City Paper Widget

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Long-term Street Lane Closures in Shaw Starting 2017

Good news first: a massive DC Water project will ease chronic flooding in Shaw, LeDroit Park, and Bloomingdale. Bad news: to complete the project, it will be necessary to close traffic lanes for periods of 18 to 36 months on and near Rhode Island Avenue NW, starting 2017.

(from DC Water web site)
One closure is in Shaw. The other is very near Shaw and will severely affect east-west traffic in Shaw.

Want to know more? DC Water will hold a Ward 6 town meeting tonight (Tuesday, April 15) at 6:30pm in the Multipurpose Room of Eliot-Hine Middle School, 1830 Constitution Avenue NE. The meeting will address all aspects of the DC Water project, including street and lane closure both in Shaw and elsewhere in D.C. This meeting is part of eight ward-wide town meetings DC Water is holding this month.

If you can't get to the town meeting

DC Water presented the outlines of the ambitious project to Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6E/Shaw at its regular monthly meeting on April 1.  The street lane closures are only a small part of the plan to build the Northeast Boundary Tunnel, a hole 23 feet in diameter, located 100 feet underground. The tunnel will not only reduce flooding but also is necessary under a 1998 multi-party consent decree designed to clean up water in the Anacostia River and beyond. The district ratepayer is footing the bill for the project.

The projected closure in Shaw will be one lane for 24-36 months around the perimeter of Cooper Park (a "pocket park" made from a triangular patch of land bounded by Rhode Island Avenue NW, 6th Street, and R Street). The projected closure near Shaw will be two lanes at Florida Avenue and Third Street NW (near Rhode Island Avenue) for 18 months.

Some work at the Florida Avenue site should have started already. The plan is for this work to be completed by April 21. Later, DC Water will also have to drill holes in the ground at this site. There is no projected date to begin, but, once begun, work will take "two to three months", according to the presenters at the ANC meeting.

The presentation said the final design and construction phase of the project will start in December 2016.

Cooper Park

Cooper Park (left) at RI Avenue, seen from 6th Street
Since the Cooper Park site is in ANC6E, it got the more attention at the April 1 meeting. Like the Florida Avenue site, DC Water will, at some uncertain date in the nearish future, drill some holes in the ground at Cooper Park. This work is exploratory and there will not be any lane closures. This phase of the work will take two or three months.

During the 2017 construction phase, the park will be used as a staging area. The complete restoration of the park is included in the budget for the project. DC Water has hired a landscape architect and has a conceptual design for the park restoration. It solicited comment from the Commissioners on this point. ANC6E Commissioner Alexander Padro (district 01) suggested public art for the new space, and asked DC Water not to forget a water source in the park. Commissioner Marge Maceda (district 05) asked DC Water to include "playable art".

It is difficult to drive across town now. The lane closures will make it even more difficult. Padro worried about the impact the closing of a lane on R Street at Cooper Park. R Street carries a lot of crosstown traffic, Padro noted, and cannot be completely blocked.

"You must have some carrying capacity there or all hell's going to break loose," Padro said.

Padro also asked about the piles of sandbags around the vent on the median of Rhode Island Avenue at 7th Street, next to the Watha T. Daniel Library (1630 7th Street NW). The sandbags are there to prevent flooding on Metro's Green Line. Padro would like to see the sandbags removed. DC Water said the removal of the sandbags was not part of the DC Water project.

ANC6E videos its meeting and puts the videos on YouTube in 30-minute chunks. The presentation by DC Water can be view by following this link, starting at the beginning of the video, which is part two of the meeting. However, you cannot see the accompanying slideshow presentation. I was unable to find a copy of the slideshow presentation on DC Water's web site.

The Committee unanimously voted to send a letter to DC Water summarizing its concerns as articulated at the meeting.

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