system with overhead wires, and the document goes into detail on how this works against federal interests, as well as listing what non-overhead-wire streetcar options exist out there (none in the US so far). Their conclusions (page 22):
"Recommends that DDOT not include streetcar system components for overhead wires as part of the 11th Street Bridge project and that DDOT prepare an environmental impact statement for its proposed District wide streetcar system that examines potential impacts on the L'Enfant City and Georgetown and that includes an analysis of propulsion systems that do not require the use of overhead wires.
"Advises DDOT that the Commission does not support a streetcar system with overhead wires because it supports the unobstructed views to important landmarks along the city's streets and avenues that are integral to the District's unique character and result from the long-standing federal statutory prohibition against using overhead wires in Washington City (the L'Enfant City) and Georgetown.
"Encourages DDOT to pursue alternative propulsion technologies for the proposed streetcar system that do not require overhead wires in accordance with its January 24, 2008 commitment to include dual vehicle propulsion requirements in a solicitation package for the development and implementation of the broader streetcar system beyond the Anacostia and H Street/Benning Road corridors."
The commission meeting when this recommendation will be voted on is Thursday (Sept. 3) at 12:30 pm.

New 'Where's My Bus?' App for Circulators; Q2 Residential Numbers; Square 701 Not Starting Soon
Jun 26, 2009 2:05 PM
* Just out from DDOT (press release now online), a new "Where's My Bus" app for the Circulator buses. Go to circulator.dc.gov (it's formatted for cellphones and PDAs, but works in any browser), pick your line and stop, and find out how far away the next bus is. (Here's the information for the 4th and M stop, heading toward Union Station.) They say an iPhone app will be coming will be coming later this summer.
* From the BID's newsletter (which I'm not finding on their redesigned web site), the latest update on residential leasing and sales for the second quarter of 2009: The buildings known as Axiom and Jefferson (at 70 and 100 I) and Onyx on First are at a combined 60 percent leased for the 960 units in the three buildings; 909 New Jersey (which opened in early April) has 25 percent of its 237 units leased. The Capitol Quarter townhouses are listed at 88 of 113 units sold (though I'm not sure how the public housing rental and for-sale units figure into that number), and Capitol Hill Tower is reported as being 80 percent sold. No numbers are reported for Velocity Condos, which according to a presentation by Michael Stevens last week is supposed to open in late August or September. All told, the BID says there are an estimated 1,863 residents in the Capitol Riverfront.
* A WBJ piece from today's print edition on Willco Cos.'s new $100 million fund says that the company "does not plan to dip into the fund for development projects in the pipeline, such as its 700,000-square-foot mixed-use project adjacent to Nationals Park, at Square 701, the intersection of M and First streets SE. That project is in pre-development mode right now without a major tenant; Willco doesn't expect to kick off construction until it sees 'signs of life in that neighborhood,' Goldblatt said." This lot is probably better known as Nats Parking Lot F, and the former home of Normandie Liquors and other small businesses.

Upcoming Events, Updates, and Whatnot
May 27, 2009 4:22 PM
* Tomorrow (Thursday, May 28) at 10:30 am is the groundbreaking ceremony for the Park at the Yards, the first phase of which is scheduled to be completed next spring. The mayor is supposed to be in attendance--I may have to create a Shovel-Wielding Fenty photo gallery, since I now have quite a few of those shots.
* Friday (May 29) at noon is the opening of Artomatic at 55 M Street. I'm giving everyone advance warning that I am hopelessly left-brained, so I won't really even be trying to cover it much beyond wandering through to get the flavor. It runs until July 5, so everyone has plenty of time to get there and check it out. (You can see some of the installations already through the windows.) See my calendar for the specific days and hours (it's closed Mondays and Tuesdays).
* An extremely helpful commenter in this thread has explained why some of the flyovers and ramps are missing from the new Skanska/Facchina schematic of the new 11th Street Bridges design that I linked to: "[It] does not show all the ramp connections in the FEIS design because the District could only find $260 million to fund the project, and the FEIS design is estimated to cost $360 million. The District asked for proposals to build as much of the project as possible for the availible $260 mill, and the schematic shows how much the winning bidder Skanska/Facchina proposed to build. It is a lane-mile more than the next best proposal. The District's plan is to build the rest when they can secure funding (maybe sooner than later.)"
* While not mentioning Near Southeast specifically, this Post article from yesterday talks about the very tough office-space market in DC and surroundings: "'Unless they're already in the ground, they're not starting,' said Steven A. Levin, managing director at Spaulding & Slye. 'Any development project needing a loan over $25 million requires multiple lenders, and the guarantees are onerous. The amount of money you can borrow is also reduced.' [...] Dennis K. Moyer, a commercial real estate lawyer with Goulston & Storrs, said some of his clients are reviewing their existing loans and wondering whether they'll be paid, even on properties that are doing well. 'The next wave that comes is likely the workouts, foreclosures and restructurings,' he said."

Skanska/Facchina Win 11th Street Bridges Design/Build Contract
Apr 24, 2009 12:58 PM
Dr. Gridlock reports that this morning the mayor held a press conference to (officially?) announce that the city will be rebuilding the 11th Street Bridges, with "in-water" work beginning in August. My project page gives the basics on what will be happening (along with links to the EIS), if you haven't been following along, but here's the high-speed recap: still two spans, but the upriver one would be expanded to become an eight-lane freeway span that would add the missing connection ramps between I-395 and I-295, while the downriver span would be four-lane "local" span tieing together Anacostia and Near Southeast, with pedestrian and bike paths and would be prepped for eventual streetcar usage. The project is expected to be completed in 2013.
UPDATE: The press release from DDOT has just come out, and apparently the real announcement of the day was the awarding of the design/build contract for the project to Skanska/Facchina.
UPDATE II: Additional pieces, from WTOP and from the Examiner, which talks about the lawsuit filed in February by the Capitol Hill Restoration Society to stop the project.

Circulator Schedule for Nats Games; Tickets Kerfuffle
Apr 14, 2009 1:44 PM
* DDOT has posted a list of the expanded service hours for the Union Station-Eastern Market-Navy Yard Circulator bus on Nationals game days. Basically, for both weekday and weekend games that start after 2 pm, Circulator service will run until midnight; 12:30 and 1:30 games will have service until 7 pm, with their usual every-10-minute headways. (Normally, the buses run from 6 am to 7 pm on weekdays, and not at all on weekends.) The running-until-midnight will make the restaurants and bars on Eighth Street happy, with their hopes that fans will hop on the buses to head to the food and drink offerings at Barracks Row because of the lack of options near the ballpark.
* The Post and City Paper cover the second annual Mayor-vs-Council free-stadium-suite-tickets standoff, with City Paper posting the transcript of a particularly feisty exchange this morning between the Mayor and the media today.

Update on South Capitol Street EIS, New Bridge
Feb 3, 2009 10:32 AM
ANC 6D heard a presentation on Monday night from the team working on the South Capitol Street Environmental Impact Statement, which is now in its "final preferred alternative" stage. Their PowerPoint presentation was pretty close to the one I posted last month, and one of the consultants did tweak me a bit about how I "spoiled the surprise" on the choice of the arched bascule design for the new Douglass Bridge.
Here again are the (long!) bullet points about what the preferred alternative designs are for the portion of South Capitol west of the Anacostia (see the presentation if you're interested in the preferred alternatives chosen for east of the river), along with some issues raised by the ANC:
* It was emphasized that these new designs will not be adding any capacity, but that the main goal is to bring back the "boulevard" feeling of the corridor.
* The new bridge will have 20-foot-wide sidewalks on each side, and only two piers will need to be built in the river, compared to 3-5 piers that would have been needed with the other designs. (The cable stayed swing bridge would have had just one pedestrian/bike path, 16 feet wide, in the middle of the bridge, surrounded by six lanes of traffic.)
* There will be a seven-acre traffic oval at the foot of the new bridge (which will be located to the south of the current bridge), reshaping the intersection of South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue. (The ballpark's Home Plate Gate and entrance promenade will be the northeast edge of the oval.) The city is already in the process of acquiring seven properties or portions of properties that will be needed for the oval and bridge footprint, including the red brick warehouse on the northwest corner of South Capitol and Potomac. This oval is on the NCPC list of locations for future memorials and museums.
* The intersection of South Capitol Street and M Street will become an at-grade intersection (no more underpass for through traffic). ANC chair Andy Litsky expressed great concern about how this could make the intersection even more dangerous than it already is, to which the DDOT team replied that the reconfiguration should make it safer. (Certainly it would seem that having a "normal" intersection with two left-turn lanes in most directions would be an improvement safety-wise over the existing mish-mash of lights and poorly striped turn-lanes, but then there will also be a lot more cars cycling through once the tunnel lanes are gone.)
* There will be modifications to South Capitol's interchange with the SE/SW Freeway, with the replacement of the ramp that begins at I Street with an at-grade intersection underneath the freeway that would have two left-turn lanes to a new ramp. With the existing ramp removed, the intersection at South Capitol and I would also be reconfigured.
* The northern section of South Capitol Street will match the reconfigured portion between N Street and Potomac Avenue, as a six-lane boulevard with a median and wide sidewalks.
Commissioners McBee and Moffatt asked as they have in the past about whether the existing bridge could be kept as a pedestrian/bike-only bridge, but DDOT explained that since the swing span would continue to need to be opened for river traffic, the cost of maintaining the old bridge just isn't feasible. (The RiverFront folks might also be a teensy bit upset that their land that's beneath the current bridge wouldn't be coming back to them.) And the team also indicated that this new bridge does not preclude the construction (Some Day, Perhaps, in Some Far Off Time) of a tunnel to move non-local traffic from Anacostia to I-395.
They expect the final Record of Decision from the feds this fall; however, when pressed for a start date, they said 2011 would be the absolute earliest for the start of construction (with completion possibly in 2015), but that as of now there's no funding for the $700 million project. It's also possible that portions of the designs could be undetaken if partial funding is received.

First Look at Phase 2 of the Yards Park
Feb 2, 2009 11:00 PM
Tonight ANC 6D had a special "presentation" meeting, to lighten the load of next Monday's business meeting so that everyone could go home before 2 am. On the agenda were three items, all of which are JDLand perennials. I'll post on Tuesday about the Capper zoning stuff and the South Capitol Street EIS, which didn't really contain much that I haven't previously covered; the third item was the designs for the second phase of the waterfront park at the Yards.
The first phase, which is expected to begin construction in the next three months and be completed by mid-2010, is the basic layout of the park and the boardwalks. The second phase comprises 55,000 square feet of retail in the to-be-rehabbed Lumber Storage Shed and two new buildings, as well as a 60-foot-tall "visual marker" (seen at left) just to the southwest of the shed. (The third phase will be the piers and marina.) I was dreading coming home to describe these latest plans with no renderings to accompany my ramblings, but then I found the National Capital Planning Commission has done all my work for me, thanks to these phase 2 designs being in front of the commission at their meeting this Thursday (and for which the NCPC staff has recommended approval). You can see all of the drawings presented to the ANC in this NCPC document, along with a lot of description of the designs, but I'll hit some highlights.
The "light tower," designed by James Carpenter Design Associates, is made up of stainless steel prisms that reflect light during the day and will be subtly illuminated at night. The top is actually 70 feet from the top of the water, but 10 feet of that is the boardwalk; the structure itself is only 60 feet high.
The storage shed, as I've mentioned in the past, will lose its faaaahbulous salmon-colored corregated skin and will be enclosed with non-reflective glass. The other two buildings (currently given the wonderfully descriptive monikers of P2A and P2B) will also be mainly glass structures. There will be a restaurant court in front of the center building, overlooking the area of the park that steps down toward the waterfront. (A drawing of the three buildings' southern facades is here; a larger version of the rendering at right showing how the buildings are not at all dominant when viewed from the waterfront is here. See the NCPC document for additional views.)
The questions from the ANC commissioners included whether this public park financed by public dollars and owned by the city would be open to the public, whether there would be preferences for ANC 6D-based businesses for the retail spaces and the six kiosks planned near the light tower, and if there would be any city-controlled vending spaces in the park.
The designs will be presented to the Zoning Commission on March 2 (there are also some exceptions and/or variances being requested). The ANC will presumably be voting on whether or not to support the project at its Feb. 9 meeting.

Special ANC 6D Presentation Meeting on Feb. 2
Jan 27, 2009 7:45 PM
With developers of three large projects needing to make presentations, ANC 6D has decided to have a separate presentation meeting on Feb. 2 in advance of its Feb. 9 monthly business meeting. And all three are Near Southeast spectaculars:
* The Housing Authority will be there to talk about the various modifications it's seeking to the Capper PUD, in advance of its March 19 Zoning Commission hearing;
* DDOT will be making a presentation on the final South Capitol Street Environmental Impact Statement (this includes the plans for the new Douglass Bridge), which I wrote about a few weeks back; and
* Forest City will be making a presentation about the park at the Yards (I believe these are the designs for Phase II, which include the various pavilions and the docks and marinas). The National Capital Planning Commission will be taking a look at Yards designs at their Feb. 5 meeting, and the Zoning Commission hearing on the park's second phase is scheduled for March 2.
The meeting is at the ANC 6D offices on the second floor of 1501 Half Street, SW, at 7 pm.

Lots of Little Items (Real Life Still Intervenes): Plaza on K Renderings, Barracks Row, More
Jan 14, 2009 2:38 PM
Still knee-deep in inauguration craziness in real life, so can't devote much time to Hood things these days. Here's some quick bullet items, which at least I've managed to Twitter over the past few days so that I'm not completely shirking my responsibilities. (Don't forget that these Tweets get displayed at the upper right of the JDLand home page, if you just want to check them every so often.)
* I've received some swell new renderings of the Plaza on K office/retail project at First and K. The official web site also now has a whole lot of detailed information as well. Transwestern announced last week that they have officially begun marketing the project, and that the two buildings along First Street--88 K and 77 I--would make up the first phase. There's also a 10,000-square-foot public plaza at First and K that would be surrounded by ground-floor retail. It also is "designed to LEED Gold standards." See the above links for additional details. No timeline for the start of the first phase--I'm guessing they're not building on spec in this environment.
* The final Connect Barracks Row report has been posted; this was the study by University of Maryland students on how to reconfigure the southern end of Eighth Street below the freeway to better connect it with its neighbors to the north.
* I mentioned the other day that none of the *hundreds* of Near Southeast bars would be taking advantage of the special Inauguration extended hours, but I was incorrect. A lot of people (like me!) probably don't know that the "Bachelor's Mill/Back Door Pub" at 1104 Eighth Street SE in the block north of the Navy Yard even exists (even though their web site lists it as "The District's oldest and largest entertainment complex exclusively dedicated to the gay and lesbian communities"), but they're on the list of approved late-hours venues.
* A resident reports that last two little buildings standing on the 1345 South Capitol footprint have been demolished in the past few days. But no word on whether this means Camden is starting to move forward on this apartment project.
* I failed again, and couldn't make the ANC 6B meeting on Tuesday night. But I'm hoping that the update on the South Capitol Street Final EIS--my main reason for going--will be done for ANC 6D next month.
* Every year I've celebrated on January 20 the anniversary of my starting to track the goings-on in Near Southeast (Jan. 20, 2003 was the first day I went out to take photos, which I then posted on my web site). The past few years I've marked it by posting my annual State of the Hood roundup. However, this year, given that the lead-up to January 20 is going to be just a touch busy, I'm guessing I'll miss my self-imposed deadline by a few days. Waaah!

Akridge Gets ANC Backing for Half Street
Jan 13, 2009 9:38 AM
I was unfortunately unable to get to Monday night's ANC 6D meeting, thanks to an avalanche of Inauguration-related work at my real job that couldn't wait, plus there was the arrival yesterday afternoon of my brother's third child, Teddy. (And if you think you've got it bad over the next week, light a candle for him--he's Washington correspondent for the Cox Radio Network, and has to cover all of the inauguration while tending to a newborn and two other kids under the age of five who will be wondering what that squirming, crying package is that arrived at the house.)
Anyway, I've been able to find out that the ANC gave its support to Akridge's planned 700,000-sq-ft mixed-use project on Half Street between M and N, subject to the finalization of the community benefits package. I wrote a long entry after last month's ANC meeting describing Akridge's designs for the project, if you want all the details. I hope to get renderings within the next few weeks, in advance of the January 29 Capitol Gateway Overlay Review.
I hope to find out soon whether the illustrious Capitol Quarter trash enclosures discussions have been brought to a close.
(And I hope to make it to tonight's ANC 6B meeting, which will have a briefing on the South Capitol Street EIS. But only if work doesn't intervene again.)

New Douglass Bridge: Arched Bascule-Riffic!
Jan 9, 2009 11:14 AM
On January 7, the city and federal agencies working on the various Anacostia Waterfront projects held their first "Interagency Coordinating Council" briefing of 2009, and were kind enough to post the PowerPoint slides (28 MB!) at theanacostiawaterfront.com. A number of Near Southeast projects are part of this domain, including South Capitol Street, the Frederick Douglass Bridge, and the 11th Street Bridges. Let's start with South Capitol Street, where the final designs for the reconfiguration of South Capitol Street (under the South Capitol Street EIS) appear to have been chosen (the "Final EIS Preferred Alternative"):
* The top headline is that the new Douglass Bridge is apparently going to be an arched bascule design (like the Memorial Bridge), with an opening span to allow for larger vessels to sail through.
* There will be a large traffic oval at the foot of the new bridge (which will be located to the south of the current bridge), reshaping the intersection of South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue. (The ballpark's Home Plate Gate and entrance promenade will be the northeast edge of the oval.)
* The intersection of South Capitol Street and M Street will become an at-grade intersection (no more underpass for through traffic).
* There will be modifications to South Capitol's interchange with the SE/SW Freeway. They aren't specified in this document, but based on my previous readings of the Draft EIS, I believe the final design will remove the existing ramp that begins at I Street with an at-grade intersection underneath the freeway that would have two left-turn lanes to a new ramp. With the removal of the existing ramp to I-395, the intersection at South Capitol and I would also be reconfigured.
* The northern section of South Capitol Street will match the reconfigured portion between N Street and Potomac Avenue, as a six-lane boulevard with a median and wide sidewalks.
* They expect to get a Record of Decision on the Final EIS from the Feds this fall. There's nothing in this document about a start date.
(Hopefully I'll find out more about the final EIS at Tuesday's ANC 6B meeting, so look for additional details on all of this in the coming days.)
As for the 11th Street Bridges, the file says that a demolition contract will be awarded this month for the decommissioned ramps to and from RFK, with the work expected to take place this spring. As for the big work to reconstruct the bridges, the city expects to choose a design/build team and have a contract with them by June 1, with the entire project slated to be completed by the end of 2013.
The PDF also has quick updates on the Anacostia Streetcar Project, the MLK Great Streets Initiative, the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, the Parkside Pedestrian Bridge in Ward 7, and a new traffic circle at Pennsylvania and Potomac avenues. It's also got some good general bullet points on the South Capitol and 11th Street projects if you haven't been following up to now. I just hope you have a high-speed connection to download the entire 28-MB file. Otherwise, go get some lunch.
UPDATE: I've taken a little time to give both my South Capitol Street and Douglass Bridge pages a makeover with the new information (and boy, they needed it)--there's now some graphics pinched from the Draft EIS that do a better job explaining what the future plans are. I'd also suggest reading the executive summary of the 2008 Draft EIS, with the knowledge that most of the Design Alternative #2 options apparently have been chosen for the final design. It's a fair amount of detail, but worth it if you want to know how the project has reached its current state, and what's coming in the future. As I said, more to come as the city briefs neighborhoods and groups on the final EIS.

New Douglass Bridge Design - Coming Soon? (Post on Upcoming Meetings)
Jan 5, 2009 8:38 PM
New Year, New Meetings:
* ANC 6B (mostly Capitol Hill, but also including the Eighth Street area of Near Southeast) has posted its January 13 meeting agenda, and one of the items on it is "South Capitol Street Draft Environmental Impact Statement." This draft EIS, which envisions substantial changes to the section of South Capitol Street from the Southeast Freeway across the Douglass Bridge to Firth Sterling Avenue, was released last year, and at December's Anacostia Waterfront Fair it was announced that the final EIS is expected to come this spring.
It may not sound like much to get excited about, but one of the cornerstones of the final EIS should be the unveiling of the chosen design for the new Douglass Bridge. I wrote a long entry about the Draft EIS when it was released, and on my Douglass Bridge page you can also see the four preliminary designs. (And you can also relive 2007's Extreme Makeover!) Feel free to sound off in the comments on which bridge design you want--but, please, no wagering.
Also on ANC 6B's agenda is "ZC # 03-12I/03-13I, Modification to the Arthur Capper Carrollsburg PUD," which I imagine is the series of deadline extensions and other zoning items that I've previously written about. (UPDATE: This has apparently been removed from the 6B agenda, at the Housing Authority's request.)
This meeting is at the Old Naval Hospital, 921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, at 7 pm.
* ANC 6D's monthly meeting will be on the previous night, Jan. 12, at St. Augustine's Church at 6th and M Streets, SW. No agenda yet posted. (6B usually wins this race by a country mile.)
* This Thursday (Jan. 8), Metro's Customer Service, Safety and Operations Committee will be voting on whether to authorize a mid-February hearing on the discontinuation of the N22 bus, which runs between the Union Station, Eastern Market, and the Navy Yard subway stations and which is expected to be replaced by DC Circulator route. I'm not sure why this is on the agenda again--my understanding was that they approved it in December, as did the full board. Read my previous posts with more detail on this change here and here.

News and Notes from the BID Annual Meeting
Dec 18, 2008 3:53 PM
Today the Capitol Riverfront BID held its first annual meeting luncheon, on the seventh floor of the all-but-completed 100 M Street, showcasing great views of Nationals Park and of M Street (though the gray skies didn't make for good picture-taking). I didn't take copious notes, but here are a few items of note that I Twittered in between bites of chicken and a key lime tart for dessert:
* It's confirmed that Artomatic will be held in Near Southeast in May and June of 2009.
* The opening date for Diamond Teague Park continues to be set at March of '09. However, the BID's executive director said that Canal Park would be coming "in late 2010."
* The Capitol Riverfront area (which is a bit larger than my Near Southeast domain, since it also includes Buzzard Point) now has 1,100 residents.
Hopefully they'll be posting the spiffy Annual Report online, since it gives a lot of detail about development in the Capitol Riverfront area and the work that the BID does to promote and "brand" the neighborhood. (Though JDLand readers will be familiar with most of it already.) Best stat? The BID's Clean and Safe team members collected 3,600 bags of trash this year.
The keynote address was given by Greg Leisch of Delta Associates, and provided a flurry of statistics about the residential and commercial office space markets in DC compared to the rest of the country (in short: It Could Be Worse). Leisch said that he felt that the Capitol Riverfront area is well-positioned to benefit from the recovery that's expected to begin in late 2009/early 2010, in much the same way that the East End did after the 1990-91 recession and the Capitol Hill submarket did after the 2001-2002 recession. He also said that only about 1,600 new condos will have been sold across the Metro area in 2008. Ouch. You can see some of the stats from this presentation on the Delta web site.
UPDATE: From the BID, here's the Annual Report, and Greg Leisch's presentation.

First Tidbits on Akridge's 25 M Project at Half Street
Dec 9, 2008 2:00 PM
It's been more than a year since WMATA first awarded the Southeastern Bus Garage property at Half and M to Akridge (and almost six months since the suit brought by Monument Realty over the bidding process was settled), and at Monday night's ANC 6D meeting there was a first public peek at the designs for this central site being called 25 M Street, on the block just north of Nationals Park bounded by Half, M, N, and Van. And clearly Akridge is taking this project very seriously, as they arrived at the meeting with an army of people, including heavy-hitter architects Bill Hellmuth of HOK (who designed the office portion), Philip Esocoff of Esocoff and Associates (designers of the residential portion), and Jon Eisen of StreetSense (the group working on the retail).
I don't have any renderings yet (hope to within a month or so), but the ones displayed showed buildings with what Hellmuth described as "much more active facades" that "are not like a K Street monolith." There will be three buildings: two office buildings totaling 363,000 square feet, and a 276-unit residential building at N Street with roof terraces from which residents can look into the ballpark and watch the games. The facades step "out" and "in" (far enough in some places to require a zoning special exception), including some spots in the M Street office building that will allow tenants to look south into the ballpark, too. The general feel is not unlike the Monument designs for the other side of Half. (And, with a raze permit already requested, none of this incorporates the existing bus garage building.)
There will also be 56,000 square feet of retail, with a mix of one-, two-, and 2 1/2-story spaces occupying 69 percent of the ground floor, which will require a special exception from the Capitol Gateway Zoning Overlay's requirement of 75 percent. They are expecting to have national retailers for the spaces along Half Street, but are planning to look for smaller local "service" retailers for the additional space along Van Street.
They are also creating what they call the "Via," a pedestrian-only "street" that runs from Half to Van between the two office buildings at the same spot in their block as "Monument Street" will be across the way (just south of 55 M). They are envisioning a "one-of-a-kind" DC destination: a marketplace with stalls and local vendors, where you could get fresh food, "quick-bite" carry-out, etc. (They mentioned Pittsburgh as an example, and I'm assuming they're referencing the Strip District.) The renderings also showed two glass-enclosed suspended walkways above the Via to connect the two office buildings.
The entire project will be LEED certified (as is now required in DC), though they aren't sure yet what level they'll be shooting for ("the goal is to get as high as we can"). Hellmuth said that HOK is not doing a single building in DC right now that isn't at least LEED Silver, and that all major tenants want to be in LEED buildings.
I didn't get the total number of underground parking spaces, but the residential will have three spaces for every four units. (Monument's project across the street, of similar size, would eventually have about 700 spaces.)
Akridge indicated that their "ideal start date" is January 2010, with construction of the entire 700,000-sq-ft project estimated at 22 months. But there is no firm commitment that it will start at that time (thanks to the Current Economic Situation), plus it could end up being built in phases.
The ANC commissioners seemed receptive to the plans (Bob Siegel said that it gave him a "nice, warm feeling"), though with the usual questions about employment for local residents and LSDBE considerations, and concerns about residents and tenants having to work around ballpark traffic.
Akridge was officially at the ANC to request its support for both the zoning overlay review and the special exceptions being requested. While some commissioners were ready to vote to give support immediately, others weren't, and so after a number of differing motions that all failed it was decided that representatives of both sides would work together to discuss "issues" so that the ANC can vote on the project at its Jan. 12 meeting. The Zoning Overlay Review hearing is on Jan. 29.
And, not that there's much to see yet, but I do know have an Akridge/25 M project page, mainly with views of the bus garage from various angles.

Mini-Roundup: Metro Station Entrance Closed, Zoning News, Taxation w/out Representation Street Hearing
Nov 16, 2008 5:42 PM
A bunch of items to start the week with:
* Remember that the west entrance to the Navy Yard Metro station at Half and M is closed every evening this week from 8 pm until closing, thanks to work on 55 M Street.
* On Monday (Nov. 13), the Zoning Commission gave final approval to moving 225 Virginia Avenue into the Capitol South Receiving Zone, which will allow any construction on the block to have greater height and density than the 6.5 FAR/90-ft-height currently allowed. This was approved with two caveats: that there is Zoning Commission review of the design of the portions of a building proposed to rise higher than 90 feet to confirm that the building will be sufficiently setback from the eastern building face, and that any structure will provide a suitable northern focal point for the Canal Blocks Park. Read my entry from the hearing a few weeks ago for more information.
* On Nov. 24 at 2 pm, the city council will be having a hearing about B17-0909, the "Taxation Without Representation Street Renaming Act of 2008," which would "designate the portion of South Capitol Street, SE that intersects with N Street SE and Potomac Avenue SE as 'Taxation Without Representation Street, SE." It just so happens that this is the portion of South Capitol Street that runs alongside Nationals Park, where the council was thwarted in earlier attempts to install an electronic tote board showing the federal taxes that DC residents pay while still having no voting representation in the US Congress.
* Tommy Wells is taking nominations for the Second Annual Livable, Walkable Awards.
* For weeks I've been meaning to post that Nationals Park made the list of Travel and Leisure Magazine's "Must-See Green American Landmarks," thanks to being the first LEED-certified professional sports facility.

Mayor Talks About Progress Along the Anacostia; Status Updates on Parks, Bridges, and the River
Nov 14, 2008 2:56 PM
This morning Mayor Fenty held a press conference at Nationals Park with various city officials to highlight tomorrow's Anacostia Waterfront Information Fair, and also talk up the recent progress and near-term next steps for the more than $8 billion worth of economic development, transportation, and infrastructure projects in the pipeline along the Anacostia River (not only in Near Southeast, but from the Southwest Waterfront all the way up past RFK).
Having sworn off taking any more photos of The Mayor at the Microphone (unless he shows up in a Hawaiian shirt and swimtrunks or something), I decided to record the 20-minute event instead, so that the five or six of you interested in hearing the remarks can do so. (It's a 2.6-mb MP3 file; the first few seconds are rough, but then it settles in.)
If you listen, you'll hear how the mayor managed to cajole the notoriously camera-shy Stan Kasten into saying a few words about what's happening along the river and in the neighborhood from the point of view of the area's largest tenant. Deputy Mayor Neil Albert, DDOT Director Frank Seales, Office of Planning head Harriet Tregoning, and the director of the city's Office of the Environment George Hawkins spoke as well. There was some discussion throughout (and especially at the end) about how the slowing economy might be impacting both the city's plans and developers' projects, but the mayor remains optimistic.
The press release from the mayor's office sums up the main points of today's event, but here's the Near Southeast-specific highlights from both the remarks and some other chatter of the day. First up, news of the three big parks:
The city "will break ground at Diamond Teague Park by the end of 2008." (And the guide for tomorrow's fair says that the park will be completed in spring 2009, which is the same date we've been hearing for a while.) The mayor also touted the operating agreement with Forest City Washington to build and maintain the $42 million, 5-acre Park at the Yards (but you knew about this already), as well as the the agreement with the Canal Park Development Corp. to build the $13.1 million, three-block-long park. (No mention of school buses.)
Then there's the bridges: Reconstruction of the 11th Street Bridges is scheduled to begin in mid-2009. (The shortlist of firms vying for the design-build contract was announced a few weeks ago.) Whether we actually see heavy equipment moving in mid-2009, or whether this just marks the first part of the design-build project is not quite clear. I was also told that the contract to demolish the flyover ramps to and from RFK could be completed soon, and that demolition would happen not long after the contract is signed.
Plus, the final Environmental Impact Statement for South Capitol Street and the Douglass Bridge is expected in spring 2009; that's when we'll hear which of the four bridge designs has been chosen.
As for the river itself, the city has started real-time water quality monitoring, updated automatically online 24 hours a day. There's also now the Anacostia 2032 Plan "to make the Anacostia River boatable, swimmable, and fishable in 25 years." And a Green Summer Jobs Corps was created earlier this year to "engage youth in the cleaning and greening of District neighborhoods and parks and to introduce them to green-collar job opportunities."
Finally, a planning process is underway to revamp Boathouse Row, the stretch of boat clubs along the Anacostia between 11th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. (I took a bunch of photos near the boathouses a few months back, and have been lazy about ever getting them posted, though you can see a few boathouse-free shots of the environs here and here.)
There's more about projects elsewhere along the Anacostia, but other bloggers get to cover those. Will update this post if there's any media coverage from today's event, and will have a fresh post on Saturday after the fair. I imagine I'll Twitter a bit from those festivities (like I did from today's); remember that if you aren't a Twitter-er, you can read my tweets on the JDLand homepage--check 'em out frequently, because I do sometimes post news there first, before I write full blog entries.
SATURDAY FAIR UPDATE: They're now going to be providing free shuttle bus service from the New Jersey & M Metro entrance to/from the ballpark, from 12:30 pm to 5:15 pm. (After they heard somewhere that the Half and M subway entrance is going to be closed on Saturday.)

Just Get Out and Vote (Updated with ANC Result)
Nov 4, 2008 8:20 AM
Almost nothing from me today--other than to tell you to go and vote, dammit! You can find out what you need to know about many of the citywide races at other sources--the only Near Southeast-only race is for ANC 6D07 commissioner, where incumbent Robert Siegel is running against Geoffrey Kreiss. (I'll link again to this Hill Rag piece that looks at both candidates.) I'll post the winner as soon as I find out, but otherwise I'm buried in my real job and then another event through the end of the week. Next week, life should finally start returning to normal.
UPDATE: A very late night here at work (2:25 am), but at least I can post the final result for ANC 6D07: Bob Siegel retained his seat, 193-77 (with 7 write-ins).
Comments (0)
More posts:

Semi Off-Topic: 1960s Home Movies of Capitol Hill (and Southwest)
Nov 2, 2008 6:16 PM
(A little diversion while everyone's waiting for Tuesday.) Those few hardy souls who've scrolled down on my 225 Virginia page may recognize the photo at left, which is a picture of my brother on the swingset in Garfield Park in 1964, with 225 Virginia (then the Washington Star building) at rear, and with the Southeast Freeway under construction. In playing with the family movies this weekend (having gotten them transferred to DV tapes from Super 8 film), I found about a minute of footage from that same day, briefly showing the Star Plant along with the rest of Garfield Park.
This led me to a few other clips I think some DC readers might get a kick out of--they're not of Near Southeast, but various streetscapes and parks pretty close by, on the south side of Capitol Hill. Here's three minutes showing both the 100 block of E Street, SE (where we lived) and Marion Park at Fourth and E in 1966 or 1967. You can clearly make out "Turtle Park" as well as the 1D1 police station at Fifth and E in the background. (It's *possible* that the E Street footage is from the January 1966 blizzard, but the Marion Park footage can't be from that storm, because the little blob in white is me, and I didn't come along until the summer of 1966. And yes, that makes me old.) Also note that at about the one-minute mark you see the original location of Weisfeld's Market at 131 E, before it moved to Fourth and E (and eventually became the Capitol Supreme Market).
Then there's my brother and I running around in Folger Park at Second and D on Easter, 1968. I like this footage because in the background is Brent Elementary at Third and North Carolina under construction, and a beautiful old school building on the same lot that's no longer there.
Finally, there's this clip from Second Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, in 1964, which back then was not the Madison Annex of the Library of Congress but was a wide-open park. This brief pan shows you the block where FedEx and Le Bon Cafe are now, along with the church at Second and C and the townhouses along there, around to the Cannon House Office Building, the Capitol and the Library of Congress. (Sorry the streaming quality isn't better.)
(These aren't *completely* outside of the JDLand mandate. They're befores, after all.)
UPDATE: And, amazingly, in my grandmother's home movies (which I've never seen before today), I found footage from 1969 of my parents playing tennis on the courts just south of the freeway on the west side of South Capitol, at I. A pretty neat (if brief) pan of the Southwest skyline (and the freeway, and the South Capitol ramp) from that spot.

Articles from November's Hill Rag
Oct 31, 2008 1:43 AM
A few items in the new issue of the Hill Rag might be of interest to Near Southeast denizens and aficionados:
* Columnist Peter Waldron looks at the few ANC commissioner races where there's actually a challenger, which includes Near Southeast's single member district (6D07), where longtime commissioner Bob Siegel is facing Capitol Hill Tower resident Geoffrey Kreiss. Some interesting background to be had on both candidates, if you're still needing to make a decision.
* There's a summary of the October ANC6D meeting, in case you found my lousy one wanting. (It also includes info on some of the Southwest-related items brought up.)
* An article called "Anacostia Waterfront: Where is the Environment Vision Now?" looks at the fate of the environmental vision for the Anacostia that was published by the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation shortly before its demise. This portion was eye-catching: "Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells 6 cites the 'inertia of bureaucracy' that the Fenty government allows with respect to the Anacostia environment. The stadium is the mayor's pride, but 'the failure of the Anacostia Trail network to be completed by this time leaves me disgusted,' Wells says. The river walk and trail limps along, and new park access is mostly on the drawing board. The Fenty administration has not made environment a priority. Wells argues, 'I don't see a financial component in the budget.' " The Wayback Machine has a copy of the draft standards.
Comments (0)
More posts:

Tiny Items to Mask the Reality That I Have No News
Sep 24, 2008 3:37 PM
* The Congress for the New Urbanism has named the 11th Street Bridges (along with the Southeast Freeway) to its Freeways Without Futures list, recognizing the top 10 locations in the U.S. "where the opportunity is greatest to stimulate valuable revitalization by replacing aging urban highways with boulevards and other cost-saving urban alternatives." It mentions the opposition of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society to the plans to reconstruct the 11th Street Bridges, scheduled to start next year.
* A few folks wrote in to mention that there's a new sign up advertising the planned office building at 1111 New Jersey. Despite some building permits recently in the pipeline, developer Donohoe told me a few weeks ago that no announcement of a groundbreaking is imminent.
* I seem to always manage to be out of town during WalkingTown DC, and so missed last weekend's jaunt around the "Capitol Riverfront." Blogger fourthandeye from The Triangle was there, however, and gives a nice overview via eyes that don't look at these streets every day.
* The weather forecast does not look good for Thursday night's final home game of the season at Nationals Park.

End-of-Season Oktoberfest Party on Thursday
Sep 23, 2008 1:55 PM
From the Nats: "The Washington Nationals will host the Oktoberfest End-of-Season Party Presented by Hard Times Cafe and Budweiser American Ale on Thursday, September 25, prior to the final home game of the 2008 season. The party will take place on the Rooftop Party Deck, located on top of Nationals Park Garage B, from 5:00pm - 7:00pm. Tickets for the game and event may be purchased for $25 at nationals.com/Oktoberfest and include a Scoreboard Pavilion seat (Sections 240 - 243, normally $27) and admission to the event. Fans may enjoy complimentary food and drinks provided by Hard Times Cafe and Anheuser-Busch, music and dancing."
Comments (0)
More posts: Nationals Park

Advisory Neighborhood Comm. 6D07 Candidates; Primary Day in DC on Tuesday, Sept. 9
Sep 8, 2008 3:09 PM
Friday was the deadline for interested parties to file petitions to run for Advisory Neighborhood Commission seats, and, according to this list from the DC Board of Elections, longtime ANC 6D07 commissioner Bob Siegel is being challenged by Capitol Hill Tower resident Geoffrey Kreiss. ANC races will be on the Nov. 4 general election ballot, and if you haven't registered to vote for the general election, you have until October 6. The boundaries of 6D07 are pretty much all of Near Southeast between South Capitol and 11th Street, except for the portions north of M Street from Seventh Street east.
And, speaking of voting, tomorrow (Sept. 9) is primary day for DC council and congressional races. The Ward 6 seat is not on the slate this year, but at-large races are. Here's the primary's Voters Guide.
Comments (1)
More posts:

City Soliciting Statements of Qualifications for 11th Street Corridor Design-Build Project
Aug 30, 2008 10:23 AM
Not quite a month after sending out a request for expressions of interest, DDOT has now released the official Request for Qualifications for what is now being referred to as the 11th Street Corridor Design-Build Project, the heart of which is the reconstruction of the 11th Street Bridges. According to the press release:, DDOT will then create a short list of between two and five submitters, and will release the official Request for Proposals to just those entities. The procurement schedule says that the statements of qualifications are due by Sept. 29, with the shortlisters to be notified by October 10, and a final RFP then released by Dec. 1. The entire selection process, up to an including a contract, is targeted for completion by June 1, 2009. DDOT is shooting for completing the entire project by Dec. 31, 2013, with a budget of $260 million. (Mark your calendars--I have!) The new Anacostia Waterfront web site has more about the 11th Street Bridges project, and the other plans along the river from the Southwest Waterfront up to Kingman Island.
Comments (0)
More posts: 11th Street Bridges

Photos from Youth River Sports Day at the Boathouse
Aug 27, 2008 9:15 AM
Saturday was the Youth River Sports Day at the Anacostia Community Boathouse, and there was a good turnout of parents and kids learning how to row or paddle or just getting acquainted with the Anacostia River. I took a batch of photos, all from dry land. (If the captions have any incorrect terminology, let me know.)
The ACBA is going to have to temporarily relocate from this spot during the five-year reconstruction of the 11th Street Bridges. They may be moving a couple hundred feet upriver to a site owned by Washington Gas (as laid out in the final Environmental Impact Statement for the project), or they may end up on the eastern side of the river closer to the Sousa Bridge. They are working with DDOT and are hopeful they can get the plans straightened out before too much longer.

City Launches New Anacostia Waterfront Projects Web Site -- 11th Street Bridges Replacement Info
Aug 7, 2008 7:18 AM
On Wednesday DDOT announced a new web site, called Anacostia Waterfront: Realizing the Vision. It's billed as a "centralized location for updates about the Anacostia Waterfront, as well as project-specific information and links," though as of now the only detailed project information is for the plans to replace the 11th Street Bridges, there there are also links to the Anacostia Waterfront Framework Plan and the Comprehensive Plan.
The items on the 11th Street Bridges include those that I blogged about late last week, as the city starts to move forward to procure design/build services for the project. They've posted the presentation slides from Monday's informational meeting, which mention the goal of meeting or beating the construction completion date of Dec. 31, 2013 (mark your calendars). DDOT expects to release the Request for Qualifications on Aug. 15, followed by a Request for Proposals by the end of the year, with a contractor selection and agreement completed by June of 2009, so that work can begin soon after.
This new web site repeats what I saw on the 11th Street Bridges EIS web site, that the city "will remove the existing flyover ramps to RFK this summer," but doesn't have any additional details. (Summer does technically run until mid-September, I guess.)
Comments (0)
More posts: 11th Street Bridges

11th Street Bridges Replacement Moving Forward
Aug 1, 2008 12:57 PM
I'm a little late on this, but apparently on July 2 the "Record of Decision" was signed for the 11th Street Bridges replacement project--this is the official sign-off from the Federal Highway Administration on the selected design for the revamped bridges, with one eight-lane span carrying highway traffic and a second carrying "local" traffic (including perhaps light-rail, if it ever happens) between Anacostia and Near Southeast. There's a two-page FAQ about the project, if you don't feel like wandering through the entire Final Environmental Impact Statement to figure out what's going on. You can also read my entries from when the EIS was released last year for some summaries of how Near Southeast will be affected by the new configuration (or look at the low-rent graphic I created).
According to the ROD, DDOT will be paying the National Park Service just under $1 million for 1.5 acres of Anacostia Park that will be used as part of the bridge project, and will also be footing the bill for some other "mitigation measures" and "enhancements" spelled out in the ROD's Attachment A. Attachment C details how the Anacostia Community Boathouse Association's operations will be temporarily relocated during construction from the two brick buildings nestled between the bridge spans to a spot just a bit further northeast along the riverfront, in the 1200 block of Water Street, SE. Attachment D is a list of all the "environmental commitments" agreed to by DDOT to avoid, reduce, or mitigate various impacts of the project.
In the meantime, DDOT is soliciting Letters of Interest from those interested in doing the bridges's design/build, and is having an informational meeting on the project on Monday (Aug. 4). Letters of interest are due Aug. 13, and DDOT is expecting to release the Request for Qualifications in mid-August. They appear to be expecting to begin construction in 2009, with the project lasting five years. (I *swear* I read somewhere in all of this that they would plan to first build the new interchanges between the bridges and the Anacostia Freeway, but I'm now completely unable to find that verbage.)
The FAQ mentions that the existing flyover ramps to and from RFK (the ones that head east over M Street) are supposed to be demolished "this summer", but I've been unable to get any details from DDOT as to whether that's still happening. I'm also not sure whether that's part of the bigger plan (not technically part of the bridge replacement project) to completely do away with the current below-grade freeway to Pennsylvania Avenue and replace it with "Southeast Freeway Boulevard", running at-grade from 11th Street eastward. (Read the EIS for more on that.)
How much is it going to cost? The ROD says that a cost review meeting in December "indicated that the estimate was consistent with an 80th percentile probability that the year-of-expenditure project cost would not exceed 465 million dollars." Those of you well versed in bureaucracy-speak can translate that as necessary.

Summer Arrives: News Grinds to a Halt
Jul 16, 2008 9:21 AM
With the city council now almost in its summer recess until mid-September (though not before David Catania introduced legislation yesterday trying to raise the sales tax at Nationals Park in what appears to be an attempt to get back at the Lerners for withholding the rent), and with the Zoning Commission and most ANCs taking August off, the pace of bureaucratic-type news in these parts will be slow if not nonexistent for the next few weeks. We've got a Metro board meeting next week that might (or might not) be telling us the developer of the Navy Yard station's 14,000-sq-ft chiller plant site on the southwest corner of Half and L, but otherwise the calendar is all but empty until after Labor Day. (At least I can report that on Monday night ANC 6D voted 7-0 to approve a public space permit by 100 M Street to install sidewalks and city arborist-recommended willow oak and elm trees.)
That said, I should have some interesting items in the next few days, including hopefully an update about everyone's favorite What's the Deal With....? subject. And of course I'll have photo updates every few weeks, especially since it's expected that framing of the first Capitol Quarter townhouses will get underway by early August. But beyond that, expect the pace around here to be more leisurely during the dog days. As it should be!

At the Ballpark: Scoreboard Movies, Ladies' Clinic
Jun 25, 2008 9:35 AM
Some items on upcoming ballpark festivities that might be of interest:
* With thanks to reader JM for catching word of this at last Saturday's game, I've found out from the Nationals that they will be showing baseball-themed movies on the HD scoreboard after Saturday night games. The first one wlll be Rookie of the Year, this Saturday (June 28) after the Nats play the Orioles. There will also be another one (title yet to be announced) after the July 12 game against the Astros. More details on this should be forthcoming from the Nationals in the next few days.
* If you ladies want to learn the ins and outs of baseball, this event on Saturday June 28 at 10 am is for you: "The Washington Nationals will host their second annual Baseball 101 Clinic, an exclusive opportunity for women to learn hitting, pitching and fielding with Nationals coaches and players. Following the on-field portion of the event, attendees will enjoy a buffet lunch and a question and answer session moderated by Nationals sideline reporter Debbi Taylor. Felipe Lopez, Nationals second baseman, and his wife, Nationals First Lady Jenn Lopez, will address the women about what life is like for a family in the Major Leagues. Nationals Massage Therapist Tatiana Tchamouroff will also speak to the group about her position with the team and what her job entails. The cost of attending the day's event is $85. In addition to the clinic and luncheon, participants will receive a Baseball 101 t-shirt and two Mezzanine Level tickets to that evening's game against the Baltimore Orioles at 7:10pm. Interested parties may register in advance via the Community Page at nationals.com Walk-up registration is available beginning at 9:00am on Saturday at the Center Field Gate and requires payment in full."
* Repeating an item buried in yesterday morning's update: If you can get your hands on a copy of the Southwester (the neighborhood newspaper of Southwest), there's a coupon for $3 off any $10 or higher ticket at the ballpark on "Neighborhood Nights" (i.e., every Friday night home game).
* And, while I was writing this entry, word arrived from the Nationals that they have "partnered with the Spanish Beisbol Network to launch Spanish radio broadcasts of all Nationals games. The broadcast will debut on WZHF 1390AM on Friday, June 27, when the Nationals face the Baltimore Orioles at 7:35pm." A Spanish language version of the official team web site, losnacionales.com, launched in April.
Comments (2)
More posts: Nationals Park

Council Hearing Friday Includes 11th Street Bridges
Apr 17, 2008 2:03 PM
On Friday (April 18) at 3 pm, the city council's Committee on Public Works and the Environment will be having the "initial segment" of the hearing on DDOT's proposed FY09 budget. And, quoting from the hearing announcement: "The initial segment of this hearing will focus on the proposed construction of new 11th Street Bridges. A project currently budgeted at $450 million."
I haven't quite been able to get an answer as to whether this means that some portion of the project will begin next year--a contact at DDOT told me that they will "begin work on the ramps to RFK late this summer/fall" and that "removal of these ramps was recommended in the Middle Anacostia Crossings Transportation Study." That *sounds* like they're demolishing those ramps later this year (which, you can see in the EIS Preferred Alternative are indeed slated to be removed, though not technically as part of the 11th Street Bridges project), but until I see it specifically announced (or mentioned in tomorrow's hearing), I hesitate to say that's actually what's about to happen. If anyone out there has insight..... I won't be able to watch the hearing right away, but will try to get to it within a few days.
Comments (2)
More posts: 11th Street Bridges

Post-Mortems on First Weeknight Ballgame
Apr 7, 2008 10:42 PM
(Decided to move this to its own entry.) As expected, it wasn't anywhere close to a full house at Nationals Park tonight. I wandered over to South Capitol Street at about 6:30 and traffic wasn't even backed all the way up the exit ramp from the freeway, and M Street was all but empty. The T and U lots at Capper didn't seem to get more than about 30 cars between the two of them, though the E, F, J, K, and L lots were pretty full. And I see that the garage at 80 M Street, which is not an official Nats lot, is offering cash parking for $20. (Looked like the Positive Nature folks on New Jersey Avenue are running a cash lot, too?) Lots of people coming out of the Navy Yard station at Half and M at 6:30ish--if you arrived that way and walked to the Center Field Gate, you were greeted by the Budweiser Clydesdales. Inside the park, lines were shorter (since there were fewer people) but there's definitely still grumbling about the speed of service.
What was your experience tonight, either getting to and from the park or inside?
As for media reports, the Post paints a similar picture to what I saw, that the evening went smoothly. WJLA focuses on the glitchy scoreboard, apparently not finding anything else of note to report from the evening. Announced paid attendance was 20,487, says AP, noting that Metro says they noticed almost no difference from a normal rush hour. Another AP story talks about the scoreboard problems and the fact that the ballpark was less than half full. Next stop, Wednesday's triple threat with the Nats, the Wizards, and DC United all in action at the same time. And with warmer weather on the way, finally.
UPDATE: A few more media reports: WJLA reports on overzealous towing (and note the interesting use of an un-cleaned-up quote from an angry resident). The Examiner focuses on Metro having little trouble.

Monday Meetings; Parking Signs; Birds-Eye View
Mar 9, 2008 3:18 PM
* I mentioned this a few days back, but why not pass along another reminder that Monday at 7 pm is the ANC 6D monthly meeting, with presentations and votes on 401 M Street, the ballpark traffic management plan, and the South Capitol Street Draft EIS, plus a briefing by the Nats on the Opening Day "Fan Fest" activities. To get in on the fun, go to St. Augustine's Episcopal Church at 6th and M St., SW, starting at 7 pm.
* If the ANC isn't your bag, you can watch the Zoning Commission take up again the Capitol Gateway Overlay Review for Donohoe's planned office building at 1111 New Jersey. It's a continuation of the last hearing, which revolved mostly around whether the garage access would be from New Jersey or from the alley. The hearing starts at 6:00 pm, and 1111 is also on the public meeting agenda at 6:30 pm, which perhaps is a display of optimism that Donohoe and DDOT will have the garage issue straightened out and the review ruling can be made. Watch the webcast, if you're so inclined. (I'm going to be missing both of these meetings, so it might be a few days before I can get the scoop on them.)
* The new Enhanced Residential Parking Permit signs, which allow non-Zone 6 parking only on one side of the street in certain areas near the ballpark, continue to get installed. They came to my street north of the freeway within the past day or so.
* I thought I did good with last week's find of a November 2006 satellite photo of the neighborhood, but reader JK has upped the ante with the "Bird's-Eye View" option at Microsoft Live Search, showing not-real-high-up images from March 2007. But be careful when you're scrolling around--if you go to fast, the images flip back to shots from early 2003. (Which is festive in its own fun-house kind of way.)

Tidbits: Permits, Yards Names, No SE Freeway?, South Cap Tunnel, 55 M Web Cam, A New Crusade
Mar 8, 2008 10:48 AM
Just a bunch of tiny items worth highlighting on a dreary Saturday (no new photos today in this muck):
* A building permit has been approved to build a surface parking lot along First Street between M and N, where Normandie Liquors and its brethren were demolished last month. And the Archdiocese of Washington has applied for a public space permit for the 1300 block of First Street, SE--does the Popemobile need special parking permits?
* As plans at The Yards continue to move forward, there's now official names for the first-phase projects. Say hello to The Boilermaker Shop, The Pattern Shop Lofts, and Factory 202. (And 401 M and 400 Tingey, but those aren't anywhere near as catchy.)
* The 55 M web cam is no longer available to the public. Perhaps they want the Opening Day vista to be a big surprise. Or they don't want people watching the last-minute work on the Navy Yard Metro station. (I wonder if the gas main hit on Thursday was caught by this camera.)
* Some commenters are discussing the idea that's been floated of someday demolishing the Southeast-Southwest Freeway. Getting rid of this Berlin Wall that separates Capitol Hill and Near Southeast (and splits Southwest) was brought up in the National Capital Planning Commission's 1997 Extending the Legacy framework plan, if you want to see it actually on paper. (Apparently an updated NCPC framework plan is scheduled to come out this spring, which looks like it continues to have Virginia Avenue marked where the freeway currently is.) As to whether I'll see this done in my lifetime, well, it would be a nice surprise.
If you really want to go high-concept, you can read DDOT's 2003 South Capitol Street Gateway and Improvement Study to see their ideas for a tunnel that would link I-295 and the SE/SW Freeway for through traffic, leaving South Capitol Street to become the grand urban gateway boulevard planners envision. At Wednesday's public meeting on the South Capitol Street Draft Environmental Impact Statement, DDOT said that the tunnel isn't totally off the table, but they decided that a new Douglass Bridge and other South Capitol Street improvements could move forward separately. But could a tunnel still work if the dream of dismantling the SE/SW Freeway were realized?
* I've tried to remain (mostly) unopinionated on various projects during the five years I've run this site. But sometimes, it's necessary to take a stand, to come out from behind the cloak of neutrality and crusade for what you believe in. So I'm going to take advantage of this bully pulpit and fight for one thing: Arched Bascule!

Hearings on First New Buildings at the Yards; Ballpark and South Capitol EIS Also on ANC 6D Agenda
Mar 7, 2008 8:49 AM
Beginning the trek through the approvals process are the first new-construction buildings planned for The Yards--a 320,000-square-foot office building at 401 M Street and a 170ish-unit apartment building to its south at 400 Tingey Street. They would both have ground-floor retail, but it's what's planned for 401 M that will probably have everyone's attention, because a grocery store is proposed for that space, just inside the historic wall and sentry tower on the southeast corner of Fourth and M. (No, which grocery store it could be hasn't been announced yet.) Recent documents have said that 401 M could begin construction in late 2008, with delivery in 2010; the residential building's start depends on "market conditions." (Uh-oh.) A few more early renderings are on my 401 M/400 Tingey page. (See my Yards First Phase page for information on the retail and residential projects that are getting underway this year.)
There's a Zoning Commission Southeast Federal Center Overlay Review of the plans scheduled for April 17, and ANC 6D will be voting on whether to support the project at its March 10 meeting.
Also at Monday's ANC 6D meeting will be presentations and votes on plans for the Opening Day Fan Fest at the ballpark, the ballpark Transportation and Residential Curbside Management Plan (formerly known as the TOPP), and the South Capitol Street Draft Environmental Impact Statement. I attended Wednesday night's public meeting on the Draft EIS, and while the slides from the meeting haven't yet been posted on its web site, the DEIS's executive summary is a good substitute for the information that was available at the meeting--you can read my summary of the plans as well. There wasn't much public comment (maybe seven or eight speakers), and the concerns seemed to be more about making sure DDOT does a good job of handling the inconveniences and resident issues as a result of the planned changes, rather than any real opposition to the plans themselves. The public comment period ends March 31, and the Final EIS is expected to come out late this year.
Alas, I won't be able to attend this ANC meeting that's so chock full of Near Southeast goodness. But I'm guessing that spending that evening watching the Roger Federer-Pete Sampras exhibition at Madison Square Garden might be a bit more enjoyable.

Monday Morning Roundup and Reminders
Mar 3, 2008 11:01 AM
* The tarp is coming off the field today--look at that pretty turf! It's probably being done today because Tuesday the Nats are holding a ceremony to install home plate and officially unveil the HD scoreboard (not open to the public).
* The Examiner reports that Metro is tamping down expectations a bit for performance along the Green line for weeknight ballgames: "The transit agency expects the number of riders on the Green Line, which serves the Navy Yard station near the ballpark, to more than triple on game days. But Metro can't add more cars to that section of the system during the week because all of its 820 railcars are committed to rush hour service, officials said." So, perhaps that notion of walking from Capitol South is looking more attractive--I've added to my Take Metro! page a map of the JDLand Suggested Route between Capitol South and the stadium, along with a few photos showing the current state of New Jersey Avenue (which certainly isn't as scary as it used to be).
And, Tuesday is just chock full of Near Southeast-related activities. In addition to the ceremony mentioned above, there's also these items to remember:
* Single-game ticket sales open at 9 am (yes, including Opening Day).
* The City Council will be meeting at 10 am for its monthly legislative meeting, and the agenda includes emergency legislation to enact the "Performance Parking Pilot Zone Emergency Act of 2008", B17-0644, the "Ballpark Safety Emergency Amendment Act of 2008", and B17-0608, the "Vending Regulation Emergency Act of 2008". It's in Room 500 of the Wilson Building, beginning at 10 am, and will be broadcast on DC cable 13 and live webcast.
* The first of two public meetings on the South Capitol Street Draft Environmental Impact Statement is at 6:30 pm at Birney Elementary School, 2501 Martin Luther King Jr., Ave., SE, from 6:30-8:30 pm. The second one is Wednesday night (March 5) at Amidon Elementary School, 401 I St., SW, also from 6:30-8:30 pm.

Roundtable on Traffic Operations and Parking Tonight
Feb 28, 2008 10:22 AM
Passing along a reminder, via my Ballpark and Beyond column in today's District Extra of the Post: "A roundtable by two D.C. Council committees on the city's plans for traffic and parking at Nationals Park begins at 6 tonight in Room 120 of the Wilson Building. Considering that the last hearing on stadium-related parking issues lasted until almost midnight, you might prefer to watch tonight's session in the comfort of your home, where you'll have access to your kitchen cabinets and coffee maker. The roundtable can be seen on Channel 13 on D.C. cable systems or on the Web."
I won't be able to watch it live, but hopefully I can post a summary of it before too long, unless the current focus on the stadium by the local media takes care of it for me. If so, my feelings wouldn't be hurt. Really. It's all yours.
I should mention here that what's long been known as the Draft Transportation Operations and Parking Plan (TOPP) is now apparently the final version of how traffic is going to be handled, at least until they see how it works on Opening Day and then start tweaking it (which DDOT and other agencies fully expect to be the case). So if you want to know the nitty-gritty of traffic and pedestrian flow, the TOPP is the place to look. And I imagine the residents testifying at tonight's roundtable might have an issue or two with it.
Other items in today's column were the latest tidbits on Diamond Teague Park, a reminder of the meetings next week on the South Capitol Street Draft Environmental Impact Statement, and photos of the new freeway and bike route signage pointing to the ballpark. And just a note that the column will be taking the next two weeks off, and will be back on March 20--if there's anything left for me to write about that isn't already covered in this All Things Ballpark media blitz.

Ballpark and Beyond Column This Week
Feb 21, 2008 9:40 AM
My Ballpark and Beyond column in today's District Extra of the Post covers last week's release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for South Capitol Street, the impending closure of Metro's Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M, tonight's zoning hearing on allowing additional temporary surface parking lots in Southwest, and a reminder about today's ballpark job fair.
(And I've been under the weather the past few days, hence the somewhat brief updates.)

South Capitol Street Draft EIS Available
Feb 15, 2008 10:28 AM
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement that describes two alternatives for reconfiguring South Capitol Street from just south of Firth Sterling Avenue north to I-395 has now been released, and is available online: there's the compact executive summary for folks who just want the basics, or the full shebang, with 80-plus chapters, appendices, and reports. Note that this draft EIS does not include a final choice for the design of the new Douglass Bridge that would be built to the southwest of the current bridge, though that decision will be made with the final EIS. (I'm a fan of the arched bascule design, because I'm old school.) There's no way I'm going to try to provide a comprehensive overview of what this project is envisioning, so here's some bullet points:
* For Near Southeast, both build alternatives would reconfigure the intersection with the SE/SW Freeway, replacing the existing ramp that begins at I Street with an at-grade intersection underneath the freeway that would have two left-turn lanes to a new ramp. With the removal of the existing ramp to I-395, the intersection and South Capitol and I would also be reconfigured. Also included in this project would be streetscape improvements to New Jersey Avenue, with two travel lanes and two parking lanes and much wider tree-lined sidewalks.
* The main differences between the alternatives for this northern stretch of South Capitol Street are the intersections with Potomac Avenue and with M Street. At Potomac Avenue, there would be either a reconfigured signalized intersection or a large traffic oval connecting South Capitol, Potomac, Q Street, and the new Douglass Bridge. At M Street, a decision will be made between keeping the current underpass for north/south traffic or replacing it with an at-grade intersection. And, in the second build alternative, the K and L street intersections would be opened to cross traffic. There are also many changes planned for South Capitol Street and the Suitland Parkway south of the Douglass Bridge, which are spelled out in the Alternatives section if you're interested. (I'm waiting for a reply from DDOT about whether portions of each build alternative can be chosen a la carte to create a final alternative. UPDATE: As was the case with the 11th Street Bridges EIS, the final plans can indeed take some portions of one alternative and some from the other. So it's possible, as an example, that the traffic oval from alternative #2 could be chosen, but the unchanged M Street intersection from alternative #1 could be chosen, too.
* Depending on which alternatives and which bridge design is chosen, the Draft EIS puts the estimated costs for this project at anywhere between $508 million and $781 million. Flyers given out at the Anacostia Waterfront Community Fair last month indicated that construction on the new Douglass Bridge could begin in 2010, with completion in 2015. The Draft EIS doesn't seem to lay out any timeline for completion of the entire South Capitol Street project.
There are two public meetings planned to discuss the Draft EIS: on March 4 at Birney Elementary School, 2501 Martin Luther King Jr., Ave., SE, and on March 5 at Amidon Elementary School, 401 I St., SW. Both will run from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. The public comment period ends on March 31, and methods for submitting your comments are spelled out on the report site. You can also see print versions of the Draft EIS at a number of local libraries in the area.

South Capitol Draft EIS Now Scheduled for Friday
Feb 11, 2008 9:06 AM
At the Anacostia Waterfront Community Fair a few weeks back, I picked up a card that indicated South Capitol Street Draft Environmental Impact Statement (which is centered around the construction of a new Douglass Bridge) would be released on Feb. 8. So, all last week, I kept checking in at southcapitoleis.com just to see if the site had been updated or if there were any "Coming Soon" announcements. Nada. Imagine my surprise, then, when on Saturday I received a brochure via snail mail (how wonderfully old school!) announcing the the EIS would be released on Feb. 15, with the two public meetings pushed to March 4 and 5, and the deadline for public comment moved to March 31. The web site still makes no mention of the impending release, though you can see the two build alternatives being evaluated. More about this when the draft is actually released.

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.

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).

Happy Holidays to All - Light Posting Schedule Ahead
Dec 21, 2007 1:43 PM
With the Christmas downshift already kicking into gear (as I can tell by the tumbleweeds blowing through my inbox today), posting will be sporadic through New Year's. I'll probably have a photo update at some point during that time, and will of course keep scouring for news, but it'll all still add up to a more leisurely schedule for the next week or so. So in the meantime, Happy Holidays to all, and thanks for your interest in my site. I'm not sure it would be *quite* so detailed if there weren't actually people reading it, so I thank you for pushing me forward....
Comments (2)
More posts:

Community Papers, Canal Park Connector, Other Quick Tidbits
Dec 1, 2007 9:05 AM
This morning's quick hits:
* The Voice of the Hill has posted a piece on its web site surveying the community reaction to the 11th Street Bridges EIS, while the December issue of the Hill Rag looks at the project from the perspective of Hill East.
* The Hill Rag also has a recap of the November ANC 6D meeting, which focused mainly on Southwest issues, though there is a small blurb about the ballpark liquor license (it sounds like there were some concerns about the 8 am to 3 am time frame listed on the application).
* Meanwhile, the December Southwester reports on the Oct. 3 groundbreaking at The Yards by reprinting much of the Forest City press release on the project.
* Out of my realm, but I'll still pass along that the four short-listed development teams will be presenting their proposals for Poplar Point at Dec. 12 at 6:30 pm at Birney Elementary School, 2501 Martin Luther King, Jr., Ave., SE.
* I'm watching with interest a public space permit application this week by Cofeld LLC for 1271 First Street, which is the lot on the northwest corner of First and N, which had a raze permit filed for it in June. Hints of demolition? We'll see if the permit data, when approved, tell us anything further.
* UPDATE: One more quickie to add. The Garfield Park-Canal Park Connector Project has posted notes and summaries of discussions at their Oct. 24 workshop. Topic areas discussed included Biking and Walking, Under the Freeway, Public Art, Urban landscape, and History & Neighborhood Heritage.

The Near Southeast Traveling Road Show, On Demand
Nov 23, 2007 9:26 AM
During my poking around on the DC Office of Cable Television web site recently, I discovered that many of the groundbreakings and other events in Near Southeast this year that have been broadcast on the city's cable channel 16 are also available On Demand; the same goes for council hearings, available on Channel 13's On Demand page. (I kinda sorta knew that the On Demand stuff was there, but when I checked it many moons ago, it didn't seem quite so complete, so I hadn't looked back in on it for a while.)
So if you've missed any of the following four-star telecasts from 2007, you can watch them at your leisure:
* The Oct. 3 groundbreaking ceremony at The Yards;
* The Aug. 27 ceremony marking the reopening of the Frederick Douglass Bridge (and, for that matter, the time-lapse video of the lowering in July);
* The July bill-signing ceremony at the Earth Conservations Corps pumphouse where the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation and the National Capital Revitalization Corporation were officially abolished;
* JPI's June "groundbreaking" for its four projects along I Street ("Capitol Yards");
* The April presentation of $4 million for Canal Park/Diamond Teague Park;
* The January groundbreaking marking the start of the Navy Yard Metro renovation and Monument's Half Street project;
* And pretty much any ceremony anywhere in the city the mayor was at since the beginning of the year, plus a lot of other presentations and events. (Be sure not to miss the Reporters' Roundtable "Snitching Debate.") Check the dropdown boxes on the On Demand page for the offerings. I've added the above links to all of the various project pages in case you're desperate to find them again someday.
Two of the most recent shindigs haven't gotten added to the lineup yet--the Oct. 22 kickoff ceremony for the Capitol Riverfront BID (in which you can find out where the "Traveling Roadshow" moniker originated), and the mayor's remarks at the Nov. 13 turf unveiling at the ballpark. Ditto with the Waterside Mall Demolition program, which is currently playing on Channel 16 but hasn't yet made it to On Demand. But perhaps they'll show up eventually.

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.

Deadline for Public Comments on 11th Street Bridges
Nov 19, 2007 12:27 PM
If you're wanting to comment either positively or negatively on the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the 11th Street Bridges (which has identified a "preferred alternative" for a new design for the bridges and their interchanges) tomorrow (Nov. 20) is the deadline to do so, though you'd better use fax or e-mail at this point.
More posts: 11th Street Bridges

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.

Correction on 11th Street Bridges Entry
Oct 16, 2007 10:23 PM
I need to correct an error I made in my Oct. 5 post (which carried over to my Post column on Oct. 11) about the 11th Street Bridges Final Environmental Impact Statement. I incorrectly said that the total number of lanes in the preferred alternative design chosen for the bridges (12) 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; the new configuration, quoting from the EIS (page 5-13), will be "a new eightlane freeway bridge along the alignment of the existing 11th Street Bridge as well as a new, local four-lane bridge crossing on the current alignment of the Officer Welsh bridge." (The "Officer Welsh Bridge" is the official name of the downstream span and "11th Street Bridge" the official name of the upstream span of what is commonly referred to together as the "11th Street Bridges.")
I regret the error, and have docked my pay and put a warning in my file. If I do it again, I will fire myself and look to replace myself with a new me that I can trust.
More posts: 11th Street Bridges

Ballpark and Beyond This Week -- Bridge EIS, Capper Lots
Oct 11, 2007 6:25 PM
With DDOT having put out a press release in the past few hours alerting the media to the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the 11th Street Bridges, I can breathe a sigh of relief that I didn't screw up by having it be the focal point of my Ballpark and Beyond column in today's District Extra. (It's easy to worry that you've done something wrong when news of a $465 million reconfiguration of one of the region's most important commuter routes hasn't been picked up by anyone else. Nice scoop for me, though!) No graphic went along with the column, though, so look at the images I posted here on Monday to understand the design alternative that's been chosen. Next steps would apparently be the actual design, although the EIS process took care of a lot of that, followed by construction.
My column also included the quick blurb about the bids being solicited to build the three temporary surface parking lots at Capper/Carrollsburg.
UPDATED to include link to press release.

14th Street Bridge Corridor EIS Meeting on Oct. 10
Oct 9, 2007 11:45 AM
(Boy, I really want to ignore this, since 99 percent of it falls outside my cast-in-stone boundaries, but it's a slow day, so....) Tomorrow (Oct. 10) there's a Public Information Meeting about the 14th Street Bridge Corridor Environmental Impact Statement Study. Quoting: "The purpose of this study is to identify actions that can reduce congestion, enhance safety, and improve traffic operations in the 14th Street Bridge corridor." They're looking for congestion and safety solutions and ideas, and also are looking for ways to make the "existing corridor work more efficiently." The scope of the study area runs along I-395 from just east of South Capitol Street all the way to Glebe Road, and east to Route 1 in Virginia and south to M Street in Southwest. See the flyer for additional details. It's from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Amidon Elementary School, 401 I Street, SW.
UPDATED because I can't read a calendar. Tomorrow is the 10th.
More posts: South Capitol St.

More on the 11th Street Bridges Changes
Oct 8, 2007 12:34 PM
With no "real" news outlets yet uttering a peep about the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the 11th Street Bridges, I've had to continue to do my own analysis of what the chosen design alternative will look like. Friday's bleary-eyed discussion was a decent start, but I've looked at it a bit more closely today and have seen that there really will be a pretty large-scale change in how the Southeast Freeway works with the new plans.
If you look at this spiffy side-by-side graphic I've tossed together, showing the current freeway ramps and flyovers at 11th Street versus what the EIS depicts, you'll see that the bulk of the SE Freeway's lanes will turn toward the bridges at 11th Street, instead of just two smaller flyovers that currently exist. This is because the many lanes that now run from the freeway under 11th Street and over to Pennsylvania Avenue at Barney Circle will be taken out of the SE Freeway flow altogether. Instead, drivers on the SE Freeeway wishing to get to Barney Circle (and vice versa) will access the freeway and the new "Southeast Freeway Boulevard" (kind of a "Virginia Avenue Extended") via ramps at 11th Street, which appear to be able to be carved out of the existing smaller flyovers west of 11th. (And so the two flyovers coming from east of 11th to the sunken Pennsylvania Avenue access could be demolished altogether.) This means that the area north of M along 11th Street will be much more of a street grid rather than a series of flyovers and tunnels. Eventually.
And, for Navy Yard workers who use the 11th Street Bridges, note that you would no longer get to take that little turn onto N Street as you come off the bridge; you would arrive at M Street, turn right, turn right again on a newly two-way 12th Street, and then turn right at N. For other people, you'd be able to either turn left at M once you exit the upstream span of the bridge, or continue north on a new street and access the new Southeast Freeway Boulevard to continue either to Pennsylvania Avenue or 11th Street closer to I.
But it's really hard to clearly explain it all, so put on your concentration caps and spend some time comparing the befores-and-afters to see for yourself.

More posts: 11th Street Bridges

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.

Some Additional Photos, And a Note on Stadium Exterior Shots
Sep 3, 2007 5:27 PM
After getting all those purty stadium interior photos and shots of the surrounding skyline on Saturday, I ventured out Sunday morning to do my usual rounds, and so have posted some updated pictures of 100 M, 70/100 I, and Onyx, along with new shots from the Southeast Freeway showing how much that view is changing (again) as these projects progress. (Here's all the images from yesterday on one page, if you prefer.)
But when I started down First Street south of N to get my usual shots of the stadium's exterior, I was thwarted by guards informing me that access along First (and, by proxy, Potomac Avenue) is now restricted to construction vehicles and workers only. I protested somewhat vigorously--after all, there are still fences around the stadium on that side, and the signs say "Local Traffic Only" and not "Road Closed"--but I lost.
I'll still manage to get photos of the ballpark's south and east side eventually, and really at this point the eye-catching part of the construction on those sides is slowing, so a more leisurely schedule of updates of those pictures will not be catastrophic. (Plus I can always set up my zoom lens at Poplar Point and the Douglass Bridge. That'll show 'em!)
I did take this roadblock as an opportunity to rejigger my Stadium Exterior Construction Gallery page a bit, breaking up the old let's-walk-around-the-perimeter format by bringing the showier shots from all vantage points to the top. You'll see a few new photos from along N Street taken yesterday, but I was too cranky from my run-in with The Man to get new shots from South Capitol. Grrrr.

11th Street Bridges Rehab in 2009?
Aug 3, 2007 11:50 AM
In a Post article today surveying the state of DC-area bridges in the wake of the 35W Bridge collapse in Minneapolis, there is this little item of note: "For instance, there are plans for a major overhaul and redesign of the 11th Street Bridge beginning in 2009, according to [DDOT] spokesman Erik Linden." The Environmental Impact Study completed last year came up with a number of potential reconfigurations of the 11th Street Bridges to allow for traffic to exit and go northward on DC-295 (instead of having to cross the Anacostia on Pennsylvania Avenue and then make that hair-raising left turn). Visit the 11th Street Bridges EIS web site if you're interested in what the plans are, although we're still waiting for the official announcement of which configuration has been chosen.
And, of course, in the wake of Minneapolis, the two-month closure of the Douglass Bridge for not only the reconfiguration of its north end but also considerable work on its deck and undersides might be seen in a different light now....

14th Street Bridge Corridor EIS Underway - And Other Enthusiastic Boundaries
Feb 7, 2007 9:43 PM
You would think that a new Environmental Impact Statement of the 14th Street Bridge Corridor would be outside of my Near Southeast scope, but they managed to sneak the boundary area just past South Capitol Street. So, it becomes another study I will grudgingly pay attention to, along with the South Capitol Street EIS and the 11th Street Bridges EIS (both of which have gone reeeeeal quiet lately, with the 11th Street Bridges EIS having missed its release deadline of Fall 2006). See this flyer for information on the 14th Street Bridge Corridor public workshops, on Feb. 27 at Amidon Elementary in Southwest and Feb. 28 in Arlington.
And speaking of Boundary Creep, the Washington Business Journal reported last week that the Office of Planning has "has initiated a major effort to expand the boundaries of the traditional office and entertainment areas, creating a planning zone called Center City. The initiative more than doubles the area traditionally considered downtown by adding the North of Massachusetts Avenue area (NoMa) as well as the Southeast and Southwest waterfronts. Another objective is to provide better links to tie the traditional downtown zone with emerging business and entertainment districts, the waterfront and the National Mall. Center City will be promoted as a waterfront city with nearly half of its boundary defined by the Potomac and Anacostia rivers." You can see the OP's Center City page for more details about this project, which I am admittedly giving short shrift here (I figure there will be plenty more items to come). Who'd a thunk it--it turns out Near Southeast is DOWNTOWN, baby!


Sierra Club Comments on 11th Street Bridges EIS
Sep 13, 2006 2:12 PM
Public comment has now closed on the 11th Street Bridges Draft Environmental Impact Statement; the Sierra Club has posted it's comments submitted to DDOT about the project (hat tip to Richard Layman). And the September Hill Rag has an article about the Anacostia Community Boathouse Association's attempt to save the boathouse buildings nestled between the two bridge spans. (See also my August 10 entry on this issue.)


Rowers Trying to Save Anacostia Boathouse
Aug 10, 2006 3:50 PM
The hot-off-the-presses Aug. 10 Voice of the Hill (PDF) has a front-page report about the efforts to save the 106-year-old Anacostia Community Boathouse, under threat because of the pending changes to the 11th Street Bridges. The boathouse is one of the two red-brick buildings that are on the Anacostia River shore, right in between the two bridge spans (the second building, which is not in danger of being demolished, was recently the recipient of a $300,000 grant from DDOT to help its renovation). The 11th Street Bridges Environmental Impact Study, currently underway, has ID'ed four different build options for the bridges (to better link them to the Anacostia Freeway), and three of those options impact the boathouse. Public comment on the EIS is being accepted until Aug. 28. UPDATE: Oops, should have included this link to the Anacostia Community Boathouse Association "Save the Boathouse" page.

11th Street Bridges Meetings Wednesday and Thursday
Jul 27, 2006 7:51 AM
Don't forget, the two public hearings on the 11th Street Bridges Draft Environmental Impact Statement are Wednesday and Thursday night--Wednesday's is at 1105 New Jersey Ave., SE (St. Matthew's Baptist Church), and Thursday's is at 2041 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. (Anacostia Professional Building). Both are from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. UPDATE: Here are the meeting packet, opening presentation, and display posters for the two meetings. And the entire Draft EIS is available, too. UPDATE II: Having just now really been able to take a look at these materials, I highly suggest taking a few minutes to look at the display posters. They do a great job of showing the four different build alternatives currently under consideration for the bridges, how they would impact both sides of the river, and more. Whichever one they choose, being able to have access to northbound I-295 from the SE Freeway (and vice versa), without having to go across Pennsylvania Avenue and make that left turn, has to be considered a vast improvement.
More posts: 11th Street Bridges

ANC 6B Endorses 11th Street Bridges Plan
Jul 19, 2006 10:42 AM
Voice of the Hill reports that ANC 6B "voted unanimously July 11 to support preliminary plans for a project that would connect the Southeast Freeway with the Anacostia Freeway." This is the 11th Street Bridges project, which "would allow southbound motorists on the Anacostia Freeway to access the 11th Street Bridges and motorists on the bridges to go north on the freeway, thereby creating a link between the Anacostia and Southeast freeways." There are public hearings on July 26 and 27 on the project's draft environmental impact statement, and public comment is being accepted until August 28.

11th Street Bridges Draft EIS Statement Released
Jun 27, 2006 11:48 PM
The 11th Street Bridges Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has been released. Two public meetings have been scheduled, on July 26 and 27; the comment period extends until August 28, 2006.
More posts: 11th Street Bridges

Overview Piece on New Douglass Bridge
Apr 13, 2006 8:04 AM
In today's Post (well, in some of them, depending on which Extra you receive) is "For Commuters, A New Way to Travel Through the District," a good overview piece about the plans for a new South Capitol Street/Frederick Douglass Bridge. The article doesn't have anything new, but it brings together all the bits and pieces that have come out over the past months about the new bridge. It mentions the public meeting scheduled for May 4, and also confirms that sometime this summer two blocks of the "elevated" South Capitol Street (from O Street to Potomac Avenue) will be dismantled, allowing South Capitol Street to be "at-grade" alongside the stadium site. And it also says, as we've heard previously, that construction would not begin before 2011; the final design of the bridge will be chosen this summer, after the Environmental Impact Study is completed. Cost estimates range from $285 million to $392 million, based on the design. Make sure to go to the poll to vote for your favorite design!

South Capitol Street Community Update Meeting
Apr 7, 2006 1:41 PM
DDOT will be holding a public meeting on May 4 at 6 pm to update the public on the latest South Capitol Street Corridor news, and also to allow public review and comment on the latest plans for the street and also the South Capitol Street Bridge. The South Capitol Street EIS and South Capitol Street Bridge Study web sites have more information about what's on tap.


More on New South Capitol Street Bridge and Street Improvements
Mar 10, 2006 5:11 PM
There's more links and information available now about the possible designs unveiled on Wednesday for the new South Capitol Street Bridge.You can see fun 3D videos of the different designs at the South Capitol Street Bridge Study site. (Do you think we can infer from the number of different videos available for each option that the "Cable Stayed Swing Bridge" might be the designers' favorite?) There is also a press release from DDOT, saying that there will be a community meeting in April to solicit comments on the design, and also to give an update on the project. The draft Environmental Impact Statement will be released in June. And, a bit more detail on the interim work that will be done on the existing bridge: "Starting this summer, the bridge will be rehabilitated to ensure its continued safety and use. The work includes new lighting, better sidewalks and a new coat of paint. In addition two blocks of the elevated viaduct will be removed and replaced with an at-grade roadway, greatly improving the appearance and pedestrian access along South Capitol Street." Wow, wonder how that's gonna work?

Everyone's an Architect!
Mar 7, 2006 11:05 PM
Here we go! Time to play the Stadium Design Guessing Game, this time courtesy of Thomas Boswell's column: "'I hope the new park looks like the rest of the city with all the pillars and white stone,' said [veteran reliever Joey] Eischen. 'Go to the stadium and it would be a little bit like walking into the Lincoln Memorial, but it's your ballpark. Fans would love it. 'Come check it out.' Even Robinson could not resist playing what will soon be Washington's leading parlor game: amateur stadium architect. 'I hope our new ballpark sets a new trend and doesn't just follow one,' said Robinson. 'When Dodger Stadium arrived, I think it was the first big league park that looked out into the landscape -- at the [San Gabriel] mountains. Royals Stadium [in Kansas City] felt unique with the waterfalls. Camden Yards set a new direction, too.Just so long as you can see the U.S. Capitol from some spot in the ballpark, that's all people will talk about. When the new San Francisco ballpark opened, everybody raved about the views [of the Bay]. Well, you had to go in the upper deck to see the water. But that's what you heard about. Just make sure you can see the Capitol from some seats.'"

More posts: Nationals Park

South Capitol Street EIS Newsletter
Feb 24, 2006 10:11 AM
The South Capitol Street Environmental Impact Statement project has posted its Winter 2006 newsletter with the latest updates on the study. Two build alternatives have been identified and are briefly described--the less costly one would keep the South Capitol and M intersection in two levels, and would create a "traditional" intersection at Potomac Avenue. The second and more wide-ranging alternative would reconstruct South Capitol and M to be "at-grade", and would create a traffic circle interchange at Potomac Avenue (there are differences in the two plans for east side of the bridge as well). The various plans (the two build alternatives, plus a "Transportation System Management" alternative and a No-Build alternative) will be presented at public meetings later this winter, then there will be ANC meetings, environmental analyses, and finally the preparation of the draft EIS. In the meantime, DDOT will be discussing this project as part of its Feb. 25 Open House. Also, both the South Capitol Street EIS and the 11th Street Bridges EIS teams will present their pedestrian and bicycle concepts to a meeting of the Bicycle Advisory Council on March 8. See my South Capitol Street and South Capitol Street Bridge pages for more details, photos, links, etc.

New 11th Street Bridges EIS Newsletter
Jan 17, 2006 5:43 PM
The 11th Street Bridges Environmental Impact Statement project has released its January 2006 newsletter, with a summary of the issues raised during the December public meetings. Another public meeting is expected in spring, with the EIS scheduled to be delivered in summer 2006.
More posts: 11th Street Bridges

11th Street Bridges Project Overview
Nov 11, 2005 12:21 PM
The 11th Street Bridges EIS web site has posted a two-page Project Overview document explaining (briefly!) the scope of the project and the "aggressive" schedule (with a timetable showing construction of the improvements happening in the 2007-2010 timeframe). There will be two meetings to review the draft set of alternatives before they are selected for detailed study, on Dec. 13 and 14. The handouts from the October scoping meetings are a good place to get general information on what the project is trying to accomplish (mainly, to add additional ramps to allow better access between the 11th Street Bridges and the Anacostia Freeway).
More posts: 11th Street Bridges

11th Street Bridges EIS Newsletter
Oct 21, 2005 10:44 AM
The 11th Street Bridges Environmental Impact Statement project has released its first newsletter, which contains a lot of really useful information about what exactly the project is, and how it's going to work. There will be two more public scoping meetings on Dec. 13 and 14. The newsletter also notes that construction on new ramps could begin as early as Fall 2007.

More posts: 11th Street Bridges

Oct 5, 2005 10:08 AM
A reminder that public scoping meetings for the 11th Street Bridges Environmental Impact Study are being held tonight (Oct. 5) and tomorrow night (Oct. 6) (see schedules and locations). The meeting presentation materials, as well as the Draft Purpose and Need Statement, have been posted on the study's web site.
More posts: 11th Street Bridges

Sep 14, 2005 5:34 PM
I will admit that I have tended to focus on news west of 7th Street, SE, ignoring the small additional sliver of Near Southeast south of the freeway between 7th and the 11th Street Bridge. (Some would argue that the land east of the 11th Street Bridge, including Maritime Plaza, is also part of Near Southeast, but I'm putting my foot down and deeming that Hill East.) But I promise now to add those few blocks to their rightful place on this site (if not on the map at right, at least not yet!). So, with that, a few items:
• The land at 801 Virginia Avenue (the southeast corner of the 8th and Virginia intersection, currently occupied by an auto repair shop and a gas station), was bought in early August for $2.5 million. According to August's Voice of the Hill (see page 5) (along with a correction on page 3 in its September issue), the developer is planning a four-story building with 15 residential units, with retail spaces along 8th Street. ANC 6B has approved the project along to the Historic Preservation Review board. More as I get it.
• The DC Department of Transportation has scheduled two public meetings on the East Washington Traffic Relief Program, a six-year, $263-million project to build four ramps on the east side of the 11th Street Bridge, two of which will provide direct connections between the 11th Street Bridge and the Anacostia Freeway. The meetings, Oct. 5 and Oct. 6, are both "scoping" meetings to begin preparing an Environmental Impact Statement for the project (the Notice of Intent to prepare the EIS was published in the Sept. 13 Federal Register).  See the EIS project web site (which was just launched sometime in the last 12 hours, it was "coming soon" when I first looked this morning!) for more information. This March 26, 2005 press release from the mayor's office gives more details on the project, as does the Middle Anacostia River Crossings Transportation Study site.

Sep 14, 2005 1:20 PM
Speaking of bridges and environmental impact statements, I've only now stumbled across both the South Capitol Street Bridge Study web site and SouthCapitolEIS.com,  two efforts that ran concurrently over the last six months as part of the project to replace the Frederick Douglass Bridge. (I've only been checking the DDOT Public Meetings page on a daily basis for weeks now, sure would have been nice if one of their announcements had ever mentioned these URLs!) Both sites have lots of links and information, and should be required bookmarks for anyone interested in the replacement (and most likely realignment) of the South Capitol Street Bridge. Materials from the summer meetings of these projects are available, as is a mammoth, crash-your-computer PDF showing two of the proposed alternate alignments. I believe these two stages are pretty much over, so I'll try to keep you posted on the next phases.


Sep 14, 2004
DC has named the four firms selected to participate in the Washington Canal Park Design Competition. They are: Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd of Seattle, Washington; Hood Design of Oakland, California; Sasaki Associates, Inc of Watertown, Massachusetts; and Atelier Dreiseitl of Uberlingen, Germany. Their proposed design submissions are due by Oct. 25, with a scheduled review by a jury of design professionals and community leaders on Nov. 18. (CPDA News Release)

More posts: Canal Park