The Connecticut Avenue sidewalk in front of what was once Van Ness Square is now CLOSED, flagmen are out to direct pedestrians, demolition is proceeding, and ANC Commissioner Sally Gresham has been out monitoring.
She went out Monday morning, when she got calls and emails about the construction site not being ready by 7 a.m. for pedestrians. DDOT’s Matthew Marcou arrived on site as well, to make sure signs were in the right place and the flagmen were out doing their jobs. By 8:30 a.m. the sidewalk was blocked off and flagmen were at their posts – one at Albemarle and one at Windom – until 7 p.m. The flagmen are to be there from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. this whole week.
Most pedestrians followed the flagmen’s directions. Commissioner Gresham and Mr. Marcou also warned pedestrians of the closed sidewalk ahead. She says 90 percent followed directions, but there were still those 10 percent who ignored warnings and walked in traffic or crossed mid-block.
Marlene Berlin, pedestrian advocate for Iona Senior Services, contacted Commander Reese of the 2nd District Police Station for help with controlling illegal crossings by pedestrians during rush hours. He replied that the police would “monitor and assist.”
Our hardworking commissioner was out again Monday night from 6:45-7:35 with the flagmen. Once their shift ended at 7, the three of them stayed to watch what pedestrians did after that.
And according to Sally Gresham, “not one pedestrian walking north up Connecticut obeyed the Windom “Sidewalk Closed” sign and crossed to the west side at the crosswalk. In a 30-minute time period, approximately 80 pedestrians, including numerous runners, walked/ran in the street. Most of the pedestrians were walking north.”
“Some walked the entire length of the closed sidewalk area in the street, some jaywalked across Connecticut Avenue and some crossed at the Yuma Street crosswalk traffic signal. The only saving grace being that cars, buses and trucks were not using the eastern curb lane along the closed sidewalk area because cars were parked at meters on Connecticut near Windom and Albemarle.”
The ANC commissioner’s takeaway: “Obviously a closed sidewalk on Connecticut Avenue is just plain dangerous anytime, day and night. A 3-foot wide sidewalk against the curb is better than no sidewalk at all! Even with the construction site’s constraints, there must be a reasonable and safe solution.”
The Clark Construction flagman Ryan Lally manning his spot at Albemarle and Connecticut was courteous as he advised walkers to cross at Albemarle. There were the few complaints about the sidewalk being closed, but the great majority of pedestrians heeded his direction, and crossed at Albemarle. Again, there were a few who crossed in the middle of traffic putting their life and others at stake.
The flagman dealing with pedestrians at the Windom Street side found many were on autopilot. “They’re texting, talking or plugged in and don’t pay attention,” he said.
Commissioner Gresham was again out at 11 a.m. Tuesday and saw Officer Franchak from the Second District warning pedestrians who were crossing mid-block and walking in the street.
“I told him to start giving tickets to non-complying pedestrians if he thought best – warnings today/tickets tomorrow.”
Police can give out $25 tickets for hazardous walking. If this prevents dangerous walking behavior, Gresham says she is all for it.
Finally, Commissioner Gresham gives a “BIG THANK YOU and SHOUT OUT to Saul and Clark for providing the very nice and helpful crossing guards… What polite young men! And another THANK YOU to Officer Franchak for his patrolling, warnings and ticketing of pedestrians and vehicles at the sidewalk/parking space closures!”