Walking across Grant Circle can be a risky choice, one that has been frustrating residents for many years. Emails have been sent to DDOT, the DC Council and others for several years, looking for improvements to the circle that will ensure better pedestrian safety and greater traffic calming measures. Previously, the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) hadn't been as responsive as it should have been to resident emails.
I've been in communication with DDOT's Acting Director of Communications, Keith St. Clair, about this issue and he's done a good job of following up with me and with ANC Commissioner Joe Martin about Grant Circle. As a result of ANC, resident and Councilmember Brandon Todd's attention (and perhaps a blogger article or two), DDOT is now planning on implementing the work outlined in their recent Notice of Intent (see my previous article, "Painting safety into Grant Circle" for full details on the Notice).
DDOT's Notice of Intent 15-113-TOA outlines new street lines painted to clarify parking areas, direct the ingress and egress of vehicles coming into and out of the circle, and help make pedestrian crossings a bit safer.
No parking spots will be removed or added by the scheduled work. DDOT's intent is to decrease the apparent lane width by marking where the travel lane and parking lanes are in relation to each other. By putting entry / exit lanes onto New Hampshire, Illinois and 5th Street, the goal will be to direct vehicles to specific places to enter and leave the circle. Painting bump-outs at those intersections will also hopefully reduce the visual length of roadway for pedestrians to cross. In the end of course, it's just paint, and it's up to drivers to follow the lanes, and pedestrians to continue to be cautious. The work is planned to be completed by September 7, 2015.
In discussing the proposed work, DDOT’s Grant Circle project engineer, Gregg Steverson, said "After investigating the feasibility of the three recommendations in the 2007 New Hampshire Avenue Master Plan regarding Grant Circle, DDOT has proposed and designed improvements within and around the circle to better conditions for pedestrians."
According to Mr. Steverson, DDOT's plan includes:
1. Approach channelization
Channelizing the yield controlled entry points to the circle is being proposed not only for New Hampshire Avenue, but for the northern legs of Illinois Avenue and Fifth Street, as well. This will assist in slowing vehicles as they enter the circle. Channelization will be done with pavement markings and pylons placed on top of them. Yield markings will also be placed at each of the approaches to enhance the traffic control.
2. Curb extensions/parking area markings
Painted curb extensions are being provided at the entry and exit points that follow the path of the parking areas on those roadways that lead to the circle, to lessen the amount of walking distance for pedestrians to cross. Additionally, the parking areas will be marked specifically for parking.
3. Removal of Inner Travel Lane
The daily volumes within Grant Circle were shown to be 12,000 vehicles per day within the Master Plan. As such, the [2007 Master] plan’s recommendation to remove a travel lane within the circle is not practical. However, markings will be provided that will narrow the lanes.
Mr. Steverson said that they anticipate that work will be completed by Monday, September 7, 2015 (Labor Day).
Prior Petworth News coverage on Grant Circle safety: