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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

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The Current

STREETSCAPE: New Hampshire Avenue work, slightly delayed, to wrap up soon

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modated the needs of these various stakeholders. Dupont Circle advisory neighborhood commissioner Mike Silverstein, who sharply criticized the project contractor soon after the work began, said in an interview this week that matters later improved — thanks in part to greater community awareness of the project’s challenges. “As time progressed, they worked

harder and we worked harder, and coordination and cooperation got better,� said Silverstein. “As it went on, it became second nature to understand where special care had to be taken.� For instance, Silverstein said, the contractor provided better notice to residents, and made accommodations for businesses to ensure customers retained access. Silverstein also said he recognizes that the project was necessary,

particularly with regard to underground utilities. “If you don’t upgrade your infrastructure, you’ll have water main breaks, you’ll have manhole covers exploding, so you have to do it,� he said. “This is like going to the doctor for a colonoscopy — it’s very unpleasant, but you can save yourself a whole lot more awful things down the road.� Project impacts have included traffic congestion, restricted parking

and impeded access. Silverstein said no one is to blame for these difficulties, but that doesn’t make them any more pleasant. “It’s been like an 18-month-long visit to the dentist for the root canal — it just won’t quit,� Silverstein said. Farther south, West End neighborhood commissioner Rebecca Coder also said the pace has been painful. “With these projects, I think everyone would love to see them done faster. ‘When will they be done?’ is the biggest question I’ve heard from constituents,� she wrote in an email. She praised the Transportation Department, however, for keeping the community informed and addressing issues as they’ve emerged. Most heavy construction is due to be finished within the next week or two, Swain said, with mainly detail work to follow through April. This will include correcting issues that cropped up during the project. The conversion of New Hampshire Avenue to two-way traffic between M Street and Washington

Circle — intended to relieve pressure on other north-south streets in the area — will be one of the last items completed, Swain said at last week’s meeting. Several residents at the meeting objected to that upcoming change, which has been a divisive topic from the start. “I remember when it was twoway and it was a disaster. That’s why it became one-way,� said Sara Maddux of the West End Citizens Association. Several residents said the plan should be scrapped, but neighborhood commissioners and Swain said the Department of Transportation already made its decision after evaluating the same concerns. “DDOT will keep monitoring it and take feedback, but it’s going to be two-way when the project ends,� Swain said, adding, “They have been flexible in changing things around when something doesn’t work.� There will be at least two weeks’ notice before the change goes into effect, and it will publicized online, on fliers and in the media, he said.

       

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Dp 03 26 2014  

The Dupont Current

Dp 03 26 2014  

The Dupont Current

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