Monday night, ANC2E voted to support a proposal from DDOT to continue the improvements along Water St., including the extension of the separated bike lane.
Serious efforts to improve Water St. stretch back to (at least) 2015. That’s when the BID, led by its transportation director Will Handsfield, hired Toole Design to create a plan to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety along Water St., as well as improve the traffic management.
Central to the plan that Toole came up with was a separated bike lane on the south side of Water St. After some contentious discussions, this proposal was implemented by DDOT in 2017, and the results can be seen today.
However, two elements of the plan Toole created were not initially adopted by DDOT: the extension of the bike lane to the Capital Crescent Trailhead and the creation of a small traffic circle at 34th st. Both of these proposals were put on the back burner due to the imminent Key Bridge rehabilitation project, which needed the space.
With the rehab project complete, DDOT is now moving to complete the vision created by Toole.
The overarching goal with this last piece is to discourage cars from heading west of 34th St. Take a trip down to Water St. on a Saturday afternoon and you can see immediately how unsafe it is. Cars come driving all the way down Water St. looking for free parking, and then need to turn around when they don’t find it. Pedestrians and cyclists are also forced to walk down the center of the street since there are no sidewalks. It’s a combustible mix and it is only a matter a time before someone gets killed or maimed.
To discourage drivers from going beyond 34th, all the back in parking that currently exists there will be removed. The roadway will be narrowed and the former parking areas will be repurposed as pedestrian areas. The separated bike lane will be extended all the way to the foot of Key Bridge before it will be directed into the roadway. But the roadway will be much safer since ideally far fewer cars will be using it.
The small traffic circle at 34th St. will be designed to encourage drivers to turn around. But it will not prohibit cars from continuing on along Water St. This is to continue to allow access to the various boathouses and the three private homes that are all west of the proposed traffic circle. Additionally, the building at 3401 Water, which is slated to be redeveloped into an apartment building, will need access as well.
Hopefully the design will be finished in a way to discourage most of the traffic that currently travels down this block. And also cause the small amount of traffic that does continue to slow down and yield to pedestrians and cyclists.
Right now it’s pretty awful. This plan, while not perfect, is certainly a huge improvement.
Construction will ideally begin this summer.