Photo by thisisbossi on Flickr.
DDOT and residents worked together to prioritize and fund pedestrian safety enhancements along Connecticut Avenue. Now, the agency has stopped moving forward and says the fixes are “not a priority,” according to pedestrian advocates.
Last year, Connecticut Avenue Pedestrian Action (CAPA), organized by IONA Senior Services, worked with community volunteers and staff from Toole Design Group to develop a plan to improve pedestrian safety on the busy — and sometimes deadly — Connecticut Avenue corridor.
Since then, CAPA has been working with DDOT planners and engineers on a first round of improvements, including identifying funding for the changes.
However, CAPA organizer Marlene Berlin told CAPA volunteers and supporters in an email last night that “Everything was ready to go and was stopped in its tracks because,” according to DDOT, “it is not a priority.”
This project is another example of how DDOT’s energy to move forward with meaningful improvements for walkers and bike riders has all but vanished in the past few months.
While the precarious future of downtown cycle tracks is the most high-profile example of the agency’s lethargy, it’s disappointing to see the malaise begin to infect small-scale neighborhood improvements, as well.
Funding was available for changes to increase the length of walk signals and establish leading pedestrian intervals at 12 intersections in Woodley Park, Cleveland Park, Van Ness and Chevy Chase.
CAPA is also pushing for two new pedestrian signals at Northampton Street and between Ordway and Macomb Streets.
CAPA suggests that supporters email DDOT Director Terry Bellamy and Councilmember Mary Cheh, the new chair of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation. Here’s an email text they suggest:
I am a CAPA (Connecticut Avenue Pedestrian Action) supporter who supports the pedestrian audit of intersections on Connecticut Avenue. After all the work of over 80 volunteers on this audit, I want you to support this effort by directing your staff to implement CAPA’s recommendations to increase traffic light timing on Connecticut Avenue which George Branyan and Wasim Raja have been working on and progress has been halted. Also, we need DDOT to install much needed pedestrian signals, one at Northampton and another between Ordway and Macomb Street on Connecticut Avenue. Please let me know when DDOT will take action.
Update: DDOT spokesperson John Lisle says: “At this point there’s no indication we’ve halted anything. Trying to determine why they think that’s the case and to put together some specific information” to explain the issue. We’ll post more as we get it from John.
Update 2: Marlene Berlin writes:
As a result of the emails that everyone sent, I got word that, in fact, the traffic engineers had continued to work on increasing traffic light timing on Connecticut Avenue, but lines of communication had broken down. So on 7/21 the work orders will be submitted, and by the end of October, the project will be fully implemented.
As for the pedestrian signals, Cleveland Park with get one in Spring 2012 between Ordway and Macomb, and DDOT will do a warrant study on Northampton in August 2011. The traffic engineers need more information than what was included in the Rock Creek West Livability Study to determine what kind of signal would best be suited for this intersection. I will keep you posted.
I am still waiting on word from MPD about the status of their contract for increased photo enforcement.
Thank you for all the emails.