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“As Members of Congress & DC Residents Miss Trains Due to Union Station Traffic, Norton Calls for Traffic Changes”

by Prince Of Petworth July 10, 2014 at 1:50 pm 72 Comments

union_station_traffic
Photo by PoPville flickr user ianseanlivingston

From a press release:

“The Office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) released today a letter sent to officials at the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC) urging them develop a new plan to address traffic congestion in front of Union Station. Norton’s office has received complaints from residents, Members of Congress, congressional staff and bus companies that they are missing trains or having to get out of taxis and other vehicles in order to make trains. In her letter, Norton calls upon USRC and the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) to hire consultants to deal with the issue.

“Amtrak riders, including D.C. residents and Members of Congress, have justifiably complained that the current traffic patterns at Columbus Circle often are chaotic, and, many times, passenger cars with luggage have to wait in lines so long that they are unable to reach the entrance of the station to unload their luggage,” Norton said of the situation. In her letter, she wrote “Frequently, passengers, in order to make their trains, often feel they must begin offloading their luggage before they reach the entrance to Union Station, further slowing traffic. I am requesting that USRC and DDOT seek outside consultants to deal with the traffic pattern and implement a new traffic pattern in Columbus Circle that prevents vehicular delays.”

The current traffic pattern at Columbus Circle is relatively new and is based on a ten-year study undertaken by the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT). USRC and the developer that oversees the circle have hired additional people to monitor the traffic to ensure vehicles are using the proper lanes, but there is little evidence of their presence or effectiveness. Norton’s office was informed that USRC is also part of a working group with the District of Columbia, the Metropolitan Police Department, Amtrak, and the National Park Service that is looking at ways to produce signage that will aid drivers.”

The full letter follows:

July 10, 2014
Beverly K. Swaim-Staley
President & CEO
Union Station Redevelopment Corporation
10 G Street NE
Suite 504
Washington, DC 20002

Dear Ms. Swaim-Staley:

Our office has received complaints from residents, Members of Congress, congressional staff and others about missing trains or having to get out of taxis and other vehicles in traffic in order to make trains due to traffic congestion in front of Union Station. I know that you agree that this is unacceptable. I am requesting that the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC) develop a new plan to correct these traffic issues as soon as possible.

Amtrak riders justifiably complain that traffic patterns do not accommodate the needs of riders with luggage. Passengers in cars with luggage have to wait in lines so long that they are unable to reach the entrance of the station to unload their luggage. Frequently, passengers, in order to make their trains, often feel they must begin offloading their luggage before they reach the entrance to Union Station, further slowing down traffic.

I understand that the current traffic pattern is a new one that is based on a ten-year study undertaken by DDOT, and that the historic footprint of the station presents issues that have been an ongoing problem that USRC, DDOT, and other Union Station partners have tried to address. We also understand that USRC and the developer that oversees the circle have hired additional people to monitor the traffic to ensure vehicles are using the proper lanes, but there is little evidence of their presence or effectiveness. We are informed that USRC is also part of a working group with the DDOT, the Metropolitan Police Department, Amtrak, and the National Park Service that is looking at ways to produce signage that will aid drivers. Signage is very much needed, but additional signage will not provide a solution to the chaos that often characterizes vehicle traffic at Union Station.

Therefore, I am requesting that USRC seek outside consultants to deal with the traffic pattern and implement a new traffic pattern in Columbus Circle that prevents vehicular delays. Kindly respond within 30 days as to what action you intend to take.

Sincerely,
Eleanor Holmes Norton”

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