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A few weeks ago, Mr. T in DC complained about the new crossing guards posted at the DCUSA‘s Big Box Heaven in Columbia Heights. Mr. T writes:
In one sense, their deployment is a remarkable show of efficiency and planning by the DC government. In addition, the city repaved a bumpy stretch of 14th just north of Target, and laid down new crosswalk striping at some of the key intersections in the vicinity….
However, it seems to me the crossing guards are actually slowing things down for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The mere presence of people in the middle of the road, wearing bright yellow, waving arms, and blowing whistles is causing some hesitation, especially when they contradict the traffic lights. For pedestrians, they are slowing everyone down by insisting on strict but unrealistic compliance with the walk/don’t walk signals.”
I think Mr. T has a point. I know I hesitate just a little bit when turning on to my street. Hey! I don’t want to hit and/or piss off one of those whistle-blowing crossing guards! Still. At first the traffic wasn’t terrible with the new Target. It just meant that nearly every day felt like Sunday. Instead of churchgoers parking on my block, we have shoppers clutching huge reams of toilet paper.
The traffic has become terrible. I noticed with the opening of Best Buy, 14th Street NW became what we all thought it would—a huge headache. This past Saturday, a line of cars stretched from 14th and Irving to well past the old Giant. Basically, the traffic was backed up as far as the eye could see. It was around noon.
On my Newton Street block, the line of cars waiting to turn onto 16th Street was a good dozen or more cars deep.
For all those people dying to get to the big boxes, they don’t seem to want to stick around. Pedestrian traffic—key to the vibrancy of any neighborhood—just isn’t here yet. Especially in the evening. Columbia Heights still has a relatively empty vibe.
Mr. T had written Ward One Councilmember Jim Graham about the whistle issue. You can read Graham’s response. Graham basically punts. But I bet he was relieved. No one is down at the Wilson Building protesting in earnest about the nightmare 14th and Irving has become.