Dear PoP – DDOT Directing Traffic?

“Dear PoP,

What is up with the increasing number of DDoT employees directing traffic at intersections with working traffic lights? I noticed this first around the construction at Park and 14th, and at Florida and New York (at the latter it was not needed), but it seems to be spreading. This morning, there was a guy directing traffic, for no apparent reason, at 9th and O – the light was working fine, there is no construction there, and it isn’t even a spot where traffic regularly backs up during rush hour!

Is this some kind of job creation scheme? If so, I’d like to know who to start complaining to – it seems like a huge waste of tax dollars.”

Hmm, I’ll send this to DDOTDC on twitter and see what they have to say. Could they possibly be crossing guards for children on a school route? Has anyone else noticed folks directing traffic at intersections without construction or other visible problems?

58 Comment

  • 14th & K and 14th & I both often have people “directing” traffic during rush hour, though the lights work fine. I watched one almost cause a wreck.

    • The lights work fine, sure. The drivers don’t. Until drivers stop blocking the box during rush hour, this type of traffic control is necessary.

      And I guarantee the wreck was caused by the driver not paying attention.

      • The folks attempting to direct traffic have no more control than the lights. As for the wreck, I said ‘almost’. As for your conclusion, no.

        • I think I’m with Anonymous on this one. I definitely think drivers are much less likely to “block the box” if there’s an actual person there barking at them if they do.

      • Anonymous Said:
        >The lights work fine, sure. The drivers don’t.
        >Until drivers stop blocking the box during rush
        >hour, this type of traffic control is necessary.

        True or until they add red light cameras at every intersection with signs stating blocking the box qualifies as a ticket. What would be super cool if it was every 15 or so seconds so if you sit through a 75 second cycle in the box your fine would be $50 * 5

        • I agree. Coming home on 12th is an absolute nightmare, especially when you get to the Mass Ave intersection. People blocking the box and all. If Fenty wants to have my vote, he needs to do something about the flow of traffic (how about timing the lights right so that traffic actually moves??)and put cameras up at the intersections that take picutes of your car every time you block.

      • saf

        They look right past the folks blocking the box.

  • That looks like the national guard…

  • I don’t know if this is the reason, but there are quite a few intersections (e.g., 7th and Mount Vernon PL NW, 11th and Rhode Island Ave NW) where rush hour traffic is snarled by jackasses pulling into the middle of an intersection on a green or yellow only to be left blocking traffic once the light turns red.

    The DDOT folks directing traffic on K Street during the evening rush occasionally prevent this — perhaps that’s the goal here too.

  • I don’t really understand what the problem is. Is the issue the presence of folks directing traffic (that appears useless) or where the funds are coming from?

    I don’t really see the big deal, nor do I see it being a “huge” waste of tax dollars especially if there has been a surge in pedestrian injuries. If that’s the case/problem, then having crossing guards out there is certainly a feasible ‘low hanging fruit’ solution. If these are employees who have been at the dept. for awhile now, then being on intersections may just displace other work (w/ low priorities), negating the “huge” waste of tax dollars assumption. Just sayin.

    I’d be interested hearing in the DDOT’s response as well.

  • Was he wearing a T shirt that said “This smooth-functioning intersection brought to you by MAYOR ADRIAN FENTY?”

  • With all the freaks passing up the right side parking lanes endangering everyone – especially those bus riders who step into the street looking for the next bus, kids darting across to and from school, bikes breaking the laws, seniors doing their best, the occasion lost stoner wandering aimlessly, and the idiots blocking intersections who couldn’t wait two minutes for the next light – you know their life is more important than yours…

    It think this is a good thing…

    • I don’t see how a DDOT person directing traffic in the intersection helps with any of this. They can’t give tickets. All they can do is yell.

  • Intersections at both 14th & Park and New York/Florida have had some major changes this summer. I bet DDOT is just trying to help drivers learn the new traffic patterns.

  • “all the freaks passing up the right side parking lanes endangering everyone”

    i hate these people the most!

    • + Outrageous the disregard for others.

      I can’t tell you how many times I have seen this and right infront of Police who do nothing of course.

      “Broken Window Policy” is what we need!

    • Oh my god these people are the WORST. Just freaking wait in the actual line of traffic like the rest of us. These people just make it even worse for the people they cut off when they run out of right lane and they make even more of a traffic jam when everyone has to slam on their brakes. I just make sure my car is close to the line so they can’t squeeze by. Jackasses.

  • My god … People will complain about anything.

  • My god … People will complain about anything.

    I’m sick of having to watch the light AND the mysteriously, possibly pointlessly, placed “crossing guard” at a lot of these intersections. If there’s a good reason for the city paying for traffic to be directed at intersections that don’t normally bog down, and that aren’t under or near construction, I’d like to hear it.

  • ^^Case in point.

    • Um, that was supposed to be a reply to Anonymous at 12:02 PM. Stupid commenting is broken again.

  • I think it’s fine if they are improving the flow of traffic. However, the folks at 14th and K need some serious training in how to do this properly. Half the time their signals directly contradict the traffic signals (e.g. making people stop walking when the pedestrian light is still white, waving cars through when the light just turned red). It is really frustrating.

    • Just out of curiosity, do any of these traffic operators work at intersections with red light cameras? I’d love to get a ticket in the mail that showed a DDOT employee in the accompanying photo waving me through a red.

  • Perhaps there were changes in the traffic pattern like there have been at 14th & Park/Kenyon, Florida & New York, and 7th and H St intersections. The first two traffic pattern changes were accompanied by construction, and the last one had traffic directors out for around two to three weeks when the Barnes Dance and “No Turns” were implemented.

    • And people are still turning at 7th & H. I’d love to have some traffic cops ticketing people there.

      • YES! I was there once and there was one cop trying to keep cars out of the bus/bike lane, stop vehicles from turning, curtail jaywalking, etc. If they did a blitz of cops issuing tickets (to cyclists, drivers, pedestrians, segways, whatever–they all break the law there) they could make a mint.

        • it pisses me off so much when i see people still trying to turn there. it’s very well marked and puts pedestrians at risk. at least before pedestrians were expecting cars trying to run them down.

  • I’ve seen this too and wondered about it. Specifically, at 9th and Rhode Island and then less than a block south at 9th and P(?) I’ve seen crossing guards well after rush hour. The one at Rhode Island sees fit to blow his whistle at me every time I cross… I think he’s drunk.

  • It’s a jobs/welfare program, plain and simple. We have crews of “crossing guards” on 16th/Park, 16th/Monroe and 16th/Newton who do nothing but stand there all day and drink water. They don’t even help people cross the street.

  • Yes, 16th Street is a major street. But it’s not one that’s in need of crossing guards who stand there all day and do nothing.

    • Don’t you have anything better to do than to stand there all day watching these crossing guards do nothing? Because that’s the only way I can imagine you’d know that they do nothing all day.

  • . . . to say nothing of the loser who has nothing better to do than comment on it.

    I work from home, and my balcony overlooks the 16th/Newton intersection.

    You can put 2 and 2 together on that one. Or maybe you can’t.

  • what exactly do the crossing guards do to stop people from blocking the box? ive seen plenty of cars do it and the crossing guard doesnt or cant do shit. while i do think that they are unecessary and all that we really need are better timed lights and more red light carmeras, i wish we could at least give them some power to ticket box blockers and reckless drivers while theyre out there. noone gives a shit about someone in a yellow vest blowing a whistle at them.

  • There’s a crossing guard at my intersection of 12th & mass – I was wondering just this morning when she was going to be back for the school year. She is definitely one of the crossing guards who does her job well – the people turning left from 12th onto mass ave never are very good at watching pedestrians, and it becomes a huge clusterF when the people going east on mass ave block the box. She walks the groups from the north side of mass to half way and keeps cars stopped until it’s all clear for them to turn. I think it’s a good idea.

    • That intersection is usually a mess. Try to avoid it, esp. at evening rush.

      • I live at 12th & mass so no hopes of avoiding it 🙁 luckily I’m coming east on mass and turning left onto 12th so I just have to deal with the idiots that don’t leave room to turn. I’ve just come to accept that everyone thinks they’re more important than I am, and I can’t do a damn thing about it.

  • To the guy “working from home” at 16th and Newton — maybe someone watching you spending the day you’re billing to your company by posting on blogs and monitoring traffic workers, might be as skeptical of your “work” efforts as you are of those crossing guards.

    • Fool. Maybe his company pays him to monitor traffic workers and post on blogs. You’re just jealous because you’re some clone in an office prison. We’ll get up, get out, and get something sir because you’re stuck on a one way trip to self-destruction and the rescue team doesn’t have you on its radar. What are you going to do, spend your last days quoting lines from Field of Dreams? I say, sir, your ticket has been punched!

  • Yo it makes it awkward to get road brains when some local government stooge is standing there pointing & yelling.

    I could have no arms and down syndrome and be better at directing traffic. Just sayin’…


  • Anonymous, that is about the lamest thing i’ve ever read in a blog comments section. Plodding, pedantic, having no point, and not even humorous.

    Please do better.

  • Agreed. In effect, he merely stated that you have a better life than he does but it took a lot longer to say it.

  • Has anyone noticed the broken escalataors at Metro stations that are down for months, sometimes even as long as 6 months.

    Hotels, malls, movie theatres etc all have escalators, has anyone noticed them being down for periods of 6 months?

    Companies can build and install escalators in under 2 weeks, and WMATA takes 6 months to repair one escalator?

    I tried emailing WMATA, no response.

    Now, that is a waste of money. These traffic regulators are needed at busy intersections where main streets meet smaller streets with no/minimum traffic and they keep the traffic moving so there are no backlogs.

  • RIP Joe Pozell. He made a big diff at Wisc & M. Now it’s a zoo again. That is one intersection that really needs more than just lights.

  • Interesting complaint. We usually get requests for more, not fewer, Traffic Control Officers (TCOs). For the most part, they are deployed to busy intersections in the downtown core to assist with the flow of traffic and – as others have pointed out – to help prevent drivers from blocking the box.

    There are also occasions when TCOs are deployed to intersections or areas where there is road construction, where an accident has occurred or where the traffic pattern has changed.

    For instance, we had TCOs regularly stationed in Columbia Heights during the cosntruction on 14th Street. We put them at 7th and H NW when we started the Barnes Dance, and we have used them around the “Dave Thomas Circle.”

    Many times they also backup MPD and man traffic posts so the police officers can return to their duties.

    Let me know if you have any additional questions.

    John Lisle
    DDOT Communications Office

    • Thanks for the response. Do TCOs have the authority to write tickets to drivers that block the box?

    • TRAINING TRAINING TRAINING and random checks. I cross the 14th st clusterfuck 2x a day. They CAN be useful if trained and motivated. I informed one guy texting (during high traffic times) that we were paying for him to do this.

      Some of the employees are helpful and capable. Many aren’t. They don’t understand the traffic flow and aren’t aware of the pedestrians’ surroundings.

      I did enjoy one employee verbally backing someone out of the box 🙂

    • saf

      Do you monitor these folks?

      Why do they ignore people who block the box?

  • I walk by a couple of these intersections (14th and Park incl.) every morning. I think they were really helpful during the construction, somewhat less so now. When school is going on, again, helpful.

    Something realted that really confused me the other weekend (and this has reminded me) was that I was driving along Rhode Island, and went through two or three intersections with perfectly functioning traffic lights, and then there were temporary stop signs put in between the two lanes of traffic going either direction. You had to shift a little around them — not a big deal. But confusing to come up to a green traffic light and feel like you have to stop at 1 am for some unexplained reason.

  • Don’t know if anyone said this yes, but they were probably directing traffice at Florida and NY Ave bc of the new traffic flow that started in June. Its still chaotic even with people directing traffic!

  • I think these people are very helpful

  • I generally think this is a make-work program that could be useful if they were trained and motivated. They’re hit or miss.

  • I have no problem with these workers – the traffic lights have frequently been out (due to storms I suppose) making their presence more necessary. Even when not, it’s not something I’d get hot and bothered about.

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