Eckington Place: a 4-lane highway no more

EckingtonPlace-streetview

After some prodding (note: this is not a slight to the officials at DDOT–if residents do not vocalize problematic issues or provide justifiable solutions, the department cannot be responsible for identifying every need on the streets of D.C.), DDOT has drafted a striping plan for Eckington Place.

For too long, our neighborhood has had to put up with a de facto 4-lane speed ramp due to a lack of striping.  This is exasperated by the width–60 feet–and incline of the street as well as a lack of stop signs or crosswalks.

Recent years have seen risen vehicle traffic due to the FedEx distribution center and exponentially increased pedestrian traffic with the additions of XM, the Metro station, and the re-opening of McKinley Technology High School.

A couple of events in the next few months will only add to the traffic as well as inevitable jaywalking:

  • Work is set to begin in June on the the vacant field north of FedEx. There will be a great deal of construction, particularly dump truck, traffic along Eckington Place. Potential sidewalk closures would spurn pedestrian traffic across the street upon reaching the closures.
  • The Metropolitan Branch Trail is set to open in July and many residents south of Quincy St as well as XM employees will be crossing Eckington Place south of the R ST intersection to reach the Trail access point (note: this access point may have been eliminated in the final plans–a post on this issue is next!).

A simple solution, without disrupting the current legal traffic flow, is the use of street striping.  A crosswalk across Eckington Pl at Q Street (which will soon connect east to Harry Thomas Way) would reduce jaywalking.  Bike lanes in both the South and North directions would narrow the street and prevent the existing illegal practice of 4-lane driving–making road crossings for pedestrians much safer in or outside of crosswalks.

DDOT has agreed and immediately drafted the plans below which are open for comment:

EckingtonPlace-striping1

Striping plan (click to enlarge)

EckingtonPlace-striping2

Striping plan (click to enlarge)

Due to the extreme width of the road, a turn lane would have to be included the entire length. There are 5 foot bike lanes on both sides along with parking stripes that will discourage illegal parking close to curbs. A crosswalk from Q St to the other side of Eckington Place has to be approved by the pedestrian department of DDOT (this plan was drafted by the bicycle wing of DDOT–thanks goes out to Mike!) and would require curb work to facilitate handicap access.

The above plans entail only striping, so this is a 1-day project (and very cheap). Evidently, ANC commissioners have to be given a 30-day notice, but the plan should be submitted in the next week (resulting in a June or July implementation).

Hope everyone (at least all Eckingtonians) is agreeable to this plan.

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6 thoughts on “Eckington Place: a 4-lane highway no more

  1. Great news. I’m concerned about this, though:

    “(note: this access point may have been eliminated in the final plans–a post on this issue is next!)”

    I have been waiting for a long time for a way to get to the metro without having to play frogger on New York Avenue and Florida Avenue. We always have to be wary of cars turning right when Pedestrians have the right to cross. This access point to the Metropolitan Branch Trail was promised to us.

    J.T.

  2. Are they still building the pedestrian bridges on the bike trail to the RI AVE metro station? I’ve been looking forward to that as well since I live much closer to that station since RI Ave is pretty congested and scarey as well.

  3. I agree, we need to fight for this access point. It’s such a paltry sum considering the benefits it will bring … and not just to us, but to the future occupants of THEIR stacks of boxes. Not only was it promised, but supposedly paid for. If it goes away, then construction should be delayed until the agreement is enforced.

    Also, at first glance I have two major concerns about the vehicular part of this plan:

    During peak traffic, when southbound vehicles on Eckington Place approach Florida Avenue, they form not two but three lanes.

    On the far right lane is the “right turn only” lane, which (theoretically at least) should help move traffic along but doesn’t. Because of commercial parking for XM Radio (and what at least used to be parking reserved for police), drivers can’t access the lane until they’re right upon it. It allows for just a few “free” right turns during each cycle, at best (if a series of right-turners ends up at the front of the line).

    The other two lanes go left, unless a few vehicles go straight into Wendy’s from the right lane. Two lanes are necessary, because quite a few cars will be making an immediate right to access the jug handle turn onto New York Av. They need to be in the right lane, which other left turners – who are heading straight on Florida – naturally avoid because of the traffic turning onto NY Av (and immediately after, Metro).

    Reduced to one lane for a left hand turn, the healthy percentage of drivers who need to move right immediately won’t be able to do so, or will do so only by blocking other vehicles (especially when negotiating bumper to bumper traffic). During gridlock, one or two cars might squeeze out per light cycle. If another lane weren’t available off to the right, that’s all who’d get out.

    And what happens to the long line of vehicles which will result, lined up to turn left? Not only will it interfere with the entrance traffic into FedEx, it may also encourage construction vehicles to depart from their agreed upon routes.

    My second concern is involves the virtual traffic circle. When is that really going to happen? IS it still going to happen?

    A year or so after all the tulip bulbs went into Quincy Place, someone (DPW?) dug everything up and now we’re back to packed red clay. It seems that every time a road gets nicely paved, a series of contractors digs it all up, leaving sorry excuses for patches … which seem to never be permanently fixed (Benning Road is one of my favorite examples; it never stays smooth long). Agreed, this helps slow down speeders, but my point remains: since agencies/individuals don’t always successfully coordinate with each other, this question may be pertinent.

    K3

    • The virtual traffic circle will happen–too much grant money has gone into the study for it not to.

      When it does, all southbound traffic on Eckington Place must turn right, anyways.

      And even before the traffic circle is implemented, the completion of the Metropolitan Branch Trail should reduce pedestrian traffic crossing Florida Ave at Eckington Place–allowing more vehicles to turn right per signal.

  4. We need to fight, tooth and nail. This traffic thing is now about the communities health. All that carbon, stuff or whatever comes out of those trucks, and cars. But, mainly trucks,and buses, industrial carriers, that whiz thru our neighborhood. I have talked with DDOT and other venders, and they say one thing, and do the other. Where does our councilmember stand on this? Has their been an evironmental study? Why or why not? Ward Five has a very high percentage of lung cancer in this ward. Do you wonder, the air is bad because of all of these trucks, and their emmissions. Even with the cross guards pedestrians you run the risk of being hit by a moving vehicle. Tax non residents and venders entry fees, and see how they obey the law then. Can’t DDOT put money towards residental contruction disturbances, that could cover repair of the roads, more definitive and truthful vibration studies, and enviromental implementation. Where is the green in any of this? Even if you have the path, the air will still be polluted. And what is stripping again?

  5. i like the looks of this, and i definitely think it’s worth it to spend the extra $$$ to get a crosswalk somewhere in the middle of this. this plan gives pedestrians no legal way to cross the street between R street and florida avenue (mistakenly labeled florida avenue NW on this plan).

    besides, since Q street is supposed to be extended across eckington place, a crosswalk there will happen sooner or later, right? might as well get everyone used to people walking across there now…

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