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 .
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.