CSX is rebuilding the railroad tunnel under Virginia Avenue SE, which means tearing up and rebuilding the streetscape. When the project is finished, the street will have a new sidewalk and bikeway next to each other, along with a new connection to a trail that runs along the Anacostia River.
The Virginia Ave Tunnel Project recently released renderings of what the streetscape, including the trail, will look like when it’s finished.
The project will come with a bikeway along Virginia from 2nd to 9th Streets SE, including a small spur where Eye Street is now. There are future plans to connect the bikeway to 11th Street, creating an extension to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. This would be one of two planned “mall connectors,” the other being along New Jersey and 2nd SE.
The plans include more than the street and trail. On the north side of H, between 1st and 2nd, WC Smith Developments has proposed creating an “H Street Greenspace” between H Street and the railroad tracks. The trail will cross over the tracks at 2nd and eventually through Garfield Park to 1st Street.
DDOT’s Public Space Committee is accepting public comments on the plan until mid-November, and some ANC commissioners are asking for comments as well. Once the comment period ends, the committee will evaluate community recommendations, and make a final decision about the scope and nature of the restorations to be implemented.
Virginia Avenue will look like this:
From 2nd to 4th, the trail will be a 10’ wide shared use path on the south side of Virginia Avenue along side a wide green area. To reduce stormwater runoff, the trail will be made of porous asphalt pavement and the project will include porous asphalt parking lanes, several bioretention areas and permeable pavers for some sidewalks.
Going east from 4th Street, the path will split into an 8-foot wide bike path and a 6-foot wide sidewalk with three feet of separation between them and a wide green space to the south. This is a slight variation on a similar design for C Street NE.
Part of the block of Eye Street between 4th and Virginia Avenue will be removed; the space will used to increase the size of the existing pocket park and create a 10-foot wide bike path connection to the remaining Eye Street stub.
The 8 foot bike trail/6-foot sidewalk configuration will continue to 9th Street.
But east of 7th, the green space on the south side of the trail will narrow and the number of driveway crossings will increase.
East of 9th, the plan is for the trail to cross the Virginia Avenue Park along the north side.
The path through the park will be built by “others” and is not a part of the reconstruction. The park will feature a lawn, dog park, benches, catch basins, and an interpretive area.
On the east side of 11th, the rail portal will be moved east, creating more space. While some of that space will be used to eventually extend 12th Street to M, what remains could be used to create a direct trail connection from the end of the Virginia Avenue Park Trail to the existing ART so that trail users don’t have to connect via 11th and M Streets.
There’s also space for a more shaded, more inviting playground than the one that currently exists on the Hobson Apartments property south of K Street SE between 11th and 12th.
The first meeting for public comments on the plan, hosted by DDOT, ANC 6B and ANC 6D, is on Monday, September 28th, from 6:30-8:30 pm at 200 I Street, SE, in the community room. The second, hosted by DDOT’s Public Space Committee, is on November 12th at 6:30 pm at 1100 4th Street, SW, Washington DC, in the Hearing Room on the 2nd Floor.
A version of this post was crossposted on TheWashCycle.
Correction: A previous version of this post said the public comment period for this plan would end on September 20th, and that DDOT’s Public Space Committee meeting was on October 15th. The dates have since been corrected, and another meeting has been added.