Greater Greater Washington

New Jersey Avenue streetscape plans change slightly

DDOT has made a number of changes to its design for New Jersey Avenue NW between H and N Streets from its previous draft in late July, but the main elements remainmaking the road two-way and adding bike lanes.

Drag the slider to line up with one of the letters to see major areas with changes.
Top: current design. Bottom: previous design. Images from DDOT. Click for full versions (PDF).

DDOT hopes to begin work in late September 2013, according to Michael Randolph of STV Incorporated. The goal is to create a "more residential feel" for the road, as the 2006 Mount Vernon Triangle Transportation and Public Realm Design Project recommended. DDOT will not widen the road south of New York Avenue, but will widen it somewhat north of New York Avenue to accommodate the switch to two-way traffic.

The team made a few significant changes to the design which you can see on the above diagrams.

More marked crosswalks (drag the scrollbar to line up with the point marked B): Pedestrians will now have crosswalks on all 4 sides of the New Jersey/New York Avenue intersection. The previous plans provided no crosswalk across New York Avenue on the west side of the intersection.

This is a smart move, since pedestrians would and could legally walk across the intersection whether there's a marked crosswalk or not. Better to put some high visibility zebra striping there to let drivers know pedestrians should be expected and have the right-of-way.

New York Avenue median gone (also point B): The median island on New York Avenue has been removed and replaced by a new westbound traffic lane. Randolph said this was part of an attempt to separate traffic headed into the tunnel from traffic that intended to stay on New York Avenue earlier in order to relieve congestion.

This appears to be a loss for pedestrian safety. An island would allow half the road to be crossed at a time. Now, the elderly and other slow-crossing individuals will be forced to cross 7 lanes of traffic in one cycle.

Innovative bike lane corner treatments: The corner of K Street and New Jersey Avenue (point C) will no longer get the "innovative" bike lane treatment that routes cyclists next to the crosswalks at corners. Meanwhile, at New York Avenue and New Jersey Avenue, instead of having the tiny islands to route the bike lanes at all 4 corners, there are only 2.

Randolph said that DDOT determined there wasn't enough space in the intersection for this treatment. It's not clear why that is the case, and is unfortunate, given that DDOT plans a major cross-town bike lane for K Street NE/NW.

Slightly shorter bike lanes (point A): The dedicated bike lanes on New Jersey Avenue have been truncated somewhat. Instead of running the entire length of the project from H to N Streets, the lanes would stop at Morgan Street (which is located between M and N Streets).

Randolph said, "The bicycle lanes were eliminated in this section to better match the typical section of the roadway to the north of N Street and to provide a transition zone for the cyclists between intersections." This answer doesn't really explain why it had to change.

A bay of angled parking spaces was added just north of I Street (to the right of point C), cutting into the sidewalk on the west side of New Jersey Avenue. This means reducing an area of green space to make room for the sidewalk that will now be farther from the street edge.

A sharper right turn onto 3rd Street is included in the design (point A). This will force drivers to slow down more before they make the turn which crosses a bike lane and crosswalk, and should make this corner safer. It also gives pedestrians a more direct path to cross 3rd and stay along New Jersey Avenue.

In addition to these specific changes, the project team talked about a few general issues.

Pavement quality: Residents complained that rear-end crashes occur often on New York Avenue because of poor pavement quality. The project team will conduct a "geotechnical investigation" of the pavement on New York Avenue, from 1st to 4th Streets NW, to provide a "10- to 20-year fix" for the pavement.

A traffic analysis will be done for that stretch of New York Avenue, as well as New Jersey Avenue from H to N Streets. Residents hope this will determine the best way to get traffic headed towards the convention center through the neighborhood.

Overhead signs that direct traffic onto I-395 are large, highway-style signs that make the area feel more like a freeway and less like a neighborhood. DDOT will evaluate these in hopes that the city can remove at least one of the 3 that currently exist.

Leading pedestrian intervals: Residents asked about the possibility of having the walk sign come on before the green light at New York Avenue, so those walking across the street would have a chance to get a jump on vehicular traffic. Residents raised concerns about seniors having enough time to cross a road as wide as New York on foot.

Pedestrian bridge: A request for a pedestrian bridge over New York Avenue was quickly shot down due to both cost and practicality. The ramp to such a bridge would likely have to begin more than a block from the intersection for the slope to be gentle enough to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

DDOT will present additional alterations to the plan online sometime in January of 2013. There are currently no plans for further public meetings to discuss the project. Residents with questions or comments can email Abdullahi Mohamed, the project manager.

Geoff Hatchard lived in DC's Trinidad neighborhood. The opinions and views expressed in Geoff's writing on this blog are his, and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer. 

Comments

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"rear-end crashes occur often on New York Avenue because of poor pavement quality"

huh?

by wd on Dec 20, 2012 2:48 pm • linkreport

Hello Neighbor,

I am your local friendly geotechnical engineer. We often perform site investigations - it may sound funny, but it is a profession. So there is no need to use quotation marks. Just trying to make an effort to empower our work!

@dirteng

by dirteng on Dec 20, 2012 2:55 pm • linkreport

dirteng: "Geotechnical investigation" isn't in quotes in a "scare quote" fashion - it's simply to let people know that's the exact phrase that was used in the presentation.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Dec 20, 2012 4:15 pm • linkreport

I live near here on M street and like the updates. I am curious about what the plans are foe the new lot that will be created (currently just listed as "landscaping". DDOT could probably pay for much of the project by putting out bids for the lot (and perhaps get something valuable there for the area).

by Mtvernon on Dec 20, 2012 9:11 pm • linkreport

@wd. Yes, bumpy pavement can increase braking distance considerably, even with ABS. Still, it's ultimately the responsibility of drivers to judge their speed and following distance to account for conditions.

by Paul on Dec 21, 2012 11:25 am • linkreport

Man, I just wish there was a better way to deal with New York Ave (other than tunneling from 395 to 50). The traffic between Florida Ave and Mt Vernon Square is horrendous almost 100% of the time, and it's such a huge barrier to pedestrians and cyclists.

At least the pavement might get a bit better. Maybe they can hire some more engineers to take a look at Florida & Rhode Island while they're at it. That intersection's had astonishingly poor pavement for as long as I've lived here.

by andrew on Dec 21, 2012 2:25 pm • linkreport

Also, the pavement on New York Ave is somewhat complicated by the incredible amount of traffic that the road gets. If you make a left turn onto Penn Street from NY Ave, you can feel just how deep the wheel-ruts are in the road. It's like driving across speed bumps.

by andrew on Dec 21, 2012 2:27 pm • linkreport

Why not just get rid of everything at the intersection of New York Ave, New Jersey Ave, 3rd Street and M Street and start over.

They should just get rid of 3rd Street and just have New Jersey Ave going north/southbound and New York Ave going southwest/northeast bound and M Street should be accessible only from New Jersey Ave.

M Street should be made two way to 1st Street NE where is.

The reason for getting rid of the Pedestrian bridge is bulls**t concerning a block away. if they wanted they could build a bridge just get rid of the tiny green spaces north of New York Ave and there could be entrances there and beside Bible Way.

They cant do something that would actually help pedestrians but did the whole redesign at New York and Florida Avenues that actually made traffic worst for all.

@ Mtvernon

What do you consider valuable for the area? I consider something valuable that is accessible by all; so that kills any type of highend property, animal park etc.

by kk on Dec 22, 2012 2:31 pm • linkreport

Has there been any discussion of allowing left turns from eastbound New York Avenue onto northbound New Jersey Avenue (at least during non-rush hours)? Living up in that area (off of New Jersey Avenue), it would definitely be a convenience.

I've often wondered why it's not allowed now. Is it considered impractical to allow the turn because of the volume of traffic on New York Avenue, or is it meant to reduce the use of New Jersey Avenue as a commuting route?

by bbb20009 on Dec 29, 2012 4:48 pm • linkreport

Thread bump from two years ago...

Is this the project listed as #27 in DDOT's draft 2015-2021 STIP? Anybody know if the drawings have changed since this post was published?

by KG on Nov 21, 2014 10:10 am • linkreport

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