ANC6B Slams DDOT’s Pedestrian/Bike Safety Plan for 11th Street & I-695 SE Intersection
by Larry Janezich
After a contentious April 7 meeting where ANC6B’s Transportation Committee was briefed by DDOT on proposed safety improvements for the 11th Street/I-695 off ramp intersection, the committee went behind closed doors to craft a critical response to the proposal. A draft letter to DDOT, based on a number of recommendations by Commissioner Corey Holman – who also serves as chair of 6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee – was considered by the full ANC6B at its April meeting last Wednesday.
After a brief and more civil discussion, the Commission voted 9-0 to approve a letter stating that the current design of 11th Street is “hostile to all modes of travel” except for automobiles, that the plans for improvement are “insufficient in scope and design”, and that DDOT must modify the plan “to meet the safety, mobility, and sustainability goals of the city”.
DDOT’s original proposed improvements include:
1) Add an 8-foot wide two-way protected bike lane on the west side of 11th Street, SE, from I Street, SE, to O Street, SE.
2) Add a lane to the eastbound I-695 Exit Ramp to 11th Street, SE, to the existing three.
3) Reduce the 10 foot west side sidewalk width to 5 feet wide on 11th Street, SE, to accommodate protected bike lanes while maintaining up to eight car lanes in that stretch.
4) Shrink the width of the pedestrian refuge on the southern portion of the intersection of 11th Street, SE, and M Street, SE, from 18 feet to 6 feet to accommodate an extra north bound left turn lane onto westbound M Street, SE.
Striking a conciliatory note, the letter went on: “[We believe] the plans presented to the community on April 7, 2021 increase the safety of the corridor compared to the status quo, but we believe such projects should aim to maximize safety for all users of the roadway which this project so far fails to do.”
In order to reduce the focus on an auto-centric view of road use and to further the goals related to Vision Zero and Sustainable DC plans, “we believe the following should be incorporated into any plans for this 11th Street, SE, corridor.
1) Widen the proposed bike line to 10 feet with a 3-foot buffer, instead of the proposed 8-footlane with a 2-foot buffer.
2) Reverse all plans to shrink sidewalks on 11th Street to less than 6 feet wide and instead remove extraneous lanes for vehicle traffic to accommodate the bike lanes.
3) Adjust the number of lanes ….of 11th Street to widen the crosswalk at the northwest corner of 11th Street, SE, and M Street, SE.
4) Expand the project scope along 11th Street, SE, north to Pennsylvania Avenue SE to include a protected two-way bike lane from O Street, SE, to Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.
5) Seek to reduce the number of car lanes in general and expand sidewalks, bio-retention areas, and other non-road uses of the right of way.
6) Remove all double turn lanes to add usable pedestrian refuges along 11th Street, SE.
7) Implement vehicle speed reduction techniques … at the approaches to 11th Street, SE, and other traffic calming measures throughout the project area.
8) Remove the unnecessary left turn lanes onto N and O/Water Street from 11th Street, SE…and add pedestrian refuges or a larger median.
9) Continue to consider the impacts on the plans to bring Southeast Boulevard to the grade of L Street, SE, and any potential uses of the space under that raised Boulevard.
The letter – addressed the acting director of DDOT Everett Lott and copied to CM Charles Allen, concludes, “In sum, while ANC 6B believes the current plans are inadequate, we stand by to work collaboratively to ensure the city we all love and share does not fail at this generational opportunity to fix 11th Street SE.”