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Closed since 1977 – O Street by Dunbar High School Finally Reopens as a “Green Street”!

by Prince Of Petworth August 14, 2015 at 12:10 pm 34 Comments


From the mayor’s office:

“Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser reopened O Street Northwest between 1st and 3rd Streets as a “Green Street.” This newly opened roadway will support the Mayor’s commitment to sustainability and clean energy by capturing thousands of gallons of untreated stormwater, which protects local waterways. The green street is adjacent to the newly modernized Dunbar Senior High School, which also has several energy and sustainability features.

Originally closed in 1977, this part of O Street now has 5,732 square-feet of bioretention area installed in the form of 33 individual cells, or “rain gardens.” The District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) estimates that the volume of water equivalent to a 1.28-inch storm of runoff from a 1.6-acre drainage area will be retained through this project. The stormwater technology will prohibit significant amounts of stormwater runoff from reaching the District’s combined sewer system, and ultimately, the Anacostia River. All bioretention areas are landscaped with plants native to the District.

The Green Street project includes newly planted street trees in large tree boxes along O Street, where the stormwater will be collected to avoid sewer backups. Native plants that are a part of the O Street landscaping include: purple coneflower, switchgrass, inkberry and river birch. In addition to enhancing the ability of the bioretention cells to absorb stormwater runoff, these plants provide important habitat for District wildlife.”

@MayorBowser tweets:

“After nearly 38 yrs, #DCProud to reopen O St NW btwn 1st & 3rd as a #DCGreenStreet.”


  • TruxtonCirc

    FINALLY!!!!! My long national nightmare of having to walk down N Street is over.

  • No Bikes

    Is the track still on maximum security lock down? It sure would be nice if people could use it.

    • Mr. Magoo

      The Dunbar track will never be open to the public, even though we paid for it with our taxes. I’m sure the thinking is that it would otherwise quickly become a homeless encampment and restroom.

      • TruxtonCirc

        According to who? Everything they have said in meetings has been it will be open to the public, at least during certain hours?

  • SF

    This reads like a mosquito haven to me…

    • Matt S

      The water doesn’t just sit in these rain gardens. It’s designed with specific soil to allow the water to infiltrate quickly and allow for the vegetation to grow. It should appear to be no different than a tree pit, in theory.

    • K

      Rain gardens are designed for the water to infiltrate within 24 hours or quicker. Mosquitoes need something like 7-10 days to gestate. So mosquitoes wont be a problem.

  • Anon

    YUSSSSS. I’m going to drive alllll over this road. Back and forth, back and forth.

  • LoganRes

    Why was it closed to begin with?

    • Anon

      Old Dunbar was built in its place.

    • spookiness

      Old “superblock” planning mentality of the 60’s and 70’s.

  • TruxtonResident

    I really cannot wait to see if this improves traffic on First Street in the mornings and evenings.

    And I second the question above about the track…when is that going to open up to the public.

    • hap

      Ditto on First. It is really unsafe (make sure you add your comments on the vision zero site). I’d love to see first as a one way for cars with a separated bicycle track. It’s a neighborhood street that’s used as a thoroughfare. N. Capitol and NJ are for that. First is pretty much the only way to get north for bikes for many many blocks. Most bikes are forced onto the sidewalk or into traffic.

  • Neighbor

    So the road was blocked off for many months after work was finished just so that the mayor could do a ribbon cutting? SMH

    • Greg

      For real, hasn’t this been more or less complete for several months now? The Mayor also announced the appointment of Chris Waver as Director of DGS, so this has me thinking they were waiting until they had a nomination before they opened this street. Pretty pathetic, if you ask me.

  • Bargain

    Isn’t a real green street one without cars?

    • susan

      I was thinking the same thing! A green street should be pedestrian only

      • elbeech

        I was too! Totally agree.

  • Anon

    Awesome. Another street on which MD commuters can drive 50 mph. At least the corner with 1st street has a light and not an optional stop sign.

  • Sydney

    Sad how the no-permit parking lot at the now-disgraced CAPCS undoes much of the benefit of rainwater capture. Let’s hope the new Friendship School does the right thing to remedy that environmental crime from 2012.

    • TruxtonResident

      The work to remediate some of that water problem had started early this year. Then stopped. I haven’t seen much movement on it again until this morning when they appeared to be working.

      I believe I recall that Friendship School was going to remove part of the parking lot and put in a playground. I wonder if they will continue to allow the use of the school for church services on Sundays. The parking lot gets pretty full on Sundays with church services. I’d love to see most of the illegally built parking lot be removed and green space put in, playground or otherwise. And if memory serves, it’s actually zone residential.

  • Anastasia Beaverhausen

    Rain garden = mosquito breeding ground

    • K

      A properly constructed rain garden does not breed mosquitoes. The water infiltrates or drains well before mosquito larvae can hatch and reach maturity.

  • Andy

    I’d be more interested in what’s happening inside the school than outside. If we drop enough money we clearly can get nice construction. Good instruction… Still hard to see results.

  • spookiness

    tough crowd

    • Anon

      Right?! PoPville, come on! Its friday!
      I’m for green streets. The runnoff problem, combined with the sewers that overflow into the rivers in severe rains, is a real issue in this city.

    • TruxtonResident

      Hey. I’m ecstatic. Very happy this is opening.

      Although with the relative crime that happens on 3rd near P, I’m not sure I’ll feel any more comfortable walking down O Street at night than I am P or N Streets. Especially with fewer homes facing it.

      • Just posted on the listserv:

        “Breakins occurring around 3rd and P St. And loitering and gambling.

        My neighbors have walked into burglaries in progress next door to me. We live across from the field of Dunbar HS. We’ve noticed and influx of congregating males maybe twice as large of numbers as were used to seeing. At times I can count 10-15, all but one male currently resides on our street. The rest come from Bates St. And surrounding neighborhoods. Driving into my alley I catch men urinating on our neighbors fences and properties, playing craps in the drive ways. Openly drinking alcoholic beverages like it’s their block party. This all begins after work hours into the night. The noise from stereos and loud talking keeps us up a lot. My neighbor says she calls the police regularly but none of the other neighbors have the courage to speak up to prevent all these men from sitting on their stoops and bringing out folding chairs blocking the side walks and alley ways. A white sedan parks in front of our house daily because our parking is not zoned and he lives on Bate Street. Men are cursing at my elderly neighbor sitting on our cars… This is looking more like old DC. We think these new faces are attracted to our area because it has a more relaxed enforcement, they are also getting to know the ins and outs of our schedules and scoping out the Alley ways for easy targets. When we work they sleep, when we try to sleep their out having their own nightly block party outside our windows.

        I think some type of foot patrol would be helpful between the hours of 3pm-midnight. This is prime time for these people to start their business.?

        What do we have to do to have law enforcement come into our area and actually disperse loitering. I see lots of police cars at the market or parked at Dunbar field even driving through. I don’t see officers on foot talking to us asking questions. Do I have to call 911 every time I see loitering? Why has this problem gotten worse? Is it legal for them to stand in front of our homes rather than stand in front of their own? I would love to not call on an emergency line for small matters but this seems to be the only option.”

        • TruxtonCirc

          I’m glad this is getting attention. I have noticed the uptick of loitering outside on 3rd Street between P and now O. That is a very very short block with maybe 8 or 10 houses on each side that dead ends where this O Street is now reopening. The last few times I’ve gone by there, there were at least 10-15 twenty or thirty somethings just hanging out in the street. A month or two ago there were three muggings right near that intersection at P. I refuse to walk around that area at night.

          You might avoid the new O Street at night. You’re essentially walking down a street with very few people around and you could quickly find yourself a target for mugging and no one is going to be around to see it or help you. Fortunately I notice police often camp out in the parking lot beside the new Friendship School. But that is not always the case.

          N Street on the other side of Dunbar is constantly a locus for criminal activity.

        • textdoc

          Other things aside… 911 in D.C. is now — and has been for several years — NOT JUST FOR EMERGENCY CALLS. It is for ALL POLICE CALLS.

          • Anonymous

            “Dc 911, what’s your emergency?” Doesn’t help distinguish that

          • textdoc

            Anonymous 3:51 pm — Nope, it sure doesn’t.

  • Tony

    I, for one, would like to nominate the press flack that drafted this release as a Real American Hero for proactively recasting the inevitable rat infestation of these rain gardens as providing, “important habitat for District wildlife.” You sir/mam, this Bud’s for you.

  • JR

    A “green street” w/ publicly provided parking for personal vehicles and no bicycle or public transit infrastructure.

    The street has been closed to personal vehicles for the longest time – why not just continue that, make it a bike/bus way?


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