The Wash
A bus drives past cars parked at an angle
A bus drives in front of angled parking spaces along 8th Street (Nicholas Fogleman/The Wash)

8th Street priority bus lane proposal met with mixed reviews

In the historic Barracks Row district, a debate is brewing over a proposed priority bus lane on 8th Street SE. The bus project has garnered a variety of opinions from local business owners, residents and transportation officials.

Barracks Row is a tight, bustling section of 8th Street that is a hub for restaurants and shops. On the weekend, it’s filled with cars, buses, bikes and pedestrians looking for a bite to eat at one of the many streeteries that line the road. Some business owners have expressed concerns with a proposed priority bus lane down 8th Street SE, while other local residents celebrate the possibility.

Brian Ready is the Executive Director of Barracks Row Main Street, an organization that enhances and preserves the business community.

Ready expressed some business owners’ concerns with this project, which aims to increase the access, safety and efficiency of buses that drive along 8th Street. “Some businesses are saying that the people that are riding the bus are not necessarily people that are working or dining or enjoying what’s going on,” Ready said.

A map of bus routes in D.C. showing lines through 8th Street
(Courtesy of DDOT)

8th Street is a vital bus corridor with multiple WMATA and circulator bus lines passing through the area.

“It’s the second most important route in the whole WMATA system based on population served, geographic and network connectivity,” Andrew Grinberg, a transportation planner for DDOT, told a community meeting Thursday.

Ready said some businesses responded negatively to the changes, specifically a plan to reduce the number of parking spots along 8th Street, between E Street and I Street. “When you have something that is being used and you take it away, it will have an impact, positive or negative, I’m not sure,” Ready said.

Cars parked in angled parking spaces along 8th Street
Cars parked along 8th Street in angled spaces. A proposal plans to shift them to parallel parking spots. (Nicholas Fogleman/The Wash)

“The proposed concept, as we have presented it right now, would result in a net loss of about 8%, so we would lose about 50 parking spots,” Grinberg said.

 While acknowledging the efforts of DDOT, Ready suggested that there might be overlooked variables that only business owners see, such as the revenue from customers that drive from Virginia or Maryland.

“There was a lot of discussion about are we pushing cars away from 8th street, onto the side streets. Marginally, yes,” Grinberg said.

Community Outreach

In the public input phase of this project, DDOT found that community members were concerned about angled parking spaces that create traffic and safety concerns along 8th Street. “We have done a fair amount of community engagement,” Grinberg said. 

Ready responded positively to the DDOT’s efforts to listen to business owners’ concerns.

“They are doing a decent job, could they do better, yes,” Ready said. “The businesses don’t have a vote on the ANC (Advisory Neighborhood Commission),” Ready added. “Many of our business owners don’t live in the district…they have less say on what goes on.” 

Barracks Row Main Street is preparing a letter to DDOT to establish business owners’ input on the project. “I think the businesses are bringing up some really good points, that’s the reason I’m happy the Department of Transportation is listening to the businesses,” Ready said.

“At this point in the process, what DDOT is putting forward, we are taking feedback, we’re not saying this is a final plan,” Grinberg said.  

 Support from residents

Mark Sussman, founder of Hill Family Biking and a Capitol Hill resident, agreed with some of the proposed changes. “This angled parking concept works really well in Boise, Idaho; it doesn’t work really well in Washington, D.C.,” Sussman said.

Sussman believes that greater access to Barracks Row would alleviate some potential losses caused by the parking changes. “More people are going to be able to get to the corridor because bus service will be more efficient and effective. Right now, that’s not necessarily the case,” Sussman said.

Sussman believes this project will benefit businesses and the community as a whole.

“Allowing for bus lanes, that will reduce conflict along 8th Street, allowing these buses to move, and move thousands of people per day, while also keeping curbside parking for people to frequent businesses…it’s a win-win,” Sussman said.

A map showing some potential changes to 8th Street
(Courtesy of DDOT)

This project is still in the concept development phase and a public feedback form is available on DDOT’s website until October 10, 2023.


Nicholas Fogleman

Nick Fogleman is a journalist covering the Capitol Hill neighborhood for the Wash. He is currently pursuing a master's in Journalism and Public Affairs at American University.

Add comment

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular

Most discussed