DDOT Planning Study of New York Avenue/South Dakota Avenue Interchange Underway

An intersection that is (almost) impossible for ped and bikes to
use gets a look.
Image: Author
The District Department of Transportation issued a scope of work document that will consider the rebuilding of the New York Avenue/South Dakota Avenue Interchange in the Fort Lincoln and Gateway sections of the District. An area long neglected, this could be an opportunity to create a bicycle and pedestrian connection from Fort Lincoln and Gateway to the National Arboretum, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Deanwood, and the completed Anacostia Riverwalk Trail and connect with other proposed trails and other improvements along the New York Avenue corridor.

In its early planning stages, the South Dakota Avenue and New York Avenue NE Interchange Improvement Study will look at the current conditions and propose what a funded project would correct. The initial document, under development by the design firm of STV Incorporated and its partners, will propose the scope of services for development and preparation of a comprehensive interchange study.

The study area is separated into two sections - the primary interchange and the adjacent secondary road, railway, street, and trail structures.

Project Area
Image: STV Scope of Work Document

The primary study, which focuses almost exclusively on the interchange and includes New York Avenue and its connection to South Dakota, Fort Lincoln Drive and a small part of V Street, is outlined in red and includes the following:
  • New York Avenue/South Dakota Avenue interchange
  • V Street/South Dakota Avenue and the New York Avenue off-ramp intersection
  • South Dakota Avenue/33rd Place NE intersection
  • South Dakota between New York Avenue and 33rd Place NE
The secondary study area is outlined in blue is bounded by the following:
  • The intersection of Bladensburg Road, NE and South Dakota Avenue, NE
  • The intersection of Bladensburg Road, NE and New York Avenue, NE
  • The development and roadways that serve the development surrounding 33rd Place, NE
  • The entrance and exit ramps for New York Avenue, NE from I-295 and John Hanson Highway
  • The railroad running adjacent to New York Avenue, NE between Bladensburg Road, NE and the entrance and exit ramps for New York Avenue, NE from I-295 and John Hanson Highway


According to the Washington Post, dozens of town homes, and senior apartments developments have been built there since 1971. The area has the largest senior community in the District. With the arrival of the Shops at Dakota Crossing, hundreds of new residential units along with new retail will bring more people. Although there is a trail that runs along South Dakota Avenue from Bladensburg Road, most people get around by car.

When people say "you can't get there from here", they are talking about the man-made and natural barriers that prevent people from walking or biking from Fort Lincoln in Ward 5 to Deanwood in Ward 7. Generally, walking around Fort Lincoln isn't particularly good as the combined Woodridge-Fort Lincoln walk score appears to be a rather generous 57 and a bike score of 49 with Deanwood a little worse at 55 and 47, respectively. Only cars using the often congested interchange New York Avenue connection with the Baltimore-Washington Parkway can travel there as there is also no Metrobus route that makes this connection. Some have resorted to using the highway shoulder, but that's not a particularly safe or pleasant way to go, which is unfortunate given the needs of both communities.

The following images show the current conditions and the absence of any bike or pedestrian connections.

Intersection of South Dakota and 33 Place NE
Image: Author

View of New York Avenue as it passes over South Dakota interchange
Image: Auther

South Dakota Avenue at V Street
Image: Author

New York Avenue and exit lane


DDOT consultants will develop and evaluate interchange alternatives that accommodate current and projected demands, traffic operational and safety issues. The findings of this report will be the basis of subsequent environmental or other related reports and create the alternatives to be displayed at public meetings, if the project moves forward.

The study will consider MoveDC, Vision Zero and other transportation-related initiatives to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists. This includes Maryland State Highway Administration plans for New York Avenue/US 50, Fort Lincoln redevelopment plans, the Lincoln Gateway Trail, and the DC State Rail Plan.The study will also assess the ease of access to key destinations in the area including shopping and community services, as well as anticipated desire lines for access to new development parcels.

The study will also identify gaps in connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists as the current intersection contains “hard” and “soft” barriers to travel. Hard barriers are railroads, waterways, and freeways or roads with pedestrian/bicycle prohibitions. Soft barriers are primarily streets that are difficult to cross. The project will attempt to locate the best potential routes and assess crosswalk widths using DDOT standards. This initial study and evaluation period is scheduled to conclude September 2017 and will be followed by initial community meetings.