Wharf Developers Promise to Limit Truck Traffic

ANC 6D July Report

113
The Wharf’s Phase 2 construction site. Photo courtesy Balfour Beatty.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6D met July 13 over WebEx. Commissioners Gail Fast (6D01), Anna Forgie (6D02), Ronald Collins (6D03), Andy Litsky (6D04), Fredrica (Rikki) Kramer (6D05), Rhonda Hamilton (6D06) and Edward Daniels (6D07) were in attendance.

As vertical construction accelerates, managers of Phase 2 of The Wharf promised to reduce disruption by limiting the circulation of trucks through residential areas.

In response to concerns from Vice Chair Andy Litsky (6D04) on the circulation of concrete trucks in “the residential community,” Construction Manager Tony Albanese said trucks will travel routes approved by the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT). He added that trucks will travel to the Vulcan Materials Company facility along M Street SW and not cut through residential areas including 4th Street SW.

Still, Commissioner Anna Forgie (6D02) said trucks have frequently cut through residential streets during past projects.

“That has been a problem on many projects,” she said. “My hope is that you do everything that you can to ensure that it does not happen.”

Albanese said the size of the site’s curb lane permits the circulation of 14 trucks, and contractors will work only from Monday through Saturday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Litsky added that constituents have expressed concerns about traffic disruptions from food trucks parked on Maine Avenue in front of banks and Arena Stage, and urged Albanese to contact the Executive Office of the Mayor (EOM) to discourage food trucks from parking there.

Albanese said contractors are continuing garage construction while taking “extreme precautions” to protect workers amid COVID-19. Vertical construction of an office tower has already begun (parcel 6 and 7), and construction of a hotel and mixed-income apartment complex (parcel 8) will begin in late August.

Project Director Matt Steenhoek said around half of Phase 2 rentals are market-rate affordable housing. But as residents face unemployment and income loss as a result of COVID-19, Commissioner Rhonda Hamilton (6D06) said developers should work to ensure residents housed in The Wharf’s Phase 1 units receive adequate support.

The Wharf’s second phase of projects is scheduled to open in summer 2022. More information is available at phase2.wharfdc.com.

Illegally Parked Verizon Vehicles
Verizon officials are pursuing “progressive discipline” for utility truck drivers who fail to park legally, Verizon Director of Field Operations Chad Thompson said. But some commissioners remain frustrated by the number of Verizon vehicles disrupting traffic and pedestrians.

Commissioners shared photos of Verizon utility trucks blocking turn lanes and crosswalks. Commissioner Edward Daniels (6D07) said illegally parked trucks are especially common in Single Member District (SMD) 6D07 and 6D02. Forgie said she has seen trucks parked in handicap spots on a “regular basis.”

Thompson said he has partnered with Mario Acosta-Velez, Verizon’s Director of State Government Affairs/External Affairs, to enforce legal parking, and added that parking trucks legally is a rule for the 1,400 union workers in the DMV. He said his team investigates photos of illegally parked vehicles, and following investigations and “[has not] seen the same… drivers” in photos.

But Daniels said disruptions caused by Verizon trucks “[have] been going on every single day for over a year,” and disciplinary actions occur only after residents send Verizon officials photos. He urged Thompson to take “proactive” action.

“[Trucks are] parked in front of gates and buildings where people can’t even leave their building,” Daniels said. “This is possibly endangering a life in case someone needs to actually get out of a building.”

In response to commissioners’ concerns, Thompson said he can develop a formal plan to prevent illegal parking. Chairperson Gail Fast suggested he and Acosta-Velez present it at ANC 6D’s September meeting.

Van Ness Modernization Project
DCPS Project Manager Camilo Sanin outlined upcoming renovations part of the Van Ness Elementary School modernization project: the renovation of the Joy Evans Recreation Center, three classroom additions and a renovation of the Historic Fieldhouse.

Although commissioners did not vote on matters related to the project, Department of General Services (DGS) Project Manager Megan Andargie said the team may apply for “some” summer weekend permits, which would require a vote.

Spin Equity Program
Electric scooter company Spin is offering two equity programs, Community Partnership Associate Alexander Davis said. The Everyday Heroes program offers approved essential workers free 30-minute Spin rides, and Spin Access gives reduced rides to people with limited incomes upon presentation of eligible documents.

Visit www.spin.app/covid19 for information about Everyday Heroes, and call 1-888-262-5189 for Spin Access information.

Consent Agenda

The ANC voted to approve the items on consent:

  • Send a letter to Attorney General Karl Racine asking him to investigate air pollution in Buzzard Point, noting the prevalence of COVID-19 complications in communities where pollution-aggravated respiratory illness is common, as well as environmental injustice in the predominantly Black neighborhood. The letter’s goal is to urge Racine to investigate why the Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) has failed to conduct a cumulative impact assessment on Buzzard Point pollution.
  • Send a letter to DOEE about future comments on Vulcan Materials Company’s air quality permit, which is up for renewal. Hamilton said the comments are part of an effort to relocate the Vulcan’s Southwest facility, which she said has had “detrimental impacts” on residents’ health.
  • Send a letter to Racine asking him to look into the intended placement of phone monopoles throughout the community. Hamilton said residents have not been provided with an assessment of the health and environmental impact.
  • Send a letter of inquiry to the EOM regarding the status of The Aya, a Short Term Family Housing facility. Although Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) held a February ribbon cutting ceremony, Forgie said the building has not opened to families due to a failed audit and inspection.
  • Send a letter of support to Southwest Business Improvement District (SWBID) for a resident’s Commission of Fine Arts grant application to install a mural adjacent to Syphax Gardens.

Development, Planning and Transportation

The ANC voted unanimously to:

  • Send a letter to Allen and Nicole Rogers, the Permit Center Supervisor at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), about after-hours utility work. The letter requests utility companies operating within a certain distance of residences abide by the same permit requirements the DCRA imposes for other developers and contractors.
  • Approve a notice of intent (NOI) DDOT issued to install protected bikeways along the 900-1400 block of 1st Street SE.
  • Send a final letter to the Zoning Commission (ZC) on the WhyHotel, a temporary hotel set to open during the lease-up phase of the RiverPoint development at 2100 Second St. SW. Commissioners previously criticized the WhyHotel for its lack of affordable units.
  • Send a letter to Executive Director of the DC Public Library Richard Reyes-Gavilan asking him to consider reopening the Southwest Interim Library before construction of the Southwest Library’s on-site replacement is completed.

ANC 6D usually meets at 7:00 p.m. on the second Monday of every month (except August). The next meeting of ANC 6D is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, September 14 via Webex. For more information and links to join ANC meetings, visit anc6d.org.

Eva Herscowitz is a journalism student at Northwestern University currently interning with the Hill Rag. She writes for Northwestern’s student newspaper, The Daily Northwestern. You can reach her at [email protected]