Key Transportation Project Updates: 17th Street, Barney Circle, Penn-Potomac

17th & 19th Streets Safety Improvement Project 

During a Nov. 18 community meeting, we learned that we will have to wait another 18 months for the already delayed construction and implementation of the 17th Street SE recommendations of the District Department of Transportation’s 17th & 19th Street Safety Improvement Project. The reason? DC Water needs to replace water mains from C Street NE to Potomac Avenue SE. DC Water contractors will begin the water main work in Jan. 2015 (weather permitting) at C Street NE and will proceed down 17th Street until they reach Potomac Ave SE. DDOT contractors will follow the DC Water crews down 17th Street until the safety improvements are complete, likely by May 2016.

While I’m still extremely frustrated about the additional delays and lack of communication between DDOT and DC Water, I am appreciative that both agencies came out to the neighborhood to explain the project timeline and answer questions. I also suggested that DDOT work to implement the 17th Street safety improvements between Potomac Ave SE and Barney Circle SE as soon as possible since this area will not experience water main construction.

Note that construction on the 19th Street portion of the project will begin soon and will be completed by March 2015 (again weather permitting).

If you could not attend the meeting, here are the handouts:

Barney Circle-Southeast Boulevard Project

Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells is hosting a community meeting on Thursday, Dec. 11, 7:00 pm to share the Office of Planning’s final concepts for the Barney Circle-Southeast Boulevard Planning Study. The meeting will be at Friendship Charter School Chamberlain Campus (1345 Potomac Ave SE).

Prior to the Dec. 11 meeting, OP has circulated the following document with updated concepts:

While all three concepts are much better than DDOT’s original concepts for the study, I’m curious to hear from residents. Feel free to post your comments below and/or attend the Dec. 11 meeting. In 2015, DDOT will be evaluating the final OP concepts and resuming the BC-SE Blvd. transportation planning study.

Pennsylvania-Potomac Avenues Intersection Study

DDOT has released three alternatives for the ongoing Pennsylvania-Potomac Avenue Intersection Pedestrian Safety Study. The three alternatives – Triangle Parks, Rectangular Park and Ellipse Park – are totally different from the concepts reviewed by the public and ANC 6B in May 2013. The T-intersection option – favored by ANC 6B – has been eliminated. Even more confusing is DDOT’s apparent decision to avoid scheduling another public meeting to review the new alternatives. The only opportunity for public input on the new alternatives was a DDOT “information booth” placed at the Potomac Avenue Metro station on Nov. 6 between 3 and 5 pm, a time when a majority of residents are at work.

Please e-mail DDOT at and tell them they need to schedule a public meeting on their alternatives. Comments are due Dec. 8.

6 Responses to Key Transportation Project Updates: 17th Street, Barney Circle, Penn-Potomac

  1. Corey H. says:

    Commissioner Flahaven, thanks for posting the Southeast Boulevard slides. It’s always great to see the proposals well before the meeting.

    Regarding the specific proposals, I think proposal A is the one I would prefer. It brings the most residents to the area, keeps L street a neighborhood street, and brings commercial activity to the new buildings. One quibble, I would prefer the commercial to be on 14th street instead of 13th or 15th. It’s a block closer to the metro and along the likely pedestrian route from 1333M to Potomac Ave Metro.

    I do like the part of concept B to add a building in the space by the McDonald’s and wish that were also in concept A. I think that spot and the triangle below SE boulevard by 11th should be considered for a recreation center or library.

    Concept C should be a non-starter. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to simply add more city to the city and it shouldn’t be wasted. This will also keep southeast boulevard a de facto high-speed thoroughfare.

    I also think I’m one of the few residents of the immediate area that would be ok with the bus parking, though I would prefer access only from 11th street and not Barney Circle. I fear Barney Circle access would funnel some amount of bus traffic onto 17th and 19th. I’m in favor because SE boulevard presents a unique opportunity to add something the city, its air, and its tax coffers desperately need. It’s a a much better solution than Hains Point, the Crummell School, or wherever else DDOT proposes.

  2. dlg says:

    Brian – thanks for posting. The Southeast Blvd options are much better. I agree with Corey that Concept C is a non-starter. A dead park is not a good use of land.

    I prefer Concept B because it appears to create the most density to the area, and prevents the underground bus parking. However, even Concept A, with less density and bus parking, is better than the original proposals.

  3. dlg says:

    Regarding the Penn-Potomac Ave intersection – I like the ellipse. It creates a nice space, reduces the bus stops, and makes the driving lanes 12 feet wide. Smaller lanes will help decrease speed on PA Ave SE – and the ellipse, with the new Barney Circle – should help decrease speeds overall. I think the ellipse would add value to the neighborhood.

    The rectangle concept does much of the same as the ellipse, but driving lanes would increase to 16 feet for buses. That’s not ideal.

    And the triangle concept – isn’t that what we have already?

  4. Christian says:

    For both the Barney Circle-Southeast Blvd and Penn-Potomac intersection projects are there any set timelines? How does the current “temporary” reopening of the SE Blvd affect these, if at all?

  5. Phil says:

    Brian, of those options, my preference is to Option B. Option C just seems to be a waste of land, particularly as the neighborhood develops its waterfront area. It provides nothing to attract people. Option A creates a fairly significant boulevard through the neighborhood, which gives me cause for concern with traffic coming off of 295, cutting through Barney circle. I would imagine the increased traffic flow will limit the success of any potential businesses. Option B provides the greatest extension of the ‘neighborhood’ feel we have across ANC6B, provides options for business, and, as a neighborhood with what I’d assume are stop signs/speed bumps/etc. traffic off 295 won’t be as much of an issue. It also eliminates the bus parking which is a positive thing, as I don’t think anyone in the new neighborhood would want buses driving through their streets all the time. That said, there are some items in Option A, namely the addition of larger commercial/apartment buildings between 14th & 15th south of L which could help bring more small businesses/restaurants to the area in first floor retail that might not be able to be built with Option B; however, not sure if the alteration of street width would support that

  6. Brian,

    Option B for the SE Boulevard looks best to me – by having two separate one-way streets, the river is more accessible to foot traffic, and the median seems to be well-filled with residential.

    Option C is a non-starter, a totally wasted opportunity.

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