We look forward to the opening of the Wharf and to once again putting Southwest on the list of destinations in Washington, DC, with great excitement and optimism. But as residents, we also have some anxiety in regards to the prospect of getting in and out of our neighborhood because of anticipated increases in traffic and minimal parking to accommodate all the residents and guests who will be visiting our small quadrant.

We are deeply grateful for the Wharf developer’s efforts to work with the Metropolitan Police Department, the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT), and the Department of Public Works (DPW). But illegal parking remains a problem on Maine Avenue, gumming up access to the 14th Street Bridge toward Virginia and from the 14th Street Bridge and downtown into Southwest. On weekends, when the Fish Market is at its busiest, it is at its worst. On the outbound/westbound side, there is always some confusion as cars re-sort themselves between those making the left turn into the Fish Market (or perhaps now into new underground parking) and others continuing on to 12th Street, Rock Creek Parkway, or Virginia. And the underpass is lined with illegally parked cars. On the inbound/eastbound side, illegal parking continues from the marine equipment store to the Fish Market, reducing Maine Avenue travel to one lane. That one lane merges with eastbound traffic from the 14th Street underpass, itself narrowed by illegal parking in the underpass, and both squeeze into one lane along Maine Avenue until 7th St. Weekend parking violators are ticketed at random intervals but at its worst on Sundays ticketing seems to be nonexistent.

At the June 12 ANC 6D meeting, PN Hoffman representatives reported that much of the work on the Wharf will be switching to the Maine Avenue side of the site, as Phase One of the project heads toward completion in October, raising more concerns. Community members have also reported that some construction workers are parking on the residential streets somehow using visitor parking permits, which are provided only to local residents.

Many fish market patrons will continue to drive in order to cart home buckets of crabs and other bounty that will not travel well on public transportation, but the current lot is about to close and it seems there is minimal parking anticipated for those patrons once the Wharf is completed. Managing the 4,000 to more than 6,000 concertgoers at the Anthem will be impacted by Metro’s new hours, which are only until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and 11:30 p.m. on weekdays. Many of the Wharf restaurants with summer gardens and other drinking venues are also scheduled to close in the wee hours. What is the plan for after hours?

The Community Benefits Coordinating Council and other community members have brought these problems to DDOT and other city officials, including at the large meeting convened by SWNA and the ANC at Arena Stage last summer, but see little relief.

What are the long-term plans to control traffic and accommodate parking needs? Who is responsible for oversight and enforcement now and into the future? The Southwest community needs real and lasting solutions from DDOT, which is responsible for developing a transportation plan that will serve the whole community; DPW, which is responsible for enforcement; and the Wharf developers, who are responsible for monitoring their own contractors while construction continues, for planning adequate visitor parking once the project is completed, and for general administration of the site into the future. We commend the developers who have worked very hard to create a great public amenity and we eagerly await the opening of the Wharf. But we also want to be able to live through and beyond it, and continue to enjoy our great community.

By: Community Benefits Coordinating Council 

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