Archive for the ‘Streets and Trees’ category

DDOT Replacing Sidewalks on Otis Place, Fails to Consider Street Trees

July 2, 2015
State of sidewalk work on Otis Place, evening of June 30, 2015.

State of sidewalk work on Otis Place, evening of June 30, 2015.

Readers of this blog will now that I’ve been a strong advocate for trees and improved streetscapes for several years. Sadly, despite walking the streets of the neighborhood with the Urban Forestry Administration and getting a good sense of which treeless streets could support street trees, I discovered at the beginning of the week that DDOT began a project to replace the sidewalk on the north side of Otis Place — along the Park View Recreation Center — exactly as they found it. In short, the treeless block of Otis between Warder Street and 6th Street will remain treeless.

I contend that the one way street is wide enough to accommodate a slight narrowing to make room for trees. Additionally, no parking is allowed on the north side during school hours.

Upon learning of the sidewalk project which also included a complete replacement of the curb and some of the road, I contacted DDOT immediately and was told by the end of June 30th by a DDOT representative that “I confirmed with the team that the work can stop after today and investigate the cost and feasibility of adding tree boxes.” This sounded like good news, as at that stage only half of the new curbing had been installed and none of the sidewalk had been poured.

Sadly, DDOT did not honor their word. The following day the rest of the curbs were poured along with most of the sidewalks. To my knowledge, there was no investigation regarding cost  or feasibility. Furthermore, the stretch of street where this occurred contains no storm water catch basins. This should have been the easiest win/win for both DDOT and the community.

State of sidewalk work on Otis Place, evening of July 1, 2015.

State of sidewalk work on Otis Place, evening of July 1, 2015.

I feel strongly that it is critical that the long term goals of the community not be ignored when real opportunities present themselves, such as this sidewalk on Otis Place. I also feel it is important that the voice of the community — your voices — not be silenced because DDOT and others choose to work around their ANCs who I can assure you receive many, many emails with suggestions, concerns, and ideas on how to make our neighborhoods great.

Moving forward, I have written and will introduce a resolution at the July 8th meeting of ANC1A urging that the ANC law be amended such that DDOT be required to provide notice when significant streetscape & sidewalk replacement projects are undertaken. DDOT already does this for curb cuts, public space permits, and handicapped parking requests. Significant streetscape work should be no different.

I will continue to press DDOT on this issue, both specifically on Otis and more broadly on our other treeless streets. As for Otis Place, I’ve reached out to the Mayor’s Office, Councilmember Nadeau, and others to bring light to this epic fail.

Looking at Historic Garages in Park View

June 17, 2015
1911 real estate ad from the Evening Star identifying a garage at 636 Rock Creek Church Road, NW.

1911 real estate ad from the Evening Star identifying a garage at 636 Rock Creek Church Road, NW.

One of the things that is interesting about Park View’s original development is how automobiles impacted it. The neighborhood south of Otis Place was largely constructed before personal automobile ownership became common place. In fact, in that section of the neighborhood one is more likely to find the occasional stable — a rather fine example being the horse stable that served the Tenth Police Precinct.

The area north of Otis Place was developed by Kennedy Brothers beginning in 1909. Their development (named Princeton Heights) was developed from 1909 to 1917 and coincides with the growth of personal car ownership.

In the District, there were 4,833 residents with registered vehicles in 1914. This rose to 8,009 in 1915. From 1916 to 1919, ownership continued to rise, from 13,118 to 35,400, respectively. By 1920, Washington had one vehicle for every 10.73 residents, ahead of the national average of 14.14 persons per car.

What one learns when looking at how Princeton Heights was built out is that the original houses on the south side of the 600 and 700 blocks of Rock Creek Church Road and the 700 block of Quebec Place were all built with no accommodation for personal vehicles. This began to change as soon as new residents moved into the community. The earliest evidence of a private garage building in the Princeton Heights development is a real estate add from 1911 that features a “garage on rear” for 636 Rock Creek Church Road. Slowly, other homeowners began to construct garages in the rear of their properties too.

In response, Kennedy Brothers began to incorporate attached garages into some of their house designs, with the first being 3640 Warder Street constructed in 1914 (the southwest corner of Warder and Quebec Place). Moving forward, Kennedy Brothers began to include attached garages in their semi-detached corner houses with one notable exception. When building the row of houses from 3664 Park Place north to 608 Rock Creek Church Road, every house in that row contained an attached garage.

For those who purchased houses prior to this change in construction, or who later decided that they wanted a garage afterall, the private detached garage was still an option. Of the four oldest garages in the area, three of them were built by Kennedy Brothers in 1914 and 1915. These were constructed of brick and can be found behind 633, 634, and 624 Quebec Place.

A quick survey of the alleys in the four Princeton Heights blocks between Princeton, Georgia, Rock Creek Church, and Park Place — both in person and on old maps — indicates that there were once about 46 private detached garages in the neighborhood. Of these 18, or roughly 39%, still remain today. Considering that many garages were more modest and not constructed of more durable materials, it is not surprising that many of these are now gone.

Below is a sample of some of the garages that remain.

633 Quebec Place(633 (Rear) Quebec Place, NW. Built by Kennedy Bros. in 1914.)

636 Rock Creek Church Road(This garage is located behind 636 Rock Creek Church Road. Dating to ca. 1911, it has the distinction of being the oldest surviving private garage in the northern part of the neighborhood.)

754 Quebec Place(A more modest garage at 754 Quebec Place, this metal sided garage was built in 1918.)

3639 Warder(Perhaps the nicest brick garage in the neighborhood is this 1917 example behind 3639 Warder Street. This may be the only area garage of Flemish bond construction.)

3637 Warder(Little is known about this metal sided garage at 3637 Warder Street yet, though the search goes on.)

Sidewalks on Rock Creek Church Rd to be Restored

June 12, 2015
Flaking sidewalk on 600 b/o Rock Creek Church Road.

Flaking sidewalk on 600 b/o Rock Creek Church Road.

According to signs posted on the south side of the 600 block of Rock Creek Church Road yesterday, parking along that side of the block will not be permitted from June 13 through June 27 (except Sundays) to allow for a sidewalk restoration project.

The sidewalks on this block were last restored in June 2010 along with street repaving. Yet, many of the sidewalks restored during that time have begun to flake, a problem DDOT has been working to correct as reported earlier.

IMG_8830[1](Emergency No Parking Signs on the 600 b/o Rock Creek Church Road, NW)

DDOT Planning to Increase Parking Meter Time on 3100 and 3200 Blocks of Georgia

June 8, 2015
Soon, the parking meters on the 3100 & 3200 Georgia will be 2 hour meters, like these on Otis Place, NW.

Soon, the parking meters on the 3100 & 3200 Georgia will be 2 hour meters, like these on Otis Place, NW.

Recently, local business owners on the 3100 and 3200 blocks of Georgia advocated to have the time increased on the parking meters, which are currently set at 1 hour of parking. Businesses argued that this was too little time for their patrons, which adversely impacted their businesses.

In response, DDOT evaluated the area around these blocks and found that on the west side of the 3200 b/o Georgia Avenue there are 5 one hour meters installed and 6 meters missing (free Parking) because of new building development. On the east side of the 3200 b/o Georgia Avenue there are 4 one hour meters and 2 missing meters. Additionally in the 3100 block LA Nails, The Tax Services, and MARC also wanted meter time increased.

Due to the initial request and the evaluation findings, DDOT plans to install all missing meters in the 3100 and 3200 blocks of Georgia Avenue. DDOT will convert parking meters from 1 hour to 2 hour parking 7 am-6:30 pm Monday-Saturday because it will help the customers and businesses in the area.

Currently, DDOT is preparing shop orders to install new signage and parking meters and to have parking meters programmed to reflect the new time changes. Moving forward, DDOT will evaluate all of the 1 hour parking along Georgia Avenue, as recommended Georgia Avenue Business Association.

Tonight’s Park View UNC Meeting Focuses on Streets/DDOT

June 3, 2015

DDOTI know that there are a good number of people in the neighborhood who care about sidewalks, street configuration, bike lanes, trees, and traffic. I’ve definitely been among them by advocating for a reconfiguration for Park Place, looking for ways to add more trees to treeless blocks, and asking DDOT for a long-term plan to address a number of challenges that can’t be accomplished quickly, such as the tree desert we have in the heart of the neighborhood.

Tonight, the Park View United Neighborhood Coalition has organized a meeting that will include DDOT representatives where these issues and more can be discussed. The meeting will be held at the Park View Recreation Center and begins at 7 pm.

Below is the announcement from from the Park View listserv:

This coming Wednesday, June 3rd, the Park View United Neighborhood Coalition (UNC) has invited speakers from DDOT and the Great Streets program to talk about long-term street planning in our area.

We had initially hoped these speakers could discuss 1) a streetscape plan for Park View that would include widening sidewalks, installing tree boxes, placement of bike lanes, and safety features, as well as 2) past and future opportunities created by the Great Streets program.

Unfortunately, we have learned that contrary to last year’s assertions by DDOT officials, there is no current work being done on a streetscape plan for Park View. The Great Streets program is also not doing work in Park View in the near future (this was less of a surprise to us).

This news makes it all the more important for neighbors to come together at this meeting to talk with city officials about the future of our streets and sidewalks. Representatives from the Mayor’s Office and Councilmember Nadeau will also be present at this meeting, which can help move the discussion forward.

In addition, I would like to note that a representative from the Mayor’s constituent services office will attend to take input from neighbors about alleys and streets in need of repair or resurfacing. If your block needs attention, I suggest you attend!

Intersection of Warder and Princeton Place Gets New Stop Sign

April 28, 2015
New stop sign on Warder.

New stop sign on Warder.

Yesterday, a new stop sign was installed for northbound traffic on Warder Street at the intersection of Princeton Place, NW. This makes the intersection an all-way stop.

Traffic safety at the intersection of Warder and Princeton has been a concern for a while. Initial requests from residents seeking better traffic calming resulted in DDOT installing new crosswalk signs in May 2011. After the November 5, 2014, accident at the intersection, DDOT agreed to further study the safety of the intersection.

DDOT’s field review and crash analysis of the intersection ultimately resulted in their installing the new stop sign.

Making Park Place Safer is Possible, but Won’t be Accomplished with Speed Cameras

April 1, 2015
March 24th accident at Park Place and Irving Streets, NW. Photo by Christopher Chambers.)

March 24th accident at Park Place and Irving Streets, NW. Photo by Christopher Chambers.)

A pair of accidents at the southern end of Park Place this month again underscored the need for better safety along this stretch of road. The first accident occured on the afternoon of March 16th at the corner of Park Place and Kenyon in which a vehicle sped through the red light. After the accident, the occupants fled the scene leading to a police search and snarled traffic.

A more recent accident occurred on March 24th around 9 pm. This time the accident was at Park Place and Irving with the vehicle coming to rest upside-down.

From its start at Rock Creek Church Road in the north to Kenyon Street in the south, Park Place is only nine blocks with a speed limit of 25 mph. Yet, the street runs fast. It’s constructed as a two-lane one-way southbound street with no cross streets, stop signs, or traffic lights for to slow traffic as it vehicles travel the nine blocks along the Soldiers’ Home. Vehicles entering Park Place from the north have no incentive to slow down and frequently speed well above the speed limit.

Over the years, speed cameras have been placed at various spots along the route to encourage drivers to slow down. This works for a while, resulting in the speed cameras being removed and eventually brought back at different locations. There is currently a camera located just north of Quebec Place.

Yet, until the street is redesigned, speeding traffic will continue to be not just a nuisance, but a public safety issue. It is long past time to have DDOT re-evaluate the layout of Park Place. While the easiest/cheapest solution would likely be stop signs or traffic lights, I think a better long-term solution would be to narrow the street to one lane, and in so doing add a pedestrian sidewalk along the Soldiers’ Home fence on the east and a protected bike lane between the sidewalk and a parking lane on the west. This would increase bike safety, encourage slower driving speeds, and make the stretch more pedestrian friendly. If done well, it could also enhance beauty and providing room for street trees (especially on the southern stretch of the street which currently lacks trees).

Not only would narrowing Park Place to one lane help slow traffic leading to Kenyon and Irving, once a driver arrived at the southern end of the street there would be less confusion and jockeying for lane position as the intersections become a maze of choices leading to east bound Irving, east bound Michigan, south bound 5th Street, and west bound Columbia Road.

Protected bike lane(Protected bike lane diagram from Streetsblog LA)


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