D.C. restores historic nature of Georgetown roads

Adam Tuss, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – In an effort to preserve the historic nature of an old street in Georgetown, construction workers are tearing up the road, brick-by-brick, and then rebuilding it with the original bricks.

The District Department of Transportation is dismantling six blocks of O and P Streets, between 37th Street and Wisconsin Avenue. After utility lines have been replaced, the bumpy brick and streetcar tracks will be returned to their original position — except with a little smoother feel.

“The No. 1 priority has been to restore the streets to a grade that’s even. It is going to give the streets better safety, as well as a smoother ride,” said Dara Ward, point-person for the O and P Streets rehab project.

But as the District focuses so much energy on bringing back a new streetcar system, there are no plans to run streetcars on these tracks. They’re just for looks.

“This is one of the last remaining examples of this type of streetcar system. In fact there’s not another one in the U.S. There is a small section of track like this in London,” Ward said.

Thursday morning marks a milestone for the project. The first fully finished block, on P Street between 34th and 35th streets, is now open to traffic.

“Parking is always a challenge. The residents here obviously don’t like the disruption in their daily lives, but they’re all very excited about the finished project. They know that it is a little pain now for a much better long term gain,” said Ward.

Work on this project started in March 2011. DDOT hopes to have all the blocks smoothed out and finished by late summer.

The project costs roughly $11 million, with the majority being paid for with federal highway funding for historic purposes. DDOT is paying about 20 percent of project’s cost.

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