People and vehicles navigating the New York Avenue NE and Florida Avenue NE intersection (the FL-NY Intersection) face confusing, unpleasant, and dangerous conditions. Over the years, numerous studies and articles have called out the need for improvements and expressed the community’s exasperation with conditions at this location which Dan Zak of the Washington Post once called an “urban aneurysm”.
Thankfully, in 2019 Mayor Muriel Bowser included $35 million in the District’s capital budget to complete the reconfiguration of the FL-NY Intersection. With the DC Council’s approval of the capital budget, the project was underway in earnest and in September 2021, the DC Government acquired the Wendy’s parcel that was needed to realign First Street NE for the project.
As a result of the realignment and redevelopment of the FL/NY Intersection, three new appealing public spaces are being created! With more than an acre of new land becoming available for community use, the NoMa Parks Foundation seized the opportunity to ensure that a great design, responsive to community concerns, was developed. Starting with sponsoring an Urban Land Institute Technical Advisory Panel in 2019, the NoMa BID and NoMa Parks Foundation partnered with DDOT to develop great public space designs. NPF, the NoMa BID and DDOT agreed to focus on ways to enhance the FL-NY Intersection that would: (1) improve safety and quality of public space experience for all users, and (2) improve economic vitality and access to local businesses, educational institutions, human services organizations and affordable housing in the area.
The landscape architecture firm SWA/Balsley was selected by NPF and DDOT to design the public spaces at the FL-NY Intersection. SWA/Balsley was hired based on the firm’s extensive experience working with transportation agencies to transform high-traffic urban spaces into terrific community assets. NPF used its funds to pay for the public space designs and manage the design and community input processes for the new public “park” spaces.
While the road alignment, design and number of traffic lanes was determined by DDOT, the NoMa Parks Foundation worked closely with the community to make sure the new parks have amenities that neighbors want and that park users are protected from noise and traffic with planted berms and lots of trees and greenery. The result is three great new parks, each with a distinct character. And by occasionally closing the segment of First Street NE between NY Avenue and Florida Avenue, the park adjacent to 64 New York Avenue NE and the triangular park bordered by First Street, Florida Avenue and NY Avenue, there is a large area for community farmers’ markets and other events.
Importantly, through the NoMa community’s advocacy, including especially our Eckington neighbors and the Eckington Civic Association, additional safety features were added. Among these important livability and walkability features are more pedestrian crosswalks, continuous protected bike lanes, speed limit reductions, and automated speed enforcement on Florida Avenue. See “Reflections on “fixing” Dave Thomas Circle” for more about changes advocated by the community.
Design work for the FL-NY Intersection is now complete and DDOT is planning to begin construction in Summer of 2022. The new designs are transformational for the neighborhood and will assure that these formerly hostile spaces serve as appealing bridges connecting the communities north and south of the intersection. DDOT anticipates that construction will take 2 years. For more information about the FL-NY Intersection redevelopment project including detailed presentations and recordings of meetings, please visit DDOT’s project webpage.
NoMa Parks Foundation © 2022