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A busy one-mile stretch of Arkansas Avenue NW in 16th Street Heights is about to get smaller—-and that’s just what the neighborhood wants.
Local residents have long said Arkansas Avenue between Georgia Avenue NW and 16th Street NW is hazardous, and they’ve called on the District Department of Transportation to make some modifications, specifically to permanently slim the street down to two lanes—-one in each direction. The current setup, residents say, is confusing: During rush hour, parking is restricted along the northbound side of Arkansas, and the street turns into three lanes in both directions. (There are no parking restrictions on the southbound lane, so it’s always one lane.)
There are no markings on the wide avenue to designate parking spots, leaving drivers unsure where they can park and where they can drive. On top of that, the wide lanes encourage fast driving.
Last year, a drunk driver severely injured resident Kelly Dillon‘s leg while Dillon was standing between two parked cars on Arkansas when the driver crashed into one of them, crushing her between the two. And just last week, another 16th Street Heights household—-on the 4500 block of Arkansas Avenue NW—-had its parked car mangled after a speedy vehicle crashed into it. Resident have even launched a website chronicling the accidents on the street and updating the community about communication with the transportation agency.
DDOT recommended that the lane should be narrowed months ago, but didn’t provide concrete details on how or when it should be done. But last week, DDOT released a new report saying it would actually start construction and paint clear parking boxes on the street within 30 days. Rush hour parking restrictions will be eliminated, so Arkansas Avenue will always be one lane of traffic in each direction, with strips of clearly designated parking spots on the north and southbound sides of the street.
“Unfortunately it took a few more crashes and a lot more public pressure [to get it done],” says resident David Joseph. “It’s really fantastic news. It will be a positive change for the neighborhood.”
The latest accident occurred last Tuesday, the day before DDOT released its report. The report also states it will look into determining when bike sharrows can be installed along the corridor.
DDOT spokesman Reggie Sanders says the agency will continue to monitor the area.
Read the full report below:
Photo courtesy of David Joseph