ANC6b Supports New Park and Parks Enhancement as CSX Tunnel Community Benefits
Plan Envisions Connecting Canal, Garfield and Virginia Avenue Parks
by Larry Janezich
Tuesday night, during its regular September meeting, ANC6b voiced its strong support for a new linear park as well as enhancements to existing Garfield and Virginia Avenue Parks to compensate the community for three years of disruption which will result from construction of the new CSX Railroad Tunnel beneath Virginia Avenue south of the Freeway.
The outline of the plan was contained in the ANC’s letter to the Federal Highway Administration and District Department of Transportation (DDOT) in response to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Tunnel reconstruction project.
According to the letter, CSX has committed to work with DDOT and the community to create a new linear tree-lined pedestrian and bicycle park along the north side of the portion of Virginia Avenue south of the Freeway “from Garfield Park to Virginia Avenue Park and beyond.” The Commission endorsed the concept and also stated its full support of CSX’s commitment to “improving access to Garfield Park at 2nd Street according to plans already developed, and to facilitating a connection between Garfield Park and Canal Park.”
The ANC wants the final Environmental Impact Statement to “emphatically state that Virginia Avenue Park will be re-designed during its restoration and that planning will be done in consultation with the National Park Service, Department of Public Resources and the community.” The letter states that the “Redesign should consider a number of additions to the Park, such as an already planned dog park, a children’s playground, tennis courts, a basketball court, conversation areas, etc.” It also asks DDOT to clarify what public lands have been “freed up” by the 11th Street Bridge project and could be added to Virginia Avenue Park or used in other ways for public benefit.
The Commission outlined and justified its support for a hybrid plan for construction of the new tunnel, cherry picking what the ANC considers to be the best features of the three alternative plans for the reconstruction project. In summary, the commission favors a plan with the shortest time for completion, the least noise and vibration, a covered track, the least effect on Virginia Avenue Park, a barrier between the two tracks within the tunnel, and the least disruption to vehicular traffic on Virginia Avenue. Whether such a plan is feasible is unclear.