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From the Forum – Living with an Alley repaving

by Prince Of Petworth August 31, 2015 at 2:10 pm 11 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Erin

Alley repaving

“Anyone have any experience living with alley repaving? Ours is supposedly being redone in the next few months. We are basement tenants with no access on the street and we’re wondering how it works since the city apparently says it will take two months. Anyone have experience with alley construction?”

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  • nate

    Ours was just done in Bloomingdale. The existing brick was torn up, they graded the soil, laid down concrete, and then brick over the concrete. From start to finish it was a week and a half for an alley that approximately spans the width of one block. There were probably only a day or two where you could absolutely not get to the back of our house while the work was ongoing. All in all I was pretty surprised how quick it was and the end product is amazing compared to the alley we used to have.

  • Ours was a disaster—they started early, which you’d think is a good thing, but didn’t *tell* us they were starting early. The result? Tar splattered on the back of my car and everyone else’s that was parked in driveways or parking pads along the alley.
    The good news is that our one-block alley was only unavailable for one day when they paved it (it was fine to walk when it was stripped of the old asphalt).
    Now that the alley’s completely repaved it is certainly an improvement. But don’t trust their timeline: it will almost certainly not match reality.

  • Mr. Magoo

    I live in Mount Vernon Square and had basically the same experience as Nate. I didn’t have car access to my rear parking pad for about 10 days, but the alley was usable for foot traffic in about 5 days following the demolition and concrete pours.

  • textdoc

    Are there connecting stairs between your apartment and the upstairs? Is the upstairs occupied by the landlord, or by other tenants? From what Nate says above, it sounds like there will be a day or two when you will need to get in and out via the upstairs.

  • SouthWester

    Lived through a major brick repaving in alley in Mount Pleasant behind Hobart Street — with similar situation. (Basement apartment, no access except through alley.) Nights were a bit tricky, though the alley was well lit. Only two days I needed to go through landlord’s place. They did a very nice job as well.

  • The alley behind my house (Hobart/Irving alley) was repaved a few years ago and it was surprisingly painless. The end result was more than worth any temporary inconvenience!

  • Michelle

    The alley behind our house in Hill East is concrete and was redone last week. The work was done in two days plus another day for drying. A warning that they did start ripping up the existing alley the afternoon before the start date on the notice we got. Overall, it was fast and painless.

  • barry

    If you have only one access point to you apartment, then you are probably living in an unapproved unit. This alley work will probably leave you trapped either inside or out. I would talk to your landlord. They should provide you with hotel accommodations for the days you are without access unless they want you to report their illegal unit to DCRA.

    • Blithe

      barry, I’m confused by your comment. The vast majority of apartments that I’ve been in have had only one door– although they have had windows, which I thought were considered emergency exits. You’ve suggested that the OP’s apartment is “probably…unapproved”, then suggested that the OP threaten “to report (the) illegal unit”. If you’re correct in your assessment of the apartment’s legal status, I’d appreciate it if you could provide more information on how this can be assessed with certainty — since if you’re incorrect, and the OP acts on your recommendation, the OP might end up with much bigger problems then a few days of inconvenience while the alley gets repaved.

  • Eric

    I was anxious about this same issue when the alley behind my basement rental was redone a few years ago as well. The plan was for 2 months to tear it up, replace the sewer running down it and then rebrick it all (historical area). In the end it only took about 2.5 weeks, during which the alley was accessible (though tricky) for pedestrians after hours. Not nearly as painful as I feared.

  • dunning-kruger

    One issue you may need to get out in front of is the clearance of any back gate you may have. They repaved (asphalt) behind a property I manage and raised the alley about 3 inches which was enough to make the back gate inoperable. On the plus side I think it was done in a day.


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