As DC develops Capital One Arena traffic plan, residents worry it will be ‘complete havoc’

As D.C.’s Department of Transportation is working on a plan for managing traffic and parking around Capital One Arena, some community members are expressing concerns about possible restrictions that could be included in it.

The agency is putting together a Transportation Operations and Parking Plan, which will be used to make sure people can go to and from home, work or events quickly and safely. It’ll aim to minimize the impact of restrictions on residents and businesses, organize pick up and drop-offs involving taxis and ride-share vehicles, and encourage the use of public transportation, such as Metrorail or Metrobus, according to a transportation plan shared during a community meeting this week.

The plan, according to DDOT Chief of Staff Matthew Marcou, includes collaboration with the Department of Public Works, which enforces parking and removes or relocates vehicles, the Department of For-Hire Vehicles, and Monumental Sports and Entertainment, which oversees event operations and manages the Lexus Garage. DDOT is planning to develop the final plan later this year.

“We want to make it as intuitive and as fluid as possible so that people are able to get to and from where they need to go on a timely basis and safely,” Marcou said during the community meeting Tuesday night.

Before events, Marcou said F Street NW in front of the arena will likely be closed, as it already is under those circumstances. But after events, he said, there’s a “much more substantial footprint.”

Sixth Street is closed “immediately to either side of the stadium,” and 7th Street is closed too.

As part of a pilot program during the Washington Capitals’ playoff run, the city helped coordinate a taxi stand zone and for-hire vehicle zone. It was a “preliminary plan that was a pilot just to see how it worked. It can be informed by where people are coming from,” Marcou said.

One community member criticized the location of the taxi stand zone, 7th and G Streets, because it’s in front of Chick-fil-A and Dos Toros, “the busiest third-party area in all of Chinatown. It created complete havoc.”

Howard Marks, vice president of the Residences at Gallery Place condo building, called blocking 6th and 7th streets after events at the arena “a non-starter for us.”

“We depend on deliveries in our building, whether it’s food deliveries, whether it’s takeout,” Marks said. “We have people who leave from our building with ride-share services like Uber or Lyft. It would really be devastating, it would be difficult, and we would have rebellion on our hands from the 300 people who live in our building.”

Another attendee said some sidewalks around the arena get so backed up that pedestrians are walking into the street to navigate around them. A different community member criticized a lack of security in a parking garage, but Marcou said there’s a point at which the agency’s plan ends and “private responsibility begins and that candidly will be one of them.”

The city is still accepting feedback via an online survey.

“We want to make sure we’re minimizing, to the greatest extent possible, and making the event experience as positive both externally as well as for people traveling to and through the area,” Marcou said.

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Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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