DDOT published their Union Station to Georgetown alternatives analysis this week. As expected the study recommends connecting the H Street NE streetcar route to Georgetown via a K Street Transitway. The extension how start on the Hopscotch bridge behind Union station and head east until traveling up New Jersey Avenue in MVT to K Street. It would then follow K Street until reaching Wisconsin Ave in Georgetown. The streetcar would have dedicated lanes from 10th Street NW to 21st Street NW.
We’ve all noticed by now that Boston Properties has been underway with the demolition of the former NPR Headquarters at 635 Mass Ave NW. And I’m sure many of you have heard that law firm Arnold & Porter LLP will be the lead tenant of a new office development on the site. But what will the new building look like? The answer to that, after tracking down renderings from Duda Paine, is apparently a hell of a lot like the under construction AAMC headquarters one block to the north and the convention center. Rather sterile and souless IMO.
Geoff Hatchard, of the Greater Greater Washington blog, authored a detailed recap of the K Street streetscape improvements that paid special emphasis to where he felt the upgrades fell short in servicing pedestrians and cyclists. While I don’t have the time to summarize his discussion here I did feel it was a worthy link.
On Saturday, June 1, 2013, the K Street streetscape will officially be opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony by Mayor Vincent Gray and DDOT Director Terry Bellamy. The event will be held from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. (ribbon cutting at 1:30) at the intersection of 5th and K Streets, NW. The festival will celebrate the completion of the streetscape with an afternoon of music, food, fun, and arts and crafts. Restaurants will provide a Taste of the Triangle, a stage will be programmed all day, and a moon bounce, ball crawl, spin art, balloon crafter, rap artist, and other children’s activities will be available throughout the afternoon.
This event is organized by MVTCID and sponsored by ANC6E, m.flats – Mount Vernon Triangle, Quadrangle, The Wilkes Company, Capital View-DC Lofty, Vida Fitness, with in-kind support by DDOT, DSLBD, and DCRA.
Across the street from City Vista you might have noticed a “opening soon” sign for a new business named Buddha Tree. Difficult to get a close look because the K Street construction has made the sidewalk off limits. But what is visible on the sign from afar suggests the new venture will be a salon.
The building (468 K Street NW?) set to host Buddha Tree recently underwent renovation. Let’s hope this Buddha inspired business fairs better than the last one.
Dr Gridlock is reporting that the streetscape improvement project for K Street will begin within a month. This project will encompass new paving, sidewalks, streetlights, and plantings similar to the improvements implemented by DDOT to 4th Street in 2010. The Capital Bikeshare station at 5th & K will continue to be accessible even if it maybe moved slightly once or twice during the 15 months of construction. No streetcar tracks will be laid as part of this project.
The long-anticipated reconstruction of K Street between 7th Street and 3rd Street will begin this fall. The streetscape project will encompass new paving, sidewalks, streetlights, and plantings. The project is expected to cost $9 million and take 18 months to complete. DDOT will brief the community on the project on October 4th starting 6:00 p.m. at the MVTCID office, located at 901 4th Street, NW
A 90 page document on the technical details is available on the MVTCID’s website.
DDOT Director Gabe Klein held a chat today [transcript]. Chat is not the medium for highly substantive answers but it is great that our new director values and makes time for dialog with the community.
The Mount Vernon Triangle was a topic of several questions from participants (neither was me):
[Gabe Klein, DDOT]: We are still waiting to hear if our application will be approved. It is a very competitive field for this money. The streetcar was not part of the application.
[Comment From Tom]: Will DDOT implement the Mt. Vernon Triangle Transportation Plan to reconfigure the H Street / 3rd Street / Massachusetts Ave., intersection? It is a dangerous intersection for pedestrians. It would be helpful to, at least, remove the large billboard-sized signs that lead drivers to believe it is a freeway rather than a neighborhood.
[Gabe Klein, DDOT]: Yes, we will be improving this intersection. We are reassessing the signs as well. (urban alternatives).
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.
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