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Adams Morgan-U Street merging as ‘district’

Task force forms to resolve Ward 1’s

burgeoning traffic problems as night life area expands

(Published April 19, 1999)


Staff Writer

Residents of Ward One and government officials are forming a task force to try to solve the persistent parking and traffic problems in the city’s expanding entertainment and night life district.

The growth of the U Street corridor over the past few years has extended that restaurant and nightclub strip to where it has essentially merged with the 18th Street strip in Adams Morgan. Weekend visitors and traffic have caused a parking and transportation nightmare for the residents of those neighborhoods. Traffic backs up along U Street and 18th Street during evenings and on weekends as people search for increasingly rare parking spaces.

Councilman Jim Graham, D-Ward 1, has formed a task force to address these issues and look at the area as a whole. At a town hall meeting April 10, about 100 residents and government officials gathered to talk about possible solutions.

"We’ve got to manage the growth, we’ve got to manage the liquor licenses, we’ve got to manage the parking," Graham said. "The fact of the matter is that’s the way it is, so we’ve got to manage the transportation."

Graham said the task force will not focus solely on parking, the way a similar committee in Georgetown did, but rather try to address public transportation and traffic flow patterns as well.

A first step is already in the works. Graham, who also sits on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board of directors, helped arrange a Metro shuttle bus that will run from the Woodley Park-Zoo station on the red line to the U Street/Cardozo-Shaw station on the green line. The shuttle, which Graham said could start running as early as August, will run every 10 minutes in the evening.

"We want visitors to know they will have secure, regular transportation that will take them to the best restaurants in the city," Graham said.

The task force also will conduct a parking inventory of the area and determine if certain spaces could be rezoned to create more residential parking.

Parking will become a more pressing issue when construction begins on a mixed-use structure at Belmont and 18th streets. That site is currently the site of a 100-space parking lot. Potomac Investment Properties is building a residential development and parking garage on the site.

"This really demanding situation is going to get worse when construction begins on the parking garage," Graham said.

Even though the completed garage will eventually create 250 new parking spaces in the neighborhood, Graham said that will not be the solution to parking hassles because of the area’s continued growth.

The councilman noted that with the exception of a one-block stretch on U Street, the entertainment district runs from Columbia Road and 18th Street all the way to U and 12th streets and could in the future reach Georgia Avenue.

Graham, who lives in the neighborhood, is chairman of the task force, which he said will number 30 residents and government officials.

Graham said he hopes the committee will complete its recommendations within eight to 10 weeks.

"The creativity of the people who come together is going to guide this project," he said.

Copyright 1999, The Common Denominator