Residents cross about crosswalks

BY: CIERRA MCDONALD

The proposed relocation of the crosswalk along the intersection of Fourth Street, NW where Blair Road, NW and Cedar Street, NW has stirred opposition amongst Takoma DC residents.

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DC’s proposal eliminates or moves the two crosswalks in the foreground. Crosswalk on right would move several feet to the right. Crosswalk on left would be removed.

The Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC), an advisory board comprised of neighborhood representatives who help eliminate problems within their neighborhood, voiced the concerns of residents who rejected the idea that relocating the crosswalk would improve the pedestrian and driver safety.

Letter

ANC Ward 4b residents signed a letter to the District of Columbia government opposing its plan to close the Cedar Street median. They expressed concern over pedestrians’ unsafe exposure to vehicle traffic on the narrow sidewalk where Cedar Street and Blair Road, NW meet.

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The Cedar Street median gap.

Residents were also concerned with the relocation and elimination of crosswalks at the point of Triangle Park across Blair and 4th Streets, NW.

Many residents did not agree with the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) proposal because of what they called the lack of sense and safety the proposed sidewalk on the east side of Blair Road made.

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Pedestrian pushed stroller over crosswalk proposed to be moved to the other side of S&S Liquor’s parking lot entrance – roughly between the white van and the white truck in the photo.

“The point to move the crosswalk from the park to cross Blair from the current location to a point from the park to ‘south of the business driveway’ appears to make little sense, because the primary reason people cross this intersection is to go to Cedar Street/Takoma Metro Station. This forces people to do so in an out of the way fashion,” Richard Layman said.

Many residents feel that the relocation of the crosswalk would extend their walk and force them to go out of their way en route to the Metro Station. They are concerned that the extended and inconvenient walk could result in pedestrians unsafely jaywalking in order to save time.

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Blair Street, NW. Crosswalk would move to right of the parking lot entrance. Critics say this forces pedestrians to walk out of their way to Metro.

“Residents want pedestrian safety improved. It seems to many residents that this change in the location of the Blair Road crosswalk and elimination of the Fourth Street crosswalk favors drivers. Residents think that pedestrians will continue to cross where the crosswalk is now whether it is marked or not. An expert in the community from the Americans with Disability Act maintains that, legally, it will continue to be a crosswalk whether it’s marked or not,” Faith Wheeler, ANC Commissioner for 4B02, said.

Pedestrian safety

DDOT says that the relocation of the crosswalk is in the interest of pedestrian safety. Their intent is to make vehicle access to the parking lot easier.

DDOT’s proposal includes:
• Closing the Cedar Street, NW median gap with a fence built to keep pedestrians from walking and jumping over it,
• Bollards installed in front of a business which would protect pedestrians around the corner of Cedar Street/Blair Road, NW,
• A crosswalk from Triangle Park across Blair Road, NW which will connect just south of the existing business (S&S Liquors) driveway,
• A traffic light installed to stop cars at the crosswalk which will be synchronized with the nearest traffic light
• And the elimination of the Triangle Park crosswalk nearest Fourth Street.

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DDOT’s proposed changes. Triangle Park is at bottom. Takoma Metro is just off the map to the top right.

However, some believe that DDOT’s proposal is in the least interest of pedestrian safety.

“I don’t see how it would enhance safety, because first, it forces pedestrians into the roadway in a nonstandard location and process as opposed to within a crosswalk at a traffic signal, second, to have to walk in an area with substandard conditions as opposed to the existing sidewalk next to the park, third, to walk in an area that is primarily designed for car traffic, and fourth, even worse, it forces pedestrians to walk across an entrance/exit to the parking lot used by motor vehicles, where pedestrians are not forced to cross this entranceway now,” Layman said.

Slated for next year

After receiving the final design plan DDOT will go forward with the design for the crosswalk.

According to ANC Representatives the design plan is almost complete and construction will more than likely start 120 days after the final design plan is approved.

Completion of the crosswalk is expected for next year.