- The Washington Times - Friday, July 14, 2006

District officials yesterday said they have identified nearly 9,000 parking spaces that will be available for fans near the Nationals’ new ballpark by Opening Day 2008, but said upgrades to roads and bridges near the stadium along South Capitol Street will not be completed until at least a year later.

The presentation of the parking options yesterday was partially a response to concerns from the family of incoming Nationals owner Ted Lerner, which wants parking for at least 5,000 cars to be available when the stadium opens. City officials expect as many as 20,000 fans would choose to drive to the stadium on game nights.

“I think [the Lerners] are rightfully concerned if there is enough parking in the area and I think we’re beginning to address that issue,” said Steve Green, the city’s director of development. “Parking is obviously an important part of any ballpark. I think it’s prudent of any investor to be concerned about things that are critical to their success.”

Officials said nearly 3,000 spaces are already available within a 15-minute walk of the stadium. Another 2,600 could be available by 2008 at the nearby Southeast Federal Center and existing office buildings to the north of the ballpark. Another 2,000 would be added by turning city-owned land into surface lots, and from private developers building nearby. Another 1,225 spaces are already planned for the stadium site itself in two garages to be constructed by developer Herb Miller.

Several years down the road, another 10,000 to 12,000 spaces could be added as part of the planned development of retail and other commercial space adjacent to the stadium.

Several District agencies and consultants are crafting a detailed transportation and parking plan to more specifically address how traffic will flow through the neighborhood and identify any necessary changes to bus and other transportation services. More parking could also be identified once that plan is finalized in April. But officials admitted bridges and road upgrades planned as part of a revitalization of the Anacostia River waterfront will not be completed in time for the new ballpark’s debut.

Improvements along South Capitol Street alone include a new Frederick Douglass Bridge, to be completed in 2011; a new interchange at I-295, to be done in 2010; and a boulevard and traffic oval just to the south of the ballpark, to be done in 2009. A new 11th Street Bridge is also scheduled to be constructed by 2010.

City officials yesterday outlined several interim improvements expected to be done by 2008, including a widening of South Capitol Street and new traffic signals at O Street and P Street. A section of the Frederick Douglass Bridge will also be lowered in order to create an intersection at South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenues.

Metro, meanwhile, will be renovating the Navy Yard Metro station to increase capacity from 5,000 to 15,000 riders an hour at the station’s west entrance. Overall capacity could reach as much 25,000 an hour after Metro adds a staircase and moves ticket turnstiles to the street level. The renovation includes $20 million of federal money, but the city said Metro will save at least $5 million on the project by partnering with a developer to build commercial space or housing at the site.

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