Wisconsin Improvements Draw Mixed Response
Published: Friday, April 13, 2012
Updated: Friday, April 13, 2012 03:04
Construction along Wisconsin Avenue that began earlier this month has some residents and businesses in the Glover Park area concerned.
Work on the Glover Park Streetscape Project, which began April 2 and is set to be completed in September, will affect the one-mile stretch of Wisconsin Avenue between 34th Street and Massachusetts Avenue.
Planned improvements include wider sidewalks and new stoplights, in addition to lane reconfiguration.
The District Department of Transportation plans to reduce the number of car lanes from three to two during rush hours and from two to one during regular hours.
The lane changes will initially be painted on to gauge the effect on traffic. Barring any negative consequences, concrete medians will be constructed to make the lane reconfigurations permanent.
According to DDOT’s studies, the new configuration will not significantly impact congestion in the area.
However, homeowners are concerned that the lane changes will affect traffic patterns and cause drivers to use neighborhood side streets instead of the main thoroughfare.
Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3B Vice Chair Jackie Blumenthal, who represents East Glover Park, explained that increased traffic on side streets could endanger local residents if those streets are not improved as well.
“It doesn’t make sense to fix one part and not the other,” she said.
Some business owners said they are skeptical about the project.
Mike Allgood, manager of Tennis Zone at 2319 Wisconsin Ave., noted that the project would only increase the pre-existing traffic issues on Wisconsin Avenue.
“Parking’s always tight,” he said. “There’s bottleneck traffic and now with construction, it exacerbates the problem.”
Others were more optimistic about the planned construction.
“They’re trying to do construction around rush hour, so we’ll see what happens,” Jennifer Ward, manager of Glover Park Hardware at 2251 Wisconsin Ave., said. “As a business, we’re just going to stay positive.”
The Glover Park Streetscape Project was one of several suggestions made in a 2006 study conducted by the District’s Office of Planning. According to Blumenthal, pedestrian safety has been an issue in Glover Park, and the neighborhood has been advocating improvements to side streets for nearly 10 years.
Residents are hopeful that other improvements, such as a crosswalk at 37th Street and Tunlaw Road, will also eventually be implemented.
ANC 3B Chairman Brian Cohen, who expressed disappointment that not all the study’s recommendations are being carried out, said he was nonetheless optimistic about the Glover Park Streetscape Project.
“Overall I think the project is a huge net gain,” he said. “It’s going to make the streets safer, it’s going to make the neighborhood commercial district more ‘walkable’ and more pedestrian friendly. It will help create more of a distinct identity for Glover Park and the Glover Park commercial district. It’s going to look better, it’s going to be safer for pedestrians and drivers.”