The reversible rush hour lanes on Connecticut Avenue have been suspended since March 19th, 2020. For a while on Monday, it looked like that was about to change.
It started with an email sent to members of the community advisory committee for DDOT’s Connecticut Avenue reversible lanes safety study.
“I want to advise you that traffic operations on Connecticut Avenue will resume to pre-pandemic conditions, effective June 1. This means that parking enforcement and reversible lane operations will return,” wrote DDOT’s Ed Stollof. “Please let your constituencies know that these changes will occur as all pre-pandemic traffic operations throughout the City will resume.”
That the parking enforcement would resume on June 1st was well known. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the change at an April 19th news conference and it got a great deal of local media coverage. But there was no public mention of resuming reversible lane operations.
Two members of the advisory committee are ANC 3F chair David Cristeal and Bob Deyling, the chair of ANC 3F’s Streets and Sidewalks Committee. They had received a great deal of feedback from residents about the Connecticut Avenue study, most of it in opposition to the reversible lanes. And they immediately got to work.
Deyling sent the following to the DDOT project team, and then to Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh:
1) The data DDOT has collected for the study suggest there are clear safety issues with the reversible lanes.
2) The study also suggests that there is no actual need for the reversible lanes. DDOT has noted “excess capacity” with a 4-2 lane configuration. DDOT presentations have noted that even 3 lanes in each direction appears to provide excess capacity for traffic, and the study has proposed several options that involve only 2 lanes in each direction.
3) There is apparently no written analysis for the creation of the reversible lanes in the first place. At the least, there should be a detailed justification to keep them going forward, considering the clear safety issues associated with them.
Cheh responded a few minutes later with an email addressing DDOT’s interim director, Everett Lott.
“There is no demonstrated need for the reversible lanes, they are unsafe, and we are in the midst of considering two alternative designs for reconfiguring Connecticut Avenue, BOTH of which discard the reversible lanes,” Cheh wrote.
“In short, we don’t need them, we don’t want them, and they cause accidents and injuries.”
Monday evening, Lott replied to Cheh: “DDOT will not be resuming the reversible lane on Connecticut Ave. on June 1.”
ANC 3F chair Cristeal then sent a “thank you” email to Council member Cheh. He also requested clarification on rush-hour parking on Connecticut Avenue, and requested that parking enforcement be suspended until the DDOT study has been completed.
DDOT staff is currently going through public comments and preparing their recommendation, which they are to present to DDOT management by June 30th.