The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has narrowed down the alternatives for reconfiguring the confounding intersection of Florida Avenue and New York Avenues NE to two. One proposal would see the Wendy's at the intersection's center razed in favor of more green space, while the other would leave the restaurant in place on a shrunken footprint.
The intersection, known as a "virtual circle" by DDOT and nicknamed "Dave Thomas Circle" in a nod to the Wendy's founder by residents, has been the bane of users for years. The oddly shaped intersection was on the city's edge in L'Enfant's 1791 plan. Over the next century, the wedge at its center became an "orphaned triangle of land" as the city grew up around it, as The Washington Post recently put it.
Both concepts bring more space for people walking and biking
Both of the concepts that DDOT is considering provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists while also attempting to improve circulation through the intersection.
Concept Six includes razing the Wendy's and creating new green space around a rerouted Eckington Place NE through the site. It includes protected bike lanes on Eckington Place, as well as connecting First Street NE to Florida Avenue via the southern shoulder of New York Avenue through the intersection.
The alternative is a modified version of Concept Five that was presented in April 2017 — changes that followed community input, according to Sam Zimbabwe, chief project delivery officer at DDOT, in an email.
Concept Three remains little changed from the April 2017 presentation. The Wendy's would remain on the site but some of its footprint would be taken to create additional space for pedestrians and cyclists.
One notable difference between the two concepts are bike facilities. Concept Six has two-way protected bike lanes covering much of the intersection's periphery, while concept three has 10-foot shared paths in many of the same places.
Neither alternative includes continuous bike facilities from either First Street NE or Florida Avenue onto the New York Avenue bridge that one day will connect to the planned trail to Ivy City and other points east.
Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 5E04 commissioner Sylvia Pinkney shared the short-listed concepts with the Eckington Civic Association (ECA) at its February meeting after Zimbabwe shared them with the ANC earlier in the month.
Everyone agrees that something needs to be done
"Dave Thomas Circle is a failing intersection and it's been failing for way too long," said Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie at an ANC 5E meeting in January. "It's just not safe. Particularly if you're talking about people who want to walk or bike or jog, not just a car."
The current configuration, with eastbound traffic on Florida Avenue turning south onto First Street NE before turning left onto New York Avenue or continuing their journeys east, opened in 2010.
Residents at the ANC and ECA meetings agree with McDuffie. They repeatedly expressed a desire that the Wendy's be razed and the intersection be improved for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers trying to get into and out of Eckington.
One complicating factor in removing the Wendy's is the fact that the restaurant and land are owned by different people, requiring three-way negotiations between them and DDOT, said McDuffie.
"Right-of-way is a complicated process for any DOT, so we are trying to do our due diligence in order to inform the decision on how to proceed," says Zimbabwe.
Neither McDuffie nor Zimbabwe provided a timeline for changes to the Florida Avenue and New York Avenue intersection.