Safety Improvement Project Should Include ALL of 17th Street

As I mentioned in my previous post, DDOT’s Safety Improvement Project for 17th and 19th Streets does not include  the 700 and 800 blocks of 17th Street SE, a stretch of the corridor that experiences heavy traffic volume due to the “Authorized Vehicle Only” access road to the Southeast/Southwest Freeway at Barney Circle.

To help ensure that DDOT considers traffic calming and pedestrian safety measures along the entire 17th Street corridor, I’ve asked ANC 6B to support sending the following letter to DDOT urging the agency to include the 700 & 800 blocks of 17th Street SE in the Safety Improvement Project. ANC 6B will consider the letter during its July 10 full commission meeting.

July 10, 2012

Terry Bellamy
Director
DC Department of Transportation
55 M Street SE, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20003

Dear Director Bellamy,

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B (ANC 6B) requests that DDOT include the 700 and 800 blocks of 17th Street SE in the Safety Improvement Project for 17th and 19th Streets.

DDOT is holding a series of public meetings to discuss roadway improvements to enhance pedestrian and vehicle safety along 17th and 19th Streets SE, two of the most heavily trafficked and dangerous streets on Capitol Hill. In announcing the project, DDOT defined the project area to include 17th and 19th Streets between Benning Road NE and Potomac Avenue SE. ANC 6B has been urging DDOT for years to address the dangerous conditions along these two residential streets that are now major north-south commuting corridors. The Commission is glad that DDOT finally says it plans to address these concerns.

Unfortunately, though it is clearly a part of the corridor, DDOT did not include the 700 and 800 blocks of 17th Street SE, the remaining portion of 17th between Potomac Avenue SE and Barney Circle SE, in the project area. While this stretch is two-way, residents of the 700 & 800 blocks of 17th Street SE deal with the same high volume of traffic and excessive vehicle speed that exists north of Potomac Avenue SE. Most vehicles travel this southern stretch of 17th Street to use the “Authorized Vehicle Only” access road to get on the Southeast/Southwest Freeway. Speeding is a particular problem due to the incline of the roadway as it approaches Barney Circle. A number of accidents have occurred in this section of the roadway, including one that damaged the fence at Barney Circle.

In addition, the intersection of G Street SE and 17th Street SE is a major pedestrian crossing. Congressional Cemetery operates a dogwalking program, and many residents cross 17th Street SE with their dogs at G Street SE to access the west gate of cemetery. Currently, there is no crosswalk at this intersection.

Logically, the remaining two blocks of 17th Street SE above Barney Circle should be included in the DDOT analysis. ANC 6B urges the department to add this segment now. If for some reason DDOT is unable at this stage to include the 700 & 800 blocks of 17th Street in the Safety Improvement Project, ANC 6B requests that DDOT simultaneously conduct an independent study of these two blocks to determine appropriate traffic calming and pedestrian safety measures. Ignoring the significant pedestrian and vehicular safety issues along this section of 17th Street SE is not acceptable.
We look forward to a timely response to this request.

Sincerely,

Jared Critchfield
Chair

cc:

Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Councilmember, Council of the District of Columbia

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