Residents sit down with ‘Dr. Gridlock’

Foggy Bottom and West End residents discussed construction and pedestrian safety with The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock” last week to voice their concerns about traffic issues in the neighborhood.

Ron Shaffer, who writes a traffic column for The Post and is known as “Dr. Gridlock,” answered questions from about 15 residents at the West End Neighborhood Library on 24th Street Thursday. The meeting was initiated by community members concerned about local traffic issues, specifically pedestrian hazards, parking and traffic laws.

One of the major area construction projects that residents discussed with Shaffer was the yearlong F Street project between 17th and 23rd streets. The D.C. Department of Transportation began construction last May in response to community concerns regarding the impact of parking, delivery schedules and University move-in and move-out events.

Karyn Le Blanc, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Transportation, said she receives similar complains for every construction project, and the department attempts to minimize inconveniences as much as possible.

“We get many of the same concerns – parking, noise, detours, access to the businesses and pedestrian access,” she said.

Local resident Ellie Becker, however, said that she finds the Department of Transportation “extremely uncooperative,” citing a water drain that had overflowed across from the Watergate on Virginia Avenue that wasn’t fixed after a year and more than 48 complaints.

Shaffer also commented on the Whitehurst Freeway – the raised highway that separates the Washington Harbor and the Georgetown area – saying that its deconstruction is “in the talking phase.”

Residents complained of drivers who go through crosswalks, even when pedestrians have the right of way. Le Blanc explained that the District is always trying to increase public safety in the city and is adding high-resolution crosswalks so drivers can see pedestrians more easily, and keeping walkways from being uncluttered.

“We also want to increase the number of people using the Metro, walking and biking – we’re always looking for places to add bike lanes,” she said.

While Shaffer said that he expected to discuss parking, a common concern for communities across the District, residents didn’t have any parking complaints and most said that they parked their cars behind their house or in garages in their condominiums.

Resident Jeff Gold said, “Parking in the street is not too bad because GW students who aren’t D.C. residents can’t park, and Kennedy Center folks head back to the suburbs.”

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