The Far Southeast Livability Study Community Workshop Hopes to Bridge the Ward 7 Divide

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will host the second of three public workshops for the Far Southeast III Livability Study.  The workshop is Saturday, November 19, 2016, 10:00am to 12:00pm at the Plummer Elementary School, 4601 Texas Avenue SE, Washington DC 20019.

According to the project website, livability refers to the creation or maintenance of a community's quality of life as experienced by the people who live, work, and recreate there.

You Can't Get There From Here
Study would hopes to make river accessible
Image: Google

Unique factors in this areas separate it from the rest of the District, particularly in terms of bicycling and walking. These include topography, arterial roads, freeways, and other aspects of the built environment. Historically, the ability to bike, walk or play safely in the community or enjoy amenities such as the Anacostia River and the rest of the District have been limited.

For many, the Anacostia Freeway and the CSX Benning Yard create a barrier along the west side of the study area. The map to the right shows that if someone wanted to access the Anacostia River Park and lived adjacent to it at D Street SE, about a few hundred feet from it, they would need to travel at least 2.3 miles to access the park and its amenities.

The East Capitol Street, from approximately 40th Street to the Whitney Young Bridge has virtually no pedestrian access. A primary artery for motorists, who can traverse the distance in seconds at highway speeds, pedestrians and bicyclists must travel miles to reach the Bridge to reach a narrow sidewalk to cross the Anacostia River.
The Purpose of the Workshops - So Far

Focused in Ward 7, this workshop allows community residents and visitors to discuss potential improvements to the infrastructure within and out of the area. The study areas is roughly bound by East Capitol Street to the north Southern Avenue to the southeast and Massachusetts Avenue to the southwest.

SE Livability Study Area
Image: DDOT
At the initial meeting of this phase, held June 26, 2016, DDOT staff along with public participants identified opportunities for improving the quality of life in the neighborhoods within the study area. The DDOT study team also presented an overview of the project goals, process, to help residents understand the importance of low-impact development, green infrastructure, and potentially fix long-standing issues.

According workshop summary documents, attendees at the June meeting focused on traffic calming and transportation infrastructure safety improvements that increase pedestrian safety; greater access to bicycle sharing and improved bicycle infrastructure; limitations regarding resident’s ability to cross major streets that focus more on moving cars than on moving people; and the mitigation of sewer overflow due to poor drainage. Many of the transportation concerns may be also addressed in Mayor Bowser's Vision Zero initiative.

The second meeting will discuss and review the potential concepts, using information gathered to draft final recommendations for the final meeting in this series, scheduled for winter of 2017.

We've Been Here Before

This is not the first study for this area that relates to livability. In 2011, DDOT held similar meetings to address issues pedestrian and bicycle accessibility. Preliminary plans incorporated many ideas associated with MoveDC, a long-term, multifaceted transportation planning process initiated by former Mayor Vincent Gray. The DC Bicycle Advisory Council also held a "rolling meeting" in that same year near and within the study area to determine bike-specific concerns.

Prior to that, DDOT proposed several plans that attempted to provide greater connectivity an included pedestrian improvements at the Benning Road, East Capitol, Texas Avenue SE intersection and the extension of Massachusetts Avenue SE over the Anacostia to connect it with Reservation 13. Given the structural, economic and environmental changes in the study area, DDOT reopened the process to allow additional community input.

Pin the Tale on the Problem

To help determine where livability improvements should be made, the study website includes an interactive map that allows the public to label areas of potential improvements. If you are unable to attend the meeting and are familiar with some of the area's challenges, using this map is an alternative.

Community suggestions within and near the Livability study area.
Image: DDOT
Map users have suggested several improvements that include additional Bikeshare docks, particularly along the East Capitol Street corridor as well as making the street more bicycle and pedestrian friendly by adding protected lanes and providing better access to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail at the East Capitol / Whitney Young Bridge.