Metro Bus Garage Considered for Soldiers’ Home Grounds

Development map from the AFRH final master plan (2008)

Over the last several days with everyone focused on Hurricane Sandy, many folks may have missed an article posted at the Washington Post on Sunday titled “Metro considers Armed Forces Home land for new bus garage.” In short, the article describes the need to upgrade or replace the Metro bus garage on 14th street and Metro’s interested in exploring the use of land at the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) for a new Metro facility.

I completely understand that Metro should explore any and all options before building a new facility. It also appears that Metro is very early in the process of identifying possible sites as alternatives to the 14th Street garage. But even so, it is impossible to support any proposal to locate a Metro bus garage on the grounds of the Old Soldiers’ Home without more details — especially when Ward 4 Councilmember and Metro Board Member Muriel Bowser has stated that “any [new] location should contain a job training component or facility if possible, as well as serve as a catalyst for economic development.”

In looking at a map of the AFRH from their 2008 final master plan, the land already identified for future development is the area at the southeast corner of their current grounds (Zone A). Zone A is the wildcard. If future development there has already been set in stone then a bus garage would need to go somewhere else. But the other areas formerly considered for development are along Park Place on the western frontier of the AFRH. If this is the area being considered it would have a significant negative impact on Park View residents and would need to be opposed.

If a bus garage were planned for Zone A and placed near the intersection of Irving and North Capital streets, the impact would be far less but there would still potentially be much more bus traffic in the area as buses go to and from the garage. Some of that traffic would definitely be driving through Park View. Again, this is not all that desirable.

But … here’s something to consider. If a bus garage were located near the Irving and North Capital intersection and it was accompanied by a community amenity such as publicly accessible green space/park on a portion of the land along Park Place, would that be a trade off that would be acceptable to the community?

I’m certainly not suggesting that such a deal is in the works. As stated above, the problem with the Post article is the lack of details.

My greatest concern here is that, after the residents at the AFRH, the residents most impacted by any development of the AFRH land would be the Ward 1 residents of Park View. Yet, the 14th Street bus garage is in Ward 4 and CM Bowser is also on the Metro board. The AFRH on the other hand is in Ward 5.

We’ll definitely want to watch this development as closely as possible and make sure all stakeholders are included in any decision making should plans move forward.

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9 Comments on “Metro Bus Garage Considered for Soldiers’ Home Grounds”

  1. Dave Says:

    This proposal may be a non-starter for the AFRH folks, and as federal land, WMATA would have minimal recourse. But if AFRH is open to the discussions, locating the proposed bus garage along Park Place would be totally unacceptable to most if not every Park View resident, especially those living on Park Place.

    Regarding Bowser, even though she supposedly represents the entire city on the WMATA board, some of her board-related actions have reflected Ward 4 interests only and little regard to Park View. Therefore, Bowser’s support on this issue is questionable, especially if relocating the garage would have a positive impact on Ward 4.

  2. mb Says:

    I would be very very concerned about the increase in traffic on Warder street of both buses and employees commuting. Its bad enough now that so many commuters speed on warder street heading out of the City to avoid GA avenue. ( we really need speed tables installed on the 3600 block by the rec center). I just don’t see how this proposal would be benefit our neighborhood at all. Previous poster is right about Bowser though. She adamantly opposed moving the bus garage to the Walter Reed site as part of redevelopement even though it would have had minimal impact to the site but she thinks nothing of pushing it into our neighborhood.

  3. AL Says:

    Kent,

    Thank you for keeping everyone informed of this. Please let us know if you find out more information, and if it would be helpful to organize Park View residents to start writing to the Councilmembers.

  4. JQ Says:

    Please keep us informed of any new developments. I surely hope this remains a non-starter. I’ve enjoyed the recent public openings within AFRH for events like July 4th and Oktoberfest — any ideas what impact a Metro Bus Yard would pose on events like this in the future?

    You question in the post;

    “But … here’s something to consider. If a bus garage were located near the Irving and North Capital intersection and it was accompanied by a community amenity such as publicly accessible green space/park on a portion of the land along Park Place, would that be a trade off that would be acceptable to the community?”

    I would MUCH rather have AFRH remain closed off to the public with NO METRO BUS YARD, than have the bus yard along with some public zoned green space.

  5. JS Says:

    Yes, Kent. Thanks for keeping us up to date. I agree with the others on this and can’t see any positives for the neighborhood. My windows already rattle enough with the commuter traffic on Warder–I can’t imagine what it would be like with buses on a regular basis!

  6. Jose Says:

    Don’t forget to mention the fact that we already have to deal with ambulance and helicopter noise 24 hours a day from the neighboring hospital complex. Just let me what I have to do.

  7. Commissioner Rob Mandle - 4C10 Says:

    Thanks for bringing this to the community’s attention! Let’s not forget the residents of Ward 4 along the northern border of the Soldier Home property along Rock Creek Church Road. This stretch will likely also receive a great deal of new bus traffic if where ever a bus depot may be sited on the property. I especially like the suggestion of granting access to the grounds but any plan here will need to identify impacts on our residential streets including Rock Creek Church Road and Park Place. That is where the negative impact lay. I believe both elements should be part of this discussion.

  8. Mehl Says:

    I agree with Rob Mandle that those of us living along Rock Creek Church Rd would also be heavily affected should a bus garage be relocated to the AFRH. We already have a problem with houses shaking due to speeding buses. This plan, if implemented, would increase bus traffic. I am opposed to the idea of a park in exchange for a bus garage. This is one of the last open green spaces in D.C. and it needs to be protected, especially given the proposal to develop Zone A and its historical significance. I think the P.V. and South Petworth neighbors should fight any bus garage plans should WMATA propose it for AFRH.

  9. Ronald Says:

    If future development there has already been set in stone then a bus garage would need to go somewhere else.


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