DDOT considers moving tour bus staging plan to Southeast Freeway

For months, residents in Northeast Washington have been fighting plans to open a tour bus staging area in their Ivy City neighborhood. But there may be a solution.

Ivy City residents went to court and got an injunction against the D.C. government, but the district's attorney general appealed has appealed that ruling.

In the meantime, DDOT could essentially end the legal fight by studying a section of the now decommissioned Southeast Freeway as a possible location for the buses.

Parisa B. Norouzi, the executive director of Empower DC, said, "What we're very excited to see now is that alternatives are being investigated, and we really felt that the city had not done that initially."

Activists working to stop the D.C. government from turning the old Crummell School property in Northeast into a charter bus staging area say they're thrilled to learn DDOT is studying another possible location.

DDOT Spokeswoman Monica Hernandez explained, "It's a very preliminary idea right now. it's something that's been placed on the table for us as a community to consider."

DDOT wants to turn the former freeway into Southeast Boulevard and connect it to nearby Barney Circle. With the extra land available, the department could have room for those buses.

Southeast resident George Zuras said, "Well, I dont think anyone's going to say yes to it or want to say yes to it."

Residents along adjacent L Street SE are undecided about the idea. But some are concerned about potential smog and the view changing.

"I wish there was someplace else like Kenilworth Avenue, because we don't want it to look like Kenilworth Avenue," Zuras continued.

On the question of whether DDOT was just moving the problem to another neighborhood, Norouzi said, "That is always a concern. But from what we've seen so far, there's been greater engagement by DDOT and by the community in the discussions of the plans..."

But at this point, it's unclear from DDOT whether the buses would be staged above or below the new roadway.

Hernandez added, "I don't think we have anything right now that says underground. It's an idea. How, what shape it takes, those are the next steps."

Councilman Vincent Orange - who, along with Jack Evans, has introduced legislation calling for the bus staging area to be moved out of Ivy City - calls the Southeast Freeway option a "reasonable solution."

DDOT says public meeting will be held this spring.