DDOT Set to Start Reconstruction of Sherman Avenue

From a DDOT press release on Friday:

Two Year Project Will Make Street Safer for Drivers, Cyclists and Pedestrians

(Washington, D.C.) The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced plans are in place to start the reconstruction of Sherman Avenue, NW. Major streetscape improvements, that will reshape Sherman Avenue as a residential street, are planned between Park Road and Florida Avenue. Construction on this two-year project will start next week with water-main utility work.

The department has worked very closely with the community on the design to ensure the construction will:

* Make Sherman Avenue feel more residential rather than a commuter route by reducing vehicular lanes to one in each direction.
* Improve pedestrian safety by widening the sidewalks to make them ADA compliant, and upgrading the wheelchair ramps and crosswalk markings.
* Make Sherman Avenue more attractive by planting trees and shrubs along the corridor, upgrading street lights and upgrading traffic signals.

“When we talk about livable streets in the coming years, we will be able to point to Sherman Avenue as a great example,” said Director Klein. “It won’t be a barren raceway prioritizing just cars anymore. It will be a beautiful, tree-lined residential street with wide sidewalks, shorter crosswalks and bike lanes in both directions. It will be safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.”

DDOT will also completely reconstruct the roadway, upgrade the DC Water pipes and improve the drainage system along Sherman Avenue. The construction is expected to be completed in late 2012.

49 Comment

  • But we need a commuter route too! I use it regularly from Petworth down to the flats, and if it goes to 1 lane in each direction, all it’s gonna do is slow traffic and push more traffic to other north/south streets. Ah well, all in the name of great streets….??

  • For those of you against this project, please try walking down Sherman Avenue. If you walk withs omeone, there are points where you actually have to walk single file because the sidewalk is so narrow.

    • OR try CROSSING Sherman avenue where there are crossing lanes but no stoplight. The cars try to guess if you’re going, you try to guess if they’re stopping. It’s a fun game. Kind of like human Frogger.

      This also applies if you are trying to traverse it via car and there is no stoplight.

      I truly do understand that people need ways to get to work. I really just want to be able to cross the street though. We could probably think of something…

    • OH MY GOD! Walking single file??? The horror!

      • well when you’ve got the dog and the family coming at you has the stroller and then the 5 year old on the bike shows up things do get a little hairy.

        i don’t think it’s too much to ask for a proper sidewalk.

      • msms – you’re right, what was I thinking pointing out an obvious flaw that affects quality of life and safety in the city, albeit in a small way. The city definitely shouldn’t address it. I mean, there’s probably brick sidwalks in Georgetown that need replacing.

      • relax Lutz. no one said it was a horror. it was mentioned as a reinforcement of the need to redesign it.

  • Finally construction is going to start. I have been following the progress for quite some time and the project was supposed to start months ago. This will make Sherman more like 11th street but better. Georgia Ave will become the new Sherman/boundary of Columbia Heights.

    • I really don’t see how it will be anything like 11th street. But I agree that it will shift the border to Georgia Ave where I think it will remain. I think areas east of Georgia will get nicer, but we will always think of Georgia as the border.

      It’ll be Georgia and 16th that break up the plains/park, Columbia heights, and mount pleasant.

      I guess that makes columbia heights kind of a huge area though…

  • If the drivers on the current 4-lane setup had ever, EVER slowed down for pedestrians, this probably wouldn’t be necessary. It’s not like Sherman is ever packed with traffic any time other than during rush hour anyway… The large majority of the people negatively affected by this change are not DC residents.

  • Great news. Sherman’s currently lack of appeal has served as a boundary between the economic development of Columbia Heights and the stagnation of Georgia Ave (the retail vacancy rate rate for the 10 blocks south of the Petworth metro has been below 2/3ds since long before the station was completed) The sooner they get this started the better for those on Sherman but also for those east of the development.

  • Someone should tell Gabe Klein that his plans don’t have bike lines on Sherman, just “sharrows”. Unless something has changed since the original plans.

  • Gentries Unite, Take Back the East!? Or is this an initiative coming up from the old timers?

    If we could just get DDOT to invest in some underground community geothermal system loops during reconstruction to green our heating/cooling load, now we’d be talking some serious movement toward a community microgrid and thermal utility…

    • a community microgrid and thermal utility…… and some other pipe dreams and pies in the sky and some such and the other…

  • They should create incentives (easier licensing and permits…) for houses along Sherman ave and soon the entire avenue will be lined up with nice little coffee shops, restaurants, etc.

    • It’s not zoned for coffee shops or restaurants or any other commercial entities. And DC never ever never creates incentives for small businesses. Easier licensing and permits? You have a better chance of making sweet love to Bea Arthur than that!

  • If you’ve ever lived on Sherman and have witnessed how many accidents occur on that mini-highway, you’d realize why it needs redesigned. The blood stains and skid marks speak for themselves.

  • I live on Sherman and I can assure everyone that this is not just gentrifier approved. Every long time resident I know loves it. You would too if you had to replace a car mirror every year and daily deal with the roulette of pulling onto Sherman from a side street.

  • Bring it. Do it. Do it now. Immediately.

  • I have to admit that this is probably a serious boon to all the contiguous communities…and lord know Sherman could use a face-lift.

    Selfishly, I’ll be bummed to lose my “sneak attack” route between Col Hgts and Mid-City/Downtown. As previous posters have noted, there is rarely any serious traffic backups on Sherman. 16th/14th/11th/GA Ave all *suck* as N-S routes by comparison for a variety of reasons.

  • The city needs to close the downtown core to car traffic, make it bus only. i live near sherman circle and i can’t believe how fast cars go down kansas ave in the morning. and they all have MD and VA plates.

  • Zora Neale Hurston and Duke Ellington both lived on Sherman Ave. It used to be a totally different street before the gov made it a super highway.

  • Ditto El Gringo comments…Northern Petworthians now losing our last bearable route to points NW. And no I will not schlep the kids to daycare on Metro.
    Does the beautification include getting rid of the ugly market at Euclid?

  • Hallelujah. This is a residential street, not a commuter highway, which is how it is currently treated. It is also as others have noted barely passable for pedestrians especially as you approach U Street. And it just looks absolutely hideous / scary. At long last there will be nice lighting and even some greenery along the street. This will make a dramatic difference in the feel of the neighborhood. And may even spur some development of a few businesses, as the commercial spaces on Sherman have really struggled other than those that sell liquor.

    I do wonder if the city has a plan in place for the green triangle where Sherman meets Park Road and New Hampshire. I’ve seen different renderings. I hope this space, which is not bad at all right now, is kept about the same size, but beautified with nicer trees and public art, as it serves as a gateway of sorts to Columbia Heights. Big enough to be a mini pocket-park and a nice community outdoors space.

  • Ummm….you will still be able to drive on Sherman, people. What part of that don’t you understand?

  • As someone who lives on Sherman Ave., let me be clear: we really don’t care whether it’s going to take you longer to drive down the street when it goes from two lanes to one. If you don’t like it, get on the Metro. You are fortunate enough to live in a city where the car is NOT the only way to get around. The streets of DC are for the residents who pay taxes to live here – not commuters from MD and VA who pay nothing.

    • The car IS the only way to get around for most people in MD and VA though. And the public transit options aren’t all that great for most DC residents, either– only the small percentage lucky enough to live near a metro or good bus line. That’s the problem and that’s why most people that live in the area drive.

      • i agree about marylanders, but why do you say that only a small percentage of dc residents live near a metro or good bus line?

        how did you figure that? by my reckoning, thats not the case.

        • Well, theoretically you can walk to any metro station in DC from any place in DC, but realistically you’re unlikely to do it every day if it’s longer than a 30 minute walk.

          • yes, but no one is a 30 minute walk to a busline. less than 10 minutes for nearly everyone.

            and most people live close to transit. where their isnt transit there is far less density, so fewer people.

          • Some bus lines aren’t that useful though. Some don’t run very frequently or go to the right places. If you have to wait 40 minutes for a bus at night, and take 3 buses (or a bus/metro combination) to get to your destination, you’re likely to default to driving. On top of that most cabs refuse to go to neighborhoods that aren’t centrally located, so that’s not an option.

        • It may not seem to be the case if you only spend time in the trendy parts of DC. Get out deep into the residential areas and you’ll see the public transit options dwindle along with the number of grocery stores and other things people need to get to easily.

          On the other hand, these areas have plenty of street parking. So the choice is obvious.

      • Also, those who complain about DC traffic have obviously not spent much time in the suburbs. I used to live in NoVA and driving around there was much more stressful than driving in the city. Road ragers, constant gridlock, you name it! DC has those problems too, but they’re nowhere near as severe.

    • News Flash, this is a federal city. If you think that none of the MD or VA residents taxes, along with the rest of the country, dont help to keep the city running and only DC taxes do, your heads in the sand. My other point is this is a commuter city. One of the only in witch the citys population doubles on a weekday basis. taking away 2 lanes is a terrible idea! not only for traffic purposes but for SAFETY. I have read that word a lot in this thread. but all of you forget about the fire house on sherman ave. YOU dont “…care whether it’s going to take you longer to drive down the street when it goes from two lanes to one.” think how it will effect DCFD responce time with one lane and a median, especialy durring rush hour. but thats not important unless its your house thats on fire, right? There are ways to improve the neighborhood, and make it safer for pedestrians without loosing two lanes.

  • Wow. Making sure you have a speedy, convenient commute vs lessening the chance that some asshole driver is going to race through a red light and roll their car in my neighbor’s yard and on top of their kid? Where do my sympathies lie….hmmm…

    • Not sure if the plan is net beneficial in its current form. One potential problem: If traffic along Sherman is more congested, how many more people will die of cardiac arrest, etc. due to slower EMS response times? Granted, Sherman Ave is a poorly designed collector road, but the other alternatives are already at level of service F during peak hours. Does anyone know if DC FEMS has weighed in on the plan?

    • Because this happens everyday. if your kids in this neighborhood id be more worried about bullets than cars…..i can tell you put a lot of thought into that comment.

  • this debate is a year or two too late. the time for public input (and there was one) has long passed.

  • I hope their smart enough to put left turn lanes in.

  • My question is just where do you think all of the commuter cars are going to go? 11th Street? Ga? 13th? They have to go somewhere. I think they’re going to go in all directions, and completely clog up ALL of the streets in our wonderful neighborhood. I think it will make Sherman Ave and the surrounding areas MORE congested, not less. More dangerous, not less. More frustrating than ever – if you’re on a bus, you are still stuck in traffic. I live in the area & work in the area and most of the time, have to drive. I think the proponents of this change will be sadly disappointed at the REAL outcome of what the change will bring. You can’t force people to ride the bus or get on a bike, especially the commuters that are coming into the city whether you like it or not. North Capitol is not really a close, viable option. You can certainly force everyone into a frustrating ONE lane road, or the next block over, or the next – I’m really worried that we’re just creating a nightmare for everyone trying to get around anytime in the neighborhood. This plan is too idealistic and short-sighted. Hopefully I’ll be proved wrong because it certainly looks like it’s too late to oppose now anyway.

  • I couldn’t agree more. Is there a reason why they can’t improve the street, the sidewalks, the lighting, and create safer pedestrian crossings… while still retaining two lanes? Or, at the very minimum put in left hand turn lanes. As a new resident to DC from the Midwest, it has amazed me how they don’t do something as simple as put turn lanes in this city to reduce congestion.

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