11th Street Westbound On Ramp Reopens

Late Friday, August 22nd, DDOT reopened the 11th Street SE westbound on ramp to I-695.  This access point was closed about 2 months ago to enable the 11th Street Bridge project to realign the roadway up and over the future exit ramp onto I Street SE at 9th Street.  Vehicles traveling north or south on 11th Street can access the ramp at a signalized intersection.

11th Street Ramp to I-695WB_I-395

View looking west of realigned 11th Street Ramp to Westbound I-695

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Planned Condo Building for 11th & I Streets SE

Below are the revised plans (north and east elevations) of the planned condo building for 11th and I Streets SE.  ANC6B reviewed different elevations at its Planning & Zoning Meeting in July 2014 but final review/vote was delayed until September 2014.  These revised plans will be considered by ANC6B and the Historic Preservation Review Board during its September meetings.

The major changes since July include the addition of brick detailing (cornice lines and base), contextual windows (appropriate size and scale), less glass, and somewhat simplified facades.  (My personal view: Capitol Hill historic features have been integrated into the more contemporary July versions.)

Condo 11th & I SE 11th St Elevation Sept 2014

11th Street Facade (West Elevation) for Conceptual Review September 2014

Below for comparison is the July 2014 design for the West Elevation.

Condo 11th St July 2014 design

July 2014 Design of West Elevation

Condo 11th & I SE I St Elevation Sep2014

I Street SE Facade (North Elevation) for Conceptual Review September 2014

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A New Vision for the SE Boulevard

Amazing for August, about 50 people packed a room at the Hill Center on Monday August 4th to learn about and provide feedback on new concepts for a SE Boulevard.  These new ideas have emerged from a DC Office of Planning (OP) neighborhood study in which ANC6B and the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) are participating.

The study came about after DDOT presented 4 options for the Boulevard at a meeting in November 2013.  ANC6B pushed back on these options with a 9-page letter to DDOT, asking that a neighborhood study precede decisions on what kind/size of road to build.  With Councilmember Wells help, this request became a reality when OP agreed to conduct a “rapid response” neighborhood study.  The study began in April.

The August 4 presentation:  2014-08-04 ANC mtg OP Presentation

Large versions of 7 concept drawings: 2014-08-04 ANC mtg-Concept Alternatives

The concepts include 2- or 4-lane roads and have varying mixes of new housing/retail and parkland.  All provide ways to connect with the Anacostia waterfront. Although Barney Circle is not an explicit component of the OP study, the concepts link to it.  It is an obvious open space that needs to be designed with safe access for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Many of the attendees at the August 4 meeting were residents who live close to the site.  They are understandably concerned about the impact on their existing neighborhood and generally don’t prefer it to change.  But, analysis has to include the needs of the broader Capitol Hill community and consideration of regional traffic flows and how to keep it off residential streets.  Compromise is inevitable.

Subsequent to the meeting, OP will be working with its consultant from SmithGroup to create 3 “finalist” concepts based on the input from all of us.  ANC6B plans to hold a second Community Meeting–most likely led by CM Wells–in September to discuss these options.  ANC6B expects DDOT to restart the NEPA Barney Circle & SE Boulevard Transportation Planning Study –that has been on hiatus during the OP study–in early 2015.

A new wrinkle discussed at the Monday meeting was that DDOT plans to reopen the old lanes of the SE/SW Freeway between 11th Street SE and Barney Circle by the end of this year.  These lanes were closed about 18 months ago to enable the 11th Street Bridge project to use the space for staging and storage as that project built ramps and overpasses on the Capitol Hill side of the bridge.  This reopening has major implications for the DDOT NEPA study.  First, this freeway segment becomes the No Build option in the study.  Second, in my view, it will take the pressure off city officials to get the NEPA study completed in a timely manner, hopefully, incorporating some of the fresh ideas generated by the OP study.

Update:  See also Commissioner Flahaven’s post on the meeting

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ANC6B Nixes $250K Fund

At its Special Call meeting on July 10th, ANC6B voted 6-0 to send a letter to DDOT and FHWA in response to the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Final EIS.  I was there.  I should have voted in opposition.  In the light of day I regret not doing so.

Most of the letter is fine–continuing the same themes of 4 previous VAT letters–but at this meeting, I had voted in opposition to two amendments: the VAT Mitigation Fund and the Hazardous Materials clause.  For very different reasons.

The haz mat clause was crafted on the fly and sub amended several times.  By the end, I was not sure what the final clause said.  I voted against it.  I also felt that the clause–whatever it said–was sending a message to the entire DC Government and that our FEIS letter was the wrong place for it.  A better place would have been as a follow up to the ANC’s March letter to Mayor Gray.

On the $250K: The FEIS provided this money to ANC6B (and another $250K to ANC6D) to use as mitigation payments to residents and businesses who end up “inconvenienced” during tunnel construction.  Granted this offer is problematic.  First ANCs can’t accept more than $1,000 per year from any one source.  Second, imagine trying to define “inconvenience”.  So, it is clear that the ANC couldn’t be the receptor but that is not to say that ANC6B could not designate that these funds go to a 3rd party.

I tried to soften the strident language of Commissioner Peich’s amendment on the funds.  All I wanted was more time.  The Commission in voting as it did denied me the opportunity to research options and to get feedback on the fund concept from my constituents who live and work near Virginia Avenue Park, right in the heart of the tunnel construction.  I just needed more time.  There was no reason for the ANC to reject these funds at this time.  They wouldn’t have been paid out by CSX until “major construction activity” begins.

Any body want to guess how far away that is?  Given that those who are opposed to this project in any form will probably sue once the Record of Decision is issued, major construction could be a year or more away.  And, when it does happen, my ANC6B04 constituents won’t be able to apply to a migration fund for some relief.  These are the same people, by the way, who have been directly inconvenienced by the building of the 11th Street Bridge in the last five years.

NOTE: Two of my colleagues reject my interpretation of the impact of the fund language in the ANC letter.

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Report: ANC6B July 2014 Meeting

It took 10 Commissioners almost 3 and a half hours on Tuesday night to get through a very extensive agenda.  First we had to sort through all the historic preservation (HP) and zoning cases on the consent agenda.  Many of the HP cases that the Planning & Zoning Committee had plowed through a week earlier it turned out would not be heard by the Historic Preservation Review Board until September.  Since plans we viewed in July could be changed by September, about half the HP cases were deferred to September.  (That included the condo project for 900 11th Street SE.)

All of the HP and zoning cases that remained on the Agenda were approved.  The most hotly debated was the zoning case for &pizza to locate at 405 8th Street SE.  After several motions and lots of discussion, it was approved by a vote of 6-4.  I voted in opposition because–bottom line–I do not think any management scheme attached to a BZA order will change the negative impact of another fast food operation on this block.

Under the Transportation Committee section of the agenda, the Commission voted 10-0 to send letters to DDOT (asking for an extension of the comment period of the moveDC draft and to hurry up with a traffic calming request for the 300 block of 8th Street SE); to DC Water about its plans to replace a water main on 17th Street SE that will further delay implementation of the pedestrian safety changes to that street; to MPD (asking for an update on a suggested Stop Sign camera at the north 8th & D SE intersection); and a Resolution (to WMATA) on Metrobus plans to eliminate some stops along the 30′s bus line.

I also announced during the Transportation portion of the meeting that the ANC will be holding a Community Meeting on the SE Boulevard planning study now underway in conjunction with the Office of Planning and DDOT; the date will most likely be Monday August 4th but an official announcement will be sent out with the details.  Meanwhile, you can check the Transportation Committee’s July Report for details on the study.

Other approvals, all with 10-0 votes: (1) Testimony before the Council’s Committee on Human Services on a Sense of the Council for Closing DC General Shelter Resolution of 2014 (PR20-845); and (2) a letter to DGS requesting a market study in support of Eastern Market’s business planning efforts. And, (3) the ANC’s April-June 2014 Quarterly Financial Activity Report.

The Treasurer also prepared a “burn rate” by Quarter of our financial situation.  Since the renovation of the Hill Center, the ANC has been paying both office rent and for the services of our (excellent) parttime executive director.  In anticipation of this situation, the ANC many years ago conducted a savings campaign.  Since we moved back into the Center, we have had to spend some of that savings to cover our monthly costs.  As part of the negotiations on the Hine project, the developers are obliged to give ANC6B reduced rate office space.  But, given the delay in getting that project even started, that space won’t be available for several years.  Our burn rate suggests that we cannot afford both an office and staff beyond the 3rd Quarter of 2015.  The ANC has to have office space within its borders and CM Wells’ office is checking out all DC government properties within 6B where the Commission would be entitled to free office space.

The Commission heard a presentation by Mr. Marc Battle of Pepco about the proposed Exelon-Pepco merger.  Mr. Battle’s bottom line seemed to be that Pepco customers would not “see” any change as the current Pepco entity would continue to operate as is.  A version of the fact sheet handed out at the meeting is available.

Commissioner Pate, chair of the Outreach & Constituent Services Task Force, announced that at the next TF meeting–Wed 16 July, 7pm, Hill Center–the members will discuss and update the 6B Vacant properties list and discuss a planned Fall Public Safety event.

And, then we all went home.  Or, somewhere else.

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ANC6B Adds Meeting on FEIS

ANC6B has called a special meeting to discuss and vote on comments on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel (VAT) Reconstruction project.

The meeting is Thursday, July 10th, at 7pm.  The location is the National Community Church, 535 8th Street SE (Barracks Row).  There is a link to the ANC’s letter on the DEIS in the paragraph on this project on my “Tracking ANC6B Issues: 2014″ page.

Personal comment on the July 1 FEIS meeting held by DDOT and FHWA, who are managing the EIS process: Those who are fighting “tooth and nail” to oppose the reconstruction project will use any argument–whether supported by the facts or not–to try to prove their case and, I think, will not at this point believe anything said to refute their claims.  DDOT and FHWA spokespersons at the meeting seemed to have been blindsided and did not prove to be especially articulate in defending the FEIS and its preferred alternative in response to the questions thrown at them.

Where is our political leadership?  Someone needs to step in, lower the “temperature,” and provide some rationality.  Perhaps they (Rep Norton, CM Wells, and CM in waiting Allen) finally spoke but I left the meeting after sitting through an hour of hearing what I have heard many times before during this many years and, alas, still continuing process.

BTW, the comment period on the FEIS has been extended an additional 30 days.  The deadline is now August 12, 2014.  And, DDOT/FHWA have scheduled a second meeting on the FEIS for Thursday, July 31.

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ANC6B May 2014 Round of Meetings

… from my Beat26 email of 5 May:

The agenda for the various ANC6B meetings to be held in May 2014 is now posted on the ANC website.  Here’s a snapshot:

  • Tue 6 May, 7pm: Planning & Zoning Committee at St Coletta’s school, 1901 Independence Avenue SE.  There are 10 items on the list for this meeting.  It’s going to be a challenge getting through all this before 10pm.
  • Wed 7 May, 7pm: Transportation Committee at the Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, 3rd Floor.  Three items (related to Metro Bus 30′s Line, SE Boulevard, & Residential Parking North of PA) and some updates.
  • Thu 8 May, 7pm: ABC Committee, Hill Center, 3rd Floor.  Two liquor license cases (Nooshi on Barracks Row and P&C Market at Lincoln Park).
  • Mon 12 May, 7pm: 1333 M Street Planned Unit Development (PUD) Sub-committee, Hill Center, 3rd Floor.  This is the first meeting of this sub-committee.  The agenda was sent out in an email from the ANC office.  If you want a copy, just let the office know (office@anc6b.org) or contact me at Beat26@aol.com  (See also Tracking ANC6B Issues: 2014)
  • Wed 21 May, 7pm: Outreach & Constituent Services Task Force, Hill Center, 3rd Floor.
  • Tue 27 May, 7pm: Executive Committee, Hill Center, 3rd Floor.  This meeting sets the agenda for the June meetings.

All ANC6B meetings are open to the public and participation is encouraged.

Also in that 5 May email was information on trash and illegal construction

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11th Street Bridge Project: 2014 Milestones

At the March 10, 2014, meeting of the 11th Street Bridge Community Communications Committee, I learned about significant changes to come in 2014.  Here’s a summary.

On March 7th, the third lane on I-695 westbound (inbound from Anacostia) was opened, resolving the AM commuter traffic bottleneck.  At the same time, outbound traffic was switched to the flyover [Ramp A-2] designed for that purpose.  It is hoped that the resolution of the bottleneck will encourage more MD to DC commuters to avoid cutting through Capitol Hill by staying on I-295 and using the 11th Street Freeway Bridge link to I-695.  But I am told that commuting habits may be difficult to break.

Demolition of the old inbound flyover has been underway since March 15th and is expected to continue for the next 4-5 months.  As the result of this demolition, the exit onto I Street at 10th SE has been permanently closed.  Until the new exit is built (see below), inbound traffic on the Freeway Bridge needs to take the exit onto M Street SE to access Capitol Hill neighborhoods.  During the initial weekend of the demolition, DDOT was able to keep 11th Street open to traffic.  However, for two weekends (March 22-23 and March 29-30) DDOT planned a closure of 11th Street between K and M Streets SE, including the westbound on ramp just below K Street SE.  Both north and south traffic was detoured around the closure (see Detour map).

Ramps.  Between now and the end of the year, several Freeway Bridge related ramps will open and/or close.  (The project designations for these ramps are shown below in [brackets] to help with identification using the 2014 Milestones map posted below:

  • New 8th Street outbound on ramp (includes installation of traffic signals for 8th & Virginia Avenue intersection): opening early April [E-2]
  • Eastbound exit ramp onto 11th Street [D-4]: open by July 4th
  • Westbound 11th Street on ramp [D-3]: temporary closure June 17-August 27
  • New westbound exit onto I Street at 9th Street [E-1]: opening by end of 2014

Between 11th Street and Barney Circle.  The details are not yet available but DDOT does plan to reopen the portion of the SE/SW Freeway between 11th Street and Barney Circle by the end of 2014.  To control the north/south 11th Street traffic and traffic using the on and off ramps [D-4 and D-3] at 11th Street, there will be a signalized double intersection at 11th Street.  Note: This reopening, DDOT says, does not affect the Barney Circle & SE Boulevard NEPA study except that the No Build under that study will be to retain this freeway segment.

Between postings here or my Beat26@aol.com mailings, you can follow the 11th Street Bridge Project on DDOT’s AWI website.

BTW, the 2014 Milestones map below shows an extension of 12th Street SE north of M Street.  Under the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel Reconstruction project, plans are to extend the tunnel portal to a point east of 12th Street.  This would allow for an at grade connection of 12th Street to a SE/SW Freeway, SE Boulevard, or whatever road DDOT eventual builds between Barney Circle and 11th Street SE.  Thus, what is shown on the 2014 Milestones map [S-23] is a long way off.

Will any of the 2014 Bridge work solve any of the current vehicle traffic problems on the Hill?  The 11th Street Bridge was supposedly designed to do so.  But, all this churning of traffic patterns in 2014 may just complicate matters.  Final conclusion of the Bridge project is slated for mid-2015.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? …

11th Street Bridge 2014 Milestones Map

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Detour Map for 11th Street SE Closures

For continuing demolition of the last remaining old Freeway flyway of the 11th Street Bridge system, DDOT will be closing 11th Street SE between K and M Streets SE on the weekends of March 22-23 and March 29-30, 2014.  On both weekends, the closure will begin at 7am Saturday and end at 11pm on Sunday.

For a Detour Map, open this file: 11th Street Closures & Detours


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DC Safe Rail Objects

Today ANC6B received a letter from DC Safe Rail, the group opposing the VAT project, complaining about many statements I have made in articles on this blog.  There is a link to that letter:  DCSafeRail.Ltr2ANC6B.1.28.14-1

I have no intentions to respond.  I felt a need to speak out and have done so.  And, the arrival of this letter seems to indicate I have had some effect.  But, I have already spent way too much of my time on this matter to the detriment of more immediate constituent issues.  Eventually, the FEIS will be released and, then, it will be time to debate once more.

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