Sustainable DC: DDOT Constructs Almost 30 Green Alleys Since 2012

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A green alley near Branch Avenue and Erie Street SE, constructed using permeable pavement.

DDOT is advancing Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Sustainable DC goals by installing green alleys to curb stormwater and combined sewage from overflowing into local waterways.  

Since 2012, DDOT has installed nearly 30 green alleys in the District aimed at reducing the quantity—and improving the quality—of storm water run-off within the District.

A map of the 28 green alleys that have been constructed in the District since 2012. (Click on the image to open the interactive map.)

Green alleys are often created using two types of porous surfaces: permeable pavement, a material that allows water to filter into the ground through pores in the asphalt, or permeable pavers. These green construction methods help filter polluted water that flows into nearby sewers and streams, which helps protect Washingtonians’ health, local wildlife, and the regional ecosystem.

“We had a major storm last week…and I came out and I watched the water,” said Stephanie Abney, a Ward 7 resident who lives near a green alley that DDOT constructed off of Erie Street SE. “Usually it flows like a river…I didn’t see that this time.”

For more information about DDOT’s green alley initiative, please see this video from our Youtube Channel:

 

 

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DDOT Debuts New Half-Hour Radio Show, DDOT Delivers

Urban Forestry Division Associate Director Earl Eutsler (left) is interviewed by Public Information Officer Terry Owens for the first installment of DDOT’s radio show.

“DDOT Delivers.” It’s a tag line that has been used by the District Department of  Transportation (DDOT) for years, including for this very blog. Now, it’s also the name of a the agency’s new radio show.

DDOT’s new half-hour weekly show airs Mondays at 2 pm and is hosted by the agency’s Public Information Officer Terry Owens. You can listen to the broadcast online at DCRadio.gov, on air on 96.3 HD4 or via the agency’s Youtube channel.

DDOT Delivers is designed to take District residents inside the agency to focus on the many ways that DDOT is serving the residents and visitors of the District. The radio show  highlights all of what DDOT does across the spectrum: from DDOT’s Vision Zero progress to traffic control officers, Road Operations Patrol members, streetscape projects and the agency’s Capital Bikeshare program.

The inaugural radio program featured the Urban Forestry Division’s Associate Director Earl Eutsler. Recently – in the program’s sixth episode – Mr. Owens interviewed two of DDOT’s transportation planners (Raka Choudhury and Megan Kanagy) about a pilot project that aims to streamline bus service on H Street and I Street NW.

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E-Bikes, Bikeshare for Vets and #RackAttack: A Few of the Many Ways DC is Furthering Its Bike Program

DDOT is introducing more than 500 new e-bikes (Capital Bikeshare Plus) to its bikeshare fleet.

Promoting a vibrant bike culture has been one of the District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) core goals since DDOT debuted the first bikeshare program in the United States in 2008. More than a decade after the agency helped mainstream the concept of bikesharing, DDOT is helping to infuse its bikeshare program with some new energy: Capital Bikeshare will add more than 500 e-bikes to its fleet by the end of April.

These e-bikes, called Capital Bikeshare Plus (CaBi Plus), will be rolled out in phases and added to more than 80 e-bikes that are currently in the bikeshare fleet. Capital Bikeshare is adding 100 new CaBi Plus bikes each week, phasing the bikes into the bikeshare fleet incrementally so battery swapping operations can be scaled up over time (Capital Bikeshare staff is charged with swapping out dead or dying batteries on CaBi Plus bikes with fresh ones).

#RackAttack and Free Bikeshare for DC Veterans

In addition to injecting hundreds of battery powered e-bikes into the Capital Bikeshare system, the District Government has recently launched two other programs to encourage biking in the city.

On February 26, Mayor Bowser announced a new partnership to give free annual Capital Bikeshare memberships to District veterans. The free memberships were made possible through a partnership between Capital Bikeshare’s Community Partners Program and the Mayor’s Office on Veteran’s Affairs (MOVA). The Community Partners Program enables local nonprofits, government agencies, and social services organizations to offer their clients a deeply discounted Capital Bikeshare annual membership. District veterans can learn more about registering for the program and receiving a free helmet by calling MOVA at (202) 724-5454 or by visiting MOVA’s website.

DDOT has also continued its push to install bike racks throughout the District as part of its #RackAttack campaign. To meet increased demand for bike parking, the agency installed 298 bike racks in 2018 and has installed almost 80 bike racks so far this year. However, the number of bike racks that the agency has installed in 2018 and 2019 combined are not even equal to the amount of new bike parking that DDOT has planned for FY 2020. As part of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s DC Vision Zero budget for FY 2020, DDOT plans to install 500 bike racks throughout the District. To request a bike rack in your area, please contact DDOT at 202-673-6813 or at ddot@dc.gov.

A heat map of the different locations where DDOT has installed bike racks this year.

This commitment to modernizing the Capital Bikeshare fleet, offering free bikeshare access to District veterans and expanding the city’s bike parking infrastructure are just a few of the many ways that the District is ensuring that it continues to lead the way in fostering a vigorous bike-friendly culture in the city.

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Measuring Success in Miles: DDOT Restores More Than 50 Roadway Miles Under Mayor’s PaveDC Initiative

DDOT crews mill a section of Loughboro Road NW during the agency’s effort to repave almost a mile of the roadway.

In April 2018, Mayor Muriel Bowser challenged DDOT to eliminate all roads in poor condition in Washington, DC, by 2024. We’re making progress. DDOT has paved more than 50 miles of roadway since the launch of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s PaveDC initiative.

This concerted push to restore the District’s streets has been made possible by the Mayor’s sizeable commitment to long-term investments in the District’s infrastructure. Over the past two fiscal years the District has averaged more than $25 million per year in spending on local street renovations.

Moreover, the District has seen an influx of spending on local streets since Mayor Bowser took office. In FY 2016, the District spent more than three times more on local streets than it averaged in the four fiscal years before the Mayor took office (FY 2011 –  FY 2014). Over the past two fiscal years (FY 2017 and FY 2018) the city expended more than four times as much for local street repairs than it averaged from FY 2011 to FY 2014.

As part of PaveDC, DDOT debuted an interactive tool that District residents can use to track the agency’s progress in restoring the District’s infrastructure. In addition to showing roadway projects that have been completed, are in progress or are in DDOT’s queue for repair, the PaveDC interactive map helps residents monitor the agency’s progress on its alley paving and roadway marking efforts.

As of February 22, 2019, the District has paved more than 54 miles of local and federal roadways since the launch of PaveDC. The remaining 12 miles of the 66 miles that DDOT plans on rehabilitating with FY 2018 funds are either substantially complete or under construction:

A snippet of the District’s progress in repaving the city’s roadways from the PaveDC interactive map (ddot.dc.gov/pavedc).

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Rebuilding DC: Mayor Bowser’s AlleyPalooza Campaigns Restore 500+ Alleys

A freshly-restored alley near the 4500 block of 43rd Place NW, which was constructed during AlleyPalooza 8.

Mayor Muriel Bowser’s AlleyPalooza initiative, an ongoing campaign to improve the District’s alley system, has restored or repaired more than 500 alleys in the city since the program debuted in July 2015.

The most recent installment, AlleyPalooza 8, kicked off on November 2. As of December 6, DDOT has completed 26 alleys this AlleyPalooza season, bringing the total number of alleys restored or repaired under the Mayor’s program to restore the District’s alley network to 512.

Mayor Muriel Bowser, Director Jeff Marootian and DDOT staff launch the AlleyPalooza 8 campaign on November 2.

“Through our investments in repairing and restoring our core infrastructure, we have made an unprecedented number of alleys more usable and accessible for residents across all eight wards,” said Mayor Bowser, during the kick-off ceremony for AlleyPalooza 8. “Our alleys are an important part of our city’s framework and our day-to-day life, and allow residents, businesses, and organizations to move in and around the city more efficiently.”

The Mayor’s investments in the District’s alleys have been substantial. From FY 2015 to FY 2018 the District has spent an average of $17.1 million per year on repairing the city’s alley system, which is a 270 percent increase over the average allotment for alleys during the previous four fiscal years ($6.3 million per year from FY 2011 to FY 2014).

Below is a look through some of the alleys that were renewed as part of AlleyPalooza 7, which began on June 11 and encompassed the renovation or repair of 65 alleys throughout in the District. To keep track of our AlleyPalooza efforts, please visit our PaveDC website.

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Room to Grow: DDOT Continues Pace of Planting 8,000 Trees Per Year, Takes on New Responsibilities

A DDOT crew plants an American hornbeam tree on the 1700 block of 30th Street SE.

On a crisp October day a DDOT team was planting an American hornbeam tree (Carpinus caroliniana) on the 1700 block of 30th Street SE. The tree, when fully grown, could reach almost 50 feet high – just high enough to peer out from its new home in the District’s Randle Highlands neighborhood onto a city that is greener than ever, and expanding its tree canopy at a feverish clip.

Starting in FY 2017, DDOT has planted more than 8,000 trees annually, which is more than twice as many trees as it averaged from FY 10-13. The agency is accomplishing this at a rapid pace: it is planting around 100 trees per day this tree planting season, which started on October 1.

New Responsibilities

Aside from its breakneck efforts in adding street trees around the District, over the past few years DDOT has helped to expand the city’s tree canopy by taking on the responsibility of planting new trees in the District-owned land, such as parks and schools. Starting in late 2016, DDOT was charged with planting and maintaining trees in District-controlled parks and schools. During the 2017 tree planting season, DDOT planted 370 trees at such locations.

Residents of Greenleaf Gardens in Ward 7 help plant trees provided by the Earth Conservation Corps (ECC), through DDOT. Photo courtesy of ECC.

Additionally, DDOT has partnered with nonprofit organizations, such as the Earth Conservation Corps (ECC), by providing these organizations with grants to expand the green space in public housing developments. In 2017, for example, ECC planted more than 200 trees in public housing developments in Wards 7 and 8.

Finding Room to Grow

DDOT’s new benchmark of planting 8,000 trees per year might be hard to meet in the future for one simple reason: the agency is running out of existing open tree box spaces to plant trees in. As of October 19, DDOT has ensured that trees are planted in more than 93 percent of tree box spaces in the District. Current spaces to plant trees in the public right-of-way are becoming scarcer – in some Wards there are only a couple hundred open spaces to plant trees in.

Taking on the stewardship of trees beyond the scope of what DDOT has traditionally overseen, namely trees in the public right-of-way, is more than a set of new obligations that the agency is happy to take on. It might open up much-needed real estate on which to plant new trees, and grow out a healthier, greener DC.

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Necessary Accommodations: How DDOT Prioritizes Pedestrian, Bicyclist Safety Near Work Zones

A temporary pathway for pedestrians beside a work site on I (Eye) Street SE.

Construction is a dangerous business. According to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 991 people were killed in the private construction industry in 2016, which accounted for more than 21 percent of total private industry worker deaths that year. Of these construction fatalities, a sizable number were attributed to being hit by debris, electrocution or being “struck, caught, or crushed in collapsing structure, equipment, or material.”

To safeguard transit users in the District – especially vulnerable users (bicyclists and pedestrians) – from these all-too-common construction zone hazards, the District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) Public Space Regulations Division (PSRD) reviews, approves and monitors safe accommodations near work sites. Although these accommodations sometimes inconvenience pedestrians and bicyclists, they are put in place for the sole purpose of protecting transit users.

One example of such a necessary inconvenience is a full sidewalk closure, which PSRD approves sparingly, most often when buildings are being razed. Closing walkways that abut a construction site is necessary during demolition; it’s less safe to be immediately adjacent to a building being razed, which is why DDOT allows for temporarily shutting down a sidewalk and directing pedestrians to sidewalks across the street, away from danger. Although this might pose a burden to pedestrians, it’s a necessary safeguard to protect pedestrians from an extremely perilous construction process involving heavy, hazardous materials, which often leads to deaths, as shown in the aforementioned OSHA report.

DDOT-approved traffic control plans (TCPs) for a particular project change depending on the phase of construction – sidewalk and bike lane closures and/or detours reflect the phase of construction at the work site. For more information on PSRD’s criteria for pedestrian safe accommodations during active construction zones, please see the table below or view PSRD’s Pedestrian Safety and Work Zone Standards – Covered and Open Walkways“:

For a look into how PSRD prioritizes safe accommodations for bicyclists during active work zones, please see the table below:

For more information on the District regulations that guide PSRD’s safe accommodations practices, please see District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR) Section 24-3315, which can be downloaded by clicking on “View Text” on the bottom of the DCMR page.

 

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