DC’s plans to fix confusing street signs

The D.C. Council passed a budget this summer that called for meters hours to be extended until midnight in premium parking zones, but the meter changes won't go into effect until 2016. (WTOP/Ari Ashe)(WTOP/File)

WASHINGTON — The District has more than 206,000 street signs, some of which do not make sense.

The District Department of Transportation hopes a new log of each of the 206,701 signs and 123,087 sign posts will help identify and correct conflicting signs before they create more significant problems.

Confusing or conflicting signs, such as ones that seem to indicate parking is both permitted and banned in a certain spot, remain a problem, though.

DDOT and the Department of Public Works share responsibility for the signage and rules, and the agencies now have regular parking coordination meetings.

This spring, DDOT plans to add an app for city workers that will help keep track of those signs and track any changes in a mapping system.

“DDOT and DPW have continually collaborated on curbside management, and continue to improve responses to inconsistencies in curbside management,” DDOT wrote to the D.C. Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment.

In the last full budget year, DDOT and the Department of Public Works discussed 816 locations with conflicting signs.

Work to fix those has picked up over the last few months.

Since many of those confusing areas include numerous signs that conflict, the city has installed 899 new signs, removed 99 signs, repaired 126 signs and replaced 1,773 signs — just this fall and winter.

The most common way to report an issue is by calling 311. An average of one to two conflicting-sign reports are submitted each day.

While the signs are not necessarily a problem in each case, a report does typically prompt a review.

The review of each request has taken about 118 days on average including the time for an investigation and then the redesign of the sign layout for a block that does have a problem, DDOT said.

“For sign conflicts that present a safety hazard, DDOT is committed to resolving the conflict within 24 hours,” DDOT wrote.

The agency plans more public outreach campaigns this year aimed at clarifying curbside parking signs and explaining how to raise any problems with the District.

Even when the signs are clear, enforcement is not always easy.

A test program along Connecticut Avenue Northwest, near Dupont Circle, meant to replace parking spaces with pickup areas for vehicles such as taxis, Uber and Lyft, has not gone smoothly.

“So far, enforcement has been challenging, and DDOT is trying to improve enforcement,” DDOT said.

If cars must be towed, the costs of the program would go up.

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