Greater Greater Washington

Posts by Tony Goodman

Tony Goodman is an ANC Commissioner for 6C06 in Near Northeast/NoMA and member of the DC Pedestrian Advisory Council. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, he is a Construction Project Manager with a Masters degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Michigan and has lived in Washington, DC since 2002. 

Bicycling


A trail from NoMa to the National Arboretum is in the works

Planning is officially underway for a new pedestrian and bike trail parallel to New York Avenue NE. The trail would run from NoMa through Ivy City and out to the National Arboretum.


A rendering of a trail section in Ivy City. Image Rails-to-Trails.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy ("RTC") just completed a study on the possibility, and DDOT and Douglas Development are now working on the first phases of planning for construction.

DDOT has envisioned protected bike infrastructure along this route since at least the 2005 DC Bike Master Plan's release, but this is the first study to analyze a particular route and provide a cost estimate. Funding for the study came from a donation from Douglas.

The study recommends a 14 foot trail width, with a minimum of 10 feet, from the NoMa Metro to the Arboretum. The trail would connect with the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) at its existing M Street NE ramp, go through the Florida Avenue Market/Union Market, and then along mostly-DDOT controlled land on the North side of New York Avenue NE.


New York Avenue trail area map. Image from Rails-to-Trails.

There are several options considered for some segments of the trail. The exact route will depend on further design and land ownership analysis, but there are some small sections that may be built this year.

DDOT is planning to build protected bike lanes in 2016 on M and 4th Streets NE along the route recommended by the RTC study. From there, local developer Kettler has a PUD pending at the Zoning Commission for several buildings fronting on to the trail.

As part of Kettler's project at 300-350 Morse Street NE called "Union Terminal" they will build 1,000 feet of the trail through an alley from Morse Street NE up to a DDOT-owned tunnel under New York Avenue. Kettler will also build a park at the South end of the tunnel to activate this currently vacant & desolate tunnel portal.


Site plan for Kettler's "Union Terminal" project, from their PUD application.

In Ivy City, Douglas Development is assembling a collection of shipping containers to become a retail and events space on land leased from the DC Government. They will build the trail section between Fenwick and 16th Streets NE as part of this project this year.

RTC is estimating that construction of the trail will cost $5 million, excluding a potential $6 million bicycle and pedestrian bridge across Florida Avenue NE. This would only be built if the developer to the South, Trammel-Crow, can incorporate the trail into their upcoming project at the Central Armature Works site.

Additional funds will be needed to acquire two parcels of land along New York Avenue. These hold a hotel, gas station, and tire shop. RTC estimates that acquiring these parcels, which total approximately 36,000 square feet, will cost $5 million.


Section of the trail through an existing tunnel under New York Avenue from the RTC study.

The next step will be starting a more formal engineering study of the various sections, which DDOT hopes to do later in 2016. The most critical portion will be along the railroad tracks where the trail will be built into the existing embankment between the tracks and road.

Other


A 5-year bus detour just ended

For the past five years, WMATA's 90-series buses have had to avoid traveling eastbound at a well-known intersection. They don't have to anymore.


90-series bus route changes. Diagram by the author, base image from Google Maps.

In 2010, DDOT rearranged the intersection of Florida and New York Avenues NE; it sends eastbound traffic on Florida around a Wendy's restaurant, garnering the unofficial name "Dave Thomas Circle." Only later did it come to light that buses couldn't easily turn right from Florida to First Street around this new "virtual circle".

Buses have been turning onto North Capitol Street and then New York Avenue to avoid that one turn. Westbound buses have never had to change from their straight path along Florida Avenue.

Thanks to DDOT making some recent changes at Florida and New York, Monday marked the first day of service restoration for this portion of the route, saving several minutes for the 90, 92, 93 & X3 runs—some of WMATA's busiest bus lines.

While changing the turn radius here, DDOT also took the opportunity to shift some of the lane markings and signs to make it more clear where cars should wait at the light, as well as to add some green paint and other markings to make it easier for people on bikes to safely navigate the circle.


DDOT's most recent minor fixes at "Dave Thomas Circle."

These minor changes should be helpful for the next few years. DDOT is now starting engineering for a larger project at this location: to eliminate Dave Thomas Circle completely to create a simpler intersection surrounded by new park spaces.



Two future options for the New York/Florida intersection. Images from DDOT.

Roads


Bad pedestrian design mars the intersection where Vision Zero launched

On Wednesday, DC officials unveiled the Vision Zero plan to make roads safer for walkers and cyclists, as well as drivers. But at the very intersection DDOT made the announcement, pedestrians are already getting short shrift.


The new beg button to cross Maryland Avenue at 10th NE. Photo by Andrea Adleman.

A new traffic light recently went in at the intersection of 10th and Maryland NE after years of community requests to make traffic along the street safer. But at the signal's crosswalks, a pedestrian walk signal only comes on if you press a button and wait. DDOT's rules say these "beg buttons" are a bad idea, but they keep installing them anyway.

After requests by the local ANC, DDOT changed the light to be pre-timed from 7 am and 7 pm, meaning it has a pedestrian walk signal during every cycle from green light to red light. But at all of the other lights along Maryland, there's a walk signal during every cycle at all times.

Moreover, at 10th and Maryland, if someone presses the button during a green light, they have to wait for the light to turn red and then green again to get a walk signal, despite the fact that the sensor will extend the green time if more cars show up during the cycle.

The ANC had asked that this signal always be pre-timed but DDOT responded that they would have to study the issue more to ensure that it wouldn't delay vehicles. However, DDOT's own study has shown that many cars are actually speeding at this intersection, with over 90% driving over the 25 MPH speed limit at 5 am.


Image from DDOT.

DC's rules discourage beg buttons

Pedestrian Actuated Signals, or "beg buttons" as they are often derisively called, are more common in outlying areas than they are in the city but can still be found in the District. Another location that has them is the intersection of North Capitol & L and along M Street NE at the NoMa Metro.

DDOT specifically discourages them, including in the MoveDC plan, because they make people wait longer to cross on foot, they're less predictable, and they're more challenging for people with disabilities who may not see or be able to easily reach them. Specifically, MoveDC says beg buttons should not be used near transit stops or in any area where pedestrians are present for at least 50% of the cycle during the hours that see the most use.

This does not mean, of course, that such signals should be used at areas that don't meet these conditions.


Image from DDOT.

While it's true that DDOT has recently made some helpful changes by adding the traffic light and changing the layout of 10th and Maryland, the pedestrian buttons violate the spirit of Vision Zero that the Mayor showcased at Wednesday's event.

Retiming the light to make it so all cycles have a pedestrian phase would make crossing at 10th and Maryland much safer. And on a bigger scale, DDOT's engineers and consultants would do well to follow the agency's pedestrian safety policies a bit more closely.

Bicycling


A bike-ped trail is in the works for New York Ave NE

An effort is underway to turn a stretch of land along New York Avenue NE into a biking and walking trail, connecting Ivy City to NoMa and beyond.


Map of the potential New York Avenue trail route. Image from Google Maps with edits by the author.

The western end of the trail will be at 4th Street NE in what many know as Union Market—the Office of Planning and Douglas Development, one of the district's biggest developers, actually call it by its original name, the Florida Avenue Market. This area used to be the rail yards for the wholesale market, and there's an unused tunnel under New York Avenue that DDOT could repurpose for a trail.

The south side of the tunnel leads to a large plot of city-owned land, which could eventually be a park that the thousands of new residents coming to the neighborhood could enjoy while at the market.

"The New York Avenue Trail has been in our plans for several years," said DDOT bicycle program coordinator Jim Sebastian. "With new activity and community support in the corridor, we can start a more concerted planning effort that will end with better neighborhood connections for walking and bicycling."

DC's 2005 DC Bike Master Plan designated New York Avenue NE as the site of a future off road multi-use trail. A feasibility study, conducted by the Rails to Trails Coalition and commissioned by Douglas, will look at the corridor from Union Market to the Arboretum.

A trail through the area would provide access to new development in Ivy City and help connect several Ward 5 neighborhoods to the NoMa Metro.

"We couldn't be more excited about the potential of linking the Florida Avenue Market all the way to the Arboretum," said Paul Millstein, a vice president and head of construction at Douglas. "We think it's key to the pedestrian-friendliness of the entire sector as this industrial area transitions to a livable community."


Hecht's development, from the north. Image from Douglas Development.

The trail will help make it easier to travel to and from Ivy City

Wedged between New York Avenue NE and West Virginia Avenue NE, Ivy City has long been one of DC's poorest neighborhoods. Some have even called it a "dumping ground" for undesirable industrial and parking uses.

But change is underway, as the DC Department of Housing and Community Development is working with several non-profits to build dozens of new houses and Douglas Development is constructing 400 apartments with several hundred thousand square feet of retail in the historic Hecht's warehouse. Douglas also owns other nearby buildings and land.


Tunnel under New York Avenue. Photo by the author.

Trail users will skip the steep New York Avenue bridge and have access to downtown

The tunnel gives the trail a way to avoid the steep New York Avenue bridge over the railroad tracks. In Ivy City, the tunnel connects to a path that descends back to the trail and track level at Fairview Street.

Trail users will be able to connect to downtown and elsewhere through the M Street NE cycletrack, which leads to the Metropolitan Branch Trail and may eventually link with the M Street NW cycletrack across town.


Unused railroad right of way along New York Avenue near Brentwood Parkway NE. Photo by the author.

Safety will need to be a priority for the trail to serve its purpose

The nearby Metropolitan Branch Trail has had issues with safety and maintenance, and without many parks or retail locations along the way, the trail from Ivy City to NoMA will run through areas that are even more devoid of activity. Excellent lighting, connections to area businesses and the main road, retail kiosks, and pocket parks, then, will be a must.

MOM's Organic Market just opened its first DC store at 1501 New York Avenue NE. For now, the safest and easiest way to get there is by driving, which is inviting because MOM's sits at the base of a five-story parking garage. But hopefully, sometime in the not-too-distant future, it will also be safe for MOM's patrons and other Ivy City and Ward 5 residents to bike or run there along this new trail.

Bicycling


First flowerpots, and now, a cycletrack

Last week, people noticed flowerpots appear on 6th Street NE between Gallaudet University and Union Market. But that wasn't all. Yesterday, officials put in the next piece: a cycletrack.


Photos by Mike Goodno of DDOT.

This is a "tactical urbanism" project by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Gallaudet University to make 6th Street NE safer for all users, including a new 2-way cycletrack and small plaza.

6th Street NE between Florida Avenue and Penn Street is extremely wide, with 70 feet of asphalt for only two parking lanes and two driving lanes. Each lane was 22 feet wide before DDOT recently re-striped the road. This is double the width of typical travel lanes.

The new layout still provides parallel parking on both sides, but also adds a two-way cycletrack on the east side while narrowing the travel lanes to 12' wide. This is similar to Option 3 for 6th Street in the ongoing Florida Avenue Safety Study, which will set plans for a future project to permanently rebuild the street.


Drawing from DDOT.

Gallaudet has been a huge supporter of this project, and worked with DDOT to have this open now that their Neal Place entrance will be open full-time. The university owns most of the real estate on both sides of 6th Street NE and they were concerned about the campus community crossing the street to access Union Market and other businesses. They also have high hopes for future growth on this street.

While most of this land is now used for maintenance or parking, Gallaudet is planning a new campus neighborhood to improve the campus experience, provide revenue and improve links to the surrounding neighborhoods and Metro. The university recently chose JBG as the development partner for this 1.3 million square foot project.

The changes on 6th Street were able happen so quickly because DDOT did not need to remove any travel lanes, parking, or other elements which require more time to approve. This has also recently become a highly-traveled pedestrian area not only because of Gallaudet and Union Market, but also because KIPP has opened a high school at the former Hamilton School on Brentwood Parkway.

The planters at the Neal Street NE campus entrance will help protect a small plaza on either side of the street. This will make it easier to cross between Gallaudet and Union Market by shortening the crossing distance and making pedestrians more visible. Gallaudet provided and will maintain flowers in the pots.


Photo by Mike Goodno.

This cycletrack will transition to the existing bike lanes on 6th Street south of Florida to K Street NE (which will eventually be rebuilt as part of the Florida Avenue NE project). For access to the southbound 4th Street NE/SE bike lane or to the Metropolitan Branch Trail, DDOT is planning new bike facilities for M Street NE.

The funding comes from DC's new Sustainable DC Innovation Challenge program. David Levy, program manager for Sustainable DC, says the program "funds innovative pilot projects that demonstrate ways to make the District more sustainable."

Sam Zimbabwe of DDOT said planners are "always looking for ways to improve safety and create usable public space. We did some short-term improvements on Maryland Avenue NE at 7th Street earlier this year, so it's definitely more and more in our toolkit, but we don't have other locations identified just yet."

A project like this will have a major impact on safety for all users, and was completed very quickly through collaboration by many partners. Where else are there opportunities for tactical sustainability projects like this?

Bicycling


A new cycletrack will connect 1st Street NE to the Metropolitan Branch Trail

DDOT has started construction on a short cycletrack on M Street NE, to connect an entrance to the Metropolitan Branch Trail to the First Street NE cycletrack.


M Street cycletrack plan. Image by DDOT.

The new cycletrack will be on the south side of the street, and will function like an extension of the existing 1st Street cycletrack. Both parking stops and plastic bollards will protect cyclists in the bike lane, just like on 1st Street. This will replace all 16 metered parking spaces on the block.

Running only a single block, the new cycletrack ends just prior to where M Street passes under the railroad tracks, where there's an entrance to the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

A new ramp is under construction at that spot, to allow bicyclists to cross the sidewalk and access the trail entrance.

For cyclists continuing east under the tracks, DDOT officials will paint sharrows in M Street's traffic lanes.

At one point on M Street, the cycletrack squeezes down to a narrow 6 feet wide. This is to accommodate the wide turning radius of trucks entering and exiting the Harris Teeter loading dock on the north side of the street. The narrow section will have plastic bollards but no parking stops.

Other bike projects in NoMa

This block-long cycletrack is part of a trio of projects DDOT is working on to fill in the gaps of NoMa's bike lane network.

Earlier this summer, DDOT officials added bike lanes to the 100 block of F Street NE. Next up, they'll rebuild 1st Street NE between Massachusetts Avenue and G Street, next to Union Station, to add a cycletrack and wider sidewalks.

Sometime further in the future, DDOT could potentially extend this new M Street cycletrack west to North Capitol Street or beyond, and east to 4th Street or Florida Avenue.

Transit


WMATA truck parks on the sidewalk, crashes into a light pole

The NoMa Metro station sports large areas of sidewalk. Unfortunately, some WMATA employees treat this sidewalk as a private parking lot. This past weekend, one even backed into a light pole. This employee was violating WMATA internal policies and was disciplined.


Photos by the author.

This has been a periodic problem for years. Geoff Hatchard observed employee vehicles on the sidewalk and even blocking the bike racks back in 2010.


A minivan with a placard identifying it as belonging to a WMATA employee blocks the bike racks in 2010. Photos by Geoff Hatchard.

If a driver can't avoid a light pole, would he miss a pedestrian?

Here in DC, the sidewalk on M Street at the NoMa station is always filled with people walking their dogs, kids running around their parents, waiting for rides, and more.

One WMATA driver not only hit a light pole, but struck it hard enough to shatter his windshield. What if that had been a smaller, moving object like my 3-foot-tall son, who was walking with us here that afternoon? This station also serves Gallaudet University, where the thousands of deaf students and staff would have never even heard a vehicle backing up.

I cleaned up the glass

The next day, glass still littered the sidewalk. By then, shards had spread across several hundred square feet of sidewalk, making this situation especially hazardous for dog walkers and young parents.

I grabbed a broom, large battery and a vacuum from my house and walked several blocks to clean up the sidewalk outside the station. It took me two hours.

The next day, two WMATA vehicles parked on the nearby sidewalk once again.

Driving on sidewalks can be dangerous without a spotter

Many cities only allow government vehicles on sidewalks for certain prescribed reasons, and require a spotter to ensure that the driver does not strike people or objects.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) updated its policy recently to require spotters walking ahead of full-sized vehicles on sidewalks after a maintenance truck driver struck a cyclist in a caged bike/ped lane on a Norfolk bridge.

Other times, policies are in place but not followed. For example, last year in San Francisco a woman playing with her infant daughter was struck and killed by a parks employee who was driving a truck through the park against city policy.

Metro policy prohibits most parking on the sidewalk

WMATA spokesperson Dan Stessel looked into the issue and sent us this statement:

As a general matter, Metro vehicles should not be parked on sidewalks at any time. There may be times when no other option is available, depending on the station and the exigency of the circumstances (e.g. elevator technicians responding to an entrapment, track workers responding to an arcing insulator, rail supervisors responding to a person struck by train).

However, for routine work, Metro vehicles should only be parked in marked, legal spaces (except for ADA spaces). Employees who violate parking policies are subject to ticketing (for which the employee pays the fine), as well as internal discipline.

In the case of the NoMa incident you referenced, the vehicle was being operated by a new Red Line supervisor who was assigned to NoMa-Gallaudet as a terminal supervisor to manage the single-track operation and turn-back of selected trains at the station. He should not have parked on the sidewalk.

When departing the station, the vehicle made contact with a pole, causing the rear window to break. The employee was removed from service, taken for post-incident testing (drug/alcohol) which is standard, and will be subject to discipline.

This issue does come up from time to time, and requires occasional reinforcement with our 11,000-employee workforce. (For additional context, we maintain a fleet of nearly 1,500 service vehicles across a myriad departments, such as elevator/escalator, systems maintenance, plant maintenance, rail transportation, bus transportation, car maintenance, revenue/fare collection, etc.)

The vast majority of employees follow the rules and park properly. However, those that don't create a negative impression for the rest of us. Which is exactly why we encourage anyone who wants to report a parking issue to directly contact Metro Transit Police, either by calling 202-962-2121 or by texting "MyMTPD" (696873) 24 hours a day.

Bicycling


Next up for NoMa bicycling: Fill in the gaps

Last Month, Mayor Gray and DDOT cut the ribbon on DC's newest protected cycletrack on First Street NE in NoMa between G and M Streets. This is a part of the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT), which will eventually connect Union Station to Silver Spring. Next, they plan three short extensions to fill in some important gaps.


Celebratory cake for the 1st Street NE ribbon cutting. Photo by the author.


Map of gaps in the Metropolitan Branch Trail. Base map from Google Maps.

First Street NE between Massachusetts and G

The cycletrack doesn't cover one last block of First Street NE just north of Columbus Circle. There is one lane for traffic in each direction, plus metered spaces on the west side.

Delivery trucks often park on the east side as well, facing the wrong direction and blocking northbound traffic. This leaves little room for bikes and no room at all for northbound cars.


Sidewalk gap and illegal loading on First Street between G & Mass NE. Photo by the author.

DDOT plans to fix these issues by making this block one-way southbound for cars. The northbound vehicle lane will become a two-way cycletrack. A concrete curb, identical to the one on First Street between K and M Streets NE, will separate the cycletrack from other traffic. The parking lane will become a loading zone.


Proposed road sections for 1st NE from G to I. Drawings from DDOT. Click for larger version.

This project will also include rebuilding and expanding the sidewalks, particularly on the east side where a loading dock entrance and bollards currently cause the sidewalk to disappear completely for approximately 80 feet. This will help prepare the street if and when DDOT is able to expand the mezzanine in the adjacent Union Station Metro station.

M Street NE between First and Delaware

The elevated Metropolitan Branch Trail ends at L Street, but there is only a stairway there, so bicyclists on the trail usually exit at M Street. They ride down a ramp onto a wide sidewalk across from the NoMa Metro Station. The trail then continues on-road on First Street NE, but there is a one-block gap on M Street without any dedicated bicycle infrastructure.

This block of M now has one lane of vehicular traffic in each direction, with metered parking on the south side. DDOT's proposal would remove these 16 parking spaces to create a protected cycletrack.


M Street NE at 1st showing potential cycletrack. Image by the author.

DC's 2005 Bike Master Plan and the recently released MoveDC Plan both show protected bicycle lanes for M Street all the way from downtown, past this block, to the end of M at Florida Avenue NE (between 6th and 7th Streets NE). The new M Street NW cycletrack runs from Thomas Circle at 14th Street west to Pennsylvania Avenue at 29th Street (with a one-block gap between 15th and 16th).

DDOT's Mike Goodno is also preparing designs to add more blocks on M Street NE and portions of M Street NW, but this first block is the highest priority because it would fill a gap in the MBT.

F Street at 2nd Street NE

The MBT technically splits south of L Street into a pair of pathways on 1st and 2nd Streets, NE—on either side of the Union Station tracks. The 2nd Street section primarily runs on widened asphalt or concrete sidewalks which abruptly end at F Street close to Union Station.

The block of F Street between Union Station and 2nd Street, which goes past the Securities and Exchange Commission building, is one-way eastbound with limited parking spaces. However, the street is the same width as the blocks to the east, in residential Capitol Hill, which have two lanes of traffic plus parking on both sides.

DDOT proposes adding an eastbound bike lane on the south side of the street, along with a contraflow bike lane on the north side for westbound bicycles similar to nearby G and I Streets NE.


Proposed bike lanes on F Street NE. Drawings from DDOT. Click for larger version.

This will connect to planned bike lanes for F Street NE from 2nd to 8th, which Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6C voted to support in September 2013.

Next steps

ANC 6C will be voting on these new bicycle facilities at its monthly meeting tonight, June 11. The ANC's transportation committee previously endorsed these projects. DDOT has already begun the procurement process for some of these projects, and is aiming to have all of these MBT sections complete this year.

Pedestrians


"Dave Thomas Circle" could get fixes or disappear entirely

A new study of pedestrian and bicycle safety along Florida Avenue NE is suggesting changes to the "virtual" traffic circle at New York and Florida Avenues. In the long run, that "circle" and the nearby Wendy's could become a simpler intersection and green space.


The current "circle" and short-term fixes. Images from DDOT. Click to enlarge.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) created the "virtual circle" arrangement as an "interim solution" in 2010 to deal with this difficult intersection. It was very difficult to navigate on foot or bike, and which had seen some very serious crashes.

The circle pattern routes traffic heading eastbound on Florida counter-clockwise along First and O Streets. It got the nickname "Dave Thomas Circle" because that triangle circumnavigates a Wendy's, and to play off the name for Thomas Circle. Wendy's also has many driveways connecting to the surrounding roads, and Eckington Place NE joins the tangle of roads here as well.

Since DDOT set up the "circle," the severity and number of crashes has gone down, said Sam Zimbabwe, DDOT's planning head who is overseeing the study. However, many people find it confusing and it takes up a lot of space.

Once, some suggested an interchange

At the time this pattern was conceived, DDOT studies recommended building a new overpass or tunnel so New York Avenue traffic could bypass the intersection. Some plans suggested extending the I-395 tunnel from its current terminus near 4th Street NW past Florida Avenue.


Image from the 2006 DDOT study.

But a 2006 NCPC study raised concerns about new tunnels or bridges. NCPC worried about how new large-scale auto infrastructure would create an even larger pedestrian barrier in the nascent NoMa neighborhood and between other adjacent areas. Since then, DDOT has largely dropped the idea of tunneling as a solution.

What could replace the circle?

The Florida study proposes some options to simplify the intersection. They would eliminate some turns, delete the block of O Street that's now part of the "circle," and either eliminate the block of First Street or reroute it to connect to Eckington Place NE.


2 options to replace the "circle."

Florida and New York Avenues would get a bit wider to make room for turning lanes instead of the "jughandles" of the old design. Adding this right-of-way would almost certainly mean the city would have to take the Wendy's by eminent domain. But that could make the intersection significantly better for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike.

It would also open up some land for green space or other uses. The National Capital Planning Commission has long envisioned this intersection as a potential future memorial site. In 2001 they named it as one of their top 20 "Prime Sites" in the region in the Memorials and Museums Master Plan.

In addition to the longer-term proposals, later this year DDOT will make minor modifications to tweak how this intersection works. That includes changing which lanes get used for which types of turns, striping bike lanes, and adding new signs.

One change will widen the turn radius at some key spots so that the 90s buses can traverse the circle. When DDOT set up the circle arrangement, Metro discovered its buses couldn't fit, and had to reroute them onto North Capitol Street, adding minutes of extra time for every rider.

Pedestrians


Florida Avenue NE and nearby streets could get wider sidewalks and bike lanes

Florida Avenue, NE and other roads in the area could become safer and more comfortable to walk and bike along in the future. The public will get to see several options this week that would widen sidewalks and add bike lanes to key roads.


Photo by Yancey Burns reproduced with permission.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT), along with consultants Kittelson & Associates and Rhodeside & Harwell, has been working with the community for the past 6 months to identify safety issues in this area. Florida Avenue suffers from extremely narrow sidewalks, with less than 2 feet of space directly in front of many homes and across from Gallaudet University. That width doesn't meet ADA guidelines.

Officials have said there is room for wider sidewalks and bike lanes, since the current traffic volume on Florida does not warrant more than 2 motor vehicle lanes in each direction.

Currently, the number of lanes on Florida varies from 2 to 6 within the span of a few blocks. Some of the lanes on Florida are also quite wide, up to 17 feet. DDOT will present projections for traffic up to 2040 and considering upcoming land use changes, to demonstrate that more lanes aren't necessary in the future either.

DDOT will propose four alternatives. All widen sidewalks to varying extents. Plus,

  • Alternatives 1a and 1b widen the sidewalk while keeping 6 lanes for motor vehicles.
  • Alternative 2 adds narrower painted bike lanes along the curb on each side, and creates a center turn lane along with 4 travel lanes.
  • Alternative 3 skips the center turn lane and adds a buffer alongside the bike lanes, to give cyclists some extra distance from fast-moving cars.


Cross-sections for Florida Avenue: Current 1a 1b 2 3
Images from DDOT.

On 6th Street north of Florida Avenue, which separates Gallaudet University from the Florida Avenue Market, the lanes are 22 feet wide, or more than double typical widths. For this segment, there are three options:

  • Wider sidewalks and and painted bike lanes, plus "curb extensions" (also known as "bulb-outs") to shorten the distance pedestrians have to cross (Alternative 1)
  • Wider sidewalks and a cycle track in each direction, plus curb extensions (Alternative 2)
  • A "curbless flex space" along the market side of the road and a two-way cycle track on the Gallaudet side (Alternative 3)


Cross-sections for 6th Street: Current 1a 2 3
Images from DDOT.

The agency also plans to reconstruct 6th Street between K Street and Florida Avenue, NE; West Virginia Avenue NE; and "Dave Thomas Circle," at the intersection of Florida and New York Avenue (which currently has a Wendy's in the center, hence the nickname). DDOT's report will also likely include some safety improvements within the Florida Avenue Market.

Officials will present the proposals at a public meeting Wednesday, April 2, at the Two Rivers PCS Middle School building on 1234 4th Street, NE, at 7 pm. Feedback from this week's meeting will shape the final report, expected later this spring.

The agency has not announced construction dates for any of the projects. Before it can build anything, changes will also have to go into the regional Constrained Long-Range Plan, which according to DDOT planning head Sam Zimbabwe is the reason the agency can't make any temporary changes to try out new configurations and make the road safer in the meantime.

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