News & Politics

The K Street Transitway Would Require Three Years of Construction

A plan the mayor says is necessary for downtown's revival will take quite a while to implement.

Photograph by P Wei/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

A plan to revamp K Street, Northwest, to provide faster bus service is in trouble after the DC Council voted last week to move funding from the “K Street Transitway” project to the council’s plan to make bus service free in the District. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser held a rally in Franklin Square Monday and said that “Killing the K Street Transitway is a downtown killer.”

The Transitway project would eliminate K Street’s service roads and construct two bus lanes that are separated from traffic along a roughly mile-long stretch between 12th to 21st streets. The original plan called for bike lanes, but those got removed from the plan after downtown businesses complained that including the bike lanes would make car congestion worse and discourage people from returning to office jobs. Indeed, the bike lane haircut and some Bowser communications that highlighted “better motorist experiences” on the Transitway have soured transportation advocates on the plan. “The project really has no champions now,” Greater Great Washington DC policy director Alex Baca told Washington City Paper.

Bowser’s argument that the Transitway is “🔑 to #DCsComeback” and business honchos’ concern about car commuters appear to elide the amount of time it would take to construct the Transitway as currently envisioned. The current estimated construction duration is three years, District Department of Transportation spokesperson Mariam Nabizad tells Washingtonian, though Nabizad says the agency hopes to speed up construction by various means, including incentives and “possible night work in nonresidential and feasible locations.” That timetable would likely deliver the project sometime toward the end of the next Presidential term.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Councilmember Charles Allen said Monday that the Transitway was designed with a pre-pandemic downtown in mind and should be rethought. The current proposal “misses the mark,” Mendelson told reporters Monday. “The mark is now, not five years from now.”

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.