Rats be gone: More DC alleys to get makeover

WASHINGTON — They’re a great source of convenience and access. They can increase a home’s value. But alleys can also be home to rats and other pests — and when the concrete goes bad, the bills to repair your car’s suspension can outweigh any convenience.

In an effort to keep alleys in shape, D.C.’s “AlleyPalooza” initiative has repaired and renovated more than 300 alleys since July 2015. On Monday, Mayor Muriel Bowser joined District Department of Transportation Director Leif Dormsjo to launch the District’s fourth AlleyPalooza campaign, and to announce more investment in D.C.’s alleys.

The event was held, appropriately, behind the 2000 block of Allen Place NW.

Bowser said alleys are a critical part of D.C.’s infrastructure.

“People use the alleys to access their homes, to access their garages. Our public works workers use the alleys to pick up trash,” she said, “[But] our alleys have fallen into disrepair.”

The city has been able to increase alley funding “through increased budget allotments, better financial management and aggressive program management,” the mayor’s office said in a statement. That, officials said, freed up $4.13 million for alley maintenance in the 2014 fiscal year. In fiscal 2015, that figure increased to nearly $14 million.

In the current fiscal year, alley-improvement spending will hit nearly $16 million.

But Bowser said improvement is about more than just throwing money at the problem.

“We have to be smart about identifying and assessing the condition of our alleys,” she said. “We have to be smart about budgeting those dollars.”

Allen Place resident Rafe Pomeranze said he was happy to see it happening, even though it was only a matter of hours before workers tearing up concrete would cut off access to his garage.

“It’s good to see the city being responsive,” he said. “In the overall context of it, maintenance — that’s the right way to go.”

You can check the progress of the current repair work, dubbed “AlleyPalooza 4.0,” at the District Department of Transportation’s website.

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