STATEMENT BY ANC 2B COMMISSIONERS REGARDING DDOT RESPONSIVENESS TO PEDESTRIAN SAFETY CONCERNS
by Commissioners Roggensack (01), Pasternak ( 04), Herbig (05), Silverstein (06), Holden (08), and Mulhall (09)
This statement is submitted by the undersigned ANC 2B Dupont Circle Commissioners to inform the DC Council’s hearing on the appointment of Everett Lott as Director of the Department of Transportation (DDOT).
We urge the Council to seek assurances that DDOT will prioritize pedestrian safety over efficient movement of commuter traffic and demonstrate that policy shift away through accelerated efforts to implement the full range of traffic calming infrastructure, coupled with more aggressive enforcement of speed limits. We also urge the Council to institute quarterly oversight sessions to ensure full transparency and accountability. We further acknowledge that pedestrian safety is a shared challenge across the city and that DDOT should ensure that its promised efforts to ensure improved pedestrian safety are implemented in an equitable manner.
Among the many pending issues, we have three immediate, and illustrative areas of concern:
- Lack of progress on infrastructure improvements to enhance pedestrian safety, targeted for completion in 2019, at and leading to the intersection of Connecticut and Florida Avenues, NW. DDOT has acknowledged that our Connecticut Avenue NW corridor is a “high crash corridor.”
- No clear plan of action to implement the 2020 Ross Elementary School Action Plan to support safe routes to school, despite the urgency of what DDOT’s own assessment characterized as an “unsafe walking environment for students.”.
- An urgent need for infrastructure improvements – including curb bump outs and raised cross walks as well as associated signage – to address recurring pedestrian safety concerns in our neighborhood from routine running of stop signs and lights, speeding, and associated unsafe driving ( illegal U turns in intersections, etc.). A nonfatal collision involving four year old resident Nathan Ballard-Means highlights the importance of these measures.
NOI: 19-31 TOA, 19-32 TOA( February 2019)
In July 2019 DDOT completed a high crash site review and pledged to undertake a series of infrastructure improvements at and around the intersection of Connecticut and Florida NW – to include S, R, and 20th and 21st Streets NW. Our ANC, together with ANC 2D ( Kalorama), wrote in March of this year to request action on the majority of the listed items, citing continuing dangerous and inefficient conditions. Our letter ultimately prompted some additional signage improvements, but the remainder are now promised for spring of 2021. We also noted that the original review left unaddressed concerns regarding signal timing and curb extensions across the extremely wide and heavily used Connecticut/Florida/21st Street NW intersection.
In addition to the delays cited with respect to an intersection acknowledged as dangerous, the process itself has been challenging because DDOT does not have a readily accessible portal for identifying and monitoring progress of outstanding work. In this case, the four immediately affected ANC Commissioners together created a spreadsheet and did several on site inspections to identify gaps and manage ongoing communications. We welcome the promised collaboration with ANCs to create a collective dashboard for this purpose going forward and encourage the Council to support more effective tracking and reporting by DDOT.
Ross Elementary School Action Plan
This plan, undertaken by DDOT consultants in collaboration with Ross School parents, was completed in December 2020 and provided to both DDOT and Ross School. To our knowledge there was no further action by DDOT until the past month, when an accident involving a Ross student ( detailed below) at one of the crosswalks identified as hazardous brought renewed attention and focus.
The report noted that fully 82% of Ross students are in boundary and of these the majority live within a half a mile of the school and typically walk to school. The report finds that this zone presents an “unsafe walking environment for students” – largely attributable to vehicle speeding, red and yellow light running, and failure to stop or yield. These findings were based on field review – mostly undertaken during COVID lockdown, and a review of DC crash data from 2015-2019. They were further validated through engagement with Ross School parents and community members.
The report finds that traffic calming measures are required to address speeding and failure to stop and outlines a series of recommendations, including raised crosswalks, bump outs and flexi posts – along the New Hampshire Avenue NW corridor, from S to Q,, and including intersections at R and 17th/18th; and Corcoran Street.
DDOT should clarify its plans for addressing the outlined recommendations including a timetable that acknowledges the urgency of infrastructure related measures, and a public facing tracking mechanism to ensure improved communication and coordination with the Ross parent constituency.
Pedestrian Safety: New Hampshire Avenue
On Friday September 24, four year old Nathan Ballard-Means was struck in the south intersection of New Hampshire and S, while in the crosswalk, and after stopping to check for oncoming traffic. Nathan was not seriously injured, nor was his mother Rebecca Means, who was accompanying him. The car failed to stop at the north intersection and was driving at an unsafe speed through the south intersection. Nathan was fortunate, but as this Council is aware, two other children – Allison Hart and Zy’aire Joshua lost their lives in similar situations, and two other children- Faith and Heavyn White – were injured while crossing a street on Walk to School Day.
Our ANC has had several subsequent on site meetings, including with Council Member Brooke Pinto, and DDOT representatives, to discuss this incident and appropriate interventions. Double backed stop signs were installed Monday, October 25, and high visibility cross walks were also pledged, with an anticipated delivery of spring 2021. It is apparent from citizen monitoring of this and adjacent intersections that new markings, and curb bump outs would contribute to traffic calming while also shortening the distance for pedestrians to travel. We urge DDOT to commit to these interventions and to their installation as a key priority.
In our October meeting we unanimously endorsed immediate action to improve safety along the upper New Hampshire corridor in and around the triangle park and dog parks bounded by 17th, Swann, T, S and New Hampshire: October resolution
We applaud the recent construction of the 17th Street bike lane and other protected infrastructure in the neighborhood to increase safe cycling connections and improve pedestrian safety but believe more must be done to make our streets safe.
We welcome the mayor’s pledge to accelerate traffic safety improvements and to reduce internal bureaucratic hurdles while ensuring ongoing and purposeful community engagement. We thank Council Member Brooke Pinto for her efforts to raise awareness and for support of ongoing oversight to ensure DDOT fulfills recent pledges to address safety concerns in a more accelerated, comprehensive and transparent way. We look forward to working with DDOT staff to ensure these priorities are achieved fully and in a timely manner.
Meg Roggensack, 2B01
Mo Pasternak, 2B04 ( Chair, Mobility Committee)
Will Herbig, 2B05
Mike Silverstein, 2B06
Matthew Holden, 2B08 (Chair)
Kyle Mulhall, 2B09