Three Concepts for a Pennsylvania Avenue Makeover

The Pennsylvania Avenue Initiative seeks to redesign the capital’s most famous thoroughfare to include more park space and pedestrian amenities.

Read Time: 2 minutes

April 29, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


View of Capitol building on Pennsylvania Avenue

Creative Family / Pennsylvania Avenue

“Urban planners want to re-imagine downtown D.C.’s Pennsylvania Avenue as a signature outdoor venue, emphasizing people over cars and expanding park space between the White House and the U.S. Capitol.” As reported by Alejandro Alvarez, the Pennsylvania Avenue Initiative has proposed three potential makeovers of the famous street. “The three visions deal with different approaches to balancing pedestrian needs, recreational space and vehicle traffic, citing a 2018 D.C. transportation study that found up to 20 feet of the avenue’s current lanes could be allocated to other uses while preserving an ‘acceptable’ level of service (LOS) for vehicles.”

One plan would focus on sidewalk expansion without changing much else about existing traffic patterns. A second, “ would transform wide swathes of Pennsylvania Avenue into a curb-less pedestrian park with winding footpaths and large lawns, leaving a vestige of the roadway at its center for public transit and bike use.” The third concept would “would bisect the avenue with a mile-long central pedestrian promenade running its entire length, flanked on both sides by a combination of narrower travel and bike lanes.”

According to the article, “Planners also identified three popular public spaces along Pennsylvania Avenue, roughly correlating to the areas around Freedom Plaza, the Navy Memorial and John Marshall Park, that would be expanded under each proposal ‘to encourage a range of plaza and park-related activities with retail services and amenities.’” The Initiative’s StoryMaps site features renderings and maps of the proposed concepts.

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