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Cheh funds 11th Street Bridge Park, trees and recreation for Ivy City, and an Upper Northwest pool

Transportation chair Mary Cheh has released her serious budget proposals today, and has added funding to design and build a park on the piers of the old 11th Street Bridge, give the neglected Ivy City neighborhood new trees and a recreation center, and more.

Artist's rendering of the 11th Street Bridge Park.

Tomorrow, Cheh will propose that her committee amend Mayor Gray's proposed transportation capital budget to add $2 million to design the bridge park in Fiscal Year 2015, followed by $12.5 million across FY2016 and FY2017 to build it. That will cover half the cost; bridge supporters plan to raise the other half from private sources.

Under Cheh's plan, $300,000 will go to fix up streetscapes at Eastern Market, while $1 million over two years will pay to extend Ivy City's sidewalks and include treeboxes. That neighborhood, in an industrial part of the city, has no tree boxes on most of its streets, and therefore no street trees.

Instead of a tour bus parking lot, as the Gray administration proposed last year, Cheh's budget will fund a recreation center on that site (which costs almost $9 million). Rec centers in Chevy Chase, Edgewood, Hardy (in Foxhall Village) and Hillcrest get more money as well, as does the Therapeutic Recreation Center in Ward 7's Randle Circle.

The budget includes $500,000 to finish design for Franklin Square (but funding to actually help build the new park is yet to come in the future).

Roads will also get more money: repaving and repairs to roadways get a boost of $321,000 for each of the eight wards in FY2015. That's in addition to the mayor's capital budget which gave each ward's road projects about $5.2 million over six years. Ward 8 also got an extra $1.3 million from Gray, and Cheh's amendment moves it from the operating budget to the capital budget.

Finally, Cheh is funding a new outdoor pool to go somewhere in Ward 3, which residents have been campaigning for. Critics note that Ward 3 has one of the top public indoor swimming facilities in the city, at Wilson High School, but proponents say that indoor swimming isn't the same, and besides, the ward should have more pools.

Cheh's proposal also will fund some Ward 3 school and library projects: the Cleveland Park library, Palisades Library, Murch Elementary and Watkins Elementary renovations, and also the Capitol View library in Ward 7. It's not unusual for each ward councilmember to pop a few ward-based projects into their respective committees' budgets.

Where does this money come from?

A lot of the money comes from the South Capitol Street Bridge project. It current includes a swing span so that ships can access the Washington Navy Yard, but that was only opened 4 times in the last 8 years.

The Coast Guard has reportedly told DDOT that it is probably fine with not replacing the swing span. And, according to Cheh's committee director Drew Newman, they feel that if the federal government really wants a swing span anyway, then federal money should fund it. (DC is building the South Capitol bridge with local dollars, not federal transportation funds.) The change will save up to $140 million.

Cheh is also moving some streetcar money to later years, because DDOT has built up a surplus of almost $100 million in its streetcar accounts, and won't need some money in the capital plan until later on, according to Cheh's staff's analysis.

Circulator fares freeze, and commuter rail gets a plan

In the operating budget, not much is changing from Mayor Gray's very pro-transit budget. Cheh will freeze Circulator fares at their current level of $1 for at least one year, so that DDOT can engage with the public about whether the fares have to rise.

Another $500,000 will pay to create a Comprehensive Rail Plan. DC does not control MARC, VRE, Amtrak, or CSX, but there needs to be a unified plan about how to help grow commuter rail service in, out, and through DC. The tracks and stations at Union Station, L'Enfant Plaza, and the Long Bridge over the Potomac will need changes to make this possible, and since those facilities are in DC, the District can play a leadership role. The Committee of 100's Monte Edwards has been lobbying for planning around commuter rail, and he's absolutely right. Cheh agrees.

The Committee on Transportation and the Environment will hold its mark-up tomorrow. The other members, David Grosso, Kenyan McDuffie, Jim Graham, and Tommy Wells, could seek to introduce other amendments as well, though typically these budget proposals already reflect requests and negotiations between the councilmembers.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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Can the 11th st bridge really be built for $12 million? Seems lower than I would have pegged it. I see the other article says $35 million so either they are expecting a large share of outside money or it would be a multi year project?

by BTA on May 14, 2014 12:47 pm • linkreport

Since she's wants to waste money on a bunch of completely unnecessary projects like a bridge park right next to the city's second largest park, and an outdoor pool in the city's wealthiest ward, how about some money for some first-world roads (not just half-filling potholes)?

by Burd on May 14, 2014 12:47 pm • linkreport

"how about some money for some first-world roads?"

You know...a commuter tax would take care of that--and a whole lot more.

by youknowwho on May 14, 2014 12:52 pm • linkreport

One could suppose that such taxes would go towards first world roads, but alas a medievalist mentality prevails, such as in the NYC area with some 95% of the vehicular tolls basically stolen under an utterly baseless doctrine of no new crossings or grade separated links.

by Douglas Andrew Willinger on May 14, 2014 1:15 pm • linkreport

"Cheh's committee director Drew Newman, they feel that if the federal government really wants a swing span anyway, then federal money should fund it."

I love everything about that statement.

by JES on May 14, 2014 1:32 pm • linkreport

Burd: Actually, I forgot to include that Cheh is adding about $5.5 million over 6 years per ward to repave and repair roads. I'll add that.

by David Alpert on May 14, 2014 1:37 pm • linkreport

@David, if we save around $140 million from nixing the swing span, is that where the rest of that money went? Into road repairs?

by JES on May 14, 2014 1:40 pm • linkreport

I meant, $5.5M total per ward; Cheh is adding $321K per ward just for the first year of the capital plan.

by David Alpert on May 14, 2014 1:40 pm • linkreport

finally an outdoor pool in Ward 3. I am glad we are directly addressing quality of life issues like viable and active community space for all, especially children.

by Ben on May 14, 2014 1:46 pm • linkreport

BTA: I just got the full committee report and it says they expect to raise half the money from private sources. So this would provide half of the $25 million expected cost.

Here's the report. The bridge park stuff is on page 35.

by David Alpert on May 14, 2014 2:02 pm • linkreport

While it is fun to bash Ward 3, and lord know many who live there need bashing, there are plenty of families who pay a good chunk of their dual incomes for the privilege to live there. No question, these folks earn a lot of money when compared to DC's median income, but many of them send their kids to public schools and cannot afford to join a country club to send their kids swimming. Bash that if you want.

My 5 year old son and I end up taking the bus or riding our bike to a pool in Ward 2 or Ward 4, so it is not impossible to find one. But it does take time from us that those in other Wards don't have to sacrifice.

Turtle Park would be the logical place for this new pool. No, not really near my house.

by fongfong on May 14, 2014 2:03 pm • linkreport

Good work Councilmember Cheh!

Super excited for the bridge park!

by h st ll on May 14, 2014 2:04 pm • linkreport

@Burd: You must mean the city's highest residential and income tax paying ward. They should not be the only ward in the city without an outdoor pool.

by Alf on May 14, 2014 2:28 pm • linkreport

I live in Ward 3 and have long wondered about the lack of an outdoor pool. When I was little, my parents drove me to the Bethesda Pool and paid the out-of-county fee for four of us to swim (granted this was before the Wilson Pool collapsed and was rebuilt). I still live there and usually take the bus to Volta or Jelleff in Georgetown in the summer when I swim, the Wilson Pool is wonderful but it's clearly geared primarily towards the sport of swimming, not casual recreation. I tend to only use it when the outdoor pools are closed. I fully support a new pool.

Turtle Park also makes the most sense to me, I just wish it was closer to quality transit. A lot of people can walk there but knowing my neighborhood, many will drive simply because they can.

by ARM on May 14, 2014 2:36 pm • linkreport

Well I balked a little at the original price tag but if they can raise half privately I like it better. Still really worried about the eastern connections, I mean that end of the park is literally a highway interchange so how much foot traffic is that going to actually see as transportation infrastructure and not just an inconvenient to reach park?

by BTA on May 14, 2014 2:58 pm • linkreport


Seriously!? Having lived in first, second, and third-world countries (South Korea, China, and Alabama respectively), I can honestly say that DC's streets are thoroughly first-world affairs.

At least in terms of quality paving, I've never seen a DC street that would be truly out of place in Hong Kong, Paris, or Dublin. Do you really think that those cities' streets are magically devoid of half-filled potholes? And yet, they all have parks next to other parks, outdoor AND indoor swimming pools, and heck, even streetcar tracks marring their streets...(and streetcar wires blocking all sunlight for blocks at a time).

Paris has parks on viaducts next to parks, and an outdoor swimming pool in the dang river...but its road are kinda crappy. C'est la ville, I guess.

by Steven H on May 14, 2014 3:05 pm • linkreport

Finally, we are getting Rail Plan for DC. I always felt the CSX Virginia Tunnel was poor planned because there were no other transportation plans integrated. For example, I feel we should have Metro tunnel on top, bottom, or on side of CSX Virginia Tunnel -- this new Metro tunnel would be an Express Services to/from Maryland. Or connect tracks with Union Station for MARC services to Southern Maryland. But these may not be best plans because we never done Rail Plan.

by Dave on May 14, 2014 3:08 pm • linkreport

If you look at the DPR maps for outdoor pools in the District, you will see how laughable it is that there isn't one in Ward 3. The suggestion that Ward 3 residents simply drive to Bethesda is insulting on many levels. Since those who object appear to be mostly Ward 2 residents who don't have their own indoor pool (all other Wards appear to have such facilities), then maybe the solution is to ask the Ward 2 Councilmember to find funds for an aquatic center.

Dismissing the creation of an outdoor pool in Ward 3 is not a productive solution.

by Andrew on May 14, 2014 3:22 pm • linkreport


"You know...a commuter tax would take care of that--and a whole lot more."

You know...a tax on air or just about anything else could take care of that too. But DC Gov't doesn't need any new taxes when it has a $300M surplus.


"You must mean the city's highest residential and income tax paying ward. They should not be the only ward in the city without an outdoor pool."

I must mean that an outdoor pool is not a priority over safe roads devoid of with huge potholes, dips and bumps. If Ward 3 residents want an outdoor pool as opposed to indoors, they can literally walk a block beyond the Ward 3 border to the Jelleff pool, if they don't already have one in their backyard.

@Steven H

"Seriously!? Having lived in first, second, and third-world countries"

I have lived in third-world and other first-world countries and can say that DC's streets are closer to the third-world countries, and in some cases worst. Not that DC is any different than Philadelphia, for example. But nowhere near the quality of the roads in Paris, where one will never encounter a pothole. In DC, one will encounter several on the same block.

"I've never seen a DC street that would be truly out of place in Hong Kong, Paris, or Dublin"

Either you have never driven in Paris or have not driven on DC streets lately. There is no comparison.

by Burd on May 14, 2014 3:28 pm • linkreport

"Third world" is a cold war term that refers to the parts of the world that were neither aligned with the United States nor the Soviet Union. Sweden, Ireland and Finland were "Third world" countries, for example.

The correct term, from an economic standpoint, for what you're talking about is "the developing world".

by David C on May 14, 2014 3:44 pm • linkreport

More trees are always good, as long as they are appropriate as street trees and are cared for, not just stuck in the ground to die.

by Willow on May 14, 2014 3:56 pm • linkreport

I am confused = DC has so little money that they should divert money from a proposed park and from a proposed pool to fund road paving. but so much money that they do not need any new taxes.

I live in the suburbs, and sometimes comment on DC issues, but I do not have the chutzpah to suggest that DC needs to prioritize road paving over other needs, yet a commuter tax is unneeded because of its surplus. If they prefer to spend their surplus on pools and parks or even street cars, rather than on roads that is their business.

BTW, DC's roads are better than Baltimore's as well, and I have not lately particularly found them to be inferior to suburban roads in this area. Everyone had a hard winter.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 14, 2014 4:03 pm • linkreport

You think our roads are bad, go to the Midwest. I'm still shocked that I didn't break an axle on my rental car up there from all the potholes after all the snow they had.

by JES on May 14, 2014 4:15 pm • linkreport

@ Burd

Cast stones much? How nice for you to have access to a DC pool. And fab of you to note that people should build their own pools. By that logic, how 'bout out of your own pocket you are now responsible for the 50 feet of roadway that is most immediately in front of where you live. With that commitment, we'll lick this pothole problem in no time.

Methinks the City has budgeted for better roads. I have no idea if that is enough to make them smooth enough for your car driving, but you've not got any evidence the budget is short.

by fongfong on May 14, 2014 4:25 pm • linkreport


Have you seen a map of the outdoor pools in the District? If not, let me help you out:{%277%27.EX.%27Outdoor%20Pool%27} Notice the huge void on the entirety of the west side of the District. Sure, for people who live in Burlieth or Glover Park, Jelleff is a hop, skip and a jump. But for the rest of the Ward, that isn't exactly an easy bike ride for the average child who might want to access it. I also highly doubt that the local residents would want ward 3 cars parking on their street, and the 30's bus isn't the most reliable.

Why is it that all of the other wards have accessible facilities, but Ward 3 doesn't?

by Andrew on May 14, 2014 6:15 pm • linkreport

@Burd just because the border of Ward 3 is a block away doesn't mean Jelleff is a block from Ward 3 residents. It's over 30 blocks from me (60 min walk/30 min by transit/20 min bike ride). I've lived in Ward 3 my entire life and have only once seen a pool in a backyard there. Your stereotyping my community is ridiculous. Yes many people in Ward 3 have more money than the average District resident but it's unfair to everyone in a neighborhood to say that we don't deserve the same services as the rest of the city because of a higher average income.

by ARM on May 14, 2014 6:21 pm • linkreport

I am not sure why that link broke, but here is another for outdoor pools:

by Andrew on May 14, 2014 6:33 pm • linkreport

@ David C

Thanks, David C. But I know what "third world" means: "the aggregate of the underdeveloped nations of the world" according to Merriam-Webster.


You're probably confused b/c I never said DC had too " little money" I said Cheh should focus on the bigger, more important issues, not the completely unnecessary outdoor pool and park on a bridge next to a big park.


Boo hoo. Call Uber, ride a bike, use the indoor pool, take a dip in the Potomac, or take Metro to another ward's pool.

And how exactly have I stereotyped your community? The only thing I called it was DC's wealthiest ward, which is 100% true. Why does that make you feel uncomfortable?

"but it's say that we don't deserve the same services..."

I didn't say that and I really don't care where Cheh proposes to building this pool. Again, the point is it's unnecessary and shouldn't be funded until Cheh addresses the more pressing transportation issues we face.


You really don't know how far I live from a public outdoor pool or if I even care to swim in it at all.

by Burd on May 14, 2014 10:36 pm • linkreport

Burd, it is very easy to say that an outdoor pool in Ward 3 is unnecessary when just about every resident in the District in every other ward has a walkable or bikeable pool. Look at the map I posted. How is that equitable? Yes, in the grand scheme of things, this is really a first world problem, but it is a quality of life issue that is relatively easily addressed. I am glad Councilmember Cheh has decided to take it on.

by Andrew on May 15, 2014 7:04 am • linkreport

An outdoor pool consumes lots of space for a seasonal use. It's not surprising there isn't want in Ward 3 where land is expensive and where people can walk or Metro to the indoor pools at Wilson Aquatic center, or, if they want an outdoor pool, take the bus to Jellef or bike to Little Falls. Turtle Park is already heavily used and space-constrained. And it's not very transit-accessible. Not a good location for an outdoor pool.

by BTDT on May 15, 2014 8:25 am • linkreport

there isn't ONE in Ward 3

by BTDT on May 15, 2014 9:07 am • linkreport

DC's streets are no where near the quality of most large European cities. In Europe streets are well-planned in that they dig up an entire block at once and replace all pipes and wires then concrete over and it lasts 100 years without being touched again.

In DC streets are continually re-dug for repairs in extremis. It harms pedestrians and bikers as well as drivers. Part is poor planning. Part is corruption for contractors with bennies.

by Tom Coumaris on May 15, 2014 9:20 am • linkreport

" I said Cheh should focus on the bigger, more important issues, not the completely unnecessary outdoor pool and park on a bridge next to a big park."

If they have enough money, one does not exclude the other. I also do not see the bridge park as fulfilling the same kinds of functions that Anacostia Park does. If it makes you feel better, think of the bridge park as an extension of Anacostia Park, bringing it closer to Navy Yard as well as providing something additional.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 15, 2014 9:23 am • linkreport

Tom Coumaris:
Curious how you know most major European cities fund, plan, and construct/repair their cities using a similar methodology? I lived in Italy for two years and even there, there were many - minor and major - differences from one major city to the next. Rome vs Milan is a great example. Each had its own political, cultural, and engineering constraints. They didn't get things done in the same way at all.

Anyway, these periphery discussions are pointless. Road construction received its due funding. 5.5 million per ward every year. In no way is implementing a pool "prioritizing" funding over road repair.

If you want funds spent only on road construction, run for office. I wouldn't vote for you.

by Ben on May 15, 2014 10:28 am • linkreport

I'd like to invite Ward 3 residents to tour our state of the art indoor and outdoor pools and spray parks in Ward 6. Perhaps you should with the outdoor toddler pool in Near Southeast before moving on to Rumsey. Don't waste too much time looking for a spraypark or even a DPR public playground in Near Southeast. Cry me a river.

by DisgruntledInDC on May 15, 2014 1:09 pm • linkreport

No one's crying. It looks like we just got our outdoor pool. I would be glad to advocate for Ward 6 improvements as well.

by Ben on May 15, 2014 2:43 pm • linkreport

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