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"Dave Thomas Circle" opens June 4th

Starting Friday, June 4th, drivers on eastbound Florida Avenue will detour onto First Street around the intersection of New York Avenue, creating a partial traffic circle pattern.

This "circle" will ultimately create a loop involving Florida Avenue, 1st Street, and O Street, with one-way traffic on all three and a two-way New York Avenue cutting through. Since this circle has the Wendy's in the center, DDOT has affectionately but unofficially referred to this "Dave Thomas Circle."

DDOT has completed one phase and is now beginning the next, involving the O Street section. Therefore, they are closing the little loop drivers use from eastbound Florida to eastbound New York. Instead, traffic on eastbound Florida will turn right on 1st Street, then left on New York Avenue to either continue on New York or go back to Florida or O Street to get back to Florida.

Image from DDOT.

First Street and Florida Avenue will both become one-way for the blocks immediately adjacent to the Wendy's. New York Avenue will remain two-way.

If plans haven't changed, the next phase will construct the O Street section, allowing cars to turn from 1st onto O and then onto eastbound Florida without using New York Avenue.

2009 "Virtual traffic circle" plan. Image from DDOT modified by IMGoph.

Update: DDOT has updated the plans. O Street will be open, allowing traffic heading to Florida Avenue eastbound to use O Street instead of New York Avenue.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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Is this a permanent change (closing that stretch of O street) or just temporary?

by NikolasM on May 25, 2010 1:40 pm • linkreport

Temporary, it will reopen east-bound only.

by m on May 25, 2010 1:46 pm • linkreport

That's just damn weird.

by Martin on May 25, 2010 1:51 pm • linkreport

Wow, that's gonna be a heck of a traffic mess for a while.

by Fritz on May 25, 2010 1:53 pm • linkreport

Finally! It's about time D.C. honored one of our nation's greatest heroes. Where's the beef? It's right here. I hope they put a statue of Dave Thomas in it!

by dan reed! on May 25, 2010 1:57 pm • linkreport

Well, that's not how I would have designed it...

The left turn from First onto Florida defeats the purpose of the traffic circle, and all eastbound traffic heading from NY to FL should be routed through O St.

I'd also consider extending a short median down First St, just south of the 1st/FL intersection to discourage cars from banging into each other as they merge.

That O St U-Turn also seems awfully short and dangerous.

by andrew on May 25, 2010 2:00 pm • linkreport

Andrew: I don't see where there'a a left turn from 1st onto Florida...

by Froggie on May 25, 2010 2:38 pm • linkreport

Seems like a smart idea, though I just noticed that I won't be able to come north up First Street (NoMa's main drag) and get to Florida westbound at all anymore. Not that I do it that often, but my wife works there in NoMa and on the odd occasion I've driven her home we go up to Florida and turn left (which usually was a tough turn to make, actually.)

Not sure what the alternative becomes now, since you can't go right on NY and then left on FLA as best as I can tell. I guess it's O street or NY westbound?

by Steve on May 25, 2010 3:00 pm • linkreport

@Steve: It looks like you'll be able to take a right onto New York Ave, then a left onto Florida Ave (unless that left onto Florida is prohibited, but there's no island or median, so I doubt it).

by Tim on May 25, 2010 3:03 pm • linkreport

Sorry. Meant to say First onto NY.

by andrew on May 25, 2010 3:08 pm • linkreport

How will this effect people using the sidewalk and people going to the Wendys from all directions seems like the will have to look out for more traffic.

It will make crossing Florida & 1st Street worst.

Will you be able to make a left at New York Ave onto Florida Ave.

Will slow down 90 & 92 buses

Why not just block off 1st Street beside the Wendys

by kk on May 25, 2010 3:35 pm • linkreport

So until the O street connection gets built, all eastbound FL traffic has to get onto eastbound NY for a block before turning right back onto FL?

That sounds insane. One major artery PLUS another major artery, but only for one block in an already complicated and crowded intersection? They can't get that O street connection built fast enough. It's gonna be gridlock.

by Josh S on May 25, 2010 3:53 pm • linkreport

Pedestrians will be dead meat. (No pun intended).

by Ward 1 Guy on May 25, 2010 4:45 pm • linkreport

For many years, I've ridden my bike to work across this area, almost always going north on First NE, crossing New York, and then turning right on Florida and immediately left onto Eckington or, depending on mood and traffic volume, left onto Florida for a few blocks (either way passing First and R NW eventually). I see that I won't be able to do that any more. Happily the Metropolitan Branch Trail segment from M to somewhere past R has just opened for real and I can leave it and get onto Eckington, so I'll be able to watch the new traffic vortices from above instead of from inside. Who'd a thunk it?

by davidj on May 25, 2010 5:08 pm • linkreport

mmmmmmmmmmmm. wendys.

by hungry hungry hippo on May 25, 2010 5:53 pm • linkreport

In NOMA renderings, there is no Wendy's, but a nice park in the middle of the "circle." Wish it were true.

The Wendy's really is ugly and awkward.Is the lease coming up? Could the city pull eminent domain or something? Cars in and out of Wendy's just make the "circle" that much more dangerous and slow.

by winky on May 25, 2010 6:49 pm • linkreport

Wow, and I thought this intersection was insane before, but this seems even worse. I drive through this every day, coming from Eckington Place. One of the troubles here is that there isn't one movement that's particularly in need of relief, so it seems unlikely to me that signalization changes are going to provide much benefit, especially for the new movements introduced in proceeding eastbound down Florida.

It seems rather clear that the problem is one of overall capacity in the area caused by design issues further downstream: for example, for most of the daytime hours, backups will start on westbound NY ave as cars wait to turn from NY onto I-395 S around 3rd St NW and extend through and pass the NY/FL Ave intersection. Also, every weekend Florida will be backed up in both directions, typically beginning at around North Capitol for the westbound traffic and similiarly beginning at the intersections bordering the Florida Ave Market to the east.

The issues with traffic on Florida are likely easier to solve than the traffic on NY. In a nutshell, the fundamental directions that most people seem to be going on NY involves a left turn through heavy traffic volume in the opposing direction (either onto 1st NE to access NoMA or onto I-395 further to the west). I'm not quite sure why existing plans seem to encourage developing 1st St NE as an artery without any firm, final plans for traffic flow from the north.

by Dan on May 25, 2010 10:27 pm • linkreport

Why keep the two way traffic on NY Ave? Why not make a simpler normal roundabout? Why does everything here have to be more complex than necessary?

by Jasper on May 26, 2010 9:44 am • linkreport

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