Photo by thisisbossi on Flickr.
Much of New Jersey Avenue NW through the Mount Vernon Triangle area has essentially been a one-way off-ramp for I-395 for years. DDOT wants to turn this broad avenue back into a 2-way neighborhood street, add bicycle lanes, and have the bike lanes cross the intersection in a way that would be new to DC but is common in the Netherlands.
Currently, New Jersey Avenue NW is a 2-way street north of New York Avenue and south of I Street. In between, it’s one-way northbound. Traffic getting off I-395 north at Massachusetts Avenue takes 2nd Street NW to New Jersey Avenue, which has 4 northbound lanes at I Street.
Drivers then race far above the speed limit to try to make it through the traffic light at New York Avenue, either continuing north into Shaw or turning right to get onto New York Avenue eastbound. Since MPD added a speed camera on 395, some cars use New Jersey Avenue as a de facto replacement for the interstate highway to avoid tickets.
As part of the Mount Vernon Triangle Action Agenda, DDOT is returning some 1-way streets in the neighborhood to 2-way. As new businesses and residents move into the neighborhood, the city wants to make the streets safer for all modes, instead of just being extended on- and off-ramps for the interstate highway stub.
Since 2006, DC has done this on the 400 block of L Street NW and 4th Street between L and Massachusetts. New Jersey Avenue is the next road in the neighborhood to get the two-way treatment, and the intersection with New York Avenue is the trickiest part of that project.
Proposed design includes 2-way traffic and bike lanes
As part of the presentation last Wednesday, the traffic engineers who have been working with DDOT presented 3 plans for that busy corner. The first plan did not include dedicated space for cyclists, but bike lanes were added to produce the third plan, DDOT’s preferred choice.
The second plan, which was produced in-house by DDOT, essentially added slip lanes to all four corners of the intersection. This plan, which thankfully appears to have been thoroughly rejected, would have sacrificed pedestrian and cyclist safety in favor of moving automobiles through the intersection as quickly as possible.