From traffic changes to bus and bike lanes, it can be challenging to keep up with planned road projects in the District, but the District Department of Transportation detailed the city’s progress at an oversight hearing this month.
Connecticut Avenue reversible lane, Cleveland Park flooding
After a wall of water poured into the Cleveland Park Metro in 2016, DDOT expects construction to start this year on new drainage pipes along Connecticut Avenue Northwest.
The drainage work will be done first, followed by additional construction on what the city calls “streetscape” improvements, such as sidewalk upgrades.
“It’s our goal to do this project as quickly as we can to minimize the disruption and also to provide the benefits to the community,” DDOT Director Jeff Marootian said.
That work is separate from a study examining the elimination of the rush-hour reversible lane on Connecticut Avenue to near the Maryland line.
The first phase of that study is expected to recommend changes to Connecticut Avenue, including a potential bike lane, this fall.
A second phase of the study advancing those recommendations through environmental reviews is expected to be done by spring 2021.
Construction is scheduled to begin by summer on bus lanes on 16th Street Northwest that will run from Arkansas Avenue to H Street Northwest.
DDOT also plans to implement bus lanes on 14th Street Northwest between Euclid Street and Newton Street later this year. The agency is considering rush-hour bus lanes in the peak direction or other bus changes on Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast between Second Street and Barney Circle.
The city is launching a broader effort this winter to examine other areas where bus lanes could work based on the number of buses on a corridor, the existing road design and Metro’s needs. The plans could include lanes that might be rolled out quickly, as well as lanes that would require more extensive construction over the next six years.
Marootian now holds a quarterly meeting with Metro Chief Operating Officer Joe Leader to discuss areas where D.C. could make changes to improve bus service, Marootian said.
D.C.’s bus-only lanes on H and I streets Northwest have helped increase bus speed from 6% to 12% in the mornings, and 1% to 9% in the afternoon.
D.C. Council member Charles Allen, D-Ward 6, highlighted the amount of time the bus lanes saved thousands of riders.
“The entire city is on the bus,” Allen said.
Despite the benefits for thousands of bus riders, some people who live along 14th Street and 16th Street NW complain about the loss of some parking spots associated with the creation of new bus lanes.
There are also concerns about maintaining access for people in wheelchairs who get dropped off or picked up along the corridor.
Long-delayed bike lanes near Convention Center
Bike safety advocates remain concerned by DDOT’s lack of action on long-promised bike lanes near the Washington Convention Center.
“It is difficult and frustrating to watch as safety infrastructure is planned for, budgeted for, and then delayed indefinitely and unimplemented by the District’s executive agencies,” Bicycle Advisory Councilman Tom Bridge said.
The Sixth Street NW or Ninth Street NW lanes have been held up for years.
“If this were a new ambulance or a new technique of firefighting, we would be aghast if it stayed unimplemented,” Bridge said. “Why are bike lanes any different?”
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is pushing for many more bike lanes than the 20 miles DDOT has plans to create across the city in the next three years.
The group is also concerned about traffic deaths in Wards 7 and 8, a lack of safe paths during construction projects, trail project delays and a lack of complete streets policy to ensure repaving and other projects make roads safer.
This year, the city plans to install bike lanes in the Dupont Circle and Foggy Bottom areas to the National Mall on 20th Street and 21st Street NW. It will also add them near MedStar Washington Hospital Center.
Construction is also starting this winter on the Metropolitan Branch Trail from near the Fort Totten Transfer Station to the Fort Totten Metro. That work is expected to finish in September following several delays.
The future segment of the trail between Fort Totten and Takoma is expected to have designs completed by the end of the year, with construction starting in spring 2021.
Planned bike lanes to be implemented this year include adding protection to some existing lanes like those on 17th Street NW, a number of new cycle tracks like Eighth Street NE near Monroe Street, G Street NW between 17th Street and Virginia Avenue and new regular bike lanes in spots such as Wheeler Road SE between Alabama Avenue and Southern Avenue.
Improvements are also scheduled to start this year on the Rock Creek Trail, and DDOT expects to complete its work on the Klingle Valley Trail this spring.
There remains no timeline for a trail between South Capitol Street and Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. The Arboretum Bridge and Trail piece of the Anacostia River Trail could possibly be built in 2022, DDOT documents revealed.
In response to some very vocal opponents to proposed bike lanes on Dalecarlia Parkway NW, Marootian said that was just an early suggestion in a study and final decisions haven’t been made.
Florida Avenue NE, Dave Thomas Circle
Designs are moving forward for changes to the New York Avenue NE and Florida Avenue NE intersection frequently referred to as Dave Thomas Circle because of the Wendy’s in the intersection.
DDOT is working to finalize the designs, Marootian said, for both the intersection and the separate safety upgrades for Florida Avenue NE near Union Market and Gallaudet University.
The city implemented temporary changes along Florida Avenue after a deadly crash last year.
The intersection designs are expected to be finalized this fall, and construction on changes could start in 2021 and be complete by summer 2022.
The plans call for two-way traffic on First Street NE and Florida Avenue NE, among other proposed changes.
Construction on Maryland Avenue NE is still set to be finished around June 2021.
“The corridor is a good hot mess right now because of the construction, but that’s to be expected,” Allen said.
DDOT is coordinating with Washington Gas’ construction crews on the busy commuter route.
Construction work is about 10% complete.
A new bridge for H Street NE behind Union Station still requires more coordination with Amtrak and other involved parties.
The contract is now scheduled to be advertised in the middle of this year, a delay of several months from previous plans. While final costs have yet to be sorted out, the city budget includes $248 million for the project over the next six years.
The new bridge must accommodate Union Station expansion plans; and construction has to accommodate ongoing Amtrak, MARC, VRE and Metro operations, as well as the many intercity commuter buses, DC Streetcar and other regular traffic.
East Capitol Street Bridge
Lane closures on East Capitol Street are expected to continue until this summer due to work on the bridge over the Anacostia River. The work began last February.
DDOT is negotiating with the construction contractor over approximately $1 million in changes to the project involving lighting, bridge bearings, storm drains and utilities. It’s still expected to be finished by August 2020.
Changes to the Roosevelt Bridge carrying Interstate 66 traffic in and out of D.C. are in final designs.
In addition to changes to the merge on the bridge and a sidewalk widening on the north side, the project is evaluating the condition of the bridge deck.
Final designs are projected to be done by the end of this year, but DDOT hasn’t identified funding to pay for construction.
Long-planned changes at the Tenleytown Metro are now on hold while DDOT contemplates other options.
A series of previous studies recommended large construction projects, but DDOT is now considering smaller-scale changes that could be quicker and cheaper, Marootian said.
Parkside Pedestrian Bridge, MLK Avenue and Malcolm X Avenue SE
DDOT plans groundbreakings soon for the Parkside Pedestrian Bridge over Interstate 295 near Benning Road and the Minnesota Avenue Metro.
New changes at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE and Malcolm X Avenue SE are also in the works.
16th Street Circle
Construction on changes at the Maryland border with Silver Spring is getting underway.
Frederick Douglass Bridge
Work continues on the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge that carries South Capitol Street over the Anacostia.
DDOT expects the project to be substantially complete in about a year.
In the meantime, there are a number of detours including for pedestrians.
Oregon Avenue NW
More than two years of construction began in December on a $25 million project on Oregon Avenue NW.
The work is expected to be finished early in 2022 after delays due to construction bids coming in higher than expected.
Eastern Avenue NE
Changes on Eastern Avenue NE between New Hampshire Avenue and Whittier Street have reached 65% design.
It’s expected to cost about $9 million to build and will include putting streetlight conduits underground and new traffic signals at Sligo Mill Road and at Kansas Avenue.
DDOT expects construction to start in about a year and conclude in spring 2022.
Broad Branch Road NW, Linnean Avenue to Beach Drive
Additional environmental approvals are required before DDOT can work on Broad Branch Road NW between Linnean Avenue and Beach Drive.
DDOT expects a public meeting on the project this spring, with environmental approvals in the fall.
The project then must be designed, so construction on the estimated $40 million project is not expected to begin until winter 2023.
K Street Transitway
DDOT plans to reveal updated designs this spring for bus-only lanes on K Street NW from near the Washington Convention Center to Washington Circle.
Final designs based on those 30% plans are expected to be done by summer 2021.
Construction could begin soon thereafter.
Foundry Branch Trolley Trestle, Arizona Avenue NW
DDOT is not moving forward with most of the $20 million Palisades Trail due to cost, design and land acquisition challenges.
Restoring the Foundry Trestle Bridge would have cost between $2.5 and $4.5 million.
A small section of sidewalk for the Palisades Trail will advance for further planning to improve connections to the Capital Crescent Trail at Arizona Avenue.
Final design on a new pedestrian bridge over Arizona Avenue is expected to conclude in winter 2021.
Pennsylvania Avenue West
New protected bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue NW west of the White House are moving forward.
Final designs expected by 2020 will include the bike lanes, new medians and upgrades for streetlights, sidewalks and drainage.