The erosion undermining the Albemarle Street sidewalk at 32nd Street began long before Mary Beth Ray called our attention to the problem three years ago. So did her work to get it addressed. For nine months prior, the then-ANC 3F03 commissioner had urged various DC agencies to address the problem, a situation a Washington Post columnist said “illustrates [a] Gordian knot of bureaucracy.”
The sidewalk’s condition grew even worse after a substantial snowstorm the next month, in February 2014. Runoff from the melting snow further eroded the soil under the sidewalk.
Some three years later, DDOT closed this portion of the sidewalk, forcing pedestrians trying to reach the Soapstone Valley trailhead from Connecticut Avenue to walk on Albemarle Street itself.
And now, four years later? The sidewalk is repaired.
Ray and fellow now-former ANC Commmissioner Sally Gresham met with DDOT officials at the site on Thursday, January 12th. Ray told us in an email. “We wanted to give DDOT leadership a first-hand view of the importance of this intersection, the dangers presented by the crumbling sidewalk and eroding hillside, and the potential beauty of the overlook.”
Ray and Gresham took the DDOT officials through the ANC’s December resolution on the sidewalk (see below). The next day, workers arrived to shore up the Soapstone Valley hillside next to the sidewalk and pour concrete for a new walkway.
Our former ANC commissioners are hopeful the District follows through on the work needed to mitigate erosion and prevent the brand new sidewalk from degrading like the old one did. And though Ray and Gresham are now longer part of ANC 3F, DDOT and the other DC agencies involved in the work haven’t heard the last of them.
Says Ray: “We’ve both committed to seeing it through, having already invested four years in the site!”
Here’s a portion of the resolution passed 7-0 by ANC 3F at its December 20th, 2016 meeting.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
- The sidewalk be repaired and re-opened immediately;
- Stormwater problems from Brandywine Street be addressed by adding properly engineered new catch basins to control the runoff flowing down 32nd Street and Albemarle so that erosion can be controlled and the new sidewalk will not degrade again;
- Stop signs be added for east and west bound traffic on Albemarle at 32nd Street, in addition to the stop sign at 32nd so that the intersection becomes a 3-way stop;
- Marked cross walks and ADA compliant ramps be added at places and angles determined appropriate by DDOT at both Albemarle and Brandywine at 32nd Street intersections;
- ANC 3F requests that DDOT study this intersection, and design and build a platform overlooking Soapstone Valley Park to encourage the community to pause to enjoy its beauty, and to encourage visits by school groups to study the nature and habitat that exists so close to commercial development;
- DPW regularly mow, prune, weed, clean litter and otherwise maintain this area;
- Appropriate signage be added calling attention to this urban park;
- ANC 3F requests that DDOT undertake a traffic study, analyzing the appropriateness of a left turn signal at Conn. Ave., and parking signage, to address traffic congestion which is especially hazardous for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists during morning rush;
- ANC 3F requests a continuous sidewalk be installed on the south side of Albemarle so pedestrians can traverse easily to and from Connecticut Ave into the Forest Hills neighborhood and to the NPS Soapstone Valley main entrance trail network from the southern side of Albemarle Street all the way to a future pathway connection into the planned Broad Branch Roadway renovation without having to cross Albemarle to use the existing northern sidewalk to 29th Street;
- ANC 3F requests a bike path down one side of Albemarle Street from Connecticut Avenue to Broad Branch Road, and at the eastern end of Albemarle Street the DDOT right of way be used for a combination staircase/bike ramp path leading to the planned Broad Branch Roadway renovation;
- ANC 3F requests DDOT undertake a streetlight study, analyzing the appropriateness of safer illumination conditions for pedestrians, bicyclist and motor vehicle drivers alike, on both sides of Albemarle Street from Connecticut Ave all the way to a future pathway connection into the planned Broad Branch Roadway renovation; and
- ANC 3F further requests DOEE and DC Water undertake a study of the water quality in the outfall basin at the Albemarle/32nd Street intersection, and an ongoing assessment and maintenance plan, to ensure that it is free of pollution.