Housing Complex

Tighten Your Belts, D.C. Roads: You’re Going on a Diet

A lane reduction on East Capitol Street. Traffic calming on C Street NE. A bike lane on M Street NW. A bus-only lane on I Street NW—right in front of the Washington City Paper office.

Yesterday, the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board approved seven new road projects in the District that all serve the same function: making D.C.'s streets less about speeding cars and more about pedestrians, bikers, and buses. These projects, as well as others in Virginia and Maryland, will now be included in the region’s Constrained Long Range Transportation Plan. According to Ronald Kirby, director of transportation planning at the TPB, new road projects are required to go through this approval process to ensure adherence to air quality standards, as well as to receive any federal funding.

"The District is, quote, 'built out' in terms of roads that are built," says Kirby in explaining D.C.'s trend toward multimodal streets—in contrast to the suburbs' tendency to add more car lanes. Some suburban commuters, he notes, have concerns about the District's lane reductions, which improve quality of life in D.C. but can make commuting more difficult.

Here's a full list of the approved changes:

I Street NW Peak Period Bus-Only Lanes 13th Street NW to Pennsylvania Avenue NW

I St. NW is one-way, running westbound between 13th St. NW and Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Parking restrictions are in effect on both sides of the street during morning and evening peak periods, allowing for five lanes of traffic. This project proposes to use one of those five lanes as a bus-only lane during the peak periods.  Completion: 2013. Cost: $500,000.

New Jersey Avenue NW from H Street NW to N Street NW

Reconstruct New Jersey Avenue NW from four lanes, one-way northbound to two lanes in each direction. Completion: 2013. Cost: $500,000

17th Street NE/SE Lane Reduction from Benning Avenue NE to Potomac Avenue SE

Reconstruct 17th Street NE/SE from two lanes southbound to one lane southbound. Completion: 2013. Cost $5 million.

C Street NE from 16th Street NE to Oklahoma Avenue NE

Implement traffic-calming measures by removing one of two travel lanes in each direction.  Completion: 2013. Cost: $4.5 million

East Capitol Street from 40th Street to Southern Avenue

Implement pedestrian safety and traffic operations improvements and remove one of three travel lanes in each direction.  Completion: 2015. Cost: $5 million

South Capitol Street from Firth Sterling Ave. SE to Southern Ave. SE

Design and construct a paved bicycle and pedestrian trail along South Capitol Street and reduce the number of lanes from five to four. Completion: 2013. Cost $5 million.

M Street NW Bike Lane Pilot Study, from 15th Street NW to 29th Street NW 25th Street NW—complete in 2013, one travel lane removed

Map from the Constrained Long Range Transportation Plan at mwcog.org

  • Brian

    Please tighten Georgia Avenue's belt. We need a bike lane from Silver Spring to downtown!

  • Roy

    I'm not sure what the "Completion: 2013" in these refer to. For example, the S. Capitol Street project has a Projected Completion Date of 2015 listed in the CLRP Project Description From (which seems to date from February). Can't imagine all of these will now be finished by the end of 2013.

  • Brian’s Friend

    I agree on the Georgia Avenue Silver Spring to Downtown route. There is plenty of room. Georgia could also use a paving.

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  • jeff

    I'm not sure how the bus only lane is going to work. The bus only lanes already in place are ignored by everyone.

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