Chevy Chase Citizens Association: Nov. 15, 2017

Residents heartily debated whether the city should install sidewalks on Chestnut Street NW. (Brian Kapur/The Current/May 2016)

The lack of sidewalks on some streets in our association’s Hawthorne neighborhood near Rock Creek Park has been a contentious issue in recent years. Advocates say that sidewalks afford residents and visitors a safe place to walk around the area. Opponents believe that things are fine the way they are.

Two years ago, the D.C. government allowed residents to petition for sidewalks on streets lacking them, and residents of Chestnut Street NW, a major thoroughfare for students walking to school and for others, were one of the first groups to ask for them. The D.C. Department of Transportation planned to install them on the north side of the street in 2016.

Last year came and went with no new sidewalks after feedback from the neighborhood stalled the project. Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3/4G (Chevy Chase) invited Jeff Marootian, the new agency director, to discuss this and other local issues at a meeting late last month.

Some of our members were hoping for quick action, based partly on a plan by Mayor Muriel Bowser called “Vision Zero,” which has a goal of reducing traffic-related serious injuries and deaths to zero by 2024. Despite a statement by Marootian that his agency’s goal is to prioritize neighborhoods that are part of a “Safe Routes to School” program, the department does not expect to install Chestnut Street sidewalks until 2020. He explained that there are other construction projects in our neighborhood that must be completed first.

Other streets in Hawthorne can expect sidewalks later. Chestnut is a priority because it is a bus route and a convenient route to Lafayette Elementary School.

Marootian updated ANC 3/4G on its plans for major reconstruction along Oregon Avenue NW, stretching from Western Avenue to Military Road. The long-planned project has been delayed by DC Water’s sewer work near the intersection of Oregon and Nebraska avenues.

The agency’s current projection is for work to begin next May or June. It will take about 27 months, with work split into three nine-month segments beginning at Oregon and Western. This work will involve a complete rebuilding and repaving of Oregon Avenue, as well as the installation of sidewalks through the entire stretch of road.

— Chris Dietz