Public Meeting for Chestnut Street Concept Design Study Findings

Image: Author
The District Department of Transportation's (DDOT) will have a public meeting to discuss the Concept Design Study findings for Chestnut Street NW, from Oregon Avenue to Western Avenue. The meeting will be Wednesday, May 10, 2017, at the Chevy Chase Baptist Church, 5671 Western Avenue and from 6:45 pm through 8:15 pm with a brief presentation about the project to start at 7:15 pm.

This could be a great opportunity to add pedestrian and bike infrastructure to the Hawthorne area, which has a walkscore of 19 out of infinity and a bikescore of 35. The Hawthorne bikescore is basically lower than just about every other community in the District. If you can attend, please advocate for walking and biking. However, adding infrastructure in this upper, upper Northwest DC community isn't easy.

If you feel strongly about adding bike or pedestrian safety infrastructure on this street, you should first read Sarah Stodder's article from the June 2016 Washingtonian, "Everyone in This DC Neighborhood Is Freaking Out Over Sidewalks". One of the unique factors of Chestnut Street, and many streets is the Hawthorne community, is that it has no sidewalks. In a disagreement more like the cold war than a "sidewalk war", the neighborhood is fighting with itself, and with DDOT about fixing what should have been fixed years ago but more recently, to comply with the Vision Zero initiative, District, and federal laws.

According to DDOT, the purpose of this project is to "develop design solutions for a streetscape that targets multimodal, safety and aesthetic improvements along Chestnut Street NW". With the word "multimodal" in the project description, one would assume that bicycling and walking are included - one could hope.

One of the easier bits of infrastructure to add would be wayfinding signage. DDOT hopes to hear from the public regarding this street, which provides a connector for bicyclists who travel from Rock Creek Park along Wise Road. The street connects with other roads to lead to Bradley Lane in Chevy Chase, Maryland, allowing cyclists to reach Wisconsin Avenue and points west in Montgomery County.

No Sidewalks. No Bike lanes.
Image: Google
This meeting on the Chestnut Street project should also be related to the design and reconstruction of Oregon Avenue NW. As reported by the Washcycle, on May 17 DDOT will also have a public meeting on the rehabilitation of Oregon Avenue from Military Road to Western Avenue. The meeting will be at 5601 Connecticut Avenue NW (Chevy Chase Community Center), but according to the most recent plans, Oregon Avenue plans will probably exclude bicycling facilities. This is doubly disappointing as the National Park Service supports including a trail along this section of road.

Having a safe connection along Oregon Avenue and Chestnut Street is important. If you can make it, you should, as it could be interesting. Let me know how it goes. If I get a hold of some plans, I'll post them.