The official Beach Drive Construction Update: “projected to last for 3 years” begins Thursday

by Prince Of Petworth September 20, 2016 at 10:05 pm 60 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Lauren Parnell Marino

From the Mayor’s Office:

“The National Park Service is set to begin major road construction along Beach Drive on September 22nd, and is projected to last for 3 years. This project will greatly impact drivers and pedestrians in this area. Please see below information about the project and where to find additional information about the District Government’s traffic mitigation plan.

The project will be completed in four segments. Each segment of Beach Drive will be closed in both directions 24/7 during work. Prior to work beginning on each segment, the National Park Service will post upcoming road work and road closure information so drivers, cyclists and pedestrians can plan their trip through, and around Rock Creek Park.

beach drive

DRIVING – Alternative Routes

Drivers should seek alternative routes, including Connecticut Avenue, 16th Street, Georgia Avenue, and Wisconsin/Massachusetts to bypass the impacted area. A signed roadway detour will be provided (see below), but drivers are encouraged to seek alternative routes for the full length of their journey.

BUSES Traveling North/South

L1 – Connecticut Avenue Line Route and Schedule
Chevy Chase Circle, Van Ness-UDC station, Cleveland Park Station, Woodley Park station, Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom-GWU station, Potomac Park

37 – Wisconsin Ave Limited Line Route and Schedule
Friendship Heights, Fessenden Street, Tenleytown-Au station, Van Ness, Porter Street, Woodley Road, Massachusetts Ave & Garfield St., Dupont Circle station, M Street, Farragut Square
BUSES Traveling East/West

DC Circulator – Green Line Route and Schedule Route and Schedule
Woodley Park – Adams Morgan – McPherson Square

H2, H4 – Crosstown Line Route and Schedule
Tenleytown-AU station, Cleveland Park, Mt. Pleasant, Columbia Heights station, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington Hospital Center, Brookland-CUA station

The Rock Creek Trail along Beach Drive will remain open and accessible to bicyclists and pedestrians during daylight hours during Segment 1A construction. During segments 1A and 1B, the trail gate at the National Zoo will be open between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. there will be no access to the trail through the National Zoo or via Beach Drive through the zoo tunnel.

The trail will be adjacent to the construction site, and at various stages, the trail may be detoured or shifted. Be alert for any construction-related changes. Wear reflective clothing, turn on your lights (safety first!) and enjoy the scenery.

Capital Bikeshare – Get a Bike for $2 Per Trip More Info
For one of the most convenient ways to get around the city and park, get a red bike for $2 per trip. Download the SpotCycle app to see a map of stations and available bicycles.

goDCgo – Your #1 resource for transportation information for the District godcgo.com
goDCgo is an initiative of DDOT that encourages the use of sustainable transportation. We provide complimentary resources and information to help you choose sustainable, affordable and healthy ways to get around DC. Contact us at [email protected] or 202-299-2186.

Get more info and sign up for construction alerts from NPS at: https://www.nps.gov/rocr/learn/management/beach-drive-rehabilitation.htm

  • Quincy dude


    • Cleveland Park runner

      RIP nice commute.

  • DF

    Started reading a history book about RCP and there’s some fascinating stories. I hope they’re able to keep some of the historic bridges, especially Boulder Bridge. Can’t wait for this to happen; Beach Dr should never have been used as a commuter road!

    • NH Ave Hiker

      I’ve read that book, it’s true Beach Drive was designed as a scenic byway – not a commuter road. That’s why it’s in such bad shape. That being said, it sucks that my only “easy” way in and out of the city is gone :(

      • GBinCH

        It’s going to suck (I commute that way as well) but this is really necessary. Beach Drive is in such a horrible state and I’m glad they’re actually going to rip up the road right to its foundation, rather than just slapping more asphalt on top. Over the winter, there was a pot hole in one section that was so deep a traffic cone had been put in the hole to warn drives…all of about 12″ of cone was visible. The thing must have been 2′ deep. So it’ll suck in the short term, but I’m so glad this is happening.

        • ***

          Not sure I’d call 3 years, which I think we all know will balloon into at least 4, short term. Not arguing the work isn’t necessary and requires some time – but this seems like a REALLY long schedule.

        • TX2DC

          +1. I drive a Jeep Wrangler and was often concerned about damage to my vehicle from the gaping potholes and ruts on Beach Drive. I cannot image what that road would feel like in a small, compact car.

    • What is the name of the book?

      • DF

        A History of Rock Creek Park by Scott Einberger

    • dcpolis

      seriously, this park would be world class if it wasn’t for all the cars. too bad they can’t throw a few trolley lines or bus only lanes up Georgia and 16th. the amount of single individuals sitting in their cars on these roads during rush hour is astonishing; you’d think at some point they’d get the idea to all band together and develop some sort of shared transport option would be quicker for everyone.

  • AA

    I read about this 6 months ago and was praying it was just a bad dream. 16th is already a parking lot. RCP definitely needs an overhaul but sweet baby Jesus, 3 years?!? The road isn’t that long. Anyone who has ever taken this south during rush or north during rush knows how many cars use this road. It’s going to crush the alternate routes, (especially EOTP because of the Red Line safe track).

    • Anonymouse

      This totally ruined my day.
      The traffic on 13th, 14th, 16th and Georgia Ave is already at capacity. Three years??? 24/7???

    • dcd

      Rock Creek Parkway will not be getting an overhaul, this is only Beach Drive (in 4 segments).

      • Ashy Oldlady

        Rock Creek Parkway just received a similar overhaul a few years ago. It was painful and took way longer than it should have, but it was worth it.

  • ***

    This makes me so glad I’m moving. N/S routes through this city are a nightmare. Connecticut Ave and 16th Street are gridlocked parking lots in the morning and the proposed detour dumps all the traffic right into the most congested area on Connecticut- between Cleveland Park and Woodley Park. It’s going to be nightmare. All it takes is one Red Line issue – which Woodley Park is pretty reliable for a power / signal issue – and you might as well forget leaving upper NW. Don’t get me wrong, Beach drive is a disaster and needs replacing, but with all the other infrastructure projects going on in DC?

    • dcd

      Wait until the desperately needed repairs/rebuilding to the Roosevelt Bridge take place. Which may not happen until the bridge starts falling into the Potomac, but still . . . that’s going to give a whole new meaning to suck. At least coming from MD there are numerous alternate routes. Va. commuters rely on a handful of bridges, and closing one down . . .

    • ANM

      This is why we need a sky-high commuter tax to de-incentivize MD and VA drivers from coming into DC everyday. Don’t like the tax? Then find work near where you live.

      • stacksp

        Its a two way street. DC benefits from all the “MD and VA Drivers” coming into town everyday spending money hand over fist for 9-10 hours each day from parking to retail to the food industry. Goes on and on.

        • Ampersand

          Well, some of them pay for parking… the rest have illicit VPPs and/or handicapped tags and park for free. And some of them illegally enroll their kids here – see the series of stories in the Daily Caller. And they don’t pay income taxes here due to a quirk of the tax code.
          I recognize that there is a non-zero amount of spending per person who comes into the city, but I also wonder what the total cost of negative externalities is when accounting for traffic, crashes, and environmental damage caused by the thousands and thousands of cars (many with exactly one person in them). Plus the additional demand on city resources in serving those workers for 40+ hours per week. Of course, a lot of that cost could be recouped in a commuter fee, but since that will forever be a total political non-starter, I wouldn’t worry about it.

      • Anon

        I happen to agree with you, but wow, what a douchy way to put it. You clearly don’t realize that most people can’t afford to live close to where they work.

        • neighbor

          Sure they can. They just don’t prefer to.

      • dcd

        I don’t disagree (though my fervor for the issue has moderated since I moved over the border). Good luck convincing Congress, though. The math is simple: such a tax would remove funds from the coffers of Maryland, with its 8 Representatives and 2 Senators, and Virginia, with its 11 Representatives and 2 Senators, and redirect those funds to DC, which has zero votes in the House or Senate and E. Holmes Norton (D – Ineffective) leading the charge. So, roughly 5% of both the House and Senate start off intractably opposed to a commuter tax. It doesn’t impact the other 95% of the House and Senate at all, and they would risk repercussions from the 5% if they were to support a commuter tax – which again, provides no benefit to their constituents. As I said, good luck with that.

      • Ashy Oldlady

        You make it sound so easy.

      • CPT_Doom

        The point of a commuter tax is not to de-incentivize drivers from coming in, it is to pay for the infrastructure necessary to support those additional people being in the city. A commuter tax would not increase the tax burden for MD or VA workers, because they’re VA and MD tax burden would be reduced by an equal amount, as noted above. DC is hamstrung both because we are politically unable to impose such a tax, and because we are forced to subsidize the feds, whose annual payment to DC is estimated to be about 1/3 of what the city would earn from property taxes on all federal buildings and embassies.

      • west_egg

        Then watch Maryland and Virginia enact their own tolls in response. Enjoy being trapped in your federal fiefdom, suckers! Don’t like it? PAY UP.
        (Note: this is not a serious suggestion.)

    • jdegg

      I live near the Fort Totten metro and there is always a way to get work that’s not in a car.

  • Anonymous

    I predict even worse driving from our MD and Upper NW commuters. Yay.

    • Cleveland Park runner

      Aren’t you a peach?

  • jumpingjack

    This work is necessary and I’m glad they’re doing it. But it was so short-sighted to schedule it for the same time that the eastern portion of the Red Line will be shut down.

    • AnonV2

      To be fair, the Beach Drive work was planned and scheduled far in advance of the SafeTrack initiative. If anybody is to blame (and let’s honest they always are!) it’s Metro for letting things get so bad they couldn’t delay it any further..

      • GBinCH

        +1 DDOT aren’t to blame here. Regardless of SafeTrack, is there ever a good time for a reconstruction project of this magnitude? At least the eastern portion SafeTrack won’t last that long.

        • dcd

          This is NPS, not DDOT.

        • quincy dude

          25 days is a pretty long time. This really sucks for the people near Takoma/downtown SS who drive or metro downtown. Considering Safe Track on that stretch ends by 22 Nov, it would have sure been nice to delay it. Georgia & 16th St are going to be BRUTAL at rush hour that month.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Agreed. I live in Takoma, right off of Georgia Ave, a couple blocks of the DC/SS border. I used to run to and home from work (downtown) every day. Now I am kicking myself for having allowed myself to get so out of shape that running to and home from work is no longer a serious transportation option for me. I’ve been trying to get back to it, but won’t be up to it that soon.

          • mondo


            I live just over the border in DTSS and thought this round of Safe Track wouldn’t be a big deal thanks to the S9…yeah, no. On the bright side, only 17 of those 25 days are weekdays?

          • ***

            I had to give up on commuting down 16th – with SafeTrack + School traffic, getting down 16th is next to impossible. Once September hit, my bus commute went from 30 minutes to an hour.

  • anon36

    How on earth should this take 3 years? That is almost as appalling as metro requiring 9 months to replace an escalator. How is there no outrage? Where is the investigative reporting by the WaPo?

    • AnonJohn

      If it makes you feel better, it’s really taking much longer. Environmental assessment and planning has taken over 7 years (thanks NPS!). Planning for the bike trail rehab actually started in the 80’s.

      But that’s snark. I agree 100% and hate that confounded escalator!

      I also love how much it’s been delayed before starting. Original plans were for construction to start last fall. Then it was “after labor day”. Then “on or about 9/19”. Now it’s 9/21. At least a month of schedule slip out of the gate!

  • Hopper

    It’s worth noting that because the project moves S-N, this will suck less for folks living south of Tilden – Columbia Heights, Cleveland Park, Van Ness, Petworth. Those neighborhoods should have their main access to Beach Drive restored in the first half of next year (assuming this stays on schedule, which it may very well not). For Maryland commuters… you’re SOL for the duration.

    Excited for the pedestrian/bike upgrades – the path is in nearly as dire need of repair/improvement as the road itself.

    Also, how the F is Piney Branch not being repaved as part of this?

    • AnonJohn

      I think Piney Branch will be repaved, but not sure when or how it fits. Saw it somewhere but can’t find it now …

      I know they’re doing a bike trail along Piney Branch as part of this.

      Yeah – it’s beyond atrocious.

    • anon

      Do you have a schedule of when each phase is supposed to be started and finished? I’ve looked and couldn’t find one.

      • anon

        Piney Beach (and the segment between Porter and Tilden will be done as segment 1B.

      • Cleveland Park runner

        The Post has a piece by Luz Lazo with a graphic describing the phases and time spans (but they’re estimates and not actual dates).

    • ***

      Would not be surprised to see Phase 1 extend into middle of next summer. All it will take is a good snow storm or two, and work will be halted for 4-6 weeks. Spring rains will also slow things down a bit as well. Expecting this to drag on a LONG time.

    • west_egg

      If they repave Piney Branch then where will NASA go for their moon surface simulations?

      • DF

        Serious lolz!

  • AdMo Resident

    Please be conscientious when you are driving through our neighborhoods. My children were not responsible for the potholes on Beach Drive. I was nearly mauled by a Maryland driver running a stop sign on Adams Mill this morning. I can’t imagine what it will be like when these “detours” are necessary.

  • ah

    Any idea why they can’t do this all at once? If each phase is taking 6-8 months, why not shut the whole thing down for 6-8 months (well, really 12 months) and get 4x the crews working on it simultaneously?

    • Marty

      I don’t think that NPS has any incentive to do this faster. They don’t really care if commuters can or can’t take Beach Dr into or out of the city each day.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t know, but if I had to guess, it’s a combination of 1) they don’t want to close the whole thing down at once, and 2) the funds needed to do the whole thing are not available all at once but rather spread out over three years.

  • Marty

    I – fortunately – only cross 13th, and GA Aves each morning dropping off the kids and then going to work. I don’t have to drive WITH the traffic at all. So the only impact to me will be those inconsiderate soles who block the box…as if getting across the intersection during this light cycle will actually get you anywhere faster.

  • ***

    It would be nice (but I know it’s not going to happen) if they both extended the length of the reversible lanes on Connecticut to extend all the way to Calvert AND extended the duration, especially in the evening. Right now, the evening commute lanes are from 4-6:30pm – this should really be extended until at least 7:30pm.

    • lizcolleena

      Agreed, and I’d also suggest restricting the on-street parking along Connecticut and 16th. I know it’s sometimes inconvenient for locals, but as someone who now lives in CH (1/2 block off 16th) and formerly lived on Connecticut (just south of the zoo), I think it would be worth it. Right now there are almost always a couple cars waiting to be towed and traffic gets bad much earlier and for longer than the parking restrictions are in play.
      If they used those lanes as bus only and incentivized commuters to take the bus in, it’d be a dream come true. But at least don’t slow everything down while a couple of jerks who forgot to move their cars are being ticketed and towed.

      • ***

        Unfortunately, I am guessing there was little to no coordination with WMATA. The L1/L2 route on Connecticut is one of their lowest-tiered routes, in terms of service. Head ways between buses during morning rush is usually in the 20-30 minute range.

  • Confused Resident

    I live a few blocks away from the park and own a residential construction company that specializes in masonry (a lot of our work is in Concrete paving). I understand that this is a replacement to the core, but still cannot understand why it should take so long. With heavy machinery and the permanent closing (24/7) as stated in many articles, I am estimating 6-8 weeks tops.

    Are they do it by hand????

    • Kejad

      Can you chime in on the timing of it? I thought it wasn’t advisable to place concrete or asphalt in cold weather. I’m assuming they’re removing old paving and doing some regrading for the first few months, so that puts them at December-February to start putting down a new road surface.

  • AB

    What I don’t understand is why Phase I is being scheduled during the winter. Anyone who has lived further north of DC (or in DC during one of our extra cold winters!) knows that it is inadvisable (and sometimes impossible) to rip up asphalt, especially to the foundation, when the ground is frozen. I get that a three year project will stretch through multiple winters and that’s unavoidable, but couldn’t they have at least completed Phase I during the spring/summer? Am I missing something? (Granted, I’m biased/grouchy because I’m most impacted by Phase I..)

    • Timmy

      I wondered the same thing…seems like the quiet summer months would have been an ideal time to get started on this, but I’m guessing they don’t like to plan outdoor/heavy construction during July/August for the health and safety of the workers, but that’s just a guess.

    • stacksp

      People would have complained about not having access to RCP during the summer months. Summer camps and other entities travel through RCP to go to the Zoo and to have picnics etc at the parks.

      • AB

        Sure, but people are going to complain regardless. There will have to be a full-stop as soon as the ground freezes or snow falls, creating inevitable (yet totally avoidable) delays. So, the current 6-month estimate either factors this in (and it could have been projected at 4-months) or it’s not built into the estimate and this will take 8-10, depending on weather. Again, I’m biased bc of where I live in the city and I want the smoothest timeline for Phase I, but the logic just doesn’t seem to be there.


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