I hope you’re well and enjoying the cool fall weather we’ve had this week. My update this week includes a breakdown of how you can request traffic safety improvements in your neighborhood. I also share all of the information we have about accessing the COVID vaccine for children ages 5-11 (which will become much easier next week), as well as key updates from the DC Council this week. Did you know that the Subcommittee on Redistricting released three proposed maps? Scroll down to learn more and to see what community resources and events we have coming up in Ward 4.
Also, don’t forget that Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend, so turn your clock back an hour on Saturday night!
Ward 4 Traffic Safety Guide
Ward 4 residents deserve safe streets where they can safely walk, run, bike, ride, drive, or travel to wherever we want to go. Instead, nearly all of us witness aggressive driving and cars speeding down the streets where we regularly walk with our families. This takes a huge toll, not only putting our lives at risk but also causing anxiety, making parents fearful to let their children commute to school, damaging public and private property, and even waking up residents late at night. Every day I hear from Ward 4 residents who need traffic safety in their neighborhood.
That’s why I’m taking some time today to update you on DC’s updated process for requesting traffic safety improvements in your neighborhood and share some helpful tools for tracking progress. I’ll also share an update on what is being done to address traffic safety more comprehensively in Ward 4 and across DC. I want to name that even with recent improvements, there are aspects to DC’s approach to traffic safety that are flawed. You will see me call those aspects out and push agencies to change them. Still, it’s important to simultaneously work through the current system to ensure we’re doing everything we can to secure much-needed traffic safety upgrades in our community.
New DDOT Process for Traffic Safety Requests
On Monday, November 1 DDOT instituted a streamlined process for requesting a Traffic Safety Investigation (TSI), which is the process for asking DDOT to make traffic safety upgrades to your street or intersection. TSIs are what you request when you want improvements like high visibility crosswalks, stop signs, traffic lights, one-way conversion, curb cuts, additional signage, and more.
Any community member, ANC Commissioner, or organization can request a Traffic Safety Investigation on the 311 website, calling 311, or through the DC311 mobile app.
- Select ‘Request’
- Choose “All Service Requests”
- Search and select “Traffic Safety Investigation”
- Select the location for your request
- Answer some basic questions and share your contact info
- Submit your request and note your service request number
For maintenance issues such as fallen roadway signs, sidewalk repairs, or traffic signal problems, report those issues through their specific 311 categories for a faster resolution, rather than a TSI request.
It used to be that residents would have to first submit a 311 request for a Traffic Safety Investigation, then complete a separate questionnaire, and then also secure an endorsement letter from their ANC. Now that this three-part process has been reduced to one step, TSIs can be submitted more easily and fewer TSIs get held up due to a lack of required documentation. DDOT has also cleared a big backlog of TSIs, meaning residents are much more likely to have their request followed up on in the near future.
As part of a Traffic Safety Investigation DDOT conducts an engineering evaluation of the site by looking at the design of the intersection, checking existing data and studies, and conducting other reviews. A handful of projects are sent for further data collection. Once this process is completed, DDOT will determine what mitigation measures are recommended and prepare a work order for installation.
The total process is estimated to take up to 130 business days (approximately 6 months). For road safety changes that alter traffic control (one way streets, traffic lights, reduced parking), there is an additional legally-required 30-day comment period. Once a TSI is complete, changes are generally installed in the following quarter. Despite reforms, this is still a long timeline. DC has held up necessary traffic calming for years, so many changes are due in our communities. That’s why it’s important to file your TSI now so you can get to the endpoint sooner.
New Databases to Track Traffic Safety in Ward 4
It used to be that submitting a TSI request felt like sending a message into the void, where you weren’t guaranteed to receive a response and there was little you could do to track progress on your request.
That’s beginning to change now with a new TSI database that DDOT has created after input from Council, Commissioners, and community members. The database includes an interactive map where residents can track TSIs in their neighborhood at various steps of the process.
Be sure to check out the different tabs at the top of the map for a full picture. You can review TSIs that have been requested and need to be processed by DDOT (“Pending DDOT Review”), TSIs where additional data is being collected (“Pending Data Collection”), and TSIs that have been completed and are pending installation (“Pending Installation”). The map allows you to search by Ward, ANC, or even service request number. And under the Pending Installation tab, you can even see when the traffic safety upgrade is expected to be completed. There is an additional tab for TSI requests that require more information from the resident who submitted the TSI, but because of DDOT’s revised one-step process future requests should not be stuck at this phase.
The TSI database is a work in progress. One issue is that there’s no way to review the actual information submitted in a TSI (or DDOT’s response). This is problematic because you cannot evaluate whether a TSI submitted for your street or intersection covers the issues that you want to see addressed. There’s also currently no way to review previous TSIs and DDOT’s responses to them. This means that you may be initiating a long process to seek traffic safety improvements that DDOT already rejected months ago.
Another issue: the “Pending Installation” tab designates improvements as either speed humps, curb cuts, or “Signage, Markings, and Other.” While speed bumps and curb cuts are pretty clear, the latter category could mean pretty much anything from upgrading existing signs, adding new speed limit signs, traffic lights, placing “Cross Traffic Does Not Stop” warnings, or installing new stop signs. If you look at that specific tab on the map for Ward 4, we have plenty of improvements in that broad category coming. The database should be updated to clarify what improvements residents will see in their neighborhood. I’ll continue working with DDOT to improve the database to make it more useful and transparent.
You might also benefit from using DDOT’s database for Notices of Intent (NOIs), which can provide more specifics about changes coming to your neighborhood. The database allows you to search by status of the NOI, Ward, ANC, or even title. One of DDOT’s recent reforms is to only issue NOIs when it is legally required (parking changes, traffic lights, traffic flow changes, etc…), so smaller improvements like speed humps and additional signage won’t show up here. Still, it’s a useful source of information for what’s coming to your neighborhood.
Talk to Your ANC Commissioner about Your TSI Request
DDOT’s revised process for TSI no longer requires you to receive an endorsement letter from your ANC, but contacting your ANC Commissioner ahead of filing a traffic safety request is still a great idea.
- Your ANC Commissioner is regularly communicating with your neighbors, so they may already be working on a TSI for the specific street or intersection you’re interested in.
- Commissioners have a lot of experience requesting TSIs and may be able to support you with the request or file it on your behalf.
- Commissioners have institutional knowledge about your neighborhood. They may know from years prior that certain streets aren’t eligible for certain traffic safety upgrades, or know specific obstacles that you need to overcome.
- Commissioners can help build consensus around which traffic safety upgrade is best. Neighbors often don’t agree on what changes are needed to their street, which could impede any progress from happening.
- Commissioners can pass resolutions in their ANC in support of specific traffic safety requests. DDOT reviews these resolutions and gives them “great weight” in their decision-making.
- DDOT will contact the relevant Commissioner prior to installing new speed bumps and give them 10 business days to provide input. Having your Commissioner in the know and on your side early on will help finalize the process.
- Commissioners are better positioned to follow up if a TSI isn’t being completed, or if you receive a response from DDOT that seems inadequate.
Similarly, my office (as well as your At Large Councilmembers’ offices) are also a resource to track, follow up on, and escalate TSI requests. We communicate with DDOT every week about traffic safety needs in Ward 4, schedule traffic safety walkthroughs with the agency, and leverage the oversight, legislative, and budget process to bring about systemic change.
My team and I maintain our own internal tracking system for Ward 4 TSI requests, so if you submit one please send us the information. We also want to see the responses you receive from DDOT when your TSI is completed, so please consider sending that to us as well. That way we can monitor the progress of TSIs in Ward 4, be ready to follow up as needed, and address issues that emerge.
Improving Traffic Safety in Ward 4 Systemically
Even with recent improvements, TSIs are far from perfect. It’s frustratingly common for DDOT’s to complete a TSI and make recommendations that seem to fall short of what is needed. For example, Ward 4 has many dangerous intersections that should be converted into all-way stops. And despite the TSIs that have been requested over the years, we see only see smaller updates like curb cuts, sight line improvements, and “Cross Traffic Does Not Stop” signs. DDOT recently shared that the only intersection in Ward 4 that’s set to become an all-way stop is 10th & Randolph NW. That’s simply not good enough.
DDOT will often cite a low number of crashes at a residential intersection when turning down requests to convert them to an all way stop. That’s problematic for at least three reasons. First off, our approach to public safety cannot be to wait for a high number of crashes before taking action. Secondly, DDOT relies on MPD crash data, but many crashes go unreported and even when MPD does respond they do not always record the incident. That leads to the paradox of DDOT indicating that an intersection is not dangerous enough while neighbors see crashes there nearly every week. And lastly, the number of crashes neglects other important factors such as how not having a stop sign leads drivers to pick up speed going into other nearby intersections, as well as the overall fear and anxiety caused for neighbors who have to cross the intersection as part of their daily lives. How do you measure the impact of a family too fearful to bring their child to a neighborhood park? I’m committed to using my power as a Councilmember to address these shortcomings. When communities tell us what they need to make their streets safe, our government needs to listen.
We are also working legislatively to continue bringing traffic safety improvements in our communities. I am proud that our DC Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment fully funded the Vision Zero Omnibus Amendment Act with dedicated revenue so that it can be implemented to make our streets safer. The Vision Zero Act will bring sweeping traffic safety improvements, including: lower speed limits; restricting dangerous right turns on red; high-visibility crosswalks; pedestrian-friendly sidewalks; more protected bike lanes and bus lanes; improving safety at intersections near schools and playgrounds; requiring the Mayor to seek ticket-reciprocity agreements with Maryland and Virginia; and aligning public infrastructure projects with our goal to eliminate traffic fatalities; and more.
And I’m excited that I have preserved or secured additional funding for several ongoing transportation projects in Ward 4 that will improve road safety on a larger scale.
- Reconstruction of Kennedy St NW Phase II: This project will bring improvements to Kennedy Street from 16th St to Georgia Ave, as well as on Longfellow St and Illinois Ave. It incorporates Rock Creek East Livability study recommendations, upgrades signage, moves the bus stop, and reconfigures the intersection of 14th, Kennedy, and Colorado Ave NW.
- Oregon Avenue Reconstruction: This project spans Oregon Avenue from Military Rd NW to Western Ave. It will bring roadway improvements and installation of a new sidewalk as well as safety improvements and a new bridge over Pinehurst Run.
- Rehabilitation of Eastern Avenue NE: This project will improve streets, replace deteriorated sidewalks, and improve safety at each intersection on Eastern Avenue NE from New Hampshire Ave to Whittier St.
- Aspen Street Rehabilitation: This project rehabilitates a half-mile stretch of Aspen Street from 16th St to Georgia Ave by improving safety and mobility and ensuring ADA compliance in coordination with the Walter Reed redevelopment.
- Chestnut Street Sidewalk Improvement Project: This project on Chestnut Street from Western Ave to Oregon Ave aims to make safety improvements, calm traffic, and ensure ADA curb compliance and roadway resurfacing.
- Metropolitan Branch Trail to Takoma: This project extends the Metropolitan Branch Trail, a multi-use pedestrian and cycle trail from Fort Totten to Takoma Metro Station, and will also bring new traffic signals and other safety upgrades from Riggs Rd NE to Maple St NW.
- Georgia Avenue Safety Upgrades: Through funding secured in this year’s budget, DDOT will be implementing recommendations from the Rock Creek East Livability Studies (I and II) to make much-needed safety improvements on Georgia Avenue, including: the Georgia & Arkansas intersection, Georgia from Fern to Juniper; and Georgia from Juniper to Eastern (includes the Georgia/Kalmia/Alaska intersection). DDOT has also committed to installing 5 more pedestrian flashers at unsignalized intersections along Georgia Ave as part of its Summer 2022 Safety Campaign. We are also working with DDOT to identify and act on the most dangerous intersections, prioritizing the Brightwood Park area between Missouri Avenue and Upshur Street NW.
Vaccine and Legislative Updates
COVID Vaccine Approved for Children Ages 5-11!
Now that the CDC has approved the use of the Pfizer COVID vaccine for children ages 5-11, DC is moving to help families vaccinate their children. More than 60 hospitals, health centers, and pharmacies across DC will be receiving children’s doses. You can find a list of these providers here. Be sure to look beyond the providers in Ward 4, some of whom are initially only providing appointments to existing or high-risk patients. I’ve asked DC Health to add additional vaccine providers in Ward 4, but know that you can access health providers from any Ward. Vaccine appointments for 5-11 year olds are hard to come by this week (some parents have had luck scouting the websites of various pharmacies), but will become a lot easier starting next week as providers release more appointments and increase their capacity.
Unlike the initial vaccine rollout for adults, DC is receiving plenty of children vaccine doses so every parent who wants to vaccinate their child should soon (after this week) be able to do so freely and without much hassle.
DC will also host pop-up vaccine clinics at schools across DC, including five clinics in Ward 4:
- Takoma Community Center (300 Van Buren St NW) on Friday, Nov. 5 (today)
- Dorothy Height Elementary (1300 Allison St NW) on Monday, Nov. 8
- Center City Public Charter, Brightwood (6008 Georgia Ave NW) on Tuesday, Nov. 9
- EL Haynes Public Charter (4501 Kansas Ave NW) on Thursday, Nov. 18
- Lafayette Elementary (5701 Broad Branch Rd NW) on Friday, Nov. 19
All of our Ward 4 clinics are taking place at 3:30pm-7:30pm, but check the DC Health COVID website for dates and hours for other clinics across the city. No appointment or registration is needed for these clinics, and they will offer vaccines on a first come, first serve basis. I also wanted to caution parents that the first few clinics (especially today) will likely be very crowded, so if you want to avoid the hassle please consider going to a clinic later on in the month or waiting to secure an appointment through a provider.
Updates from the Council’s Legislative Hearing This Week
The DC Council had an action-packed legislative hearing this past week. Here are the quick highlights from your legislative body:
- We passed emergency legislation guaranteeing DC workers in the private sector paid leave to be vaccinated. This will help workers overcome a frequent barrier to getting their shot. Thank you to Councilmember Silverman for leading this effort.
- We passed legislation to help DC’s medical marijuana dispensaries, which have been struggling during the pandemic. The controversial enforcement provisions that could could have disproportionately hurt Black residents were removed from the legislation. A lot more debate and community engagement is needed to get this right, especially as DC works to set up a legal market once Congress lifts its rider preventing us from doing so. Read more about this issue in DCist.
- We passed a temporary Safe Harbor bill to protect tenants who are unable to pay rent from being evicted. This is critical to keep DC families impacted by the pandemic from losing their home, especially now that STAY DC has stopped providing rental assistance. I worked with Chairman Mendelson and Councilmember Silverman to help shape this protection.
- We had the first of two votes necessary to finalize the renaming of West Elementary in Ward 4 to John Lewis Elementary to honor a Civil Rights hero and stalwart for justice, as well as inspire a new generation of students to follow his example.
- We also had the first of two votes necessary to pass my legislation expanding access to defensive driving courses (current courses are aimed at residents who are at least 50 years old) and aligning course criteria with DC’s goal to eliminate traffic fatalities through Vision Zero.
- Finally, the Council voted to approve the nominations of Dr. Natalie Hopkinson and Cora Masters Barry to the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities as important voices for equity and inclusiveness in arts funding.
And earlier today the Council also held a hearing on my legislation, the DCPS Technology Equity Act of 2021. This was the very first bill I introduced on the DC Council, and it seeks to ensure consistent and equitable access to technology for our students and educators. Thank you to the parents, educators, and advocates who came to testify and for all their work to bridge the digital divide in our schools. You can send written testimony for this legislation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or leaving a voicemail at 202-430-6948 up until 5pm on November 19.
Redistricting Update: Three Draft Discussion Maps Released
And a quick but important update on redistricting: early this week the DC Council’s Subcommittee on Redistricting released three draft “discussion” maps to guide its deliberations and community engagement on redistricting. Two of the maps leave Ward 4’s borders completely intact, while the third map (pictured below) expands Ward 4’s eastern border to include more of the Lamond Riggs neighborhood. All three maps can be found on the Subcommittee’s website. And although the Council’s first round of legislative hearings on redistricting are complete, you can still submit your written comments to email@example.com until Friday, November 12. Don’t be shy about weighing in!
Capital City PCS Family Movie Night with “Coco.” On Friday, November 5 (tonight) at 6pm-8pm Capital City Public Charter School (100 Peabody Street NW) is hosting an outdoor family movie night by their school gardens (east entrance). They’re screening Disney/Pixar’s Coco and will have popcorn for sale. Bring your own chair, blankets, or snacks and be sure to RSVP online.
Block Party and Red Bike Theater Performance at The Parks at Walter Reed. On Saturday, November 6 from 2pm-5pm the Parks will be hosting a block party and theater performance by Pan Underground, Red Bike makes its regional premier staged on bike and experienced like never before. Attendees will gather in a unique space behind the historic hospital at The Parks at Walter Reed campus. The community-focused event will feature vendors, local businesses, music, and food. The immersive staging of Caridad Svich’s play will take place on bike and grow out of the celebration. Learn more and get your tickets here!
Ward 4: Community Benefits Agreements Training. On Tuesday, November 9 at 6pm-7:30pm the Empower DC Ward 4 Housing Justice Committee is partnering with the Harrison Policy Clinic at Georgetown University Law Center to provide residents with the opportunity to build capacity and skills towards advocating for community interests as real estate development projects manifest through Ward 4. Sign up for the virtual training here.
Free Virtual Workshop for DCPL Preservation Initiatives Grants. On Tuesday, November 16 at 6:30pm the DC Preservation League is hosting a free virtual grant workshop to share information about its two grant funds and the application process. RSVP here to attend.
Congresswoman Norton with the National Park Service. On Thursday, December 9 at 7pm our Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is hosting a joint community meeting with National Park Service representatives. NPS manages many of our local parks, so if you have any questions or issues to raise with the agency, this is a great opportunity to do so. Please email NortonEvents@mail.house.gov to RSVP for the event and receive the Zoom link.
Ward 4 has several weekly Farmer’s Markets:
- Saturdays at 9am-1pm: Petworth Market at Upshur St & 9th Street (Ends November)
- Saturdays at 9am-1pm: Uptown Market at 5500 Colorado Ave NW (Ends November 20)
- Saturdays at 9am-1pm: Chevy Chase Farmers Markets at Lafayette (Year Round)
And speaking of community events, a big congratulations to the Roosevelt Rough Riders football team for winning their first regular season title in more than four decades!
Building Blocks DC Gun Prevention Mini Grants. Building Blocks, which is DC’s primary gun violence prevention initiative, is offering grants worth up to $5,000 to small groups and individuals to propose creative services to support community members in promoting public safety. Grant applications are due on Friday, November 5 at 5pm. Learn more and apply online.
Leaf Collection Kicked Off This Week! As leaves begin to turn and drop, DPW is kicking off leaf collection, which will occur twice in each neighborhood throughout the season. DPW will be using a vacuum process for collecting leaves. Residents whose homes are serviced by DPW are asked to rake their leaves for collection to the curb or into the tree box at the front of their residence on the Sunday before their collection week. To help facilitate the vacuum process, residents are also asked to keep vehicles away from the curb lanes on scheduled collection days. For missed leaf collections, residents can call 311 (202-737-4404) or visit 311.dc.gov to open a “Leaf Season Collection” service request. All DC residents can also bring their leaves to Fort Totten Transfer Station (4900 Bates Road, NE) on Mondays-Saturdays from 10am-2pm. For more information, check out DPW’s Leaf Collection brochure, database, and frequently-asked questions. And don’t make it all work; be sure to stroll through Rock Creek Park, Fort Slocum, or one of our many scenic parks and neighborhoods to enjoy the foliage!
Pumpkin/Food Drop Off Sites Starts Saturday, November 6. Starting the week of November 6, most pumpkins and gourds can be taken to one of nine food waste collection sites in DC for composting, in support of the District’s zero waste efforts. Our drop-off site in Ward 4 is Uptown Farmers Market (14th St & Kennedy St NW) on Saturdays from 9am-1pm until November 20. Please note that pumpkins decorated with paint, glitter or other inorganic matter cannot be composted.
Thank you for making it to all the way to the end of this newsletter!
I’ll close out by reminding our community that November is Native American Heritage Month. From Rock Creek and Georgetown to Navy Yard and Anacostia, Native peoples have been deeply embedded in the land that makes up DC today. It’s critical for us to learn this history and honor the enduring contributions and cultures of Native Americans.
I also want to wish a happy Diwali to our community. Let us celebrate the Festival of Lights by continuing to shine our light on our neighbors with love, kindness, and service.
And I’ve said it before, but no one does Halloween like Ward 4 does! From Sherman Circle to Crestwood and Shepherd Park, it was so great to see our community gather throughout Halloween weekend and celebrate. Judging the Halloween Pet Parade and Costume Contest at the Parks was a lot of fun, even though it was very hard to choose between all the great outfits. As you can tell, the dogs enjoyed it quite a bit too!
Yours in Community,