Ballpark Dreams and Street Realities
Today's column compares the beautiful drawings of the new Nationals stadium with the hard realities on the streets of Southeast Washington, and especially on S. Capitol Street, which shows up as a lovely, tree-lined boulevard on the computer graphics produced by the ballpark architects.
In fact, for quite some years to come, Capitol Street near the stadium will remain a decrepit and off-putting relic of an era when pedestrians were the enemy and urban streets were designed solely to sweep suburbanites into and out of the city with the least possible contact with its residents. My Post colleague Jacqueline Dupree lives near the stadium site and has produced in her spare hours one of the most useful and addictive sites on urban planning, design and development that I've ever seen--a veritable encyclopedia about the Near Southeast neighborhood, the stadium plans, the nearby development and, most germane to today's column, the city's plans for a new Capitol Street Bridge to replace the dying Frederick Douglass span.
If you're into cool computer animations of proposed new bridges, the city has spent a good many of your tax dollars commissioning these, and presumably one of them will be built by 2011. But of course the Nats' new home is supposed to open in 2008 (even though virtually everyone involved thinks that will slide to 2009). In any event, for at least a couple of years and probably considerably longer, the stadium will sit not by some Parisian boulevard but jammed up against a rank and crumbling ramp, as depicted in the third row of photographs here.
There's nothing the stadium architects could do about this, and they're obviously right to plan for the day when the ramp is gone and Capitol Street is improved. Just don't be surprised when the stadium area ends up looking a lot scruffier than it now appears in the plans.
By Marc Fisher |
March 16, 2006; 7:15 AM ET
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