Capitol Complex Construction Projects
Beginning on Monday, July 7, Construction work will begin on the east side (Second Street, NE) of the US Supreme Court building in preparation for the next phase of work on the Supreme Court Modernization Project. The work is required to prepare for the removal and replacement of windows, which will be completed in the second phase of this project. The preparation work is expected to last approximately three to four weeks. The work performed during both phases will take place Monday through Saturday.
From Wednesday, July 23, to Tuesday, August 12, during the second phase of this work, a portion of Second Street, NE, will be closed to traffic for the removal and replacement of windows. A trailer and a construction crane will be placed on Second Street, NE, in the area between A Street, NE, and the Court’s south drive. Second Street, NE, will be closed between East Capitol Street and A Street, NE. There will be no through-traffic on Second Street, NE, while the crane and trailer are in place. The temporary street closure is necessary to provide adequate space for the safe removal and delivery of materials related to the project. Steps will be taken to minimize the noise associated with the work.
A Street, NE, will remain open. Vehicles will be able to access Second Street, NE, from points north, but only up to the intersection of A Street, NE. There will be no vehicular access to Second Street, NE, from East Capitol Street. Signs will be posted on routes to and at the intersections affected by the closure. Second Street, NE, will remain open to pedestrian traffic on the east side of the street. Street parking will not be available in the section of Second Street, NE, that will be cordoned off during the project.
For more information regarding the Supreme Court modernization project, please see the Court’s website: www.supremecourtus.gov or contact the court’s Public Information Office: 202-479-3211.
by Eric Snellings
At a January 16, 2008 meeting, more than 50 neighbors came in from the cold to a community gathering in St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, where representatives of the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) discussed their Five Year Tunnel Improvement Program and the Second Street Utility Tunnel Repair Project. Attending for the AOC were Paul McMahan, Project Executive; Robert Carter, US Army Corps of Engineers, Construction Manager; and Eva Malecki, AOC Communications Officer. Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells and ANC6B Commissioner Dave Garrison were also in attendance.
The AOC initiated the meeting to provide information about the project and address any rumors that have been circulating about details of the effort. The work planned is part of an overall Tunnel Improvement Project. The tunnels are between 50 and 100 years old; contain steam and chilled water and condensate lines for the Capitol Complex; and have reached the end of their expected serviceable life. They are not in immediate danger of collapse, but need to be addressed now with other concurrent compliance work.
The section under Second Street, between North Carolina Avenue and C Street, SE, was built in the 1950s, and is not small (the tunnels are approximately 15 feet wide and 15 feet high). The AOC has investigated options to make repairs without excavation that could result in a 20-year solution, but have chosen the excavation option to provide a 50-year life cycle duration. The overall rehabilitation project will continue on Second Street in future phases into Northeast, ending at Constitution Avenue, with a projected June 2012 completion date.
Work on the Second Street segment will be completed in two phases. Construction will start between North Carolina and D Street, SE, first, and then will move on between D Street and C Street for the second phase. The section not being worked on will remain open and unencumbered by construction operations. Cross streets (at North Carolina Avenue, D Street, and C Street) will remain open to vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
Concern about vibrations will be addressed by not driving piles for the excavation support system. Drilled piers will be used for this work element.
Two office trailers will be placed at the edge of Providence Park, and all open recreation space will remain accessible to the community. A staging area on Virginia Avenue, expected to be adjacent to the Capitol Power Plant, will accommodate materials and equipment.
The project is in the planning phase now, and the AOC will start construction company selection in February 2008. A contract should be awarded in May 2008, and the engineering phase will last 60 to 90 days. Construction is slated to start in late summer 2008 and is projected to last 18 to 21 months. Work hours will be 7:00 am to 7:00 pm Monday through Friday, with no weekend or holiday work (except in the case of emergencies or when needed — neighbors will be notified of the work planned).
Excavation of the street will be from curb to curb, with an eight foot security fence installed at the curb line, allowing sidewalks to remain open during the construction period. No stockpiling of removed soil or construction debris will occur on site; all material will be hauled off site, and suitable materials will be imported during the reconstruction process. All utilities will be supported and maintained during the construction process. The construction will be done substantially by equipment, with a maximum of 10-15 construction workers on site at any given time. Workers will all have to be cleared through the AOC system.
The tunnels contain asbestos; however, asbestos removal and abatement will be executed under a separate contract and will be completed prior to the start of the tunnel rehabilitation process. Test pits and other preparation work are proceeding, and survey of existing buildings on the street is being considered (interior surveys are also being considered). Monitoring may be required during the construction process.
After AOC representatives presented the basics of their plan, neighbors and other interested parties used the opportunity to express their concerns and opinions on this project, as well as to relate past experience with AOC work on other projects conducted in the neighborhood. While too numerous to detail, the questions and comments focused on the following issues: increased traffic (with other construction projects and stadium traffic considered); pedestrian safety (especially with the number of schools in the area); loss of parking (and construction worker parking); tree protection (in street-side tree boxes and park trees); Capitol Police traffic control (at intersections); damage to historic homes and buildings; security concerns (due to the high fence); Fire Department coverage (with street closure); storm water management (blocked inlets and in the excavated area); rebuilding of Second Street to accommodate heavy trucks and increased traffic; and the reopening of First Street, SE, at least during this construction program.
Councilmember Wells discussed parking initiatives, shared concerns about local school safety, and committed to keeping the community informed about the project and to helping with coordination with the AOC. Mr. Wells was encouraged by the community to coordinate any work projects by DDOT and WASA projects while streets are open. In addition, he was asked when Virginia Avenue will reopen, and how the AOC obtains District street closures, seemingly without any due process. Wells committed to research the process that allowed the Virginia Avenue closure and to provide insight and information about the issue.
ANC Commissioner Dave Garrison provided insight on Public Space and maintenance of traffic review and comment during ANC meetings and the associated permitting issues. He indicated that the AOC project team should continue to engage the community as the process continues and offered the ANC meetings as a forum.
One piece of information that was not discussed during the meeting which will be good news for the majority of the historic district is that the Second Street tunnel is the easternmost tunnel in the system.
The AOC had a staff member in attendance recording the meeting’s proceedings. The community requested that the AOC provide a written document that outlines their project’s information and have it widely distributed to Capitol Hill residents directly, as well as to all local media outlets and organization websites. In addition, there was a desire to find ways for the community to provide input and influence the process. The community expressed hope that the questions, comments, and concerns being expressed will be addressed as the process continues.
The community also requested a single point of contact for the rehabilitation project to report problems and issues. For this stage of the process, the AOC provided the following contact information:
AOC Communications Officer Eva Malecki, 202-228-1793 (the AOC Service Center is open 24/7 to answer calls); Website at www.aoc.gov (About Us/Press Room).
CHRS will continue to monitor the construction, and work with the AOC to mitigate the project’s impact on the community.
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