by Mary Beth Ray
Van Ness Main Street
Thanks to the hard work of Van Ness Main Street and the support of DC Council Member Mary Cheh, the Council has budgeted $1.5 million to DDOT for designing a better Van Ness streetscape.
What does that mean as a practical matter for Van Ness, and when can we expect to see changes? To answer those questions, Van Ness Main Street Board President Marlene Berlin and I met with DDOT Director Jeff Marootian and his Chief Project Delivery Officer Sam Zimbabwe in August.
DDOT will use the $1.5 million allocation in FY 2019 to hire a designer, hold community meetings, and complete a master design. Here’s the timeline.
The project spans the east and west sides (curb to building) of Connecticut Avenue from Van Ness to Albemarle Streets. It’s possible Windom Place from the UDC Theater of the Arts to the Soapstone Park entrance will be included. Another possible addition is Van Ness Street between Connecticut and Reno Road. (International Drive also needs a facelift, but embassy security considerations limit DDOT’s scope.) Design decisions will include lighting, green infrastructure and paving.
The $1.5 million allocated to date will all go toward design. The money for construction will be part of the FY 2021 budget request in February 2020. DDOT is not planning to use federal funds in Van Ness.
Along the lines of past design charettes hosted by Van Ness Main Street, ANC 3F’s Van Ness Vision Committee, and the Office of Planning, community input will be welcomed at meetings to be scheduled beginning next spring. Work will continue at the Van Ness Main Street Sustainable Streetscape Subcommittee level to testify at DC Council hearings to get funding in the 2021 capital budget, to continue coordination with DDOT and ANC 3F, and to keep the project visible. Regular updates will posted on Forest Hills Connection.
While the timeline is longer than we would like, DDOT is excited about working with us to realize our shared vision: a Van Ness streetscape that promotes walkability, safety, economic vibrancy, beauty and environmental sustainability.
The two groups are poised to work together to come up with a community-supported design. DDOT highly values community engagement, and is looking to Van Ness Main Street to connect with ANC 3F, businesses, residents and other stakeholders to manage communication and drive consensus.