A plan to widen sidewalks, create a center median and reduce the number of traffic lanes on Wisconsin Avenue in the name of pedestrian safety has set the Glover Park neighborhood listserv "on fire" over the last month. Concerns include traffic, the effect on side streets and a perceived lack of public input.
A meeting on the Glover Park Streetscape project last Tuesday brought out nearly 100 people who wanted answers from District Department of Transportation (DDOT), Office of Planning (OP) and Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) officials.
The project will reduce the number of traffic lanes from three to two during peak hours and from two to one during off-peak hours. Certain intersections will have left turn lanes. A center, painted median will take over the remaining space. The changes will allow for wider sidewalks.
"You're putting forward a plan that we didn't ask for, we weren't told about and we sure as hell don't want it," said Paul Wittrock, a 23-year resident of Glover Park.
Wittrock's frustration was just one example of the overwhelming number of comments raised in lengthy, heated email exchanges lately on the neighborhood listserv. As OP's Andrea Limauro said, the listserv has been "on fire."
But Limauro assured residents that "nothing was hidden" and that the project, which evolved from an OP study in 2006, had continually sought public input through the ANC and Glover Park Citizens Association.
DDOT's Paul Hoffman told the group that traffic modeling was done three times with new data each time to measure the predicted impact of the changes on traffic.
After having two outside groups do traffic modeling, DDOT ran its own study that showed similar outcomes. "We can get traffic through here in orderly fashion with very little degrading of intersections," Hoffman explained.
That "orderly fashion" means cars sit through about half of a light circle before moving. If vehicles sit for longer then there's an issue.
Later Hoffman said DDOT would monitor the volume of traffic along Wisconsin Avenue to determine if traffic is flowing as the agency anticipates.
In addition to Wisconsin Avenue concerns, neighbors were frustrated that DDOT had not taken into great consideration the traffic impacts on 37th Street as drivers look for cut-throughs to avoid Wisconsin Avenue. Several neighborhood mothers said the street was dangerous enough for crossing with a stroller or young children.
Adriana Cordero said she was "disappointed" that the meeting had not addressed more of the community's concerns about 37th Street.
Alberta Paul, the DDOT Community Outreach Specialist (email@example.com), asked community members to send her their suggestions for improvements and traffic controlling measures along 37th Street.
ANC Commissioner Jackie Blumenthal offered a glimmer of hope for 37th Street residents: reconfiguring the intersection of Tunlaw Road and 37th Street has been moved up as a high priority at DDOT and could possibly become part of the streetscape plan or follow closely on its heels.
During construction, DDOT will have a site dedicated to the Glover Park project, much like they operate for the O&P Street Project. DDOT said officials will contact homeowners about temporary road closures that could block alleys or driveways.
OP's Limauro said their goal for the project was to "reinvent" Wisconsin Avenue and "make it look like what it deserves to be."
For now, construction effects and traffic concerns continue to dominate conversations about the project.
The ANC will address the streetscape project, among other items, at their regular meeting Thursday, April 12 at 7 p.m. at Stoddert Elementary.