Friday, September 30, 2011

What to do with the H Street treeboxes?

The following message is from the H Street Construction Company's Community Relations Specialist Margaret Gentry.

DDOT Invites Community Views About Proposed Changes In the Treebox Cobblestones On H Street N.E.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is inviting comments from the H Street N.E. business community and ANC Commissioners and civic leaders about proposed changes in the placement of cobblestones in the H Street treeboxes. [photographs illustrating the options and full description below.] 

The H Street Reconstruction Project plans called for treebox installation of the 4-cubic-inch cobblestones at an angle to facilitate drainage, and this has been done in most of the treeboxes in the project area. But in mid-June, vandals pulled a cobblestone out of a treebox and hurled it through the window of a 1300-block business establishment. A few days later, there was a similar incident in the 1000 block, except that the business owner was able to stop the vandal before the cobblestone was thrown.

To protect H Street businesses and prevent such incidents in the future, DDOT project managers initiated a study of design alternatives that would secure the cobblestones more firmly into place so they could not be pulled up easily and used to cause damages and injuries. Project designers presented various alternatives and cost estimates.DDOT is providing descriptions of these options to determine H Street community preferences.

OPTION 1: Reset the angled cube (4x4x4) cobblestones flat within the perimeter of the jumbo (10x7x4) edge cobblestones. Place the cube cobblestones less than 1/4-inch apart & fill gaps with a 50/50 sand/soil mix. The top of the cube cobblestones will be flush with the nearest jumbo edge stones. Provide an approximate 2-foot x 3-foot mulch area around the tree trunk.

OPTION 2: Remove the jumbo edge cobblestones and replace with cube cobblestones. Install all cobblestones flat and flush with the sidewalk and curb. Place the cobblestones less than 1/4-inch apart & fill gaps with a 50/50 sand/soil mix. Provide an approximate 2-foot x 3-foot mulch area immediately around the trunk of the tree.

OPTION 3: Completely remove the cube cobblestones from the treeboxes and replace with mulch. Leave the jumbo edge cobblestones in place without change.

Which option do you prefer? DDOT wants to know. Please share your views no later than 10:00 pm Tuesday, October 4, by e-mail, telephone, or personal contact with DDOT’s H Street Community Relations Specialist: Margaret Gentry,, 202.320.8534

Thank you.

Photos and more info after the jump

OPTION 1: resetting the cobblestones so they are flat and flush with the box edges

OPTION 2: removing the edges and resetting the cobblestones flat at sidewalk level

OPTION 3: removing cobblestones entirely and leaving full open box of mulch
FYI, in addition to this e-mail, I will make door-to-door calls on H Street business establishments tomorrow (Friday, Sept 30) and Monday (Oct 3) to discuss these options, respond to questions, and note the preferences expressed. After we compile the results of this community outreach effort, we will be back in touch to let you know which option was preferred and when the work will take place.

PLEASE NOTE: None of these options would require any significant interruption of parking and pedestrian passageways in front of H Street businesses. The work at a treebox directly in front of a business is likely to require a one-day weekday daytime suspension of one or two street parking spaces to assure work-zone safety for the construction crew. We will work closely and directly with affected businesses to accommodate loading-zone and parking needs as much as possible.As always, thank you for your participation and cooperation.

Margaret Gentry
Community Relations Specialist AMEC Environment & Infrastructure
616 11th Street NE, Washington, DC 20002
Office 202.544.7603 - Fax 202.544.7605 - Mobile 202.320.8534
Email -or-


  1. I'd say go with the mulch. It might give a bum a place to poop other than in one of the bus stops. Poop on mulch can naturally fade away into the earth. No amount of cleaning exists that will ever let me go within 10 feet of the 8th and H westbound bus stop after what I saw sit there for two or three days a few months ago. I dont know who got paid to clean that up, but I'm sure it wasnt enough

  2. options one or three make the most sense. i like option three, but the businesses will have to actually take care of them or champs will have to do something until we get a bid here.

  3. Isn't this a bit over reacting to a couple of incidents? Why change the tree boxes at all? Do you really believe that the jerk who threw the stones couldn't find something else to throw? Really. Sidamo lost their window before the new tree boxes existed.