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October 4, 2012.
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Most recent articles,
documents, and testimony about Capitol Hill Transportation
Transportation (DDOT) Documents
(Click here for a complete list of studies on the DDOT website)
The following may be of special interest to CHRS members:
Pile Driving in SE/SW Freeway Median for the
11th Street Bridge Project to Start
Between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Monday through Friday,
Nov. 8-12 and Nov. 15-19
Over the next two weeks, contractors for the 11th Bridge Project are scheduled to drive piles nearby in the Southeast-Southwest Freeway median east of 11th Street SE. Weather permitting, pile driving may occur between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, November 8 to 12 and November 15 to 19. This work is to allow construction of a ramp to the Southeast-Southwest Freeway from the new inbound freeway bridge being built across the Anacostia River as part of the bridge project and is similar to other work conducted closer to and in the river since project work began last December. As has been done throughout the project, contractors will monitor levels of the work at all times to try and minimize impacts to residents.
The project involves construction of three new bridges – one for local and two for freeway traffic – that upon completion in mid-2013 will:
The 11th Street Bridge Project and District Department of Transportation regret any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding as we work to complete the pile driving and all of our project work as quickly as possible.
For more information, please call Public Information Manager, 11th Street Bridge Project, Bryon Johnston at 202-484-2330, Ext. 137 or email email@example.com.
With decisions expected in
mid-April about the 11th Street Bridges Project design/build
team, a review is necessary of the negative consequences of
the proposed project, as well as an examination of the
alternative supported by CHRS.
CHRS’s role in Ward 6 goes beyond historic preservation and zoning to include basic livability issues like parking, as well as local and freeway traffic. For years, CHRS has been in the forefront of developing solutions like permit parking for parking problems, as well as fighting freeways in the city.
We have consistently maintained that constructing massively expanded freeway bridges in the heart of the city permanently and adversely affects rowhouse neighborhoods and their residents.
These adverse effects include health issues, such as increased asthma attacks and respiratory illnesses for children in schools near major freeways. For this reason, California recently passed a law requiring that any new school must be at least 500 feet from a freeway or major highway.*
Anacostia High in Ward 7, and Tyler and Capitol Hill Day Schools in Ward 6, are all within this zone. If DDOT’s Preferred Alternative is built, there will be a daily increase of tens of thousands of vehicles near each school.
In addition, new studies
indicate a shorter life expectancy for those who live close
to major highways and roads. One
such study found that a person's lifespan is reduced 2.5
years if they live near highly trafficked
roads.** Also, considerable recent research indicates
an increase in cardiovascular disease among people living
near major roads.
Just as many U.S. cities are trying to "go green" by reducing greenhouse gases and pollution, the DC government seems to be reverting to city planning ideas of the 1950s, when planners favored increasing freeway traffic through cities. Other communities are reducing or resisting freeway construction and expansion: for instance, after the 1989 earthquake, San Francisco took down the Embarcadero Freeway rather than rebuild it and saw a renaissance in property values;*** and Arlington County is currently resisting proposed widening of I-66.
Another adverse effect is increased noise, such as additional truck noise day and night, that will disturb residential neighborhoods. With the higher structures proposed in the Preferred Alternative, the noise will carry farther. In addition, the visual blight of larger, higher, wider structures will increase the adverse impacts on neighborhoods and historic districts on both sides of the river.
For several years, CHRS has asked DDOT to analyze a smaller alternative to the proposed expansion from 8 lanes to 12 lanes, and to project the comparative traffic and other impacts of a smaller design. That has not happened. Instead, Freedom of Information Act requests have not been answered, and meetings scheduled for DDOT to respond to CHRS concerns have been cancelled.
Here is what CHRS is FOR:
CHRS would support a smaller
CHRS strongly supports
methods to reduce traffic in various parts of Capitol Hill
and on the
CHRS supports making 17th and 19th Streets in Hill East two-way streets with lower speed limits to slow commuter traffic and reduce the numbers of commuters using these routes. We support more use of speed tables on routes where drivers travel too fast.
CHRS supports methods to reduce truck noise that would increase if more trucks short-cut through the city over the newly expanded 11th Street Bridges. CHRS asked DDOT to do an analysis of truck noise, but again, to our knowledge that did not happen.
CHRS supports community and City Council input into the decision regarding the winner of the ongoing bridge design/build competition, so that impacts in neighborhoods and historic districts can be minimized and mitigated.
In summary, it is still possible to go forward with a smaller and less costly project that would protect the health of school children and residents affected by traffic; reduce impacts on residential neighborhoods, historic districts, and commercial corridors; and produce less noise, air pollution, visual blight, and congestion on residential streets.
CHRS will continue to press
for the best possible outcome for the Capitol Hill, Hill
East, and Anacostia communities on this issue.
** This and other health impacts for those living near major roads are mentioned in the Nov. 2007 Smart Mobility analysis done for CHRS (the link to the Smart Mobility study is below). Readers wishing to know more can contact CHRS Transportation Committee Chair Tom Grahame at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Will the 11th St. Bridges Proposal Overwhelm Capitol Hill with Traffic?
Smart Mobility Study of Newly Available DDOT Data Suggests Answer is "Yes"
After much effort, the data underlying the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) analysis of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the expanded 11th St. bridges project was finally made available in late October. CHRS again contracted with the transportation planning firm Smart Mobility to analyze this data. Smart Mobility's report indicates why DDOT's traffic projections low ball — undercount — future traffic on both sides of the Anacostia River. New analysis must be done which corrects for the undercounts, and which includes traffic projections for streets previously ignored, such as 8th St. (including Barracks Row), 6th St., and 4th St., SE. Only then will Capitol Hill residents adequately understand the traffic impacts on their streets and neighborhoods.
Findings of New Smart Mobility Study
Neighborhoods on both sides of the Anacostia are told the proposed expansion of the 11th St. bridges from eight total lanes to twelve will take commuters off neighborhood roads even as it increases traffic over the bridges by 50,000 vehicles per day. But will these neighborhood traffic reductions happen?
Since March, CHRS and others had been trying to acquire from DDOT the basic modeling data underlying its traffic modeling for the FEIS, through Freedom of Information Act requests. When those requests were unsuccessful, intervention from Council Member Tommy Wells' office caused DDOT to produce the underlying modeling input data in late October.
Smart Mobility then was able to analysis this data. Smart Mobility's new report shows that both DDOT's methods and its assumptions create inaccurately low traffic projections, calling previously presented benefits into doubt.
Smart Mobility’s findings are as follows:
1. DDOT failed to follow standard modeling procedures to account for the new traffic that occurs when freeway capacity is expanded, creating an artificial undercount of future traffic volumes in the FEIS. That failure allows DDOT to make the startling claim that expanding freeway capacity at the 11th Street bridge would actually cause a slight decline in regional traffic, compared to no increases in capacity!
Smart Mobility states, "It is true that the the MWCOG/TIP model does account for a significant amount of induced travel when applied properly. In the case of this FEIS, the model was not applied properly."
2. Underlying the analysis is DDOT's assumption that the freeway extension which today connects commuters to I-395 from Barney Circle will be replaced by a boulevard with half the capacity.
The smaller boulevard reduces rush hour traffic speeds to between 4 and 6 miles per hour. At that speed commuters who today use the freeway extension would seek other means of travel.
But the change from freeway to boulevard is not part of the 11th St. bridges proposal.
What would happen to new traffic generated by the development of up to five million square feet of buildings at Reservation 13, and elsewhere, if such traffic couldn't access I-395 from Barney Circle without 10 to 15 minute waits on the boulevard? Would such traffic cut through Capitol Hill residential neighborhoods instead?
Yet if the boulevard doesn't get built, commuters who currently use the freeway extension from Barney Circle wouldn't be discouraged from doing so. Sousa bridge traffic -- and likely Hill East cut-through traffic -- would revert back toward today's traffic patterns.
Perhaps the best way to keep traffic out of Hill East neighborhoods would be to combine retention of the freeway extension, so that Reservation 13 residents won't have to filter though local neighborhoods, and also make 17th and 19th Sts. two-way with speed bumps?
3. Contrary to DDOT's assertions that the project won't increase freeway capacity, the proposed 11th St. bridges project does in fact increase freeway capacity. Although DDOT claims that the added freeway lanes do not constitute "basic freeway capacity" and are "auxiliary or spot improvements," the model files specify that new lanes are in fact freeway lanes.
4. One reason for the increase of 50,000 vehicles per day on the expanded 11th St. bridges project is that some traffic is diverted from the Woodrow Wilson bridge into and through the District, via the new 11th Street bridges, using the South East Freeway (I-395) as a handy way to get from Maryland into Virginia.
Scale of the Project on Neighborhoods
According to DDOT, each freeway lane will be larger than those today, and there will be additional breakdown lanes. Thus the scale likely will resemble the new Woodrow Wilson bridge more than the existing bridge. Accordingly, the new flyovers passing over Capitol Hill neighborhoods will be bigger both because 50% more lanes on the flyover, and because each lane will be larger. DDOT at this point cannot demonstrate, visually, the size of the bridge, the flyovers, and the entrance into the Hill of the new freeway lanes. With a “design/build” contract is contemplated for the bridge project but no contract awarded, no one knows precisely how big and where these structures will be located. When the 11th Street bridge was built in 1964 there was no Capitol Hill Historic District. The possibility of the bridge project intruding into the Historic District beyond the existing structures is unknown and was never considered in the FEIS.
What Should Be Done Now
DDOT must create a realistic and conventional traffic analysis, including:
1. Admit to the freeway character of the additional lanes on the new bridge, and model the effects of additional traffic newly induced by increased freeway capacity.
2. Acknowledge that forecast traffic reductions in the FEIS also rely on a downsizing of the freeway connection to Barney Circle to a congested boulevard, and produce traffic projections without the boulevard.
3. Conduct a thorough traffic analysis of the effects on the Hill from this more realistic basis, including Capitol Hill streets previously ignored, such as 8th (Barracks Row), 6th, and 4th streets.
4. And, finally, provide conceptual but realistic visual designs for the bridge, its approaches, the flyovers and new lane intrusions into the Hill so that its effects on park land and the Capitol Hill Historic District can be understood.
Citizens should contact their ANC representatives and Council Member Tommy Wells' office, and ask them to make DDOT provide the analyses they failed to provide before, so that we will have a more realistic understanding of how much traffic will be in our neighborhoods and where it will go. The Council should require that no funds be expended on the 11th St. bridges project until such analysis has been produced and shown to the community. The community must be given data and time to react, and to make sure that this time, the analysis follows established and appropriate methodologies, and includes no assumptions about construction of boulevards which create traffic bottlenecks. If the neighborhood traffic benefits largely disappear, and traffic increases occur elsewhere, including on Capitol Hill streets not previously analyzed, then would it make sense for DC taxpayers to expend large sums of local money for this proposal? Or would a smaller, cheaper project which causes less traffic increases be better?
Links to the Two Smart Mobility Studies
Traffic and parking issues are an increasing concern on Capitol Hill, with new developments, the new stadium and new planned transportation projects. To learn more about DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) plans and to give residents a chance to communicate with the agency, CHRS hosted a community forum on June 18, at St. Peter’s Parish Hall, featuring DDOT Director Emeka Moneme.In his remarks, Moneme noted recent DDOT activities, including the redesign of the Frederick Douglass Bridge and the Capitol Hill Transportation Study (CHTS). The CHTS led to Constitution Avenue becoming a two-way street and to installation of speed tables in several locations. The opening of the new stadium required new parking programs which in turn have created issues with residents. DDOT will be working with the Council and the neighborhood to provide the fine tuning needed to make it work better.
Looking forward, DDOT is expecting the Federal Highway Administration to soon issue a Record of Determination which will allow the Eleventh Street Bridges Capacity Expansion Project to go forward. (CHRS has learned construction is likely to start around May, 2009). Menome said the hope is to keep freeway traffic out of neighborhoods with this project. In addition, planning could start as early as 2009 for converting Seventeenth and Nineteenth Streets from their current, one-way commuter routes to slower, two-way streets. Regarding public transportation, DDOT is thinking of more and new types of bus routes, including express buses and circulators.
In response to a comment about commuter traffic increasingly using local streets such as Constitution and those surrounding Lincoln Park, Moneme said that DDOT’s traffic goal is to get commuter traffic to move to New York and Pennsylvania Avenues.
A question about the delay in repaving alleys elicited the acknowledgement of the need to catch up with infrastructure improvement of all types — alleys, roadways, sidewalks, and bridges. Later, he said that the need outstrips the monies available, and that many people were waiting for repaved alleys.
CHRS President Dick Wolf closed the meeting by thanking Director Monome for coming to address the community and to hear concerns. Wolf noted that with all the new development and transportation projects, there has still not been an integrated mobility planning study seeking to understand and address the combination of the new developments and traffic. Readers of the CHRS News will recall that the Concerned Citizens of Eastern Washington, an ad hoc collection of citizens’ groups from both sides of the Anacostia, have called for such a study, but have been rebuffed by DDOT.
Union Station Intermodal Transit Center
Before Moneme spoke, there was an short, unscheduled briefing by DDOT’s Circe Torruelllas, on another new DDOT initiative, the Union Station Intermodal Transit Center Feasibility Study. The main points are that the air rights over the tracks north of Union Station are likely to be developed, the streetcars scheduled to be used on H Street will need a site for a turnaround, tour bus and commuter parking is a continuing issue, and a pedestrian tunnel is needed to connect Union Station to First Street, NE. Earmarked federal dollars will be used to study the integration of all these proposals and developments. In his presentation, Moneme called Union Station a “pivot point” for regional transportation, bringing together rail, bus, subway, H Street streetcars, and bikes.
by Tom Grahame
The heavy turnout for this meeting reflected concerns Capitol Hill residents have about increased traffic in residential areas harming the livability of the neighborhood. These concerns are central to the mission of CHRS. The frequency with which residents will have to confront these issues will increase with new development almost everywhere on the Capitol Hill periphery: M Street, SE; the Anacostia waterfront in Hill East; North of Massachusetts Avenue (NOMA); the H Street, NE, corridor; and now air rights development at Union Station. Urban development in a time of high gas prices and crowded roads is inevitable, especially near Metro stops. The issues are the scale and degree of comprehensive planning, especially with regard to transportation, and whether the community has been included in the decision process in a meaningful way.
The answer to a question at the forum justified CHRS concerns about coordination within DDOT when it was revealed that the agency was simultaneously considering putting (incompatible) express buses on Seventeenth and Nineteenth Streets while converting them from one-way, commuter oriented status to slower, two-way traffic.
It was also disconcerting that Director Moneme’s responses to questions about increasing traffic centered on increasing mass transit above ground, on already crowded streets, rather than discussing ways to increase Metro ridership.
CHRS has had questions about the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Eleventh Street Bridges Expansion Project. The EIS says the project will increase traffic over the bridges by almost 50,000 vehicles per day, yet will reduce traffic overall. DDOT did not do a local arterial analysis of traffic effects between Eleventh Street and the Capitol, but it would appear, according to the EIS that up to 20,000 more vehicles per day would leave I-395 at a new Ninth Street, SE, exit. The number of vehicles using the exit is uncertain and only DDOT can tell residents how large an increase would actually occur.
Without basic information underlying the proposal, understanding the traffic implications for Capitol Hill is impossible. The analysis of the EIS done for CHRS by the transportation consulting firm Smart Mobility, raises other concerns. In this regard, DDOT cancelled an early March meeting to discuss Smart Mobility’s concerns about the bridge expansion proposal, in order to address questions raised in a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request by another entity. DDOT has not provided answers either to the FOIA questions from March, nor to questions Council Member Jim Graham asked in April on CHRS’s behalf about many aspects of the project. When asked if he would commit DDOT to answering these questions, Monome responded that FOIA requests would be answered because by law they must be, and he thought that most of the questions from Council Member Graham had been answered (they hadn’t been, we had checked again the morning of the forum). We will keep CHRS members informed in the News if and when DDOT is forthcoming on these questions.