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“It seems like an acoustic traffic signal preemptor at 16th and Park would fix the problem”

by Prince Of Petworth May 23, 2016 at 2:10 pm 22 Comments

Photo By Niagara – via wikipedia

“Dear PoPville,

I live on Park Road and 16th and am concerned about noise pollution from city sirens:  Park Road is an emergency route but the westbound green light at 16th is really short.  Daily there’s an ambulance or fire truck wailing for 90+ seconds directly outside my windows.  Drivers are too scared to cross the red on 16th and get out of the way, the cities emergency responders are grossly delayed, church services are interrupted, and I’m considering moving because I don’t think I can raise a baby in this apartment.
It seems like an acoustic traffic signal preemptor at 16th and Park would fix the problem.  Do you know if there’s anything I can do as a citizen to help get this done?”

  • Rollout

    Honestly just move. DC is a city where it takes years to get a stop sign installed. I cannot even fathom the effort required for what you propose, and at best you might succeed (but I doubt it) in 5-10 years.

    • Brightwoodian

      I have to agree with Rollout. I dont want to sound insensitive but move to a slower part of the city or out to the burbs if you want the quiet that comes from living in a cul-de-sac.

      • SaraEP


  • DC1

    Unfortunately DDOT is pretty slow when it has to do with new traffic signal investigations, you are looking at at least 24 months for the investigation to take place and it is not guaranteed that they can do anything about it after the completion because of funding restraints.

    Best bet is to contact you councilmember to MAYBE speed thing up.

    • anon

      No kidding. The light on the northwest corner of 14th and Park heading northbound has been broken for about a year. When the overhead lights turn red (after the green left turn signal), the light on the northwest corner of the intersection stays green. Luckily everyone just knows to look at the overhead lights, not the one on the corner of the road. I’ve asked DDOT to fix it a couple times (as have my neighbors), but they seem unwilling or unable to.

  • Sean Duffy

    I live several blocks away but walk/drive past this intersection daily. It is a completely cluster. I think the traffic issues here and at 14th and Irving are largely DC USA driven, but the light at 16th and Park is incredible short and doesn’t sync with the light half a block east.

  • dcd

    That intersection is a mess, but you may have hit on the ONE thing that will motivate DDOT to make some changes:
    “church services are interrupted,”

    • Anonymous

      It’s a Catholic church, so regular rules don’t apply.

      • JS

        Don’t forget that Kelsey Temple Church of God is on the same stretch or Park Rd..

  • Kathryn-DC

    DDOT is actually planning to put transponders into the buses that run along the 16th street corridor to do exactly this with signal lights. So it couldn’t hurt to ask if there are any plans to do the same for emergency vehicles.

  • SaraEP

    I hate to say it but if you can afford to move that’s probably best. Even if you aren’t dealing with the issue you’re writing about, the constant traffic up and down 16th alone is enough to make someone crazy. I lived at 16th & Monroe and moved because of noise.

    • msus

      +1. Even if the emergency vehicles are able to speed through that intersection with no problems, you’ll still have to hear them go by all the time. I’ve lived on a few noisy streets, and 16th/Park rd was definitely the nosiest of the bunch.

  • Hukiyoyo

    I don’t know how long you’ve been living there but I can say people get used to the noise. I live at NH and Georgia and it’s so very loud but I think my brain has tuned most of it out after five years. Unfortunately, I don’t think that will hold true for a little baby. Good luck making your decision!

  • Carp

    OP, I actually reached out to Elizabeth Horen in Nadeau’s office about this issue in Oct of 2015 and this was the response she got (tl;dr: they know the technology exists but I don’t see them moving on it anytime soon): “Thank you for the suggestion. We strive to ensure quick response times in emergency situations while protecting the safety of drivers, pedestrians and others with whom we share the road. While we do not currently have traffic light preemption systems like the one you mention, we are currently exploring that type of technology in consultation with the Department of Transportation (DDOT).”

    • textdoc

      The response she got from whom — DCFEMS?
      Seems like this is something for which DDOT would be the primary agency, not DCFEMS.

  • Rich

    Get rid of the onstreet parking on 16th. That’s what makes this stretch slow to a crawl. And yes, once upon a time, I live not far away with a car.

    • TJ

      This is right on. Eliminating the ability to park on 16th St. south of Piney Branch 24/7, with dedicated bus lanes, would solve many traffic problems.

      That said, the OP lives in the wrong place for noise avoidance. I live just 4 blocks away and had no idea.

    • dcd

      While I don’t disagree with this sentiment, 16th isn’t the issue here, it’s Park. Much of Park is effectively one lane from 14th to 16th, and that’s the choke point that snarls up traffic (and has an ambulance parked, sirens wailing, for 2+ minutes outside the homes there). Eliminating parking on Park might not solve the problem, but it couldn’t hurt.

      • VeggieTart

        Or getting rid of parking on both streets would be helpful.

  • AB

    I live at 16th and Park and have a 5 month old. I agree that this would be great to have. Baby is a city kid, who sleeps through sirens, drilling concrete right next to us when we’re out and about in the stroller…That being said, we’d love to move but can’t afford to right now.

  • JC

    Infants are very adaptable to their environment. Adults are the ones who get worked up about this stuff. Mostly. I myself was a colicky baby…

  • Ann

    These things are everywhere in MSP. When I moved here, I was pretty surprised to find out that not every city has them.


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