DDOT has made a number of changes to its design for New Jersey Avenue NW between H and N Streets from its previous draft in late July, but the main elements remain — making the road two-way and adding bike lanes.

Drag the slider to line up with one of the letters to see major areas with changes.
Top: current design. Bottom: previous design. Images from DDOT. Click for full versions (PDF).

DDOT hopes to begin work in late September 2013, according to Michael Randolph of STV Incorporated. The goal is to create a “more residential feel” for the road, as the 2006 Mount Vernon Triangle Transportation and Public Realm Design Project recommended. DDOT will not widen the road south of New York Avenue, but will widen it somewhat north of New York Avenue to accommodate the switch to two-way traffic.

The team made a few significant changes to the design which you can see on the above diagrams.

More marked crosswalks (drag the scrollbar to line up with the point marked B): Pedestrians will now have crosswalks on all 4 sides of the New Jersey/New York Avenue intersection. The previous plans provided no crosswalk across New York Avenue on the west side of the intersection.

This is a smart move, since pedestrians would and could legally walk across the intersection whether there’s a marked crosswalk or not. Better to put some high visibility zebra striping there to let drivers know pedestrians should be expected and have the right-of-way.

New York Avenue median gone (also point B): The median island on New York Avenue has been removed and replaced by a new westbound traffic lane. Randolph said this was part of an attempt to separate traffic headed into the tunnel from traffic that intended to stay on New York Avenue earlier in order to relieve congestion.

This appears to be a loss for pedestrian safety. An island would allow half the road to be crossed at a time. Now, the elderly and other slow-crossing individuals will be forced to cross 7 lanes of traffic in one cycle.

Innovative bike lane corner treatments: The corner of K Street and New Jersey Avenue (point C) will no longer get the “innovative” bike lane treatment that routes cyclists next to the crosswalks at corners. Meanwhile, at New York Avenue and New Jersey Avenue, instead of having the tiny islands to route the bike lanes at all 4 corners, there are only 2.

Randolph said that DDOT determined there wasn’t enough space in the intersection for this treatment. It’s not clear why that is the case, and is unfortunate, given that DDOT plans a major cross-town bike lane for K Street NE/NW.

Slightly shorter bike lanes (point A): The dedicated bike lanes on New Jersey Avenue have been truncated somewhat. Instead of running the entire length of the project from H to N Streets, the lanes would stop at Morgan Street (which is located between M and N Streets).

Randolph said, “The bicycle lanes were eliminated in this section to better match the typical section of the roadway to the north of N Street and to provide a transition zone for the cyclists between intersections.” This answer doesn’t really explain why it had to change.

A bay of angled parking spaces was added just north of I Street (to the right of point C), cutting into the sidewalk on the west side of New Jersey Avenue. This means reducing an area of green space to make room for the sidewalk that will now be farther from the street edge.

A sharper right turn onto 3rd Street is included in the design (point A). This will force drivers to slow down more before they make the turn which crosses a bike lane and crosswalk, and should make this corner safer. It also gives pedestrians a more direct path to cross 3rd and stay along New Jersey Avenue.

In addition to these specific changes, the project team talked about a few general issues.

Pavement quality: Residents complained that rear-end crashes occur often on New York Avenue because of poor pavement quality. The project team will conduct a “geotechnical investigation” of the pavement on New York Avenue, from 1st to 4th Streets NW, to provide a “10- to 20-year fix” for the pavement.

A traffic analysis will be done for that stretch of New York Avenue, as well as New Jersey Avenue from H to N Streets. Residents hope this will determine the best way to get traffic headed towards the convention center through the neighborhood.

Overhead signs that direct traffic onto I-395 are large, highway-style signs that make the area feel more like a freeway and less like a neighborhood. DDOT will evaluate these in hopes that the city can remove at least one of the 3 that currently exist.

Leading pedestrian intervals: Residents asked about the possibility of having the walk sign come on before the green light at New York Avenue, so those walking across the street would have a chance to get a jump on vehicular traffic. Residents raised concerns about seniors having enough time to cross a road as wide as New York on foot.

Pedestrian bridge: A request for a pedestrian bridge over New York Avenue was quickly shot down due to both cost and practicality. The ramp to such a bridge would likely have to begin more than a block from the intersection for the slope to be gentle enough to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

DDOT will present additional alterations to the plan online sometime in January of 2013. There are currently no plans for further public meetings to discuss the project. Residents with questions or comments can email Abdullahi Mohamed, the project manager.