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District Acquires Dave Thomas Circle

On Monday, Feb. 1, the District acquired the property known as Dave Thomas Circle via eminent domain.

The District paid $13.1 million for the property at the center of the intersection of New York and Florida Avenues with First Street NE. The space is currently occupied by a Wendy’s restaurant.

“Almost every Washingtonian has their own Dave Thomas Circle horror story,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) in a press release announcing the acquisition. “Now, we are taking the necessary actions to transform this confusing intersection into a multimodal project that supports the current and future needs of DC drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.” 

The circle has been a focus of community activism for years. A dedicated Twitter account, @fixcircle, focused on making the intersection safer as well as other issues of pedestrian and roadway safety.

The District Department of Transportaiton (DDOT) is redesigning the intersection, often referred to as “Dave Thomas Circle” or the “Virtual Circle,” to make it safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers in support of Mayor Bowser’s Vision Zero initiative to eliminate serious injuries and fatalities on the District’s roadways.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6C supported the concept redesign at their December 2019 meeting, including the acquisition of the property via eminent domain.

Once complete, the redesigned intersection is intended to: 

  • Realign and add two-way traffic to First Street, NE;
  • Restore two-way traffic on Florida Avenue, NE;
  • Add protected bicycle lanes;
  • Make other improvements benefitting safety and legibility for all modes of travel; and
  • Create three new public park spaces.

DDOT will complete the final design plans in Summer 2021 with plans to begin construction in the first quarter of 2022.

“This is an important milestone in the Bowser Administration’s efforts to make this corridor safer for the thousands of drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists who use it every day,” said Interim DDOT Director Everett Lott.

“Over the coming months, we look forward to working with key community stakeholders to complete this process and the design of the new intersection at Florida Avenue and New York Avenue.” 

Image: Concept for redesign of Dave Thomas Circle. Image: DDOT

DDOT is working with the occupant of the acquired property to provide relocation assistance per the Federal Uniform Relocation and Real Property Acquisition Act and the agency’s Right of Way Manual.

DDOT partnered with the NoMa Business Improvement District (BID) and NoMa Parks Foundation, which hired a landscape architecture firm to design thoughtful, innovative public spaces at David Thomas Circle.

The Foundation led community outreach in May 2020, including a virtual public meeting, to seek feedback on public space concepts.

The concept design was approved in 2020 to move forward by three federal entities, including the US Commission on Fine Arts, the National Capital Planning Commission, and the State Historic Preservation Office. The public space design will be incorporated into the design of the final intersection.

DDOT will advertise the entire construction project for solicitation later this year. DDOT plans to host additional public meetings in Spring 2021.

For more information about the project, please visit floridaaveproject.com.

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