DDOT Reveals Plans For Monroe Street Bridge Rehabilitation

Monroe Street Bridge Rendering Courtesy of DDOT
Monroe Street Bridge Rendering Courtesy of DDOT

Earlier this month we wrote about a meeting DDOT was holding about the future of the Monroe Street Bridge. We attended the meeting and learned that the bulk of the project will be repairs to the substructure which has cracks and exposed re-bar in the columns, and the replacement of the superstructure which will extend the life of the bridge for another 75 years. A few days after the meeting DDOT launched this website for the project which includes an option to submit feedback.

The project will be conducted in two Phases, Phase One will be construction and repairs to the north side and Phase Two will cover the south side. It is hard to look at the rendering of the new bridge and not notice that it will be vastly different than the current colorful (if worn and rusty) one. When asked about the new fencing the DDOT representatives described it as “state of the art”, “very modern and…very good looking”. They added that the fence will appear invisible and will stay clean looking. Notably, the fence must adhere to WMATA requirements about height and depth. When questioned by the Brookland Bridge about the lack of neighborhood character, DDOT suggested that there may be a chance to add a sculpture or some other artistic element, but that there are no plans to alter the current design to do so. This prompted us to ask if the purpose of the meeting was to inform the community or to gather feedback.  The representatives said it was just to convey the decisions that have been already been made. They added that instead of gathering community feedback they relied on the Office of Planning to articulate the communities needs. 

The DDOT representatives expressed that they looked at several options but given constraints like schedule and budget, this is most practical design. Further, this project is on a “fast track” because of the degraded condition of the bridge. As a result, several of the meeting attendees requested copies of the studies and analysis done to arrive at this design.  DDOT promised to post that information on the project website, but we have not seen it posted yet.

Another topic of lively discussion was why the project is not going to unify the Met Branch Trail since this would seem like the opportune time to  do so. Currently the trail ends at the Franklin Street bridge, and riders must then bike down 8th Street NE and then the Trail picks back up at Monroe Street NE. The DDOT representatives explained that unifying the trail would require a tunnel under the bridge, and that there is not enough space to do feasibly and that the cost would be too high. However, there will be dedicated bike lines on the bridge and a new traffic signal at the intersection of 8th and Monroe that should help bikers navigate their way across Monroe Street NE.

In addition to the bridge re-build, the project includes sidewalk improvements along 8th Street between Monroe and Lawrence NE, and on Monroe between 8th and 9th Streets, NE.  Also, overhead lines will be placed under ground from 7th – 9th Streets on Monroe Street NE.  At least this will improve the aesthetic of that limited area.

Quite frankly, we walked away disappointed with the design, it just feels soulless. For readers unaware, the bridge was painted in 2001 by area residents, as a memorial to  area youth who have passed away.

We will let you know when we learn of anything significant.

BNCA To Hold Special Election At July Meeting

FoRIA BNCA Cleanup 007The Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association (BNCA) will be holding a special election to elect a new president at its July meeting.  If you’re looking for ways to get involved in the Brookland community, this is a great opportunity. Speaking from personal experience, I was the treasurer of the BNCA for about a year and a half and it was a very rewarding experience.  From a recent email from Daniel Schramm, Vice President and Acting President of the BNCA:

Dear Brookland Community,

As you may have heard, Anita Hairston stepped down from being president of the Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association (BNCA) last week as a result of several big changes in her life. She served the organization very well as president for a full term plus the first months of this year, and we are sad to see her go.

As vice-president of the BNCA, I am now acting as the organization’s president. After discussing with the other officers, we decided it would make sense to hold a special election at our July meeting to permanently fill the position for the remainder of the 1-year term (we hold annual elections each February). 

We want to make sure anyone in the community who is interested in serving as the president of the organization has an opportunity to run, and so I am sending this notice out now. Our bylaws require that you be a dues-paying member for at least 30 days in order to be an officer.  Thus, if you become a member anytime between now and our June 21 regular meeting, you will be eligible to run. (An annual membership is only $10.)

The position is unpaid, but provides a highly rewarding opportunity to advocate and be a problem-solver for the community. If you would like more information on the role, please contact me at this address or my personal email address, Daniel.p.schramm(at)gmail(dot)com.

We also have an open officer position for corresponding secretary. So there are two vacant positions on the board that need to be filled. If you are interested in becoming a BNCA officer but just not the president, I would love to hear from you. Please get in touch!

On behalf of the BNCA Board,

Daniel Schramm

VP, Acting Pres., BNCA

Many thanks to Anita for her service.

Franciscan Monastery Photo Contest – Enter By June 30th

The 2016 Franciscan Monastery annual photo contest is  underway. Amateur photographers are invited to submit up to 3 photos of the Monastery, shrines or gardens.  Submissions are due by June 30th in order to be in running for the grand prize, and of course, bragging rights.  Check out the Monastery’s contest page and the tweet below for more details and additional rules of entry. The Monastery is located at 1400 Quincy St. NE.

Bundles Of Undelivered Mail Found In North East Sewer

Brookalnd Halloween 2012 003

This story in the Washington Post certainly caught our eye yesterday. According to U.S. Postal Service investigators, bundles of undelivered mail were found in a North East sewer. According to the story:

The mail was discovered in two catch basins at Anacostia Avenue NE and Douglas Street NE by a resident who alerted the authorities on Monday. D.C. Water crews spent Monday and Tuesday recovering the mail and discovered the bundles filled 25 trash bags, a spokeswoman said…The undelivered mail is currently being sorted through and had not been delivered as of Wednesday, said Lance Norrington, a spokesman with the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General.

Wow. Guess someone really wanted to end their shift(s) early. If we see any follow up on this story we will let you know.

Brookland House And Garden Tour – Tickets Available Now Online

2016 house and garden tourThe Brookland Bridge is proud to be a sponsor of the 16th Annual Brookland House and Garden Tour. The tour, which is organized by the Greater Brookland Garden Club is one of the major annual neighborhood events that really brings our community together.  It is also a terrific showcase for those outside of Brookland to see what a fantastic neighborhood we live in. You can now buy your tickets on line for this year’s tour, which will be on June 5th 2016 from 12: 00 – 5:00 pm and the after party/reception will be from 5:00 – 7:00 pm. Tickets are $15 per person and can also be purchased at Petals, Ribbons and Beyond at at 3906 12th St. For updates, “like” the Brookland House and Garden Tour on Facebook and we will also post more information as the date approaches as well.

President Lincoln’s Cottage Bourbon And Bluegrass Event Showcases Local Gem

Although not in Brookland, one of our local gems worth checking out is nearby President Lincoln’s Cottage. The Cottage is the only public place where one can get a glimpse into Abraham Lincoln’s public and private life. Lincoln lived and worked for over a quarter of his presidency at the Cottage, where he visited wounded soldiers, spent time with self-emancipated former slaves, and wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. Recently we attended the Cottage’s Bourbon And Bluegrass  annual event and enjoyed live bluegrass music, Woodford Reserve bourbon cocktails, lawn games, and stepped back in time to the historical roots of this great location. Check out the pics below. (The side show requires flash, if you can not see the  photos, open the folder on Flikr here.)

Shout out to local bluegrass musicians By & By and Ezra Deutsch-Feldman and  Rocklands Barbeque food truck for making it a great day.  (All proceeds from ticket purchases went toward the preservation efforts at President Lincoln’s Cottage.)

Check out Cottage tours here, upcoming events and programs here,  and follow them on Facebook and on Twitter. President Lincoln’s  Cottage is located on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home at 140 Rock Creek Church Road NW.

Brookland LGBT Party This Saturday

we'll have a gay old time...
we’ll have a gay old time…

Every month the LGBT community from the greater Brookland area (+ Edgewood, Woodridge, Michigan Park, etc.) gets together for fun, community building and general neighborly good times. This month the group will get together on Saturday May 21st at 7:00. If interested, contact us via the contact page and we will send you the address. Please bring a side or drink to share. All are welcome!

San Antonio Bar And Grill Opens Outdoor Dining Space

Happy diners on San Antonio's outdoor patio
Happy diners on San Antonio’s outdoor patio

We are happy to write that Brookland has another option for outdoor dining. We spoke with Jaime Vargas, the owner of San Antonio’s about their new patio, and he told us that they opened the sidewalk dining space last weekend, but that the soggy weather put a damper on opening it up at first. But now that the weather has cleared up a bit, folks are really enjoying the space. They are permitted to serve alcohol on the patio  from 11:00 am -10:00 pm daily and seat up to 33 people. Unfortunately, they aren’t allowed to offer their awesome Happy Hour specials on the patio. This end of 12th Street could really use more foot traffic, so it was great to see people out and about and livening up the block. San Antonio Bar & Grill is located at 3908 12th St NE.

Liquor Licence Updates – Menomale, Askale And Former Little Ricky’s

Ward 5 Happy Hour Brookland NE Washington DC

We thought readers would be interested in some upcoming hearings regarding liquor licences at neighborhood restaurants.

Back in 2012 when Menomale opened, they entered into a voluntary agreement because of concerns raised by the ANC Commissioner at the time. The agreement stipulates that they cannot serve alcoholic beverages from 2:00 – 5:00 pm Monday through Friday. Now the restaurant is looking to terminate the settlement agreement associated with their liquor licence. The hearing date for the change is June 13, 2016. Menomale is located at 2711 12th Street, NE.

It seems like yesterday that Askale Cafe got it’s liquor license, but time flies, and they are already up for a renewal. The hearing date for the renewal is June 13, 2016. Askale Cafe is located at 3629 12th Street, NE.

Little Ricky’s closed in July 2014. Since then, what will replace the popular restaurant has been the subject of rumor, but no hard information that we are aware of.  We did recently learn that the ABC Board will be cancelling the liquor license for the location at a hearing on Wednesday, May  18th because the license holder (Gin Rummy LLC) did not seek to renew it. Little Ricky’s was located at 3522 12th Street NE.

Arts on 8th – Free Performances Thursdays And Fridays, Workshops On Saturdays

Great news neighbors, Art on 8th returns with free music, dance, and arts events every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through the end of September, brought to you by Dance Place. Check out this video about Arts on 8th:

Every Thursday, from May 5 to September 29, 6:30 pm-8:00 pm: Arts on 8th live music performances will be held on the Arts Walk plaza each week. Each performance will feature a new group. In the event of rain, music will be moved into the Artist Lounge on the Arts Walk. The Arts Walk at Monroe Street Market is located at 716 Monroe St NE.

Every Friday, from May 6 to September 30, 6:30 pm-7:30 pm: Arts on 8th interactive dance performances. These events will take place at O’Connell Plaza located on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Monroe Street or in front of Busboys and Poets. Rain location will be inside Busboys and Poets.

Every Saturday, through September 24th, 1:30 pm: Get Creative workshops in arts & crafts, movement & gardening
at Dance Place, located at 3225 8th St NE.

For more information go here and for the schedules  go here.