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Georgetown ANC Withholds Judgment on Glover Park Streetscape

Neighbors in Georgetown and Burleith have started raising concerns about increased traffic.

Georgetown's Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners (ANC) are "collecting anecdotal evidence" about the impact of the Glover Park Streetscape project on traffic on Georgetown and Burleith streets.

At the ANC meeting Wednesday, Commissioner Ron Lewis said they have received a "significant" number of complaints about increased traffic on 37th Street in Burleith and 35th Street near Hardy Middle School.

"It has been hard to figure out what is due to construction and what is due to the configuration," Lewis said.

The Glover Park Streetscape project broke ground in April and was "substantially complete" in mid-December. The project reduced the number of lanes for traffic from three to two during peak hours and from two to one during non-peak hours; select intersections now have left turn lanes.

The Georgetown ANC endorsed the streetscape project in November 2011 with some hesitation.

During the lead-up to the project and throughout construction, Glover Park residents raised concerns about overflow traffic using side streets like 37th Street to avoid the congestion on Wisconsin Avenue. DDOT agreed to reconfigure 37th Street to discourage such behavior.

"An increase in traffic during construction was noted and with ANC 3B and community input, DDOT has committed to reconfigure the 37th Street and Tunlaw Road intersection as well as improve pedestrian cross walks in the Glover Park area," Paul Hoffman, the project manager for DDOT, told Patch in an email.

Georgetown's ANC commissioners said they have spoken with the Glover Park ANC commissioners who believe the recent traffic was related to construction.

In June, DDOT published a report of the traffic counting in the Glover Park neighborhood. After 37th Street and Tunlaw Road is reconfigured this April, the agency will take additional traffic counts to see how or if it has changed, according to Hoffman.

"So we’re going to see how this all plays out," said Commissioner Ed Solomon.

Nigel January 07, 2013 at 12:35 PM
Traffic is a mess on Wisconsin Avenue since this configuration ....can someone please remind us what was the purpose in reducing the traffic lanes? Huge swathes of blacktop now marked "off use" simply to create turn lanes ? BOTTOM LINE: the new traffic pattern does not work
Adriana January 07, 2013 at 05:06 PM
Nigel, This project was undertaken supposedly for "pedestrian safety" and "traffic calming." I think that both these goals could have been accomplished WITHOUT having to reduce lanes, snarl traffic, and push more cars onto collector roads. I believe that better road markings, and better timed signals would have been a smarter use of taxpayer money. I and some other residents brought all these concerns to Glover Park ANC and DDOT, but as you can see, no dice. The only concessions: there is a new stop sign on 37th and W, and zebra crosswalks at Tunlaw and Benton. Plans have been in the works to fix the dangerous intersection right at 37th/Tunlaw, but the construction is on hold until spring.
Michael January 07, 2013 at 05:56 PM
Why is there no turn lane in the northbound lane in front of the holiday inn, where the big circulator bus has to make a left turn?
GNR B January 07, 2013 at 05:58 PM
The intersection at Tunlaw and 37th could easily be fixed with a circle. Georgetown ANC should be weighing in because traffic is backed up into Georgetown now. I can't believe that Glover Park residents wanted the same Georgetown bottleneck that occurs from Q north to R due to buses, people parking or turning into driveways or delivery vehicles parked and blocking a lane. Well, that's what they got. If they want to do something about pedestrian safety, they need to do something about the driveway at Whole Foods. How about putting one of those talking walk signals like they have near the Nationals Stadium? With pedestrians not paying attention to that signal its a wonder more aren't hit when people come out of the garage.
Tom January 07, 2013 at 06:08 PM
Traffic has not "calmed", it has, objectively, gotten worse -- it is more congested, slower, and that leads to more "jumpy" behavior by otherwise well-behaved people responding to the ridiculousness, which makes it more unsafe for both drivers and pedestrians. It is not just 37th/Tunlaw that is worse ... 37th/Calvert/Wisconsin is worse, Wisconsin & Fulton, Wisconsin & Garfield, and the intersections just east at Massachusetts are worse as people try to escape Wisconsin. Further, businesses are commenting that people fleeing Wisconsin or getting frustrated with its use and having reduced time during commutes, has brought their business down. This project did exactly what it was designed to do -- it drives people away from the area and into other areas instead (i.e. more residential traffic, less business zone traffic), and costs everyone more time driving (obviously, by reducing the usable driving space and creating unused median space, it is less efficient ... robbing society of scraps of time that add up) ... problem is, that is stupid. Was there a study released publicly that rigorously outlined purported benefits? I cannot think of any so would like to see the rationale -- can someone post a link (if it exists)?
Nigel January 07, 2013 at 09:14 PM
Objectively the ONLY outcome that all can agree upon: Traffic is snarled and moves at a snails pace from The Holiday Inn to Whole Foods. Any marginal outcomes: "traffic calming" (oxymoron) and potential pedestrian safety, are just that....marginal. Any calming effect has been wiped out by anxious drivers sitting in a 5 block traffic jam.
Kim L January 07, 2013 at 09:51 PM
Adriana are you kidding?! YOU are the one who supported the streetscape and didn't fight the the lane closings all along!! And then you formed your own "group" to send letter to ANC and DDOT to get a stop sign for YOUR street and NOTHING about eliminating lanes. And since when do you and "your" group speak for all of us? I don't remember you being put in charge of GP residents. I didn't join your "group." What about those of us on Tunlaw? We all KNEW this would happen and now you're changing your tune. YOU supported the streetscape all along so don't try and say you didn't.
Rodney January 07, 2013 at 10:05 PM
I dont' know what all the complaints are -- I love the streetscape. It looks gorgeous and when the islands down the middle are made real and filled with flowers and trees it's going to be fantastic. I also don't get what all the anger is about... for the last 40 years it's been accepted that adding capacity only adds volume... reducing capacity, reduces volume. We made the mistake in the 1950s and 1960s of thinking it would help our cities to expand thoroughfares that allow more drivers to drive faster through our neighborhoods and it devastated our cities... since that terrible mistake, slowing traffic has been the norm for city planning. I don't really care if people racing from Bethesda to get to Georgetown have congestion -- their problem not mine. I want the roads near my house, where I pay taxes to be accessible to me, as a pedestrian, as a bicyclist, as a bus rider and as a driver... Streetscape helps that AND it looks good to boot. I understand the people who don't want the traffic diverting, but this isn't the first time a project like this has been tried (in fact a project that is similar but much larger in magnitude is currently turning Sherman Ave NW from a blighted strip to a gorgeous street -- bad for commuters, fantastic for locals!) and there are steps to be taken. The answer is not stopping Streetscape but extending it to side roads.
Rodney January 07, 2013 at 10:09 PM
It sounds like your problem isn't with the Streetscape, but with the city's response to it. Your complaints are all valid and we have a bone to pick with the city over them, but it's the issue of the city's followup to the Streetscape, not the Streetscape itself, that seems to me to be the problem.
Shaun Courtney (Editor) January 07, 2013 at 10:16 PM
Hi Tom. I gave a little primer on the project's history here: http://georgetown.patch.com/articles/safety-and-logistical-improvements-planned-for-wisconsin-avenue-in-glover-park Links to the OP and DDOT reports can be found here: http://georgetown.patch.com/articles/safety-and-logistical-improvements-planned-for-wisconsin-avenue-in-glover-park#pdf-8557789 and here: http://georgetown.patch.com/articles/safety-and-logistical-improvements-planned-for-wisconsin-avenue-in-glover-park#pdf-8556136 Hope that helps! -Shaun
Rodney January 07, 2013 at 10:17 PM
I've seen traffic slowed in that stretch, I haven't seen "jumpy" drivers. You may find traffic calming to be an oxymoron (it isn't) but it's the way city planning is going these days, and makes quite a bit of logical sense. Slow the traffic, reduce the volume, improve the quality of life for people who actually live in the neighborhood.
Adriana January 08, 2013 at 12:09 AM
Kim, you are mistaken. I absolutely have questioned the logic of lane reductions on Wisconsin from the very beginning of the Streetscape project, knowing that it would push more traffic onto both 37th Street and Tunlaw Road. Additionally, I have never indicated that I speak for all of Glover Park, nor put myself "in charge."
Adriana January 08, 2013 at 12:13 AM
Rodney, it may look nice, but the lane reductions on the main avenue are causing problems to the rest of the Glover Park neighborhood, and as the Patch article indicates, also to Burleith and Georgetown. The lack of sufficient safe places to cross on our residential streets is made worse with more cars peeling off Wisconsin to find shortcuts.
Tom January 08, 2013 at 03:23 AM
Rodney (in response to Nigel), you misunderstand the concept of urban planning (which, you are correct, "is going these days", and should be, though the discipline is much better at new project "greenfields" than the harder task of improving existing cities that grew haphazardly). Urban planning reduces traffic by consolidating into mass transit, or re-routing to new routes specifically designed to handle it, or eliminating the need to commute/travel for some with distributed services (like retail or officespace). However, THIS case we are discussing is not reducing volume of traffic ... to the contrary, by reducing the net volume of transit space (to fewer lanes, wasting square-footage of asphalt), it is increasing the volume of traffic on the REMAINING blacktop ... it then moves SOME of that increase (but NOT ALL) elsewhere, like pushing on a balloon filled with air, to less optimal places like residential areas that were not designed for it and cannot as well absorb it. Hence, ALL remaining driving areas end up with MORE, slower, more frustrated traffic, and LONGER rush hours for those who "actually live in the neighborhood" ... and those drivers stop less for local business dealings. It is a net loss for all. It is actually a rule of thumb of urban planning to not narrow thoroughfares until we have created equal, greater, or better alternative and make that alternative known and attractive. In this case, we did not PLAN, we just acted without a replacement in place.
RNM January 08, 2013 at 03:28 PM
What did people expect when they cut lanes? Did they really think everyone was going to suddenly abandon their cars, jump on a bus or a bike? There was a willful choice made to restrict traffic flow and shockingly traffic flow is restricted. Then again, I already thought the stretch was too congested before the new streetscape and used the neighborhood roads. We live in a city, we choose to live in a city...that means a certain degree of congestion and traffic. It means that we do have to look both ways when crossing the street. Somehow the people in my house have managed to survive 20+ years in Georgetown without getting hit by a car when crossing the street because we watch out for cars...and bikes who never follow the traffic signs. Seems to me the streetscape was made to be easily altered, the whole lack of middle medians in the road. Anyone with a brain knew this was going to be an unintended consequences (well really they are intended given the citywide war on cars) being worse then the issues trying to be addressed...it is only a matter of time until the turn lanes are gone and traffic flow is improved with additional changes.
GNR B January 08, 2013 at 04:21 PM
Rodney-you don't get what the anger is about? Because you don't need to use Wisconsin to get to work. Those of us that live in Georgetown and work in points north, like Tenleytown and Friendship Heights have no choice but to try to get through here and people that live in Bethesda to work in Georgetown will start to look for work elsewhere if their commute is lengthen. If businesses keep losing workers then they will move too. When businesses move, retail and restaurants begin to struggle and they close. And public transit is even LESS reliable now that traffic is snarled so much. The problem on Wisconsin is now worse than the section of Connecticut in the Van Ness area.

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