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Re-Design Coming to Tunlaw Road and 37th Street

Residents have wanted a safer intersection for years and remain frustrated on the slow pace of change.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will re-design the intersection of Tunlaw Road and 37th Street in Glover Park. Changes will be put into place as the Wisconsin Avenue Streetscape project is wrapping up later this summer.

Tom C. Smith, community representative for Mayor Gray in Ward 3, made the announcement last week on the Glover Park listserv and DDOT offered details on the project at the Glover Park Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting last Thursday.

Smith wrote that the intersection was identified as a "safety concern—due to poor geometry—in the Glover Park Transportation Study."

During discussions about the ongoing Wisconsin Avenue Streetscape project, neighbors have consistently argued that the Tunlaw Road intersection and 37th Street needed attention from the transportation agency. The concern is that both during construction and after, drivers will avoid Wisconsin Avenue by using 37th Street, which is what DDOT calls a "collector street."

One resident even started a blog dedicated to following the saga and advocating for safety improvements at both the intersection and on 37th Street.

Adriana Cordero writes the 73rd and Walnut blog (37th and Tunlaw written backwards). After hearing about the proposed re-design she recalled neighbors' intense focus on additional safety improvements:

"One of the major issues we have with the Streetscape project has been that correction of the 37th and Tunlaw intersection was not included in the project. This intersection has been a concern in the Glover Park neighborhood for years, even before Streetscape. There have been meetings attended, letters written, and posters posted. There was much discourse on the Glover Park listserv. And more meetings."

At the ANC meeting, DDOT explained that the agency would begin a study June 15 to change the intersection. No changes will be implemented until the Wisconsin Avenue project is complete.

The Georgetown Current reports that DDOT's chief traffic engineer James Cheeks offered an explanation for not beginning the re-design immediately:

Cheeks estimated that the survey could take a month, and the design could take six weeks. But he noted that recommendations for the intersection would not be finalized until after the Wisconsin streetscape project is complete. That way, he said, the assessment could reflect post-construction traffic patterns.

But frustrated residents have had just about enough when it comes to studies.

Cordero wrote after the ANC meeting:

"I know we can’t just approve any old plan, and I know that the Toole Design drawings were just conceptual. But this issue has been dragging on for years and years. I became active on this matter earlier this year when I learned that 37th/Tunlaw was not going to be part of the Streetscape work. We seem to be right where we started."

DDOT Spokeswoman Monica Hernandez assured the Hyperlocal Glover Park blog that design plans would be complete by Labor Day.

We have a construction contractor lined up to start construction by September 2012," she said. 

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