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Dysfunction Junction, Vol.1: The Florida/Rhode Island/New Jersey Triangle

by Prince Of Petworth April 1, 2013 at 11:00 am 37 Comments

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Dysfunction Junction chronicles the most forlorn, baffling, and wonderful crossroads of our fair city.  Ben Ball is a transportation nerd in his spare time.  He lives in LeDroit Park. Ben previously wrote about Union Station-Georgetown transit options.

L’Enfant didn’t think this far ahead.  If you look at his original plans, there’s a conspicuous white space at the point where Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Florida Avenues are supposed to meet.  Unfortunately, that triangle is still terra nullius of a sort.  The difference is that it’s now a concrete wasteland instead of a natural one.  What would be the made up acronym for this noticeable hole in the fabric of gentrification?  Rhoflosey?  New Rho-ida?  Jerida Island?

There are three gas stations in a row on that stretch of Rhode Island Avenue.  You’d think that the invisible hand of the free market would cause at least one of them to go bust, but that’s where you’d be wrong.  You’d also think that the zoning office or local ANC would have said something, but apparently not.  Hess seems to do the best business of the three, possibly because it has a hidden Dunkin’ Donuts which I only noticed after months of walking by.  BP is the station of choice for the neighborhood drunks and ne’er-do-wells, who like to hang out across the street and take naps on the grassy knoll.  Valero wins the award for sketchiest looking market.

Around the time when Justin Bieber becomes eligible for Canadian Medicare, the streets in this area will be redone in order to create a major streetcar transfer point. For now, though, the pavement on Florida Avenue is starting to look like a sine wave.  It’s going to need some help sooner rather than later.

After careful thought and observation, I’ve come to the conclusion that the source of this area’s problem is the LeDroit Park post office.  It should be a neighborhood amenity, but the limited weekday hours throw that right out the bullet-proof window.  You’d think a facility like that couldn’t possibly justify its operating costs, yet it somehow avoided the last round of cuts.  It was that valuable to someone.  (Eleanor Holmes Norton, perhaps?)  The USPS holds the lease on that property through 2016, in case you were wondering.

Continues after the jump.

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If you add together the unnecessary parking area for the post office, the curve that connects S and 4th Streets, and the patch of gravel that hosts the bus stop on Rhode Island, there are enough impermeable surfaces to send DC Water™ into a tizzy.  Here’s a thought:  why not combine the post office, S-to-4th Street curve, and gravel pit into a single lot and build something useful on it?  Having a building on that triangle would do a lot to make the area feel more like a neighborhood and less like the Indy 500.  S and 4th Streets would be quieter, and the area could finally start living up to the gleaming renovation of Frasier’s Funeral Home.

Fun fact:  this is the intersection where Wards 1, 5, and 6 meet.  Maybe that’s the reason it’s so messed up – nobody feels responsible for the whole thing.  Someone should start.

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