Part of 1st St NE. Photo by Elvert Barnes on Flickr.

Bicyclists, pedestrians, and the environment will all benefit when DDOT reconstructs the stretch of First Street, NE that forms NoMa’s main street over the next 2 years. The stretch from Columbus Circle to New York Avenue will get new crosswalks, stormwater retention, and a cycletrack to help connect the Metropolitan Branch Trail to Union Station and the Mall.

DDOT and associated contractors presented plans for the reconstruction of the road at a meeting last night. The biggest news for regional cyclists is the plan to add a a 2-way cycletrack along 1st Street from Columbus Circle to M Street NE.

The cycletrack will be 8 feet wide and separated from automobile traffic. Plastic bollards will handle that duty from the circle to K Street. From K to M, a 2-foot-wide precast concrete barrier will keep automobile and bicycle traffic separate. This barrier will be the same height as a standard curb.

Bicyclists will need to share travel lanes with automobiles on one block of M Street to get from the ramp that marks the southern end of the Metropolitan Branch Trail to the northern end of the cycletrack. Bicycle traffic will now have a much safer route to get from the National Mall to the MBT.

Typical cross-section of First Street NE between K and M Streets. Image from a meeting handout.

A Montreal cycletrack with a concrete curb for separation. Photo by tracktwentynine on Flickr.


The project will include new crosswalks at almost every intersection. The one exception is Pierce Street, between L and M, which DDOT promises to revisit when development at that corner brings more pedestrian activity. Sidewalks will get better lighting, including Washington Globe lights along the road and teardrop lighting at the intersections. Wider sidewalks will ensure ADA compliance.

Bio-retention areas, similar to what exists on the east side of the 1200 block of First Street, will be installed where possible along the road. This will help ensure that less water pours directly into the sewer system during rains, helping to curb the volume of water that leads to combined sewer overflow episodes.

Crews will relocate a water main and do other utility work between September 2012 and Spring of 2013. The full-depth reconstruction of the road will then occur from K Street to New York Avenue, one side of the road at a time. The road will allow one-way southbound traffic at all times. From G Street to K Street, the road will simply be resurfaced.

Construction is scheduled to last 18 to 24 months, though the team expects all work to be finished closer to the 18 month end of the timeframe. That would mean they will complete the project sometime in the spring of 2014. A page with project details will be available on DDOT’s website once construction gets underway.