Brookland Neighborhood Civic Assn. Takes On Neighborhood Traffic Issues

The Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association (BNCA) is making a push to address on going traffic issues in the neighborhood. Check out the link to a letter sent to the mayor and DDOT below, as well as info about their upcoming June meeting.  If you’re looking for ways to get involved in the Brookland community, the BNCA is a great way to do it.  From an email:

…here is our agenda for our June meeting, next Tuesday, June 20, at 7 pm at Brooks Mansion (701 Newton St. NE). I have invited Mayor Muriel Bowser and DDOT Director Leif Dormsjo to our meeting to discuss the serious truck and other traffic concerns that many in Brookland are being affected by. So far I have not received word that they will be able to attend. If they do not, we will use that time to have a community discussion about these problems and next steps for BNCA to address them.

You can see the letter I sent to the Mayor and DDOT Director last week here, which provides an overview of several ways in which DDOT has not been meeting our community’s needs….

1. Welcome
2. Treasurer’s Report and Membership Report
3. Information about the Saturday Monroe Street Farmer’s Market – Nick Stavely (Community Foodworks)
4. Update on the Transition Town Network – Diane Roche (Stuart Center)
5. Truck/Traffic Issues In and Around Brookland –
– Mayor Muriel Bowser (invited)
– DDOT Director Leif Dormsjo (invited)
6. Community Concerns and Announcements
– MRP Development at 4th and Rhode Island
– BNCA  Comments on Comprehensive Plan
– BNCA – Solar Solution promo through the Summer!
– Others?
7. Adjourn

You can check out the BNCA website here, the BNCA Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter.

15 thoughts on “Brookland Neighborhood Civic Assn. Takes On Neighborhood Traffic Issues”

  1. The problem isn’t just truck traffic. The problem is traffic in general. In my part of the neighborhood, which it technically Michigan Park, up near Providence Hospital we literally have a morning rush hour through.

    My neighbors and I did a three-week long car count study. Between April 17 and May 5, we counted cars from 7am to 9am Monday through Friday. During that time period we had
    * 2,519 cars use the alleys in the 900 and 1000 blocks between Varnum and Taylor to travel southbound; 2,276 of those used only the alley in the 900 block between Upshur and Taylor.

    * 1,575 cars traveled westbound on Upshur from 12th; 1,006 of those cars did not come to a complete stop at the corner of 10th and Uphsur before crossing 10th street.

    And during one of those weeks both DCPS, DC Charter, and PG County schools were on spring break…so imagine how bad the traffic actually is.

    To say the lights on 12th street are poorly timed is a gross understatement.

    10th street being north-bound only between Taylor and Varnum is manifestly a problem but so far no one seems to care unless you actually face 10th street, which is a bit like having the residents on 10th street throw their trash in their neighbors’ yards and then expecting us to like it and say thank you.

    Now imagine what it’s going to be like once Mundo Verde sites their school supporting over 450 students at 8th & Varnum and EYA overbuilds at the Josephite’s site.

    So, good for the BNCA but trucks are far from the only problem we have in this part of town.

  2. People complain about traffic, but they’re also probably causing traffic by driving a car. This is a problem that only affects people who are perpetrating it. And trying to block housing from being built is an unconscionable solution.

    I know not every trip can be done on bike or by bus/rail, but people need to think long and hard about every car trip they take. That’s ultimately where traffic starts.

  3. We moved here a few years ago from the U Street Corridor and find that the traffic in N Michigan Park/Brookland is almost non-existent compared to our old neighborhood. We live in a city. There will be some traffic. If you can’t deal with that, perhaps you shouldn’t live in a city. Metro/bus are also great options if you don’t like dealing with the traffic and helps cut down on congestion for everyone.

    1. Some people think that any changes are an attack on them and the community they grew up in. But attacking the housing that people need because there aren’t opportunities where they grew up is two wrongs not making a right. We’re all in this together and we’ll never make it if everyone drives.

      I don’t want anyone to have to leave. Just make better choices.

      1. The housing that’s being built in our area isn’t “the housing people need” in this city…unless you consider 3 bedroom townhouses with an average starting price of $600k and one-bedroom rental units for $3,500 a month to be “affordable.”

        As for your rationale that “this is a only a problem who affects people who are perpetrating it…” I don’t even know where to begin.

        The problems we have with traffic affect everyone who lives, works, or goes to school in this area. They aren’t just about how long it takes to get somewhere; they’re about noise pollution and air quality and safety for pedestrians and bicycle traffic. They’re also about cost to maintain infrastructure that’s being used by commuters from other jurisdictions who contribute nothing to DC’s tax base.

        Yes, there’s going to be traffic in a city, but that doesn’t mean we have to roll over and show the car and the truck our neck and surrender. Enforcement doesn’t require a human being any more and I wonder why DDOT and MPD are so reluctant to put those measures into place.

        In the car count study we did a stop sign camera would have earned over $50,000 in fines in a 2-hour period between 7am and 9am Monday through Friday. Expand that out to the rest of the day and the thing is paid for in a week. That’s revenue that can be spent to maintain that infrastructure, build better parks, put in bike lanes, and plant more trees.

        And yeah, I know, cameras have diminishing returns in revenue as people learn where they are but what comes with diminishing revenue returns in one place is higher enforcement there and opportunities for revenue in other places.

        1. I think you are both right. We live in a city, we need to push for better options that more efficiently use infrastructure and limited street space (bus lanes, better Metro service, etc.), and we need to stop restricting housing so much that we turn into San Francisco. It’s possible to maintain the character of the neighborhood while allowing growth. More density can mean more transit options – if it’s done right.

          At the same time, a disproportionate number of the cars I see (at least in my part of the neighborhood) when I bike to and from work are carrying Maryland plates. So we do need to do something about enforcement and traffic flow. I wish we could simply impose a hefty commuter tax, but unfortunately that’s not an option. And this is only going to get worse once the Douglas garage is finished – yet for some reason, no one seems to hate commuter garages as much as they hate condos.

          1. The Children’s Hospital garage is one of the inputs into what I’m sure is going to be more traffic through the alleys because 10th street is one way.

            DDOT really needs to look at this area in a comprehensive way. People are going to continue to use our neighborhood as a cut through from Maryland to downtown and they aren’t going to be content with Michigan Avenue , 12th Street, Taylor Street, and other larger streets.

            They will continue to use alleys, speed, and ignore stop signs and lights until someone gets killed. Unfortunately, I suspect it will take more than one someone before anyone at DDOT or MPD cares.

            Basically, the city has had the luxury of ignoring this neighborhood for decades. It’s time for us to start demanding the attention we deserve.

        2. “unless you consider 3 bedroom townhouses with an average starting price of $600k and one-bedroom rental units for $3,500 a month to be “affordable.” ”

          This is exactly the problem. You assume that if an individual unit isn’t cheap, that it’s noble to stop it from being built. If you block the $600k unit from being built, the person with $600k to spend is going to buy something for $500k and fix it up. Now the person with only $500k has to buy something for $400k and fix it up. And on and on until someone ends up leaving the city or homeless. This plays itself out over every tier of unit in every neighborhood, so the effects are devastating.

          People need to live by their convictions. If you dislike auto traffic, drive less. If you worry about air quality, I hope you’ve at least considered an electric car. And if you think speed enforcement is critical, well, good news; traffic is the ultimate speed enforcement!

          1. I’ll also note that people who left the city because they couldn’t find a unit in their price range because not enough housing was built, then has to drive in with Maryland plates. You’re actively causing the problem you’re complaining about.

          2. Traffic engineers estimate that for each new address there are an average of 10 car trips added to a neighborhood.

            I’m not against development. I’m against developers using misleading math – like calculating the density of their proposed townhouse infill based on not the square footage of the area they are buying but on the total square footage of the city “square” thereby creating a fake density number.

            You also can’t add residences and the expected increased traffic without considering the infrastructure, which you are not. And the infrastructure extends beyond traffic flow and streets.

            What are 150 extra houses at 12th and Allison going to do to sewer capacity? Water pressure? Electrical load?

            By all means, build. Build *when you have the infrastructure to support what you want to build.*

            And I have news for you: Increased traffic doesn’t do diddly for speed or other traffic law enforcement. All it does is make people do stupid things like decide they don’t want to wait for the red light, whip around a line of stopped cars, and turn left on red nearly killing a pedestrian who was crossing with the walk signal.

            Shall I email you every time that happens to me? Because it’s happened four times in the past 6 months on my way to the subway.

          3. None of those infrastructure concerns appear to be an issue in much denser neighborhoods, within the city and elsewhere in the country/world. Did you want our current tax dollars to pay for the infrastructure upgrades before the infrastructure is needed? Before we’re even sure what needs to be done?

            If there are electrical upgrades needed, they’ll get done. Same goes for water and sewer. Have you ever heard of a building going up and then shorting out a city block the day after people move in? Never heard of it.

            As far as the stupid things people do when they’re driving; I’m all for making it as difficult and burdensome to drive as possible. Sign me up for whatever draconian enforcement you’re planning. Make it impossible and very expensive to park. Make it cumbersome and slow-moving to get through our blocks. Maybe someday we’ll be able to impose that commuter tax and create virtually car-free zones.

            But the lack of housing is an emergency that supersedes all of that.

  4. That’s because those denser neighborhoods were designed to be denser neighborhoods from the beginning.

    Have I ever heard of a building going up and shorting out the electrical grid? No, I haven’t. Doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

    As for infrastructure improvements “getting done,” I am skeptical and your faith in our local utilities leads me to believe you haven’t lived in this neighborhood for more than 10 years.

    This area of the city was the last to get cable service in the 1980s. We are the last to receive any kind of upgrades from both WASA and Pepco. We are remarkably neglected given that the 20017 zip code had (and may still have) the highest owner occupied housing rate in the city.

    Do I think our already failing, hundred year-old sewer system can handle all the infill housing? No, I don’t, but I also don’t think that people who might know better have been consulted either.

    I think the city government, including our council member, see nothing but increased tax dollars and whatever back room promises are being made by developers and don’t give a single thought to the infrastructure burdens, the air, water, and noise pollution, or the suitability of a development on a site.

    There’s a reason why the zoning commission blocked a 10 story building at 10th and Monroe and why it was appropriate for what was formally Southside at Catholic.

    I’m not saying don’t build; I’m saying be prudent about it.

    1. 901 Monroe was blocked by misguided obstructionists and judges that read a Comp Plan way too literally.

      We need housing. You blocking it and dressing up that up as “prudence” and pseudoscientific theories on infrastructure is making an emergency worse. The decades of neglect this city had to suffer through was a disgrace, but so is this behavior.

      I hope the new Comp Plan reflects our true values of
      inclusiveness and environmental protection and allows for a denser Brookland and takes power out of a few people intent on inflating their own home values at the expense of everyone and everything else.

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