Posts about Glover Park
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) promised to complete a number of important projects by now or by the end of this year. Quick quiz: Can you identify which of these have met or will meet the promised deadline?
- Start streetcar service on H Street NE-Benning Road by the end of the year.
- Devise a better system for handling visitor parking passes and residential permit parking.
- Start building a separated bike lane (or "cycletrack") on M Street NW.
- Expand Capital Bikeshare to twice its original size.
- Make pedestrian safety improvements to Maryland Avenue NE.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of a new median on Wisconsin Avenue NW in Glover Park.
The answer: None of the above. DDOT has delayed or given up on all of these promises.
Continue reading my latest op-ed in the Washington Post.
Major infrastructure projects, such as sewer construction, can cause a lot of disruption without many tangible benefits. But in Upper Northwest, proposed sewer repairs could result in new bike paths and connections to local parks.
DC Water needs to repair disintegrating sewer lines in Glover Archbold Park and the Soapstone Valley, which could include building an access road. Not fixing the lines could cause sewage to build up in the park. But both conservationists and the National Park Service, which owns the land, are afraid that it will require losing trees and disrupting wildlife habitats.
Another proposal, to completely move the pipes and build pumping stations, has residents concerned that DC Water and NPS are not fully considering all policy alternatives. At a public presentation in July, ANC3B Commissioner Mary Young, who represents Cathedral Heights, said the proposal could violate Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. "No one has spoken much about the enormous carbon footprint that the city will face with the pumping stations," she said.
At the meeting, DC Water presented several options for the repairing the sewer. Their intent is to find a way to do so while also preserving parkland. Options include lining the pipes to repair them, daylighting some of the stormwater pipes, removing the lines completely, and building pumping stations.
If the pipes are abandoned and left as they are, sewage could build up in the park and become hazardous to everyone. In an email, DC Water spokesman John Lisle says the existing pipes and manholes are structurally compromised.
While the repairs may be disruptive, they present an opportunity to make it easier to reach Glover Archbold Park and the Soapstone Valley. The proposed pipe lining option will require an access road, which could provide connections to Glover Park. ANC3D Commissioner Kent Slowinski, who represents Wesley Heights, suggests that an access road created in consultation with NPS could have bike lanes and link to the future bike lanes on New Mexico Avenue, creating a direct route between Georgetown and American University.
The access road could accommodate other users as well, like visitors with disabilities. Today, the park is "totally inaccessible" to wheelchairs because of a lack of paved paths, said Young.
As with many infrastructure projects, DC Water and NPS will need to find a solution that creates needed sewer infrastructure while minimizing impacts on the ecosystem and neighbors. But the added benefit of a paved, multi-use path in the park could make this project much more attractive to the community.
Lisle notes that the design process has just started, nor have any decisions been made. It's possible that construction may not happen for at least 2 years, he says. That means now is the best time for the community to weigh in. The National Park Services will take public comments on the proposal until August 18. After that, ANC3B will host representatives from DC Water and NPS at their next meeting September 12.
Last night, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3D voted 5-4 to support adding bike lanes to New Mexico Avenue and Tunlaw Road in northwest DC. They also voted in favor of wider sidewalks on Nebraska Avenue, and asked DDOT to do a traffic study of New Mexico Avenue to help improve traffic flow and safety around Ward Circle.
Ultimately, both sides on this issue wanted the same thing: a safer, less congested New Mexico Avenue. But some residents and ANC commissioners believed that bike lanes and sharrows would exacerbate the current "chaos" and "Armageddon" on the road.
Supporters, meanwhile, argued the opposite: that the project will bring more order to the street, clearly delineate a space on the road for cyclists, remove cyclists from sidewalks, and make cycling a more attractive option to people who currently drive.
As we wrote yesterday, the bike lanes would improve traffic and make cyclists and pedestrians safer. In the audience, speakers who supported the bike lane outnumbered those who opposed it by 4 to 1.
Supporters said that bicyclists tend to support local retail and that the bike lane is a vital connection between Glover Park, American University and Tenleytown, especially now that the N8 Metrobus between those areas has been canceled.
Opponents, meanwhile, declined to support the lane because DDOT didn't perform a traffic study beforehand, as the ANC had asked in 2011. Some stressed their support for bicycling and environmentalism, and claimed that by opposing the lane, they were actually supporting cyclist safety.
There are some traffic issues on New Mexico Avenue today, like trucks unloading outside the Foxhall Square commercial center and blocking the street. But fixing these problems should not be a precondition to move forward with a bike lane, as opponents say. Commissioner Rory Slatko passionately defended the plan, and said that since bicyclists are already riding on New Mexico Avenue, any additional delay to the project puts them in danger.
While the debate over better bike infrastructure may not be settled, this chapter is over. By supporting bike lanes on New Mexico Avenue, ANC 3D took a positive step to improve conditions for cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians and endorsed a much-needed connection in DC's growing network of bike infrastructure.
Tonight, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3D will vote on a proposal to add bike lanes to Tunlaw Road and New Mexico Avenue between Calvert Street and Nebraska Avenue in Northwest DC. The lanes will benefit cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians alike.
New Mexico and Tunlaw form the only connection between two dense but transit-poor neighborhoods, Glover Park and Wesley Heights, and American University and the Department of Homeland Security's campus at Ward Circle.
While New Mexico Avenue is currently signed as a bicycle route, it has no dedicated space for cyclists. Each street has only one lane in each direction, meaning that drivers often get stuck behind bicyclists pedaling up the steep hill on New Mexico near Nebraska Avenue.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) proposes adding a mix of painted bike lanes and sharrows, as the corridor's width changes several times. They do not plan to take away any parking spaces, though planners say they may have to narrow the travel lanes to 10 feet in order to make room for a bike lane.
Some have been skeptical about bike lanes
ANC 3B, representing Glover Park and Cathedral Heights, voted to support the proposed bike lanes in February 2011. But ANC 3D, which covers Wesley Heights, Foxhall, and Palisades, voted against it a month earlier. Then-chairman Tom Smith urged DDOT to work closely with the community before going forward.
Since then, current ANC 3D commissioners Mike Gold and Joe Wisniewski and the DC bicycling community have worked with DDOT to improve the plan. Mike Goodno from DDOT's bicycle facilities team discussed it at the board's May meeting, while commissioners held a site visit on New Mexico Avenue with DDOT representatives and local bike commuters in June. DDOT staffers revealed that month that after working with the public, they've decided not to remove any parking spaces on New Mexico Avenue.
However, some residents and ANC commissioners remain skeptical of the DDOT proposal. Many are concerned that bike lanes will add to a sense of chaos in the area and make it more difficult to turn off and onto New Mexico Avenue.
There are also numerous concerns about how the bike lane will coexist with the Foxhall Square commercial center, where delivery trucks frequently park illegally for long stretches in the bus zone. But this an issue with enforcement, not bikes. The building has 3 loading docks in the back and a wide driveway on the side that delivery trucks could use. ANC 3D should press to resolve this, as the illegal deliveries already block a bus zone as well as the sidewalk.
Bicycle lanes will create order, not chaos
We know from experience that drivers can share the road with cyclists. DDOT has built on-street bike lanes throughout the city, most with minimal disruption or confusion. This shouldn't be a contentious proposal, as no travel lanes or parking spaces are being lost. ANC 3D has pressed DDOT for answers and compromise at 3 public meetings, and DDOT has responded and adjusted its plans to address citizen concerns.
Rather than create chaos, the bike lane helps to create order. Cyclists get a dedicated right of way, keeping them safe and separate from drivers, which is particularly important on the steep hill south of Nebraska Avenue where the speed difference between the two modes is the greatest.
It will also keep cyclists off the sidewalk, making it safer for pedestrians, especially senior citizens and young children. And by making the area more attractive for walking and biking, fewer people will drive, leaving more road space for those who prefer to drive.
DC has embarked on an ambitious program to add bike lanes and infrastructure throughout the city, and New Mexico Avenue and Tunlaw Road are an important part of making a citywide network. ANC 3D has done its job deliberating about this issue and hosting community meetings, and DDOT has done its job being responsive and improving its proposal. Now it is time for ANC 3D to support this worthwhile proposal to improve bicycle infrastructure in Ward 3.
When utilty companies tear up sidewalks in the District, they often don't put them back. The resulting bumps and holes make annoying or often hazardous obstacles for pedestrians. Residents and leaders in Glover Park have been pushing for fixes, and getting results.
Local groups are trying to make their neighborhood better for pedestrians. Glover Park Village, a nonprofit that supports seniors, proposed placing benches so they could take breaks. Volunteers created a snow shoveling service to clear sidewalks for older residents. Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 3B is trying to get funding for pedestrian safety improvements identified in a 2007 transportation study.
So when residents began to see dangerous holes and temporary asphalt patches on Tunlaw Road and Benton Street after Pepco removed old utility poles and DC Water repaired a fire hydrant, they reached out to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), which stepped in to get them fixed.
"By the time the construction permit expires, full restoration of the concrete is expected and required by regulation," said Elliot Garrett, Chief Public Space Enforcement Officer at DDOT. The agency successfully got DC Water to replace the concrete sidewalks along Tunlaw Road. It allowed the Benton Street hole to remain until DC Water's construction permit ended 2 months later, by which time DC Water restored the sidewalk.
After the early successes, Garrett assured the community that DDOT would investigate every location someone reported. Glover Park residents kicked off a comprehensive effort to identify every sidewalk with unfinished utility construction.
Articles on the listserv and in the Glover Park Gazette encouraged residents to report problem locations. One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, volunteered to take a photo of every location to assist DDOT with their investigation.
For each location, residents created a 311 ticket using the online tool SeeClickFix to specify the location, describe the specific problem and upload a photo. Within hours or a day at most, each report gets a 311 tracking number. And residents created an online spreadsheet and a shared folder containing information and photos of each location.
Initially, the neighborhood submitted 24 sidewalk problems into the District's 311 system for evaluation. Nearly all of them were near telephone poles, water valve covers or appeared to be utility repairs. A few of the locations, however, were near recently fallen trees and probably unrelated to utilities.
DDOT promptly inspected each location. In 17 of 24 instances, officials assigned responsibility to utility companies: 12 for Pepco, 3 for Washington Gas and 2 for DC Water. DDOT assigned work orders to itself for the remaining 7, some of which were due to fallen trees and others for which the agency could not determine responsibility. Residents added 3 more locations later, which are pending further DDOT investigation.
Most of the agencies responsible for damaging the sidewalk restored several locations to their original state. Others no longer have a valid construction permit. For these, the utilities are required to apply for a new permit and complete the restoration in accordance with DDOT standards.
How are utilities held accountable for restoring sidewalks, streets or other public spaces? According to DDOT spokesperson Monica Hernandez, the agency has public space inspectors who "routinely monitor their respective wards for any public space work, whether done under permit or not."
Glover Park residents found 17 places where utilities hadn't properly repaired the sidewalks, meaning there could be hundreds of temporary or unfinished repairs citywide. DDOT says that they have enough inspectors, technology and training in place to make utilities responsible for their work, and does outreach work to get them to finish it.
Hernandez says that once reported, DDOT typically resolves sidewalk repair requests within 45 days, unless permitting processes or contractor mobilization cause delays. DDOT continues to hold monthly meetings with utility companies to coordinate work and highlight opportunities to ensure repairs are done on time and to their standards.
Does your neighborhood have sidewalks with unfinished utility company work? Have you reported the repairs to DDOT using SeeClickFix or 311? Have the issues been completely resolved within a timely manner?
Last week, DC officials quietly reversed their recent traffic calming project in Glover Park and began removing a new median on Wisconsin Avenue.
With the Glover Park ANC's support, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) replaced one lane on Wisconsin between 35th and Garfield streets with a painted median in January to calm traffic and improve pedestrian safety. However, a number of residents who drive through Glover Park, including Councilmember Jack Evans (Ward 2, including Georgetown), pushed to reverse the move.
DDOT previously said their plan was to leave the median in place long enough to study it, but in the face of pressure, the agency suddenly began removing the median between Calvert and Garfield streets. Drivers struck 2 pedestrians each year in this stretch between 2008 and 2010. DDOT spokesperson Monica Hernandez says the change is "permanent" and that "the plan is to monitor pedestrian safety going forward."
Community supported median on Wisconsin Avenue
ANC 3B, which contains Glover Park, endorsed the median after a long vetting process. In June 2009, DDOT and its consultants at Toole Design Group recommended replacing one through lane with a center left turn median lane. Studies from the Office of Planning and DDOT found that it would increase pedestrian safety, calm traffic and direct it to the commercial strip by removing turning cars from the through lanes.
While DDOT originally proposed a raised median, ANC 3B advocated to start with painted medians so DDOT could study their effect and make changes if needed. After multiple ANC meetings and ample discussion on the Glover Park listserv, DDOT finally completed the painted median in January. Some neighbors immediately began to question the new median's impact on local businesses and whether it had just pushed traffic onto other streets.
Despite some complaints, most Glover Park residents agreed that the new configuration made it safer to move around Wisconsin Avenue, whether by car, foot or transit. The Glover Park ANC was also supportive, though they advocated for continued study and tweaks to reduce congestion.
Political pressure trumps collecting data
DDOT offered to study traffic delays for a year and look at ways to change the light timing, signage and enforcement to reduce congestion, but opponents said that was too long to wait.
Evans kept pressure up on the issue, including railing against it at public forums. He made regular phone calls to Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3, which includes Glover Park) while driving through the area, which he traverses several times a day to take his kids to and from their home in Georgetown.
When DDOT presented preliminary results of traffic studies showing that the median only added 1-2 minutes to driving time, Evans was incredulous. "If we were talking about just a couple minutes, we wouldn't be here," he said.
Last week, DDOT quietly began removing part of the median. The agency made this decision without telling residents of Glover Park or ANC 3B. DDOT spokesperson Monica Hernandez says they acted based on "direction provided by those at the May 1 hearing."
ANC members are disappointed in DDOT's change of heart. "It's outrageous that DDOT would make this change without considering its impacts on pedestrian safety and traffic flow and without consulting with the community most affected by the modifications," said ANC 3B chair Brian Cohen.
Cohen also says Evans' involvement shifted the decision from safety-focused to political. "The change from data-gathering to simply reversing DDOT clearly happened when Councilmember Evans inserted himself into the issue," said Cohen. "Jack Evans hasn't shown the slightest interest in the well-being and safety of the people who live, work, and play in Glover Park. ... It's galling that he's been given carte blanche to make decisions that undermine pedestrian safety in our community."
The Wisconsin Avenue median was the result of extensive study, community discussion, and eventually community buy-in. It's disappointing that DDOT would subvert its own process and put pedestrians at risk based on political pressure. Glover Park residents deserve better treatment from their officials and elected leaders.
Upset Georgetown residents are challenging a 2012 traffic calming project in Glover Park. They say it has lengthened their car commutes through that adjacent neighborhood. Monday, these residents will air their frustrations at an extraordinary Georgetown ANC meeting with Councilmembers Jack Evans and Mary Cheh and DDOT Director Terry Bellamy.
The idea for traffic calming project began years ago. The Glover Park ANC, after hearing constituents bemoan the state of retail in Glover Park, complained to the city about their commercial district's struggles.
The Office of Planning studied the area in 2006. That report found that cars speed through Glover Park, particularly going downhill on Wisconsin, which makes it dangerous to the pedestrians who patronize Glover Park businesses.
2-3 pedestrians are struck each year on Wisconsin Avenue in Glover Park. In fact, after a driver hit a Georgetown woman and her dog in Glover Park, commissioner Ed Solomon of the Georgetown ANC said, "I would hope that this accident would result in a comprehensive review on the safety concerns that this community has about this section of Wisconsin Avenue."
It's precisely this hostile pedestrian environment, concluded the Office of Planning, that reduces pedestrian traffic to retailers in Glover Park.
DDOT concludes median could reduce congestion and boost pedestrian safety
The Glover Park ANC then asked DDOT in 2009 for a follow-up study about making Glover Park more welcoming for pedestrians. DDOT collected tons of data on traffic at all times of day and days of the week, and reached some interesting conclusions.
The data showed that Wisconsin Avenue in Glover Park actually suffers from both congestion and speeding, due to the many left turns. When drivers are turning left they block the lanes and cause congestion; when they don't, people speed and pedestrians are at risk.
DDOT's engineering models showed that adding a middle left-turn lane would both reduce congestion and also speeding. It would calm traffic (with a single through lane) and eliminate left-turn lane blocking (with the turn lane). The models estimated that the project would not change the time to drive though Glover Park.
Officals presented these results at numerous public meetings. Anyone who was remotely involved in civic affairs by reading public meeting notices, attending ANC meetings, or talking to their ANC commissioners knew about it.
Changes aren't complete
DDOT then began the construction, and some residents in Glover Park and Georgetown complained about traffic spilling over into adjacent neighborhood streets. That was a legitimate complaint, and there is a poorly-designed intersection at 37th & Tunlaw that invites drivers to cut through adjacent neighborhood streets.
Fortunately, DDOT's study had a recommendation for that. It suggested reconfiguring 37th and Tunlaw to calm traffic and reduce cut-through traffic. That project is not done yet; it's scheduled to be completed in March.
The construction on Wisconsin, however, largely finished early this year, but the center median containing the left-turn lanes is only painted for now. That's because DDOT is spending a year measuring the results and tweaking different things like light timing, enforcement, and so on.
Changes already help some pedestrians, frustrate some drivers
Pedestrians are already feeling the benefits. It's far less stressful crossing and walking along Wisconsin Avenue. Families with children in particular report less anxiety about walking around Glover Park to popular destinations like the Guy Mason playground and area restaurants.
When the year of tweaks and study ends, DDOT will replace the painted medians between the left-turn areas with raised medians. This will be even better for pedestrian activity, because crossing Wisconsin Avenue will be safer and less threatening with a central raised median.
However, a vocal minority of drivers who prioritize a few seconds of driving time over pedestrian safety have won their first battle to reverse this project. They have secured an audience with two Councilmembers and the DDOT Director at Monday's Georgetown ANC meeting.
DDOT Program Manager Paul Hoffman says that "early returns" of data collection indicate that through time is the same for drivers headed north through Glover Park, but 30 seconds longer on average going south.
If the opponents are successful in repaving Wisconsin Avenue to add the lost through lanes, DC will not only have to pay for the repaving. We will have to pay the federal government back for the money it contributed to the project.
Use the form below and attend Monday's meeting to ask the councilmembers and Georgetown ANC commissioners to give the Glover Park traffic calming project time to succeed. The ANC meeting takes place on Monday, March 4, 6:30 pm at Georgetown Visitation School on 35th Street and Volta Place. The meeting is on the 2nd floor of the main building, in the Heritage Room.
Speak up for safety
This petition is now closed. Thank you for participating!
This Thursday night, an Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) in affluent upper Northwest's Ward 3 will vote on a resolution about the DC zoning update. We need you to go try to dissuade the reactionary, backward commissioners from trying to keep new residents out of their fancy neighborhods and... wait a minute... they're totally for it!
ANC 3B, which covers Glover Park and Cathedral Heights, is considering a resolution to endorse the changes in the zoning update. Assuming they pass the proposal, they're totally enthusiastic about more neighborhood-serving corner stores, renting out basements and garages and other parts of homes.
The resolution strongly defends the plan to remove parking minimums "that undermine market forces, increase housing costs, reduce incentives to use mass transit, and damage the historic and walkable form of many neighborhoods."
If you live in Glover Park, please head to their meeting, which starts at 7 pm at Stoddert Elemetary, and speak up for these important (and quite modest if not overly timid) changes.
Here's the full text of the draft resolution:
Whereas, the District's current zoning code, written in 1958, predates Metro and the modern mass DC bus system, and is not consistent with past population shifts or expected trends in population growth in Glover Park, Cathedral Heights, and the District of Columbia as a whole;In the interests of full accuracy, it's not strictly true that the update "does not modify parking minimums outside of transit zones," since new residential buildings of up to 10 units won't have parking minimums even outside transit zones. However, that doesn't override any of the cogent arguments for the change.
Whereas, 50 years of accumulated amendments have made the code complicated and hard to navigate and understand;
Whereas the Office of Planning proposed and sought public comment on a December 2012 update to the generations-old zoning code;
Whereas, the updated proposal makes reasonable allowances for local corner stores in rowhouse residential areas such as Glover Park so that the ability to walk a short distance to local, neighborhood-friendly stores enriches our neighborhood fabric and provides easy access to daily necessities;
Whereas the December 2012 draft of the zoning update contains reasonable limits on these corner stores to limit trash, noise, or other problems;
Whereas the updated proposal offers improved options for homeowners to create an accessory dwelling unit, creating more affordable housing, increasing the value of existing housing stock, allowing for neighborhood population growth without modifying existing building density, and allowing seniors to age in place in their own homes;
Whereas the December 2012 draft of the zoning update contains reasonable limits on such accessory dwelling to prevent overcrowding of neighborhoods or accessory dwellings that are not consistent with the fabric of traditional residential neighborhoods;
Whereas, the updated proposal modifies required parking minimums that undermine market forces, increase housing costs, reduce incentives to use mass transit, and damage the historic and walkable form of many neighborhoods;
Whereas the December 2012 draft of the zoning update does not modify parking minimums outside of transit zones so that the proposal will not adversely impact the availability of on-street parking;
Whereas, a simplified zoning code will offer clear rules that can be followed by the average resident and enable the zoning code to be transparent and accessible to all;
Therefore, be it resolved that the ANC supports the December 2012 Office of Planning zoning code draft that will let Glover Park, Cathedral Heights, and the District of Columbia grow in a sustainable way while meeting the needs of current and future residents of all ages;
Now, therefore be it further resolved that the ANC 3B asks the Zoning Commission to adopt the December 2012 draft zoning code proposal.
Plus, we've already seen, when there have been parking minimums, that it doesn't guarantee abundant street parking. The neighborhood can protect its street parking by creating smaller RPP zones, making permit prices better match supply and demand, and using performance parking to promote turnover by non-residents.
Meanwhile, the Foxhall Community Citizens' Association took a look and outright opposes just about everything, mainly on the usual grounds we've heard: they don't really want more people around, especially not students, and also think that more people will make it harder to park. Here is an email we obtained, which FCCA historic preservation chair Paul DonVito sent to other citizens' associations:
Here are a few of our concerns. These issues aren't unique to FV - or the FCCA area in general - but they are at least some of the areas of potential concern that have been discussed:The basement apartment rules will actually not "lead to pressure [for] additional front entrances" because the zoning proposal already forbids new front entrances in single-family type houses (they're okay for row houses, unless it's a historic district and historic preservation blocks such a change).
Apartments over garages - seems like a back door way to pack more students into rental housing. Would a "garage apt" mean a house with a max of 6 students could suddenly add a couple more over a "garage" - increasing the max to 8?
Making basement apartments a "matter of right" - Clearly this would lead to pressure additional front entrances as well as full height basement egress windows. This is already a growing problem in the neighborhood as at least a half dozen houses have expanded basement windows on facades over the past few years.
Reducing parking requirements - we already have an overabundance of cars due to all the group houses. Increasing density would only make that problem worse.
Corner shops - we are definitely concerned about commercial encroachment - ie corner stores.
Pepco trucks recently invaded Glover Park to remove redundant utility poles that have been cluttering neighborhood streets for the past decade. Thanks to persistent community advocacy, these eyesores will soon disappear.
Around 2001, Pepco replaced its existing utility poles in Glover Park with new taller ones, as part of an effort to improve electrical reliability and increase pole capacity. Unfortunately, when the new poles went up, the old poles remained in place, often side by side, with the wires from other utility companies still attached.
Years later, it became clear that the double poles were here to stay.
With no automatic procedure in place for the city to push for removal of the old poles, it took a concerted, years-long effort by neighborhood residents to get them taken out.
In some cases, new poles and old poles were attached to each other with odd collections of metal cables and brackets. Residents wondered whether there was any rhyme or reason to the seemingly random metal supports. W Street NW even had the distinction of a triple pole cluttering a tree box.
According to meeting minutes, ANC3B first attempted to hold Pepco accountable to a specific removal timeline at a November 2004 meeting.
Commissioner [Christopher] Lively reported that Pepco has been in the area and has almost completed removed [sic] their lines off the old poles on to the new poles. Verizon, Comcast, and Starpower, however, have not removed their lines so the poles still cannot be removed. Commissioner Lively will write a letter on behalf of ANC 3B to OCTT [Office of Cable Television and Telecommunications] to bring the issue to their attention.Nearly a year later, at ANC3B's October 2005 meeting, Commissioner Melissa Lane brought up the issue again, to Pepco representative Roger Green. Green asked for a list of double pole locations in order to identify removal needs. The ANC complied and expected Pepco to deliver.
In June 2007, ANC3B invited Pepco to explain its plan to remove the double poles.
Pepco Regional Vice President, Vincent Orange, and Linda Jo Smith, Public Relations, reported on the status of the double utility poles that has been a problem throughout Glover Park for the past five years. Pepco replaced their poles but could not take all of them down because other service companies (Comsat, Verizon, etc.) and the district had their products on the original poles. Pepco is making a concerted effort to work with these other companies and get rid of the original poles. Ms. Smith committed to returning in September with a status report.As a concerned resident, I corresponded with Councilmember Mary Cheh and DDOT in 2008 and 2009. Cheh's Director of Constituent Services stated, "Trust me, we have asked and mentioned it, and reminded Pepco. We will keep doing all of the above until we get responses/action."
Likewise, DDOT's Customer Service Officer assured me, "You will be happy to know that we are working with Pepco and other agencies to resolve the double pole issue. You're right, it isn't happening overnight, but we're getting there."
A few back and forth tweets with the @PepcoConnect Twitter account in June 2011 didn't help either, even after I offered to provide an inventory of locations.
Finally the long drawn out issue turned around in October 2011, when I asked my ANC3B single member district commissioner Brian Cohen to intervene. Cohen worked with Tom Smith, Ward 3 Liaison, Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Engagement, who immediately contacted Pepco's Public Affairs Public Affairs Manager for the DC Region, Chris Taylor. Smith also pulled DDOT and the city's cable office back into the issue.
Taylor provided a 521-page document called NJUNS covering the entire Pepco service area. His email walk-through of the pole removal process may be very useful to other neighborhoods trying to resolve this same issue.
To tell you more about the list, NJUNS stands for National Joint Use Notification System. Several states nation wide use this system. The basis of the system is that all utilities in a specific geographic region voluntarily participate in a program to help track progress in removing double poles. As was indicated earlier, equipment must be removed in sequential order from top to bottom. Pepco normally initiates the process when we first remove wires and equipment. Generally, the order is as follows:Pepco, while now apparently willing to coordinate wire transfers, didn't know where the poles were located. NJUNS listed only three or four double poles for Glover Park, but there were a lot more. Cohen and I counted 41 during our block-by-block survey, and provided a list to Pepco in January 2012.
5. Pepco inspects to ensure pole is completely stripped
6. Contractor pulls the pole
The NJUNS sends an automated email each time a location is updated. If you look on the report, each page has various steps. At each step, NJUNS automatically sends an email to each utility notifying them of any action that is taken and needed next steps.
Behind the scenes, Pepco lit a fire under the other utilities. Only 2 months after identifying all the pole locations, temporary no parking signs went up and convoys of utility trucks scattered around Glover Park to begin removing the redundant poles.
Over half of the excess poles have been removed already, though ironically 3 new double poles were recently installed.
10 years later, a final resolution is in sight. It took a long time, but Glover Park's double poles are nearly gone. There is hope for other neighborhoods willing to put in the work to identify pole locations and repeatedly follow up with Pepco.
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