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Sherman Ave Streetscape Project will be held Tonight Thursday, April 8, from 6:30 to 8 PM

by Prince Of Petworth April 8, 2010 at 3:30 pm 35 Comments


“Dear PoP,

I came across a new DC Department of Transportation website that has tons of great new information on the Sherman Avenue Streetscape project (which, for those who are unfamiliar with the project, will reduce the number of traffic lanes from four to two and add a tree-lined median, wider sidewalks, new landscaping and traffic lights, and shared bike lanes). According to the website, the design is supposed to be finalized by mid-April, construction bidding should be finalized by June, and construction is slated to start this August and be completed by September 2011.

This document from the website also has lots of new design information and the latest depictions of the project. The plans still look great. As someone who lives on Sherman Avenue, I can’t wait.

PS – The final DDOT community meeting on the Sherman Ave Streetscape Project will be held Thursday, April 8, from 6:30 to 8 PM at the DC Housing Finance Agency at 815 Florida Ave NW, according to a flyer I received yesterday at my house from the leader of the Pleasant Plains Civic Association.”

  • RD

    i’m no road planner, but isn’t having 14 foot traffic lanes go directly against their goal of making it a residential street instead of commuter thoroughfare?

    I also don’t get how they are removing two entire lanes of traffic, yet there isn’t room for a physically separated bike lane? do the planners not know this type of road design exists? everyone who has either driven a car or rode a bicycle in DC knows that the bike lanes as planned don’t work. you can’t go 2 blocks in the city without a car or truck parked in the bike lane, causing bikers to swerve out into the street. motorists collide with cyclists when making right turns. bicyclists collide with parked cars opening their doors.

    it should go sidewalk->bike lane->physical barrier->parking->traffic lane. the traffic lane on a 25-35 mph st only needs to be like 10 feet, right?

    • Resident

      Agreed! I can’t make it to the meeting, but I sure hope there are enough people there to lobby for protected bike lanes. There must be many more people like me who would bike a lot more if we didn’t have to compete in a lopsided head-to-head battle with motor vehicles.

  • CM

    So what happens to the traffic that currently uses Sherman? Georgia and 14th?

  • anonymous

    I don’t get the city planning in this town sometimes. The Sherman Ave. project sounds lovely. But, can you imagine what kind of impact this is going to have on traffic? 14th st. is a nightmare because of their grand idea to convert a major thorough-way to a two lane rd in columbia heights. Now they’re going to do the same to Sherman? This is going to be a nightmare–and I say this as a person who does not own a car and relies solely on public transportation. I understand the desire to do a lovely streetscape on Sherman, but ultimately there has to be somewhere for traffic to go. This city has enough congestion. We don’t need more.

    • IHeartShaw

      Agreed. A very bad idea. Couple bike lanes (encouraged and increased bike traffic) with some of the worst drivers in the city, limited visibility (aka pretty median) and fewer lanes (angrier drivers)=accidents waiting to happen.

      I drive back and forth on Sherman from Florida to Monroe at least once a day. I almost get into horrific accidents, a lot. Sherman could be a prettier looking thoroughfare but maybe that has more to do with Howard/vacant property owners and less to do with the actual street. I would prefer we focused on making it a safer street to drive on, instead of a better looking one.

      • Anonymous

        You must the assholes that wake me up driving too fast and that cause accidents like the one last week. You must also be the assholes who put this put this and other communities down just because you want the right to drive not walk. You are the reason I stopped reading this blog as much as I used to because every time Sherman ave comes up you only have negative things to say and don’t try to look out for the people that actually live there.

        • IHeartShaw

          There is nothing wrong with the neighborhood. I think there are a lot of great homes and facade improvements being made on Sherman. I agree people driving too fast are a huge problem. I also feel like the street is a magnet for horrible drivers. I am very cautious of the assholes and reducing the street to one lane in each direction won’t solve the problem.

          A grassy median would be beautiful but an unrealistic combination with a bike lane. Drivers already don’t stop for pedestrians, will they stop to look for a cyclist before turning?

  • Michael

    North Capitol Street is a great N-S thoroughfare that is currently under-utilized – I imagine some of the traffic will go there instead. Georgia, 11th, and 13th are all currently under-utilized as well.

    Also, as gas prices continue to climb steadily in the long-term, I expect public transit use will continue to increase, alleviating traffic congestion.

    Personally, I think the plan is a great idea, and I’m glad our elected officials are working to make our community safer and more walkable by returning Sherman to being the quiet residential street that it once was.

  • This looks fantastic. Sherman Ave. is a residential street and deserves not to have a mini-highway running through it. There are several major north-south thoroughfares in close proximity, including Georgia Ave. and 14th, the latter which should flow much more smoothly once its construction is completed. Really, this reconstruction will change the entire character of Sherman Ave. in a very positive direction. It now looks and feels like an urban war zone, the sidewalks are virtually unwalkable in places because they are so narrow, traffic moves dangerously fast for a residential street, and Sherman will be instantly transformed into part of the eastern Columbia Heights neighborhood. As study after study shows, building more traffic lanes just creates more traffic … likewise, I imagine reducing lanes and adding better bike lanes, more walkable streets, and (hopefully) more and better public transit will reduce incenives to commute via car. The plans look fantastic, and I applaud the city from turning a hideous eyesore into the attractive, pedestrian-friendly residential street it really should be. You want to be able to get places fast via car, move to the burbs.

  • Anonymous

    Sherman ave did not use to be wide so it needs to go back to being residential as it was first intended. City planning takes into consideration more than traffic planning but building communities.

  • Traffic is bad enough on Sherman – we can’t go down to ONE LANE!!! I am bummed I can’t make this meeting.

    • CHguy

      You’re about 2 years too late to be bummed. This meeting wasn’t for public opinion on reducing the traffic lanes or adding bike lanes. It was the final meeting for the public to discuss the next step before construction. The design is finalized and approved and money has been appropriated.

  • I love the plan good for the area. I have a more general issue. It is clear that the population density is increasing in the area but the plan is to take away a lane w/ no mention of any public transportation plan. Right now Metro is more likely to reduce routes than add routes. Yes bike lanes are good ‘seasonally’ but the neighborhood is trending younger and parents with drop-off/pick-up duties cannot realistically ride bikes.

    Sherman Ave. is a rough but not quite a war zone in my opinion. I think that there are other reason that people choose not to walk on Sherman Ave. not just because it is not pretty.

  • NikolasM

    With the left turn lanes being added at intersections I bet the traffic throughput probably stays close to the same. Good for DC that they are doing this.

  • ontarioroader

    Not sure if folks realize this, but at least here in DC, the era of building more capacity for personally owned automobiles is over. DC has a relatively quite low level of car ownership compared to other cities. I can’t count the number of transplants I’ve met over the years who moved here from suburban or rural ‘car culture’ places that are shocked at how easy it is to get around after giving up their car [either voluntarily or involuntarily – thanks parking enforcement!].

    Over the next few years car lanes will be ‘given up’ to wider sidewalk, bike lanes, dedicated priority bus lanes and other things. The bikeway on 15th St and here on Sherman Ave are a good example of what’s to come. As more folks move into DC we can look forward to traffic congestion getting worse – think of the reduction of car lanes as a not-so-subtle push toward bicycling, public transportation and an attempt to drum up support for streetcars.

  • satan

    rock on, sherman ave

  • Dave M

    I don’t understand all the people saying how bad traffic on Sherman Ave is. I live on the street and the only time it’s congested is at rush hour when every street in DC is congested. 90% of the time, traffic flows freely and at way above the 25 mph speed limit.

    Getting to work a few minutes faster should not override the need for a walkable/bikable street in a residential neighborhood. This streetscape project is sorely needed and the reduction in traffic lanes is absolutely necessary.

  • Quetzal
    • DCster

      How nice it used to look! What happened to those trees?

      • Quetzal

        The trees and sidewalks were ripped out to expand the road so that the Maryland commuters could have their super-highway.

  • dami

    I think any new bike lanes in any DC streets should be like the ones on 15th street. Sidewalk, bike lane with separation, parking and then lane. otherwise everyone parks temporarily on the bike lanes. Too bad this was not considered in the design.

    I have to say though i am impressed by the amount of info and the organization of the info on the website on this project. I like the fact we can monitor progress at the different phases, financial performance, etc.

  • anon

    As a ten year resident of Sherman Ave, I’m really excited about the beautification. As a pedestrian, this will make things a lot easier and safer, at the southern end of Sherman the sidewalk is very narrow and there are street lights right in the middle of the the sidewalk – you definitely can’t push a stroller or navigate a wheelchair on it. With regard to bikes, there is a bike lane on 11th Street just one block over.

  • JMW

    Sadly I missed this meeting last night. Did anyone go and could provide a few updates for us please?

    • Michael

      I was at the meeting last night. Here are the big takeaways:

      1. The money has been appropriated and the project is definitely going forward. In fact, Pepco has already started relocating some of their service lines in advance of the project, and WASA and Washington Gas will also be doing so in the near future. Construction on the actual project should start in August, and take 12-18 months.

      2. More trees have been added to the design since the 65% design stage, which is good news. There was extensive discussion of ensuring that the trees and landscaping will be adequately cared for, based on many attendees noticing that that has not happened with other projects in the past. The plants have also been carefully selected to be highly drought resistant, which should solve the main problem seen with other city landscaping projects. The contract also specifies that the contractor will water and generally maintain the trees and landscaping for 2 years, until the plants are established. After that, DC’s department of forestry will take over.

      3. The local ANC needs to communicate to the DDOT people in charge of this project that the community would like to have planters hung from the streetlights (like in Georgetown and other parts of the city to make the street look even better) and that the community will water and care for the plants in the planters on the streetlights. Unless the ANC communicates that to DDOT, DDOT will not install the planters on the streetlights. Does anyone know the appropriate ANC person to contact?

      4. Construction detours will be discussed. During construction, the street will have 2 lanes open at all times. The sidewalks will be kept as clear as possible, and provision will be made to ensure that people can get in and out of their houses.

      5. Concerns were raised about the shared bike lines not providing enough room. The answer was that there simply isn’t enough room to accommodate a full bike lane.

      6. Overall, everyone was excited that the project is definitely going to happen. Most of the discussion focused on small detais of the project, with everyone supporting the big picture.

      • Quetzal

        Awesome. Thanks, Michael!

  • PetworthRes

    Make sure DDOT ensures the soil is deep enough for trees. this was a big issue for the New Hampshire Ave median. The contractor cheaped out and originally only put in about 18 inches of soil. Hopefully the same DDOT people who eventually managed to fix the NH Ave median situation will be on board for this job. You need interested people to watch how this work is done and make sure enough soil is there to support trees – I think I minimum of 3 feet deep is needed.

  • JMW

    Thanks for the great updates! I have noticed at least Pepco already doing some work around Euclid St. Needless to say there will be some progress pains around this but the end result looks great.

  • DrewLove

    I live a block off Sherman and am psyched about this. How nice it will be to walk down the sidewalk and not have to step into the street to get around a utility box or lamp post. I agree that the only time traffic is bad is at rush hour when MD commuters use it as a short cut.

  • becarefulwhatyouwishfor

    The drivers who use Sherman Ave in morning rush hour are not going away anytime soon. So where might those drivers go during rush hour when they realize Sherman is only one lane and not as efficient (for them)? My guess is they’ll clog Sherman’s side streets trying to get to one of the other N-S routes. Georgia is at saturation in the morning. Those living on the side streets might end up with lots of overflow.
    That said, I think the beautification will be really, really nice. Maybe all the traffic will work itself out.

  • ShermanAveGuy

    I really think drivers should use North Capitol. It’s not that far out of the way – especially for drivers who are starting in Maryland.

    I’m so excited for this project, but if it were up to me, I would go a step further and make the northernmost block of Sherman (at Sherman and Park) one-way going north and make the southernmost block of Sherman (at Sherman and Florida) one-way going south (with exceptions made for buses and emergency vehicles of course). Such an approach would virtually eliminate commuter traffic on Sherman.

  • Sounds amazing. I only with the city had replaced the lighting in the same fashion when 11th Street was recently reconstructed … oh well, I guess we are stuck with it (otherwise, 11th street looks great). Sherman is going to a gorgeous street and the difference will truly be night and day. It will dramatically enhance the feel of the entire neighborhood. Can’t wait until this is completed. Especially considering that the 11th and Monroe Park should also be finishing up a little before Sherman is done, and then Georgia Ave. will be next on deck …

  • blester01

    That is a great picture. This is what is lost when you let the auto take over.

    At first when I heard about this plan I thought it was stupid since I use Sherman every day to get to work. But after reviewing the presentation, it looks like a good plan.

    The problem with Sherman now is that there is a bus stop on what seems to be every block in parts, and there is no left turn lane. It looks like from this plan the turn lanes and designated bus pads will help keep the flow. But one thing is for sure, I am staying away from it during construction.

  • Nora

    The reason people drive on Sherman as a major commuting line is that the construction and traffic lights around Georgia and other streets are so badly timed that it’s impassable.

    I support the beautification project, but at the end of the day, people don’t live in Dc because the schools are c–p. So they live in the burbs and they have to get into DC somehow. Georgia is awful to drive on. North Capital is probably the best way to go, but it’s pretty well utilized in the morning. Traffic has to flow somehow. I will support projects like this more if the DC DOT somehow manages to figure out how to time their street lights so you don’t have to stop every single block. That’s why Sherman is so popular – because it’s one of the few places where you can actually manage to move.

    Also, can I point something out – the Georgia Avenue Streetcar project is supposed to take a huge chunk of that real estate. So if Sherman/New Hampshire are off the market, and Georgia as well, that means that everyone’s going to be shoving over to North Capitol, 16th and 13th. That’s going to be real fun.

    • saf

      “people don’t live in Dc”

      Uh, yes we do.

    • GeorgiaAve

      “I will support projects like this more if the DC DOT somehow manages to figure out how to time their street lights so you don’t have to stop every single block. That’s why Sherman is so popular – because it’s one of the few places where you can actually manage to move.”

      Prepare for light timing to change. They plan to stagger the lights so you DO have to stop every other block to discourage speeding and make it more pedestrian-friendly. Message from DC govt: this is no longer a commuter route.

      And it doesn’t matter if you don’t support it – it’s already happening, paid for, and underway.


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