Capitol Hill’s Proposed Southeast Boulevard: Up to Ten Years and $190 Million
by Larry Janezich
DC Department of Transportation planner Jonathon Rogers told Capitol Hill’s ANC6B Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg’s Transportation Committee last night that any of the three proposals for development of the proposed Southeast Boulevard between Barney Circle and the 11th Street Bridge could take up to ten years and cost up to $190 million. (See the three proposals here: http://bit.ly/1ZaDqWm)
Rogers also told the committee that there are no “fatal flaws” standing in the way of any of the three concepts proposed by DDOT planners. Rogers’ remarks came during his presentation of the DOT SE Boulevard Feasibility Study to the committee; the study considered potential obstacles – land ownership, travel demand, a three-block-long underground garage for tour buses, and cost issues. (See here: http://bit.ly/1Uy5pbS)
Rogers said that the study shows a four lane boulevard would be the most advantageous for the surrounding community resulting in far less traffic on nearby neighborhood streets than a two lane boulevard.
The projected costs of the project range from a low of $121 million without the underground garage to a high of $188 million with a garage – all in 2015 dollars. (The major difference between the high and low figures is the cost of adding the underground garage – about $65 million.)
The (optimistic) projected time line for completion of the project is between 7 to 10 years, with the lower figure based on a model anticipating parkland adjacent to and on the boulevard and the higher figure based on surrounding redevelopment construction (residential and commercial infill).
In order to move forward, the next step would be an Environmental Assessment study – for which 2016 funding has already been provided. It will be up to ANC6B to push the project forward by requesting the study.
The prospective underground garage for tour buses anticipated by all three prospective concepts has raised the most concerns by community stakeholders. Commissioner Daniel Chao, in whose single member district most of the project lies, expressed concerns about the impact of the proposed garage on the quality of life of nearby residents, including Potomac Gardens and Hopkins Apartments, as well as the traffic congestion buses would bring to the community.
ANC6B commissioner Brian Flahaven, told DDOT last night: “I wish you had never brought the garage up – it has distracted from the benefits of the overall project. What’s there now is terrible – there’s no access to the water (the Anacostia River). Any of the three concepts is better than what we have now.”
Commissioner Nick Burger suggested that DDOT consider a SE Boulevard completely below the surface, leaving the ground level available for residential development. Rogers responded that the Environmental Assessment could include that concept.
Flahaven, a prominent Hill East activist, suggested that any committee action be delayed for a month to provide an opportunity for the committee to receive community input, consider options, and weigh how best to proceed.
Oldenburg proposed that the Transportation Committee consider a draft letter to DDOT to support going ahead with the Environmental Assessment and include “additional ideas” at its next meeting in February. That proved to be the consensus of the committee. Additional details will be made public at the next regular ANC6B meeting on January 12, in Hill Center, when the commission receives the committee report.