Archive for the ‘Streets and Trees’ category

For Those Who Didn’t Get Their Visitor Parking Pass This Year

March 26, 2014
If you didn't get a new Visitor Parking Pass this year, you can request one online from DDOT.

If you didn’t get a new Visitor Parking Pass this year, you can request one online from DDOT.

I’ve been hearing from a few residents — particularly those on streets that are not part of the Residential Parking Permit program — that they did not receive their Visitor Parking Pass this year. After contacting DDOT, here is what I learned.

If you did not get your visitor parking pass this year, you can go to DDOT’s online vpp system at:  and alert DDOT that you didn’t receive one.  By using the site, each registration will generate an automated email with confirmation number that residents can use to track the status of the pass until it is delivered.  If you know of a neighbor who needs one and does not have computer access, they can contact the DDOT Call Center at (202) 673-6813 where they will be happy to assist.


Parking Changes in the Works Around Bruce-Monroe @ Park View School

March 25, 2014
Map showing areas that will be impacted by parking changes.

Map showing areas that will be impacted by parking changes.

As a result of a DDOT study conducted at the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View School in response to police concerns with children’s safety, DDOT learned that the existing parking signs around the school do not meet DDOT standards for schools. DDOT plans to change the signage around the school sometime near the end of April or beginning of May so that the parking meets their safety standards.

Currently, the streets around the are unregulated. DC law 18 DCMR § 2406.2 allows DDOT to prohibit parking in front of schools. One purpose of this law is to maintain a fire lane so that fire trucks and other emergency vehicles have safe access when children are in the school building. Another purpose of this law is to provide space for pick-up and drop-off. Unlike schools in more suburban areas, many DC schools do not have sufficient space in their parking lots to accommodate pick-up and drop-off safely. DDOT has proposed to change the parking restrictions on the school side of the street of Warder Street and Otis Place.

After DDOT implements the changes there will be no parking on Warder Street at the school during school days between 7:45 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. The south side of Otis Place adjacent to the school will become 15-minute parking during school days between 7:45-9:00 a.m. and 3:00-6:00 p.m. The inset above shows the areas that will be impacted when these changes go into effect.

Potholepalooza to Kick Off on March 20th This Year

March 14, 2014
Pothole on the 500 block of Irving Street, NW.

Pothole on the 500 block of Irving Street, NW.

This year’s exceptionally cold and snowy winter has been harsher than most in the recent past, so we’re really going to have a lot of potholes on our streets. Leading up to this year’s Potholepalooza, the city is encouraging residents to report pothole locations leading up to the annual 30-day campaign that begins on March 20th (weather permitting).

During the annual 30-day campaign, crews from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will expedite pothole repairs on roadways across the city. Residents and commuters are encouraged to continue to phone (311), go online (, tweet (@DDOTDC), e-mail (, visit the campaign’s Facebook page ( or use the DC311 smartphone app to submit requests for pothole repairs. As part of Potholepalooza, DDOT will be adding extra crews to fill potholes and will aim to repair identified locations within 48 hours (the normal response time is within 72 hours).

DDOT encourages residents to provide as much detail as possible when reporting potholes, including the precise location and quadrant of the city as well as the approximate size and depth of the pothole. DDOT crews also will be out and about proactively identifying potholes.

This is a wonderful opportunity for residents to collaborate with the city and get our streets back in good repair after this cold, harsh winter.

Brief Notes from DDOT’s North-South Corridor Study Public Meeting

February 20, 2014
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This map from the presentation indicates ridership volume and most heavily used stops.

After attending last night’s North-South Corridor Study at Banneker Recreation Center, I wanted to share a few notes and first impressions while they are still fresh in my mind. If you didn’t attend, but want to, there is a final meeting tonight at Emery Recreation Center – 5701 Georgia Ave NW – from 3:30pm-8:00pm. Presentations will be at 4:00pm and 7:00pm.

The current round of meetings are the second of three rounds, with the final series currently planned for around June. The first round was in November and was very general in its approach. It focused on streetcars and buses, along with a variety of corridors.

The stated purpose of the corridor study is to evaluate reliable and comprehensive improved transit service in the North-South corridor and support existing neighborhoods and future growth in and along the corridor. The corridor in question is the 9-mile corridor from Takoma/Silver Spring to Buzzard Point/Southwest.

Since the first meetings, and with the above in mind, a few decisions have been made (although there are still many more that need to be made). First off, it definitely looks like DDOT has settled on streetcars as the mode of transportation. Based on the data of ridership in the corridors now and the population projects in the coming years, the streetcar option provides the better scenario for capacity and reliability.

In short, to use DDOT’s words, they are choosing the streetcar option because they:

  1. Increase transit capacity,
  2. Provide complementary service to buses,
  3. Improve transit vehicle accessibility and reliability of service,
  4. Increase transit share of trips, and
  5. Provide a higher quality of service.

There were a couple of things I found interesting in looking at the various information boards. The first was a map showing ridership volume and busiest stops (see map above). In looking at 16th and 14th streets vs. Georgia Avenue, 16th and 14th streets have a ridership that suggests that they support more commuters and the Georgia Avenue data suggested more local traffic. This ridership pattern suggested that the future streetcar route should be on or near Georgia Avenue.

Some streetcar routes still being considered.

Some streetcar routes still being considered.

Other routes were discounted because they were considered to have fatal flaws (constructability, grades, turns, & tunnels/bridges) . 14th Street, for example, already has a horrible traffic intersection at the intersection of Monroe and 13th Street has a grade by Cardozo High School that is too steep for a good streetcar line.

North of New Hampshire Avenue, Georgia Avenue is definitely the route with only the end in question (Takoma or Silver Spring). In our area (Zone 3) both Georgia Avenue and Sherman Avenue are on the table. Due to the new streetscape along Sherman, and the higher volume of traffic on Georgia, I favor Georgia over Sherman.

Roughly at Florida Avenue, four different possible routes come in to play. Of these, I think the 14th Street option is the best, followed by the 11th Street option. Either would bring much needed transit to an area not well served by Metrorail. I favor the 14th Street option more because it would serve more of U Street and I think that is important.

Lastly, parking and traffic configurations still need to be figured out. There were several boards that illustrated possible traffic patterns with a streetcar system in place. Some of these included parking, others did not. None were being presented as what DDOT will be doing, but rather as options to get attendees talking about what they liked or didn’t like. As for me, I think there is definitely room for both streetcars and parking south of Florida Avenue and north of New Hampshire Avenue. I’m still uncertain about the Florida to New Hampshire section of Georgia Avenue.  I know parking is an issue with some, but I also know that increased transit capacity is critical with a growing city and new residential developments continuing to come to Georgia.

I’ll post the slide deck from the meetings once it is publicly available.
street configurations north south study(Two of the many street configuration patterns posted at the meeting for attendees to evaluate)

2nd Phase of Public Meetings for the North-South Corridor Planning Begin Today

February 18, 2014

North South study second phaseDDOT’s second series of public meetings related to their North-South Corridor Planning Study begins today. The meeting for our area will be at Banneker Recreation Center tomorrow, with presentations at 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is in the middle of a planning study to examine opportunities for public transportation improvements in the North-South corridor through DC. Over the next year, DDOT will be working in collaboration with the community, area businesses, government agencies, and other stakeholders to identify and evaluate above-ground, high quality transit service.

The study area is focused on a 9-mile, North-South corridor that connects the Takoma/Silver Spring area to the Buzzard Point/Southwest Waterfront area. The study area extends east to west from about 16th Street on the west to approximately one-quarter mile east of Georgia Avenue.

Meetings will be open house style with two opportunities for residents to hear an overview presentation. Each meeting will cover the same information, so feel free to attend any of the meetings that fit into your schedule.

The scheduled meeting locations and times are:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014; 3:30pm-8:00pm. Presentation at 4:00pm and 7:00pm
DCRA- 2nd Floor Community Room – 1100 4th St SW

Wednesday, February 19, 2014; 3:30pm-8:00pm. Presentation at 4:00pm and 7:00pm
Banneker Recreation Center – 2500 Georgia Ave NW

Thursday, February 20, 2014; 3:30pm-8:00pm. Presentation at 4:00pm and 7:00pm
Emery Recreation Center – 5701 Georgia Ave NW

Wednesday, February 19, 2014; 10:00am-12:00pm.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library- 901 G St NW

Click here for a recap of Public Meeting Series #1.

DDOT will be Converting Streetlights to LED Lights Citywide

January 31, 2014

Here’s something that should be of interest to everyone. DDOT is beginning the process of converting our streetlights to LED lights citywide. I understand they are currently working in the Chevy Chase area. Thus far, I’ve only heard of some concern about light levels in one particular alley, but I know that DDOT is working with the residents there to find the appropriate lighting level. I’ll see if I can get more information from DDOT on when we might see this work in Park View.

Below is information about this conversion from one of the local listservs:

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will convert all the existing streetlights to LED lights over an 18 month period.   The purpose of this conversion is to improve safety in our streets and alleys; increase the longevity of the streetlights and save energy.

Community Involvement

DDOT has engaged with the community, DDOE, AOC, CFA, ANC Commissioners, US Naval Observatory and the Downtown BID, at the genesis of the project.  As DDOT implements the full LED conversion it will continue to engage the community to address residents’ concerns on LED lighting technology.

Please note: DDOT will revisit alley locations where installations have been completed to investigate any lighting issues. If challenges are identified, corrective actions will be taken and completed in 3-4 weeks contingent upon the weather and materials availability.

Energy Savings and Environmental Effects

LED is a proven and reliable source for street lighting applications. It reduces the energy consumption by 50%. It also requires little or no maintenance for at least 50,000 hours of use. This also entails reduction in CO2 emissions. Below is a typical power consumption comparison table of HID fixtures and the LED fixtures.

Application HID LED
Alley Lighting (cobra head) 70W HPS, 100W HPS, 150W HPS, 189W INC, 295W INC 50W or 75W.
Street lighting
     Cobra head 400W HPS 215W
     Cobra head 250W HPS 110W
     Teardrop 400W and 250W HPS 200W
     Washington Globe 400W, 175W MH, and 250W HPS 100W


Light Trespass

The selected LED fixtures were evaluated under this criterion by checking whether the light emitted in the 60-90 degree zone is at minimum value. The current high intensity discharge (HID) lighting system (High Pressure Sodium, Incandescent, and Mercury Vapor) and competing LED fixture products were used as baseline for comparison to determine whether the LED fixture is emitting less light in the 60-90 degree zone. The lesser the light emitted in this zone the better it is as lights emitted from the fixture are directed on the roadway and used efficiently. Unlike the conventional HID lighting which emits light 360 degrees, LED is directional and allows for greater optical control and efficiency. We evaluated the approved fixtures based on the actual sample installations and on independent laboratory test results which details the lights emitted in the 60-90 degree zone.  DDOT selected the LED fixtures available with the least amount of light levels in the 60-90 degree zone.

Although we strive to keep light trespass issues at minimum level, it is inevitable that we will encounter these kinds of problems due to workmanship during installations. This is more of a quality control issue which can be easily corrected by proper leveling of the fixture. The fixtures also come with shields to further minimize light trespass and will be installed if necessary.

Light Pollution

Today, the light pollution in the District is a major concern. DDOT has always been looking for product solutions that will significantly minimize this problem without compromising the Washington signature fixture. DDOT believes that with LED lighting and its approved fixtures, light pollution problem will be significantly reduced and in some cases completely eliminate the problem.

Again, light pollution is one of the criteria that DDOT considered in selecting the LED fixtures. To measure this requirement, manufacturers were required to submit the laboratory tests results outlined in the methodology for measuring the performance characteristics of a luminaire. DDOT evaluated the BUG (Backlight, Uplight, and Glare) rating of each fixture. At the time of evaluation, DDOT selected the fixtures available with the least amount of uplight.

Nevertheless, DDOT is taking every effort to make sure that light pollution is kept at negligible level and eventually make the city darksky compliant.

Blue Light

Currently, the International Darksky Association Fixture Seal of Approval requires luminaires to have a color temperature less than 4100K.  Having color temperatures at or below 4100K provides a more neutral color temperature without the harsh blue light of higher color temperatures such as 4500 to 6000K.

At the onset, DDOT’s approved LED alley light fixture has a color temperature of 5000K; the reason is that at the time of evaluation LED technology was at its infancy and the higher the color correlated temperature, the more efficient the fixture will be, which means high energy savings. DDOT recognized the minimum amount of blue light that are present at this color temperature, but two years ago this was the best available LED fixture and installed over 1300 lights citywide. However, with the advancement in LED technology, and in conjunction with MSSLC and International Darksky Community, DDOT has chosen to reduce the color temperature to more neutral color. DDOT is continuously seeking for improvement in the color temperature aspect as LED technology evolves.

With the entire available roadway lighting technology today, DDOT is convinced that LED lighting technology is the solution to these issues and will continuously work with the community to deliver the services they need.

Below are links to more information about the latest science of light at night by USDOE and MSSLC, the results of DDOT LED Study, and FHWA 2012 Lighting Hand Book.

Could Rock Creek Church Road Be D.C.’s Oldest Street?

December 18, 2013

On December 10th, the Georgetown Metropolitan posted their quest to figure out what the oldest continuously named street in the District of Columbia was. Based on the assumption that this street would be in Georgetown — founded in 1751 — they came up with the answer as Water Street (tossing aside Dunbarton Street and Prospect Street because each of them were once referred to as avenues). However, I think this view is too narrow.

To begin with, I think minor variations in names need to be forgiven. In searching through old newspapers and maps, inconsistency in spelling or wording often exists. Secondly, focusing only on established settlements and towns discounts rural roads, several of which existed in the territory that later became the District of Columbia. So, if one accepts this broader view of street names in D.C., I propose that Rock Creek Church Road has a good claim to being the oldest continuously used street name in D.C.

For context, take a look at the 1799 “Partial cadastral map of southern part of Georgetown, Washington D.C.” housed in the Library of Congress. This map does not contain either Dunbarton or Prospect streets. It does contain a Water Street, but it is located in the wrong place. The 1799 Water Street is the section of Wisconsin Avenue south of M Street.

Now, let’s look at a map from 1793, also from the Library of Congress collection. The Territory of Columbia map attributed to Andrew Ellicott predates the Georgetown map by six years. It does an excellent job of showing the major rural roads in what became the District of Columbia. Most of these roads are designated by where they go rather than by a true name. The map contains three roads labeled “Road to Bladensburg” for example. Other roads lead to Great Falls, Frederick Town, and Upper Marlboro. However, one road stands out. It has an established name, and that name has been more or less consistent since before the map was drawn. That road is Rock Creek Road, known today as Rock Creek Church Road. These rural roads also appear prominently in a later 1819 map.

Both the name and the contours of today’s Rock Creek Church Road closely conform to the appropriate section of the 1793 map. The detail from the map below generally shows the section of Rock Creek [Church] Road from the 18th century that still exists today.

Rock Creek Church Road 1793 detail(Detail of the 1793 map showing location of today’s 7th Street/Georgia Avenue in green and section of Rock Creek Road that still exists today between the orange lines.)

It makes sense that Rock Creek [Church] Road would be both ancient and established. According to the history shared by St. Paul’s Rock Creek, the church was established in 1712. Colonel John Bradford pledged 100 acres of land to serve as a Glebe for the parish in 1719. This land today contains Rock Creek Cemetery and St. Paul’s church (i.e. the Rock Creek church). For this land to be useful to the church community, it had to be located along a road that would allow worshipers access. So, Rock Creek Road must have predated the founding of the church. It is also likely that the church was informally referred to as the Rock Creek church, taking its name from the road rather than the other way around. That the parish was not officially called Rock Creek Parish until 1856 seems to support this.

With regards to when the word “church” was officially added to the name of Rock Creek Road is difficult to say for certain.  I’ve been able to find references to “Rock Creek Church Road” as early as August 13, 1855, in newspapers and this predated the renaming of the parish. There are also many examples of “Rock Creek Road” in newspapers as late as the mid-1950s. To add to this confusion, in searching the Library of Congress Name Authority File, there is also a listed reference to the road as Rock Creek Cemetery Road which dates to December 18, 1837.

All of this suggests that early road names had a certain fluidity to them. Rock Creek Church Road and Rock Creek Road were interchangeable for a very long time, but I’ll grant that early maps have a preference for the shorter version. Still, I suspect that if one asked for directions to Rock Creek Church Road in 1793 (or before), that the question would have been easily understood and an accurate answer would have been given. Keeping that in mind, I think it’s safe to consider that Rock Creek Church Road may very well be the oldest stable street name in the District of Columbia.


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