Photo by M.V. Jantzen on Flickr.
A cross-section of residents in north Ward 7 gathered recently to help the District Department of Transportation and its consultants put a pin in the oft-used term “livability” at the second meeting of the Far Northeast Livability Study.
In transit and smart growth circles, livability means multimodal transportation, transit-oriented development, and a Complete Streets policy.
Many attendees weren’t versed in the new terms entering the community development lexicon, but they do know their neighborhood and the ward can be better with more sidewalks, improved crosswalk markings and pedestrian signaling, slowing speeding traffic on narrow neighborhood streets and thoroughfares, and improving bus service.
The Far Northeast Livability Study area encompasses all of north Ward 7, between East Capitol Street, the Anacostia River, and the District line. A unique feature of the study process is an advisory council made of community members which shapes the meeting format, engages neighbors, and gives insight on key points.
This advisory council is especially important because the area has already been the focus of numerous studies in the past. Residents want to see action, not just a study that sits on the shelf.
Fortunately, DDOT Chief Gabe Klein agrees. At the monthly general meeting of the DC Federation of Citizens Associations, Klein pointed out the agency has $3 million invested in the DDOT Livability Program, including “money in the obligation plan to put solutions in place.” The funds to implement the Livability Program are also included in the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government’s five-year Transportation Improvement Program. Klein pledged to attend the next huddle.
The gathering discussed tools that transportation engineers use to deal with speeding and cut-through traffic, and to integrate biking connections. The toolbox includes simple, low-cost methods like painted medians, high visibility crosswalks, and in-street pedestrian yield signs. At the other end of the spectrum, there are high impact, mid- to high-cost solutions like chicanes, roundabouts, landscaped medians, and raised crosswalks.
Residents discussed these options and weighed the pros and cons of each along problem corridors like Sheriff Road, 49th Street, East Capitol Street, the Minnesota Avenue-Benning Road intersection, and the Nannie Helen Burroughs-Minnesota intersection.
The next steps in the process include a review of the meeting comments in December and a follow-up in January. With a population of nearly 30,000 people, it is critically important for north Ward 7 residents and stakeholders to be on the ball and make sure the “study” gets implemented.
Sylvia C. Brown is Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for 7C04. Her Single Member District, bounded by Sheriff Road, Division Avenue, Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue, and Minnesota Avenue, covers a significant portion of the Deanwood neighborhood.