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Permission Granted for Waterfront Park in Southwest — A 3 1/2-acre park on the Southwest waterfront at The Wharf has received a building permit from the District. The park will include plants, pergolas, seating areas and a plaza named for Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton. [SWTLQTC/Washington Business Journal]

A ‘Witness Tree’ on the U.S. Capitol Grounds — A bur oak next to the U.S. Capitol’s Reflecting Pool is a member of the “Witness Tree Protection Program,” according to local tour guide and author Melanie Choukas-Bradley. The National Park Service program has identified the oak as a witness to history. [Washington Post]

Fewer Dropped Calls in Metro Tunnels? — By the end of the year, Metro interim general manager Jack Requa said he expects Metro and wireless carriers to come to an agreement that would leave Metro tunnels with fewer cellular “dead spots.” After an agreement is made, work to enhance cellphone coverage could take as long as four years to complete. [WAMU]

Capitol Hill Agenda (July 28 – Aug. 3) — Two free outdoor movies and a nighttime 5K run are coming to the Capitol Hill area this week. [Hill Now]

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(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) A powerful storm toppled at least eight trees in the Capitol Hill area early this morning, closing streets.

According to Twitter and Hill Now reader reports, trees fell down near:

The trees blocked at least a few of the streets this morning. Some of the trees hit cars, too.

The storm, which came through D.C. about 1 a.m., brought “almost non-stop lightning and thunder, strong to damaging winds and torrential rain,” according to the Capital Weather Gang.

Did the storm knock down trees on your block in the Capitol Hill area? Send a horizontal photo with a location to [email protected].

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Tree branch

(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) A large branch from a red oak crashed to the ground on Maryland Avenue NE this afternoon, closing the street.

The branch, which completely blocked traffic on the 300 block of Maryland Avenue for part of the afternoon, fell about 12:30 p.m., a witness said. No injuries were reported, according to U.S. Capitol Police.

The debris from the tree spread across all six lanes of the street, but only appeared to cause minimal, if any, damage to nearby parked cars.

Ross Swimmer, a 71-year-old retiree, said he heard what sounded like a “crack of lightning,” when he was working outside his house near the tree.

“All of the sudden, it just fell,” he said. “Just in a second.”

Swimmer’s neighbor, Severino Mendoza, said he was driving back from a hardware store to help Swimmer and was lucky to miss the fall.

Mendoza, an 83-year-old retiree, said he “could have gotten killed.”

Steve McKindley-Ward, an arborist with the District Department of Transportation’s Urban Forestry Administration, said the tree showed “no warning, no signs” that it would lose a branch. The tree is probably 100 to 150 years old, said McKindley-Ward, who came to Maryland Avenue after the branch fell.

“This occasionally happens,” he said.

The street reopened to traffic about 4 p.m.

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Sweetbay magnolia tree (Photo via Flickr/mrmac09)You can have a tree planted in your yard at a discount with help from Pepco.

The utility company, together with the urban forestry nonprofit Casey Trees, is offering 250 trees to District residents for just $50 each. Through the “Right Tree, Right Place” program, locals can request as many as two trees, which are valued at $250 each.

Available tree types include sweetbay magnolia, oak, maple and Eastern red cedar.

The trees are available on a first come, first served basis. To apply to have one planted, see Pepco’s website.

Photo via Flickr/mrmac09

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Street trees on M Street NE

Capitol Hill will get nearly 100 new trees by spring.

The District Department of Transportation will plant the trees between this month and March 2015, Mayor Vincent Gray said at an event on Friday to kick off the planting season.

The trees will be part of DDOT’s largest planting season in 10 years, Gray said about the 8,000 trees expected to take root citywide.

The Lincoln Park area will get 114 trees, the H Street NE area will be given 70 trees and Navy Yard will receive 25 trees, an interactive map of their locations shows. The plantings will include elm, oak and cherry trees.

Notable plantings in Ward 6 include a new row of trees next to Nationals Park, on Potomac Avenue SW; seven trees next to Specialty Hospital of Washington, on 7th Street NE; and seven trees on C Street SE near the Stadium-Armory Metro station.

To ask DDOT to plant a tree in front of your home, call 311. Requests must be made by June 15 to be considered for the 2015 planting season. Arborists will then inspect the proposed locations and determine whether a tree can survive there.

Pepco and Tracey Trees are also donating 250 trees to locals, as Hill Rag reported.

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