District Department of Transportation

Maybe you’re new to this project. Or maybe you’ve been tracking the project for so long you’ve forgotten how it all began. Maybe last you knew District Department of Transportation (DDOT) people stopped coming around in 2012 and now all of a sudden they’re here again. Why? The information provided on this page is designed to answer the questions, “How did we get here?” and “What does ‘here’ even mean?”

What follows is presented from a transportation planning and context sensitive design perspective. It explains the process that DDOT uses to identify, design, and construct road projects and discusses the steps that have been taken to date on the Oregon Avenue project.

Project-Bkgrd-Graphic-OutOregon Avenue is currently in the “Develop Engineering & Design” phase. What has brought us here?

Oregon Avenue rehabilitation was placed on DDOT’s scheduled of planned improvements because of the need for roadway repair and the requirement for a safer facility. Conditions requiring rehabilitation included:

  • Deteriorating pavement
    • Uncontrolled runoff from elevated parcels to the west of the roadway was contributing in large part to the deterioration of the roadway
  • Inadequate stormwater drainage
    • Large volume of stormwater has had a detrimental effects on the adjacent streambeds in Rock Creek Park
  • Aging infrastructure, notably the culvert carrying Oregon Avenue over Pinehurst Run, and the need for in-stream stabilization

Safety considerations that required attention included:

  • Substandard roadway geometry for a collector roadway (the classification for Oregon Avenue) with a posted 25 mph speed limit
  • Limited sight distances
  • Poor lighting
  • Lack of separate facilities for pedestrians and bicycles

The planning of Oregon Avenue was based on FHWA and District policies, plans, and regulations, which included, but were not limited to:

    • DC Department of Transportation Design and Engineering Manual
    • Accessibility requirements based on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
    • District of Columbia Priority Sidewalk Assurance Act of 2010

Environmental Studies & Preliminary Design began in 2010 and concluded in 2012. During this stage, consistent with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations (40 CFR 1500-1508), and the FHWA’s Environmental Impact and Related Procedures (23 CFR 771), DDOT:

  • Identified and evaluated a full range of transportation solutions
  • Selected alternatives, including not doing anything, for detailed study
  • Considered potential human and natural environmental effects of the proposed project
  • Selected a preferred alternative
  • Selected concepts for preliminary design

Project goals were established based on the purpose and need, agency/public comments, and project area constraints. These goals were:

  • Create a safe facility for all users of the roadway
  • Effectively manage stormwater runoff
  • Avoid/minimize use of parkland by staying within the DDOT right-of-way to the extent possible
  • Preserve and protect environmental resources – both man-made and natural – and retain the current context of the corridor (i.e., visual aesthetic, using context-sensitive solutions in the design phase of the project)
  • Provide improved access to Rock Creek Park
  • Utilize environmentally sensitive materials and practices

Alternatives development identified three Candidate Build Alternatives as well as a No Action Alternative. Based on agency review and public comments received, a modified version of Alternative 3 was selected as the Preferred Alternative. All documentation from the Environmental Assessment can be found here.

Delivery and approval of the preferred alternative selected and its preliminary design completed this phase in 2012.

That brings us to the present phase, Develop Engineering and Design. During this phase DDOT will:

  • Complete and submit the final project design by transforming the approved EA alternative into a practical set of design documents that can be constructed.
  • Provide engineering drawings, calculations, plans, specifications, constructions cost estimates and other documentation needed for construction.
  • Maintain an inclusive public engagement process ensuring that the community’s concerns are addressed.

 

In this phase, refinements are being made to the design based on practical constraints, transportation design requirements, and community input. The public’s concerns and interests are acknowledged and brought to the design. This is known as context-sensitive design, or “thinking beyond the pavement,” and it guides the work during this phase. The design becomes a collaborative project for all interested parties and stakeholders, reflecting a shared vision and decision-making in the design process. Values such as safety, mobility, and preservation of the natural and human environment are addressed.

Design submissions are reviewed in the following phases:

  • Preliminary design includes addressing roadway geometry, roadway sections and profiles, location of sidewalks, bridge design alternatives, utility relocations, preservation of trees, new planting, storm water management, electrical and lighting, maintenance of traffic, ROW issues, site features such as retaining walls, and disturbance to residential features in the landscape

  • Address issues from 30% revision
  • Identify any overlaps or conflicts and make further adjustments if needed
  • Verify construction plans, details, special provisions, and cost estimates

  • Incorporate comments received from previous design reviews
  • Finalize specifications

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From a design standpoint, there are concerns that affect the entire community, such preserving the park-like character of the roadway, and others that impact specific areas, such as disturbance to residential gardens. To be as efficient as possible, the design team can meet separately with affected homeowners about their specific issues. Community-wide public meetings will also be scheduled at the 30, 65, and 90% design phases. Refer to the Public Involvement tab where meeting dates are posted and materials that DDOT has presented at public meetings are posted.

 

The project goals defined during the EA process continue to guide the design phase:

  • Create a safe facility for all users of the roadway
  • Effectively manage stormwater runoff
  • Avoid/minimize use of parkland by staying within the DDOT right-of-way to the extent possible
  • Preserve and protect environmental resources – both man-made and natural – and retain the current context of the corridor (i.e., visual aesthetic, using context-sensitive solutions in the design phase of the project)
  • Provide improved access to Rock Creek Park
  • Utilize environmentally sensitive materials and practices

In addition, the public outreach process conducted during the EA identified wide community support for the following concerns:

  • Involving the entire community in the planning phase
  • Maintaining the existing street footprint and road curves that mitigate speeding
  • Keeping the natural topography and curves on the repaved street
  • Having natural surface walking trails on high-risk pedestrian areas
  • Leaving mature trees in place
  • Keep similar kind of lighting
  • Rehabilitating the road so as to avoid hill cutting and retaining walls
  • Linking trails so street widening is not necessary
  • Addressing stormwater concerns with a targeted plan
  • Maintaining the integrity of Rock Creek Park
  • Planning that implements measures for street maintenance in the future

The current design effort addresses the goals identified in the EA and the community’s concerns. Five broad areas, those most frequently mentioned by stakeholders as important, are being addressed through specific design criteria. Read more about each of these by clicking on the tabs below:

Design criteria:

  • Make necessary improvements to the roadway that (a) resolve current infrastructure deficiencies that include deteriorating pavements, inadequate stormwater drainage, and aging substandard structures and (b) address safety issues such as speeding and poor lines of sight. These infrastructure deficiencies must be addressed or safety and environmental problems will worsen and maintenance costs will increase.
  • Provide a consistent 22’ wide roadway for Oregon Avenue. . The current roadway varies in width from 22-35’. The Oregon Avenue roadway does not have to be widened, as DDOT will not add bicycle lanes in the roadway. Install curbs and gutters on both sides along the entire roadway length.
  • Retain 25 mph speed limit. By respecting the natural terrain of the area, providing consistent narrow lanes and designing subtle curves along the new roadway, ensure that the Oregon Avenue roadway is designed to reduce traffic speeds.
  • As much as possible, retain the current roadway footprint. Currently, the new roadway design remains within the current roadway footprint for more than 95% of the project area.
  • Encourage the community to learn about and comment on the transportation and community design concerns through the website, at public meetings, and through direct contact with project personnel.

Design criteria:

  • Create aesthetic treatments that relate to the character of Rock Creek Park for new structures such as retaining walls and the bridge over Pinehurst Run.
  • Limit retaining walls to areas within the narrow Right-of-Way and only use them to minimize disturbance to residential features and existing trees
  • Consider aesthetics, hydraulics and hydrology in the design of the Pinehurst Crossing Bridge. The main aesthetic characteristic observed in nearby bridges is a masonry veneer, but some nearby bridges also feature decorative parapets.
  • In developing the final design, give as much consideration as possible to retaining mature trees. By making modifications to the Environmental Assessment’s Alternative 3 Modified scheme, the current design already reduces the loss of existing trees along the corridor.
  • Strengthen Oregon Avenue’s connection to Rock Creek Park. The new roadway will essentially remain within the existing roadway footprint. The sidewalk and the planting areas along the sidewalk will have a park-like rather than an urban appearance through a non-linear design and the use of materials selected.
  • Encourage the community to learn about and comment on the transportation and community design concerns through the website, at public meetings, and through direct contact with project personnel.

 

Design criteria:

  • Provide a sidewalk along the western side of Oregon Avenue connecting Military Road and Western Avenue. As of 2010, by law all road reconstruction projects or curb and gutter replacement projects must include the installation of a sidewalk on at least one side of the street (DC Priority Sidewalk Assurance Act of 2010). However, the sidewalk will not be a 10’ wide Shared-Use path accommodating pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Make the sidewalk as narrow as possible, varying in width from 5’ to 6’ if possible.
  • Maintain a uniform appearance throughout the corridor while responding to the immediate surroundings. As much as possible, materials and layout for the sidewalk will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • Design sidewalks to cause minimal disruption to homeowners’ property and existing trees.
  • Improve connectivity within the Oregon Avenue communities as well as access to Rock Creek Park through new sidewalk and crosswalk design.
  • Encourage the community to learn about and comment on the transportation and community design concerns through the website, at public meetings, and through direct contact with project personnel.

Design criteria:

  • Design stormwater management for the entire roadway that meets new District Department of the Environment (DDOE) regulations for projects in the Right-of-Way.
  • Integrate Low Impact Development, a progressive approach to stormwater management, into the overall design.
  • Specify innovative sidewalk paving materials to preserve mature trees wherever possible. Porous rubber sidewalks around existing trees will help minimize disturbance and preserve many trees. Preserving existing trees prevents rainfall from reaching the ground and helps maintain the natural character of the area.
  • Incorporate vegetation-based stormwater management facilities, such as bioretention cells, into the design to help treat runoff and improve water quality.
  • Wherever possible, replace impervious surfaces with permeable pavement to help collect runoff from the roadway. The current design provides this at the existing  parallel parking areas from Northampton Street to Rittenhouse Street.
  • Encourage the community to learn about and comment on the transportation and community design concerns through the website, at public meetings, and through direct contact with project personnel.

Design criteria:

  • Maintain current illumination distribution along the roadway.
  • Improve illumination efficiency with Low Emitting Diode (LED) lighting along the entire corridor. LED lighting is a modern, sustainable alternative to traditional mercury vapor and incandescent lighting. LED lights fixtures are becoming more common due to the longer life and lower energy consumption they offer as compared to traditional lighting fixtures.
  • Consider residents’ concerns about maintaining the same illumination color and preventing light distribution toward homes when developing the lighting design for Oregon Avenue. Consider lighting recommendations provided by the community’s Lighting Task Force, including:
    • Warm tone lighting
    • Full cut-off fixtures
    • Type II distribution to minimize trespass
    • Lighting levels not in excess of AASHTO standards
    • Adoption of International Dark Sky Association (IDA) guidelines
  • Encourage the community to learn about and comment on the transportation and community design concerns through the website, at public meetings, and through direct contact with project personnel.