Two alleys that run behind homes located on R Street, 31st Street and 32nd Street will get a complete redesign, likely using up all the the Ward 2 monies for street alleys in the process. The alleys are prone to flooding, recurring potholes, poor drainage and have been the bane of some residents' existence for upwards of 45 years.
Martha Johns, whose home backs onto the R Street alley, joked that she's been "going fishing" in that alley since she first moved there 45 years ago.
Though the project has in the past received promises that it would be included in the District Department of Transportation list of Ward 2 projects and that it would be budgeted for, nothing has come of it in the past, several neighbors and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Charlie Eason said during a meeting Friday.
DDOT Project Manager Reggie Arno promised this time, the alley project had the full support of the agency and a little extra pressure from Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans. Evans has allocated the entire Ward 2 alley project budget to fixing the Georgetown alleys which residents previously described as "third world."
Evans said he told DDOT Director Terry Bellamy, "Whatever it takes, get this done."
When residents raised concerns about the certainty of the project Evans said, "If it costs $1 million, we're going to do it."
DDOT expects the entire design and construction process to last 18 months.
According to Arno, the agency has already shortlisted a consultant who will come out in the next three or four weeks to drill test pits, test the soil and then analyze those findings to determine what design will work best for controlling run off.
The alley will be part of the new DC Green Alleys Projects that the city recently implemented to reduce surface runoff into the District' sewers. The DC Department of the Environment will review any design plans before they can be executed to ensure they meet green alley standards.
The design for the east/west alley, which runs up hill from 32nd Street and connects to the R Street alley poses several design challenges. It's narrowness will make it difficult for large construction vehicles to access it and Arno said he believes there are several utility lines running beneath it. The consultant's work will help determine the design, said Arno.
Utilities could be the cause of a delay depending on what companies like Verizon and Pepco decide to do, according to Arno.
"We need them involved from the beginning," Eason said.
Arno said once they have initial plans in place, the utility companies will be kept apprised of the construction timeline, etc.
Tudor Place, which hosted the meeting Friday, expressed an interest in being present for any digging during construction.
Executive Director Leslie Buhler said they believe the R Street alley was actually at one time the main entrance to Tudor Place. The historic home's staff hopes to work with the Ruth Troccoli, the District of Colombia's Historic Preservation Office archaeologist, to examine the soil systems and look for any clues to the past life of the Georgetown property.
"We can work that out," Arno assured her.
The group of neighbors will meet with DDOT again May 10 for an update and a chance to see the first round of construction designs.