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Wisconsin Avenue Requires Near-Term Fixes, Additional Study

Evans asks DDOT to consider adding a second northbound lane through Glover Park.

Community leaders concluded a discussion on the Wisconsin Avenue streetscape project in Glover Park Monday night by asking the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to find near-term solutions to some of the most apparent problems with the new lane reconfigurations.

The Wisconsin Avenue Streetscape Project widended sidewalks, improved lighting and reduced the number of lanes of traffic in Glover Park. The number of lanes for traffic decreased from three to two during peak hours and from two to one during non-peak hours. Select intersections now have left-turn lanes.

Georgetown residents and organizations stood up one after another at Monday's Advisory Neighborhood Commission to express their displeasure with the new traffic patterns on Wisconsin Avenue and the resulting congestion.

Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans said he uses Wisconsin Avenue several times a day to transport his children to and from school near the Washington National Cathedral. He half-joked about making repeated phone calls to both DDOT Director Terry Bellamy and Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh, in whose district the project is located.

Evans asked DDOT to consider a way to create a second northbound lane of traffic because in his own experience and from what was mentioned at the meeting, the single northbound lane seems to be behind much of the frustration. 

Ideas to do so included removing the left turn lanes, removing parking on the east side of the street and even removing a southbound lane in favor of a northbound lane.

Evans said he wanted to see "relief" soon before traffic increases as it does seasonally and people "get crazy."

Most of the comments from Georgetowners were that they supported a better pedestrian environment for their neighbors to the north, but felt that DDOT could find ways to both reduce congestion and improve pedestrian safety.

Burleith resident Eric Langenbacher said he personally thinks the lane changes are "absolutely terrible” because they "defy common sense."

"If there is a public safety concern, there are better ways to address it than eliminating a lane of traffic," Georgetown resident Jim Wilcox remarked.

Though the evening focused on Georgetowners' comments, almost all of which were critical of the new lane configuration, Glover Park ANC Commissioner Jackie Blumenthal said she is not getting the kinds of complaints that are coming in Georgetown.

She said people in general in her community are pleased with the pedestrian safety plans and are on a wait-and-see schedule for DDOT to work out the problems.

Abigail Zenner, one of three Glover Park residents to speak during the meeting, said she supported the new Wisconsin Avenue because she wants to have the same kind of livable walkable community Georgetowners enjoy.

"Please don’t use our neighborhood as a highway," she pleaded.

Blumenthal said there is "no denying" the many issues raised by people at the meeting. But she said her community wants to work with DDOT to fix problems.

"What people have to get used to, is one way or another, you probably will be going a little slower through Glover Park," Blumenthal said.

Cheh has organized a public round table on May 1 with DDOT about the Wisconsin Avenue project.

Bellamy said his agency is going to work with both sides of the community to come up with some solutions, "tweak" what currently exists and provide additional data on what is happening on the ground. They will present some preliminary results at the May meeting.

Cheh told DDOT she would like to see them implementing solutions between now and then. "I don’t want you to wait until May."

As the meeting wrapped up, ANC Commissioner Ron Lewis remarked, "We may not be all that far apart."

Patch will have another update later today with the latest traffic data from DDOT.

Read more on the Wisconsin Avenue streetscape:

  • Anecdotes Dominate in Wisconsin Avenue Reconfiguration Debate
  • 'Glover Park Traffic Jam' Facebook Page Collects Frustrations
  • Is the New Wisconsin Avenue Working?

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