A local governing body announced the D.C. Department of Transportation will remove barriers blocking bike lanes and make all traffic lights operational on Virginia Avenue in the next two weeks during its monthly meeting Wednesday.
Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission Chair Joel Causey said the flashing single-color lights on Virginia Avenue will be turned on in one week while the street’s signals will become fully operational and the bike lane barriers will be removed within two weeks. Commissioners also said that Foggy Bottom D.C. Circulator stops on the Georgetown-Union route will likely be removed and two commissioners will fill the vacant position for the 2A08 single-member district on the ANC before the election in January.
Here are a few of the meeting’s highlights:
ANC chair announces removal of bike lane barriers, signal illumination on Virginia Ave
Causey said he received confirmation after “many favors” and extensive communication that DDOT officials will remove the barriers blocking the protected bike lane and fully illuminate the traffic signals on Virginia Avenue.
“That’s good news to everybody, and good news for bike people, and good news more importantly for our constituents who just want to safely get across,” Causey said at the meeting.
Foggy Bottom residents noticed DDOT placed 10 barriers at intersections along Virginia Avenue from G to 20th streets, blocking access to the bike lane on streets that lacked functioning traffic signals. This decision left pedestrians vulnerable to oncoming bikers last month. Causey said the bike lane’s opening without the proper lights was “premature” late last month.
Officials “disappointed” with expected Foggy Bottom D.C. Circulator stop closure
Commissioner Yannik Omictin said he wanted constituents to be aware of DDOT’s proposed stop consolidations on the Georgetown-Union route, which will remove the eastbound 21st Street and Pennsylvania Avenue stop and the westbound stop at 21st and K streets.
Omictin said he pressured DDOT to preserve the former stop because of its proximity to the Western Market, a popular Foggy Bottom shopping and dining complex that he said has recently had a “massive” expansion in vendors and employees.
He said despite these stops becoming increasingly popular among tourists, Western Market workers and GW students, it didn’t seem likely that the community’s requests would yield changes in the proposed stop consolidations based on his conversations with officials.
Commissioner Trupti Patel said she was “really disappointed” in the city’s decision to remove the stops and hopes DDOT reconsiders the removal of the stops in the future. She said the stop’s planned removal will make it more difficult for commuters to reach their jobs and for visitors to access Foggy Bottom businesses.
“Western Market is gonna restore a lot of vibrancy and economic prosperity to our ANC, and we already know that Foggy Bottom has not been seen as a popular destination,” Patel said during the meeting. “We’ve seen how businesses just leave when they don’t have people coming to them.”
Commissioners Omictin and Adam Friend to represent vacant district
Causey said the ANC position for the 2A08 single-member district, which represents several residence halls on campus, will be vacant until January. He said Commissioner Omictin and Friend are “handling” the district for the time being.
James Harnett, a GW alumnus and former ANC chair, represented the 2A08 single-member district for two years before stepping down in 2020 because, as a GW alum, he could not continue living in a district that only represents on-campus GW students. Margaret McDonald, another GW student, filled the seat five months after Harnett stepped down and then eventually stepped down themself.
Harnett said student representatives have a limited amount of time they can serve and need to step down after graduating and leaving the district.
Patel said the ANC will still move forward with the new term, even if seats remain vacant after the elections. She said commissioners must jointly decide how to handle certain issues concerning that district when there’s a vacancy for a certain single member district on the ANC.
“If you don’t have a dedicated ANC commissioner, that discussion will not take place or it may not be highlighted and elevated as quickly as it could have been had they had a dedicated representative,” Patel said in an interview in 2020.