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U Street Reconstruction Project to Impact August “Dog Days of Summer” Sale Event

Accompanying images can be viewed in the current issue PDF

By P.L. Wolff

The DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) has announced the start of another of its series of its streetscape enhancement projects, this one to be focused on the bustling U Street corridor through the historic stretch known as “Black Broadway,” from 14th to 9th Streets, NW.

Construction is scheduled to get underway starting at 9th Street early in the week of June 11th, and progressing in phases west to 14th Street with completion by spring 2013, weather permitting.

When The InTowner asked Public Outreach Co-coordinator Chinaka A. Young about how the contractor will alleviate disruption during the Mid-City Business Association’s annual early August weekend “Dog Days of Summer” sidewalk sale, she stated that they did not know about this major event. When we mentioned that it always attracts huge numbers of shoppers and accounts for a welcome burst in retail sales receipts as well as sales tax revenue, she said that they would look into how to work with the event organizers. She also noted that none of the neighborhood merchants who had attended the May 30th public meeting at the Reeves Center sponsored by Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham had brought this to the attention of the meeting’s conveners.

Of the $5 million project cost, 84 percent will be federal funds and the District will contribute the remaining 16 percent.

And while this project will not be nearly as comprehensive as was the 14th Street project that got underway in late 2010 (see, “Major Streetscape Enhancement Proposals for 14th Street Above Thomas Circle Unveiled by DDOT, InTowner, October 2010, PDF page 1), the street will be re-surfaced, one block and one side at a time; brick gutters and granite curbs will be installed. Sidewalks will be reconstructed and widened as needed but the only section of sidewalk that will receive special decorative treatment will be that in front of the Lincoln Theatre. New “teardrop” overhang and Washington globe streetlights will replace the existing fixtures; trees will be planted and tree boxes improved and traffic signals and storm drains will be upgraded.

Construction work will affect rush hour and commercial traffic as it will be scheduled to be performed between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday and may occasionally take place on Sundays and during overnight hours. Curbside parking will be temporarily restricted along  construction areas so to allow for temporary pedestrian walkways; access to the Metro station and bus stops will be maintained throughout the duration of the project.