Archive for the ‘streetscape’ category

If Removing On-Street Parking Spaces Also Removed an Open-Air Drug Market, Would That Be a Fair Trade?

April 25, 2019

The 600 block of Newton Place, NW, has been a difficult street for many years. It is narrow. It does not have street trees. And, it has had an on-again, off-again history of open-air drug dealing. We all know that crime is a complicated thing to solve. Clearly, the police play a role, and continue to do so on Newton Place. Social Services also play a key role and we are increasingly identifying public safety issues that are better suited for agencies geared toward addressing addiction and homelessness, as examples.

But what about planning and design? The short answer is yes. Poorly planned roads, streets, and infrastructure can similarly invite criminal activity or at least provide a desirable environment for it.

The 600 block of Newton Place is one area that I believe rises to this threshold.

One recent Saturday as I was walking down the block, I noticed that a brand new Audi A6 was parked on the block, about mid block, with out to District tags. As I was walking, another vehicle with out of District tags parked on the block. The new driver got out of their car and walked up to the Audi where the two then proceeded to conduct a drug transaction. This was shortly before noon.

It got me thinking — if the on-street parking on the block is being used as part of an active drug market, is it serving the community? Moreover, would there be a significant hardship to the neighbors if much of the on-street parking was removed? Even more, if the parking could be removed, could a portion of it be repurposed for street trees on a block where no street trees currently exist.

The overview below shows the area in question. Today, Newton Place is one-way eastbound. There is no parking on the north side of the street and 22 parking spaces on the south side of the street.

(Overview of the 600 block of Newton Place, NW. The red arrow indicates off-street parking currently unused.)

Of the 22 parking spaces currently on Newton Place, I would recommend keeping the five between Georgia Avenue and the entrance to the alley. These support the Ward 1 Senior Wellness Center and the businesses on Georgia Avenue. Also, any resident can park in them afterhours for free. Lastly, as trash and recycling is collected in alleys in Ward 1, keeping the street in its current configuration up to the alley entrance would not create a new hardship for these core city services.

This would leave 17 parking spaces that could potentially be removed. In walking the alleys both north and south of Newton Place, with few exceptions each property has access to off-street parking. Much of it is used, though some of it isn’t. In one case, the apartment building at 636 Newton Place appears to have room for 4 or 5 parking spaces, but the area is fenced off and currently unavailable. This wouldn’t have to stay this way.

(Parking area at the rear of 646 Newton Place, NW, that is currently fenced off.)

In reviewing the current inventory of current and potential alley parking for the properties along Newton Place, about 10 new spaces could be accommodated without significant hardship — this means that the net loss of parking would be 7 spaces.

The question becomes, would losing 7 spaces overall on Newton Place be an agreeable trade off if it also removed the opportunity for out of District vehicles to park there and conduct their drug business on a daily basis?

As a potential bonus, presuming there were wide support for decreasing on-street parking on Newton Place, a portion of the former parking area could be repurposed for about 8 new street trees (see image below).

(Could a portion of the parking on Newton Place be repurposed for new trees?)

As stated at the beginning of this post, Newton is a narrow street currently consisting of one travel lane and one lane of parking. The average width of an American car is 6 feet, meaning that if just 3 feet of the street formerly dedicated to parking were repurposed for a line of street trees, the travel lane would increase in width by 3 feet. The overall result could be a street with less crime, a safer street for travelers, and a more beautiful street with the addition of a tree canopy.

DDOT Improving Crosswalk Across New Hamsphire Avenue at Georgia

March 6, 2019

(Newly reworked crosswalk on New Hampshire, work still in progress)

I’m very happy to report that work began yesterday to correct the poorly configured crosswalk across New Hampshire Avenue just east of Georgia Avenue — especially the location of the cut through in the median as it related to the other crosswalk ramps. The crosswalk was installed in 2011 as part of the Middle Georgia Avenue Great Streets project, and in 2015 I highlighted how the poor configuration of the median section actually made it impossible to cross the street in a straight line for those in wheelchairs, thus making me question if the crosswalk was ADA compliant.

(Illustration of crosswalk prior to work, showing location of crosswalk ramps and configuration of ramp in median.)

ANC1A is currently working with and supporting neighbors who have identified additional areas along lower Georgia Avenue where improvements are needed to improve pedestrian safety. I look forward to sharing news on those efforts soon.

Damaged and Missing Heritage Trail Signs Continue to Dot Community

February 24, 2019

 

The Heritage Trail sign at Georgia and Morton is loose and in need of repair.

Since 2015, I’ve continued to ask why we have Heritage Trails and Markers in our neighborhoods if DDOT has no funds or staff to keep them in good repair. In order to bring attention to this issue, in March 2018 I introduced a resolution that was unanimously passed by ANC1A urging the Mayor and DDOT to address this growing issue. At that time I listed four known heritage trail signs that were missing.

Today, I personally visited the four sites of the missing signs as well as a few others to see if any progress had been made over the past year. Sadly, the four signs are still missing. I’ve also noticed two more that are loose and in need of repair.

The signs in question are:

  • Sign #16: Lift Every Voice: Georgia Ave./Pleasant Plains Heritage Trail. Damaged sign reported nearly 6 years ago, sign missing (Location: Georgia and Kenyon);
  • Sign #17: Lift Every Voice: Georgia Ave./Pleasant Plains Heritage Trail. Sign is loose in base. (Location: Georgia and Morton);
  • Sign #4: Cultural Convergence: Columbia Heights Heritage Trail. Sign missing for nearly 5 years, since at least May 2014 (Location: 14th and Monroe);
  • Sign #6: Cultural Convergence: Columbia Heights Heritage Trail. Sign missing for nearly 2 ½ years, since at least November 2016 (Location: 13th and Monroe);
  • Sign #7: Cultural Convergence: Columbia Heights Heritage Trail. Sign is loose in base. (Location: 11th and Kenyon); and,
  • Sign #17: Cultural Convergence: Columbia Heights Heritage Trail. Sign missing for nearly 3 ½ years, since at least July 2015 (Location: 16th and Harvard).

Tomorrow, I’m signed up to testify before the Committee on Transportation & the Environment at the Council’s Performance Oversight Hearing. I’ll be adding the issue of the heritage trail signs to my list of items that I need to address.

(The sign at 14th and Monroe has been missing for nearly 4 years.)

DDOT Bike Lane Pop-up on Kenyon Offers Good Insight

September 24, 2018

 

The pop-up bike land on Kenyon, 9/21/18.

As part of Parking Day on Friday, September 21st this year, DDOT constructed a temporary pop-up bike lane on the 400 block of Kenyon Street, NW. This was an extremely valuable experience as DDOT is looking at ways to incorporate a permanent protected bi-directional bike lane on Irving Street between Michigan Avenue, NE, and Warder Street, NW. The temporary bike lane on Kenyon offered a good opportunity for DDOT to get feedback from residents as well as watch how traffic adjusted to accommodate the lanes.

Overall, I believe the bike lane pop-up was a success due to the information learned to help inform the next steps. As expected, comments related to DDOT’s plans are mixed, with some strongly in favor and others opposed. In addition to making Kenyon one lane during rush hour, some are concerned that a protected bike lane will reduce on-street parking. All of this would still need to be worked out.

Although, based on the boards that were shared with the community, it does appear that there is room for protected bike lanes, bump outs for new trees on Warder Street, and new parking along Park Place IF the suggestions proposed by DDOT meet with approval. Its difficult because every opportunity is accompanied by a trade off.

(Discussing the crosstown protected bike lane project with DDOT during the pop up event.)

Bump Outs

I was really exited to see that DDOT has been paying attention to much of what I’ve been suggesting over the years, especially with regards to incorporating bump outs on Warder Street to create new locations for street trees. See plan below.

(Proposal to incorporate bulb outs on Warder Street, creating areas for new trees.)

In DDOT’s proposal, they suggest 11 areas where bump outs could be created. But, this would remove 20 on-street parking spaces. As it is, the bike lanes may also reduce on-street parking spaces. This is a difficult trade off considering that demands on parking are increasing rather than decreasing. I’ve already met with the members of the project team at DDOT’s offices to review the plans and will be going over them block-by-block to see if there are missed opportunities or better locations for bump outs, and hope to get an initial survey completed before the end of October.

Potential Increase in Parking

In order to counter balance the impact on parking along Warder and Kenyon, DDOT is looking at the possibility of placing parking on both sides of Park Place, NW.

(DDOT’s updated plan showing parking on both sides of Park Place, NW)

The benefits of placing parking on both sides of Park Place would be that cars in addition to bollards would help protect the bike lane along the Soldiers’ Home. Additionally, it would reduce Park Place to a single travel lane, greatly reducing the speed of traffic along the street which has long been a problem. It would also increase neighborhood parking by more than the spaces lost elsewhere due to other aspects of the project. The biggest negative would be that it would limit the vista of the Soldiers’ Home along Park Place.

While there is much to consider, DDOT is still working to get to a 30% plan by the end of the year, and presuming the development of a winning plan, implementation by the end of 2019 at the earliest.

To help the community get more information and provide more feedback, I’ve invited DDOT to be the guest at the November meeting of the Park View UNC. That will give them time to incorporate the feedback they receive during their pop-up trial last Friday.

Images from DDOT’s Library & Archives

September 1, 2017

A friend recently reminded me about the photos on the DDOT Library and Archives tumblr page. Overall, I found many of the images interesting, but only found a few from our area. DDOT has other photo pages as well, including DDOT Back in Time which may be of interest.

Park Road view west toward 14th Street, dated March 20, 1967.

14th Street just north of Park Road with view toward south, dated March 20, 1967.

Park View Fire Call Box Harps Get Spruced Up

May 15, 2017

(Top of fire call box harp at Warder and Otis)

Recently, the three remaining fire call box harps in the neighborhood were spruced up. Each of them was painted black with gold accents. I especially like how the neighborhood name was added to the top of each.

While there are only three of these in the neighborhood presently, there were at least twelve fire call stations in Park View at one time. Over the past decade, I know of two harps that were taken out by cars, and the call box harp at Princeton and Georgia was nearly lost in 2011 when DDOT removed it during street construction. I successfully advocated for the harp’s return specifically with the idea that it could be part of an art project along with the other harps.

The recent improvements to the call boxes really enhance the streetscape where they are located. Perhaps, eventually, we’ll be able to incorporate some small art or images where the call boxes were once located as well.

(The call box harp at Warder and Otis is one of three in the neighborhood that have recently been repainted.)

Crosswalk Improvements Coming to Irving by Hospital Center

April 17, 2017

After a lot of advocacy, it looks like a controlled crosswalk is finally being installed at Irving and Hobart streets to permit pedestrians to safely cross to the Washington Hospital Center. I know that a lot of people let DDOT know that this was a priority during the Crosstown Multimodal Study workshops. Below are a few photos showing progress so far.

Could Bioretention Bulbouts Increase Safety and Parking at Park Place and Quebec?

February 8, 2017

Recently I began thinking about how to improve safe access to the small triangle park at Rock Creek Church Rd. and Park Place after a neighbor asked if it would be possible to close the street or add speed bumps to the small section of Park Place that directly abuts the neighborhood on the west of the park. After giving it much though, I think the best solution would be to add a few bioretention bulbouts to the area. However, it would require buy-in from the neighbors and a lot of sustained advocacy from the community. Below is a quick and dirty illustration that conveys the idea.

park-place-bump-outs(Areas outlined in green could be reconfigured as bioretention bulbouts, adding additional green infrastructure and calming traffic.)

The main problem with Park Place minor as it is configured today is that cars using this street take little heed for pedestrians and others as they travel from Rock Creek Church Road to Park Place major. The street is necessarily wide, and the crosswalk and stop sign at the southern end are set back, so as that anyone stopping at the stop sign is too far back from the road to see traffic on  Park Place major. Driver that do stop have to creep to the end of the street to see oncoming traffic — both cars and cyclists in the bike lanes — and this is if they stop at all. Frequently, drivers on this small stretch fail to stop at the stop sign and do a rolling stop as they turn to head south.

Closing the street doesn’t seem to be a good solution either, as the residents who live on the street would lose three parking spaces and it would make it necessarily difficult for delivery vehicles, moving vans, fire trucks, and ambulances to serve the these houses.

Strategic placement of bioretention bulbouts could narrow the entrance and exit of the street to a single lane. The benefit of this is that is would calm traffic and make the crosswalks shorter (and safer) to cross. A bulbout on the southern end of the triangle park would remove one parking space, increasing viability and safety for drivers and cyclists … and the bulbout on the southern end could be configured to add street parking by one to three spaces depending upon configuration.

The only significant down side I see is cost, so there would need to be both consensus among the neighbors most impacted and a sustained advocacy.

Perhaps the way to “sell” this to DDOT, DOEE,& the Council would be to bundle a number of these smaller projecting into a pilot program.

DDOT to Sod Tree Space Areas on 600 Block of Princeton

September 22, 2016

img_1485The 600 block of Princeton Place had a lot of sidewalk work done back in May that also tore up the tree space areas. Now, according to signs posted earlier this week, DDOT is prepared to undertake sodding of the tree spaces on Princeton.

In looking at the area between the sidewalk and the curbs on the block, the current state is dirt and weeds, so I’m pleased that DDOT will be restoring the area to what it was prior to their sidewalk replacement work.

img_1484(Section of 600 block of Princeton Place showing the weed-filled tree area.)

Public Space Plan Proposed for 3701 New Hampshire Project

July 14, 2016

Last night ANC 4C considered the public space application for the proposed streetscape changes that could occur as part of the redevelopment of 3701 New Hampshire Avenue (the former Sweet Mango property). While the overall plan is fairly basic (see below), I was happy to see that the Rock Creek Church Road frontage of the development will remove the curb cut/loading zone and will replace it with two new trees and permeable pavers. This should also increase street parking by one or two spaces.

I don’t yet know ANC4C’s feedback but expect we’ll find out shortly. The public space hearing is scheduled for August.

3701 streetscape(Site plan page from Rooney Properties public space submission.)


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