Meetings this Week on Barney Circle-SE Blvd, 7-Eleven

January 4, 2016

There are two important meetings scheduled for this Wed., Jan. 6.

The District Department of Transportation will discuss the results of their Barney Circle-Southeast Boulevard Feasibility Study at ANC 6B’s Transportation Committee meeting, 7 pm at the Hill Center (921 Pennsylvania Ave SE).

And, at the same time (7 pm), Commissioner Denise Krepp (6B10) has scheduled a community meeting to discuss the new 7-Eleven convenience store that will is opening at the corner of Massachusetts Ave SE and 15th Street SE (in space formerly occupied by S&J Liquors and 15th Street Cleaners). Representatives from 7-Eleven will be on hand to discuss their plans and address concerns raised by residents.

Advertisements

Tuesday Quick Takes: ANC 6B, Playtime Project, Renovator’s House Tour, Congressional Cemetery

October 13, 2015
  • ANC 6B’s October meeting is tonight (10/13), 7 pm at the Hill Center. Meeting materials are available at www.anc6b.org. The commission will be considering raze permit requests for 1620-1622 E Street SE, a letter to Mayor Bowser on the Events DC RFK Stadium Redevelopment study and a resolution on homelessness.
  • The Homeless Children’s Playtime Project, a great nonprofit organization that works to provide playtime and learning opportunities for children living in temporary housing, is currently constructing a new preteen and teen space at the DC General Family Shelter. While they have plenty of volunteers signed up to help with the construction, the Playtime Project is still raising funds for the new space. You can donate or learn about other volunteer opportunities on the Playtime Project’s website.
  • This Sat., Oct. 17 is the 15th Annual Renovators House Tour, an event that raises funds for the Capitol Hill Cluster School. The tour, which goes from 10 am – 4 pm, kicks off in my Single Member District (6B09) with stops along Kentucky Ave SE and E Street SE. You can purchase tickets for the tour at http://renovatorshousetour.org/.
  • In case you missed it, the Washington Post had a great feature article on Historic Congressional Cemetery!

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

November 24, 2014

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 pennpotomac@prrbiz.com and tell them they need to schedule a public meeting on their alternatives. Comments are due Dec. 8.


DDOT Response Misses the Mark on Southeast Freeway Reopening

September 12, 2014

The District Department of Transportation is now sending an e-mail response (pdf) to anyone who has urged Mayor Gray to halt the reopening of the Southeast Freeway segment between Barney Circle. While I appreciate DDOT acknowledging concerns of Hill East residents, it does not alleviate my concerns about the agency’s plans.

Here is my response to the response, section by section:

We at the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) have received your concerns about reopening the connection between the Southeast/Southwest Freeway (I-695) between 11th Street SE and Barney Circle.

This is an important connection for District residents east of the Anacostia River, primarily in Ward 7.  Reopening this roadway segment will reestablish traffic movements (for example, eastbound I-695 to eastbound Pennsylvania Avenue SE toward Ward 7; westbound Pennsylvania Avenue SE to westbound I-695). However, the restricted lanes under Barney Circle to access Capitol Hill neighborhoods will remain closed.

Thanks to a productive conversation last weekend, I certainly have a better understanding of the traffic issues and concerns raised by Ward 7 residents. A major issue is the poor design and layout of freeway ramps at I-295 and Pennsylvania Ave, where merging traffic leads to numerous accidents. But reopening the freeway connection will encourage more vehicles to exit I-295 off of these ramps and will likely lead to more congestion on the Sousa Bridge, making it more difficult for Ward 7 drivers to even access the new connection.

Additionally, DDOT does not need to rebuild a freeway to “reestablish traffic movements between I-695 and Pennsylvania Ave SE.” Traffic movements can also be reestablished by building a boulevard or more neighborhood-friendly connection. That is the purpose of the Barney Circle-Southeast Boulevard project and why DDOT should be putting taxpayer dollars toward the final project recommendations.

This reopening is expected to have positive effects for residents of Capitol Hill and surrounding neighborhoods. It will reduce traffic on streets such as Potomac Avenue and I Street SE, which have been used by residents to access Pennsylvania Avenue SE from east of the Anacostia River.  As part of the 11th Street Bridges Environmental Impact Statement, it is also necessary to open these to meet projected traffic levels within the project area.

The reopened freeway is not going to significantly reduce traffic on Potomac Ave and I Street. As long as 17th Street remains a two lane one way thoroughfare through the neighborhood, commuters are going to continue to use 17th, Potomac and I as a shortcut route when I-295 is backed up at East Capitol Street. Implementing the long-delayed 17th Street safety improvements (narrowing the street to one lane, adding curb extensions and a bike lane, etc.) will do more to help traffic on Potomac Ave and I Street than reopening the freeway.

Also, when the new freeway connection inevitably backs up as drivers continue to try to get around backups on I-295, vehicles are going to continue down Pennsylvania and take Potomac Ave and I Street once again, merging with all the traffic originating on 17th Street.

And while DDOT does plan to prevent vehicles from accessing the freeway from 17th Street, it does not change the fact that the agency is re-establishing a barrier between the neighborhood and waterfront. If you build a freeway connection, it is going to attract more high-speed traffic into the neighborhood and along the waterfront. This cost significantly outweighs any (if any) “positive effects” of reopening the freeway.

Finally, DDOT fails to address two major risks associated with reopening the freeway connection:

  1. The use (waste?) of around $6 million of 11th Street Bridges funding to rebuild the “temporary” freeway, money that could be used to fund the construction of the permanent boulevard and circle, and
  2. As David Alpert of Greater Greater Washington points out, the significant risk that the temporary reopening becomes a permanent reopening (for a Hill East example of this phenomenon, see DC General Temporary Emergency Family Shelter).

The city has a great opportunity to connect the neighborhood to the Anacostia waterfront and correct a mistake of the past. Let’s not waste it. If you haven’t already done so, please contact Mayor Gray and urge him to halt the reopening of the Southeast Freeway.

 


Urge Mayor Gray to Halt Reopening of Southeast Freeway

August 19, 2014

As I mentioned in my recap of the Barney Circle-Southeast Boulevard planning study meeting, the District Department of Transportation is planning to reopen the Southeast Freeway between Barney Circle and 11th Street SE by the end of the year. Construction crews are already spending millions of dollars to rebuild and clear portions of the old freeway, which was closed in January 2013 as part of the 11th Street Bridge Project. Once it reopens, it will draw more commuter traffic off I-295 and into our neighborhood, particularly on the already high volume 17th and 19th Street corridors.

Unfortunately, DDOT plans to move ahead with the reopening despite objections from the community. That leaves only one person – Mayor Gray – who can direct DDOT to stop this bad idea.

Please call Mayor Gray’s Office today and tell the Mayor to halt the reopening of the Southeast Freeway. You can reach his office by dialing:

  • 202-727-6300

Here are some key reasons why halting the reopening is critical:

  • Reopening the freeway undermines the planning and transportation studies underway for this area. The Office of Planning, in conjunction with DDOT and the community,  is finalizing recommendations on design concepts for the old freeway space that will extend the neighborhood grid, facilitate pedestrian connections to the Anacostia waterfront and provide a more neighborhood sensitive vehicle connection between Barney Circle and 11th Street. DDOT’s decision to reopen the freeway undermines this study and will continue the decades-long separation between the neighborhood and the waterfront.
  • Reopening the freeway is a tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars. These dollars could and should be used to fund the final product of the ongoing planning and transportation study, both of which should wrap up by the end of the year. The money should not be used to re-introduce a mistake of the past.
  • Reopening the freeway will not relieve traffic congestion. Instead, it will exacerbate traffic issues in our neighborhood, particularly as the freeway draws more and more commuters off of I-295 and the 11th Street bridge and down 17th, 19th Streets and Pennsylvania Ave.

Again, please call Mayor Gray’s Office today and tell the Mayor to halt the reopening of the Southeast Freeway. You can reach his office by dialing:

  • 202-727-6300

If you can’t call, you can also e-mail Mayor Gray at eom@dc.gov. You can also e-mail or copy the other members of the DC Council as well.

Thanks for your help!


Residents Consider Improved Design Concepts for Barney Circle-Southeast Boulevard Project

August 7, 2014

It was standing room only for ANC 6B’s August 4 community meeting on the status of the Barney Circle-Southeast Boulevard Project Planning Study. Dan Emerine of the Office of Planning presented four of seven concept alternatives that show how the project could benefit the neighborhood and city.

Background

In November 2013, the District Department of Transportation shared five design concepts for replacing the end of the Southeast Freeway with a boulevard and constructing a full traffic circle at Barney Circle SE. As I detailed at the time, all five DDOT concepts essentially replaced the freeway with….a freeway completely separated from the neighborhood grid. ANC 6B unanimously opposed DDOT’s concepts and urged the agency to reconsider their plans.

Attendees listen to the Office of Planning's presentation at the Aug. 4 Barney Circle-SE Blvd. meeting.

Attendees listen to the Office of Planning’s presentation at the Aug. 4 Barney Circle-SE Blvd. meeting.

At the request of Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, the Office of Planning has been conducting a “rapid planning study” to take a holistic look at the project area and to suggest ways that the project could enhance the neighborhood. Both ANC 6B and DDOT have been involved in the OP study, which will wrap up sometime this fall.

Concept Alternatives

During the August 4 meeting, Emerine walked attendees through four of the seven preliminary concept alternatives produced for the study by SmithGroupJJR.

Concept A1  includes a medium level of development between L Street and the proposed boulevard, a high degree of connectivity to the neighborhood grid, 4 lanes for the boulevard and bike lanes and sidewalks. There would be a pedestrian connection over the CSX railroad tracks and the potential for mixed-use development along 14th Street SE.

A1

Concept A1 – Avenue. All concept images from Office of Planning and SmithGroupJJR.

Concept B1 includes an approximately 80 foot wide linear park between L Street  and the proposed boulevard. Both L Street and the boulevard would serve as two lane one way arterials (L Street would be 2 lanes westbound and the boulevard would be 2 lanes eastbound). There would be some low intensity development below L Street and the potential for bike lanes and pedestrian connections across the CSX tracks at 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th Streets.

Concept B1

Concept B1 – Split Linear Park.

Concept C2 includes no new development. Instead, a linear park would be constructed south of L Street with pedestrian crossings above the four-lane boulevard. There would also be no connections between the existing street grid and boulevard.

Concept C2

Concept C2 – Linear Park.

Emerine also shared Concept A2 which extends the grid to two-lane boulevard, with low intensity (rowhouse) development between L Street and the boulevard. This concept envisions 15th Street SE as a potential pedestrian connection to the waterfront with the potential for mixed use development.

Concept A2 - Grid Extended.

Concept A2 – Grid Extended.

For more details, check out OP’s PowerPoint presentation (pdf) and larger versions of the concept alternatives (pdf).

Feedback

After Emerine’s presentation, attendees had the opportunity to weigh in on the various components included in all the concepts. Here are my takeaways:

  • Attendees agreed that the concept alternatives were significant improvements over the five concepts DDOT presented in November 2013.
  • The consensus in the room seemed to be in favor of a two-lane versus a four-lane boulevard. The question is whether DDOT will agree to consider concepts with a two-lane boulevard.
  • Any option that involves converting L Street into the boulevard (or a part of the boulevard) is problematic. It would certainly change the nature of a primarily residential street.
  • I remain a strong advocate for extending the grid and connecting 13th, 14th and 15th to the boulevard. Without connections, the new boulevard will essentially be a freeway and will attract additional traffic through the neighborhood.
  • The audience had mixed view on the whether there should be new development between L Street and the boulevard. I think development would reinforce the extension of the neighborhood grid and provide additional housing and retail potential. The level/intensity of development could be determined in a subsequent small area planning process.
  • Everybody loves the idea of more green space, but we really need to think about how the green space can be used. What types of activities or features will draw people to this space? A mix of development and green space could be a good combination.
  • On Barney Circle, attendees encourage OP to consider designs that would make the circle more pedestrian and bike friendly. And I love the idea of a fountain or monument at Barney Circle – something that would encourage people to check out/hang out in the circle (like Dupont). Interestingly, the new Barney Circle would be the second largest traffic circle in the city (behind the Lincoln Memorial Circle).
  • Most of the concept alternatives could accommodate an underground bus parking garage with access only at 11th Street and Barney Circle. However, the overwhelming majority of the community remains opposed to such a facility.

OP plans to incorporate community feedback into their study. The goal is to recommend three well-developed concepts that can presented to the community and delivered to DDOT in September/October. DDOT can then use the concepts to refine their work on the transportation planning side, hopefully leading to a better project outcome.

Now for the bad news. Bowing to political pressure from both DC and Maryland commuters, DDOT is planning to temporarily re-open the freeway between 11th Street and Barney Circle by the end of the year. Construction crews are already putting the old road back in place using funding from the 11th Street Bridge Project. This is a really, really bad idea. In addition to being a huge waste of taxpayer dollars, re-opening the road will encourage more vehicles to cut through Hill East on 17th and 19th Streets, exacerbating traffic issues. And once the freeway is re-opened, the city may decide to keep it open permanently, resulting in a lost opportunity to connect the neighborhood to the waterfront. ANC 6B will consider a motion to oppose the temporary re-opening of the freeway in September.

What do you think about the concept alternatives? Please post your comments and feedback below.

 


Upcoming Meeting on Barney Circle-SE Blvd Planning Study

July 22, 2014

On Monday, August 4, ANC 6B will host a community meeting to discuss the status and outcomes of the Barney Circle-Southeast Boulevard Planning Study being conducted by the Office of Planning. The meeting, which begins at 7 pm, will take place in Sousa Hall on the 2nd Floor of the Hill Center (921 Pennsylvania Avenue SE).

At the request of Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells and ANC 6B, OP has been conducting a “rapid planning study,” with the goal of improving the District Department of Transportation’s initial design options for the Barney Circle-Southeast Boulevard project. During the Aug. 4 meeting, OP representatives will provide a brief presentation on the study, share some of the outcomes and answer commission and community questions.

If you are interested in the study but unable to attend the meeting, I do plan to post a brief summary of the meeting highlights. Councilmember Wells, OP, DDOT and ANC 6B also plan to have another community. meeting in the fall to share the study’s final recommendations.