Curbing Traffic

August 28, 2008

Georgetown could soon see some relief from its chronic traffic problems. A study by the District Department of Transportation, to be released by the end of the month, gives suggestions for how the neighborhood can better handle vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles.

The study was conducted in partnership with HNTB, a national transportation engineering firm. It addresses problems with road design and traffic flow, using traffic and pedestrian data. At four public meetings held over the year to gather residents’ input, concerns ranged from buses shaking houses to cars speeding through neighborhoods to a lack of bicycle infrastructure. Though the final report has not yet been released, a draft is available, showing what changes will be suggested.

One suggestion that Ron Lewis, the secretary of Georgetown’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission, is particularly optimistic about deals with plans for the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street. Up to eight million people per year cross at that intersection and with narrow sidewalks, street corners are often overcrowded. To help with pedestrian traffic flow, the study calls for the implementation of the Barnes Dance, a pedestrian walk phase during which no cars would be allowed to move and pedestrians could cross in all directions, even diagonally. While this would mean that cars would be stopped longer, Lewis did not think it would not have too much of an adverse effect on congestion. It would be the first time this tactic would be used in D.C.

The study also includes a suggestion to reroute the Rosslyn GUTS buses off of Prospect Street so that they leave campus through the Canal Street entrance. The potential change would not add much, if any, time to the route.

Other suggestions in the plan include creating more visible crosswalks throughout the neighborhood, repairing sidewalks, installing a pedestrian countdown timer at the southern corner of Wisconsin and O Streets, and adding bus lanes along Wisconsin and M Streets.

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