City applies for stimulus funds to remake K Street

D.C. Department of Transportation officials submitted a proposal for key stimulus grants Friday to build a new K Street Transitway, a major project that would affect K Street from Mount Vernon Square to Washington Circle.

The proposal, made for a grant from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary fund, is essential for the project to come to fruition, said Aaron Overman, a deputy associate director for DDOT. TIGER is a $1.5 billion stimulus fund marked for highway and bridge construction, passenger and freight rail projects and other transportation infrastructure endeavors, according to the Department of Transportation’s Web site. The grants are expected to be awarded in February 2010.

Overman said that without the TIGER grant, the project, several years in the making, would die.

“There’s no funding for the project if the TIGER grant is not successful,” Overman said. “If the funding isn’t available, I think the project would probably just not happen due to a lack of funds, but if we get the money it would be a very, very quick process because with stimulus you have to spend the money quickly so it would go to construction rapidly.”

DDOT is currently considering two options for the K Street Transitway. The preferred option, according to the project report, would eliminate the existing service lanes and create a two-lane bus lane in the center of the road.

The second alternative would install a bicycle lane next to the sidewalk, leaving two-car lanes and space for buses to pass other stopped buses. The plan also proposes additional loading zones.

The two-lane bus lane is preferred, according to the report because it is “the best performer with respect to transit system clarity, transit ridership impacts, transit reliability and pedestrian safety.”

Bus traffic was one of the reasons for the creation of the transitway. According to the project report, The Downtown Circulator service “due to the volumes and congestion on K Street. also faces many problems including delays”

The project report also says that the current K Street layout is so problematic because the existing service lanes are often used for double parking and passenger drop-offs.

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