K & WATER STREET IMPROVEMENT PLAN

K and Water Street were home to an active railroad and port terminal for more than a century. In 1980, the railroad lost its last customer, and the rail line was converted into the Capital Crescent Trail and a fully paved street—the one you drive, walk, work, live and bike along today.

What Needs Improvement?
While the adjacent private and National Park Service properties have seen remarkable change since 1980, the streetscape has not changed significantly in nearly 40 years. 

The convergence of businesses, residences, commercial office space, and recreational activities now cause conflicts between cars, cyclists and pedestrians. Additional problems include drag racing, tour buses and trucks damaging infrastructure while turning around on Water St, traffic issues while looking for parking, and congestion around the Wisconsin Ave and K St intersection, among others.

What’s the Solution?
In summer 2016, Toole Design Group delivered a concept plan for the K / Water St corridor that can be rapidly installed using off-the-shelf materials such as planters, roadway paint, and traffic control devices. The plan includes changes and improvements in the following key areas:

  • BICYCLE LANES: Create a continuous bicycle connection through Georgetown between the Capital Crescent Trail and the Rock Creek Trail.
  • PEDESTRIAN CROSSINGS: Shorten pedestrian crossing distances at every point along K and Water Street, making it easier and safer to walk, and shortening the time drivers must wait for pedestrians to cross the street.
  • BUS PARKING: Relocate tour bus parking outside of Georgetown, while providing “drop-and-go” spaces along the primary arterials so that tour groups would have a logical route to reach Georgetown destinations.
  • VEHICLE CONGESTION: Reconfigure the intersection of Water St and Wisconsin Ave to provide an additional lane for vehicles leaving Water Street, and make the intersection more logical.
  • LANDSCAPING: Add planters and greenery along the park side of both K and Water to add aesthetic appeal to the corridor
  • PARKING: Retains as much parking as possible on every block between 31st and 34th Streets. There are 142 on-street spaces today. Forty-three would be removed under this plan, leaving 99 total spaces. The changes to parking are necessary to accommodate all the other changes from this plan.

This concept plan was created as a result of Georgetown 2028—the Georgetown BID’s 15-year-action plan. The K / Water St corridor was identified as an area in need of substantial evaluation and change to improve safety and livability. 

What’s Next?
DDOT is developing the concept into engineering plans that can be activated along the corridor. The Georgetown BID anticipates receiving these plans by the end of June, along with a notice of intent--a document expressing the agency’s intent to proceed with this project. The lower-Georgetown community will have a chance to comment on these plans and influence the design. 

The BID will be bringing together a steering committee to try and best coordinate all the community’s goals so that we can advance them with this planning effort.

The History of K & Water St

  • 1850s-1970s: Water Street and K Street were home to an active railroad and port terminal.
  • 1978: The railroad lost its last customer as the steam heating plant converted from coal to natural gas. Soon after, the rail line was converted into the Capital Crescent Trail. Around the same time, the DC Bureau of Traffic—DDOT’s predecessor—converted the rail lines to a fully paved street.
  • 1986: The Capital Crescent Trail opened as one of the first rail-trails in the country.
  • 2014: Businesses, residential units, commercial office space, and recreational activities all converged here—unimaginable and unaccounted for in 1980 when the road was paved. The Georgetown BID’s 15-year action plan, Georgetown 2028, identified this corridor as an area in need of substantial evaluation and changes to improve safety and livability.
  • 2015: DDOT and GBID applied for a grant to address corridor challenges.
  • 2016: Public meetings and one-on-one stakeholder meetings were held to understand community goals for the roadway. Tool Design Group delivered a concept plan based on these needs.
  • 2017: The project is underway!