Decking Dead Space
The idea has been in the works for ever a decade: find a community use for the space over North Capitol as it passes under Rhode Island Avenue. While it was once an aspirational thought in the minds of a few civic leaders, today the plan to build a deck over North Cap has gained enough traction that the designers are currently looking for community feedback before moving to the next round of planning.
Originally floated in the 2014 MidCity Small Area Plan, a document outlining the goals of the Bloomingdale, Eckington, Truxton and adjacent neighborhoods, the idea was to build out the overhang from Rhode Island Avenue over North Capitol Street on both the east and west sides of the tunnel. The Bloomingdale Village Square Project (BVS), an affiliate of the Bloomingdale Civic Association that is designed to preserve the history of Bloomingdale while finding improvements within the current structure for community betterment, has taken the reigns of the project and will be responsible for shepherding it through the next stages.
“Our concept in a nutshell is in restoring North Capitol to the grand boulevard it once was, but with a modern twist,” explains Zach Sherif, co-chair of BVS. The project employs “noble materials such as stone, marble, granite, metal and iron for the hardscape, benches, classic street lights, etc. (as L’Enfant’s original plan had called for), while juxtaposing that classicism with accents of sleek and unexpected elements, which could include sculptures, water features, a contemporary amphitheater, funky playground, XL Chess, etc., to add whimsy, art and a touch of modernism.”
ZGF Architects was engaged, pro bono, to run the project’s design phase, as well as interfacing with the many neighborhoods that would need to buy in. The final product would have a footprint not just in Bloomingdale but also Eckington and Stronghold. BVS has begun the process of holding community meetings to get a sense of the needs and desires for the space, and along with ZGF it plans to gather as much information as possible before producing the next generation of renderings.
“We want to do this with as much community input as possible on the front end,” said ANC Commission and BVS Co-Chair Bertha Holliday. “We want the diverse and growing community to be on board from the outset.”
To add your voice to the discussion, send thoughts or questions to email@example.com.
Forget Winter, the NEBT Is Coming
The first, well, really second, stage of the Northeast Boundary Tunnel (NEBT) project kicked off this January, with the first of the staging appearing along the Rhode Island corridor. The DC Water project has been years in the planning. Residents got a small taste in 2017 of what is to come, with the first stage, the moving of utilities to make way for the tunnel. The second stage, the creation of the tunnel, has officially begun.
There’s no sugarcoating it. It’s going to be painful for Bloomingdale residents and all who use Rhode Island Avenue in their daily commutes. And it’s expected to last until 2023.
The Northeast Boundary Tunnel project is the most extensive of the projects that comprise DC Water’s Clean Rivers campaign, which began with the First Street Tunnel completed in 2017. There are five projects in total, which are designed to eliminate sewage and trash in the water as well as alleviate the historic flooding, most specifically in the Bloomingdale and LeDroit neighborhoods that are situated along the old Tiber Creek bed. The project is expected to take 25 years from the time the planning began in 2005 and cost almost $3 billion.
The project will be routed in four separate construction sites along Rhode Island Avenue plus tunnel extensions into the Brentwood neighborhood along Saratoga Avenue and 13th Street NE. The four Rhode Island sites will create major traffic disruptions throughout the Northeast artery, with multiple traffic lane closures and detours lasting years.
Below is a breakdown of the expected closures by construction staging area. DC Water has not provided more detail on exact closure dates.
First Street Pumping Station Construction Site
February 2019-March 2023
- First Street NW between Rhode Island Avenue and U Street NW, closed for nine months
- Rhode Island Avenue between First Street NW and North Capitol, one lane both directions for nine months
- Thomas Street NW eastbound, closed for three months
T Street NW Construction Site
January 2019-March 2022
- T Street between Rhode Island Avenue and Second Street NW, closed for 21 months
- Rhode Island Avenue between First Street and Second Street NW, eastbound closed for 11 months, westbound closed for 21 months
Florida Avenue NW Construction Site
February 2019-June 2021
- Third Street NW between Rhode Island and Florida avenues, closed for 25 months
- Florida Avenue between Rhode Island Avenue and Third Street NW, one lane both directions for 13 months
- Rhode Island Avenue between Third Street and Second Street NW, one lane both directions for five months
R Street NW Construction Site
May 2019-December 2021
- Sixth Street between Rhode Island Avenue and R Street NW, one lane both directions for 33 months
- Rhode Island Avenue between Marion Street and Sixth Street NW, one lane eastbound for six months
This month, DC Water will be reaching out to neighbors affected by the tunneling to ensure that structural meters are set in the homes under which the tunnel will be dug. The sensors will report back to DC Water about any possible structural damage that might be occurring due to the below-ground construction.
Neighbors with questions or concerns are directed to contact DC Water’s NEBT Outreach Team, either at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the 24/7 hotline, 800-988-6151. For more info, visit www.dcwater.com/NEBT.
Taylor Barden Golden is a real estate agent with the Stokes Group at McEnearney Associates Inc. A former Hill staffer, Taylor lives in Brentwood with her husband, two dogs and a cat. She’s always on the lookout for new places to explore and ways to spend time outside. Get in touch: email@example.com; @rtaylorb.