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DDOT Initiates Barracks Row Bus Priority Project

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6 met on June 13 via Zoom. Commissioners Frank Avery (6B01, treasurer); Jerry Sroufe (6B02); David Sobelsohn (6B03, secretary); Frank D’Andrea (6B04); Chander Jayaraman (6B06, vice chair); Vince Mareino (6B07); Edward Ryder (6B08, chair); Matt LaFortune (6B09). Kasie Durkit (6B05) was absent.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is launching an Eighth St. SE Priority Project (Eighth Street Study). The project aims to improve bus operations and safety on the street between East Capitol and M Streets SE. A team from the agency is currently collecting data, speaking to the public about existing conditions and doing analysis, DDOT Planner Andrew Grinberg said. Concepts will be developed over the summer and fall, and shared in September. Design will begin in January 2024 with 30 percent designs expected in March and final designs in June, with a goal of construction beginning in Fall 2024.

DDOT created a bus priority program in 2021, aiming to improve the efficiency of public transit. 51 bus corridors were identified, including the Pennsylvania Avenue SE project, now nearing completion.

The Eighth Street Study examines routes 90 and 92. 2,900 riders pass through the corridor on those buses daily; 1,200 board there, Grinberg said. Corridor-specific data is not available for the two DC Circulators routes traveling on Eighth Street SE, but they carry 380,000 riders annually, he added. Current maps show congestion hotspots for buses at all parts of the day. Buses are largely running under 8 mph, and are rarely on time.

A DDOT conditions analysis found that there are a lot of pick-up and drop-off (PUDO) obstructing bus stops, as well as double-parking and commercial loading, which detract from rider and pedestrian safety, Grinberg stated. The angled parking near the Marine Barracks and underpass parking at Virginia Avenue SE are underutilized. Buses are also being delayed by a line of cars waiting to turn at the intersection between Eighth Street with North Carolina and Independence Avenues SE.

In addition to improving speed and reliability, the project aims to alleviate concerns with deliveries, loading and walkability. The project could include any combination of the following: bus lanes, transit signal reprioritization; PUDO zones; commercial loading zones; streeteries; and changes in parking regulation management. Bus stops may be relocated or removed. Curbs could be extended to reduce turning speed, increase pedestrian visibility and decrease crossing distance.

Commissioners implored Grinberg to learn from the Pennsylvania Avenue process and communicate as widely as possible to avoid confusion, supporting engagement with business. Commissioner Avery asked about a recent Notice of Intent (NOI) informing the ANC that DDOT was reconfiguring loading zones on the same stretch; Grinberg said that that team will hold off on implementation until after that project. Asked if protected bike lanes (PBL) could be part of this project, Grinberg said that buses were the priority here, but that if the will exists in the community, the team can look into the feasibility of PBL, noting  that trade-offs will be required within the limited space. The ANC took no vote on the matter.

DDOT wants to know what problems people have noticed and what they would like to see.  Learn more and share your thoughts at https://buspriority.ddot.dc.gov/

Southeast Library

DC Public Library (DCPL) Executive Director Richard Ryes Gavilan told the June meeting of ANC 6B that interim services during the modernization of the Southeast Neighborhood Library (403 Seventh St. SE) would not include an additional book pick-up and drop off location. DCPL is set to close the library sometime this summer, a closure that is expected to last 18 to 24 months. With advocacy for the ANC Southeast Library Taskforce (SELTF), Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) successfully pushed for $191,000 for interim services to be added to the FY 24 DC Council Budget.

Reyes-Gavilian said there is still no set date for the Southeast Library closure, noting that permits are still being acquired. The community will get four to six weeks’ notice of the closure via email and signage. There will also be one more DCPL-led community meeting on the project. Northeast Library (330 Seventh St. NE) will be the “nucleus” for interim services, including some children’s and school programing. DCPL will also work with Barracks Row Main Street (BRMS) and Eighth Street book shop Little District Books (737 Eighth St. SE) to offer adult programming. Arthur Capper Recreation Center will host computer and printer services, which Reyes-Gavilian described as a “laptop vending machine” and printers with digital specialists on site to facilitate use.

Currently, the DCPL ED said, there are no plans for additional book drop off at the Capper site. He said technical limitations make it challenging to modify the library’s systems to allow for a temporary library book pick up and drop off location.

SELTF Chair David Sobelsohn expressed displeasure with the lack of librarians and book services at the Capper site. Treasurer Frank Avery (6B01) encouraged DCPL to work on the problem. He noted that book hold pick-up is a priority for neighbors, and that such a fix would have utility for interim services during future modernizations of other locations.

Later in the meeting, the ANC unanimously supported a resolution urging DCPL to ensure there is a location at Arthur Capper Rec Center for book drop off and pick up.

The ANC supported:

  • a resolution requesting Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) and WMATA ANC to maintain the full connectivity of the current 96 bus route in its Visionary Network map, a route many DC students use, noting the proposed elimination of the 96 route would result in no service east of Lincoln Park in the area south of East Capitol and north of Pennsylvania Avenue SE;
  • designs for a Historic Preservation Application (HPA) at 202 Tenth St. SE for a two-story rear addition and roof deck to an existing two story with basement. The ANC wanted to see renderings to ensure a rooftop deck would not be visible from the street.

ANC 6B next meets 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 11. See the agenda and information visit www.anc6b.org

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