Maryland Avenue NE today. Image created with Google Maps.

Maryland Avenue NE from Capitol Hill to the Starburst area is getting a long-anticipated makover aimed at making it safer for people bicycling and walking. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced on Monday, March 25 that it had broken ground on the streetscape project.

Maryland Avenue NE is a busy thoroughway that runs diagonally through Capitol Hill, from the “Starburst” intersection at 15th Street, Benning Road, and Bladensburg Road, to the intersection near the US Supreme Court.

Maryland Avenue NE project area. Image by the author.

Unfortunately, drivers tend to speed through the area. In June 2014, a cab driver hit and badly injured a person walking on Maryland Avenue. In response, the city added flex posts and speed cameras, but it continues to be notoriously dangerous for people not traveling by car. For years, residents have pressed for changes that would make the street safer for people heading to nearby schools, parks, and libraries.

Now DDOT is beginning a comprehensive makeover on the corridor between 2nd Street and 14th Street NE. The agency will narrow Maryland Avenue from four lanes to two (plus a turn lane in some areas) and install painted bike lanes. It will also reduce crossing distances and add pedestrian refuge islands for people walking.

Image by DDOT.

The project includes new lighting, traffic signals, high-visibility crosswalks and ADA ramps, and other elements to calm traffic, as well as more street trees and better drainage. It is scheduled to be finished in June 2021.

Originally, advocates wanted the project to go even further, with a protected bikeway instead of painted lanes. Nonetheless, this project should help make the area safer for people traveling via all modes.

Julie Strupp is Greater Greater Washington's Managing Editor. She's a journalist committed to building inclusive, equitable communities and finding solutions. Previously she's written for DCist, Washingtonian, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, and others. You can usually find her sparring with her judo club, pedaling around the city, or hanging out on her Columbia Heights stoop.