From Tom Hay
Residents and business owners turned out to fill the second floor community room at the Reeves Center Wednesday night to hear details on the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) plans for the transportation and streetscape improvements on the 14th Street NW corridor. Attendees were given a 25-page color handout of the Powerpoint presentation and scale drawings with block-by-block details were available on site.
The project does not take into account the possibility of a streetcar lines on 14th Street.
By the Numbers
The budget for the federally funded project is $8.5 million. The stretch of 14th Street from Thomas Circle to Florida Avenue that the project covers about a mile, 0.94 mile in fact. Currently the design process is at the 65% complete stage, with a scheduled design completion date of November 2010.
14th Street is 70-feet wide and plans call for:
- two 11-foot lanes of traffic in each direction
- 5-foot bike lanes–both north and south bound, adjacent to the traffic lanes
- 8 feet of parking/bulbouts on each side of the street.
What is a bulbout?
The project will incorporate many “bulbouts” at intersections and crosswalks. Essentially they are curb extensions at the corners of an intersection. Bulbouts allow for greater pedestrian visibility and safety by shortening the crosswalk distance. Bulbouts also expand the sidewalk area allowing more room for bus shelters, bike racks, streetlights, even outdoor café seating.
Focal Points at P, U and Florida
Designers for the project identified three focal point areas along the 14th Street corridor–the P Street, U Street and Florida Avenue intersections. For each focal point they came up with several design ideas based on the history of the area. In each case the design ideas would be conveyed in the color and design of the sidewalk pavers at the focal point intersections.
Among the historical themes the planners presented are:
- The corridor’s past history as home to many automobile showrooms.
- The connection to the U Street corridor and its heritage as a Black Broadway.
…At this point in the meeting I was having déjà vu from having attended the recent Arts District branding meetings which have wrestled with the historical identity of the corridor and surrounding neighborhoods and how to properly brand and market it for the future…
On the design aspect, many felt the concepts needed a little more work, and perhaps there should just be one strong unifying concept for the whole project rather than three vastly different themes for the focal points at P, U and Florida. Much discussion was given to tree boxes, planting areas and environmental aspects of the streetscape. Plans do call for more planting area and trees throughout the 14th streetscape. Comments on the design may be sent to [email protected].
Some Uncertainties Remain
At this point it is unclear when funding will become available. If funding is delayed into another fiscal year, the project could be shelved for a year or two. The project also does not take into account the possibility of a streetcar line on 14th Street.