73rd & Walnut

Glover Park & the Wisconsin Ave. Streetscape project

Wisconsin Avenue Survey

Go to the ANC 3B website and take a survey about the Wisconsin Avenue Streetscape Project. This is another chance to voice your opinion on whether you think the lane reductions have added value and safety, or gridlock and misery, to our neighborhood’s commercial strip.

Months after its completion, the conversation about the Wisconsin Avenue Streetscape Project is still alive. Councilmember Mary Cheh, chairperson of the DC Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment, is hosting a second roundtable on this topic on Wednesday, December 4, 2013, at 11:00AM, at the Guy Mason Recreation Center, 3600 Calvert Street, NW. Click here for more info.

You will recall one such meeting earlier this year, which resulted with the lanes north of Calvert returning to the original configurations. This has helped the flow of traffic go back to normal on that portion of Wisconsin Avenue. But the traffic remains difficult at certain times of day south of Calvert down to the Safeway.

My opinion:  the lane reductions have not calmed traffic as intended. On Wisconsin Avenue in Glover Park, I see angry drivers run red lights more than ever. I see cars dart around others and go into oncoming lanes of traffic or the painted median. The dedicated turn lanes are useful in some places, but are not necessary at some intersections where not many cars turn. While I would enjoy less cars on the road, the reality is that until public transportation catches up to our needs, we are still gonna have to hop into our cars. Reducing lanes on a busy stretch of road is not going to discourage driving, it just punishes everyone.

Stick a fork in it…

…because it’s done! The once dreadful intersection of 37th and Tunlaw is now a navigable passage! It seems to be working great, and it looks really nice. Not only is there a physical and kinetic calming, but the new configuration and greenery also adds a visual calming effect.

Thanks go out to Paul Hoffman and the rest of the folks at DDOT for listening when Glover Park residents sprung into action to get this done. Once part of a greater transportation study plan that included fixing all sorts of issues in Glover Park, this problematic intersection was left out of the Streetscape project. One of the major problems with that—reducing the number of lanes on Wisconsin Avenue would be sure to shunt more traffic onto an already confusing intersection.

Thanks also go out to you, for reading this blog and staying informed. And thanks to the GP residents who signed the letters that went out to DDOT and DC government officials pleading for work to be done in the interior parts of Glover Park. Thanks to the GP residents who took time out from their schedules and attended the ANC meetings in which these Streetscape matters were discussed. And extra special thanks to neighbors Mia Esserman and  JP Montalvan for the wisdom and excellent writing skills that they contributed towards getting this important work done.

No doubt that there is more to do in the neighborhood to increase pedestrian and motorist safety; I only know about the parts of GP that I frequent. But as you can see, citizen action does indeed work. You don’t need to hold office, or be a member of any group, or even be an charismatic extravert to affect change in your neighborhood. You just need to talk to your neighbors and tell them about the ideas that you have for making something in your neighborhood better.

Enjoy the rest of your summer.

So close. This close. Really really close!

Here's a view facing south from 37th.

This is an LID – a landscape structure designed to drain stormwater while providing some lovely greenery. Picture it without the orange barrels. NIce, right? This view is facing south from 37th Street.

There’s an end in sight to the years and years incessant honking, vulgar gesturing, and mass confusion that has been at the intersection of 37th and Tunlaw. Well, maybe not an end to, but perhaps a lessening of, uncivilised motoring.

The crosswalks are painted, the macadam is shiny and smooth, and the yellow lines are in place. The LIDs (low impact developments) are filled with shrubs, plants, and trees. Only thing missing are the traffic signs. And it would have been nice to see those temporary signs that warn drivers of changes in the traffic pattern. It looks like some of that might be coming in the next few days.

So, wow, here we are! Although fixing the dreadful intersection of 37th and Tunlaw, and other parts of Glover Park, were once part of a master plan, somehow, provisions were only made to work on the Wisconsin Avenue portion of Glover Park. Leaving out the rest of the neighborhood’s needs, while narrowing capacity on Wisconsin Avenue, was a ludicrous proposition, since it would make an already bad intersection even worse. When officials were questioned why no work was being done in the rest of Glover Park, the reason given was that there was simply no budget for it. A letter-writing effort by concerned citizens encouraged some rethinking, and within months, surveyors were in place taking measurements, and traffic engineers began to make plans.

The intersection looks really good, it seems to be functioning well, and residents who live right at the corner told me there is a marked reduction in noise from angry drivers. It’s been a bumpy ride, but we are near the end.

Mid-summer’s Review

37th and Tunlaw

The intersection of 37th and Tunlaw, hated by so many for so long, is very nearly finished with its reconfiguration. Detoured traffic has been rather messy (one reason–drivers dare not use Wisconsin Ave., the official detour during this project, at certain times of day), but the end is very near. The new extended curbs and sidewalks are looking good, and will soon be filled with greenery. These green spaces, known as Low Impact Developments (LIDs) are designed to drain stormwater in a way that lends itself to helping the watershed.

This redesign promises to make 37th and Tunlaw a safer intersection for pedestrian, cyclist, and driver. And quieter for those homeowners who have put up with all that intersection’s honking, and more recently, construction noise and dust. All that, and it will look good, too! What was once a swath of concrete and confusion, will now feature touches of greenery, and traffic patterns that are more user-friendly.

Wisconsin Avenue

North of Calvert on Wisconsin, the traffic lanes are back to their original configuration. On the Glover Park listserv, there’s been a renewed cry of late by people who want Wisconsin south of Calvert back to it’s original configuration. Traffic continues to back up, and by my observation, less lanes of traffic have not brought pedestrian safety. What I see are cars going right through stop lights because they’ve been caught in the middle, or cars jockeying around the median lines. The wider sidewalks have helped Wisconsin Avenue be safer for pedestrians, but the fewer lanes have not.

DC/Baltimore region  in Metropolis Magazine

Not one, not two, but three bits about our section of America are written about in the July/August issue of Metropolis. In a piece titled “Urban Characters,” one of the featured places is the Washington DC Metro rail stations.  And you know, it is a nice, clean metro system relative to other cities. And for fans of brutalist architecture, it’s a dream. I wish our stations had newsstands like in NYC, and better lighting, but all around it’s a great transit system that has helped urban living continue to thrive in our city.

The second article is about a new building at Gallaudet University. It goes into detail about how the architects worked with deaf students to make an optimal space that addresses the specific needs of the hearing impaired.

The third piece is about Baltimore’s mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Her Vacants to Value initiative is helping fix up blighted parts of Charm City by getting foreclosed and abandoned properties under repair and revitalized for ownership.

It’s a-happenin’

Substantial work has finally begun on the intersection of 37th and Tunlaw here in Glover Park. The intersection has been a long-term thorn in the side of many–whether a pedestrian trying to get across without getting run over, a driver trying to figure out who’s turn it is at the four-way stops, or the people who live at the intersection who have to listen to all the honking and cursing.

Of course, there will some pain in the meantime. The detours and closures are providing a huge source of confusion. I noted this evening buses going up Manor, and cars blowing right past the street closure signs. There has been a lot of traffic detouring deeper into the neighborhood, and that is what it is, but what’s disturbing is that these drivers are coursing through these tiny streets way too fast. I learned DDOT has been made aware of these problems, and they are working on better placement of the signs so people can figure out what the heck is going on.

In fact, this evening I saw DDOT project manager Paul Hoffman taking notes at the intersection of 37th and Manor. I think DDOT’s been doing a good job of jumping on problems as they are reported. Just a few days ago, ANC 3B member Jackie Blumenthal noted that the placement of a no-left turn sign on northbound Wisconsin at Calvert was seriously messed up, and I believe that was fixed pretty quickly.

Thanks to everyone who has helped to make Glover Park safer for pedestrian, cyclist, and motorist. These few weeks of mess is going to result in a better neighborhood. The intersection will be easier to navigate, and instead of two concrete slabs, we will have little islands of greenery. Now if we could just get a subway line…

When will the porridge be just right?

The dreadful intersection of 37th and Tunlaw remains just that.

The construction signs are up, some markings and cuts were made in the asphalt, the portable john is in place…where’s the crew?

First there was no money. Then (with a lot of citizen kvetching) money and a plan emerged! But then it was too cold, and then it was too wet, and and now it seems, it’s too hot.

Is it official?

2012 D30 UBT

I found this on my door yesterday. It looks to be an official notice of the work to begin the improvement of the intersection of 37th and Tunlaw. Looks like it’s really happening!

After a handful of delays, Glover Park is finally getting some relief at a particularly bad area for drivers and pedestrians. The angles of the intersections are such that cars can’t tell whose turn it is at the four-way. Pedestrians trying to navigate are actually in the crosshairs of cars driven by confused motorists. Any time of day, you can hear angry horn-honking.

This intersection had been problematic for years and years. When the Glover Park/Wisconsin Ave. Streetscape project start date was announced last year, it came to my attention that no other areas of Glover Park with traffic safety needs were being addressed. The traffic studies conducted in the mid-00′s most definitely suggested fixes for that and other danger spots. I set to find out from DC officials why only the main corridor was being fixed, and the rest of our streets ignored. The answer was that it was not in budget (but somehow there was plenty in the budget for those shiny historical streetlamps, each one costing thousands!) or that the money allocated was federal money and only for a major road such as Wisconsin. Be that as it may, I found it hypocritical that so much was made of the dangers of Wisconsin Avenue, with no regard to the other parts of the neighborhood. It didn’t make sense that the ripple effects of changes on the main thoroughfare were not taken into consideration.

But here we are now. We’ll have the nuisance of dust and congestion for a few weeks, to be sure. But when it’s done it will be a huge improvement and add to the walkability of our neighborhood.

Updates, recaps, and same-old

37th and Tunlaw

Surprise – yet another delay on the project to fix the dreadful intersection of 37th and Tunlaw. At last Thursday’s ANC 3B meeting, Paul Hoffman of DDOT assured us that the work will definitely be done. One day. Soon. It remains unclear when, because of ongoing bureaucratic hold-ups. But Hoffman recognizes the dangers and problems of the intersection, and has done a good job of keeping us posted. Still, it is very frustrating, especially since this problem has been around for years and years, and now exacerbated by the increase in traffic caused not only by the lane reductions on Wisconsin, but the growing population of the Washington DC area.

Committee on Transportation & Environment, Public Oversight Roundtable

On May 1st, Mary Cheh hosted the Committee on Transportation & Environment, Public Oversight Roundtable. You can watch it at this link.

My comments and observations:
Cheh did a great job of asking good relevant questions of witnesses who presented. Witnesses included ANC members, citizen association members, and private individuals from Georgetown, Burleith, Glover Park, and Cathedral Heights. Cheh noted one thing I’ve always said:  Why not implement all the other traffic-calming measures available (better crosswalks, timed lights, sidewalks etc) but without the lane reductions?

Of the dozen witnesses, three felt that the Streetscape’s lane reductions have resulted in improved pedestrian safety. I think those benefits are overstated.

We can all agree that pedestrian safety is important. The wider sidewalks at the gas station and cemetery that were part of the Streetscape project are fabulous. It’s definitely easier to walk in those bits. The bright new crosswalks – wonderful. These are the things that have helped pedestrian safety. But with the lane reductions, what I’ve seen is crazier driving as motorists jockey for position, trying to beat the lights, and ignoring the median markings. How is this safer for pedestrians? A few of the Roundtable witnesses made that same observation.

Expressed were micro-local concerns, parking concerns, diverted traffic concerns. Some have a problem mainly with the reduced parking, some with northbound lanes. Some, like me, dismayed that the effects of the Wisconsin Avenue lane reductions on other streets were not considered before the project commenced.

More than one witness pointed out how the reductions have increased cut-through traffic, not just in Glover Park, but also the adjoining neighborhoods to the north and south of us. For me, cut-through traffic itself is not so much the problem, but rather the dangerous driving of angry motorists looking for short-cuts.

One witness claimed that the new Streetscape has made it so that almost all storefronts have filled since DDOT broke ground on this project. I had to replay that a couple times to make sure I heard it right. Hmm, let’s see, new businesses, new businesses…oh yes, we got a nail salon…and, um, oh right, JP’s will open any day now. OK to be fair, at some point, a high end furnishing store moved in. Mayfair and Pine came, but then went. Sprig & Sprout came and stayed. But to attribute any new businesses or dwellings to Streetscape – that is really reaching.

The good news is that DDOT continues to monitor traffic to collect data. We’ve been assured that the 37th and Tunlaw intersection redesign will happen. There is talk of making that stretch of 35th at Wisconsin a two-way, with a traffic light, and this may help alleviate some of the crush there at the British School and Safeway. Some of the parking that was eliminated north of Calvert will be put back. Hopefully, in time, maybe the lanes on Wisconsin Ave. will be restored, and other traffic calming measures that don’t snarl traffic will be stepped up. That way, we will have a whole neighborhood that is safer, not just the commercial strip.

37th and Tunlaw Intersection updates

The progress on 37th and Tunlaw is…not progressing.

At last week’s ANC meeting, a DDOT community outreach representative was on hand to tell us the project is still in the throes of contract/paperwork/budget matters. We continue to be assured that the project, a much needed fix to the dangerous intersection of 37th and Tunlaw, will go forth at some point.

The project had been planned for last year, then delayed until March 28th, then pushed to mid-April.

Unrelated, but also postponed–the Charles Glover mural project by local GP artist Jarrett Ferrier. The plans call for a mural at the wall of concrete steps that connect W Place, in addition to a decorative ironwork.

Updates of 37th/Tunlaw intersection and more

Intersection of 37th and Tunlaw

At Thursday’s ANC3B meeting, Paul Hoffman of DDOT was on hand to present some new information:

  • Construction work at 37th and Tunlaw should begin around the 28th of March.
  • Work is expected to take about 4 weeks.
  • Wisconsin Avenue will serve as the detour, and DDOT will work with the contractor to try to minimize rush hour inconveniences. There will be signs posted well before construction begins to alert drivers to the changes.

Yes, it will be messy and annoying, but the end result will make our neighborhood safer for pedestrian and autos at that unnerving dangerous intersection.

Wisconsin Avenue Streetscape

Councilmember Mary Cheh is hosting a roundtable about the Streetscape on May 1st. Here is the official notice with lots of contact info. This is yet another chance for residents to voice their opinions on whether they see the lane reductions as beneficial or detrimental to our length of Wisconsin Avenue.

Notice of public Oversight Roundtable on
The Wisconsin Avenue Upgrade/Streetscape Project

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 11:00 A.M.

in Room 412 of the
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20004

On May 1, 2013, Councilmember Mary M. Cheh, Chairperson of the Committee on the Transportation and the Environment, will hold a public Roundtable on Wisconsin Avenue Upgrade/Streetscape Project. The Roundtable will begin at 11:00 a.m. in Room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.   This notice is revised to reflect the new date and time for this roundtable.

In 2006, the Office of Planning issued the Glover Park Commercial District Analysis Report, which included a set of recommendations for improving Wisconsin Avenue in Glover Park.  Through the Wisconsin Avenue Upgrade/Streetscape Project, the District Department of Transportation has sought to implement the goals of this report and to improve the safety, traffic, pedestrian mobility, and retail accessibility of Wisconsin Avenue from the intersection of 34th Street to the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue.

The Committee invites the public to testify or to submit written testimony, which will be made a part of the official Hearing Record. Anyone wishing to testify should contact Ms. Aukima Benjamin, staff assistant to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, at (202) 724-8062 or via e-mail at abenjamin@dccouncil.us.  Persons representing organizations will have five minutes to present their testimony.  Individuals will have three minutes to present their testimony.  Witnesses should bring 8 copies of their written testimony and should submit a copy of their testimony electronically to abenjamin@dccouncil.us.

If you are unable to testify in person, written statements are encouraged and will be made a part of the official record.  Copies of written statements should be submitted to Ms. Aukima Benjamin, staff assistant to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Suite 108, Washington, D.C. 20004.  They may also be e-mailed to abenjamin@dccouncil.us or faxed to (202) 724-8118.  The record will close at the end of the business day on Wednesday, May 15, 2013.

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