14 Apr 2010

CSX, National Gateway Project Moves Forward

Originally uploaded to Flickr by aresauburn

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?

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8 responses to “CSX, National Gateway Project Moves Forward”

  1. Anon says:

    The renderings are nice but I feel like they can do a LOT more considering how much this will impact the residents along Virginia Avenue and on the surrounding streets that will see a large increase in traffic, not to mention the businesses along there that will be impacted.

    Besides, will they pay to have that pretty landscaping maintained after they leave? Because I doubt the city will keep it up. And a farmers market just blocks from Eastern Market? That doesn’t seem all that necessary. I love the dog park idea, but again, who will pay to maintain it?

    What we need now is a unified group of neighbors to come up with a solid list of requests of CSX, suggestions of other improvements they can provide, and a way to hold them accountable if they don’t follow through on these promises. This is a good start but we need to hear more, and see evidence that this is more than lip service.

    I’ll admit that I have my doubts about how much of this community improvement stuff CSX will really follow through on, but I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt (initially), listen to what they have to offer, and do my part to go to the meetings and share my opinions with them.

  2. rdb says:

    As someone who will be moving into the EYA neighborhood soon, I am very interested in the project. I think it’s particularly important that CSX discuss with EYA residents what we can expect DURING the construction phase rather than POST construction phase. CSX should also provide EYA residents with assurances about access to their homes and safety to their structures, i.e. how close to the foundations of the houses along VA Ave will the underground digging be, how will homes be protected from construction dust and debris etc. I hope EYA residents are provided with a strong and legitimate voice during these procedings so that we have recourse – legal if necessary – if we feel like we’re being railroaded by CSX.

  3. MMC says:

    Anon, the group of neighbors is coming together. Go to the CHARTX blog and send a note to the organizers.


    Well put. It is important to remember the project impacts residents on boths sides of VA Avenue., CHARTX has members from all sides and each end of VA Avenue

  4. Anon says:

    MMC, my problem with the CHARTX group is that they are so loud about trying to stop the project all together, that any talk of getting CSX to do it right is getting lost. I’m not opposed to the project, just CSX’s disregard for how much this really will impact the neighborhood.

  5. anon says:

    whatever they do, please no urban murals.

  6. IMGoph says:

    it’s a shame that a big opportunity is being missed here—planning for the eventual removal of the SE/SW freeway (either completely or via tunneling) to remove what is truly the worst blight on this part of the city.

  7. @IMGoph, what would you propose to replace the SE/SW freeway? (Honest question, not being snarky) I mean, whether we like or not, driving commuters are a fact of life and have to get into the city one way or another. What’s the alternative on this side of town? (again – no snark, an honest question)

  8. IMGoph says:

    tunneling (which i mentioned) would probably be the “easiest” way to go (of course, it would be disruptive and expensive as hell, but in the end it wouldn’t require changing people’s habits, or trying to make some new commuting pattern work).

    something akin to the big dig would allow the re-establishment of the l’enfant grid across the area, reconnecting neighborhoods that have been cut off from each other for decades.

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