Dear PoPville – Despite a terrible injury & support for traffic calming, another crash on Arkansas Ave NW

“Dear PoPville,

Last October, my good friend Kelly was struck by a speeding car while she was loading her own car. She spent five weeks in the hospital, nearly lost her leg, and has undergone 8 surgeries. Cars travel notoriously fast along the stretch of Arkansas Ave NW where she was struck, and it took very little effort to gather over 100 signatures from neighbors to petition Mayor Gray and Councilmember Bowser to address speeding on the street. Apparently speeding has long been a problem on this street, and these types of crashes – speeding drivers rear-ending parked cars – have happened far too often. Residents have been trying to get a change since the Williams administration.

DDOT, Bowser, and Gray all promised action at a community meeting at the end of 2013. But despite promises and good intentions, there have been no infrastructure improvements to lower speeding.

Now there’s been another crash and another person send to the hospital. We have footage from the crash, which ocurred just a block north of where Kelly was first hit.

Here’s more information about the crash.

And here’s the petition Kelly started to drum up demand for immediate action.

Will we finally see progress along this stretch? With DDOT under fire for a lack of progress on basic infrastructure, will the agency be able to at least tackle a traffic calming effort with enormous community support? Will political shifting distract from an issue with broad community support and a pressing need?”

29 Comment

  • Muriel Bowser being completely uninterested? And with something related to transportation, no less? I’m shocked, simply shocked.

    But also, really sorry about your friend, and hopefully we can convince DDOT to calm, ticket, or execute these lunatics.

    • Muriel Bowser knows who her constituency is. Suburban Maryland commuters who work at development and construction companies who gave her so much cash this spring.

  • Like anonymous said, not shocked at all to once again hear that Bowser didn’t lift a finger. Boy are we all screwed if she wins in November.

    • Bowser has been asked to fix the traffic issues at those intersections (14th & Arkansas in particular) for many years and absolutley nothing has been done to improve them. My friend proposed a handful of small and specific changes that could have been considered (like a left turn lane and light on Arkansas and 14th, allowing cars to turn onto 14th south), but to no avail.

      When Bowser knits her brow it does not mean she is listening or concerned, it means she is confused and over her head.

      Lord I hate to vote republican…

      • Then vote independent… a fairly liberal independent at that.

        • You mean the guy who raised $75K for Bush, and only left the Republican Party because of Bush’s anti- gay marriage stance? He’s not a liberal independent.

          • gotryit

            I’m trying to learn more about him. What local issues does he run conservative on? I don’t care much about Bush at this level.

    • I’m trying to be philosophical about it. At least we in Ward 4 will get the opportunity to elect a different councilperson. Not that I’m expecting any miracles.

  • I pass through this intersection every morning. From Georgia all the way to Piney Branch, this section of Arkansas needs to be addressed. I’ve almost gotten hit a number of times (in my car) trying to turn onto Arkansas from Farragut because people take the turn from Georgia going full speed.

    Both the intersections with 13th and 14th street are disasters. I’ve never seen a real issue with Iowa, but people when the light is red on Arkansas at 13th, I’ve seen idiots from Delafield make a “right on red-ish” looking turn up 13th, only to make an immediate U-turn and go south on 13th — instead of waiting for the light to change.

    And 14th is just a disaster with all the cars and buses making right on red turns backing up Arkansas to Piney Branch so nobody can get through that intersection.

    Two things that would significantly improve the situation on this road: paint lanes so that there are 2 lanes… or paint a bike lane so it is only one lane. People are unsure if it is a one or two lane road and both interpretations of how many lanes there are — enacted at the same time — cause for idiot drivers. And second… enforce no parking during rush hour on both sides of the road, not just northbound Arkansas in the evenings. That will tone down the impatient drivers who are frustrated by the backups.

    • Hey neighbor!

      I agree, that turn from Farragut onto Arkansas can be hairy. You said people from GA take it at full speed… I would go so far as to say that people accelerate into that small turn from GA, knowing they have a few blocks of no traffic until the next light.

      I have never seen what you mentioned at 14th, but it doesn’t surprise me.

      Add in the church crowd by the dog park on Sundays double parking and all sorts of other nonsense, and this is not a fun stretch of road.

      With that said, I do like picking up a CaBi at GA and Emerson and taking Arkansas to 14th to Columbia Heights. Arkansas at off hours is a ghost town.

    • gotryit

      +1 for the bike lane there. It would be a great way to get to the 14th Street bike lanes and might make this stretch less of a highway.

    • “I’ve seen idiots from Delafield make a “right on red-ish” looking turn up 13th, only to make an immediate U-turn and go south on 13th — instead of waiting for the light to change.”

      That was me :/

  • This is an enforcement issue. Traffic enforcement is not a priority of MPD or the chief. Put pressure on the fourth district and the Chief’s office. The lack of traffic enforcement has led to a “I won’t get caught.” attitude by most area drivers.

  • +10 to everything David Small said.

    The biggest thing they need to do is get some proper lanes painted, including some turn lanes. Getting rid of the incentives to pass on the right will help calm traffic.

    The next thing they should do is fix the timing on the lights a little. They are synced — on a bike I can hit them nicely in the morning. But since they don’t let a full group of cars past in a light cycle (the turning cars are part of it), this goes haywire fast.

    I bike that stretch a lot. I don’t think speeding is the problem — it’s the weaving and turning to try to get through lights that seems a lot more dangerous. The “Church of the Bad Driver” also doesn’t help.

    But why not put up a speed camera?

  • This is sort of tangential — but a tow truck plowing through 4 cars seems an anomalous accident.

    Kelly — that’s awful. And I can imagine it happening at that spot.

    • gotryit

      I don’t think it’s tangential. It’s one more data point that shows that the road design, including lane width, lights, etc. all point toward this type of accident. The only difference between this situation and Ms. Kelly’s is that she (or anyone else) was lucky enough to not be getting something out of their trunk at the time. Otherwise, it would have been goodbye knees.
      All 4 parked cars were crunched nose into tail.

  • I’m confused. The site with the video says:
    “The two District Department of Transportation officials who were present — Mr. James Cheeks and Ms. Wanda Pinn-Mills — took note of neighbors’ suggestions. Next, these DC officials will undertake a formal traffic assessment for Arkansas Avenue. This process involves collecting data about speeds, cut-throughs, crashes, parking, and biking and walking patterns. Then, the agency will make recommendations for street fixes.
    We should see the formal recommendations by spring of 2014, and we can expect construction on Arkansas Avenue to take place in summer of 2014. It’s possible that we will see small improvements — like high-visibility crosswalk markers and new paint on existing crosswalks — within the next six weeks. And we could start seeing more police enforcement as soon as this week.”

    If they’ve already agreed to do the assessment and implement traffic calming, then what else are you looking for? Is there reason to think they aren’t going to do what they said they would?

  • Maybe talk to the ANC rep for that intersection/stretch of road.

  • “Will we finally see progress along this stretch? ”

    Well since we live in Washington D.C. I’d say around the same time that the Metro starts running in an efficient and convenient manner. That is to say…never.

    Dealing with the thousands of traffic, DC government, and crime related problems would require the city to actually do something besides writing parking tickets and be jaw droppingly incompetent in every other sense.

  • If you think this is a bad intersection, check out the two-way stop at the intersection of Kansas Av NW & Quincy St. Heavily used by pedestrians and yet no stop sign. I’ve seen so many near misses, it’s sad. DC refuses to do many thing.

  • At rush hour, there isn’t much speeding. Which is good since we were rear-ended along that stretch.

  • I’m terribly sorry to hear that people were hurt along Arkansas Ave. by speeding drivers. Personally, I avoid that artery, which is usually a frustrating choppy run of uncoordinated lights and long lines of cars. I wonder if some drivers speed up to try to beat the crazy-making yellow lights always just ahead. How about a system of lights timed to reward drivers going at speed limit and penalize speeders, who would be stymied by red lights.
    Oh yeah, and do I correctly understand the reasoning of some of the contributors here to be saying that whatever is not right in Ward 4 is Muriel Bowser’s fault? So in the case of Arkansas Ave speeders, she, as Ward 4 Councilmember, should have ordered DDOT to disregard whatever else was on its agenda and whatever funding, time and labor limits it had, and hop to the needs of her Ward 4 constituents. Otherwise she has not done her job. Is that what is being said here? Just checking.

    • Are you new to DC? Agendas are not prioritized by any rational means – it’s all by political muscle. It’s a shitty system, and I’d love for someone to reform it so that we didn’t have to go to the councilmembers to actually get something done… but it’s the system we have. So you can either wait patiently and get nothing done, or play rough. I commend these ladies for pushing for what’s needed in the area.

      • Umm I moved into DC in 1976, how about you? Not that it matters, presumably you are familiar with the American form of government, i.e., division of powers, checks and balances, etc. That applies even in our little colony after a fashion, although we do not get a bicameral legislature as do the state and federal governments.
        Instead we have the illustrious elected city council as our legislative branch, the part that passes the laws that the executive branch departments, such as DDOT, interpret and enforce through regulation. Yes, the councilmembers do hold hearings to determine whether the departments are performing their duties according to the directives of the laws. But if something is not right on Arkansas Ave., the council does not fix it; what should they do, pass a law against speeders?
        My point in posting was to ask this forum, is it realistic, fair or honest to blame everything wrong with the community on Councilmember Bowser? That’s not to say it’s okay to sit by and let the terrible conditions on that street persist, and I commend the citizen efforts to improve them.
        But I wish the contributors would resist the temptation to filter everything through their bitterness about the primary election results. If you are unhappy, that’s your right. Next time work harder to get out the vote for the candidate of your choice. Or vote for a different candidate in November. Meanwhile try to stay honest.

  • The traffic calming needs to go as far as Georgia Ave. I’ve contacted DDOT and Ms. Browser on the need for a 4 way stop at Farragut and Arkansas. Accidents and near misses here all the time and an elementary school within 2 blocks. The response from DDOT…”not enough accidents to warrant a 4 way stop” I was dumbfounded. The cars rule Arkansas and it is wrong.

    • That’s appalling. Can it really be true that it takes X number of accidents per quarter or X-1 if there’s a fatality for DDOT to note a need for stop signs? This is particularly troubling since it’s so close to an elementary school. Would it be worth contacting the school’s administrators and maybe a few crossing guards to get them on board with the request?

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