Wednesday, July 6, 2011

DDOT set to tackle U Street reconstruction project

Anyone who has ever driven, ridden or cycled along U Street NW knows that it can be a bone-jarring ride. And anyone who has tried to navigate U Street's crowded, narrow sidewalks, particularly during busy times of the day or night, knows that it can seem like an obstacle course. This fall, DDOT aims to fix that when it kicks-off its reconstruction project of U Street between 9th Street NW and Florida Ave NW.

Eric Fidler over at Greater Greater Washington has done an excellent overview of the project, which I won't repeat here. But there are a few details of the project that are worth calling out.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of the project is that DDOT is guaranteeing a four foot wide sidewalk minimum throughout the length of the street. Where less than four feet of sidewalk currently exists--such as along the 1300 block of U Street, where the stairs of several buildings make traversing that portion of the sidewalk a single-procession affair, DDOT will eliminate parking on that section of U Street and extend the sidewalk into what is currently the roadway.

Anyone who has ever been bounced into the roadway to avoid an oncoming group of pedestrians (or drunk, rowdy co-eds) will certainly appreciate the importance of this enhancement.

At the intersection of 16th, U and New Hampshire, a notoriously bad intersection for anyone who has to cross it, DDOT will be installing buildouts to reduce the distance that pedestrians must travel. Eric Fidler also notes the elimination of so-called "slip lanes" on New Hampshire, which will help cut down on speeding vehicles and provide additional pedestrian safety.

On the north side of the 1700 block (the residential block), an exceedingly narrow and choppy sidewalk will be replaced and extended outward, with the casualty being the loss of a number of parking spaces along that portion of the street.

This work is of course all in addition to repaving the the length of U Street, replacing gutters and, along the western portion, replacing the water main. This is not an official "streetscape" project, which means that many of the decorative flourishes found on recently completed streetscape projects such as H Street and 18th Street won't be found along U. Additionally, in spite of plans to eventually run a streetcar line along U Street, streetcar tracks will not be included as part of ths project.

The reconstruction project is set to commence this fall, and will begin with the eastern portion of the street between 9th and 14th street. This phase of the project is anticipated to last 9 months, followed by phase two between 14th and Florida Ave., which will commence at the completion of phase one of the U Street project as well as the 18th Street project currently ongoing in Adams Morgan.

For more details, check out the post on Greater Greater Washington, or head over to DDOT's website for the project,, where they have been kind enough to include a link to this blog.


Jake said...
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Anonymous said...

The bigger the sidewalk the more bikes are riding on it, even with bikelanes on the road.