By: Amanda Menas
The District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) Director Jeff Marootian, Councilmember Jack Evans, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and ANCs 2A and 2E met Thursday evening to discuss transportation. There were four presentations about traffic patterns, pedestrian safety, and the 2019 Feasibility Study.
“We are starving our transit, we are starving our roads” said Norton, calling for increased funding to DC’s infrastructure.
Norton is advocating to renew the $1.5 billion in funding to transportation projects across the country, hoping this will leave the $50 million the District allocates exclusively to operating costs. She also mentioned DDOT securing a $500 million pledge for the metro system in D.C.
DDOT staff, including Haley Peckett — the project manager for the I-66/ Rock Creek Parkway Feasibility Study that will be conducted in 2019 — presented areas of public outreach they would like to accomplish, traffic modeling options, and a comprehensive vision for tackling rush hour traffic near Virginia Avenue.
Marootian said the most important part of his job is ensuring safety for residents and visitors. While acknowledging the study and construction around I-66 and the Rock Creek Parkway are “less simple” projects, he underscored the importance of listening to the community and putting forward a vision that reflects their interests.
Active plans involving DDOT, the National Park Service, and other stakeholders include additional pedestrian access points between the Kennedy Center and the National Mall. The excess money received in a previous grant will allow the construction of a 14-foot wide pedestrian tunnel under the Roosevelt Memorial Bridge.
A member of the Federal Highway Administration announced plans to adjust traffic patterns at Potomac Parkway and Rock Creek Parkway. The member also mentioned increasing the width of the pedestrian walkway near the Kennedy Center. There will be a contractor for each project next fall.
Evans, the chair of the transportation committee in the city council, and the chair of the WMATA Board of Directors, promises to “get all the roads paved in Ward 2.”
Evans also highlighted other accomplishments D.C. achieved in the last year –including Moody’s Investors Service giving D.C. a AAA rating for the first time in history. “We’re not a failing city,” he said.
The meeting ended with questions for the four presenters. Will Handsfield from the Georgetown Business Improvement District, and Jamie Henson from Kittelson and Associates, presented on an alternative route for rush hour traffic from K Street to the northbound Rock Creek Parkway. They also presented larger visions for the intersections.