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Not how one should be greeted in a capital city. (Lydia DePillis)

It’s fair to say that Columbus Plaza, the sprawling semi-circle in front of Union Station, is the city’s most embarrassingly neglected public space. The asphalt has mountainous ruts, bricks are falling out of the pavement, hunks of concrete are still serving as security barriers, pedestrians have worn dirt paths in the grass where there should be sidewalks, and the whole thing is impossible to navigate for anyone other than the tour buses and taxis that careen around it.

The various parties in charge of Columbus Plaza—-the National Park Service, Union Station Redevelopment Corporation, and District Department of Transportation—-have been working on fixing it since 2004, when they entered into a cooperative agreement to plan and pay for renovations. It’s taken seven years to hammer out the details, which you can read all about in the National Capital Planning Commission’s review of the proposal from back in 2009. Basically, the interior access road and parking will be removed to create larger green spaces, bike lanes will be added to Massachusetts Avenue, traffic islands will be widened to serve as pedestrian refuges, and the whole thing will be garlanded with security bollards.

And it’s all getting rolling right after Labor Day, according to USRC president David Ball, pending final permits from DDOT. An end to our national disgrace is nigh!

Here are some plan sketches:

The bollard design.