31 Mar 2019

Barracks Row:

A Change of Direction on D Street SE?

Detail of the proposed direction change in the 700 block of D Street SE, south side, by Sabra and Associates. Click here to see the whole

A proposed change to the area around the Eastern Market Metro Plaza needs your input. It’s important to speak up before the next meeting, which is taking place on Wednesday, April 3. You can also speak up tomorrow, April 1, at the ANC 6B Transportation Committee meeting at 7 p.m. at 700 Pennsylvania Avenue SE (entrance next to Trader Joe’s). The following item in the March 22 newsletter from CHAMPS, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce caught my eye:

Eastern Market Proposed Traffic Changes: DDOT on March 1 released a Notice of Intent on proposed changes to D St. SE, 8th St. SE, Pennsylvania Ave and the intersection of 7th and South Carolina SE. Check out the changes here. The goal is to improve and accommodate the new DC Circulator Eastern Market – L’Enfant Plaza route’s planned eastern terminus. What do you think of these changes? Let us know

Changing the flow of traffic on D Street SE from a one-way, eastbound street to a one-way westbound street might seem like a step toward making the Circulator’s turnaround more streamlined and therefore more efficient. The Circulator currently ends its route in front of Sephora (700 Pennsylvania Avenue SE) and turns around at 4th and Pennsylvania. However, the switch in direction would mean that the 700 block of D Street SE, a small street would also be handling a large bus. This small street already sees a large amount of traffic as it is, from people looking for parking in order to conduct business in the area to people cutting through in order to get to 8th Street SE– one of the neighborhood’s largest thoroughfares.

Creating a turning lane for the Circulator to be able to turn onto D Street may seem like a good idea, but as it is, the traffic at that intersection backs up quickly, both going north- and southbound. A turning lane would occupy more space and possibly reduce visibility. It would also make pedestrians crossing D Street on the west side more vulnerable, as left-hand turns are highly dangerous for pedestrians.

When attempting to parallel park on D, especially at peak hours, the traffic would back up into 8th Street SE, where the traffic chaos is already high. Bus bays are regularly blocked on 8th at D by cars idling. Many of the cars who idle are, among others, patrons at the Barracks Row Starbucks. It would be helpful to have a more constant DPW presence monitoring this area. (Sorry, coffee people.)

The DC Fire and EMS also have a station on the 400 block of 8th Street, east side. The ingress and egress of fire engines causes traffic congestion as well. Although this is expected, given the large engine and ladder truck that have to pull in and out of the station, the chaos is compounded by Metrobus routes 90 and 92 as well as the Circulator not being able to use their bus stops properly.

DDOT needs to look closely not at the idealized traffic patterns in the area, but at the actual day-to-day happenings on the street, and what this would mean for people who conduct business in this area on a daily basis. A big thank you to Leah Daniels, owner of Hill’s Kitchen, for spending some time with me helping me understand the traffic in the area.

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