I spent a couple of hours at the oversight meeting yesterday regarding bridge projects in Washington, DC. Most of the discussion was on controversy surrounding the 11th Street Bridges replacement project. As of now, the plan is to totally replace both spans, making one of them a local bridge between Anacostia and Capitol Hill, and the other between the freeways on either side of the river.
Various people testified, including DDOT Director Emeka Moneme, and DDOT Chief Engineer (as of yesterday) Kathleen Penney.
(Interesting sidenote: I sat next to Director Moneme at last week's ANC 8A meeting--knowing he worked for DC, but not knowing that he was the Director of DDOT! Fortunately I like to make my opinions known at public meetings, and was talking with him about what I thought needed done with the project.)
Their testimony focused on the elements of the preferred alternative, and it took a while for the councilmembers to understand what all was involved.
For the record, Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry was NOT in attendence at this Very Important meeting that will significantly affect his ward. Pretty disapointing, actually.
After their testimony, members of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society testified along with someone they hired from Smart Mibility, a land use and traffic modeling firm based out of New Hampshire. Their argument was that the replacement project will be a detriment to neighborhoods west and north of the Anacostia River, siphoning more traffic onto local roads. My own personal suspicion is that they are worried the new local bridge will make it easier for Anacostia residents to venture into their neighborhood. I hope it does.
Further testimony came from the Sierra Club and Smart Growth America, who jointly raised the concern that the bridges are not taking into account the need for alternative transportation such as street cars, light rail, bicycles, and pedestrians. They make a very good point, and it is my understanding that it is also DDOT's goal to incorporate the structure for that.
Testimony from neighborood organizations and condo communities focused mainly on the plan to remove the 13th street direct access to 395. The new plan forces drivers to cross the local bridge before accessing 395 from an onramp in Capitol Hill. While it is true that one of the reasons I chose Anacostia as a neighborhood to personally invest in and live in, I have not decided for myself if that is an issue I feel strong about defending. My main concern is that Everything about this project takes the beauty of the waterfront into consideration. We do Not want a mixing bowl on our waterfront. We want it to be more accessible and attractive, not less.
This issue is far from decided, but yesterday's meeting made clear that there are residents and organizations that will not let this move forward without a fight to make it a good project. Let's hope DC is listening.
November 13, 2007 presentation on Project (very helpful)