Archive for the ‘Streets and Trees’ category

DC Protected Bike Lane Pop Up Event Schedule for Kenyon Street on Friday

September 17, 2018

As part of DDOT’s efforts to establish protected bike lanes in Park View, they have scheduled a Bike Lane Pop Up Event for the 400 block of Kenyon Street on Friday, September 21st. Below are the details and this is definitely worth checking out.

Meeting Info

On Friday, September 21st, 2018 from 7-9 AM and 4-7PM, the project team will be available to speak to the public about a full-scale model of the protected bike lane along the 400 block of Kenyon Street NW located between Park Place NW and Warder Street NW. The temporary bike lane will be along Kenyon Street NW from September 19 -September 22, 2018 as part of the Crosstown Protected Bike Lanes Project. The goal of the temporary installation is to demonstrate how the proposed bike lanes will function and to provide the public with an opportunity to speak with the project team about the Crosstown Protected Bicycle Lane Project.  www.dccycletrack.com/crosstown for more information on the project.

Project Background

The Crosstown protected bicycle lane designs along Irving Street NE/NW and the 400 block of Kenyon Street NW is Project Recommendation B.1 from the September 2016 Crosstown Multimodal Transportation Study. In addition to the protected bicycle lane recommendations, the Crosstown Study recommended a variety of multimodal improvements throughout the corridor to enhance operations for motorists, transit, cyclists, and pedestrians. The study identified safe east and westbound biking connectivity as a priority to close a major gap in the existing bicycle network between Columbia Heights and Brookland. Bicycle lanes were installed on 5th Street NW/Park Place NW and 7th Street NW/Warder Street NW between 2006 and 2010. However, the community has requested protected bike lanes in this portion of the project. This project provides an opportunity to reassess the existing street design of Park Place NW, Warder Street NW, 7th Street NW, and 5th Street NW to examine design options for protected bicycle lanes.

Crosstown is one of the three (3) locations DDOT is looking to implement protected bike lanes as part of the Protected Bike Lanes Project to increase safety and mobility.

Construction at Park View School Could Create Opportunity for More Trees

August 23, 2018

The current construction at the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View school is still going strong, and while most of the results will primarily benefit the students and teachers at the school, I think there is an opportunity to create a significant benefit for the entire community. I’ve noticed that the majority of the grounds in the front of the building have removed the landscaping from the Warder Street side of the property. When it is time to replant those areas, we need to include new trees that will mature to provide shade for that block. A few years back the law was changed to allow DDOT’s urban forestry administration to also plant on public property like schools and recreation centers. Based on my quick review, we should be seeking to get an additional 3-4 trees on this block.

I’ve already reached out to both DDOT and the construction crew to begin this conversation.

(The frontage of the Park View School is currently being used to support the construction at the school. New landscaping can and should accommodate new shade trees.)

Laws to Protect Large Trees Sometimes Fail to Do Just That

August 10, 2018

The District of Columbia is making a real effort to protect, maintain, and increase the city’s tree canopy. This includes large trees on private property. Private property trees between 44” and 99.9” in circumference are considered Special Trees. Trees that are greater than 100” in circumference are considered Heritage Trees.

The removal of Special Trees requires a Special Tree Removal Permit. Heritage trees in healthy condition cannot be removed. Yet, despite these protections I’ve seen large trees removed without permits on more than a single occasion, and often in parts of the neighborhood that can ill afford the loss of tree canopy.

The two cases that come to mind immediately are one that just occurred in the rear of 430 Manor Place. In this case a developer cut down a healthy special tree without a permit. Upon inspection, DDOT confirmed the special tree status and will be issuing a fine.

(All that remained of a special tree when DDOT was able to inspect the property on Manor Place, NW)

The other case occurred ca. 2015 when two large trees were cut down on the 800 block of Otis Place, NW, without permits. That case was particularly sad as they were the only two large trees on that block, and there is no public space available for new street trees. In both cases I alerted DDOT for inspections when they came to my attention.

The Tree Canopy Protection Amendment Act of 2016 is now in effect. It amended the law passed in 2002 known as the Urban Forest Preservation Act. The new law raised the fines for unlawful tree removal from $100 to no less than $300 per circumference inch. In simple math, if you cut down a tree that has a 50-inch circumference you could be fined $15,000.

Considering how long it takes trees to grow to maturity, the challenges we have in developing a tree canopy in many parts of the city, and the benefits that trees provide to neighborhoods, it is in the community’s best interest to protect our large trees. While the money raised through fines is significant and can help plant new trees … there really isn’t anything that can replace a mature tree for the current generation.

If you think a large tree is in danger of being cut down without a permit, you can reach out to DDOT, request an inspection via Twitter, or reach out to me for assistance. I’ll give the Ward 1 arborist a heads up.

(These large trees on the 800 block of Otis Place were cut down without permits around 2015, leaving the entire block absent of large, mature trees.)

Several Area Streets to be Repaved in 2018

July 26, 2018

While we are over halfway through 2018 and haven’t seen any significant street improvements in the neighborhood, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have several that are still planned for calendar 2018. These include Quebec Place from Park Place to Georgia, Newton Place from Park Place to Warder, and Columbia Road from Warder to Georgia AND from 13th Street to 16th Street. You can see these areas on the map below as well as review the status of all current DDOT alley and street paving projects at the DDOT Paving Plan Web site.

I’m particularly please by the inclusion of Columbia Road in the 2018 plan, as ANC1A supported other community efforts by unanimously passing a resolution asking for Columbia Road to be repaved in September 2017. The resolution was introduced by Commissioner Boese and co-sponsored by Commissioners Wade, Brown, and Rybarczyk.

All of the streets in the 2018 plan are still expected to be completed this calendar year. However, weather like the rain we’ve been having recently and any unexpected delays on other streets can put DDOT’s teams behind schedule. A good indicator for those living on the streets listed above about pending work will be the advanced posting of No Parking signs for the construction, which will give neighbors a heads up that the construction will begin soon.

(Streets shown in red are scheduled to be repaved in 2018, though work has not yet begun)

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.


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