In February, it was reported that CSX did not receive the funds needed to begin the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project, however, according to CSX’s Steve Flippin, the project is moving forward. “CSX is now pursuing alternate avenues of funding, which include a transportation authorization bill and national infrastructure reinvestment funds,” said Flippin. CSX is also securing funds from the governments of Virginia and Maryland.
Assuming CSX receives the funding it needs to move forward, the project could enter the environmental impact and project planning stage as early as June 2010. The NEPA stage of the project could take anywhere from six months to a year to complete. It’s during this time that community and environmental impact issues will be addressed, traffic studies will be conducted and the project specifics will be set.
While most residents have questions about project specifics, Flippin was not willing to speculate on the details of the project; however, he did assure me that the community engagement they are doing now will help CSX when they reach the planning stage. “We have been made aware of the community impact in the various meetings we have attended, and we want to lessen the impact the project will have on the lives of residents.”
While Flippin said that major project decisions aren’t being made before they reach the planning stage, he did say that CSX is now aware of the impact the project would have on Capitol Quarter residents thanks to the residents who attended community meetings, and they are working with EYA to find ways to accommodate residents whose access to their homes could be affected by the project—a major issue for residents who haven’t even taken possession of their mid-construction homes.
CSX is also thinking about post-construction, and has offered a draft of what the site might look like when all is said and done. While the project plan reads like a gentrifier’s dream—listing everything from dog parks to community gardens and a farmer’s market—the plan does take into account things such as improved overpass walkways that connect the communities north and south of Virginia Avenue and connections from Garfield Park to the planned Anacostia river walk.
Residents of Capitol Hill will be affected by this project—though some certainly more than others—however CSX appears to be listening to what community members have to say, so be sure to let your voice be heard now and at future community meetings.
Tell is what you think about the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project. Is CSX doing enough to lessen the impact of the project on residents and planning for the community post-construction?