by Marlene Berlin
When Metro closes the eastern entrance to the Van Ness Metro station to replace the escalators, it could create hardship for some pedestrians, particularly seniors who might need a little more time to cross Connecticut Avenue.
I talked with Ann Chisholm in the Office of Government Relations at WMATA Tuesday, October 22nd. She has the unenviable job of reaching out to our community to prepare us for this challenging event. She had called me because of my role as head of Connecticut Avenue Pedestrian Action. She wanted to know what I thought about lengthening the crossing time on Connecticut at Veazey during the five months the eastern escalators are taken offline. I thought this was a great idea.
However, she was concerned because DDOT mentioned the need for a traffic study, which would hold up the project. Metro risks losing money if it doesn’t allow its contractor and start work on November 4th. But this should have been coordinated with DDOT long ago. WMATA dropped the ball on this one.
I had other suggestions as we continued to talk. Pedestrians have a hard time with turning cars. No right turns on red signs would help, given more residents will be crossing Connecticut during rush hour. A heightened police presence could prevent motorists from blocking crosswalks when traffic gets bogged down. This is a frequent problem during this busy time.
I learned that Metro will keep technicians on site to keep the elevator in working order. This is not a fool-proof plan, so regular shuttle service to another station could be an ongoing option during rush hour. Ms. Chisholm committed to following up on this suggestion, as well as others. We ended the conversation with her agreeing to contact Adam Tope, chairman of ANC 3F, about getting on the agenda for the next ANC meeting. I also told her I would put the word out to my contacts.
How else can Metro help us during the five-month process? Could photo enforcement help? We welcome your ideas.