We were warned for weeks to brace for the first phase of the Beach Drive closure, but so far, the streets of our neighborhood seem to be escaping the worst of the gridlock.
DDOT says traffic volume on streets near Beach Drive – such as Connecticut Avenue, Cathedral Avenue and Tilden Street – have seen a 70 percent jump in traffic.
On September 26th, the first Monday after work began, I set off to see for myself what traffic looked like on Broad Branch Road, Beach Drive, Tilden and Connecticut between 8:15 to 9 a.m.
There was virtually no traffic on Broad Branch Road.
Usually at this time of day there’s a backup on Broad Branch where cars turn onto Beach Drive. But on this day, cars were moving smoothly through the intersection.
A large number of cars were lining up at the red light at Tilden.
But they could easily turn left or right onto Park Road or Tilden. The closed road ahead meant there was no northbound traffic holding up southbound traffic turning left onto Park Road. I headed right, onto Tilden, and found traffic there was light. The backup at the red light at Connecticut stretched only half a block.
Here, Connecticut Avenue traffic looked a bit stickier. Patricia Drummond, one of four traffic control officers, did her job with grace and efficiency, preventing southbound cars from blocking the Tilden intersection when traffic backed up. She kept the traffic flowing smoothly.
Between Van Ness and Tilden on Connecticut, traffic was heavy, but did not seem out of the ordinary. And suddenly, north of Veazey Terrace, traffic fell off. And at Albemarle, which had seen morning backups well before the Beach Drive closure, was its usual five-car back up for a red light.
To ensure this wasn’t a fluke, I went out again a little more than a week later to recreate part of my trek.
Here’s what commuters were facing on Tuesday, October 4th between 8:15 and 8:45 a.m.:
It will be interesting to see what happens six to eight months from now, when the work shifts northward to the next phase of the project. Beach Drive between Tilden and Broad Branch Road will be closed. Will the afternoon northbound commuters forced to leave Beach Drive at Tilden race to Connecticut like they’ve done on Cathedral Avenue?
This is, of course, a very small sample of what’s happening out there. What is your experience – as a driver, bus riders, pedestrian, cyclist – or scooter rider?