4th & Mass traffic changes may be more hostile to peds

Earlier this summer a pedestrian was killed and a biker struck at the intersection of 4th Street and Massachusetts Ave NW. This week DDOT has implemented a change to the traffic flow. The change actually puts pedestrians at greater conflict with cars.

The situation is that southbound traffic on 4th street has two lanes of which seemingly 90% of the cars turn left onto Mass. This puts the car traffic in conflict with pedestrians crossing Mass on the east side of the street. In the past the pedestrians had an 13 second headstart on their walk signal before cars were given the green light for another 13 seconds (total 26 seconds). The change gives both cars the green and pedestrians the walk for the entirety of 31 seconds. Additionally the left turning traffic from 4th is now getting a well timed green were Mass meets 3rd & H so that the traffic does not get backed up and block the box at 4th & Mass. Much of this leftbound traffic’s ultimate destination is the I-395 on-ramp at 3rd and Mass.

Because of the change in traffic pattern it seems to residents that near pedestrian and car misses are on the rise this week. Which seems at odds with what the goal of the change should have been. Is this just a transitional period as pedestrians and drivers adjust how they interact with the intersection? Will the fact the drivers now have increased timing and a better flow down Mass have the effect of calming their past aggressive behavior?

Your thoughts? This is not the solution I would have endorsed. Please be safe crossing…

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  1. 1

    srm0971 says

    I completely agree that the situation is now much worse than before. Here’s another consideration: because the southbound cars, which are mostly turning left onto Massachusetts Avenue are ALSO trying to merge into the right-most lane in order to make it to the entry ramp to I-395 S, this scramble and fast speed to get there first further endangers pedestrians who are crossing Massachusetts Avenue. This is not a good situation.

  2. 2

    Mase says

    I agree it is much worse. I often use the CaBi station at 4th and Mass. As “srm0971″ noted, southbound drivers from 4th are poor at seeing/acknowledging pedestrians — even more so now without the leading interval. I’ve had close calls more often due to this change.

  3. 3

    emily says

    This is a horrible fix. This also means that there is now no time to completely cross Mass from the Papa Johns corner to the wiseguy corner. The light on H Street seems to start before the one on Mass and by the time you cross over Mass there is only around 10 seconds left to cross over H. This is such a mess!

  4. 5

    Richard says

    This new configuration is much worse for cars too. I noticed that east bound Mass Ave traffic is now getting a green to red light at 3rd/H St intersection just as the 4th St light is turning green. This literally lets 10-15 cars total through, backing up Mass ave traffic well into Mt. Vernon Square.

    Also, why is the “NO LEFT TURNS DURING RUSH HOUR” sign never enforced? I have even seen cops make that left off 4th onto Mass, with the sign illuminated. If the sign is there, enforce it!

  5. 6

    C says

    I live right there and it seems much worse whether you are on foot or in the car. Traffic is backed up in most directions, blocking cross traffic and pedestrians. As the previous commenter said, the lights are completely miss timed now so only a few cars can clear the intersections at a given cycle while the lights stay green well after the intersection ahead is clear.

  6. 7

    nm says

    I’ve sent 3 emails to DDOT and made 3 calls in the past 10 days. No response. Just forwarded it to Wells’s office. If anyone is up on Twitter, it appears that’s the only way to get a response from DDOT…@DDOTDC . Let’s get this fixed!

  7. 8

    Richard says

    Also, why is the “No left turn” during rush hour never enforced? It seems to me that sending 4th st traffic down 4th street to the other I-395 entrance would alleviate some of the congestion at this entrance. I have seen cops turn left against the “NO LEFT TURNS” arrow plenty of times. Also, no left turns would make Pedestrians crossing Mass much safer. Why have the signs if they are not enforced?!

  8. 9

    Mvter says

    And speaking of traffic lights, how long are the new signals at 5th and Mass going to sit there, turned off. It’s been months since the lights have been installed, what’s taking so long to turn them on?

  9. 11

    C says

    I see multiple people have tweeted at @DDOTDC, including Councilman David Grosso. Also, it appears the person running the @DDOTDC Twitter account has personally experienced it … but no action.

    They had a couple folks attempting to direct traffic the other day, but they seemed as perplexed as everyone else and one nearly got hit by a car swerving to avoid a car blocking the intersection.

    Also, there are folks making all kinds of illegal turns – not just rush hour restricted ones. Finally, this morning I witnessed one person just run the red light (after sitting for a minute) after checking cross traffic on 4th … yikes.

  10. 13

    Richard says

    Well that sucks. I think that if they funneled 4th St Traffic down to the D St, I-395 entrance that it would make traffic flow much better + it would make it safer for pedestrians to cross Mass. Oh well…