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Press Release: NoMa BID, DDOT Publish Needs Assessment of North Capitol Street

For Immediate Release
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NoMa BID, DDOT Publish Needs Assessment of North Capitol Street Between R Street and Massachusetts Avenue

Study Offers Recommendations for Making Mile-Long Corridor Safer and More Hospitable for Pedestrians, Cyclists, and Drivers

JANUARY 16, 2019 — A central element of the 1791 L’Enfant Plan, which laid out Washington, D.C.’s unique urban grid, North Capitol Street defines the city’s northeast and northwest quadrants and serves as a preeminent viewshed to the U.S. Capitol. But over the past few decades it has fallen into disrepair and, especially along the stretch between New York Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue, been the site of a disproportionate number of accidents and crimes.

To begin addressing these challenges, last summer the NoMa Business Improvement District (NoMa BID), in partnership with District Department of Transportation (DDOT), worked with local residents and other community stakeholders to produce a study of the corridor from R Street down to Massachusetts Avenue. Now available to the public, the North Capitol Street Needs Assessment provides a list of recommended improvements that would make the mile-long corridor a safer and more hospitable place for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers.

“North Capitol Street should be a point of pride for the nation’s capital, a grand avenue for all users,” said Robin-Eve Jasper, President of the NoMa BID. “There have been previous studies that touched on different aspects of this section of North Capitol Street, and this project builds on those recommendations. Significantly, however, this study is the first to consider this important corridor holistically and provide a comprehensive ‘road map’ for improvements.”

The project team began the study process with a public-participation effort involving three well-attended stakeholder meetings and an online public-engagement tool that garnered more than 350 responses. The feedback from the meetings and the engagement tool helped to clarify priorities for possible changes to the North Capitol Street corridor. Overwhelmingly, respondents said that pedestrian safety must be improved.

Traffic counts and a transportation evaluation and analysis of the corridor were completed by engineering firm RK&K and sustainability consultant Nspiregreen. This data allowed the project team to understand the corridor’s existing conditions, near-term fixes, major infrastructural challenges, and longer-term studies that need to be completed to define how to make the corridor function better. Taking what they learned, the project team was able to produce the North Capitol Street Needs Assessment published today, the guiding document for the refurbishment of this prominent, central boulevard in the District.

“These recommendations are extremely helpful as we work to make one of the District’s busiest corridors safer and easier to travel for all users of the roadway,” said Jeff Marootian, DDOT Director. “Working with our key stakeholders, like the NoMa BID, to collect feedback from the community helps us better understand how we can make practical improvements to achieve Mayor Bowser’s Vision Zero and multimodal goals for the District.

The study is organized into three main chapters. The first two summarize the project, its goals, and its context, including prior studies of the area by DDOT and other District agencies and organizations, and the existing conditions documented on the corridor. The third chapter lays out recommendations for action organized by priority, type, and location along North Capitol Street.

One of the study’s most important recommendations is for DDOT to conduct a streetscape study of the corridor — a critical step in bringing North Capitol Street into the 21st century. A streetscape study would address public needs and the appearance of the sidewalk, street furnishings, plantings, and lighting. The streetscape study will allow DDOT to reevaluate the full design of the street to potentially make big changes that will improve pedestrian safety.

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