A map from the Toole Design project website
There's been some rather heated discussion both online and offline recently about the Maryland Avenue Road Diet. The Road Diet is an attempt to mitigate traffic concerns and make the street safer for all who use it, drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Some opponents of the project have recently cried foul, claiming that this project has offered little in the way of outreach or opportunity for public input, and accusing others of trying to "ram through" the proposal. None of those things are true. This project has been in the works for many years and it's getting closer to implementation. I'm providing links to some information sources below so that anyone who wishes to learn more about the project can do so. I am also reposting (with his permission) an email from Bill Schulteiss, who is not only a long time resident of the area, but also a former two-term Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, and worked as a project manager for the planning study. Please read up and familiarize yourself with the facts.
- Maryland Avenue Pedestrian Safety Project website from Toole Design
- Maryland Avenue Safety Project website
- A report on the project (you can skip to section 6.5 if you don't want to read the whole thing)
- More information and documents are available from the ANC 6A website
Some Media Coverage:
- Effort To Slow Traffic Through Historic D.C. Neighborhood Is Slow But Promising (WAMU)
- Community Lays Out Concerns on Maryland Avenue NE Design (The Hill Rag)
- This Capitol Hill throughway will get safer for bikes and pedestrians, but some say not safe enough (Greater Greater Washington)
- Maryland Ave NE road diet, too slow for some, not right for others and tiny little American flags for all (TheWashCycle)
Email from Bill Schulteiss:
There is some general misinformation that is being circulated on this project that needs to be corrected. I was the project manager for the planning study and I have lived at 1225 F Street (on the corridor) for 17 years.
We collected two weeks of traffic data between April 30 and May 11, 2011.The data collected was 24 hours per day to calculate speeds and volume continuously.
Traffic models are developed to assess the highest volume period. That day was a Tuesday. We also modeled a Sunday to understand a typical lowest volume conditions. The counts were taken during a time that both the H Street/Benning Road streetcar and I-395 (11th Street bridges) were being constructed, congress and schools were in session. This resulted in more traffic arriving on MD Avenue than at any other time in the last 20 years. There is certainly not more traffic today than it was in 2011 because traffic entry into the road is constrained at both ends by the amount of green signal time that can be provided:
1) the signal at Stanton park only allows one lane of traffic eastbound onto MD Avenue from the park;
2) the signal at H/Benning/Bladensburg only allows westbound traffic onto MD from Bladensburg. Benning traffic cannot turn left and never will. Westbound traffic can only enter MD Ave for 30 seconds from two lanes on Bladensburg Road.
More green time cannot be provided at either end, thus the signal constrains traffic into and out of the corridor. Why? the traffic lights can't be changed at the ends because of the higher importance of the other streets. Maryland Avenue is not a priority traffic corridor for the city.That is why the new construction on H Street or the other surrounding areas is not an important factor for the future traffic flow. Because of the signal operations being fixed at the ends, no more additional traffic can enter MD Avenue - ever.
Further, the design will change the timing of the lights between these endpoint constraints. What you see now will not be how it operates when the design is implemented. Today groups of cars routinely get stuck somewhere in the middle of the corridor (12th, 10th, 8th) as they pass from 6th to 15th or vice versa. The future timing will allow that movement to happen in one shot, with no stops. There will still be queuing at Stanton Park and H Street - the same as today and the design allows 2 lanes of traffic to store those cars.
From a safety perspective, crashes along this corridor have been steadily increasing for the last 10 years. Yet crashes are not the only part of this project. For every crash there are a dozen or more near misses - where drivers fail to yield to pedestrians or almost rear end other drivers. The near misses are a major factor of this project that can't be revealed in data collection.
I worked very hard as a citizen, as an ANC Commissioner, and as the project manager for the planning study to reach out to the community, and to be very cognizant of potential negative impacts of the project. I have lived here for almost 17 years and I care deeply for our neighborhood and the safety of our neighbors. I worked hard to ensure that concerns were addressed - double parking can happen (in the bike lane), emergency vehicles can get through, cut-through traffic is going to be minimal or non-existent.
I do not appreciate some of the ill-informed commentary, the purposeful falsehoods intended to stir controversy, the abusive tone and behavior given to my professional colleagues at DDOT and the ANC, that I am personally seeing and hearing about.
People have every right to disagree with the outcome of this project or to have a different perspective. But please be civil, honest, and respectful as you do it. If you think this street should prioritize faster traffic, than say it. If you want to double par,k say it. If you aren't comfortable with change, fine. This project is a simple choice of community priorities. The choice is either:
1) Maintain status quo with faster and chaotic traffic so people can get home 20 seconds faster. A road without left turn lanes where drivers are constantly weaving, almost rear ending each other, and failing to yield to pedestrians and cyclists in crosswalks while turning. This project can potentially add in some pedestrian curb extensions. We can signalize 7th Street so it functions poorly the way the old signal at 9th/10th did (which was removed because of this study).
2) A calm street. A road where we allow traffic to flow through at a reasonable. A predictable road where you know drivers are turning left. Those left turning drivers now only having to look across one lane of oncoming traffic have an opportunity to see pedestrians in crosswalks. A street where you can choose to ride a bicycle and outside of rush hour, the street design results in people driving the speed limit without the overbearing presence of police cameras and officers.
A large majority of the community supports this project and believes in the vision for Option 2. People are always nervous about change and that is understandable. You can believe what you want about the facts and studies. I write this to correct the record as incorrect information does our public discourse a tremendous disservice.
Bill Schultheiss 1225 F Street, NE
Professional Transportation Engineer for Toole Design Group
Former ANC6A06 Commissioner (2006-2010)
Resident of F Street since 2000