A new feature of the Greater Greater Washington blog, called “Walkblock of the Week,” covers sidewalks that have been closed for construction projects. The second installment talks about the Park Van Ness construction site on the east side of Connecticut between Windom Place and Yuma Street.
We’ve been without a sidewalk at that location since November 2013, and it could be at least another year before the site reopens to pedestrians. The GGW article points out the discrepancy between what’s asked of pedestrians (losing the direct route) and what drivers must give up (generally nothing).
The article sparked a debate over how much this truly inconveniences those of us who live here and who regularly visit the school and businesses directly north of the site. The discussion even prompted GGW’s founder, David Alpert, to write a second article on the subject. Using the example of the northbound Franklin Montessori kids who must walk to Albemarle, cross Connecticut, and then double back, he calculated that the extra crossing could add up to 2.5 minutes of walking time when you factor in a wait at the light.
Two and a-half minutes doesn’t seem like much, but Alpert points out that drivers have complained about projects that added even less time to their commutes.
Many of us can – and do – criss-cross Connecticut without giving it a moment’s thought. But for others, it’s not always so easy. Some of us don’t walk as fast as we used to. Some of us have small children in tow, and it can be difficult to hurry them along. And some people find crossing Connecticut so harrowing that the five-month closure of the eastern entrance of the Van Ness Metro station last year created a serious hardship for them. We’ve discovered that people like to use the tunnel to get across Connecticut.
We got to see such a case recently when DC put in (and then removed) a median on Wisconsin Avenue in Glover Park. The traffic count data said that drivers’ trips lengthened by 1-2 minutes. But drivers, including Councilmember Jack Evans, who drives on Wisconsin to and from his kids’ school, screamed bloody murder.
This didn’t come up in either GGW article, but the missing sidewalk is also an inconvenience to the drivers trying to turn onto Connecticut from Albemarle during the morning rush. They can find themselves waiting through a second or third light cycle because of increased pedestrian traffic.
Many these are pedestrians heading toward the Metro from the north. And some can and do cross Connecticut at Brandywine to avoid the construction site. But parents and small children heading to Franklin Montessori from the south must cross at Albemarle to get to the school.
What do you think? Is the missing sidewalk more than a mere inconvenience? How does it affect your commute – by car or on foot?