A new design for Columbus Circle is close to becoming a reality, as I learned at the Union Station Intermodal meeting. Here’s the latest design, courtesy of the engineering firm Parsons (click for a larger version):


Compare this to the current layout on Google Maps.

The stupid extra loop, which forces taxis to drive all the way around from the west side to the east side just to get on Mass Ave going back west, is gone, and the public plaza enlarged. Also, it looks like there are now pedestrian paths across from Louisiana Ave and 1st Street; right now, those grass berms require pedestrians to walk up and down a little hill to cross.

This drawing doesn’t show traffic lights or crosswalks very clearly. The Parsons engineer told me there will be a light at the corner of E Street (where taxis will now exit onto Mass Ave). I assume there will be crosswalks across Mass from E, Louisiana, Delaware, and 1st, though we can’t see here, and can’t tell if there will be lights. Ideally, there would be, to enable pedestrians to cross Mass Ave safely to reach any of the roads across the circle.

I think many of these intersections could have been tighter, especially at E. Corners instead of wide rounded turns provide less of a feeling of crossing a huge expanse of concrete and slow traffic more. Still, the design is a big improvement. Now if we could only replace those stupid Congressional parking lots that blight the path from Union Station to the Capitol.

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David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle.