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“the goals of the portal are to ‘achieve improved traffic flow and a much safer environment for pedestrians and bicyclists’ It fails on both scores.”

by Prince Of Petworth April 24, 2017 at 2:45 pm 31 Comments

395 mess
“photo via Capital Crossing cam #2 7:36 AM today”

“Dear PoPville,

The new entrance portal to 395 from Massachusetts Ave which opened this weekend?

“the perfectly clear new signage that was there to guide motorists this morning…”

Per the press release, the goals of the portal are to “achieve improved traffic flow and a much safer environment for pedestrians and bicyclists.” It fails on both scores.The new portal is ONLY for traffic entering 395 from Mass Ave heading east.

What is not mentioned in the DDOT press release, but is acknowledged here is that the existing entrance ramp on third street was used by THREE other sources of traffic:

3rd st heading south
H ST heading east
Mass Ave / H st heading west

The portal cannot be used by any of these. Instead, all the traffic from those streets will now be funneled down 3rd St until they can enter 395 at D st. Even on a Sunday, I have already seen traffic backing up from the traffic light at 3rd and G ST all the way back to the intersection with Mass Ave (which is still nearly as bad for pedestrians as it previously was). Far from helping pedestrians, this new traffic pattern now diverts large amounts of traffic from a highway onto 3rd st for several blocks until they can enter 395 at D St. Who came up with this?”

3rd street

  • H St Resident

    This was a mess this morning. I’m concerned for my commute on the X2/X9 for the rest of the week. I drove it around 8 am and it took nearly 30 mins to get across N Cap to the on ramp.

    • Kingman Park It

      Damn, I honestly didn’t put two and two together this morning on the X2… I caught an earlyish one (hopped on around 7:15) this morning, which would typically avoid any traffic, but it took nearly 40 minutes to get to Chinatown… Total disaster.

  • Ward One Resident

    It’s like Dave Thomas Circle all over again. Let’s take something that was bad and make it worse. Weeee!

  • Anonamom

    This intersection has always, always been a cluster fuck.

  • Anonthony

    In all honesty, are the traffic engineering folks at DDOT just extremely incompetent?

    • Janie4

      I believe so. Their traffic light syncing efforts did not make an overall improvement in traffic flow and I believe that the lights are becoming unsynched again.

      • Anonthony

        You see it in the little things, too, like their sign division’s frequent inability to adhere to FHWA standards.

    • Anony4This

      According to my ANC rep, yes.

  • Morton

    I drove through this morning at 6:45 and it was already a disaster. The 3 lights along 3rd St between H St and the D Street entrance are not remotely synced, which results in the backup shown in the image above. I had heard about the new “portal,” but I had no idea there would no longer be any direct access to the tunnel from 4 out of 5(?) of the roads at this intersection.

  • Jen

    This explains why there were 3 people controlling traffic at 3rd & D at 8:30 this morning. I walk through this intersection daily and it’s a nightmare when all is well. This cannot be a good thing.

  • Greg

    I have been looking at the renderings prior to this weeks opening trying to figure out how it was going to make things better. And, similarly to this article wondered where the W.B. Mass, EB H St and SB 3rd st were going to access. This seems like a horribly failed concept which will not be easily fixed and certainly will not be fixed in the next 30 years.

  • Long-timeDC

    It is not clear to me why they need to get rid of the existing 3rd street on-ramp. The future underground parking garage for the new buildings has already been dug out next to it.

  • TriniSoFlo

    I found out how to get into the new tunnel ramp while I was going west on H St. The trick is NOT to turn left at the first intersection on H, which leads you to Mass Ave and the old ramp to 395(which is now blocked off). Instead, keep going straight and take the second left(that would normally keep you on H St, past Mass Ave), and then make a sharp left U-turn into the new tunnel onramp. Worked great this morning but I don’t think anyone knows yet. I don’t know what you do if you’re going east on H St but for us heading west, this works great.

    • PJL

      Yes, that really sounds like an ideal solution that is sure to make traffic EVEN WORSE if people are routinely pulling u-turns.

      • TriniSoFlo

        it’s not really a U-turn, it’s more of a very sharp left. You also have an arrow so there’s no oncoming traffic. But yes, less than optimal. The new portal onramp is very nice, though.

    • KStreeting

      Can you get onto it coming south on 4th?

      • TriniSoFlo

        Yes, the portal entrance is on 4th and Mass. Turning left from 4th at Mass Ave will drop you into the portal. I have a feeling they’ll eventually configure it so that H(both e and w bound), 4th St southbound and Mass Ave se bound will enter 395 through that tunnel portal. 3rd st will not have access.

  • KStreeting

    I just spent 15 min on the project’s website and I don’t see the final plans anywhere. I’m particularly curious what the end result will be traffic pattern-wise, and particularly vis-a-vis getting into the tunnel from H St westbound. Little help?

    • Mug of Glop

      I was similarly looking for a final map. Or even a current map. I seem to remember provisions for a WB Mass to SB 395 portal/ramp, but no evidence of it is to be found.

    • Long-timeDC

      Per one of the above links, it appears that the current arrangement is intended to be the final plan:

      “Motorists traveling south on 3rd Street must use the D Street entrance.
      There is no access to the new portal for motorists traveling westbound on H Street or Massachusetts Avenue.”

  • Kevin

    Looking at the cams I see they put up some signage since this morning.

  • L.

    This has been a menace to the X2 and all other cross-town traffic for years. There have been times it takes 30 minutes to get from 4th & H NE to 4th & H NW, not to mention desperate/confused people trying to go this or that way. What a total nightmare.

  • Anon X

    In the last several years, I’ve seen no evidence that DDOT is competent either in micro or macro level projects and decisions.

  • Anon

    Please tell me this is a joke. How does this solve anything?

  • anon

    Just was there this past Sunday. It was a mess- and it wasn’t even backed up the way it is during high traffic times. I did not realize they planned to permanently close the 3rd St ramp…guess I will actively avoid that entrance from now on. Can’t imagine what it will be like during rush hour…

  • TriniSoFlo

    Tried it again this morning. Took K St west, left on 4th, then left into the tunnel onramp. It’s not very clearly marked, you just have to blindly drop into the ramp. Much faster than doing the H St shuffle.

    • Arouet

      Enjoy it while you can, pretty sure you’re not supposed to do that (though it is, of course, the logical solution).

  • Alan

    I feel like some of these agencies need to be headed by elected officials. So we can assure someone can get put out of a job every election cycle for stuff like this. New elected position: city planner?

  • Ampersand

    I had heard that there was a new setup and I happened to be driving west on Mass yesterday around noon. Not being in a hurry, I decided to go check it out. Signage instructed me to turn right on New Jersey, then left on H, then left on 3rd, and then there was a sign telling me to turn right on G. I gave up on the signage and drove down to the entrance off of D. I assume it would have had me take a right on 5th, then a right on Mass. Which would have been a total of seven turns. Maybe the signs were screwed up and they’ve since been fixed, because it boggles believe that anyone would purposely design such a convoluted system.

  • H St Gr8 St

    I made a shitty ms paint diagram that will hopefully help some people. Green arrows take you where you need to be.


    • 3rd St tunnel blues

      OMG, H St Gr8 St — I LOVE YOU!!!!! Your map is THE SINGLE MOST HELPFUL PIECE OF INFO I’ve seen about this! My stomach is in knots about this change and, like other posters, can’t figure out what the H-E-double hockey stick the city was thinking when it signed off on this. Trying to get into the 3rd St tunnel via D St EB and 3rd St SN is a NIGHTMARE during rush hour as is! So I’m afraid that this isn’t even going to be a usable option anymore…. Can I telework everyday…?!


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