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District Department of Transportation

Preliminary Design Review Meeting

public space inspectors on site

Public Space Management hosts Preliminary Design Review Meetings (PDRM) to discuss and facilitate the review of proposed improvements related to complex or large-scale projects or residential developments. The PDRM provides a mechanism for the applicant to receive feedback from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) about the project.

PDRMs generally follow zoning approval and occur prior to the Public Space Committee or required permit review and approval. Requests for PDRM include but are not limited to Zoning Commission and Board of Zoning Adjustment, Matter of Right and Large Tract Review, Environmental Impact Statements, Surveyors Orders (alley opening and enclosures), dedications and related items.

DDOT encourages applicants who have large or context-sensitive design projects to participate in PDRMs before any Public Space Committee or Permitting Approval applications.

Additional Resources

When and where are meetings?

DDOT Preliminary Design Review Meetings (PDRM) are held every Wednesday at 2 pm at 1100 4th Street SW, 3rd Floor, E390 Conference Room.

How to schedule a meeting?

All PDRM meetings are requested and scheduled through the Transportation Online Permit System (TOPS).

TOPS streamlines the PDRM application process by providing a portal for uploading all meeting materials in either a Portable Document Format (PDF) or Tagged Image File Format (TIFF). For more information regarding registering and logging into TOPS, please see the TOPS System Overview section found in the Frequently Asked Questions. The link is located on the TOPS landing page.

Electronic documents must be submitted as a part of the PDRM request. No paper materials will be accepted. No PDRM meeting will be scheduled until all the material is submitted.

The applicant (owner/developer) is required to provide the following at the time of the application:

  1. Completed PDRM Application Form.
  2. A proposed meeting date (at least two weeks in advance).
  3. Plans for both existing conditions and proposed work.
  4. Plans for “proposed work” should be divided into the following:
  • Surface work in public space such as bay windows, porches, handicap ramps, street lights, landscaping, retaining walls, fences, railings, lead walks, and all other paving and streetscape fixtures.
  • Subsurface work in public space such as areaways, vaults, irrigation systems, electrical conduit, all other subsurface utilities and sheeting and shoring.
  1. Plans may still be conceptual, but should be drawn to scale and show the following:
  • Property line
  • Roadway curb line
  • Building restriction line (if applicable)
  1. A list or selection of proposed new public space features.
  2. A list of proposed new public space features that do not conform to DDOT standards as published in statute, regulation, the Design and Engineering Manual, the Standard Specifications for Highways and Structures, or current DDOT policies.
  3. A letter of explanation for any non-conforming feature.
  4. Current photos of the site.
  5. Provide all plans and documents in one of the following formats: .pdf and .tif.

The PDRM coordinator will do the following:

  1. Review the material for completeness. No PDRM meeting will be scheduled until all the material is submitted.
  2. When the application is complete, confirm the meeting date and forward the complete package and meeting invitation to each of the appropriate DDOT administrations as well as the Office of Planning.

PDRM Meeting Format

All stakeholders, including DDOT administration representatives, the developer, and project design team, will review the project plans at the meeting. The Public Space Regulation Division (PSRD) representative will facilitate the meeting and identify any issues for a discussion focusing on the Development Review - 10 Key Areas. A meeting agenda prepared by the developer or design team is encouraged. Specific questions regarding DDOT technical requirements are also welcome. The design plans will be evaluated for compliance with regard to compliance with DC laws and regulations.

The PDRM is not intended as a permit review or to imply approval. The appropriate public space applications and plans will still need to be submitted to the PSRA for review, final approval, and permit issuance.

Expected Outcomes of a PDRM

Meeting attendees will work toward consensus on what is expected in terms of compliance as well as an understanding of DDOT's technical requirements. This will lead to a faster permit application review and permit issuance since DDOT has already provided a preliminary review of the design and plans, allowing for most, if not all, revisions to be made prior to the actual submittal.

DDOT's Divisions Attending the Meetings

    • Public Space Regulation Division (PSRD) - The PSRD or Development Review Case Manager representative will lead the meeting and take notes for DDOT. The Case Manager will advise on permitting requirements and compliance with DDOT regulations generally. The Case Manager will also provide guidance on projections, especially bay windows, areaways, signs, and canopies.
    • Planning and Sustainability Division (PSD) - The Neighborhood Planner will provide guidance on the plan’s impact on traffic and pedestrians, its conformity with our streetscape design, and its inclusion of our planning elements.
    • Operations Administration (OA) - There may be a representative to advise on traffic operation-related issues.
    • Infrastructure Project Management Division (IPMD) - This representative will review the plan for any proposed new or replacement infrastructure, including roadways, alleys, sidewalks, streetlights, and signal lights. Questions regarding DDOT's standards for site restoration may be addressed.
    • Urban Forestry Division (UFD) - Provide guidance on landscaping, tree removal, and tree planting. The UFD representative will also provide guidance concerning proposed protection for existing trees during construction.
    • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator - The ADA Coordinator will review the plan for adherence to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the District’s requirements for accessibility and will provide input on additional opportunities to provide accessibility.
    • Pedestrian Program Coordinator - The Pedestrian Program Coordinator will review the plan to confirm that it will not adversely impact pedestrians in the Right of Way. The Pedestrian Program Coordinator will pay special attention to crosswalks, driveways, alleys, and other points of pedestrian/vehicle intersection.
    • Transit Delivery Division (TDD) - The TDD representative will review the plans for transit issues, such as the temporary moving of bus stops and bus shelters during project construction.
    • Beyond DDOT, a representative from the Office of Planning (OP) - The Office of Planning will discuss the plan’s adherence to the city’s planning requirements and vision.

The owner/developer will bring the following to the meeting:

  • Two full-size sets of plans
  • Six to eight sets of reduced plans to share—along with any photos or other supporting documents
  • One set of plans, photos and other supporting documents in electronic format on CD
  • An individual to record minutes of the meeting and collect review comments

DDOT's Meeting Responsibilities

  • The PSRD representative will convene the meeting and provide a sign-in sheet to include name, affiliation, phone number, and email
  • The PDRM Coordinator and PSRD representative will facilitate the meeting
  • DDOT Administration representatives will provide comments on the plans as well as citations to statute, regulation, and other material as appropriate or as requested
  • The PSRD representative will keep the meeting moving, assure that no portion of the plans is omitted, and make sure conflicting comments are resolved during the meeting
  • The PSRD representative is responsible for copying the sign-in sheet and distributing copies following the meeting
  • The PSRD representative will also record the comments made in the meeting and keep a copy of the plans with appropriate notes

Following the PDRM meeting

The following steps are to ensure there are no misunderstandings or misconceptions regarding what features are allowed in public space, permitting procedures, or owner/developer responsibility for traffic control, tree protection, and site restoration.

The owner/developer will email the PSRD representative with a copy of the meeting comments within two weeks of the meeting date.

The PSRD representative will review the meeting comments provided by the owner/developer to ensure they match those collected at the PDRM meeting. A response from the PSRD representative may be expected within one week. The PSRD representative will file the final meeting comments in the project folder.