Florida Avenue, NE and other roads in the area could become safer and more comfortable to walk and bike along in the future. The public will get to see several options this week that would widen sidewalks and add bike lanes to key roads.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT), along with consultants Kittelson & Associates and Rhodeside & Harwell, has been working with the community for the past 6 months to identify safety issues in this area. Florida Avenue suffers from extremely narrow sidewalks, with less than 2 feet of space directly in front of many homes and across from Gallaudet University. That width doesn’t meet ADA guidelines.
Officials have said there is room for wider sidewalks and bike lanes, since the current traffic volume on Florida does not warrant more than 2 motor vehicle lanes in each direction.
Currently, the number of lanes on Florida varies from 2 to 6 within the span of a few blocks. Some of the lanes on Florida are also quite wide, up to 17 feet. DDOT will present projections for traffic up to 2040 and considering upcoming land use changes, to demonstrate that more lanes aren’t necessary in the future either.
DDOT will propose four alternatives. All widen sidewalks to varying extents. Plus,
- Alternatives 1a and 1b widen the sidewalk while keeping 6 lanes for motor vehicles.
- Alternative 2 adds narrower painted bike lanes along the curb on each side, and creates a center turn lane along with 4 travel lanes.
- Alternative 3 skips the center turn lane and adds a buffer alongside the bike lanes, to give cyclists some extra distance from fast-moving cars.
On 6th Street north of Florida Avenue, which separates Gallaudet University from the Florida Avenue Market, the lanes are 22 feet wide, or more than double typical widths. For this segment, there are three options:
- Wider sidewalks and and painted bike lanes, plus “curb extensions” (also known as “bulb-outs”) to shorten the distance pedestrians have to cross (Alternative 1)
- Wider sidewalks and a cycle track in each direction, plus curb extensions (Alternative 2)
- A “curbless flex space” along the market side of the road and a two-way cycle track on the Gallaudet side (Alternative 3)
The agency also plans to reconstruct 6th Street between K Street and Florida Avenue, NE; West Virginia Avenue NE; and “Dave Thomas Circle,” at the intersection of Florida and New York Avenue (which currently has a Wendy’s in the center, hence the nickname). DDOT’s report will also likely include some safety improvements within the Florida Avenue Market.
Officials will present the proposals at a public meeting Wednesday, April 2, at the Two Rivers PCS Middle School building on 1234 4th Street, NE, at 7 pm. Feedback from this week’s meeting will shape the final report, expected later this spring.
The agency has not announced construction dates for any of the projects. Before it can build anything, changes will also have to go into the regional Constrained Long-Range Plan, which according to DDOT planning head Sam Zimbabwe is the reason the agency can’t make any temporary changes to try out new configurations and make the road safer in the meantime.