ANC votes to fund study on traffic and pedestrian safety on H Street

Media Credit: Ari Golub | Photographer

Metropolitan Police Department Lieutenant Jason Bagshaw discusses street closures for President Donald Trump's Fourth of July celebration.

Updated: June 21, 2019 at 12:23 a.m.

Local politicians voiced concerns about President Donald Trump’s Fourth of July celebration and approved two transportation measures at a meeting Wednesday.

The Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission passed a resolution condemning Trump’s July 4th celebration on the National Mall. Commissioners voted to fund a study to examine the safety of the H Street NW corridor and supported the reintroduction of a D.C. Council bill that would allow residents to cordon off street blocks for community events.

Concerns about Fourth of July celebrations
Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution, which they plan to send to the U.S. Department of the Interior, expressing concerns about a “lack of communication” as well as “potential safety, security and logistical impacts” regarding Trump’s planned July 4th event.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced the details of the event, which will be held at the Lincoln Memorial, in a statement Wednesday. The “Salute to America” will last one hour and will include flyovers, military demonstrations and remarks from the president, according to a release.

The resolution states that the White House and District officials have held the July 4th event “safely and successfully” for more than 10 years and the planned changes to the event “introduce an element of confusion and complication.”

Lieutenant Jason Bagshaw, a member of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Special Operations Division, said the event will entail road closures between 17th and 21st streets NW south of E Street.

“The good part is it doesn’t really change too much that’s going on for the Metropolitan Police Department,” he said. “The park police has a lot more, security-wise, to deal with on the National Mall in dealing with the president’s arrival.”

H Street safety study
Commissioners also unanimously approved a resolution to allocate $5,000 to conduct a study on traffic patterns and pedestrian safety on H Street NW between 20th and 23rd streets. The resolution included suggestions the District Department of Transportation could implement by the end of the year to increase pedestrian safety.

James Harnett, a junior and ANC commissioner, said there have been more than 290 accidents and 77 injuries since 2003 in the portions of H Street that will be studied. He added that the ANC’s resolution will support Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Vision Zero plan to eliminate transportation-related fatalities by 2024.

“Fortunately, there have been no fatalities, but obviously we want to prevent those things from happening, and a large part of the Vision Zero priority that the mayor pushed for starting in 2014, includes not only eliminating traffic fatalities but also serious injuries,” Harnett said.

Commissioner Patrick Kennedy said some suggestions to DDOT include replacing all “no parking” signs in the area with “no standing or parking” signs and removing two metered parking spaces. The commission also wants DDOT officials to paint prohibited parking areas with a “no parking” warning and designate areas for rideshare drivers to pick up and drop off riders.

Jillian Wolons, the Student Association’s acting vice president for government relations, submitted a statement to the ANC on behalf of the student body in favor of the resolution Monday.

“Street play” permit approvals
A majority of commissioners voted to endorse a D.C. Council bill from the body’s last session that is expected to be reintroduced by Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen. The Go Play Amendment Act of 2018 would require DDOT officials to respond to street closure requests for street sports and other events within four business days and allow residents to preauthorize closures in some cases.

A pre-authorization, which can be granted for events on weekends, holidays or days D.C. Public Schools are closed, requires approval from all of the block’s residents and DDOT and requires organizers to post signs 48 hours in advance.

“This would allow people to expedite what is an otherwise prolonged process with DDOT, a very expensive process, to be able to very quickly get a street play permit so people can go out and play on residential blocks,” Commissioner Harnett said.

He added that the resolution urges Allen to include language in the bill that would allow organizations that represent residence hall and apartment building tenants to request street closure permits on behalf of their residents.

Commissioner Jeri Epstein cast the lone dissenting vote against the endorsement.

Commissioners also unanimously approved a resolution urging the D.C. Council and Mayor Bowser to reconsider denying a request from 15 LGBTQ-support organizations for $3 million to create a program for health and housing equity for “vulnerable” LGBTQ residents, including youth and homeless populations. Almost 40 percent of homeless unaccompanied youth in the District identify as LGBTQ, according to the 2017 D.C. Homeless Youth Census.

“There are literally people dying or people whose lives are terribly at risk,” said Mike Silverstein, an ANC commissioner from 2B06.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Jillian Wolons submitted a letter on behalf of the SA. She submitted a letter on behalf of the student body. We regret this error.

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