DDOT has initiated a study for a major streetscape overhaul for 14th Street between Thomas Circle and U Street, potentially including “repaving the streets and sidewalks with brick, installing historical lighting, and other improvements to enhance the historic character of this major part of the Logan Circle area and to make it compatible with the historic designation and the arts overlay zoning which is already in place” according to ANC2f Chairman Charles Reed. DDOT will hold a public meeting tomorrow night (Wednesday, June 20th from 6 to 8pm) at the Source Theater (1835 14th Street, NW), to provide information and to seek public input at this early stage of the planning process. The project envisions a major infrastructure redevelopment of 14th Street.
I definitely think that 14th Street needs the contemplated streetscape improvements, especially as the street becomes more and more of a regional commercial destination (not to mention its new place as a residential destination). As I’ve said before, Shaw greatly benefits from the prosperity on our western border, and that prosperity is further indication of the movement of widespread renewal in the city. Fourteenth Street is a dining, entertainment, and retail hub, and enhancing the patron’s experience through an attractive streetscape is a great thing.
That said, am I off base in thinking that central Shaw is being overlooked by DDOT in terms of plans for streetscape improvements and in terms of basic maintenance? For example, Q Street between 11th and 14th is currently receiving a major overhaul (an overhaul that includes new brick sidewalks), yet the sidewalk on the south side of Q Street between 8th and 9th Streets has been missing—constituting a muddy mess—for about 2 years now despite neighborhood complaints. Are you aware of other roads and sidewalks in Shaw that are not getting the needed attention by DDOT? Do you think other jurisdictions unfairly garner too much attention from DDOT at our expense?
Major streetscape projects--such as that proposed for 14th Street--can have a detrimental impact on businesses during construction, so it's probably best that our still-fragile retail vibrancy not be subjected to such a project now. I think a great opportunity was lost when the streetscape improvements around the convention center were not continued north of N streets on 7th and 9th Streets. Doing so at that time would have made walking north on these streets more inviting and appealing to convention-goers while not disrupting the businesses that established themselves soon after the opening of the convention center. Apart from such major improvements, it would be nice to see DDOT implement some relatively minor improvements throughout central Shaw, such as traffic calming measures (especially on the busier numbered streets, like 9th and 11th), sidewalk restorations (if not widenings, like on the 1300 and 1400 blocks of 9th), and historic lighting throughout.
As the squeaky wheel gets the oil, I encourage you to continue reporting—and following up on--all problems to DDOT through the D.C. Service Request Center. As tomorrow night’s meeting about 14th Street certainly affects Shaw, attending it could be very interesting.
DDOT Public Meeting Regarding Improvements to 14th Street
Wednesday, June 20th from 6 to 8pm
The Source Theater
1835 14th Street, NW