Section of Georgia Ave in project. From DDOT.

On May 17, 2010, work on the $7.9 million Middle Georgia Avenue Great Streets project began. The project is expected to last approximately 18 months and will include the area between Webster Street and Otis Place, NW, and include Upshur Street between 8th and 9th Streets.

The District’s stated goals and objectives with their Great Streets projects are:

  1. Improve the quality of life in neighborhoods along the corridors, including public safety, physical appearance, and personal opportunity
  2. Support local demand for goods and services through economic development
  3. Expand mobility choices and improve safety and efficiency of all modes of travel
  4. Attract private investment through the demonstration of a public commitment to Great Streets communities.

DDOT will implement these goals along Middle Georgia Avenue by upgrading the sidewalks, installing new trash cans and park benches, installing historically sympathetic street lighting and signals, creating textured crosswalks, and enhancing and increasing the public green space surface area.

The greatest changes will come to two triangular parks along Georgia, one at Upshur and 9th and the other at Varnum and Kansas Avenue. Both will get new landscaping and the sidewalks realigned.

Most significantly, 9th Street will be closed to traffic at the tip of the triangle, where it splits off Georgia at a narrow angle. That will become community greenspace, including one of several bio-retention ponds.

The area between 9th Street and Georgia Avenue. Image from DDOT. Click to enlarge.

The bio-retention ponds are not permanent water features. They will collect some of the stormwater runoff to lessen the volume of water entering the city’s treatment system. In times of low precipitation, the areas will serve as green space.

In examining the plans, in addition to the textured crosswalks, intersections will have the pedestrian area bumped out making the roadway narrower and giving walkers a less obstructed view of traffic. Corners will also get curb ramps.

Depending on location, sidewalks will consist of either brick, concrete pavers, permeable pavers, or concrete. The park areas will largely consist of brick walkways, whereas the high traffic area around the Metro station at Georgia and New Hampshire Avenues will use two types of concrete pavers laid down in a decorative pattern. The Metro site, as well as the space on the northeast corner of New Hampshire and Rock Creek Church Road, is also one of several areas scheduled to get additional trees.

Proposed paver designs for the area around the Georgia Avenue/Petworth Metro station. Image from DDOT. Click to enlarge.

The project will consist of roughly three phases starting at Webster Street and working south. The first phase now underway is the conduit work. This is estimated to reach the southern end of the project in about three to four weeks. When it is completed, work will move to the east side of Georgia, starting again at Webster and moving south to Otis Place, constructing curbs, landscaping, street lights, and other enhancements. Then, the process will be repeated on the west side of Georgia Avenue once again at Webster. According to DDOT, working in this manner is the most efficient and the least disruptive to the community.

Kent Boese posts items of historic interest primarily within the District. He’s worked in libraries since 1994, both federal and law, and currently works on K Street. He’s been an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner serving the northern Columbia Heights and Park View neighborhoods since 2011 (ANC 1A), and is the force behind the blog Park View, D.C..