Almost eight years ago, the District Department of Transportation began looking at redesigning Florida Avenue NE, between New York Avenue and H Street NE, to address chronic speeding and an alarming pattern of severe crashes. Through studies and design iterations, plans emerged to calm traffic, create better options for biking and walking, and make more livable spaces along the corridor.
Sadly, while that planning was underway, the corridor produced unthinkable carnage and traffic violence, taking the lives and livelihood of community members and bringing grief and loss into the lives of thousands across the region. But we can also put credit where it is due—after a crash that took the life of a dear member of our BikeDC community, the DC Council and DDOT sprang into action. In just a few months, DDOT designed and installed a temporary road diet and protected bike lane on Florida Ave, which has already reduced speeding in the corridor.
Late last year, DDOT held a public meeting to present the 60% plans for the complete reconstruction of Florida Ave NE as well as 30% plans for the complicated intersection of Florida Ave, New York Ave, 1st St, and Eckington Pl NE.
These plans propose many high-quality improvements to sidewalks, trees, curb-protected bike lanes and intersections, reflecting many lessons learned from the interim treatments installed last year. You can find the plans and presentation materials on the project website.
However the proposals are far from perfect. We believe DDOT can and must go further to create safe spaces for walking and biking and limit opportunities for unsafe speeding. WABA submitted detailed comments for both the corridor and intersection reconstructions. Read WABA’s full comments here. In particular, we would like to see improvements to include:
- More aggressive traffic calming and a lower design speed
- protected intersections especially at 4th, 6th, West Virginia Ave, and at the many intersections at New York Ave
- Wider protected bike lanes and wider buffer from traffic
- A wider north side sidewalk under the rail bridge to meet Union Market’s pedestrian needs
- More complete and rational connections for people who bike across New York Ave, to the future New York Ave Trail, and further west on Florida Ave to meet the future needs of people who use the corridor
Once built (scheduled for 2021), this street design will remain in place for decades, so it is critical that the city gets it right, not just better.
What you can do
If you want to see Florida Ave NE done right, join our 20×20 campaign to organize the support DDOT and our community leaders need to make the right call. Sign up for a 20×20 Ward group here to get started.It is still not too late to tell DDOT what you think about their plans. Take a closer look at the plans here, then click here to email constructive comments to the project team.
Thank you to everyone who joined us in person or in spirit last Friday as we rallied for safer streets. You can read a write up of the rally at Greater Greater Washington.
Here are several things you can today to keep the momentum going:
Immediate fixes to Florida Avenue NE
Ask your Councilmembers to support emergency legislation that will require DDOT to take immediate action to make this deadly road safer.
Big Picture Meeting
If you are interested in systemic fixes, Councilmember Charles Allen is hosting a meeting this evening (Monday, 4/29) seeking input on how best to use legislation to make DC’s streets less deadly. Details here.
If you like to get into the nitty-gritty, DDOT is hosting an open house to discuss proposed changes to “Dave Thomas Circle”—the intersection of Florida Ave NE, 1st St NW, Eckington Place NE, and New York Avenue NE. Previous proposed changes to this dangerous intersection were underwhelming—the designs omitted key crosswalks and biking connections to minimize delay for drivers. Details here.