For years there been talk about stopping 395 at Massachusetts Avenue and turning the New York Avenue corridor into a a nice tree-filled boulevard rather than a piece of urban blight. While the recommendations of the New York Avenue Corridor Study and much of the Mount Vernon Triangle Transportation & Public Realm Design Project remain unfulfilled, hundreds of residents are moving into new apartments and condos along the New York Avenue between New Jersey Avenue and 7th Street NW. Thousands more will be coming with the additional of Yale Lofts II and as Yale I and CityVista fill up, and as the tremendous Northwest One project comes online in the old Sursum Corda site. I can't tell you how many residents have struggled with trying to get across 10 lanes of flying traffic from Mount Vernon Square to the new Safeway at 5th and New York Avenue, or the number of accidents at that intersection or the NJ/NY/3rd/4th Street intersection.
So when will the DC government stop viewing New York Avenue as a superhighway?
This week, a Yale Loft resident suggested to me a small measure that could go a long way in changing that perception among NY Avenue drivers: get rid of the big green signs.
They send a message that drivers are indeed in the freeway. And there appears to be no need for them. There are an abundance of smaller signs already along New York Avenue pointing out where to turn for 395, which way is to downtown, and how to get to 50. Perhaps one sign is needed to inform truck drivers of the height and hazmat restrictions of the 395 tunnel, but five?
And the flashing "STOP PEDS" sign as drivers approach the convention center doesn't quite do it. Of course, removing the signs is not even by far a silver bullet and does not excuse the need to make the street truly more pedestrian friendly and safer for drivers, but it will begin to change the atmosphere.