CFA 17/JUN/10-l


O and P Streets between Wisconsin Avenue and 37th Street, NW
United States

D.C. Department of Transportation
Rehabilitation of road bed, trolley tracks and sidewalk streetscape
Review Type


No objection to the final plans for the rehabilitation of the historic granite cobblestone streets, trolley tracks, and brick sidewalks on O and P Streets between Wisconsin Avenue and 37th Street, NW, as shown in materials received and dated 1 June 2010 provided further coordination with the Old Georgetown Board and staff to address review of material samples, ramps, illumination and tree box fences as per the Georgetown Board Report dated 17 June 2010.


District Department of Transportation
O and P Streets between Wisconsin Avenue and 37th Street NW
Rehabilitation of O and P streets and sidewalks

REPORT: The District of Columbia Department of Transportation, in coordination with the Federal Highways Administration, has developed a design for the rehabilitation of O and P Streets from Wisconsin Avenue NW to 37th St NW in the Old Georgetown historic district. In these segments of O and P Street from Wisconsin Avenue to 35th Street, the streets retain their historic granite cobblestone pavers and the historic trolley tracks are exposed and visible.

In the project’s initial design in May 2004, the scope included the re-use of salvaged granite cobblestones on a leveled roadbed with salvaged bricks on the sidewalks; the trolley tracks were proposed to be removed from the main thoroughfares and covered in asphalt as in the other streets of Georgetown. The Commission reviewed the project and recommended that a portion of the historic rails be retained in situ in its original context; the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) then proposed to expose the tracks found under the asphalt paving on the block on 36th Street only between O and P Streets and restoring the cobblestone paving.

Since then, the project has come under further evaluation by DDOT, the Federal Highway Administration, the DC Historic Preservation Office, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, with the determination that the trolley track system is the only remaining example of this unique type of three-rail, in-ground center-conduit track in the city and the only publicly accessible example of this technology in the world (the only other example is a small section of old track in an abandoned subway tunnel in London). Thus, it has been deemed a significant historic resource that should be restored and retained in place. In October 2009, the Commission endorsed the least-harm alternative proposed under the new Mitigation Stipulations (see CFA letter dated 8 October 2009).

In the past year, DDOT has prepared documents accordingly to undertake the restoration of the historic street design in these three blocks of O and P Streets. In its review of the 65% construction drawings at its meeting on 1 April 2010, the Old Georgetown Board supported the retention of the trolley tracks and granite cobblestones in place. In addition, the Board recommended brick sidewalks laid on a sand base retaining the herringbone pattern on O Street and the running bond pattern on P Street, no concrete apron around utility covers, and new tree boxes leveled with the sidewalk. To further study the existing condition of driveways and alleys and other outstanding streetscape details, the Board recommended coordination with the OGB and the community.

As delegated by the Old Georgetown Board, OGB member Anne Lewis worked closely with DDOT, its consultants at Parsons Transportation Group, the D.C. Urban Forestry Administration, the District Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E’s Community Relations Team, and representatives from Trees for Georgetown in multiple meetings and site visits to evaluate the proposed work on the roadbeds and the sidewalks and the impact of the work on the character of the historic district. Careful attention was given to: the re-use of salvaged historic bricks on the sidewalks and driveways with new brick to match color, dimensions, texture, and pattern of the old bricks; the treatment of the driveways, alleys and aprons—some with historic character that should be retained; the minimizing of the number of the handicapped access ramps at the intersections; the location, configuration, and minimization of catch basins so that removal of large healthy trees was not necessary; the treatment of brick pavers around utility covers; and the relocation of street lampposts and signs. Three documents were prepared for the O & P Streets Rehabilitation Project with recommendations to DDOT: General Recommendations, the Table of Driveway and Alley Conditions, and the Brick Patterns for Driveway Treatments. Copies of the three documents are attached this report.

At its meeting on 3 June 2010, the Old Georgetown Board reviewed the revised plans and specifications and was pleased to see that many of its recommendations were implemented on the final documents. However, the Board reiterated a number of recommendations to be studied and incorporated throughout the construction phase. These include:

a) Wheelchair/bicycle access ramps at the intersections may be placed perpendicular to the streets if faced with brick pavers to match the sidewalks, provided there is no impact to existing large trees.

b) Maintain existing light levels in the proposed placement of new #14 Washington Globe type lampposts.

c) Provide samples of full range 4 x 8 inch molded bricks and of any proposed concrete work on site for approval by the Commission and OGB prior to ordering materials.

d) Metal fences on tree beds to protect new trees should be no taller than 12 inches high and installed 18 inches back from outer edge of curb.

e) Inset brick on all vault covers consistent with brick pattern on sidewalk.

f) Continue coordination with CFA staff and the community during construction phase.