DC Residents Meet to Discuss Street Renovation

Photo: Courtesy of DDOT

On March 18, more than 40 Capitol Hill residents attended a meeting hosted by the Transportation and Public Space Committee regarding the much-needed street safety changes to Maryland Ave. NE that include left turn pockets at intersections, calmer traffic speeds and safer crossing opportunities for pedestrians. The meeting addressed the DC Department of Transportation's (DDOT) proposed time-line for their implementation.

Neighbors are “anxious to see construction of temporary changes started as soon as possible,” stated Beth Bacon, an ANC6A resident. The temporary alternations, intended to test the design of the proposed permanent alterations, include: one travel lane each way plus a left turn lane on each side of the road; several curb extensions to improve sight lines for drivers; and wider medians for safer pedestrian crossings. Markings, signs, and temporary cubs and bollards are expected to be in place by autumn. Permanent construction begins either in 2015 or 2016.

In the interim, the DDOT plans to conduct an evaluation of the project's effectiveness that will last for 12 to 36 months. The study will assess traffic, automobile crash information and public acceptance.

“Depending on how the short-term implementation operates, DDOT will also plan to make more substantial capital improvements in coming years to make the changes more permanent and enable us to install the full treatment envisioned, including bike lanes in each direction. But if we learn things from the short-term implementation, we will also make changes if needed,” stated George Branyan, DDOT's Pedestrian Program Coordinator.

Residents question the plan

Citizens raised some concerns regarding the DDOT plan.

“People who are accustomed to driving south from H St on Seventh Street towards Mass Avenue won't be able to complete that trip -- they'll need to turn right or left on Maryland Avenue instead because of the new curb extension. Also a few parking spaces will be consumed and the traffic pattern around Stanton Park will change.” stated Scott Price, Commissioner of ANC6C03, raising concerns about DDOT's plan.

A key component is a reconfiguration of Maryland Ave. NE to create only one through lane of traffic in each direction. At the meeting, the benefits and drawbacks of this plan were discussed.

One-lane traffic “allows the addition of several safety features, including left turn pockets at intersections, calmer traffic speeds, and safer crossing opportunities for pedestrians, especially at Seventh Street and Maryland Avenue where a wide pedestrian crossing median island will be constructed,” stated Branyan.

But there are some downsides.

“Several residents who do not have convenient rear access to their properties expressed concern that with only one travel lane they would not be able to double park to deliver packages or drop off passengers,” stated Branyan.

“However, this will be possible, as DDOT is designing the single lane treatment to allow sufficient width for a vehicle to pass a stopped vehicle adjacent to the parked cars. The general consensus at the end was that the community is cautiously optimistic about the proposed changes to the corridor,” he added.

For more information visit the Maryland Avenue Traffic Safety Project.

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