On Thursday evening, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) held the first of three public meetings about the rehabilitation of Aspen Street NW. The meeting took place at Trinity Episcopal Church. As expected, a vocal audience was present to ask many questions and share their opinion about the project.
DCNorthstar has covered this issue several times before. For the uninitiated, the city plans to rebuild and widen Aspen Street NW between 16th Street and Georgia Avenue. This would improve safety and mobility for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers. Despite its daily traffic demands, the road is too narrow and doesn’t really serve anyone well. The planned changes include adding turning lanes on both ends, improving street lighting, increasing the number of street parking spaces and adding a multi-modal pathway for bikes and pedestrians along the north side of the street.
The following cross section graphic gives you a good idea of the current status of the road. The second image shows how the potential improvements would fit into the landscape.
The second option adds an eight foot wide green space, a ten foot hiker/biker path and an addition seven feet for more trees. The entire road would shift six feet to the north. This would, ironically, increase the amount of yard space for the immediate neighbors. Many of them are opposed to the project.
The Historic Sheds
One of the main reasons this project has been so contentious is that there are two buildings on the Walter Reed property which stand in the path of the proposed upgrade (the Walter Reed developer is actually giving about 20 feet of land back to the city). Because of their age, the sheds are considered contributing elements to the site’s historic status.
Option #1 in the image above shows what the road could look like if the sheds (in red) were kept in place. The lower image shows the ideal pathway with the sheds removed. The main difference between the configurations is that the portions of the pathway that curve around the sheds would be two feet narrower and lose the protective parking lane and green space between the path and the roadway. The street would also have about 14 fewer parking spaces on the north side of the road.
The Local Redevelopment Authority for Walter Reed intends to file an application to raze the shed. The Historic Preservation Review Board and the Mayor’s Agent will review the request. This is a multi-step process which could take nearly a year to resolve. If approval is received, the city could not demolish the sheds before the summer of 2020.
Thursday’s meeting was the first of three public meetings for this project. DDOT will take the feedback and produce a 30% Preliminary Design by the summer of this year. They will schedule a second public meeting in the fall to present that design. A second design & review cycle will take place in the winter/spring of 2020. DDOT will present the 100% final design in the summer of 2020.
If you have ideas or questions that could impact this project, you can email Stacee Hemby, the community outreach coordinator at Stacee@tbaconnects.com