Our ANC commissioner charged with overseeing the Park Van Ness construction project says this is the question she hears most: “When will we get our sidewalk back?”
ANC 3F04’s Sally Gresham opened last Tuesday’s community meeting at Forest Hills of DC with this question, and soon got an answer from Saul Centers and Clark Construction representatives who also provided more details of the current and next phases of the project.
The Connecticut Avenue sidewalk on the east side of Connecticut Avenue in front of the construction site at 4455 has been closed since Thanksgiving of 2013. Saul and Clark announced that a partial, six-foot wide portion of the sidewalk will be available to pedestrians by December 31st of this year, and the building and the full sidewalk, which will stretch 30 feet from the street to the Park Van Ness facade, should be completed by this time next year. The date set for the project’s completion is March 5th, 2016.
Why so long? Much of the meeting focused on how the sidewalk area will continue to be obstructed by utility work, a mobile crane that will be introduced in a few weeks, scores of trucks hauling heavy materials and trailers holding the construction materials. Jason Elliott of Clark Construction walked the audience through the eight remaining construction phases, using slides that clearly show how compromised the sidewalk area will be (download the presentation here). Work on the sidewalk is to begin in mid-September if the project remains on schedule.
Most of the audience’s concerns focused not on the missing sidewalk, but on issues of pedestrian and auto safety in crossing and exiting the alley which will be serving both Park Van Ness and the apartment building to the south, Park Connecticut at 4411 Connecticut Avenue.
The manager of the Park Connecticut asked if a parking space could be removed to improve sight lines for drivers exiting its garage, and two residents asked for some accommodations at the alley to better protect pedestrians. The conflicts between pedestrians and cars at the intersection of Connecticut and Albemarle were raised, as well. Matthew Marcou, an associate director at DDOT who oversees traffic safety at construction projects, participated in the discussion and promised to take these concerns back to the department and get responses to Commissioner Gresham.