- Georgetown Day School (GDS) received permission from the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) to expand its campus in Tenleytown.
- GDS agreed as part of the BZA approval process to close a portion of 42ndStreet just south of Ellicott Street (the “slip lane”) to vehicular traffic. The existing curved lane from 42ndStreet to slightly north of Ellicott Street would remain (the “fish hook”).
- Closing the slip lane will eliminate a significant hazard to pedestrians recognized by DDOT, ANC 3E, and residents. It will likewise permit GDS to turn the area between the fish hook and Ellicott Street into a park, serving the community.
- As initially configured in GDS drawings, the fish hook would permit two-way traffic.
- DDOT has ordered that outbound traffic from the fish hook be permitted to make right turns only, given the awkwardness, and probably hazard, of left turn movements at the intersection.
- Given the prohibition on left turn movements, and the traffic light GDS will install at Chesapeake and Wisconsin, little reason exists for a motorist to use an outbound fish hook lane for its intended purpose.
- It is likely, however, that drivers will violate the law and make dangerous left turns there.
- Moreover, two-way traffic will create additional opportunities for conflict with pedestrians. Given the lack of significant legitimate need for the outbound lane, and the likelihood that it will see significant illegitimate use, the additional risk to pedestrians is not justified.
- Elimination of the outbound lane, which would enhance safety, could also permit GDS to widen the park it is creating, benefitting the community.
- Likewise, elimination of the outbound lane could permit eventual installation of a bike lane on 42ndStreet, also benefitting the community.
- At the ANC’s request, GDS asked its traffic consultant, Wells and Associates (Wells), to conduct a traffic study to determine whether one-way operation of the fish hook would cause traffic problems (attached).
- The study found that converting the fish hook to one-way operation “is expected to have minimal impact on levels of service in the study area.”
- The study also postulates that by making the fish hook a one-way operation 42ndStreet could be converted to a one-way southbound street between Davenport and the fishhook and that the space from the no longer needed northbound travel lane could instead be used to create a block long bike lane between Ellicott and Davenport Street which would provide protected bike infra almost up to the entrances of both GDS school buildings and would also serve through bikers using 42ndStreet as well as making the currently short bike lane into an useful block long bike lane.
- Despite the foregoing, and without consultation with the ANC concerning the study, a DDOT reviewer told GDS DDOT would not support one-way traffic at the fish hook. Although there does not appear to be any written commentary from DDOT regarding the basis for its decision, per GDS, it appears to rest on the notion that GDS should provide as many exits for cars carrying its students as possible.
- Yet as part of its campus expansion, GDS has already created three separate exits for cars on three separate sides of the new campus, 42ndStreet, Ellicott Street, and River Road.
- Moreover, GDS has committed to aggressive requirements for use of buses and other non-car transit modalities, further reducing the burden on any individual street.
- Likewise, so far as we know, the Wells study supporting one-way operation of the fish hook is unrebutted.
- It thus appears that DDOT’s reviewer, without regard to the ANC’s opposition or the results of the traffic study, is mandating a traffic pattern that will increase safety risk and deny the community valuable benefits in exchange for minimal, and probably trivial, benefit.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:
- We respectfully ask DDOT to reverse its position, communicated privately to GDS, that it will not support one-way traffic at the fish hook.
- If DDOT is not prepared to reverse this position without more, we ask DDOT promptly to schedule a meeting in Tenleytown with its staff and the ANC, GDS, and GDS’ traffic and engineering consultants to discuss the matter further.
The resolution passed by a vote of 0-0-0 at a properly noticed meeting held on March 14, 2019, at which a quorum was present, with Commissioners Bender, Ehrhardt, Hall, McHugh, Quinn, in attendance.
by Jonathan Bender