17th Street Speeding: ANC 6B Letter

Since my last post on the subject, I’ve been talking with the Metropolitan Police Department about options to reduce speeding on 17th Street SE.  In those conversations, I learned that MPD is finalizing a contract to secure new mobile-enhanced photo enforcement devices that will allow MPD to enforce speed limits and other traffic laws on difficult to monitor, heavily trafficked commuter corridors….like 17th Street SE.

At our Tuesday, Nov. 8 full commission meeting, ANC 6B will formally vote on whether to send the letter below to MPD requesting the deployment of the new photo enforcement technology on 17th Street SE. Since the letter has already been discussed by and received unanimous support from the ANC 6B Transportation Committee, it will appear on the consent agenda. Note that any item on the consent agenda can be removed by a single commissioner.

Please post any comments or concerns below.

Special thanks to former ANC commissioner Keith Smith,  the current 6B09 resident member on the ANC 6B Transportation Committee, for his help and support in drafting the letter.

—Letter—-

November X, 2011

Lisa Sutter
Program Manager
Photo Enforcement Program
Metropolitan Police Department
3165 V Street NE
Washington, DC 20018

Dear Ms. Sutter:

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B (ANC 6B) strongly supports the Metropolitan Police Department’s efforts to procure new mobile-enhanced photo enforcement equipment and urges your office to deploy this new equipment on 17th Street SE. We also urge the DC Council to quickly approve all contracts and expenditures related to MPD’s procurement of this new technology in an expeditious manner. 

Speeding on 17th Street SE has been a problem for a number of years. The street, called the “17th Street Speedway” by residents, is a heavily trafficked commuter corridor that drivers use to travel from I-295 to the Southeast/Southwest Freeway. Vehicles frequently speed down 17th Street between East Capitol St.  and Barney Circle SE with only two stoplights at Massachusetts Ave. SE and Potomac Ave. SE to slow them down. Making matters worse, drivers crossing Massachusetts Avenue SE can see the Potomac Avenue stoplight and tend to speed up to avoid the red light. The result has been a number of major accidents, causing the destruction of property and parked vehicles.

There is also a significant amount of pedestrian traffic on 17th Street SE. Children who attend Payne Elementary School or use the playground at Spielberg Park often have to dodge speeding vehicles. Residents also walk their dogs down 17th Street SE to access Historic Congressional Cemetery, which has an extremely popular dogwalking program. It is only a matter of time before speeding along this corridor leads to a serious pedestrian injury.

Unfortunately, traffic calming measures on 17th Street SE are limited. Since the street is an evacuation route, the District Department of Transportation cannot install speed humps nor stop signs on the corridor. Rumble strips placed on the street do little to slow traffic down and instead, increase noise. And a few years ago, your office determined that there was not a safe place to deploy MPD’s existing mobile photo enforcement devices along the corridor.

ANC 6B is aware that your office is working with the Office of Contracts and Procurement to finalize the procurement of new mobile-enhanced photo enforcement equipment that will address traffic enforcement on arterials such as 17th Street SE. The equipment will include the following:

  • Portable cameras capturing intersection violations, including red light running and speeding
  • Portable cameras capturing stop sign violations
  • Portable cameras capturing crosswalk violations at non-signalized intersections
  • Laser-based speed enforcement equipment to be used where radar is ineffective, such as in tunnels and on hills
  • Devices to detect overweight commercial vehicles and oversized commercial vehicles, including in “no thru truck” areas

ANC 6B strongly supports MPD’s efforts to procure and deploy this new technology, and we request that your office deploy this technology as soon as possible on 17th Street SE. In particular, we encourage MPD to consider the following intersections for deployment of the new technology:

  • 17th Street SE and Massachusetts Avenue SE
  • 17th Street SE and Potomac Avenue SE
  • 17th Street SE and Barney Circle SE (stop sign violations)
  • 17th Street SE and Independence Avenue SE

ANC 6B also understands that since MPD expenditure on this new equipment will cost in excess of $1 million, the DC Council must approve the expenditure before a contract can be signed. ANC 6B urges the DC Council to approve the necessary expenditure and contracts in an expeditious manner.

Thank you for your consideration of this request, and for MPD’s continued commitment to keeping our neighborhood streets safe. ANC 6B also thanks MPD for the recent placement of photo enforcement cameras on 19th Street SE and Independence Avenue SE.

Sincerely,
cc:
Cathy Lanier, Chief, Metropolitan Police Department
Daniel P. Hickson, First District Commander, Metropolitan Police Department
Kwame Brown, Chairman, Council of the District of Columbia
Tommy Wells, Councilmember Ward 6, Council of the District of Columbia
Michael Brown, Councilmember At-Large, Council of the District of Columbia
David Catania, Councilmember At-Large, Council of the District of Columbia
Phil Mendelson, Councilmember At-Large, Council of the District of Columbia
Vincent Orange, Councilmember At-Large, Council of the District of Columbia

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