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Posts about Anacostia River

Bicycling


Coming soon: Bikeshare in Prince George's County

Right now, there isn't bikeshare in Prince George's County outside of a small system in College Park. But that could change, as the county recently wrapped up a study on what kind of system should come in (spoiler: it'll be Capital Bikeshare) and where its stations could go.


Capital Bikeshare in Prince George's? It could be there this time next year. All images from Prince George's county unless otherwise noted.

Following a lengthy study, Prince George's officials are recommending that the county add a bikeshare system to the ATHA region, which extends along the Anacostia River Tributaries from Colmar Manor north to Greenbelt and west to Langley Park. It is also recommended to include bikeshare in the National Harbor region, near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge linking Prince George's County with Alexandria. These are the areas where there's the most demand for bikeshare (to determine this, planners look at variables like a place's population density and age, proximity to transit and existing bike facilities, and topography).

You can see projected demand for part of Prince George's on the heat map below (and the entire county if you click the map), with the lighter parts being where it's highest:

Based on the study's results, those making the recommendations for the county decided to start small, with 25 stations in the ATHA region in neighborhoods near the DC border as well as four at National Harbor. The idea is for the system to eventually grow to 67 stations, expanding outward to Greenbelt, Langley Park, and Bladensburg, among other areas. Specific station locations haven't been identified yet—that'll be up to what local groups tell the county further down the line.

This map shows how bikeshare could come to Prince George's in phases:


Going this route rather than installing all the stations at once will allow Prince George's to manage its resources, but this is just a preliminary plan. When it actually moves on bikeshare, Prince George's could choose to build more stations within the preliminary area, expand to other areas, or do something else entirely.

The decision to go with Capital Bikeshare

mBike, another bike share program, currently operates in College Park; it's currently Prince George's only bikeshare system. Although mBike is not directly compatible with the recommended Capital Bikeshare, the county envisions a blended system where mBike continues to serve local trips while CaBi would serve users traveling elsewhere.

A similar blended system exists in Columbus, Ohio, where Columbus provides a dock based bike share system called COGO while the Ohio State University, which is located in town, provides its own bike share service utilizing a bike based technology.

Ideally, the Prince George's bikeshare program would begin in the fall of 2017.

Bicycling


Meet Anacostia's newest bike trail. It might be the most beautiful in the region.

A new four-mile trail just opened along the east bank of the Anacostia River. It joins two trails that were already there to create one big, continuous path that runs from where the Anacostia meets the Potomac to a number of places well into Maryland.


The new segment of the Anacostia River Trail provides stunning views of the river. All photos by the author unless otherwise noted.

The trail situation along the Anacostia can be a little tough to follow. In Maryland, there's the Anacostia River Trail, which runs for two miles through Bladensburg. It's the southern tip of the the Anacostia Tributary Trail System, a network of a half-dozen connected trails (more than 25 miles worth) that extend into Wheaton, Adelphi, and College Park.

In DC, there's the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, which is actually two trails along both sides of the Anacostia in DC, running between Benning Road and the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge with numerous connections to neighborhoods on each side of the river.

And until now, there's been a gap in the trail between these networks. What recently opened is a new trail, shown in green below, that bridges this gap and makes one seamless 40-plus mile trail system throughout the Anacostia watershed.


The Anacostia Tributary Trail System. The green portion is the new part of the Anacostia River Trail.

The new segment will be officially called part of the Anacostia River Trail. It weaves through the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and connects to DC's Mayfair and Eastland Gardens neighborhoods. DDOT's Anacostia Waterfront Initiative team built the segment over the course of two years.

DDOT plans to construct a more direct route through the Kenilworth area, which would provide a more direct trip along the river and a new bridge connecting to the National Arboretum. But this proposal faces an uncertain future, largely due to the fact that the National Park Service needs to clean up the land the route is supposed to run through, as it used to be a hazardous waste dump.

The new trail sure is gorgeous

While the trail had its official grand opening on Monday, it's been open for use on recent weekends and I was able to check it out.

Starting at Benning Road NE at Anacostia Ave NE, a short ramp curls around to a new underpass of Benning Road. After a short stint along the river, the trail enters the Mayfair neighborhood, using a designated sidewalk section to pass along Thomas Elementary School.


The new segment starts with an underpass of Benning Road and the metro tracks. View looking south.

Users then loop around Mayfair Mansions using a curb-protected cyclepath until a new bridge crossing the Watts Branch and entering Kenilworth Park.


Curb-protected Hayes-Jay Street bikeway around Mayfair Mansions, one of the first portions of the new segment to be constructed.

The next three miles of uninterrupted trail through the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens offers an array of woodland, meadow, and wetland scenes that are among the best scenery of any trail in the region.

The heavily wooded section adjacent to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens provides ample shade and benches alongside the trail allow a chance to rest with views of the Gardens' wetlands


Wetlands at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens from the trail.

An extensive concrete boardwalk offers panoramic views of the river. You can also see Amtrak and MARC trains where the Northeast Corridor crosses the Anacostia.


The trail where Amtrak's Northeast Corridor crosses the Anacostia River.

Also, meadow and wetlands line large portions of the trail between the DC-MD border and Bladensburg Waterfront Park.


Several meadow areas are visible from the Anacostia River Trail in Maryland.

The newly unified trail network through the Anacostia watershed should provide recreation and enjoyment for years to come. And now, you can get out and enjoy it today!

Transit


Here's why it'd be wrong to shut down Metro east of the Anacostia River

Last week, WMATA reported that one way to close its budget gap could be to close 20 Metro stations outside of rush hour, including seven that serve DC communities that are east of the Anacostia River. Moving forward with this idea would make it far harder for children to get to schools and for adults to access social and political life in the District. It could be a major civil rights violation, too.


Under WMATA's new proposal, stations with red dots could only get service during rush hour. Image from WMATA.

DC is split up geographically into eight wards, each of which has a representative on the DC Council. The Stadium Armory, Minnesota Avenue, Deanwood, Benning Road, and Capitol Heights stations are all in Ward 7, and Congress Heights is in Ward 8; these two wards are most certainly DC's most underserved.


DC's eight wards. Image from the DC Office of Planning.

There are, of course, 13 others on the list of stations that see low ridership and that Metro could consider closing outside of rush hour, from White Flint to Tysons-- but they aren't nearly as concentrated.

A lot of students use these Metro stations to get to and from school

According to research conducted by the DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative, an organization committed to improving education in Ward 7, 64% of children in Kenilworth-Parkside (which the Deanwood and Minnesota Avenue Metro stations serve) travel outside of their neighborhood to attend school, and many rely on Metro to get there.

Altogether, around half of Ward 7's parents send their children to schools outside of their neighborhood. The disruption also impacts students west of the Anacostia, as DC Charter School Board notes that more than 1,100 students travel to charters in Ward 7. While schools generally begin and end during rush hours, students would not necessarily be able to rely on Metro to get home from after school activities if WMATA's idea moves forward.

These Metro stations also have a big impact on access to jobs

Neighborhoods east of the river are predominantly residential, lacking large concentrations of commercial or government that make them destinations for morning commuters. This means that parents, like their children, travel outside their ward to jobs, often during off peak hours.

Due to Ward 7's geography, crosstown bus service is limited to just a handful of lines lines that are already amongst the busiest in DC. Some would lose their jobs or be forced to move if Metro stopped running outside of rush hour.


This map shows the number of jobs in different areas of the District. The bigger the orange circle, the more jobs are in the area. Clearly, people who live east of the Anacostia need to travel west to get to work. Map from OpenDataDC.

These closures would hurt future development and render existing bus service less useful

Ward 7 is primed to grow rapidly in the next few years. Ward 7 has transit-oriented developments proposed at all its Metro stops, like on Reservation 13 and at RFK, which are next to Stadium Armory, Parkside (Minnesota Ave), Kenilworth Courts Revitalization (Deanwood Metro), SOME (Benning Road Metro), and Capitol Gateway (Capitol Heights Metro).

These developments' success depends on their proximity to metrorail stations. Cutting off service would dramatically change the calculus of development in Ward 7, and communities seeing the first green shoots of growth would instantly see them snuffed out. Tens of thousands of homeowners would see their home values decline, and DC would lose millions in tax revenue.

Also, bus routes in these areas are East of the River bus routes are designed to feed into the Metro stations. A plan that would close stations without a significant upgrades to crosstown lines and within-ward service would further compound the transportation problems facing the community.

Why is ridership so low in Ward 7?

There is, of course, the fact that these stations are among the 20 Metro stations that get the lowest ridership. I'm not disputing that. But if we look at why that's the case, it's clear that closing these stations for most of the day is only going to exacerbate social and economic problems.

Ward 7 residents have borne the brunt of WMATA's service disruptions since 2009. The ward's stations are consistently among the most likely to be closed due to weekend track work. Between 2012 and 2013, Orange line stations in Ward 7 were disrupted 19 weekends. This level of disruption continued into 2015, when stations were disrupted for 17 weekends.


Graphic by Peter Dovak.

The impacts of WMATA's work strategies on ridership have been predictable. In 2008, Minnesota Avenue on the Orange line had an average weekday passenger boarding count of 3,552, but by 2015 this number had declined to 2,387 (a 32% decline). This despite the construction of hundreds of new homes in the surrounding area. Benning Road station on the Blue Line declined from 3,382 in 2008 to 2,823 in 2015, or a decline of 16%.

Service to areas east of the Anacostia suffered further disruptions in September 2015, when a transformer exploded near Stadium Armory, and when an insulator exploded at Capitol South in May 2016. Both helped trigger Safe Track, along with a two-week suspension of Metro service to Ward 7 in late June. This work featured extensive reconstruction of the tracks near Stadium Armory, despite years of closures on this very section of track.

Closing these stations wouldn't just be harmful. It could be illegal.

Again, these seven stations aren't the only ones on the list. But the fact that they make up virtually all the Metro stations in a place where the vast majority of residents are black is enough to bring up an important legal question.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act says policies should not have an outsized effect on people from a protected class, such as race or gender, where alternatives could achieve the same objectives. The Federal Transit Administration regularly asks transit agencies to do an analysis of the impact of service cuts to make sure they don't disproportionately affect low income and minority riders, and in this case, it's not unreasonable to think they would.

Just take a look at this map, which shows DC's racial makeup and density, and look again at which area is faced with taking on a large percentage of the proposed closures:


A map illustrating racial makeup and density in Washington DC. Each dot represents 25 people. Red dots represent white people, blue are black people, green are Asian, orange are Hispanic, yellow are "other." Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Metro can't close all these stations. It'd create a two-tiered transportation system in which 140,000 DC residents are cut off from heart of DC's economic, political and social life.

Budget


WMATA is up against a budget deficit. Today, it floated ideas for some very big, very difficult changes.

WMATA is again estimating that its operating costs will far outpace revenues. To close the gap, the agency is considering closing several stations during off-peak hours, decreasing how often trains run, and cutting some bus routes.


Under WMATA's new proposal, stations with red dots could only get service during rush hour. Image from WMATA.

The official budget proposal for FY2018 won't come out until November, but a draft of a presentation that WMATA staff will give to the Board of Directors on Thursday gives some insight into big changes the agency is considering in order to close an estimated $275 million budget gap.

One option would eliminate service to 20 low-ridership stations during off-peak hours (midday, evening, and weekends). Many of these stations are located east of the Anacostia River, but White Flint and Tysons are also on the list.

Another option would eliminate service for bus routes with the highest operating costs per rider. One of the routes listed is Metro's new bus rapid transit service, Metroway, which runs largely in dedicated bus lanes with bigger, better bus stops.

Some other options on the table include cutting more employees, increasing bus and rail fares, increasing peak-period rail headways from every six minutes to every eight, making weekend service less frequent, and asking Maryland, Virginia, and DC to contribute more funding.

These are bleak choices, but absent an infusion of funding, WMATA has to balance its budget somehow. What do you think it should do?

Bicycling


Until someone cleans up this landfill, people are taking a shortcut. Can we make the shortcut better?

A new segment of the Anacostia River Trail takes a long route through the Kenilworth area. A second segment will go straight up the river, but work on it can't start until the National Park Service cleans up the land, where illegal dumping was once allowed. People are using a shortcut in the meantime, and there are ways to make it shorter and easier to use.


New segment of the Anacostia River Trail. All photos by the author unless otherwise noted.

The new, four-mile long segment will create the first connection between two key trail systems: Maryland's Anacostia Tributary Trail System, which is a 24-mile-long network of six trails that connects Silver Spring, Greenebelt, College Park, Bladensburg, Adelphi Park, and the District; and the District's Anacostia River Trail, which runs along both banks of the Anacostia River, from Pennsylvania Avenue to Benning Road.

South of Pennsylvania Avenue, the trail connects to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, which runs along both banks all the way to South Capitol Street, with a connection to the Southwest Waterfront. This new segment finally creates a continuous trail the length of the Anacostia to the river's source in Hyattsville.

Since early 2014, construction crews have been working on on the new segment that will create a connected network of nearly 70 miles of trail. The project has been broken up into two phases. The first phase, which is the purple dotted line on the map below, connects Benning Road with Bladensburg but uses the longer eastern route, meant to connect the Mayfair nieghborhood (which is located between the river and the Anacostia Freeway) to the trail and the river.

The second phase, which is the the white line, will create an alternative route along the river in DC's Kenilworth Park, with a connection to a new bike and pedestrian bridge across the river to the National Arboretum. Work on the second phase will start once part of Kenilworth Park gets cleaned up. In the meantime, many trail users have been taking the shortcut illustrated by the green line.


Kenilworth Trail Segment Map from of DDOT.

Kenilworth Park, which sits between the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and an old power plant, started out as a tidal marsh that the Army Corps of Engineers later filled in. It served for decades as the Kenilworth Open Burning Landfill, DC's principal solid waste dump. Shortly after home rule, it became a sanitary landfill before closing in 1970. The site was subsequently covered with soil, revegetated, and reclaimed for recreational purposes.


Kenilworth Park Landfill Site from of NPS.

Mystery Mountain

In 1997, the National Park Service (NPS) allowed two contractors to dump an estimated half-million tons of waste on the Kenilworth South site, the portion in the map above that is south of Watts Branch, an Anacostia tributary stream.

So much debris came in that a pile 26 feet high went up on 15 acres of land, and locals dubbed it "Mystery Mountain." The second phase of the new trail is supposed to run overland impacted by Mystery Mountain.

The cleanup is still years away

Despite an NPS statement that the site would be addressed as early as 2001, it still has not been cleaned up. The agency put together a feasibility study and plan for the cleanup in 2012-2013, but has since indicated that it will restart the process because subsequent studies show that less work is needed. This means that neither the cleanup nor construction of the second phase of the trail will happen any time soon.

In the meantime, people have already started using the new trail segment. Since it doesn't take a direct route through Kenilworth Park, users have been cutting through a long-closed section of Deane Avenue and a short construction drive to travel directly to where the trail rejoins the river. Unfortunately, Deane, while passable, is significantly degraded, and furthermore, it's blocked at Watts Branch. The construction road's surface is even worse.


Construction road connecting Deane Avenue to the Trail.

The District Department of Transportation's Anacositia Waterfront Initiative project is building the new segment instead of the the usual Bicycle Program staff, and it's doing so with the approval and partnership of NPS. It is set to officially open soon, and users are likely to keep taking the Deane Avenue route until the second phase is complete. A great next step for DDOT and NPS would be for the agencies to make the shortcut a formal, temporary route.

Until NPS finally cleans the park up and the second phase can go in, there's a lot that the trail partners can do, if NPS will allow it, to make a shortcut like this more useful for people looking for a direct path. Separating the concrete barriers that block the road at Watts Branch to create a gap large enough for cyclists and pedestrians to pass through would be a great first step.


Barricades on old Deane Avenue over Watts Branch.

Also, paving or repaving an 8-10 foot wide section of Deane Avenue through the park, as well as the construction road, and adding signs along the routes, would make the trail far more useful, especially for those using it for transportation.

Public Spaces


When you turn parking spaces into parks, it looks like this

On Friday, September 16th, greater Washington gave some parking spaces a facelift and converted them into miniature parks for Park(ing) Day, an imaginative international event to show what else could be done with curbside parking spaces.

Thanks to readers who tweeted pictures and uploaded to our Flickr pool. Here is some of what you submitted:


Photo by Joanne Pierce.

The Anacostia Waterfront Trust collaborated with the DC Council and several other organizations to create a superblock-long parklet at the John A. Wilson Building along the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue otherwise reserved for councilmember parking.


Photo by the author.

Councilmember David Grosso biked to eight DC parklets. Above, he's pictured at center, with Greater Greater Washington contributor and chief of staff Tony Goodman to his left. They're talking to BicycleSPACE co-owner Erik Kugler at the shop's Mount Vernon Triangle parklet while a staff member lunches.


Photo by @bestpixelco.

The National Park Service turned asphalt to water for imaginary canoe trips along F Street NW.


Photo by Payton Chung.

GGWash editorial board member Payton Chung enjoyed the Urban Land Institute's effort to strike the right balance between the natural and built environment.


Photo by Jim Chandler.

GGWash reader Jim Chandler took this picture to say aloha from Hyattsville's University Town Center, where the city created a "temporary tropical oasis."


Photo by Melissa E.B. McMahon.

Reader Melissa E.B. McMahon captured the fun and games at one of Arlington County's five parklets.

Our write-ups from throughout the years of Park(ing) Days are here.

You can also view more Park(ing) Day 2016 scenes in Washingtonian, the Washington Post's Dr. Gridlock, Channel 4, and Channel 7.

Parking


For a day, we're getting a bunch of tiny new parks

Friday, September 16th is Park(ing) Day! Park(ing) Day is an annual, international event where people turn parking spaces into miniature parks for a day, prompting impromptu public gatherings and calling attention to our need for more open spaces.


Landscape architecture firm Oculus' 2013 Park(ing) Day installation in DC. Photo by Aimee Custis on Flickr.

Here's a list of where some of the miniature parks (aka "parklets") will pop up tomorrow:

District parklets

DC's official list of parklets is here. More than 25 locations will serve as pop-up parklets, including locations near Metro stations like NoMa, Dupont Circle, Eastern Market, Gallery Place, McPherson Square, and Shaw-Howard.


A map of where parklets will pop up in DC. Click for an interactive version.

The DC Department of Transportation is hosting a parklet and commuter spa at Farragut North, complete with a reading nook and a professional masseuse.

Several organizations promoting Anacostia River revitalization, including Waterfront Trust, Living Classrooms, Nature Conservancy, Washington Parks and People, and DC UrbanGreens will host a parklet in front of the Wilson Building.

Virginia parklets

Alexandria City will have five parklets throughout Old Town Alexandria, including City Hall and the Washington Alexandria Architecture Center of Virginia Tech.

Arlington will host five parklets, including one at Courthouse Plaza that will feature art by Kate Stewart.


A shot from Park(ing) Day 2013 in Arlington. Photo by Aimee Custis Photography on Flickr.

Maryland parklets

Montgomery County will host pop-ups in Wheaton, Silver Spring, Bethesda, and Takoma Park. Docs in Progress, a group that teaches documentary filmmaking, will be interviewing residents at its Silver Spring parklet.

Hyattsville will host four parklets, including an evening parklet from 6 pm to 8 pm at the City Municipal Building, which will have lawn games, food, beer, and live music.

Help us crowdsource PARK(ing) Day 2016

If you know of a parklet we've missed or if you see a parklet tomorrow, let us know in the comments. Share any photos of parklets and add them to the Greater Greater Washington Flickr pool or tweet it (#parkingday) and tag us (@ggwash). We'll post photos in a roundup next week.

Government


Ambulances take longer to reach you if you live east of the Anacostia River

Ambulances in DC generally take longer to respond to neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River, and the river itself seems to be part of the cause. This map, which I made using data obtained from DC FEMS under the Freedom of Information Act, shows areas of the city where the proportion of all critical 911 calls where an ambulance took more than 10 minutes to arrive at the scene from the time they were notified.


Graphic by the author, with data from DCFEMS.

When Julette Saussy, the former head of emergency medical services for DC, resigned last February, she wrote an open letter to the city explaining her reasons. In the letter she mentions Robert Leroi Wiggins, a 35-year-old man stabbed in the Benning Ridge neighborhood on January 27, 2016. After 18 minutes, an ambulance finally arrived and transported Mr. Wiggins to a hospital. Four days later, he succumbed to his injuries. Ms. Saussy suggests that he might have survived if the ambulance had reached him sooner.

Tragic stories like Mr. Wiggins' are not unheard of. In September 2015, a 5-month old baby stopped breathing, but the nearest ambulance was over seven miles away, and in March 2016, a gunshot victim waited over 30 minutes for an ambulance.

A disproportionate number of these stories seem occur in neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River.

Response times are quick close to DC's core, and particularly slow in Ward 7

Three anecdotes do not constitute a trend, but according to the data, ambulances responding to critical 911 calls east of the Anacostia seem to have difficulty meeting the city's own standards for ambulance response times.

DC's contract with the private ambulance company, American Medical Response (AMR), stipulates that the company is expected to respond to 90% of all calls in less than 10 minutes. Applying this standard on a per-neighborhood basis allows us to see where response times are adequate and where they are not.

Take a look at the map above. Areas that tend to meet the 10%-or-less standard are clustered around the center of the city, near the preponderance of DC's medical facilities and high-speed travel corridors. Areas east of the Anacostia fare much worse, particularly from about noon to the early evening and in Ward 7 neighborhoods at the eastern edge of the city.

There are fewer medical resources in the eastern parts of the District

According to Andrew Beaton of DC FEMS, this is the result of busy ambulances accumulating in the western portion of the city.

"The greatest number of EMS calls resulting in patient transport are heavily concentrated in the center of the District and, to a lesser degree, in two areas south of the Anacostia River," Beaton said.

"Response times during the day are affected by traffic and pedestrian density, especially at intersection choke points, reducing the mobility of ambulances and resulting in average response speeds of 15 miles per hour or less. The Anacostia River and Interstate 295 also represent geographic barriers difficult to overcome many times during the day. When combined with high call volume—especially unpredictable surges—this can result in longer ambulance response times in the southern areas of the District. "

Traffic on bridges across the Anacostia—a problem recent infrastructure changes have exacerbatedand a complete lack of trauma centers east of the Anacostia creates a recurring situation where ambulances struggle to reach patients.

Mr. Beaton indicates that since the contract with AMR started, response times have fallen city-wide. Any improvement is good, but increasing the number of ambulances on the road and augmenting FEMS resources are short-term improvements. They do not address the underlying structural issues: the chokepoint across the bridge and the dearth of trauma centers east of the Anacostia .

Transit


Before going to Georgetown, the streetcar will go east to Benning Road

DC is studying ways to extend the streetcar west to Georgetown, but that's the second extension it will get. First is a project to lengthen it to Benning Road Metro, but questions remain about where tracks will go, overhead wires, and more.


All images from DDOT.

The Benning Road streetcar project is really two projects: The streetcar extension itself and an even larger project to replace the bridge that takes Benning Road over the Anacostia River and 295. There will be a public meeting on May 19th where you can learn more.

Going to Benning Metro rather than Minnesota Avenue (another possibility that DC initially studied) will serve more residential neighborhoods, draw investment to the commercial section of Benning Road, and be less duplicative of X2 bus service.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is pondering two options. One option would put streetcar tracks next to the curb. The other option is median tracks, similar to how the streetcar runs on Benning Road west of the river now.

Unfortunately, neither option includes dedicated lanes. But the streetcar will be faster than it is on H Street regardless, thanks to the absence of curbside parking gumming things up.


Corner of Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road with curb-running streetcar (Alternative 1).


Corner of Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road with median-running streetcar (Alternative 2).

Overhead wires

As they are west of Union Station, overhead wires are a point of contention. Unlike there, however, no federal or local laws prohibit wires, and many utility wires are already above ground.

The current study contemplates either using wires or not. If DDOT goes to the trouble and expense of building hybrid wireless technology for downtown DC, theoretically it might not be that much more difficult to make Benning Road wireless too.

Benning Road isn't a major viewshed; if wireless streetcars have reliability problems or are more expensive than traditional wire-based ones, then trying to go wireless may be more of an impediment than they're worth.

Also, the Benning project will happen before the extension from Union Station to Georgetown does, and is already funded in the proposed budget, according to DDOT's Sam Zimbabwe. Therefore, DC may want to move forward with more proven and traditional technology in the meantime. But if it buys any new streetcars, as it will have to for this project, it ought to buy ones that can work with the wireless section.

Get involved

As plans take shape, advocates are gearing up to fight for the best alternatives. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association also is pushing for better bike accommmodations. WABA points out that the wide bridge (especially over the river, where it's 4 lanes each way) is very unfriendly to people biking, and wants a protected bikeway so people can safely and comfortably cross the river.

If you're interested in weighing in on the Benning study, attend the May 19 meeting, at 6:00 pm at 4058 Minnesota Avenue, NE or email info@benningproject.com.

Read more from today's streetcar mega-feature:

Development


How the Navy, baseball, and government planners made Capitol Riverfront one of DC's hottest neighborhoods

Capitol Riverfront, the area around Nats ballpark, ranks high on any list of Washington's most rapidly transforming neighborhoods. But it took more than baseball to make that transformation happen.


Image from the 2003 Anacostia Waterfront Framework Plan.

By the last decade of the 20th Century, Washington's Anacostia River waterfront was a crime-plagued and dirty testament to urban neglect. It wasn't a nice place to be.

But beginning in the 1990s, a string of ambitious plans, government projects, and private-sector infusions have turned the neighborhood into a thriving and desirable place to spend time.

Here's the story of how that happened.

Metrorail brings federal workers

When the Metrorail Green Line opened its Navy Yard station in 1991, that opened the door to an infusion of people and money into the neighborhood. That infusion began in earnest in the mid 1990s when two federal groups decided to move thousands of office workers into the area: The Naval Sea Command (NAVSEA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Following post-Cold War military base consolidation, the US Navy opted to move over 5,000 NAVSEA workers from offices in Crystal City to the Navy Yard. Meanwhile, DOT announced it would build a new headquarters four blocks from the Navy Yard complex that would house over 6,000 workers.

Those two massive construction projects, the ensuing permanent influx of employees, and the subsequent ripple effect of service retail and of contractors looking for nearby offices, combined to provide a huge economic stimulus.

The District does its part

Michael Stevens, director of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District (BID), points to the 1999 election of Mayor Anthony Williams as the next turning point.

Under Mayor Williams' direction, DC began a concerted effort to re-plan and better manage the Anacostia riverfront. That effort culminated with the 2003 Anacostia Waterfront Initiative master plan, which provided a consensus vision for what the Anacostia shore could become, including its layout of streets, buildings, and public spaces.

Following the District's adoption of the master plan, the riverfront BID started up in 2007. At first the BID simply worked to make riverfront streets cleaner and safer, but as successes mounted their mission evolved to building parks, running public events, and managing economic development.

In 2004 the Montreal Expos moved to DC, becoming the Washington Nationals. City leaders opted to build a permanent stadium along the riverfront, and Nats Park opened in 2008.

The baseball stadium did unquestionably bring new people to the riverfront, and certainly helped spread the center of gravity south from M Street. Together with other parks, such as the 20-mile Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, the riverfront has become unique among emerging DC neighborhoods with great public recreational spaces being built right alongside housing, retail and offices

Housing pressure mounts

The riverfront's renaissance hasn't been without controversy, particularly where older residential buildings, and the people in them, are concerned.

A $35 million federal grant to redevelop the Arthur Capper / Carrollsburg public housing project surrounding 4th Street SE has been especially challenging.

The 23-acre housing project was built in the 1950s with 707 homes. But with DC's population increasing and demand for housing skyrocketing, 700-some homes on 23 acres just isn't enough, not four blocks from a Metro station.

Although the plan was to replace low-income apartments on a one-for-one basis, residents were displaced during construction. Gentrification was a definite fear.

But with the redevelopment area now approaching its planned 1,700 units, and full replacement of income-restricted homes guaranteed, the upheaval seems to have been worth it. Hundreds of low-income families have new homes, and added 1,000 households are enjoying the revitalized neighborhood.

With offices, entertainment, and parks in place, and an increasing number of residents in the redeveloped Arthur Capper / Carrollsburg project and elsewhere, the riverfront is truly booming.

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