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Stimulus funds in NoMa – good news, bad news?

The District of Columbia has created a website devoted to the city’s use of  funds from the massive stimulus package.  In turn, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has released its list of projects to be funded with the $123.5 million allocated by the Act for “ready to go” road, bridge, and other transportation projects.

Stimulus tracking websites, such as StimulusWatch.org, compiled lists of anticipated stimulus projects for each state using a report from an earlier meeting of the  U.S. Conference of Mayors that listed the wishlists (no longer accessible online) of governors and D.C.’s mayor.  The District’s list of projects were:

New York Avenue Bridge $40,000,000
14th Street Bridge Rehabilitation $14,100,000
New York Avenue/Florida Avenue Intersection $8,000,000
Columbia Heights Improvements $8,000,000
11th Street Bridge Ramp Demolition $8,000,000
16th Street NW over Military Road Rehabilitation $5,000,000
31st Bridge NW over C&O Canal $5,000,000
South Dakota-Riggs Road Upgrade $3,600,000

Per the list released from DDOT (note: coverage of the District’s stimulus plans is nonexistent by our local newspapers), the New York Avenue Bridge project made the cut, but the New York Avenue/Florida Avenue Intersection project (which was assumed to be the “virtual traffic circle” proposed a few years back and was thought to be headed for implementation this year) is noticeably absent.  Whether this is due to a rethinking of the intersection plan (perhaps validated by the $50,000 technical assistance grant recently awarded to NoMa) is unknown.

As for the bridge project, the description is as follows:

New York Avenue Bridge, NE

Project Type:   Bridge
Project State(s): District of Columbia
Federal Funding Requested: $30-$40M
Readiness:   Construction to begin August 2009

The project includes the demolition and reconstruction of the existing New York Avenue Bridge over the railroad.  The existing bridge is on a fractured critical list.  A new bridge deck with wider sidewalk, lighting and new piers will be installed.

Obviously, improved pedestrian accessibility and bridge aesthetics would benefit our neighborhood (perhaps facilitating  a more agreeable bike commute to the National Arboretum), but the construction does have a potential, albeit temporary, side-effect.

I do not see how (without major expense) it is possible for demolition and reconstruction of a bridge to take place over an open pedestrian trail.  Could the Metropolitan Branch Trail, languishing in a stalemate for 15 years, complete the segment from Franklin Ave. to New York Avenue only to be closed for a year or more? Cruel irony.

The proposed reconstruction of the New York Avenue Bridge is not new project–DDOT submitted the project for bidding for fiscal year 2008.  DDOT’s division for bicycle & pedestrian is either being caught off-guard by this conflict or has purposely withheld communicating the issue to the devoted bicycle associations in the city with which it holds regular meetings.

My earlier communications to DDOT’s Metropolitan Branch Trail representative about the issue were answered with the response: “they will cover the trail in the case of working being done that could harm users underneath.”  Reposing the same concerns to the same representative–this time equipped with the detailed description of the massive overhaul of the bridge (which, it must be noted, has been privy to DDOT for months, if not years)– received a referral to customer service.

UPDATE – Potentially less “destructive” work on NY Ave bridge

Upon further research, I have found the District of Columbia Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), which states the following, less destructive, description of the NY Ave bridge project:

Remove and replace PCC deck; general structural upgrade.


Removing and replacing the concrete deck is much less intensive than “demolition and reconstruction of the existing New York Avenue Bridge” as stated in the D.C. stimulus plans.  Since the TIP audience is bureaucratic and the Recovery.DC.gov audience is general public, I will lean more credence to the “remove and replace PCC deck” description (note: this should be able to be performed without closing the Trail underneath).


UPDATE 2 – DDOT sent me this e-mail in regards to my question:

Thank you for contacting the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) regarding the precautions that DDOT plans to take to ensure the safety of users of the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) during its refurbishment of the New York Avenue Bridge.

Please be assured that DDOT will do everything possible to protect bicyclists, pedestrians, and others who frequent the MBT, including-but not limited to-erecting a protective covering over the trail to ensure the safety of MBT users during the refurbishment of the bridge. Please be advised that the safety of every District resident and visitor is a foremost priority during the planning stages of every infrastructure project that DDOT arranges; the safety of the users of the MBT during the refurbishment of the New York Avenue Bridge is no exception.


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7 responses »

  1. After more than five years in the ‘hood, I’ve concluded that it is time to leave. The neighborhood will be what I want it to be in another 10 years, and life is too short. I can’t wait another decade.

    Reply
  2. I would think even if construction of the bridge takes two years the section of overpass which would be over the MBT would only need to be blocked off for a small fraction of that time. Perhaps a couple months. If that were true I would think it’s a good trade off for a more pedestrian friendly New York Ave.

    Reply
  3. Synonymous,
    Sorry you’ve decided to leave. What neighborhood do you which eckington was more like? With the new food options and the Harris Teeter opening I’m quite happy with the neighborhood. I only moved here about a year ago and already have seen a lot of change. When I moved friends teased me but in the past year 2 of them have moved here themselves.
    I live in western eckington /eastern bloomingdale. I can walk to 9th & U street in about 15 minutes where I can catch a show and a few beers. But those 10 blocks got me a 3 bedroom for the cost of a 1 bedroom. Well worth the trade off if you ask me.
    But the best of luck with your move,
    John

    Reply
  4. so was that ms. d*****h you were talking with at ddot? i’ve found her to be very open and easy to talk to. if she did choose to shove your concern off to a “customer service” rep, that would be very disconcerting. i would hope (again, if this is her we’re talking about) that she would be more communicative than that. it reflects poorly on the whole department and the executive branch (with its promise of open government).

    Reply
  5. Synonymous, I understand you completely. I’ve only lived here for three years and I’m ready to sell. Nothing gets accomplished in this part of the city. I think life is short too and no sense in letting a thug nugget make it any shorter for you. I can only put up with high taxes, crime, and lack of amenities for so long. Plus they’re building that low-income housing at St. Martin’s. F-that. I’ve got shit to do and I’m not trying to have a brick thrown at me again.

    Reply
  6. “Harris Teeter opening I’m quite happy with the neighborhood. ”

    This is still a year away, and given the ongoing economic decline, it is far from certain.

    “What neighborhood do you wish eckington was more like?”

    The Belmont-Hillsboro neighborhood of Nashville, TN.

    Reply
  7. Stop crying and trying to change our neighborhood get better jobs and move to a community that is what you want. you newbies irritate me…

    Reply

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