District of Columbia Bicycle Advisory Council

TO:

Joseph Dorsey Project Manager District Department of Transportation Infrastructure Project Management Administration May 11, 2011 District of Columbia Bicycle Advisory Council Response to the South Capitol Street FEIS and the Preferred Build Alternative

DATE:

SUBJECT:

The District of Columbia Bicycle Advisory Council (BAC) has examined the South Capitol Street Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) issued by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) April 2011. BAC is concerned that certain bicycle and pedestrian facility improvements appear to be excluded from the FEIS. BAC is requesting that DDOT consider the bicycle accessibility improvements discussed in this document. BAC representatives are appointed by members of the Council of the District of Columbia to provide recommendations on proposed legislation related to bicycling; advise the Mayor and government agencies on current and planned bicycling facilities; and act as the liaison between the District residents and the legislative and executive branches regarding bicycling issues. BAC has determined that while the FEIS marginally improves pedestrian and bicycle access through the project corridor, including the replacement of the Fredrick Douglass Memorial Bridge and the roads approaching it, certain positive bicycle and pedestrian improvements included in build alternatives 1 and 2 are absent. The improvements in the alternatives would provide an additional level of safety for users while augmenting the FEIS’s multi-modal aspects. In addition, the selected alternative does not fully comply with recommendations within the District of Columbia Bicycle Master Plan (Plan) or the design guidelines for bike facilities as stated in the District of Columbia Bicycle Facility Design Guidelines document. The Plan stipulates on page 20, Recommendation 1.4. Improve bridge access for bicyclists, that: Space for bicyclists must be provided on street and highway bridge structures and in the roadway corridors under the structures. Where the bridge replacement project impacts other roadways, bicycle access must be provided on these roadways.

The Plan further states that the South Capitol Street Bridge from Anacostia and Capitol Hill is a “top priority” bridge corridor. This suggests that this street and bridge have a special focus as a primary transportation connection for bicycles. Further, the FEIS does not appear to fully comply with Recommendation 1.9. Initiate focused trail planning efforts to eliminate gaps in the Bicycle Route Network and trail network (page 26). Historic Anacostia is specifically addressed in the following statement: … link residential neighborhoods, schools, and metro stations along the east side of the Anacostia River and could be extended to St. Elizabeth’s (hospital). BAC is concerned that on both sides of the Anacostia, the FEIS marginalizes bicycle access. For example, the FEIS states that the replacement of the Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue Bridge over the Suitland Parkway will only have an 8 foot wide sidewalk instead of a 12 foot wide trail, as stated in another build alternative. While the FEIS contends that this reduction was made to accommodate the abutting church, the narrowness of the sidewalk in this location and on the adjacent sidewalk in front of the Anacostia Metrorail station (Howard Road SE frontage) make this particular section problematic. This narrowing of the bridge may increase the likelihood of conflicts between pedestrians and bicyclists. As mentioned, the FEIS does not appear to provide improved pedestrian and bicycle access to the Anacostia Metrorail station, limiting the project’s multi-modal effectiveness. Pedestrian and bicycle access appears particular narrow near the station, making it difficult for bicyclists and pedestrians to pass. The project should clearly identify road and sidewalk improvements along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, Howard Road and the surrounding streets. The project appears to make marginal improvements and fails to expand pedestrian and bicycle access, which is difficult due to narrow sidewalks and a lack of bike lanes. Upon careful consideration, BAC supports the following recommendations to improve bicycle access and promote safer interaction between motorist and pedestrians within the project area: 1. Providing bike routes where bike lanes, facilities or multi-use trails are recommended in the Bicycle Master Plan on the following streets in order to improve safety and accessibility, which could include the removal of potential obstacles and increasing the width of certain sidewalks from 8 feet to 12 feet along sections of the follow streets: Ɣ Howard Road SE Ɣ Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE Ɣ Firth Sterling Avenue SE 2. Adding improvements to the Sutiland Parkway trail so that it complies with standards stipulated in the District of Columbia Bicycle Facility Design Guidelines and allows for the safe crossing of pedestrians and cyclists across Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE to the Anacostia Metrorail station.

3. Adding bike lanes, cycletracks, or other designated bicycle space on the following streets: Ɣ South Capitol Street Ɣ New Jersey Avenue SE 4. In cases where bicyclists share areas with pedestrians, adding improvements that provide a clear separation of bike and pedestrian usage, which would include but not be limited to, signage, striping, lighting and the use of different sidewalk / bike trail materials. 5. Including a ramp or an appropriate structure from the Fredrick Douglass Bridge to the Anacostia Riverwalk to provide access to the shoreline below the bridge for those with disabilities and bicyclists. 6. Better overall bicycle connections throughout the project area including signage, road markings and bicycle parking. BAC asserts that the above improvements will augment the pedestrian aspects of the corridor. The improvements will also provide an increased margin of safety between pedestrians and bicyclists as well as motorists and bicyclists. In addition, these improvements will support the project’s overall mission - increasing multi-modal mobility and ensuring economic expansion in a historically neglected area. The overall FEIS makes substantial and positive changes but omit certain pedestrian and bicycle improvements that could substantially improve non-motorized accessibility. BAC appreciates your effort to improve access to this area and hopes that DDOT incorporates these recommendations into the FEIS. Sincerely,

(for the BAC) Representatives of the District of Columbia Bicycle Advisory Council
cc:
Vincent C. Gray, Mayor of the District of Columbia Kwame R. Brown, Chairman, Council of the District of Columbia Tommy Wells, Council Member, Ward 6 Marion Barry, Council Member, Ward 8 Terry Bellamy, Director, DDOT Ronaldo Nicholson, PE, Chief Engineer, DDOT Jim Sebastian, Bicycle Program Manager, DDOT George Branyan, Pedestrian Program Manager, DDOT

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