DC’s Parkside neighborhood at dusk by the author.

Residents of DC’s Parkside neighborhood want the city to curb speeding cars, better organize parking, fix dangerous streets, and improve access in their community, which borders the Anacostia River and DC-295. They weighed in on fixes to the growing Ward 7 neighborhood at a community meeting held Wednesday, May 15 as part of the District Department of Transportation’s Parkside Access and Circulation study.

Image by the author.

It was like speed dating. Tables were set up around the room at the Mayfair Mansions Community Center, with friendly faces behind ready to chat. Only these people were not regaling you with anecdotes about their pets, or rattling off professional accomplishments in the hopes that it might lead to an exchange of numbers or least instagram handles. Rather, DDOT employees facilitated a discussion about the critical access issues that residents face every day.

“This particular study is kind of unique because this neighborhood, Parkside, is kind of landlocked,” said Gabe Onyeador, DDOT’s project manager for the study. “The primary goal is to look at every option so that we can make accessing the community better and to improve safety.”

The Parkside neighborhood is bordered by the Anacostia River and DC-295. Image by DDOT.

Much of the neighborhood is buttressed by the Anacostia River and I-295, which limits access. The study was designed to “respond to community requests to look holistically at circulation in the neighborhood, taking into account the approved new development in the community.”

The tables were broken up into specific issues so residents could get a better understanding of them and weigh in, including:

  • Parking and development
  • Traffic safety
  • NHB/Kenilworth Interchange
  • Transit
  • Pepco site and Benning access, and
  • Pedestrian and bicycle network connections, including Hayes and Jay Streets

Residents say better access and safe roads are primary concerns

Aaron Anthone, a resident in the neighborhood for about two years, joined the volunteer advisory board to work with DDOT on the study.

“I want to make sure the study first and foremost gets the most current data,” Anthone said. The neighborhood is in flux, he says. There are residential developments going up and lots of changes happening, so access and safety are primary issues for residents.

“Top priority for me is remediating the traffic,” Anthone said. “Because this is an area that doesn’t have a lot of enforcement you get people speeding up and down the road.” Specifically: “I’d like to see better signage, speed bumps, and things to slow down the traffic.”

Other neighbors concurred with Anthone.

“We need speed bumps cause those cars come down here like a bat out of hell,” said Nellie Washington, referring to areas like Hayes and Jay streets. Washington, a neighborhood resident for 49 years, added, “We’ve been talking about speed bumps for a long time.”

Anthone said another challenge will be residential parking. “People who are supposed to be here — they should have access to parking.” He sees people park their cars and take the Metro from Minnesota Avenue, leaving their cars there all day. He said there are no restrictions on parking on the surrounding streets.

In the study there are proposed parking designations that would include no-parking zones, metered parking areas, and unrestricted spaces.

Image by DDOT.

Many of the issues were spelled out in accompanying maps. For instance, challenges with the Kenilworth Avenue NE and 295 interchange include:

  • Traffic congestion
  • The space under the CSX rail tracks is too small for all users in separate lanes
  • Weaving conflicts between DC-295 offramp and Kenilworth Avenue NE

Image by DDOT.

DDOT provided some proposals to alleviate the congestion and other issues, like realigning certain streets like in the photo below.

Image by DDOT.

Updates to the dangerous intersection where Pressley was killed

While we are still very much in the idea phase of the study, some updates are being made to the area of Parkside where Sherron Pressley was killed last year.

Terry Owens, Public Information Officer with DDOT, said stop bars, crosswalks, and lane lines were repainted on April 23. The agency plans to install a median extension on the bridge with striping and flex posts on May 22 to tighten the westbound left turn movement.

Owens also said modifications to improve signal visibility and to increase the amount of time people walking have to use the crosswalk were completed Friday, along with “No Turn on Red Arrow” for the eastbound left turn movement and “Trucks Use Right Lane Only” on the southbound ramp.

Here’s what’s up next for the study area

The process to get to final action follows a detailed timeline. Image by DDOT.

Studies can take about a year to complete, Onyeador said. Next up is another public meeting sometime in May or June. Onyeader pointed out that some improvements take longer than others.

“Some of the ideas will take a long time to do them,” Onyeader said. “Some of them will take a short time. If you look at striping someone can just come and do it, but if we’re going to redesign an intersection it’s going to take a long time.”

We will keep you posted on any further developments at this intersection and elsewhere in Parkside.

George Kevin Jordan is GGWash's Editor and Correspondent writing about urgency and equity in transportation in the Washington region and also the transformation of Tysons. He is a proud new-ish resident of Hillcrest in DC's Ward 7. He was born and raised in Milwaukee and has written for many publications, most recently the AFRO and about HIV/AIDS issues for TheBody.com.