This April, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) presented initial design ideas for the long-awaited “deck-over” project that would cover Connecticut Avenue’s open-air underpass north of Dupont Circle. Residents proposed the idea in 2010 and the Council allocated $10 million in the fiscal year 2015 budget to realize it.
Now, some Bloomingdale residents are looking to replicate that success and build support for their own project to deck-over North Capitol Street between V and Seaton streets with a park or plaza.
Covering the underpass would help stitch together the sister neighborhoods of Bloomingdale and Eckington, and also contribute to the revitalization of North Capitol’s commercial corridor just south of the targeted zone.
As project advocate Thaddeus Thaler described to neighborhood blogger Scott Roberts, “this park or plaza will reclaim a much needed area for residents to not only enjoy, but to assemble and organize, bringing definition to the community.”
Similar to the Dupont deck-over, some people have been thinking about converting North Capitol (including GGWash contributor Malcolm Kenton) as early as 2010. It was picked up in the Office of Planning’s Mid City East Small Area Plan and then further endorsed as a long-term recommendation by the 2016 Bloomingdale Village Square Project.
However, the freeway that North Capitol Street was supposed to become was never completed, so the smarter thing to do might be to get rid of the North Capitol underpasses altogether and return it to a more human-scaled street, exactly like what's happening with the South Capitol Street project on the other side of town.
Capping it with a park will basically enshrine the street as it is now. That's a good outcome for Bloomingdale, but won't do anything to address bad conditions along the rest of the street.
For now, members of Bloomingdale Village Square Project are renewing their push by soliciting pro-bono architectural design and capital planning assistance from ZGF Architects, the firm currently working on the Dupont project. They hope to use new designs to gain community buy-in and ultimately, DC Council support and funding.
Update: Eckington Civic Association (ECA) member Shelley Vinyard helpfully shared that the ECA included support for a deck-over in their suggested amendments to the Comprehensive Plan last May, amendments that were then further endorsed by ANC5E that same month. So this idea has seen wide area support from both sides of the street in the last two years.