District reveals latest plan to improve notorious ‘Dave Thomas Circle’

There is a revised plan to improve safety at one of D.C.’s most notorious intersections, nicknamed “Dave Thomas Circle.”

It’s the spot in Northeast D.C. where Florida Avenue, New York Avenue and First Street all converge in a triangular tangle of traffic, bicyclists and pedestrians.

A Wendy’s restaurant sits like an island in the middle of the chaos.

The District Department of Transportation made changes to the intersection in 2010, but problems have multiplied there as the area and traffic have grown.

DDOT has been working since 2013 to come up with solutions and in April of this year unveiled a proposed redesign and invited public feedback. The plan was tweaked based on that feedback, and an open house was held Tuesday night to show it off to the community.

The new plan for what’s become known as “Dave Thomas Circle” in Northeast D.C. at the intersection of Florida and New York Avenues. Click to enlarge. (Courtesy District Department of Transportation)

The changes include:

  • Moving a proposed two-way protected cycle track on First Street from the west side of the street to the east side.
  • Adding a new crosswalk from the east side of First Street NE across New York Avenue.
  • Introducing two-way traffic on First Street between Florida Avenue and New York Avenue.
The previous version of the proposal for the intersections in question in Northeast D.C. Click to enlarge. (Courtesy District Department of Transportation)

From the start, the plan has called for the Wendy’s to relocate in order to make way for one of three new public green spaces around the intersection.

“What we’re doing is taking the opportunity to redesign the pedestrian and bicycle experience in particular to minimize crossing distances, and to create a safer, more accessible infrastructure for everybody,” said DDOT Director Jeff Marootian.

Conor Shaw is president of the Eckington Civic Association, representing the neighborhood just north of the intersection.

Sharing his own views and not necessarily those of the association, he said he likes some of the design changes but more should be made.

“There is an ongoing concern that while the new design may make it easier for folks to drive through, there doesn’t seem to be a plan to actually reduce speeds and prevent the sort of dramatic crashes we’ve seen in the past,” Shaw said.

He would also like to see the cycle track on Florida Avenue continue farther to the west. “There’s really no way to safely cycle across the city between Union Station and the Maryland border at the moment,” Shaw said.

DDOT plans to roll out more design revisions in spring of next year, finalize the design by fall, and start construction in 2021.

Conor Shaw, of the Eckington Civic Association, outlined a list of changes that should be made to the latest proposal from the District. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
A look at some of the proposed green space for the redesigned circle. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The display of the newly designed intersection that was presented at the community meeting. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
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