On top of the streetscape reconstructions planned for 17th Street, 14th Street, U Street, and Adams Morgan’s 18th Street, DDOT recently announced plans to rebuild 18th Street between Massachusetts and Florida. Some plans were done years ago and shelved, but 18th Street’s water main needs rebuilding, and so the street redo is back on the front burner.
DDOT plans a detailed public meeting soon, but presented preliminary plans to the Dupont Circle ANC this week. They intend to build bulb-outs at each intersection, shortening the distance pedestrians have to walk to cross the street. However, the plans don’t appear to extend the bulb-outs to the bus stops, as they do on 14th. They should, since forcing the buses to not only pull aside but then squeeze around a bulb-out to get back into traffic would create more delay rather than less.
The bulb-outs also vary quite a lot. Some of them are longer, some shorter. And some corners inexplicably have no bulb-outs at all.
Speaking of bulb-outs, I again heard someone repeat the argument that 17th Street can’t get bulb-outs because it’s a L’Enfant street and the curbs are inviolate. This continues to sound extremely fishy, since in L’Enfant’s day all the streets were dirt, and now both 14th and 18th are getting bulb-outs.
The 18th Street plan also calls for new and consistent treeboxes, consolidating newspaper boxes onto special areas with square pavers, replacing individual parking meters with electronic multi-space meters, and installing new bike racks along the street.
The Dupont ANC mostly postponed discussion of the plan itself, instead focusing on process issues. However, they did raise a few good questions, including whether the new treeboxes would be consistent with those on 17th, P, and other streets with recent or upcoming streetscape redesigns. Another asked if the street could accommodate bike lanes.
The ANC strongly emphasized the importance of considerable public input; since this plan was already partly complete, the DDOT consultants have proceeded with engineering beyond the point where they ought to involve the public. It’s important to ensure they don’t go too far that they can’t incorporate feedback.