Archive for the ‘traffic’ category

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.

Limited-stop 59 Bus Service on 14th Street is Now

January 8, 2018

This morning, shortly after 8 a.m., Mayor Bowser kicked off the start of the 59 bus on 14th Street. Limited-service express bus-like service has long been a goal of the community and the local Advisory Neighborhood Commissions along the route.

The new MetroExtra limited-stop service will operate along 14th Street NW between the Takoma and Federal Triangle Metrorail stations. The weekday only service will run every 15 minutes during rush hours, 6:30-9:30 a.m. and 3:45-7:00 p.m. Buses will serve 16 stops along the route providing connections to Metrorail and business, educational and shopping destinations.

This morning’s kick off began with remarks by Mayor Bowser, followed by Councilmembers Todd and Nadeau, and lastly DDOT Director Jeff Marootian. Following the remarks, those assembled were able to ride the first 59 bus with Mayor Bowser, getting on at 14th and Buchanan as far as 14th and U Street, NW.

(Mayor Bowser riding on the 59 bus.)

The map below shows where the 59 bus stops are located along the route:

Irving Street Express Way & North Capitol Cloverleaf Remnants of Unrealized Freeway System

December 8, 2017

While creating a good crosstown transportation connection between Brookland and Adams Morgan is a goal of the recent Crosstown Multimodal Study, this is not a new idea. Creating a good crosstown transportation network has vexed District transportation planners for more than 90 years. DDOT’s Multimodal Study is notable for taking all forms of transportation into consideration. Unfortunately, efforts in the 1920s and 1950s did not do this and prioritized automotive transportation at the expense of walk-ability and the environment. This resulted in blocks without street trees, a four-lane expressway that leads nowhere, and the District’s only transportation cloverleaf at North Capitol and Irving streets.

Both the Irving Street expressway and the cloverleaf intersection at the Washington Hospital Center date to the 1950s and were intended to solve two problems. The first was to establish a better crosstown route. The second was to connect that route to the freeway system in Maryland. Neither of these goals achieve their promise.

One of the earliest efforts to identify Columbia Road as part of an improved crosstown route dates to 1927. It came out of a recommendation to the National Capital Park and Planning Commission by a subcommittee designated to study the traffic plan developed by L.D. Tilton, a St. Louis traffic expert. Tilton’s traffic plan attempted to place all sections of the District of Columbia within a quarter or half mile distance of a selected major thoroughfare. Recommendations to the NCPPC were divided into two divisions – crosstown and radial.

While 18 major traffic thoroughfares were definitely recommended, the proposal to include Columbia Road was tabled to be decided at a later date. This was due to the fact that it was considered unduly narrow between Sixteenth Street and the Soldiers’ Home. While all agreed it was ideally located to serve as a crosstown route, there was doubt that the street could be widened to serve in that capacity.

Never-the-less, two important routes were identified in 1927 that would later play a role in creating the North Capitol and Irving cloverleaf. The relevant radial route consisted of North Capitol Street, Michigan Avenue, Harewood Road, and Blair Road to the District boundary. The relevant crosstown route was Garfield Street, by way of Cleveland Avenue, Calvert Street, and Columbia Road to Sixteenth Street (from Sixteenth Street to the Soldiers’ Home, the matter of widening Columbia Road or combining the route with another street to be decided later). From the Soldiers’ Home the route would continue along Michigan Avenue and Franklin Street to Bladensburg Road.

In 1931, NCPPC used the 1927 thoroughfare plan to prioritize street improvements and paving. While the matter of the crosstown route between Sixteenth Street and the Soldiers’ Home was still undecided, the proposed solution was to develop Colombia Road for westbound traffic and Harvard Street for eastbound traffic – and then to realign the road north of McMillan reservoir to connect this pair with Michigan Avenue to the east.

While the basic corridors were identified in 1927 and expanded in 1931, it wasn’t until the beginning of the 1950s that genuine efforts were made to realize these corridors. The plan consisted of constructing two new highways through the Soldiers’ Home.

The north-south freeway was proposed as a six-lane highway that would end the detour around the Soldiers’ Home and connect North Capitol Street directly with Maryland.

Rather than construct a full-fledged east-west freeway, planners proposed a cheaper alternative. Instead of a freeway, planners proposed a new one-way network – Irving street one-way west and Columbia Road one-way east. Irving would be cut through the Soldiers’ Home to connect with Michigan Avenue at Harwood Road. Other suggestions from this plan included:

  • Making Park Place one-way northbound;
  • making Warder Street one-way southbound; and,
  • realigning Irving Street at 14th Street and Georgia Avenue.

(Map from the Washington Post, February 20, 1952.)

After two-years of negotiations, the southern 42-acres of the Soldiers’ Home was transferred to the District in late 1954 paving the way for the highway project to move forward. As construction was geared to begin in late 1956, the original plan to use Irving and Columbia Road was altered to include Lamont and Kenyon streets as well. Each street would parallel each other as far as Klingle Road, NW. Harvard Street would later be identified to replace Lamont.

(Overview of configuration in 1954 from the Evening Star, September 26, 1954.)

From the Evening Star, 1958.

The narrowness of the streets between the Soldiers’ Home and Sixteenth street was identified in the 1927 plan and not entirely solved with the one-way street scheme. To receive Federal aid for the crosstown street project, the streets included in the network had to be a least 30 feet wide. This meant that several of the streets had to be widened, some as little as 6 inches on each side. This requirement doomed more than 100 street trees which were cut down to make way for the widened streets and new curbs.

For example, Harvard Street between Georgia Avenue and 14th Street was 29 feet wide. To gain the needed extra foot the curbs were moved six inches on either side. To make way for the new curbs on Harvard, 27 trees – 18 pin oaks and nine ginkos – were cut down. To widen Irving Street west of Georgia Avenue by two feet, 40 street trees were cut down. While some of these streets have wonderful tree-line blocks today, other blocks on these routes are still tree-less with no room for street trees.

The one-way street network east of 14th Street and the Irving Street expressway across the former Soldiers’ Home grounds was completed and opened to motorists on October 20th 1958 as work continued on the North Capitol cloverleaf and connecting Kenyon Street to Park Road west of 14th Street. The final stage of the crosstown route project was completed on August 19, 1959, when the final one-way streets were implemented. These were Irving Street between Adams Mill Road and 11th Street (eastbound), Kenyon Street between 11th Street and 14th Street (westbound), and Park Road between 14th Street and 17th Street (westbound).

In a twist of irony, while the effort to complete the crosstown network and cloverleaf intersection were being completed the District Commissioners put a halt to the north-south freeway effort. Even with construction of the North Capitol street extension underway across the Soldiers’ Home grounds, in 1960 the Commissioners followed the recommendation of city highway officials to cancel the contract. While the goal was to tie the North Capitol highway into a major Maryland highway, Maryland officials were uncommitted to the goal.

(Map of street network configuration in 1958, from the Evening Star, Oct. 19, 1958.)

References

“3 Streets Turn One-Way Today.” The Washington Post, Aug. 19, 1959, p. B1.

“18 Thoroughfares Proposed to Serve for Major Traffic.” The Washington Post, Oct. 23, 1927, p. M2.

“Committee Draws Radial Street Plan, Enlarging System.” The Washington Post, Nov. 4, 1927, p. 22.

Deane, James G. “One-Way Crosstown Network Cuts Cost of Freeway Solution.” The Evening Star, Feb. 20, 1952, p. A-14.

Deane, James G. “Two Fast Arteries Would End Roadblock at Soldiers’ Home.” The Evening Star, Feb. 19, 1952, p. A-7.

Gwertzman, Bernard. “Street Widening Dooms More Than 100 Trees Along New Crosstown Route in Northwest.” The Evening Star, Apr. 10, 1958, p. A-21.

“N. Capitol Corridor Plans Job Canceled.” The Evening Star, Feb. 19, 1960, p. B-3.

“Park Road Partly Open For Traffic.” The Washington Post, Dec. 25, 1958, p. B1.

“Priority Paving of Main Streets Urged by Group.” The Evening Star, Dec. 26, 1931, p. A-12.

“Soldiers Home Crossing to Open.” The Washington Post, Oct. 19, 1958, p. B6.

“Soldiers’ Home Crossing To Speed D.C. Traffic.” The Evening Star, Oct. 19, 1958, p. A-23.

“Soldiers’ Home Expressway Will Ease Crosstown Traffic.” The Washington Post, Aug. 20, 1956, p. 34.

Stepp, John W. “42-Acre Soldiers Home Tract Given D.C. for Street Project.” The Evening Star, Sept. 26, 1954, p. 1.

14th and Irving Barnes Dance to Operate Soon

June 14, 2017

The Barnes Dance at 14th and Irving streets, NW, are scheduled to be in operation this month (perhaps has early as Thursday). Below is the flyer from DDOT explaining how it works. More information is available here.

New Crosswalks Signs Installed on New Hampshire at Otis Place, NW

May 25, 2017

Yesterday new signs were installed for the HAWK light at the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and Otis Place, NW. Unlike a traditional stoplight, at this intersection pedestrians push the button to activate flashing lights, which in turn are intended to stop traffic so that the pedestrians can cross the street. However, cars frequently do not stop for the flashing lights.

As you can see from the photos, the new signs include a stop sign graphic, include the phrase “DC Law”, and have a separate sign below the flashing lights that states “Up to $250 fine”. This is a significant upgrade from the old signs installed in August 2010 which merely indicated that there was a crosswalk.

Time will tell if the new signs increase the number of vehicles that stop for pedestrians, but I’m happy to see DDOT is aware of the need to improve safety at this intersection.

Checking Out Pedestrian Safety in the Neighborhood

May 10, 2017

Yesterday, the Washington Post ran an article that included a map showing the worst D.C. intersections for pedestrians. I found it interesting, particularly when looking at the intersections in our area. A glance at the map quickly shows that the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Park Road is a location with a high incident rate. In fact, in looking at the entire map, two of the worst intersections for pedestrians are located in Ward 1. In addition to the intersection of Georgia and Park Rd (ranked #8) is the intersection of 14th and U Street (ranked #4)

(Click on map for citywide interactive version).

One thing that is really useful in the map is how each intersection with a dot shows the related statistical data. So going back to the Georgia and Park Rd example, you can click on the dot and see the injuries, crashes, fatalities, and overall danger index.

(Detail from pedestrian safety map showing statistics for intersection of Georgia and Park Rd, NW)

Pedestrian Scramble Coming to 14th and Irving Streets

February 17, 2017

scrambleYesterday, I received a notice by DDOT of their intent to install a pedestrian scramble at the intersection of 14th and Irving streets. This was one of the recommendations to come out of last year’s Crosstown Multimodal Study.

According to the notice (NOI 17-37 TOA), “the intersection of 14th and Irving streets, NW is controlled by a traffic signal. The Crosstown Multimodal Transportation Study conducted in 2016 recommended installation of an all-red phase to reduce the conflicts between pedestrian and vehicular traffic navigation through the intersection. Following the planning study recommendations, DDOT conducted further traffic analysis and subsequently completed the intersection design to implement the recommended all-red phase. The all-red phase, also known as “Pedestrian Scramble” will be implement along with diagonal crosswalks and “No Turn on Red” restriction. New traffic signals, curb ramps and signage will be installed at this intersection to complement the Pedestrian Scramble.”

Comments on this matter must be filed in writing to DDOT no later than 30 days after February 16th.


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