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.