A few short months after we started this site, news came out that CSX was planning to close Virginia Avenue on the southeast side of the Hill for several years to expand the train tunnel that many residents didn’t know ran below street level.
Today, CSX completed the new tunnel that runs south of the old tunnel, and the first double-stack train passed through at 8am. And on schedule with their expected completion date for this phase of the project.
Now that the south tunnel is complete. they will widen and deepen the existing tunnel. So the street closures are far from over, but things are still moving full steam ahead (pardon the pun).
Living less than a block from this site, I was worried about this project and really hoped that pressure from the community would push them to choose an alternative plan that would route trains elsewhere. I was worried about the noise, the traffic, the torn up roads, safety issues, and the potential of cutting the Hill of from the new development between the highway and Yards Park that was only just started to take off.
But, alas, they got the approvals they needed and broke ground in May of 2015. Note that this is a year after they had hoped to be done with the entire project. Studies, hearings, and permitting took a bit longer than expected.
In retrospect, I have to applaud CSX and the project managers for doing so much to minimize disruption to the neighborhood. The noise has not been pleasant but has also not been as bad as I had feared. The traffic detours have been well handled, the workers are great about using their own designated areas for parking so we are not further crunched for space. And every time I have stopped by their office on New Jersey Avenue to ask a question or alert them to a traffic safety issue, it is handled in record speed. Really, DC’s 311 service could learn a few lessons from this group.
We’re only halfway through the project but I’m pleased to see the progress. And I am more hopeful that all of the promises of streetscaping, improved lighting, better pedestrian and bike paths, and a few amenities for the neighborhood (pleeeease can we have a dog park???), will come to fruition.
Keep up the good work, CSX!
If you don’t know about this project, you can learn more here.