FQoTD – “Dupont Circle-like Area East of the Park”?

Dupont Circle in the trees, originally uploaded by connave.

I received the following awesome email:

“The Office of Planning, in coordination with the National Capital Planning Commission and the District Department of Transportation, are working on a re-visioning of the North Capitol Street Cloverleaf interchange at North Capitol Street, NW and Irving Street, NW.

We are in the process of doing a study to test other design options, such as a traffic circle, for that location and looking at how these changes affect neighborhood character.

We could really use help getting the word out to younger residents of Petworth, Bloomingdale, Brookland, Eckington, Park View, Pleasant Hills, and Pleasant Plains. We are hosting a community workshop on Saturday, March 14, from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. (at the Pryzbyla Great Room , Catholic University Student Center, 620 Michigan Ave, NE) to ask for community input on what they’d like to see happen at this interchange.

(http://planning.dc.gov/planning/cwp/view,a,1354,q,645949.asp). It is an opportunity for residents to help create a vibrant, Dupont Circle-like area east of the park.”

Wow, this sounds like a phenomenal development. So my question is two fold. Do you think a “Dupont Circle-like area east of the park” is realistic? Secondly, as I’m a huge fan of all the circles in DC, I’m wondering if there are other fans of DC’s circles? I know some folks don’t like them because of driving issues. What do you think – do you dig them?


53 Comment

  • Hmm… I’m pretty skeptical that one could develop anything similar to a Dupont Circle without a Metro stop…

  • Good idea. I like circles- they’re efficient (though Dupont is the least efficient due to the amount of roads that feed in) and look way better than ugly suburban-style cloverleafs. Cloverleafs kill any pedestrian activity and might as well be the great wall of china in terms of separating neighborhoods. I’d love to see the neighborhoods of Columbia Heights/Pleasant Plains/Howard connected more to Brookland/CUA & Bloomingdale but it would take true planning genius for that to happen.

  • Not to be too much of a geographer, but Dupont Circle *is* east of the park (P St beach is in the park @ 23rd St).
    I had thought these east/west of the park references had died with the bubble.

    From the meeting notes:
    “Prefer Dupont Circle type of solution with open gathering space and memorial,
    but without the development density. There is a concern about losing too much
    green space and becoming too much like other parts of the city.”

    What does this mean- a traffic circle in the park? Why would anyone gather there without the shops & dining to attract them?

  • What does “vibrant, Dupont Circle-like area” even mean? To my mind, “vibrant” suggests a lot of foot traffic, and that area has neither the population density nor the retail density to support heavy foot traffic – nor will it without a lot of new construction. Lack of a metro stop doesn’t help.

    Seems like a pipe dream, to me…

  • I like Grant and Sherman circles, but Dupont is a monstrosity! And I thought the Concord Rotary in MA was bad.

  • James & Brad are right of course. But the NIMBYs and BANANAs who typically attend these meetings would not agree. Density = bad, open space, usable or not=good

  • Don’t these two statements contradict each other?: “Dupont Circle-like area” and “There is a concern about … becoming too much like other parts of the city.”

    And what’s wrong with becoming like other parts of the city if these other parts is nice and pleasant to be in? I also doubt anything will materialize from this and even if it does it won’t be like Dupont Circle. If they don’t want development in that area it’ll be a place where a few people will walk their dogs during the day and a drinking place at night.

  • Agreed to all the above. The areas and densities are just not comparable. And while cloverleaf(ves) are big wastes of space, this seems like a real good example of piss poor planning. Didn’t DDOT just finish a major rebuild of that bridge and road surface last summer (ish). Wouldn’t it have been wise to tie this concept with that long construction effort, to save both money, time and the distress of upsetting the flow. All in all, good to see them rethinking urban design and meshing the infrastructure with human use and interaction, but c’mon…

  • As a resident of Ward 5, the area immediately to the east and south of this proposed circle, I can tell you there is a lot of opposition to this. As noted above, many residents, particularly a vocal number in Brookland and Bloomindale, are opposed to any increased density and don’t want the cloverleaf removed because they are afraid these proposals would lead to increased traffic.

  • ok people, help me out here. what does BANANA stand for?

  • Considering that there has no neighborhood around this intersection (Hospitals, Fenced of Soldiers home, Fenced of Condos with entrance on Michigan, and open green space) the clover leaf is fine. There is no destination here … only reason to drive through it.

  • I love the idea of a traffic circle. I’ve been saying this since the 80’s but no one would listen. I would love a place to walk my pitbull during the day and place to get my drink on at night. Are you with me?

  • I wit ya. I’ll bring the black and milds and the old country 40s

  • With little neighborhood support, low density, and surely to come complaints about slowing traffic flow, this sounds like a waste of money that would be better spent elsewhere.

    That said, I expect the project to begin within a few months, with construction lasting a few years, much complaining to follow, and the switch back to a cloverleaf pattern within the next decade or so. All in all, another win-win for the city.

  • Thor: BANANA: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything

  • As for the N. Cap./Irving Circle idea, I’m with L & Brad, et al. No metro = no foot traffic = vibrancy. At the same time, a cloverleaf has no place in an urban environment. Soooo much wasted space. I mean it’s not like you can put a park in the middle of them. Have you seen the nuts [read: me] that fly through them? A circle will also slow the nuts [read: me] that fly down both N. Cap and Irving. Speed limit is 30

    I love the idea. Just don’t think it would work.

  • Err… typo ^^^^ meant … = NO vibrancy…

  • i think this is a great idea and i’m hoping to attend the session tomorrow.
    with the development proposed/slated for the soldier’s home and the brookland small area plan moving forward last week, this is the perfect time for the re-thinking of this cloverleaf disaster between the two.

    This is a huge area in the middle of the city that is perfect for more pedestrian and transit-friendly development. I’m 100% for it and as a homeowner less than a mile away from this interchange, i’m hoping to have my voice heard in favor of it!

  • logan circle is pretty vibrant and it doesn’t have a metro. jus sayin.

  • As a transplant from out west, I’m still trying to get used to traffic circles. I avoid them as much as possible because they clog traffic and take forever to cross if you are on foot. I really can’t understand why you would design a brand new one when the old ones ineffectively move traffic.

  • Why do circles in DC have traffic lights? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of having a circle? Also they need to give pedestrians much higher priority around Dupont. There are some streets like Mass Ave which you need to wait for two light cycles to cross on foot. While waiting for the second light all the pedestrians are crowded onto a little elevated triangle while traffic whizzes by.

  • not telling,

    Logan Circle is exactly what I had in mind: a place for dog walking during the day and drinking during the night. It’s not vibrant and def. not Dupont Circle-like.

  • ElevenIrving:
    You answered your own question. The circles have lights to allow pedestrians to cross. Yeah, the timing is pretty terrible for pedestrians, but it’s better than having cars just cruise through at full speed.

  • I was thinking the order of precedence should be pedestrians > traffic on the circle > traffic merging onto the circle. That could be accomplished by putting stop signs for all incoming streets and adding very prominent crosswalks going into the circle.

    Better yet, just shut down the circle to all traffic. Nobody who knows the traffic patterns uses Dupont circle anyway.

  • I would assume that there would be a tunnel underneath the circle for the North Cap through traffic? otherwise this is just plugging up one of the major north-south commuter routes and bringing more traffic into the neighborhood.

    I was a traffic circle hater until I moved into the district. if you don’t drive in the city, they throw you for a loop. if you know where you are going (where to exit the circle), they are real easy.

  • Sorry the totten, but the development at Soldier’s Home has been shelved for now.

  • I love circles, but why does Sherman circle suck so badly? It’s the closest one to my place, and I’d love to hang out there, but with no benches and hardly any vegetation, it’s just not hospitable. Are there any plans to beautify it?

  • Clovers like that kill the areas they are in cause they are taking up so much space and separate the areas around them.

    I suppose the Catholic/Brookland area likes to be cut off from the east side of N. Cap but I can’t help but think that cutting off sections of cities isn’t good for anyone. And I Can’t see that changing that from a clover to a circle is going to increase density so much that it puts a huge strain on Brookland but I could be wrong. Sure the Soldiers home and the hospital make that area weird but that clover doesn’t help at all. It is a no man’s land and in a city I can’t see that as a good idea.

  • So let’s see… in a time of limited budgets, DC wants to take a perfectly serviceable intersection (one that was recently resurfaced), tear it down, and put up a circle which would have less capacity and do nothing for business or economic development? Oh yeah, that makes some sense!

    Note also the subtext – we (the residents of Bloomingdale, Eckington, Brookland) have steadfastly opposed this bit of central planning at past meetings. So now the Office of Planning is trying to do an end run by getting the next invitation into the blogosphere, so that the meeting can be packed with non-residents.

  • The dupont circle is the most bastardized circle ever! traffic circles should not have lights and what is this inner loop outter loop crap! it is one of the scariest circles to drive in watching for lights, pedestrians crossing legally and illegally, and trying to figure out if you should be in the outer loop or the inner loop all while trying to look for the tiny little street sign that is tilted at an angle so you can only read it after you are on top of it or past it! I say no to anything like dupont circle!!! The park part-great! The development of business -awesome

  • If enhancements would benefit or deter a wider circle of residents why are those residents not allowed to comment?

  • A circle with a park would be great–as a brookland resident it would make me feel more connected to the rest of the city, and we have a shortgage of nice, pleasant places to sit in across ward 5.

  • In order to truly make this a Dupont Circle-like area, you’d need to also truck in some hot gay boys to hang out there, but I don’t see that happening unfortunately.

  • not all Brooklanders like being so remote from the western part of the District. Most of us shop, eat and work outside of the neighborhood and many supported the Small Area Plan to bring more density. I’d love to feel safe biking from Brookland to Columbia Heights and that ain’t happening with teh cloverleaf and hospitals set up how they are right now. Just sayin’ that there isn’t a coherent “we” (invoked by JM) over here right now.

  • A traffic circle would do more for that area than a cloverleaf. Can anyone even imagine a vibrant citified community abutting a cloverleaf?

  • Turn the North Capitol & Florida Ave intersection into a Dupont-like circle, with underpass lanes north-south. That area needs some revitalizing, there’s a Metro two blocks east and there’s already vacant space north of Florida Ave. The stuff on the south side of Florida would not be missed.

  • agreed with I like the idea and sophiagrrl.

    Petworthian, hopefully the soldier’s home development has just been delayed, not cancelled completely. but yes, it’s definitely been delayed for now :(.

    JM, as a resident of this area (ward 5,

  • hey! it ate half my comment!

    it was supposed to end with this paragraph:

    JM, as a resident of this area (ward 5,

  • okay, wordpress doesn’t like my ‘less than’ symbol… sorry for the spam!

    …. JM, as a resident of this area (ward 5, *less than* 1 mile from the “clover”) i am really glad that this information has been publicized so that I, a resident who was previously unaware of these meetings, can voice my opinion in support of this development and help to influence the planning process. Thanks, PoP!

  • Hey, I don’t doubt that a lot of nearby residents are in favor of the project. But my belief is that Office of Planning is trying to “stack” the audience (witness their plea for ‘younger’ residents). I suspect that had their idea been endorsed at the first meeting, no further outreach efforts would have been initiated. And I don’t think that’s a valid way to run the planning process.

  • Also… I can see the attraction of putting a circle here. BUT… can we first spend Ward5 $$ to fix the NY Ave/Florida Ave death match between commuters, FedEx trucks, and pedestrians? I swear there’s going to be carnage there some morning if someone runs a light. That project should have higher priority, IMHO.

  • JM, interesting points to be sure. I totally agree that this area isn’t the only one in ward 5 that needs attention.

    however i’d say that the call for younger residents is especially necessary for this project in that it is specifically a “re-visioning” — generally folks who have been in a place for a long time (residentially, professionally, etc.) are resistant to change even if it’s a actually good thing. it is the “re-” part of the phrase that is usually the problem, not necessarily the “visioning.”

    In my professional life, which often calls for introducing new ways of doing things into organizations, we too advocate for the inclusion of younger or newer folks on our teams to get a fresh perspective on things that have long been considered “business as usual” or the most effective way to do things.

    I’m not saying that this plan is totally perfect or even good (i’m going to try to go to the meeting tomorrow to hear more about it so that i can have a more informed perspective), however I’m in support of them getting more opinions on it.

  • I agree with 4th_ST.

    Truxton Circle restoration is needed far more than this proposed circle.

    You can’t just build a circle and have everything else magically appear. (of course, that’s assuming that either is needed). The cloverleaf works fine, I’m sorry to say, and really doesn’t seem to be messing up anyone’s neighborhood as it currently is. To rethink the intersection, it needs to be part of a much larger redevelopement plan including the hospitals’ grounds and the Soldiers home property. Without that, this circle would be a waste.

  • I like my small sample of suburban style shitty planning the way it is. Kind of reminds of growing up in Springfield in the 70s and 80s. Ah the memories!

  • Hospitals need better access; please keep in mind your neighbors who may potentially suffer a heart attack or gun shot wound and need care emergently.

  • ShermanCircle – My exact thoughts! They just spent a bunch of money improving that intersection, what a shock… government waste.

    Wouldn’t this idea make more sense at 1st and North Capitol, which will border the McMillian Reservoir Development. If North Capitol tunneled under a circle at 1st street it would make more sense.

  • @Stupid Idea, where do 1st and N. Cap intersect? They run parallel to each other, where exactly do you mean?

  • I agree with others — this is a good idea but it should probably wait until the Old Soldiers Home is being redeveloped, and include strategies for how to move ambulance traffic quickly to the nearby hospitals.

  • This idea seems totally out of left field. It doesn’t make any sense. There’s no reason there would be a lot of foot traffic in that area.

  • Nicole Says – well played… i’ll blame it on the beers

    I meant to suggest north capitol tunneling under Michigan…

  • Here is a photo that is undated but after the cloverleaf was constructed


  • i believe in terminology
    roundabout= no traffic lights
    traffic circle= traffic lights.

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