At last night’s ANC 6C meeting, following the recommendations of their transportation committee, the commissioners voted to urge DDOT to take measure to improve pedestrian safety in the section of New York Avenue NW between 6th Street and New Jersey Ave. Specific focus was paid to the intersection of L Street, 5th Street and New York Ave NW adjacent to the new Safeway where the current pedestrian crossing allows 20 seconds to cross ~10 lanes of traffic.
The recommendations from the transportation committee have the support of the MVSNA, MVT CID, DNA and neighboring businesses. I do not yet have a copy of ANC 6C’s letter. However the below excerpt is from the letter drafted by the MVSNA.
There are several very simple, zero or low-cost changes that DDOT could make immediately:
- Provide at least 45 seconds, preferably 60 seconds, to cross New York Avenue at 4th and 5th Streets NW. This change costs only the time it takes a technician to change the traffic signals. Other nearby intersections along New York Avenue provide comparable crossing time. In addition, cars turning north onto 5th Street from the 400 Block of L Street NW (in front of the Safeway) cannot make it fully through the New York Avenue intersection before the light turns red.
We were pleased to learn from you on December 18 that DDOT has completed a design to rephrase the traffic signal at 4th Street and New York Avenue, NW to improve the safety measures of pedestrians. Our understanding is that DDOT will reconfigure this signal by the end of January 2009. We appreciate this progress. We hope the plan will remain on track and that DDOT will implement similar changes at the 5th Street crossing as soon as possible.
- Make the crosswalk across New York Avenue at 5th Street NW more visible. The cost to repaint the crosswalk is negligible. Raising the crosswalk, or adding bricks, lights, and signs would further enhance pedestrian safety.
- Install a green arrow signal allowing vehicles heading eastbound on New York Avenue to turn north onto 5th Street without finding themselves stuck at the island or forced to run the red light into speeding New York Avenue traffic as it veers off onto L Street under the Convention Center.
We appreciate your sharing with us in an e-mail received in December that DDOT agrees that a fully protected left turn phase is needed at the intersection of 5th Street, L Street and New York Avenue, NW for the eastbound to northbound movement. Our understanding is that the city has approved funding for the turn phase creation, along with other safety improvements at this intersection. Please keep us posted as DDOT moves forward with obtaining the needed equipment and preparing work orders so that implementation can begin. We hope that this can proceed as soon as possible.
- Remove some or all of the large highway signs along New York Avenue NW between New Jersey Avenue and 6th Street NW. Residents hold similar concerns with respect to signage on Massachusetts Avenue. There are already smaller signs in place indicating the entryway to I-395, and the directions to downtown and Route 50. We know of no other place in a residential community in the District of Columbia that has such a concentration of highway signs, which sends a signal to drivers that New York Avenue and Massachusetts Avenues are freeways.
From our initial correspondence, our understanding is that DDOT favors keeping this highway signage in place, but the Department is willing to reconsider this stance in light of strong community support for changes in signage. As we discussed, the primary reason for urging scaling them back is pedestrian safety, not aesthetics. The signage sends a message, which dwarfs any improvements installed by DDOT, that this stretch is a superhighway, not an area where people live and cross. The signage is completely unnecessary.
My hope is that, if and when, the large highway signs are changed that the new signs no longer refer to Fourth Street as ALT-395.