Three-Quarters of District Roads Are in Fair to Excellent Condition

DDOT crews smooth freshly-laid asphalt on 16th Street NW.

DDOT crews smooth freshly-laid asphalt on 16th Street NW.

According to District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Chief Engineer Muhammed Khalid, the roadways within the District that DDOT maintains are in a much better state than reported. Three-quarters (75 percent) of the District’s roads are rated in fair to excellent condition, which is contrary to a report that categorizes 95 percent of the city’s streets as being in poor condition.

DDOT uses Pavement Condition Index (PCI) to rate the condition of its roadways. The Pavement Condition Index is a standard method based on a 100-point scale (100 being the best). This index is a nationally-recognized method of rating streets and is more suited to measuring the condition of District roads.

For a full list of the roads that DDOT plans to pave—and has paved—in FY 2014, please visit our website.

 

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What Lazy Days of Summer?

Creating and maintaining a safe transportation network is a year-round job. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is committed not only to safety but to efficiency; so it can’t afford to take a summer vacation. That’s why DDOT is keeping its nose to the grindstone through those hazy and lazy summer days.

DDOT is working on the following priorities:

  • DC Streetcar’s H/Benning Line—Launch passenger service on DC Streetcar before the end of the year. We’ve fast-tracked operator training; work on the Car Barn Training Center and Storage Facility; launched our #staywithinthelines safety campaign that educates the public on parking near streetcar tracks; and emergency drill will schedule simulations with the District’s emergency response teams to ensure the safety of future passengers in any situation.
  • Metrobus Services—Finalize plans to improve Metrobus service along the 16th Street NW corridor.
  • moveDC Plan—Analyze and implement recommendations from the public to develop the final moveDC Plan, which is scheduled to be released September 30. The public comment period is open until July 31.
  • Restoration Work Plan FY2014 —Continue to pave and restore streets, alleys and sidewalks in the District as part of  DDOT’s FY 14 Work Plan. DDOT is on track to add about $8 million to restore sidewalks and alleys as well.
  • SafetyComplete safety improvements at the intersection of Maryland Avenue, 7th Street and D Street NE.
  • Streamline Efficiency and Services—DDOT’s creating changes  that will help the agency further streamline service requests and relay status updates about service requests to the public in a clearer fashion.

This is just a small sample of what DDOT’s been doing over the past several months. However, we realize that there is always more to do, which is why we are:

  • Continuing to engage our residents to improve customer service.
  • Improving transparency, becoming clearer with the public about what we’re doing—from individual service requests to large infrastructure projects.
  • Working to make our 22-mile DC Streetcar Plan a reality.

At DDOT, we’re working every day to improve our services, our efficiency and our track record. However, we encourage you to continue to help to push us forward. When you attend agency meetings—or communicate with us via social media, emails or in any other way—it helps us to grow as an agency, shape our future decisions and better serve you, the residents of the District of Columbia.

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In the Lab: DDOT’s QA/QC Division Ensures Street Paving Materials Are Up to Spec

An asphalt sample after it has been spun into a cylinder by a gyratory compacter.

An asphalt sample after it has been spun into a cylinder by a gyratory compacter.

DDOT’s Quality Assurance / Quality Control (QA/QC) Division has a universal impact on almost every infrastructure project that DDOT has a hand in.

The QA/QC Division operates as the spine of DDOT’s road management system, shouldering the responsibility of ensuring the safety of the city’s  infrastructure by               ensuring that all materials utilized in DDOT-related construction projects meet the standards established by the District and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Before DDOT, or DDOT contractors, use any material in the construction projects involving bridges or roadways (eg, asphalt, metal used for beams, concrete) it must first past the muster of a test or review by the QA/QC division. The division serves as DDOT’s auditor of the materials that the agency and its contractors use and ensures that the substance of the city’s infrastructure can stand the test of time.

In addition to testing the materials that the agency and its contractors use, the division conducts geotechnical studies, troubleshoots problems related to roadway and bridge construction projects and resolves citizens’ concerns about roadway vibration and drainage issues.

The Wheat from the Chaff

Several buildings off of the McMillan Reservoir, near Howard University, serve as the QA/QC Division’s laboratory and testing facilities.  One of the structures, a square warehouse fronted by a large garage door, was built by industrious members of the division in the early 1980s, and houses machines that test the dexterity of concrete used in construction around the District.

In this building, engineers test “wet”  samples of concrete that are slated to be used in construction projects, and analyze cylinder-shaped samples of concrete that are usurped from finished roadway and bridge projects. These “core drill” samples are usually taken once every 50 cubic yards to ensure the uniformity of the quality of the concrete used in a project.

Nearby, engineers operate specialized machines that test another ubiquitous material used in construction: asphalt.

As is the practice in the division’s concrete tests, QA/QC engineers test asphalt samples that are taken before and after the materials are installed.

QA/QC engineers place asphalt samples in an ignition oven, which heats the material at 1,000°F.

In the lab, the “aggregate” (asphalt’s rock base) and the “binder” (the oil-based sludge that holds asphalt together) are mixed and subjected to a gyratory compacter that spins the compound to produce a condensed cylinder of material that is comparable to asphalt that is crushed into the street by an asphalt roller (pictured above).  Hot asphalt samples taken from the field are also burned at 1,000°F, to separate the aggregates from the binder, and   subjected to a variety of tests.

These tests–like all of the experiments the QA/QC division performs–ensures that the District is getting an adequate return on what it spends on infrastructure and that DDOT, and its contractors, are using the appropriate materials to keep the District’s streets safe.

 

 

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DDOT Showcases Historic Photos, Documents Online

Streetcar tracks line M Street NW near 30th Street, circa December 8, 1959.

One of the many photos on DDOT’s new tumblr page: Streetcar tracks line M Street NW near 30th Street, circa December 8, 1959.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) would like to announce the debut of its new tumblr page – an online resource for historic, transportation-related photos and documents.

The agency’s tumblr page is an effort to showcase the District’s transportation past and give the public a look into the collections that are housed in DDOT’s Library and Archives. DDOT’s Library has an extensive amount of historical photos, documents, and books that the agency is working to digitize. Some of these digitized relics will be posted on DDOT’s tumblr for everyone to enjoy.

To view DDOT’s tumblr page, please visit: ddotdc.tumblr.com.

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Invasive Insects Threatening DC’s Ash Trees

Arborists from the District Department of Transportation’s Urban Forestry Administration (UFA) recently discovered a number of small, invasive beetles that pose a threat to some trees in the District.

The emerald ash borer and its “D” shaped exit hole. Photo by Phil Nixon/University of Illinois.

The emerald ash borer and its “D” shaped exit hole. Photo by Phil Nixon/University of Illinois.

Adult emerald ash borers (EABs, aka Agrilus planipennis) were found inside ash trees near Oxon Run in Ward 8 and were sighted in other locations throughout the District, which UFA has identified on an interactive map.

The larvae of these insects, which are native to China, grow and devour the insides of ash trees before chewing their way out through telltale D-shaped tunnels. Currently, the District has 215 ash trees in public space (that is, street trees); however, there are hundreds–if not thousands–of ash trees located on private property.

How to Identify Emerald Ash Borers

EABs can be identified two ways: using unique characteristics of the beetle and/or evidence of its activity in ash trees. The beetles are about a ½” in length and are a brilliant metallic green color. The larvae can range in size from 1″ to 1 ¼” and have a large, flat head and bell-shaped body segments. Please consult with online guides for proper identification. Evidence of EAB activity is observed in the bark as D-shaped holes, 1/8” in length, and winding tunnels under the bark. Light patches on the tree trunk and branches indicate areas where woodpeckers have removed bark as they search for EAB larvae. Symptoms of EAB infestation are dead/dying branches, a thin canopy, and abnormal sprouting growth along the trunk of ash trees. Unfortunately, many of these symptoms are only apparent in the late stages of EAB infestation. Once EAB symptoms are observed, ash trees decline for 2-4 years until death.

A white ash tree, in its fall and spring incarnations. Illustration by Robert O'Brien.

A white ash tree, in its fall and spring incarnations.

Impact on District Ash Trees

EABs may impact trees in the District on both public and private property. UFA is surveying ash trees in public space for evidence of EAB activity, and infested trees will be treated or removed. Many ash trees on private property may be at risk of infestation due the combination of EAB populations in neighboring states and the strong flight capability of EABs (female EABs are capable of flying 1 mile per day).

What To Do If You Have Ash Trees

For more information, please contact UFA by calling 311 or visiting 311 online. Please note that you are requesting the inspection of an ash tree.

-State Forester for the District of Columbia

 

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New Traffic Safety Improvements Coming to D Street, 7th Street and Maryland Avenue NE

DDOT is steadfastly working to improve safety throughout the District. One intersection that the agency has identified for immediate improvements is the intersection of D Street, 7th Street and Maryland Avenue.

DDOT will implement immediate, stop-gap measures to increase pedestrian safety at this intersection this summer, including installing plastic bollards to create curb extensions on six corners at this location. These corners will be expanded, creating pedestrian-safety zones: buffers that are aimed at calming traffic speeds, shortening crossing distances and reducing conflicts between pedestrians, vehicles and cyclists. DDOT also plans to install new crosswalks—including a raised crosswalk at the intersection of D Street and 7th Street—and extend the median on Maryland Avenue.

Some of the safety improvements that DDOT plans to install at the intersection of D Street, 7th Street and Maryland Avenue NE.

Moving forward, in the fall DDOT plans to improve safety in the area by surrounding the pedestrian-safety zones with large planters and layering them with a brick-colored paint. These same methods have been used to successfully create “pedestrian plazas” in cities such as New York City, Baltimore and Philadelphia.

A pedestrian beacon features flashing lights to warn motorists to look out for pedestrians.

A pedestrian beacon features flashing lights to warn motorists to look out for pedestrians.

DDOT will install solar-powered beacons along Maryland Avenue NE—which feature flashing lights to warn motorists to look out for pedestrians—this fall as well.

These are just some of the many ways that DDOT is working to make this intersection safe for all users.

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Mayor Gray, DDOT Mark Completion of First Street NE Project

A bicyclist uses the new First Street NE Cycletrack on May 30.

A bicyclist uses the new First Street NE Cycletrack on May 30.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray joined officials from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) and community members on May 30 to announce the completion of the First Street NE Project.

“First Street NE exemplifies the type of transportation system that we hope to build in the future,” said Mayor Gray. “We have upgraded the infrastructure, managed stormwater, and improved bike connections – all in one street. It’s these kinds of diverse, interconnected investments that will enable the District to continue to grow, while improving safety for everyone.”

DDOT began making extensive infrastructure improvements and repairs on First Street NE, between G Street and New York Avenue, in May 2013. During the project, the roadway and sidewalks on First Street NE were upgraded and new bio-retention cells and improved underground infrastructure were installed to improve stormwater runoff. A new cycletrack was also installed, providing bicyclists with a direct connection from Union Station to the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

In addition to officially opening First Street NE, Mayor Gray also joined DDOT and DCCAH officials at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for an art installation near First Street and M Street NE. The steel and concrete sculpture, “Torqued Tensility,” stands 31-feet-tall above the northwest corner of the intersection.

 

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