Pedestrian Experience at H & Mass Improves

One DC built environment issue I have yet to fully figure out is why east-west travel is so difficult. Natural north-south barriers like Rock Creek Park combine with man-made ones like train yards and an awkward street grid to make cross town travel more difficult than it needs to be. It's frustrating that each major east-west route is so susceptible to bottlenecking or congestion.

One of the more recently problematic east-west thoroughfares has been H Street NW near the Capitol Crossing project. Here, in just a few blocks' span, H Street crosses or runs parallel to Massachusetts Ave, 4th Street, 3rd Street, and an interstate highway, 395. The intersections here have always been a mess, but add to that a total reconstruction of H Street and Mass Ave in conjunction with decking over the interstate, and simultaneously building 2.2 million square feet of office, retail, and residential buildings adjacent to the intersection. This has been the scenario for the last ~two years. These intersection has been difficult to navigate in a car, let alone on foot. Non-existent sidewalks, street closings, unclear detours, single lane travel, and sprawling work zones have led to a frustrating experience traveling through the area.

All that being said, the pedestrian experience has taken on a much better look and feel recently, with parts of the streetscape reconstruction being finished, albeit in phases. Here are a few photos to get an idea of the progress that has been made and how much remains to be achieved. Happy to see improvements!

Eastbound Massachusetts Ave NW between 4th and 3rd Streets.
Median on eastbound Mass Ave at 4th Street. The new vehicle entrance to Interstate 395 south is on the left in between the two orange barrels.

Looking east on a huge pedestrian traffic island. H Street is on the left, Mass Ave on the right.
New median on Mass Ave looking east towards Union Station . Capitol Crossing's first and nearly complete building is on the right.

A covered walkway remains on the sidewalk adjacent to 200 Mass, the first of five Capitol Crossing buildings. 200 Mass will be comprised of 430,000 sq ft of office and retail.
Looking in a northwesterly direction, about to cross H Street at 3rd
New signage for vehicles on eastbound Mass Ave.

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