DDOT is making preparations to rehabilitate a 1.7 mile stretch of Broad Branch Road, between Linnean Avenue and Beach Drive. Right now, that stretch is a narrow, winding, two-lane road with no sidewalks and no easy Rock Creek access for pedestrians and cyclists. One of DDOT’s objectives is to make the road safe and accessible for all travel modes.
After a November 8th public meeting and presentation, we wanted to know what YOU think of the DDOT’s proposed changes. Your responses to the survey (126 in all) and the comments on the initial story will be presented to DDOT.
This is Forest Hills Connection’s second survey, and it was an eye-opener. Because Broad Branch Road is in our neighborhood, the survey was geared mostly toward users in our neighborhood, or directly adjacent – north, south and west of us. But the survey’s respondents from east of Rock Creek Park reminded us that we are connected to them as well – and Broad Branch is what ties us together. There aren’t many east-west routes across the park, so these neighbors – in Crestwood, Petworth, Mount Pleasant, 16th Street Heights – depend on the road to connect them to jobs, shopping and restaurants on this side of DC.
And now, the results:
1. Where do you live? Most of the respondents (43%) live in Forest Hills, more than a quarter in Chevy Chase, DC, and more than 14 percent live east of the Park, in Crestwood, Petworth, Mount Pleasant, and 16th Street Heights.
2. Choose the age range that applies to you. Most respondents (45%) are 41-60 years old. One-third describe themselves as 61-80 years old, and 19% are in the 21-40 age group.
3. In a typical month, which of the following forms of transportation does your household use? (Check all that apply) More than 90% of respondents use a private vehicle to get around in any given month. But they also like to get out of their cars and walk. Nearly 90 percent chose walking. More than 70 percent use mass transit, and 60 percent like to take their bikes for a spin. Three respondents wrote in “running.”
4. Do you use Broad Branch Road? All but five of the respondents do.
5. How do you use Broad Branch Road? (Check all that apply) A large majority, 69%, use the road for car commuting. That number is greater if you include the 15% of road users who wrote in under “other” that they are drive on the road to appointments, shopping and dining. One respondent refers to Broad Branch as an “essential conduit to Conn Ave. and Forest Hills.” That sentiment is shared by several.
Recreational biking is the second most popular use, at 35%, followed closely by those who use the road to walk to Rock Creek trails (34%). Bike commuting is in fourth place, at 15%.
6. If you do not use the road, what prevents you? (Check all that apply) What we should have asked was “If you do not use the road for recreation, what prevents you?” Luckily, the survey takers are a smart bunch, and many of them answered the second question anyway. More than 55% chose “No pedestrian path” as a reason they’re not using the road. “No dedicated bicycle path” was a close second. “Cars go too fast,” a not-so-distant third, and 28% said there is “Too much car traffic.”
Under “Other,” most respondents cite the danger. One respondent writes: “I drive the road regularly, but I hardly ever bike it because it’s too dangerous. The few times I do bike it, I feel like I’m taking my life in my hands. I’ve biked it a few times a year for the last 40 years. The recent repaving made it a little better, but if could be so much better. I’d bike it scores of times a year if it was safer.”
Another respondent, who drives, avoids the road during times there are “too many” walkers and cyclists.
7. How would you like to use Broad Branch Road? (Check all that apply) Now, it gets interesting. In question 5, we learned that most of the road users who took this survey are taking to their cars. Question 7 reveals that most users would like to be on foot (60%) or on two wheels (58%). In fact, interest in all recreational uses nearly doubles, as does the desire to commute to work on a bike. Car commuting drops down to third place, with 52% of the responses, but car usage is on equal footing with recreational walking and biking if we include “other” respondents who describe driving to shops and other non-work errands.
8. Which of DDOT’s design objectives are most important to you? Another interesting result. To “Create a safe road for all users” is a clear priority – 68% of respondents rank that as “Very important.” “Manage stormwater runoff” also got a majority of “Very important” rankings.
Most respondents also filed “Minimize use of parkland” under “Not important.” So it might seem odd that the next objective, to “Preserve and protect environmental resources,” was rated “Very important” by more people.9. Please rank the following alternatives (as laid out by DDOT). About a half-dozen survey takers had trouble with the survey software at this point, but they were persistent enough to leave their preferences in the comments. We went through each result by hand to ensure that the technical problems did not dramatically change the results. They did not. Here are what people chose as the alternative they prefer the most:
Alternative 1: 24%
Alternative 2: 5.6%
Alternative 3: 13.6%
Alternative 4: 51.2%
Alternative 4 promises the most changes, adding pedestrian and bike trails alongside much (but not all) of the roadway. And a majority of respondents ranked this as their first choice. Alternative 1, which promises only “minor restoration,” comes in second. A few who commented in support of Alternative 1 fear that widening the road and adding a sidewalk/bike trail would only encourage drivers to speed.
10. Propose another design objective or alternative.
More than 40 respondents wrote in comments and/or suggestions. A few common themes:
− Lower the speed limit to 15-20 mph
− Improve enforcement by installing speeding cameras
− Keep bikes and cars separate to keep speeds high
− Build a walking trail on the other side of the Broad Branch stream from the roadway
− Bar bikes from the road
− Bar cars from the road
And again, we encourage you to go back to the original story and read through the proposals, as well as the excellent discussion in the comments.
The full survey results are below.
1. Where do you live?
2. Choose the age range that applies to you.
3. In a typical month, which of the following forms of transportation does your household use? (Check all that apply)
4. Do you use Broad Branch Road?
5. How do you use Broad Branch Road? (Check all that apply)
|Recreation: Walking to Rock Creek Park trails||33.9%||Recreation: Bike||34.7%|
6. If you do not use the road, what prevents you? (Check all that apply)
|Too much car traffic||27.8%|
|Cars go too fast||42.6%|
|No pedestrian path||55.6%|
|No dedicated bicycle path||51.9%|
7. How would you like to use Broad Branch Road? (Check all that apply)
|Recreation: Walking to Rock Creek Park trails||60.3%||Recreation: Bike||57.9%|
8. Which of DDOT’s design objectives are most important to you?
|Not Important||Neutral||Somewhat Important||Very Important||Response count|
|Create a safe road for all travel modes||6.4%||9.6%||16%||68%||125|
|Manage stormwater runoff||0.8%||8.1%||39.8%||51.2%||123|
|Minimize use of national parkland||31.6%||24.8%||23.1%||20.5%||117|
|Preserve and protect environmental resources||5.8%||13.2%||38.8%||42.1%||121|
9. Please rank the following alternatives (as laid out by DDOT).
|Alternative 1: No action. Minor restoration activities.||24.0%||7.2%||4.8%||51.2%||12.8%|
|Alternative 2: 10 ft travel lanes, 5 ft wide sidewalk from Linnean for 1000 ft., retaining wall, storm water maintenance and management, and optional 5 ft wide sidewalk form Soapstone Creek to parking lot.||5.6%||24.8%||60.0%||8.0%||1.6%|
|Alternative 3: Same as 2, but with 6 ft sidewalk on west side for the entire length separate from roadway with a 4 ft wide planting strip in several areas. Additional right-of-way needed from National Park Service.||13.6%||49.6%||26.4%||9.6%||0.8|
|Alternative 4: Same as 3 but with the addition of a 4 ft side bike lane. This would need additional right-of-way from National Park Service.||51.2%||13.6%||7.2%||20.8%||7.2%|
|None of the above.||5.6%||4.8%||1.6%||10.4%||77.6%|
10. Propose another design objective or alternative.
46 survey takers left comments:
Preserve the retaining wall that keeps the creek in its bed. The wall has been deteriorating for twenty or more years because trees have been allowed to grow between the bank and the road. The tree roots have grown down and into and through the wall. Was this due to the NPS not wanting to cut trees in a NP? Whoever failed to cut the trees has permitted an enormous investment to go to waste.
Keep road in good repair – do not widen. Could put a walking trail on the East side of the creek – away from the road altogether.
Alternative 1 plus repair 27th St. bridge and resurface lower half of 27th St., controlling water runoff.
Reduce width of sidewalk from 6′ to 5′ or less. Perhaps planting strip could be reduced to 3′ also.
The priority for me is the ability to walk or bike inside Rick creek from brandywine to Mathewson.
Widening the road will just result in faster driving and no improvement in safety. I have never seen the existing speed limit enforced on Broad Branch. 10 foot travel lanes will not improve things for bicyclists.
Bikers have plenty of other options, esp. on weekend with closed roads. Don’t see them as a priority.
The present road should be maintained. I do not support any changes since all of them require removal/killing of more than 170 trees (that is DDOT’s estimate which is probably under reported). Sidewalks that stop and start don’t make sense.
Design objectives must be changed to reflect continued and sufficient maintenance for car safety. NOTHING ELSE. No sidewalks, no bike lanes, no curbs and gutters.
Another design objective that is VERY important to me is not to SLOW cars. Removing bikes to a separate space improves the speed with which cars can travel. BUT NEED TO KEEP PARK SAFE and minimize impact.
Bikes need to stay off the road, it is dangerous for all involved.
This is a waste of money. Just leave it alone.
Improve the bike path running west and parallel to BBR from Beach Drive to Brandywine to provide alternative to sharing the roadway with autos.
Leave it alone.
Retaining walls create harzards fr bikes and runners when two cars are passing; thus, I oppose Alternatives 3 and 2. I’m also concerned about the cost which might be better placed elsewhere in the city. Thus, either do nothing or do it right (i.e., Alternative 4).
15 miles/speed limit Brandywine to/ from bike trail, enforced by two fixed spread cameras both ways. Stop sign all ways Brandywine-broad branch.
Modify Alternative 3 to widen the sidewalk to be a 10-12′ wide shared use path.
Regardless of the design chosen, traffic calming measure should be a part of it. at the very least, a lower speed limit throughout
Rebuild as Alt 4, but close off Rock Creek Park section of road to motorized vehicles on weekends and holidays, similar to Beach Drive at present. This would really add a lot more space for family recreation on weekends and provide a safe link from neighborhoods to Beach Drive.
No proposal, but just wanted to stress the importance of making a safe way for pedestrians and cyclists to access Rock Creek Park from Forest Hills, especially along the strip of road between Davenport St. and Brandywine, which is quite dangerous. This is a high priority for our neighborhood!
Safe pedestrian and bike passage from Brandywine to Beach is the most important element of this, and should be prioritized over the more Northerly elements. Once you can safefly get between Broadbranch and Beach there are alternative routes to the North.
If resources are limited, implement Alternative 4 only between Beach Drive and Brandywine Street. There are no reasonable alternatives to using this stretch for pedestrians and bicyclists and it is extremely dangerous. Implementing Alternative 4 along this limited stretch only is far better than implementing Alternatives 1 and 2 along the entire length to Linnean Avenue (of course it would be even better to do Alternative 4 along the entire length).
Bike lane and combined walking lane on one side. No need for separate sidewalk — and certainly no need for separation strip of grass. A two-way bike lane, with an interior lane for pedestrians, would accommodate all users while minimizing the amount of widening that would necessary for the right of way. Also, sharp-edged curbs are unnecessary and potentially dangerous. It’s better to have sloped curbs that a cyclist can roll over if forced off the road. And regardless of which option is chosen, the need for fixing the runoff problem is critical.
Rehabilitate Broad Branch Road to assure safety for two-way vehicular traffic; that is, rebuild deteriorating infrastructure (creek-side supporting structures) and remove stormwater overflows (stopped drains, seepages and torrents).
Since DDOT failed to win NPS approval for a previous design over a period of 10 years, I propose reducing the speed of cars to 15 MPH so that bikes and cars can navigate together on the roadway. This should be enforced by photo enforcement. The road should be widened as much as possible not encroaching on NPS land so that pedestrians have a walkway between Soapstone Creek and Rock Creek Trails, and where ever a pedestrian path can fit, along with water run off treatments.
Close the road to motorists and make it a pedestrian and bike boulevard. We could narrow the road and protect the stream. Cars can drive on Connecticut.
12 ft or less travel lanes with ‘sharrows’ (not bike lane on one side), walkway for pedestrians (not important to me personally, but there should be safe pedestrian access), slope-faced curbs (not typical vertical curb) to allow a cyclist to ride over the curb in an emergency.
Along with improving the current road condition (alt 1&2), focus on making the existing paved walk/run/bike paths safe for all modes of recreation/transportation. Bikers are forced onto unsafe roads due to the poor conditions of the existing trails.
Add bike lanes for both sides. I understand it could take more space, but this is a critically access for bicycle commuters to get safely through the neighborhood to Rock Creek Park.
alternative 2, but make one-way (same hours/directions as RCP) during peak traffic periods and open one lane for non-motorized traffic. Reduce speed to 20 mph. Regardless of alternative, INCREASE ENFORCEMENT OF TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS ON THIS STRETCH OF ROAD.
Broad Branch really needs a bike path wide enough for 2 way traffic and it is not clear that this provides that.
The road is a rural road and should be kept that way. The Alternatives 2, 3 and 4 appear to significantly damage the existing creek and topology and should be rejected. The development proposed in 2, 3 and 4 would induce large volumes of traffic, increasing pollution in the valley, and making rush hour traffic jams in the Park even worse. I oppose any redevelopment on Broad Branch.
Please do not be reactionary and decrease the speed limit to 15 mph. That is incredibly slow and would make me very sad.
My main concern is erosion by the creek. And preservation of the tree canopy. Acquisition of needed land for Alt. 3 would probably be expensive — better check to be sure that it really does belong to the Park Service!
It is time to stop making it easier for a relatively few bicycling zealots. They are a freaking nuisance during rush hour and on crowded streets.
Need to keep stumps and brush off the roads, adequate drainage, emergency pull out areas, bikers OFF the road.
Making it possible for those that must drive or be driven and can not walk, run or bike to easily move across the park to both the north and south of Blagden Avenue.
Open Klingle Road to cars
First, you should include Crestwood as a crucial constituency in your efforts. Our community borders Broad Branch Road and uses the roadway as much as any neighborhood in the city. There is a good deal of indignation here that we have not been included. Second, these rankings of alternatives are meaningless without those of us being surveyed knowing the environmental impact and appearance of the alternatives that require a wider right-of-way (not to mention whether we can afford these alternatives and whether they could be constructed in a timely manner). It would be wonderful if all travel modes can be accommodated, But can that be done while safeguarding the environment…is there money in the budget for such a project…and can the project be completed in a way that shuts down this important thoroughfare for the shortest period possible, while fixing the basic infrastructure in advance of Broad Branch Road falling into the creek (as it threatens to do)? I have studied this roadway, which was built in 1839. It is the oldest road in the surrounding area that still goes anywhere. The first priority is to ensure the road’s integrity while protecting the creek. The second priority is to allow safe access on foot to the Soapstone Valley Trail. Only if you can tackle the more complex alternatives in an environmentally-sound, affordable and expeditious manner should you go forward from there.