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.


WMATA Announces Service Cuts for Stadium-Armory Metro

September 28, 2015

Some important news for residents who use the Stadium-Armory Metro station. In the aftermath of last week’s substation fire, WMATA has announced that it will reduce service to the Stadium-Armory Metro station beginning on Tues., Sept. 29. During weekday rush hours (5-10 am, 2-7:30 pm), the Stadium-Armory Metro station will only be served by Blue Line trains. All Orange and Silver Line trains will pass through the station without stopping. Normal service to the station will resume once the substation is rebuilt and back online, a process that, according to WMATA,  is “estimated to take more than six months.”

On Sept. 28, Councilmembers Charles Allen (Ward 6) and Yvette Alexander (Ward 7) sent a letter to WMATA asking the agency to reconsider its decision to implement service cuts at Stadium-Armory. And Commissioner Denise Krepp (6B10) and I plan to ask ANC 6B’s Executive Committee to send a letter to WMATA asking the agency to reverse the cuts. Hopefully, WMATA will reverse this ill-advised decision.


Meeting Recap: Improving Safety at 18th & Potomac Ave SE Intersection

July 23, 2015
18th Street SE & Potomac Ave SE intersection looking north from Congressional Cemetery.

18th Street SE & Potomac Ave SE intersection looking north from Congressional Cemetery.

Around 15 Hill East residents attended the July 22 meeting with the District Department of Transportation to discuss improving safety at the intersection of 18th Street SE and Potomac Ave SE. Attendees did a great job of pointing out the two major problems with the intersection:

  1. The failure of vehicles to yield to pedestrians at both the 18th & Potomac and E & Potomac crosswalks, both of which lead to the main gate at Congressional Cemetery. The problem is particularly pronounced during rush hour – a peak time for dog walkers at the cemetery and commuter traffic along Potomac Ave.
  2. High rate of vehicle collisions due to Potomac Avenue’s transition from a two-way to one-way street at 18th Street SE. Drivers typically move over to the left lane prior to 18th Street, leading to collisions with drivers turning west on to Potomac Ave.

Here is the tentative plan for improving safety at the intersection:

Immediate-Term (ASAP)

  • Request and install pedestrian pylon signs at both crosswalks.
  • Improve signage at the intersection.

Short-to-Mid Term (3-4 months)

  • Conduct a traffic study of the intersection. I’ve encouraged DDOT to review data gathered from the previous 17th & 19th Street Safety Improvement Study.
  • Install “No Turn on Red” signs at the intersection of 17th Street and Potomac Ave SE. This would help tremendously with pedestrian safety at both the 17th & Potomac and the 18th & Potomac intersections. Drivers consistently fail to stop when turning on red.
  • Implement traffic calming measures based on results of traffic study. Options may include adding raised crosswalks, installing a signal/flashing light and/or installing a roundabout.

Long-Term

  • Conversion of the 1800 block of Potomac Ave SE from one-way to two-way. Ultimately, getting rid of the two-way to one-way transition at 18th Street would do the most to improve safety at the 18th & Potomac intersection. Such a change would need significant support from residents living on the 1800 block of Potomac. One potential issue would be the lack of vehicle access to westbound Potomac Ave SE, which leads to the next long-term discussion item
  • Conversion of 19th Street SE from one-way to two-way. Unfortunately, there was not a lot of discussion about this idea during the 17th & 19th Street Safety Improvement Project. The safety improvements that DDOT has already implemented along 19th Street are modest – repainted crosswalks, new signage and an electronic “your speed is” sign. Converting 19th Street to two-way would reduce traffic speed and volume along the corridor and improve access to the new Hill East/Reservation 13 development from the north.

Both of the long-term solutions would need significant support from the neighborhood. I plan to work with my ANC 6B colleagues to start the conversation now.

Thanks to DDOT’s Connie Wheeler and Adolfo Nino for attending the meeting and providing great suggestions. And a big thanks to all residents who were able to attend and/or contacted me with comments. I’ll keep you updated!


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.


Friday Quick Takes: Barracks Row Fest, Res. 13, Potomac Ave, 1600 Penn Ave SE

September 26, 2014
  • The Barracks Row Fall Festival is tomorrow (Sat., Sept. 27) from 11 am – 4 pm on 8th Street SE. Always a good time with great food and activities. I’ll be at the ANC 6B booth from 1-3 pm near District Doughnut. Be sure to stop by and say hello!
  • The Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development’s Office has announced an Oct. 29 surplus meeting for parcels F1 & G1 at Reservation 13/Hill East Development. I’ve posted some additional information about the meeting.
  • On Thurs., Oct. 2, I’ll be holding a meeting on the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue SE project at 7:30 pm at New York Pizza (1401 Pennsylvania Ave SE). Greg Selfridge of NOVO development will be on hand to provide updates on the construction and answer questions.
  • Beginning Monday, Sept. 29, the District Department of Transportation will be conducting a roadway improvement project on the 1400 block of Potomac Ave SE. The project, which is expected to last 3 weeks, will include a much-needed resurfacing of the roadway and repairs to sidewalks, curbs and gutters and wheel chair ramps. Note that traffic will likely be reduced to one lane on this block during construction hours.
  • The Department of General Services has scheduled a second building tour for development teams interested in responding to the Eastern Branch Building RFP. The tour will be on Tues., Sept. 30. from 9:30 am – 4:00 pm I’m working with DGS to schedule a separate community tour date and time.
  • If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to register for the Dead Man’s Run 5K on Saturday, Oct. 4, 6:00 pm at Historic Congressional Cemetery.

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!