We previously reported that Fourth Street construction would begin on October 26th and last up to 9 months. I’m not surprised that the 26th came and went with no visible sign of construction starting. Because this project has such a lengthy window we will likely see construction done in bursts where something happens, then nothing happens, then something happens again. That’s my impression of how the 11th Street NW project has gone…
In the last few days construction signage was erected on Eye Street so we may see construction begin soon.
Last night DDOT unveiled their proposed 8-line 3 phase implementation of a streetcar network at their Ward 6 session. Greater Greater Washington has summarized the details from the forum.
I anticipate writing more about this in the near future but the quick and dirty is that lines along K Street through MVT did earn priority for the proposed Phase 1.
Below is an zoom of the larger Phase 1 map that shows MVT will have one-seat trips to Foggy Bottom to the West, H Street/Benning to the East, plus Barracks Row and Anacostia to the South.
Georgetown would become a new one-seat destination for the K Street line by Phase 2 and of course once you begin to consider the possible destinations with transfers the connectivity is amazing.
An announcement on the MVT CID website declares Fourth Street construction will begin next week. I assume this means Sigal construction should stop commandeering a full lane of traffic in their renovations of 425 Eye.
The DC Department of Transportation has announced that the 4th Street NW streetscape construction will begin on October 26th. The project will widen 4th Street NW and accommodate two-way traffic from L Street, NW south to Massachusetts Avenue, NW. Capitol Paving, a DC firm, was awarded the contract by DDOT, and construction should last nine months. Fourth Street is Phase II of the streetscape construction that started with the L Street streetscape completed in 2008 for the opening of Safeway.
Below is the writeup of this project from a posting I originally wrote in June:
The plans for the upgrades to Fourth Street are outlined in the Final Report for the Mount Vernon Triangle Transportation and Public Realm Design Project.
In the study, Fourth Street improvements include:
- Restore two-way traffic from L Street to Mass Ave
- New traffic light at Fourth and Eye
- Removal of a traffic island on the NW corner of Fourth and Mass
- Reconfiguration of the Fourth, Mass and H Street intersection
- Redesign slip intersection of Third and H Streets
To accommodate these changes Fourth Street will be widened to support two way traffic. On street parking will be available on both sides of the street for the 900 and 1000 blocks. The widening on the west shoulder of 800 block will push back from the DuMont’s temporary yellow curb to the true sidewalk. On the east side of the 800 block DDOT will reclaim a few feet of the Madrigal Lofts sidewalk. This has always been the plan and is why the trees were planted off center in the tree boxes to be closer to the condo building than the street. The final configuration of the 800 block segment will feature two southbound lanes, one northbound lane and on-street parking on the east side of the street.
DDOT spokesperson John Lisle sent out an announcement yesterday that the agency will unveil it’s proposed streetcar system plan a series of public meetings scheduled in every ward. The meetings kick off next Thursday October 22nd with the Ward 6 meeting (our ward) at J.O. Wilson Elementary (660 K Street NE) from 7 pm – 8:30 pm.
Portland Streetcar image from flickr user KGradinger
During the tenure of Mayor Anthony Williams two disconnected streetcar alignments, one on H Street NE, and the other in Anacostia were planned and the trams were ordered from the Czech Republic based Inekon. The order was fulfilled by Inekon years ago but the trams remain in the Czech Republic as progress on the project stalled. Finally in 2009 with the appointment of new DDOT director Gabe Klein tracks have begun to be installed on Benning Road NE and in Anacostia along Firth Sterling.
In early August, at a public forum held in the Atlas Theatre on H Street NE, Klein pledged to place streetcars back on the front burner stating the sluggish progress on the project was unacceptable. These public meetings in each ward will give District residents an opportunity to hear about the current progress and view updated plans for future streetcar lines across the District.
What does this mean for the Mount Vernon Triangle? One goal DDOT has is to connect the H Street NE/Benning Road streetcar line to the K Street Transitway which will run from Mount Vernon Square to Georgetown. I pondered two potential alignments for that connection back in April. I have a reputable source that says we should expect when the system is unveiled the MVT segment will use New Jersey Ave and K Street then connect to the H Street NE segment behind Union Station on the Hopscotch Bridge.
That NJ/K alignment makes a solid sense as both streets have wide right of ways and streetscape money already earmarked in the coming years. I don’t have any information on timing or station locations but perhaps some of the details we crave will be shared at these public meetings.
UPDATED [10/15/2009 11:10AM]: Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy wells tells the Washington Business Journal the H Street NE/Benning streetcar line is his primary project.
For a primer on streetcars, visit my past profile of Seattle’s Streetcar
A few small updates this morning:
- Several readers have pointed out that DDOT installed much needed physical barriers at 5th and Mass over the paint striped areas. See photos from John and Kim. While the barrels are a bit much this sort of temporary solution was needed to address the safety hazard DDOT created by leaving the intersection modifications they started incomplete.
- The water being pumped out from the DuMont onto the street is pooling along the yellow curb and producing Algae. The MVTCID has approached DCRA and they will send out an inspector.
- The prostitutes that previously congregated at 4th & L have relocated to the 5th & Mass triangle park next to the House of Ruth and Circulator bus stop. A few days ago I saw a man with no pants on wiping up after dropping a deuce. Please call MPD if you see any violations of the law.
The Washington Business Journal shares elements of DDOT director Gabe Klein’s vision for a streetcar network with Jonathan O’Connell’s piece: D.C. wants to revive streetcar plan.
Anthony Williams, the mayoral predecessor to Fenty, originally laid plans to build two pilot streetcar lines in H Street NE and Anacostia. Three streetcars had been purchased but have sat idle in the Czech Republic as the projects stalled. Klein wants to not only jumpstart those lines but build a network. How will it be different this time?
Although the Williams administration planned to build a streetcar network without federal dollars, as Portland, Ore. did with its model system, Klein said meetings with Ray LaHood, U.S. Department of Transportation secretary, have convinced him that the federal government will be a partner.
LaHood “is extremely supportive. I think he’s pretty excited about the possibility of it running right in front of the Department of Transportation headquarters,” which is on M Street SE, Klein said. He said the city plans to seek funding through the federal New Starts program, in which the Federal Transit Administration partially finances locally planned and operated transit. Klein said the program was being transformed under LaHood into an attractive option.
As we anticipated from our April discussion on a K Street streetcar, Klein would like to build a streetcar network that would include a route through downtown. The Downtown BID and other stakeholders have been pushing for the K Street line.
UPDATE [8/7/2009 12:10PM]: Greater Greater Washington recapped the DDOT public forum on streetcars that was held last night at the Atlas Theatre.
DDOT’s facebook page has a photo album of the ongoing track installation on Benning Road NE. If K Street will be part of the streetcar network our track installation should ideally occur the same time as the streetscape improvements so that residents and business only impacted by construction only once.
Late in June DDOT implemented several improvements to the intersection of 5th, Eye and Massachusetts Avenue NW targeted towards increasing pedestrian safety. Nine crosswalk segments were widened and striped with fresh paint. Additionally the pedestrian refuges on the northwest and southeast corners were expanded with striped paint to reduce crossing distance and disjointed traffic flow on the Eye Street stubs.
Aerial rendering of expansions to pedestrian refuges at 5th and Mass
These upgrades seemed to reflect an evolution of DDOT into a more agile organization. New DDOT director Gabe Klein, who comes from an entrepreneurial background, recognizes responsiveness is often best achieved with rapid delivery of functionality that is both important and sufficiently executed. Delivering small low cost improvements quickly, evaluating the effects of the change, then incrementally making further upgrades can yield better outcomes than waiting years to make permanent improvements while studies are conducted and funds are raised. This is a paradigm that could produce many great things for the district.
Why is this stop sign still here?
Cars ignoring the striped paint on SE corner of 5th and Mass
While this intersection did represent a prime opportunity to take swift action on a small budget I feel the project has been executed poorly. Striped paint alone is not enough to change the traffic flow of cars. Complicating matters DDOT did not remove the Stop signs that serviced the now striped off lanes thus sending mixed messages to drivers. The result is unpredictable behavior from cars that creates chaos and places pedestrians at more risk than before DDOT introduced these changes.
Example of quick curbs at 15th & W Streets NW
DDOT needs to finish what it started by removing the contradictory Stop signs and installing quick curbs or bollards to prevent the flow of cars into the paint striped areas. Anything less endangers pedestrians at this intersection and harms the credibility of the new agile path DDOT would like to travel down.
The following is the body of a letter from the Mount Vernon Square Neighborhood Association to DDOT’s Jeffrey Marootian and Melissa Byrd of the Office of Planning.
The Mount Vernon Square Neighborhood Association (MVSNA) requests that the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) implement “no parking/no standing” restrictions along the 1000 and 1100 blocks of Fourth Street, NW, between K Street, NW and M Street, NW.
This area has long suffered from rampant prostitution, drug, loitering, vandalism, and other criminal activity. Some residents have lived with this crime for many years. Others who recently moved into the area, including units in City Vista, Madrigal Lofts, and Yale Steam Laundry, as well as many others who visit the area to shop at Safeway, Fifth Street Hardware, and Busboys & Poets, are shocked to experience the criminal activity firsthand on a daily basis.
The intent of the proposed no parking/standing restrictions is to reduce the prostitution and drug activity that frequently occurs in and through vehicles in this area. We suggest a 24-month approach for months 1-12, the restrictions would apply to all vehicles; for months 13-24, the restrictions would apply to all vehicles other than Zone 2/6 permit holders. At the end of this two-year period, DDOT would review the restrictions and determine their continued application after considering public comment. There would continue to be sufficient parking for neighborhood residents after implementation of the restrictions.
We have consulted with area residents and they overwhelmingly support the change. In addition, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6C, in whose jurisdiction the block falls, has voted in support of the proposed restrictions. We have been advised by officers of the Metropolitan Police Department that these restrictions provide them with an additional tool to investigate this extensive criminal activity and enforce the laws that protect the neighborhood residents. We do not view the proposed restrictions as a silverbullet to eliminating illicit activity in the area, but a vital element of a comprehensive plan to foster a safer and more livable environment.
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the U.S. Park Police have provided the following information about temporary road closures for events scheduled over the Memorial Day weekend.
Friday, May 22
Rolling Thunder Candlelight Vigil:
Henry Bacon Drive will be closed from Constitution Avenue to the Lincoln Memorial Circle from 7:00 p.m. to 11 pm.
Saturday May 23
United House of Prayer for All People Memorial Day Parade. The parade starts at 11 a.m. and there will be temporary road closures along the route:
- The parade route begins at 601 M Street;
- North on 6th Street, NW to Florida Avenue ;
- West on Florida Avenue to 13th & U Streets, NW;
- South on 13th Street, NW to Logan Circle ;
- East on P Street to 7th Street, NW ;
- South on 7th Street to M Street, NW;
- East on M Street to end at the House of Prayer.
Sunday May 24
Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Ride. The following streets will be closed from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.:
- Arlington Memorial Circle
- Memorial Bridge
- Lincoln Memorial Circle
- 23rd Street, NW from Constitution Avenue to Lincoln Memorial Circle
- Henry Bacon Drive from Constitution Avenue to Lincoln Memorial Circle
- Constitution Avenue, NW from the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge to 3rd Street, NW
- 3rd Street from Constitution Avenue, NW to Independence Avenue, SW
- Independence Avenue from 3rd Street to 23rd Street, SW
- Ohio Drive, SW from Independence Avenue to the Inlet Bridge
- West Basin Drive, SW from Ohio Drive to Independence Avenue
- Jefferson Drive, SW
- Madison Drive, NW
Monday May 25
Memorial Day Parade:
Henry Bacon Drive closes at 5 a.m. and will remain closed until the conclusion of the parade. The following streets will be closed from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.:
- Constitution Avenue from 7th Street to 23rd Street, NW .
- Jefferson Drive from 4th Street to 15th Street, SW
- Madison Drive from 4th Street to 15th Street, NW
- 15th Street from Independence Avenue, SW to Constitution Avenue, NW
- 17th Street from Independence Avenue, SW to Constitution Avenue, NW