Del. Norton Asks Architect of the Capitol for Local Improvements

by Tim Regan March 10, 2016 at 12:40 pm 2 Comments

Eleanor Holmes Norton (Photo via Facebook/Congresswoman Norton)A new bus shelter near Union Station, disposal of the former House Page Residence and turf restoration on Union Square are among the issues Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton would like the Architect of the Capitol to tackle in the near future.

Norton yesterday made public a letter she wrote to Stephen T. Ayers, U.S. Architect of the Capitol.

“D.C. is a unique jurisdiction that must work closely with the federal agencies that control much of the land in our city,” Norton said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the Architect of the Capitol on these measures that will benefit our residents and those who frequent our streets and neighborhoods around the Capitol.”

Here’s what Norton wrote in her letter:

Dear Mr. Ayers:

Thank you for your continuing work on and attention to the impact that the Capitol complex has on the surrounding community.  I am writing to request a meeting with you to discuss a number of issues related to the Capitol complex that affect District of Columbia residents, those who work near the Capitol, and visitors.  Among these concerns are construction of a bus shelter near Union Station, disposal of the former House Page Residence, and turf restoration on the National Mall.

Due to the reconfiguration of access to Union Station, Metrobus and the D.C. Circulator no longer pull into Union Station, and instead follow Massachusetts Avenue through Columbus Circle.  Six heavily used bus routes, including the 96, 97, D6, D8, X8 and Circulator Georgetown-Union Station line, pick up passengers at this location.  Now, waiting under the portico of Union Station is not permitted, nor is this area close enough to the bus stop for riders to catch their bus.  The District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) constructs and maintains bus shelters for both Metrobus and the Circulator in the District, and they are supportive of building a shelter at First Street NE and Massachusetts Avenue NE.  However, until now, the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) has denied DDOT permission to build a bus shelter at this location.  Passengers are in need of a bus shelter to protect them from rain and snow and other inclement weather and to provide temporary seating to people with disabilities and senior citizens at the south corner of First Street NE and Massachusetts Avenue NE, which is on Capitol grounds.

Another issue is the now-vacant former House Page Residence Hall.  In 2011, the House of Representatives ended the House Page Program citing ongoing costs to maintain the program and technological advances that had made some of the page functions obsolete.  With the end of the House Page Program, the Page Residence Hall at 501 First Street SE was closed as well. This dorm, located on prime D.C. land, has been vacant for almost five years, and the AOC is responsible for maintaining this vacant building at a cost to taxpayers.  Disposing of the vacant property can save taxpayer dollars and help the site become an active part of the Capitol Hill community.  It also has been brought to my attention that there is continued construction outside this site that has closed one lane of E Street SE between New Jersey Street SE and First Street SE.  It is time to either find a new use for the former House Page Residence Hall or dispose of the property.

The National Park Service (NPS) is currently pursuing a turf restoration project on the National Mall that was intended to extend to Union Square, until jurisdiction for Union Square was changed to your office.  NPS’s turf restoration includes excavation and removal of 4-5′ of damaged soil, installation of irrigation drainage and cistern to collect and allow reuse of storm water, and installation of a compaction-resistant engineered soil.  However, the turf restoration project will only run from 14th Street to Third Street.  I am concerned that the area between First Street and Third Street will not see much-needed restoration.  I would like to discuss ways to achieve the needed restoration at Union Square consistent with AOC and Capitol Police jurisdiction.

My scheduler will follow up with your office to schedule the meeting.


Eleanor Holmes Norton

Photo via Facebook/Congresswoman Norton


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