Dysfunction Junction: “I moved my car to the right, hit the curb, and slashed both my tires”


“Dear PoPville,

Can you ask your readers if they have any experience with the hazards of an intersection near the Convention Center? Attached is a photo looking across the intersection as a driver faces west from Mt. Vernon Place, NW (in front of the convention center), across 9th St. NW towards Massachusetts Ave. NW.

The design of the intersection forces two lanes of traffic to make a relatively sharp right onto Massachusetts Ave. as they cross 9th Avenue. The intersection narrows considerably at the turn (in fact the two lanes almost appear to narrow to one lane of traffic).

Recently, a driver of a car to the left of me crowded my lane in an effort to avoid cars coming in the opposite direction; I moved my car to the right, hit the curb, and slashed both my tires. I stopped at the Marriott Marquis and the employees there told me that the exact same thing happens at least once, and often twice, a week. This seems like a disaster waiting to happen, especially for pedestrians waiting on the northwest side.

Feedback would be helpful for me to forward to DDOT.”

26 Comment

  • I have noticed how difficult that curve is since the hotel was finished. They really need to shave back the corner some and widen the curve. I also think the city should make Mass Ave from there up to 13th Street completely no parking on the weekends. Traffic is always a disaster through there.

    • Definitely agree with the no parking on weekends (or really, 24/7).

      • +1 I know that parking is at a premium in the city already, but there are too many main streets (Mass, Conn, Wisconsin) that would flow so much better if parking was not allowed.

        • What’s worse are major roads that lose a traffic lane on a random block for 3 or 4 parking spaces.

        • Anonomnom

          I’ve always thought the three roads you just mentioned should be no parking 24/7. Yes, there are areas that may end up eating some extra spaces where congestion usually isn’t so bad (near woodley, very north DuPont, north of Van Ness for Connecticut) and the neighborhoods would throw a fit, but the roads would run so much better.

          And that’s coming from someone who drives, parks on streets, and lives 3 buildings from Conn ave!

          • Rhode Island Ave, at least between Logan Circle & North Cap, would also fit this bill. As it is now parking is prohibited during rush hour but that rarely seems to deter a good number of people

    • Disagree on no parking. Having parking along the street slows traffic and makes the area safer and more comfortable for pedestrians. We want people walking around in downtown DC- the more eyes on the street,the less crime. I agree that no parking during rush hour makes sense, but at other times, it’s a good traffic calming measure.

      • And that is often precisely the point of allowing street parking–to intentionally slow vehicle traffic.

  • That is a horrible intersection! For some reason they allow cars to park on the eastbound side of Massachusetts Ave — it should really be a dedicated right turn lane. People always drive against traffic to gets around cars that are waiting to turn. I’m surprised that there aren’t more accidents or people getting hit given the huge number of pedestrians there are at the Convention Center.

  • I’ve not hit the curb but I’ve definitely slowed massively and staggered my car with the left lane car a number of times – there’s no way this can meet regulations/requirements.

  • Everything about this intersection is bad. I’m not sure how they can possibly fix it at this point, but either Mass or NY should probably go under the building there.

    • ah

      All they need to do is move the curb back and redo the wheelchair ramp. Yes, it would cost money, but the curb comes too far into the cross walk, and the radius is too tight.

      It may be designed as some sort of pedestrian protection, however. With a less sharp corner I could see some clumsy driver (MD, natch!) cutting the corner too tightly and running over a pedestrian’s feet while s/he waits to cross.

    • The freeway proposal that was stupidly rejected in the 1970s had a K street tunnel that would have eliminated a lot of the cross-town traffic that makes this intersection so bad. But, it would still be bad because of how developed this part of town now is and the very fact of the square itself and some of the streets around it are too narrow. I thought at one time there were going to be some improvements in this intersection in terms of making it one way around and eliminating some of the dangers involved. Also, at one time, west bound traffic was diverted from Massachusetts to sixth street to L Street, and then meeting up with Mass again at L. I wonder if it would be safe to have traffic diverted onto L through the convention center? That would improve the situation, and you wouldn’t have to make that turn from Mt. Vernon Square to Mass.

      • lol

        larger roads induce congestion, not relieve it. ask any expert.

      • One of the biggest mistakes DC made was ruining neighborhoods in poorer areas by plowing freeways through. They are the last to recover economically.

        Luckily, the city and its residents woke up in time to save our core from the devastation that has inflicted Midwestern and Southern cities with highways cutting every which way through their heart, attracting more and more traffic.

        Imagine losing Dupont Circle to the highway that was proposed there. Many of us live here specifically because there aren’t highways.

        • +1. I’d rather live in a beautiful city with stop-and-go traffic than in one marred by freeways.

    • Doesn’t the Metro run underneath that building? Probably makes a traffic tunnel more difficult. But I’ve always thought that as well.

  • This is an awful awful bottle neck that is not only dangerous for drivers and pedestrians, it slows traffic in both directions. Parking should definitely be removed from that street so that drivers can maximize the minimal space given to maneuver this intersection.

  • canadianexile

    Agree with parking comments re eastbound on Mass. It is bad for cars, but also for bicycles, who are funneled onto Mass Ave at the end of the L Street bike lane.

  • This is a general problem in the District of Columbia, I think. The metal sheathed curb edges and sewer trap covers are a big problem.

    I slashed the sidewall of my right front tire on the metal that covers the sewer trap at the intersection of Randolph and Georgia Ava. Tire deflated in about 3 minutes. Fortunately I was close to home, but the District really needs to stop installing metal that can slash tires.

  • This is a terrible intersection!
    If you’re heading west on NY/Mass Ave, this is the second really bad, tight corner in about 3 blocks. The curve in the road on NY Ave right past the turn off for 395 (4 St NW, in front of the Yale apts) is too tight – there is no way a car can maneuver the curve/bend going more than ~5 mph, so everyone just cuts the curve by using both lanes. This is fine if there’s only traffic in one lane, but scary when there are cars in both. By removing 1-2 parking spots, this problem could be eliminated.

  • I noticed this while it was under construction and immediately thought man this is gonna be bad. I was in an uber and the hit the curb head on i swore his axle almost broke. Im pretty sure his alignment got jacked up. Can imagine how many people this has happened to.

  • I walk this way to work every day and I have seen a few cars have the exact same thing happen. I’ve also seen pedestrians get pulled back by others because a truck or bus actually drives up onto the curb almost daily. The clear and obvious solution is to cut the curb back one or two feet. There is ample room on the sidewalk that a few feet won’t be missed. It’s only a matter of time before a pedestrian gets hit.

  • clevelanddave

    Doesn’t Jack Evans have a love affair with this corner? He talks repeatedly and proudly about how he eliminated the left turn on Mass to 7th and how that eliminated prostitution there. Maybe now that it is royally screwed up he can fix it again.

  • This definitely scares me, and I’m sad to hear my fears are justified. I have definitely swerved to avoid it, and have seen cars swerve to avoid it. It also seems like it would probably be challenging for the cabs making a right turn from their waiting line. I don’t see why having the curb jut out that far is necessary, and I hope others come out to report it!

  • This area can be very congested with pedestrians, especially during a trade show so I believe the angle is definitely intentional. Let’s face it, if they cut the corner back we would just take the stretch a little faster. Road rage in that particularly crowded corridor is bad enough as it is.

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