Question of the day: Can I be annoyed at 17th Street ARRA construction?

Morning reader(s). It was a damp and dreary morning for the District. A situation worsened for your fair SPY by another day of seemingly endless construction on 17th Street in between New Hampshire Avenue and P Street NW. Or as it’s otherwise known, my apartment. I DESPISE this construction, but before I go into why, here is a bit of background. 

Since December 2009, construction workers have been toiling away at a major renovation project for 17th street. According to GGW, the project “will bring ADA-compliant curb ramps, new tree boxes, street lamps and new road and sidewalk surfaces to 17th Street” which results in 17th street looking like this:  

DDOT map (click for readable version)

 It is funded by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), or as it’s more commonly known, the Stimulus Package. So yes. The 17th street project, as with most infrastructure projects, succeeds in employing more people while simultaneously creating a tangible, public good. In other words, it’s EXACTLY what the government is supposed to do in countercyclical fiscal policy (thank you SIPA).  

This general logic aside, I HATE it. I hate the noise, the seemingly neverending list of projects, the closed off streets, the traffic. However, more than all of that, I hate the apparent superficiality of the changes. Yes, wider sidewalks and new black stylized streetlamps improve the appearance of the neighborhood, but are they really necessary? Even the tree boxes seem to come with issues.  

The 17th Street of our dreams*

 I guess at the end of the day, I would feel better about DC fixing things if something was actually broken. You can’t tell me DC doesn’t have other neighborhoods with REAL infrastructure problems. Why isn’t ARRA targeting them and not us? Is it residual maintenance costs or what?  

The construction will continue for the remainder of 2010. However, since I know nothing about urban infrastructure, I throw question to you dear readers: Am I allowed to be annoyed, or should I, with my apartment and my steady job, just shut the eff up?

*which looks shockingly similar to the 17th St now. Thanks pilver for the rain pic!

6 thoughts on “Question of the day: Can I be annoyed at 17th Street ARRA construction?

  1. you are definitely allowed to be annoyed! the parking wars game has taken on an entirely different meaning around the “ole hood these past few months. not to mention the fact that i need to cross 2 extra streets just to be able to get to the dry cleaner! take your tree boxes and dog parks and go bother some other part of the city – having finished my rant, very informative post and i guess it is all going to end well, but not such a fun journey to get there!

  2. yes. you are allowed. there are DEFINITELY other areas of the city that NEED work, but magically didn’t get ARRA funds. i’ll stop there for obvious reasons, save to say you are not a bad person for wishing your tax dollars were going to employ these folks in other areas that might ultimately induce shops, restaurants and tenants into the neighborhood (not REALLY a need in your neck i’d say).

  3. construction is definitely annoying. i work at 18th and S and there has been non-stop construction for the last couple of months, although i think it’s for necessary infrastructure upgrades. your description of the 17th street project does raise the question of whether it is the best use of stimulus money. i often wonder how DC (or the fed govt when they are involved, which is often) decides where to put its money. i was at caribou on 14th st in logan circle one day and someone got upset that someone else leashed there dog in a spot in the sun while they went into get coffee for a few minutes. they weren’t upset that the dogs were tied up, rather they thought the dogs should have been tied up in the shade instead. they called the cops and within 5 minutes 2 cop cars were there. by the time they arrived, however, the “offending” dog owner had gotten his coffee and walked away. ridiculous! aren’t there murdesr and assaults and other violent crimes going on somewhere?

  4. Rant on! This is the most useless, frustrating, wasteful use of funds for this city. And I’m sorry if this makes me a bad person, but I just want to sleep already! One morning, the jackhammering actually started on 17th and NH at 5a.m., which we all know is illegal. I called the cops, who actually shut it down immediately.
    My biggest frustration, however, comes at the insanity tonight on my corner. The workers didn’t screw the metal plates covering the drilled up street, so every single car that drives down 17th in front of my bedroom window sounds like a thunderstorm. This will continue all night long. When I called 311, they told me to call back tomorrow. Why does the desire to actually sleep tonight make me a bad person?

  5. Thanks for all the support guys. I am also perplexed as to how this decision was made in the first place. Albermarle, we must live near one another because I know EXACTLY your complaint about the goddamn street plates. I literally thought it was raining, but no, it’s loose plates from stylized street lamps. Of course it is!

    As for why cops are patrolling Caribou coffee for negligent dog owners instead of, I don’t know, fighting crime? The age old question my friend. Probably because what Caribou lacks in danger, it makes up for in breakfast scones. That, and cops are scared of the ghetto.

  6. Just a little update: apparently the city will listen to complaints! I called this morning to inform them that the loose planks across 17th St. and New Hampshire were making ridiculous amounts of noise and keeping folks up all night. They came and took the planks away. Ok, so perhaps someone driving too fast will get a flat tire when they slam into the chopped up part of the street. But at least I will be able to sleep tonight. (That said, I still can’t comprehend what on earth the purpose of the 17th Street construction is to begin with.)

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