Archive for the ‘Streets and Trees’ category

Limited-stop 59 Bus Service on 14th Street is Now

January 8, 2018

This morning, shortly after 8 a.m., Mayor Bowser kicked off the start of the 59 bus on 14th Street. Limited-service express bus-like service has long been a goal of the community and the local Advisory Neighborhood Commissions along the route.

The new MetroExtra limited-stop service will operate along 14th Street NW between the Takoma and Federal Triangle Metrorail stations. The weekday only service will run every 15 minutes during rush hours, 6:30-9:30 a.m. and 3:45-7:00 p.m. Buses will serve 16 stops along the route providing connections to Metrorail and business, educational and shopping destinations.

This morning’s kick off began with remarks by Mayor Bowser, followed by Councilmembers Todd and Nadeau, and lastly DDOT Director Jeff Marootian. Following the remarks, those assembled were able to ride the first 59 bus with Mayor Bowser, getting on at 14th and Buchanan as far as 14th and U Street, NW.

(Mayor Bowser riding on the 59 bus.)

The map below shows where the 59 bus stops are located along the route:

Irving Street Express Way & North Capitol Cloverleaf Remnants of Unrealized Freeway System

December 8, 2017

While creating a good crosstown transportation connection between Brookland and Adams Morgan is a goal of the recent Crosstown Multimodal Study, this is not a new idea. Creating a good crosstown transportation network has vexed District transportation planners for more than 90 years. DDOT’s Multimodal Study is notable for taking all forms of transportation into consideration. Unfortunately, efforts in the 1920s and 1950s did not do this and prioritized automotive transportation at the expense of walk-ability and the environment. This resulted in blocks without street trees, a four-lane expressway that leads nowhere, and the District’s only transportation cloverleaf at North Capitol and Irving streets.

Both the Irving Street expressway and the cloverleaf intersection at the Washington Hospital Center date to the 1950s and were intended to solve two problems. The first was to establish a better crosstown route. The second was to connect that route to the freeway system in Maryland. Neither of these goals achieve their promise.

One of the earliest efforts to identify Columbia Road as part of an improved crosstown route dates to 1927. It came out of a recommendation to the National Capital Park and Planning Commission by a subcommittee designated to study the traffic plan developed by L.D. Tilton, a St. Louis traffic expert. Tilton’s traffic plan attempted to place all sections of the District of Columbia within a quarter or half mile distance of a selected major thoroughfare. Recommendations to the NCPPC were divided into two divisions – crosstown and radial.

While 18 major traffic thoroughfares were definitely recommended, the proposal to include Columbia Road was tabled to be decided at a later date. This was due to the fact that it was considered unduly narrow between Sixteenth Street and the Soldiers’ Home. While all agreed it was ideally located to serve as a crosstown route, there was doubt that the street could be widened to serve in that capacity.

Never-the-less, two important routes were identified in 1927 that would later play a role in creating the North Capitol and Irving cloverleaf. The relevant radial route consisted of North Capitol Street, Michigan Avenue, Harewood Road, and Blair Road to the District boundary. The relevant crosstown route was Garfield Street, by way of Cleveland Avenue, Calvert Street, and Columbia Road to Sixteenth Street (from Sixteenth Street to the Soldiers’ Home, the matter of widening Columbia Road or combining the route with another street to be decided later). From the Soldiers’ Home the route would continue along Michigan Avenue and Franklin Street to Bladensburg Road.

In 1931, NCPPC used the 1927 thoroughfare plan to prioritize street improvements and paving. While the matter of the crosstown route between Sixteenth Street and the Soldiers’ Home was still undecided, the proposed solution was to develop Colombia Road for westbound traffic and Harvard Street for eastbound traffic – and then to realign the road north of McMillan reservoir to connect this pair with Michigan Avenue to the east.

While the basic corridors were identified in 1927 and expanded in 1931, it wasn’t until the beginning of the 1950s that genuine efforts were made to realize these corridors. The plan consisted of constructing two new highways through the Soldiers’ Home.

The north-south freeway was proposed as a six-lane highway that would end the detour around the Soldiers’ Home and connect North Capitol Street directly with Maryland.

Rather than construct a full-fledged east-west freeway, planners proposed a cheaper alternative. Instead of a freeway, planners proposed a new one-way network – Irving street one-way west and Columbia Road one-way east. Irving would be cut through the Soldiers’ Home to connect with Michigan Avenue at Harwood Road. Other suggestions from this plan included:

  • Making Park Place one-way northbound;
  • making Warder Street one-way southbound; and,
  • realigning Irving Street at 14th Street and Georgia Avenue.

(Map from the Washington Post, February 20, 1952.)

After two-years of negotiations, the southern 42-acres of the Soldiers’ Home was transferred to the District in late 1954 paving the way for the highway project to move forward. As construction was geared to begin in late 1956, the original plan to use Irving and Columbia Road was altered to include Lamont and Kenyon streets as well. Each street would parallel each other as far as Klingle Road, NW. Harvard Street would later be identified to replace Lamont.

(Overview of configuration in 1954 from the Evening Star, September 26, 1954.)

From the Evening Star, 1958.

The narrowness of the streets between the Soldiers’ Home and Sixteenth street was identified in the 1927 plan and not entirely solved with the one-way street scheme. To receive Federal aid for the crosstown street project, the streets included in the network had to be a least 30 feet wide. This meant that several of the streets had to be widened, some as little as 6 inches on each side. This requirement doomed more than 100 street trees which were cut down to make way for the widened streets and new curbs.

For example, Harvard Street between Georgia Avenue and 14th Street was 29 feet wide. To gain the needed extra foot the curbs were moved six inches on either side. To make way for the new curbs on Harvard, 27 trees – 18 pin oaks and nine ginkos – were cut down. To widen Irving Street west of Georgia Avenue by two feet, 40 street trees were cut down. While some of these streets have wonderful tree-line blocks today, other blocks on these routes are still tree-less with no room for street trees.

The one-way street network east of 14th Street and the Irving Street expressway across the former Soldiers’ Home grounds was completed and opened to motorists on October 20th 1958 as work continued on the North Capitol cloverleaf and connecting Kenyon Street to Park Road west of 14th Street. The final stage of the crosstown route project was completed on August 19, 1959, when the final one-way streets were implemented. These were Irving Street between Adams Mill Road and 11th Street (eastbound), Kenyon Street between 11th Street and 14th Street (westbound), and Park Road between 14th Street and 17th Street (westbound).

In a twist of irony, while the effort to complete the crosstown network and cloverleaf intersection were being completed the District Commissioners put a halt to the north-south freeway effort. Even with construction of the North Capitol street extension underway across the Soldiers’ Home grounds, in 1960 the Commissioners followed the recommendation of city highway officials to cancel the contract. While the goal was to tie the North Capitol highway into a major Maryland highway, Maryland officials were uncommitted to the goal.

(Map of street network configuration in 1958, from the Evening Star, Oct. 19, 1958.)

References

“3 Streets Turn One-Way Today.” The Washington Post, Aug. 19, 1959, p. B1.

“18 Thoroughfares Proposed to Serve for Major Traffic.” The Washington Post, Oct. 23, 1927, p. M2.

“Committee Draws Radial Street Plan, Enlarging System.” The Washington Post, Nov. 4, 1927, p. 22.

Deane, James G. “One-Way Crosstown Network Cuts Cost of Freeway Solution.” The Evening Star, Feb. 20, 1952, p. A-14.

Deane, James G. “Two Fast Arteries Would End Roadblock at Soldiers’ Home.” The Evening Star, Feb. 19, 1952, p. A-7.

Gwertzman, Bernard. “Street Widening Dooms More Than 100 Trees Along New Crosstown Route in Northwest.” The Evening Star, Apr. 10, 1958, p. A-21.

“N. Capitol Corridor Plans Job Canceled.” The Evening Star, Feb. 19, 1960, p. B-3.

“Park Road Partly Open For Traffic.” The Washington Post, Dec. 25, 1958, p. B1.

“Priority Paving of Main Streets Urged by Group.” The Evening Star, Dec. 26, 1931, p. A-12.

“Soldiers Home Crossing to Open.” The Washington Post, Oct. 19, 1958, p. B6.

“Soldiers’ Home Crossing To Speed D.C. Traffic.” The Evening Star, Oct. 19, 1958, p. A-23.

“Soldiers’ Home Expressway Will Ease Crosstown Traffic.” The Washington Post, Aug. 20, 1956, p. 34.

Stepp, John W. “42-Acre Soldiers Home Tract Given D.C. for Street Project.” The Evening Star, Sept. 26, 1954, p. 1.

DC Water Repairs Kenyon

November 13, 2017

On November 6th I reported that DC Water had permits to repair the temporary patch in the area of 513 Kenyon by December 2, 2017. In reaching out to DC Water for a follow up, I learned that they were scheduling the work to commence around November 9th. I’m happy to share that the were was completed last week before the Veterans Day holiday.

DDOT and DC Water Act Quickly to Repair Sidewalk and Road on Kenyon

November 6, 2017

Damaged sidewalk in front of 513 Kenyon St., where the asphalt patch had failed.

Both the District Department of Transportation and DC Water acted quickly last week to make sidewalk and street repairs on Kenyon Street.

On Thursday, November 2nd, I meet with a neighbor on Kenyon Street to discuss the condition of the street in the vicinity of 511 Kenyon, where utility work earlier in the year created a situation where the road was uneven and caused  larger trucks traveling down the street to bounce and be noisy. It was clear upon inspection that the asphalt patch in the street was failing and creating a speed bump type of situation.

Upon visiting the street, we also noticed a break in the sidewalk near 513 Kenyon Street where a cut had been made for a utility line and the asphalt patch there had also failed creating a sunken trip hazard.

In both cases, action was taken quickly following my report.

DDOT removed and replaced the broken sidewalk area within 24 hours. I reported the failed temporary road repair to DC Water, and that was also quickly addressed.

In contacting DDOT on Saturday, they confirmed that the street issue was due to a DC Water excavation that is roughly 4′ x 5′ in the concrete roadway, and that it had been repatched within 8 hours of their inspection. DDOT observed no excessive roadway vibrations or noises at that time. They also shared that the area appears to be marked for permanent restoration with a permit that expires on December 2, 2017.

(Repaired section of Sidewalk on the 500 b/o Kenyon.)

Below, before (top) and after (bottom) photos of the asphalt patch on Kenyon.

 

New Crosswalk and Sidewalks Connect Neighborhood to Washington Hospital Center

November 3, 2017

Workers adjusting timing on crosswalk signals at new crosswalk.

I had the opportunity to check out the new crosswalk and sidewalk that now connects Park View with the Washington Hospital Center yesterday. I was happy to see a crew adjusting the timing on the crosswalk signals that allow pedestrians to cross Irving Street to get to the hospitals. It was also good to see a new sidewalk has been installed that will allow pedestrians to walk  south from the intersection to Michigan Avenue, and thus to Children’s Hospital.

All of this work is part of the improvements identified during the Crosstown Multimodal Study, which also resulted in the Barnes Dance at 14th and Irving.

Below are photos of the new sidewalk skirting the hospital center.

DDOT Kicks Off Tree Planting Season

October 9, 2017

The District of Columbia’s Department of Transportation announced the kick off of the 2017-2018 tree planting season last week and aims to plant more than 8,000 trees throughout DC.

A quick look at the tree planting map shows where new trees will be planted in our area. Each year, DDOT plants new street trees in empty tree boxes based on tree planting requests.

(Detail of 2017-2018 tree planting map.)

The full DDOT press release is below:

(Washington, DC) — The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Urban Forestry Division (UFD) kicked off the 2017-2018 tree planting season this week and set an ambitious goal to plant more than 8,000 trees.

“DDOT maintains more than 215,000 trees throughout the District,” said DDOT Interim Director Jeff Marootian. “We are committed to planting new trees, while simultaneously maintaining our existing ones. Urban forestry improves the environment and enhances quality of life. The District is recognized as a national leader in urban tree canopy and currently enjoys a 38.7 percent urban tree canopy. Our goal is to reach 40 percent by 2020. This planting season will move us even closer to that goal.”

DDOT employs a team of 25 arborist who plant and care for the District’s trees, partner with interested organizations, and educate residents on the benefits of urban tree canopy. Tree planting season runs from mid-autumn through mid-spring, depending on weather. This past season, the team planted more than 8,200 trees, exceeding its 8,000 goal.

In June, the team also introduced its DC Tree Watering Application, which helps users locate trees in all eight wards that need watering, tag trees they water, upload photos, and report trees in need of care (e.g., a tree has a beehive). The app also includes a story map with information about tree species found throughout the District.

For more information about the Urban Forestry Division and the tree planting season, and a map of the planned tree planting locations, visit DDOT’s Urban Forestry website.

Sidewalk Safety Measures Should be in Every Neighborhood

September 28, 2017

Section of sidewalk with ground corners.

While walking around Park View and Columbia Heights, I frequently find sections of raised sidewalk that are trip hazards. Yet, I’ve noticed while walking around in the Adams Morgan area that many of the raised corners that were once trip hazards have been ground down (see example at right).

The more I consider the different treatment of how sidewalks are made safe in Ward 1, the more I think that the efforts to make Adams Morgan sidewalks safe need to be rolled out to every neighborhood. I’ll be advocating with the city to either grind down or replace the unsafe sidewalks areas in our section of the Ward 1.

 

 


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