COMMUNITY MEETING ON THE
TAKOMA TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENTS PROJECT
February 11, 2009
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners Sara Green (SMD 4B01) and Faith Wheeler (SMD 4B02) held a joint Single Member District (SMD) meeting on February 11, 2009 from 6:30 – 8:45 pm in the Shepherd Park Library. Approximately 75 residents and business owners attended from both SMDs.
DDOT Program Manager Said Cherifi and Project Manager Scott James presented the DDOT proposals related to the two SMDs and answered questions. SMD 4B02 resident Steve Smith illuminated the discussion by projecting annotated aerial views, engineering drawings and photographs onto a screen. SMD 4B01 resident Rich Holzsager videotaped the meeting.
1. The Meeting opened by inviting attendees to look at the enlarged engineering drawings on the walls and mark their 3 top concerns with a sticky colored dot. The drawings were pages from DDOT’s Takoma Transportation Improvements project.
2. The sites of greatest concern for those in attendance were:
* Blair Road northwest of Piney Branch Road (toward Georgia Avenue),
* 4th/Blair/Cedar intersection, and
* Aspen Street
3. Blair Road
3.01 DDOT proposals and neighbors’ concerns in brief
a. Dedicated left turn onto Blair Road from northeast-bound traffic (toward Maryland) on Piney Branch Road. Impact: More traffic would be dumped onto Blair Road.
b. "Neck down" Piney Branch Road between Eastern and 7124 Piney Branch Road.
c. Too much traffic.
d. Unchecked illegal truck traffic
d. Sidewalks on both sides of Blair Road
e. Stop sign at Blair Road and Geranium Street
a. Dedicated left turn lane
* The general discussion repeatedly came back to: the neighbors want less auto traffic and no truck traffic on Blair Road due to safety concerns.
b. “Neck down” Piney Branch Road between Eastern and 7124 Piney Branch Road.
* A resident suggested that Piney Branch Road be made narrower here. Piney Branch was widened between those points about 15 years ago.
c. Too much traffic:
* DDOT reported that 12,000 cars per day travel on Blair Road, west of Piney Branch Road, in both directions. This is an excessive volume of cars.
* One resident suggested that DDOT implement a systemic remedy, which would be to encourage northbound through traffic on North Capitol Street to take Missouri Avenue westward and then Georgia Avenue northward to Silver Spring, MD. And the same, in reverse, for southbound traffic. Improving that route would help: e.g., at North Capitol and Missouri Avenue, DDOT should soften and regrade the southwestern corner of that intersection. As it is, it’s a difficult turn to make southbound, especially for long, heavy vehicles.
d. Illegal heavy truck traffic:
* Truck traffic is a safety issue on a narrow curved street with narrow sidewalks.
* According to DDOT staff, Montgomery County & the Maryland State Highway Administration have so far been reluctant to discontinue the dedicated left turn signal at Georgia Avenue and Blair Road in Silver Spring, MD, much less prohibit a left turn there. Requests should continue at the Director’s level.
* DDOT pointed out that there are already signs prohibiting heavy truck traffic at Piney Branch & Blair Roads and at Blair Road & Eastern Avenue.
* DDOT can increase the curb to 9” in height which will make it difficult for vehicles to climb the curb.
* DDOT believes that police enforcement should be able to adequately address this problem. Lt. Faller from MPD’s Enforcement unit said that he would convey the concern to MPD’s Multi-carrier inspection unit and that the community should continue to request reinforcement. (Laughter followed this remark.)
* Neighbors pointed out that police enforcement has occurred only twice in the past year, and only after continued requests. Enforcement has been DDOT’s solution for more than a decade. This is not high priority for our Metropolitan Police Department and not likely to become so. Accordingly, heavy trucks continue to roll illegally on Blair Road, which is clearly not built for such traffic.
* A resident stated that the truck traffic diminishes residents’ quality of life in regard to safety, air and noise. One resident said that the trucks shake his home.
* DDOT agreed to come up with other ways to reduce voume and truck traffic on Blair Road other than enforcement and solutions prohibited by Montgomery County.
d. Sidewalks on both sides of Blair Road:
* DDOT recommends sidewalks in order to allow residents to walk safely in front of their homes and not in the streets.
* A group of residents prefers to have no sidewalks on the south side of the 7200 block of Blair Road and had understood that there was no Right of Way which would allow room for sidewalks there. DDOT said that some may prefer to have a safe public sidewalk to enable them to walk from their homes to a crosswalk across Blair Road in order to get to a wider sidewalk on the northeast side of Blair (toward the tracks).
* DDOT is researching the Right of Way question more thoroughly.
e. Stop sign at Blair Road and Geranium Street:
* DDOT official said that Geranium Street does not have enough traffic to warrant a stop sign there. There must be legal findings that support a measure such as a stop sign. For example, at Fern and Blair there are limited sight lines.
* Brummel Court residents state that there is a blind spot at that intersection. It’s dangerous to cross.
* DDOT official suggested that a pedestrian activated traffic signal may be possible.
4.0 4th/Blair/Cedar intersection
4.01 DDOT proposals and neighbors’ concerns in brief:
a. 300 block of Butternut Street, NW
b. Traffic light or stop signs at Butternut Street & Blair Road
c. One-way southbound for cars on 6900 block of Fourth Street, NW
d. Blair Road chokepoints: Piney Branch Road, Cedar Street, and further south
e. Speeding traffic on Blair Road
a. 300 block of Butternut Street, NW:
* DDOT proposes to place a physical obstruction to prevent northbound traffic on Blair Road from turning west onto Butternut Street. This would protect pedestrians crossing Butternut as well as cars exiting parking lots on both sides of Butternut. It would also help to stop cars from racing around that corner.
* Residents at Takoma Village Co-housing often turn westward now as they exit their parking lot onto Butternut Street to avoid heavy traffic on Blair Road. (See “b” below.)
* Neighbors who drive through that intersection to other parts of Takoma want it to remain open.
* A neighbor pointed out that if the 6900 block of Fourth Street were made one-way southbound for cars, the incentive for northbound cars on Blair to cut over on Butternut to beat the traffic light would be gone.
b. Traffic light or stop signs at Butternut Street & Blair Road:
* DDOT said that this intersection does not meet the federal standard for a traffic light. “Traffic signal warrants” are governed by federal regulations.
* Wanting to make this intersection much safer, some neighbors felt that a traffic light at Butternut Street & Blair Road would help significantly.
* Other residents suggested all-way stop signs at this intersection.
* A resident said that westbound traffic is likely to turn onto Aspen and Cedar Streets if Butternut is made one-way eastward (toward the Metro retaining wall).
c. One-way southbound for cars on 6900 block of Fourth Street, NW:
* DDOT proposes restricting traffic so that car traffic will be allowed to go only one-way, southbound. Buses will travel in both directions.
* DDOT stated that with only buses traveling northbound on this block, the green light for Blair Road could remain green longer and thereby move the traffic through the 5-legged intersection faster. DDOT said this would make the use of Blair Road easier for commuting/drive-through traffic.
* Some residents want this block to remain two-way for cars as it’s an important travel route northward for them.
d. Blair Road chokepoints: Piney Branch Road, Cedar Street, and further south
* DDOT official stated: “We are past the saturation point.” Synchronizing the 4th/Blair/Cedar and the Piney Branch/Blair traffic lights will help.
* A resident expressed concern about the southbound Maryland traffic on Blair Road in the morning and northbound in the evening. However, there is also significant traffic northbound in the morning and southbound in the evening.
* See DDOT explanation in 4.02 (c) above of a resulting longer green light that would move Blair Road traffic through the 5-legged intersection faster.
e. Speeding traffic on Blair Road:
* DDOT can synchronize the traffic signals to lower than the speed limit.
* Speed sensitive traffic lights are also possible – such as the one on Porter Street, NW, between Connecticut Avenue and 34th Street, NW
* DDOT proposes diagonal parking on north side of Butternut Street
* Residents and business owners request diagonal parking on west side of 4th Street, too. * Residents questioned DDOT officials about the sign shown in the 65% plans: “No parking or standing. Tow away zone”
* DDOT official responded that that sign should apply to the area north of it (i.e., between the sign and the 5-legged intersection).
5.0 Aspen Street
5.01 DDOT proposals and neighbors’ concerns in brief:
a. Too much traffic that goes too fast.
b. Blair/Aspen intersection
c. Aspen / 9th Streets crosswalks
d. Parking: on one side only on Aspen Street
a. Too much traffic that goes too fast:
* A neighbor suggested making Aspen Street one-way, eastbound. (i.e., toward Blair Road). What would be the effect on speed and side-swiping?
* Are speed tables more effective than speed humps to slow traffic?
* DDOT proposes a dedicated right turn for eastbound traffic on Aspen Street with concrete bulb-outs on Aspen
c. Aspen / 9th Streets crosswalks
* DDOT assured a resident that crosswalks will be there, even though they’re not shown on the plans.
d. Parking: on one side only on Aspen Street.
* 300 & 400 blocks: There is currently parking on the north side only. That would remain
* 600 block: Parking would be on the south side only – different from what the engineering drawings show.
* 700 – 900 blocks: A resident observed that if there were parking on just one side of Aspen on the 700 – 900 blocks, that would mean the cartways would be wider and thereby accommodate more truck traffic. From that perspective, it’s not desirable.
6.0 Piney Branch and Dahlia Street
6.01 DDOT’s proposals and neighbors’ concerns in brief:
a. A 4-way stop sign
a. A 4-way stop sign:
* There is no 4-way stop sign there now.
* Resident states that Piney Branch Road traffic often blocks the flow of traffic from Dahlia Street. Drivers disregard pedestrians. Dahlia is a walking route from Walter Reed to the Takoma Metro. Sight lines are poor. Auto accidents are frequent.
* DDOT will look into this.
7. Issues that were not addressed in this meeting, will be heard and addressed in the next community meeting on this subject. Date to be announced. Please send your concerns to your Commissioner and to Scott James and Said Cherifi, of DDOT. See contact information below.
Sara Green, SMD 4B01, email@example.com, 829-8802
Faith Wheeler, SMD 4B02, firstname.lastname@example.org, 882-7565
Scott James, Project Manager, email@example.com
Said Cherifi, Program Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org