Friday, August 01, 2008

Another ANC Commissioner Gets Huffy

In the ongoing traffic issues associated with the Morrison Street signal, ANC 3/4G Commissioner Jerry Levine has clearly grown impatient with DDOT. At a June 23rd Commissioner meeting, the now former DDOT Director announced that the controversial pedestrian signal would be altered to a conventional configuration.

A month later, the change still has not taken place. As a result, the Commissioner has posted not once, but twice urging residents in a call to arms to barrage DDOT officials with emails advocating for the reconfiguration for the light, accusing the agency of "dragging its feet".

Many of the comments in response are supportive of the Commissioner. However they are also viewing the signal from the perspective of a driver:

Cars on Morrison Street have either a flashing red, which works like a stop sign, or a solid red with a 'no turn on solid red' sign. Since the more heavily-trafficked Connecticut Avenue has a flashing yellow when Morrison has a flashing red, drivers on Morrison sometimes have to wait through several light cycles before finding a break in the Connecticut Avenue traffic that allows them to turn or cross.


Others have a different perspective on the realities of managing traffic within the confines of Federal Standards:

They might be dragging their feet because a traditional light at the
Morrison Street intersection with the avenue violates a couple of
principles of traffic planning and is probably not a good idea.

The most obvious problem is that by adding making the Morrison light a
traditional r/a/g light, you'll have three lights on a major arterial
street in very quick succession - indeed the existing two lights are
already closer together than desirable. The other issue is that it
will tend to turn Morrison into a feeder st. for the avenue when it
wasn't built or designed for that purpose (unlike, e.g. McKinley).


Still others support the signal because of the pedestrian-friendly benefits it provides:

Unless (DDOT) can make a more compelling case, the pedestrian signal at Morrison Street and Connecticut Avenue NW should be retained with some minor adjustments to eliminate any driver confusion. For a year and a half, it has served as a model for protecting pedestrians, where installing a regular cycling signal would have created safety, congestion and other traffic problems on a busy commuter corridor and cut-through traffic on neighborhood streets.

Either way, this is an interesting study in micro-politics in the District. Does the community need to be able to dictate policy to city agencies? What should the requirements of "Great Weight" mean, particularly when Federal guidelines and standards come into play? After all, this ANC was also behind the move to reinvent Military Road.

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