The Republic of the Congo has begun removing its unauthorized paving at the insistence of DDOT and the State Department, and DDOT restored a pedestrian walkway on Irving Street after residents complained. Let’s thank our public officials for getting these small but important neighborhood issues fixed.

Over at 16th and Corcoran, the Congo had a deadline of December 17, Saturday, to de-pave the front yard of the Toutorsky Mansion they made their embassy earlier this year. On that day, Dupont Conservancy member Rich Busch took the below right photo of crews removing the concrete.

Left: Front yard after paving. Right: Crews removing paving. Photos by Rick Busch.

DDOT sent the Congo and the State Department a letter a month ago, finding that the paving violated DC regulations. That was the basis for the State Department’s follow-up letter telling the Congo to take the paving out.

Another successful fix comes from Mount Pleasant, where ANC commissioner Jack McKay alerted us recently to a change that had destroyed the pedestrian walkway along Irving Street. This section, where Irving climbs from Adams Mill Road along the edge of Rock Creek up into the neighborhood, has high-speed traffic and no sidewalk.

McKay wrote,

…that bit of road is also a vital pedestrian link between a bus stop and the Harvard Towers, a 193-unit DCHA structure housing mostly the aged and the disabled. Being aged and/or disabled, the residents mostly take the bus, and for years walked in the street, into oncoming traffic, to reach this bus stop.

But in 2006 the Mount Pleasant ANC persuaded DDOT to build a temporary barrier of jersey wall, creating a safe pedestrian passageway to that bus stop. (The ANC also purchased a bench for that bus stop, which DDOT installed so that those folks would no longer have to sit on an uncomfortable guard rail while awaiting the bus.)

Initially there was a series of posts in the street to guide drivers away from that jersey barrier and into the traffic lane. The posts gradually vanished, ampu­tated by careless drivers. That left the jersey wall barrier exposed in the street, with only the post mounting hump remaining to direct cars away from it.

Recently, the jersey barrier was moved over, creating a less crash-prone arrangement for the speeding cars but blocking the path for pedestrians.

Left: Blocked pedestrian walkway. Right: Walkway restored. Photos by Jack McKay.

Was this a misguided DDOT crew thinking they were making the road “safer”? We don’t know, but after being alerted to the situation, DDOT restored the jersey barriers to their correct spots and added one of the sand-filled crash barrels.

This stretch of road still feels like a highway, and crash barrels are more usually seen on high-speed highways than local streets, but making the roadways in and around Rock Creek Park more hospitable to all modes is a longer-term issue that will involve additional significant changes from both DDOT and the National Park Service. Meanwhile, it’s great that residents can at least walk safely to their bus stop.