A stretch of O Street NW that has been closed since 1977 was opened today as a “green street” at a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Mayor Muriel Bowser and representatives from the EPA and several district departments.
The street, which runs beside Dunbar High School between 1st and 3rd Streets, was designated a “green street” because it channels stormwater runoff into 33 roadside garden boxes, keeping the water from running into the district’s waterways.
In a brief press conference, Bowser touted the street’s wide walkways and said that it is built to capture thousands of gallons of water during storms.
“We’re here to show people that green streets are livable, this street has wide walkways and they’re sustainable. This street will capture thousands of gallons of stormwater when it rains,” Bowser said.
The project was funded in part by a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust. The trust’s executive director Jana Davis got the biggest applause of the day when she said that the stretch of O Street was indicative of how D.C. serves as a model for the rest of the region when it comes to building environmentally friendly infrastructure.
Also in attendance were Department of Energy and Environment director Tommy Wells, Department of Transportation director Leif Dormsjo, and regional EPA administrator Shawn Garvin. Bowser also used the press conference as a chance to introduce the incoming director of the Department of General Services Chris Weaver, a retired Rear Admiral in the Navy.
In response to a question a recent report alleging a lack of financial oversight in the department, Bowser said that her new appointee is dedicated to cleaning up the department’s finances without losing focus on the department’s goal of expanding environmentally friendly infrastructure projects.
“We are not backing away from investing in green building for our schools and public facilities,” she said, “but we have to find a way to do it in a cost-effective way.”
After Wells emphasized the need to retrofit other streets in the city to better manage stormwater runoff, Mayor Bowser said that green street projects similar to O Street are planned for Minnesota Avenue and 15th Street NW.