The DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) held the final of three public meetings on the Rock Creek East One Livability Study Monday evening at the Metropolitan Police Fourth District Headquarters. It was a full house as curious neighbors pored over exhibits and maps to discern how DDOT had interpreted community input from previous meetings.
What is a Livability Study?
The purpose of this neighborhood study is to enhance the community quality of life through improvements to transportation safety and connections to destinations for all modes. The study seeks to calm traffic and recommend improvements that don’t simply push traffic over to another area and degrade outcomes for others. While the upper Ward 4 area hasn’t been as impacted by redevelopment as other parts of the city, growing commuter traffic and the impending activation of the Walter Reed campus make easing traffic bottlenecks now imperative.
The goal of yesterday’s meeting was for DDOT to present draft recommendations for safety and traffic calming solutions and solicit feedback on these strategies. The project team prepared these draft recommendations based on public comments from previous meetings and on those collected on the project website. This feedback was combined with various traffic assessment data sets to refine, and assist in the selection of recommendations for short, medium, and long-term improvements to transportation safety in the area.
At Tuesday’s Brightwood Community Association meeting, Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd said, “We fought to get funding in the budget to conduct (this) Livability Study. With the amount of development we’re going to see along upper Georgia Avenue and particularly around the Walter Reed area, we worked with the DDOT to find funding for them to conduct this study.”
The study area is defined by Rock Creek and the Maryland border to the West, Eastern Avenue the North, New Hampshire Avenue NE and the Red Line Metrorail tracks to the East, and Military Road NW, Missouri Avenue NW, and Riggs Road NE to the South.
Nine Final Recommendations
Project manager Cynthia Lin led the presentation and helped to set expectations for the audience. An important caveat to this discussion is that none of these recommended changes are final or have dedicated funding attached to them. DDOT will continue to take feedback on these suggestions for at least two weeks, and beyond that, most items require further analysis. In some cases, it may be possible for DDOT to install flexi posts as an interim solution.
I’ve listed the nine focus areas and included a few notes for each. Click the images to see a larger, more detailed version.
Georgia Avenue @ Alaska and Kalmia Rd NW
This intersection has lots of conflict points for both pedestrians and vehicles. Anyone who has tried to negotiate a left turn to travel west onto Kalmia Road knows this firsthand. The biggest change imagined here is the removal of the slip lane directly in front of the Morris Miller Liquor store.
Blair Road @ Aspen Street
16th Street @ Juniper Street
16th Street @ Alaska Avenue
Adding a bulbout here should slow traffic that currently whips around that corner when coming southbound on Alaska.
Georgia Avenue b/w Fern and Juniper
The inclusion of several bulbouts should make pedestrian crossing safer.
14th Street b/w Sheridan and Aspen
With a school and major park nearby, pedestrian safety was a major concern here. Cars tend to not yield here. The solution here includes adding several bulbouts to make pedestrian crossing distance shorter. They would also reconfigure the intersection with Luzon Avenue so that traffic is one-way in each direction away from 14th Street.
Georgia Avenue South
North Capitol Street @ New Hampshire Avenue
Here, DDOT looked at realigning this entire intersection to enhance vehicle storage (places for cars to stand during reds lights). This intersection is notorious for cars “blocking the box” at New Hampshire and Blair Road and also brazenly running the red light at North Capital southbound. The car travel flow would resemble a traffic circle.
Piney Branch Road b/w Butternut and Eastern
The Rock Creek East Livability study has covered a lot of ground. From a layman’s perspective, the ideas and proposed solutions do seem like they have the potential to ease some long-standing traffic headaches in the community without causing immediate, negative spillover effects on other blocks.
The proof is always in the pudding, however. It remains to be seen exactly how DDOT can move from vision to implementation for these ideas without dedicated funding. Having plans on the board is a positive step, but residents should demand more.
To learn more, please visit the project website.