by Dorn C. McGrath, Jr.
Ward 3 has a secret! Or let’s say it’s just a mostly “undiscovered resource.” It exists today, at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and Veazey Terrace. It is the connection underneath busy Connecticut Avenue, a by-product of the east and west entries to the Van Ness/UDC Metro station. This pedestrian underpass, which connects both sides of the street before entering the metro station, is a rarity in the Metro system.
It is clear that Metro will not advertise this special pedestrian route. Metro seems primarily interested in passengers once they get to the train, not in their safe passage across a six-lane street. The green light for pedestrians to cross Connecticut involves a very long wait, indeed, and turning traffic from either Veazey Terrace or cars coming from the Connecticut loop may hassle even the most rapid pedestrians. The surface crossing is rendered even more difficult during periods of inclement weather. Why not use the underground pedestrian path, protected from rain, sleet, snow and ice?
Warning! You may encounter an occasional busker in this passageway, playing a guitar, a trumpet, or singing a song, to cheer you on your way. The next challenge is to implore the Metro station-manager (or someone) to coordinate the escalators. Escalators run at the entrances to both the east and west sides of Connecticut Avenue. On the east side (Giant/CVS side) there are two escalators, one down and one up. On the west side (UDC/Starbucks side) there is only one escalator and a set of stone steps, with three resting areas incorporated into the climb. At present, the escalator on the west side is out of order; perhaps it will be fixed soon. In the meantime, it is an effort to gain access to this secret passage underneath Connecticut Avenue – but worth it!
Dorn C. McGrath, Jr., FAICP, is professor emeritus of Urban Planning, the George Washington University.