DDOT Discusses Traffic and Pedestrian Safety at ANC 6A

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Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC 6A) met via Zoom on July 13. Commissioners Keya Chatterjee (6A01, vice chair), Roberta Shapiro (6A03), Amber Gove (6A04, chair), Dave Wethington (6A05), Robb Dooling (6A06) and Steve Moilanen (6A07) were present. Commissioner Mike Velasquez (6A02) was absent.

Department of Transportation Deputy Director Sharon Kershbaum appeared before the commission to discuss current programs, upcoming projects and improvements and traffic and pedestrian safety. She also answered questions from residents.

“It’s so bad that whenever we drive on Florida Avenue NE our toddler asks to take a different route because it’s too bumpy,” said resident Jesse. “How old will she be when this street is finally paved properly?”

Jesse raised concerns about the “undrivable” condition of Florida Ave NE. She was not alone. Commissioners and community members presented a variety of concerns to the Deputy Director, particularly pertaining to sidewalks.

Kershbaum acknowledged the long backlog of sidewalk requests within the DDOT system. She explained that, unlike road issues such as potholes, sidewalks tend to be more complicated, and take longer to fix. Safety assessments, she noted, are made first and unsafe situations are prioritized. Bundling the non-urgent requests within the same area together helps to streamline the process.

Commissioner Shapiro noted a survey previously conducted by ANC 6A that highlighted the state of disrepair of the sidewalks through injury and fall reports. “We have a terribly unsafe situation,” Shapiro noted, acknowledging the complexities that accompany repairs to brick, historic sidewalks around the ANC.

The Safe Routes to School program will likely address some of the sidewalk concerns across the city. The program, aimed to improve safety and encourage children to walk or bike to school, will see new resources allocated through funding and personnel in FY 24.

Several areas in the District do not have sidewalks on either side of the street, and DDOT is working to address these gaps, Kershbaum stated.

Kershbaum outlined several ways in which schools will remain a priority for the department. Each year DDOT will work with 25 schools on “deep dive interventions” focused on improving safety in and around the property. Additionally, any requests made to DDOT within a 350 ft. radius of the school will be given priority. “I think you’re going to see a lot more activity around schools,” Kershbaum said of FY 24.

Other projects were also discussed. Neighbor Eliz asked about the projects along the 600 block of Eighth Street NE and questioned if they were motivated by the Eighth Street bus priority project or the school safety initiative. “We want our neighborhoods to be safe for those transiting, but we feel the needs of residents aren’t necessarily being prioritized,” Eliz noted.

“I don’t see this as a tradeoff for one or the other, I know we can do both,” Kershbaum responded.

Commissioner Gove noted that traffic safety input requests are a feature of 311 app that can be added at any time without an endorsement from the ANC. The commission did not vote on any matter discussed. Visit ddot.dc.gov for more information about programming and to submit a request.

The Commission Voted To:

• request DDOT evaluate of the 11th and F and 10th and F Street intersections as to meet with the staff of School within Schools at Goding, 920 F St. NE, to discuss traffic safety and create a proposal for raised crosswalks and other traffic calming measures;

• write to the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) in support of Eastern High School’s proposal for their annual homecoming parade on Nov. 3, 2023;

• write in support of DDOT’s parking proposal at Maury Elementary School, 1250 Constitution Ave. NE, and to request an adjustment of the restricted hours on the east side of the 200 block of 12th Place NE to 8 p.m. instead of 10 p.m.;

• support a Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) special exception request for the Slutty Vegan, 1244/1246 H St. NE, to construct a side and rear addition, and permit a fast food establishment use, to the existing, attached, two-story commercial building;

• support a BZA special exception request at 1371/1375 H St. NE for a modification to an existing animal boarding use and from the minimum vehicle parking requirements to construct a new, attached, six-story building with roof deck, 30-unit, mixed use building due to a lack of alley access and curb cuts, parking access cannot be provided;

• support a BZA special exception request for a residence at 314 Ninth St. NE from the rear addition requirements to construct a two-story building with cellar, rear addition, to an existing, attached, two-story building with cellar, principal dwelling unit.

Other Matters

Former Commissioner Gentille resigned from her position and Commissioner Dave Wethington will now represent 6A05.

Enora Moss of the DC Smart Street Lighting Project attended the meeting and spoke about the improvement project which will modernize more than 72,000 street lights across the District and is a sustainability initiative. The project started in May 2022 and will continue through 2037. Ward 6 is in group 3. Visit streetlights.dc.gov for more information about when specific streets will be impacted.

The next meeting of ANC 6A is at 7 p.m. October 12 via Zoom. Get details on committee meetings and how to join online at anc6a.org.

Sarah Payne is a reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com.