Sometime during the week of March 3, 2019, the District Government installed a traffic island (or maybe it’s a Pedestrian island, not sure which is correct) at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Morton Street, Northwest.
No doubt this island is needed as new nearby businesses attract local residents to Georgia Avenue in numbers that significantly increase interactions between pedestrians and drivers. I don’t have any information on any incidents at this intersection or any others nearby, however, I have seen a number of instances when pedestrians attempting to cross Georgia Avenue in my neighborhood have almost been killed or severely injured by drivers that do not yield to pedestrians attempting to cross.
In one particular instance I was about 25 yards from turning off of Georgia Avenue onto Morton when I witnessed my neighbors narrowly miss getting struck by a driver that failed to yield even though the vehicle in front had yielded.
So, it’s great to see DDOT do something to help calm traffic, to make interactions between pedestrians and vehicles safer. However, I’m having a difficult time understanding how this project was executed.
I first noticed the island on the afternoon of March 8, 2019. As I turned onto Georgia Avenue, I hadn’t made it more than one block before I heard the crash of a vehicle that ran over one of the islands. Passing the area from my first errand about twenty minutes later, I watched as another unsuspecting and likely inattentive driver strike the island causing serious damage to his/her vehicle.
Coming home about thirty minutes later, another driver was pulled over on Georgia Avenue being towed for a completely busted wheel, no doubt the victim of the new island.
So, why is this island causing so much carnage? Are the drivers just not paying attention? No doubt, but the larger failure lies directly at the feet of DDOT and/or it’s contractor(s) for a complete failure to pay attention to detail because the traffic islands were installed on a major thoroughfare and no effort was made to erect signage or a signal to drivers to expect a change in the traffic pattern.
To understand my charge, look no further than the attached pictures. What I see are two islands that seem to pop up out of the ground because the yellow traffic lines that would usually outline them just disappear where the islands begin. Not only that, but the lane markings that would guide a driver around the islands remain the same. Essentially, the islands are literally swallowing up about eighteen inches of the inner lane because the lane markings were not changed.
For drivers that are paying attention a danger still exists because the drivers in the inner lanes must navigate closer to the traffic in the outer lanes to navigate around the islands, thereby increasing the chance of a collision with any vehicle in the outer lane. The driver in that outer lane might not understand why the driver in the inner lane is encroaching into their lane.
It’s bad enough that DDoT provided little or no advance notice in recent years for making significant changes to roads, including installing bike lanes and introducing new traffic calming measures that make the roads navigable for all of us. Can you imagine a parent traveling in a vehicle with baby in the car, colliding into the island with a force that caused the child physical injury?
I’m not calling for someone to lose their job, however, I’m definitely calling for a reprimand. This is a complete failure on the part of DDoT and the Department should be called upon to explain how this happened and how such a serious mistake could be avoided with future road projects.
As a side note, small triangular traffic cones appeared around the island by Saturday morning, March 9, and by Saturday evening, the larger hard plastic traffic barrels appeared, so someone knows they messed up.“