Help Wanted: Someone with a knack for filling in the blanks.
DDOT is seeking a new Safe Routes to School coordinator to replace Jennifer Hefferan, a key player at DDOT on pedestrian improvements until she left last fall. Since then, her workload has been distributed between Jim Sebastian, the head of DDOT’s pedestrian and bike program, and George Branyan, who specifically focuses on pedestrian safety.
Hefferan headed a team that focused on filling in gaps in DC’s sidewalk network and managing the contract for installing new sidewalks. She left at a critical time: Filling sidewalk gaps was to start the beginning of the current fiscal year.
This project was dropped in Branyan’s lap in addition to his other work, which includes addressing safety issues at unsignalized crosswalks on Connecticut Avenue. Hefferan’s departure has slowed both projects down, but both are proceeding.
Sam Zimbabwe, the head of Policy, Planning and Sustainability at DDOT, assures me that work on filling sidewalks gaps is moving along. The focus, at least for now, is on filling gaps on major arteries. DDOT’s priority list does not include sidewalk gaps that ANC 3F wants addressed, such as the gap on 32nd Street and Fessenden.
However, if there is road construction on these streets or any of the other streets, the law requires the contractor to install a sidewalk on at least one side of the street. This is probably how Linnean Terrace got its sidewalk. Also, priority is given to streets where homeowners have petitioned for sidewalks.
As for progress in our neighborhood, Branyan told me the design for the Ellicott Street and Connecticut Avenue pedestrian signal would be completed by the end of the summer, and the signal would be installed by the end of 2016.
And though DDOT studies found the Connecticut Avenue crossing at Chesapeake did not have the pedestrian numbers to warrant such a signal, Branyan continues to search for an acceptable engineering rationale. If anyone in the transportation world can provide such, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, if you know someone in the transportation planning arena who could fill Jennifer Hefferan’s shoes and become the next Safe Routes coordinator, please have them send a resume to DDOT by February 13th. With all hands on deck, perhaps we’ll get more sidewalks and safer streets for all – all the sooner.