As Wendy’s closes, what’s next for ‘Dave Thomas Circle’?

One of D.C.’s most convoluted intersections will soon be disassembled: Tuesday marks one large step in the process of dismantling what’s known as “Dave Thomas Circle.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted that the Wendy’s restaurant, at Florida and New York avenues in Northeast, will close Tuesday, allowing the District to move forward with plans to reconfigure the intersection.

“The last day of operations will be today, and they will vacate the premises at the end of the month,” Everett Lott, interim director of the District’s Department of Transportation, told WTOP Tuesday.

The intersection has ranked among the most accident-prone in the District.

“We also noticed about 80% of the crashes were side-swipes or rear-end crashes, which is consistent with driver confusion,” Lott said. “We’re going to eliminate the confusion, and make it safer for all modes of travelers.”

The District is still working on the minutiae of its final plans for the design of the future intersection, which will add two-way traffic to First Street Northeast and restore two-way traffic on Florida Avenue Northeast.

“We’ve gone through several iterations of the the design, based on input that we’ve received from the community,” Lott said. The final version “will be completed in October.”

The new intersection will add protected bike lanes going east and west on Florida Avenue.

With the removal of the restaurant and the redesigning of the area, three public park spaces will be added to the intersection.

“It’ll provide green spaces for people to gather, and also create safe spaces for people to maneuver through that particular intersection,” Lott said.

Streetlights will be replaced. Curbs will be upgraded with ramps. High-visibility pavement markings and signage will be included.

In February, the District secured the area through eminent domain.

Wendy’s has not yet announced where it plans to relocate the restaurant.

In a statement, a restaurant spokesperson said, “The Wendy’s restaurant at Dave Thomas Circle has been a beloved part of the brand and has served members of the community and commuters for decades. The name ‘Dave Thomas Circle’ is synonymous with Wendy’s and honors our founder, making it one of the most special and recognizable restaurants in our portfolio and a highly valuable asset of The Wendy’s Company.”

To- go customers snaked around mostly-empty tables during Tuesday’s lunch.

Some continued to lobby for the restaurant to remain where it is.

“Wendy’s was here first. No one told them to come put this crazy circle here — Wendy’s was here forever,” said a woman who preferred to remain anonymous.

Others were more at ease with the fast food restaurant’s departure.

“It’s the last day,” said a diner named Martin. “So, I thought I’ll come here one more time.”

Although he’s willing to feed his nostalgia, he said he avoids the intersection because of its congestion.

While it means he’ll have to find a new lunch spot: “Look, I can trade in some fast food for some flowing traffic — and you can put that on the record.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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