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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Ensuring Safer, More Effective Cycletracks

Every day in and around the District, tens of thousands of people decide to use a bicycle to get where they need to go. Thousands more decide to join them every year, with the estimated number of DC residents regularly commuting by bike more than tripling since 2000.

In order to provide safe and low-stress routes to get where people need to go, we have installed approximately seven miles of protected bike lane-miles over the past five years. Also known as cycletracks, these routes are designed to help people feel safer and more confident about riding a bike on city streets by putting a physical barrier between cyclists and motor vehicle traffic.

However, illegal unloading, parking and driving in cycletracks have been persistent problems, and undermine their safety and effectiveness. Although we will continue to take enforcement actions and educate the public about the hazards of parking in our bike lanes, we realize that more needs to be done to prevent motor vehicles from impeding cyclists who use our cycletracks.

These are some of the new improvements we’re testing on our cycletracks, which will hopefully make them safer and more inviting for their intended users:

Recycled-rubber curbs will hopefully deter motorists from taking U-turns across the Pennsylvania Avenue cycletrack.

Recycled-rubber curbs will hopefully deter motorists from taking U-turns across the Pennsylvania Avenue cycletrack.

On Pennsylvania Avenue NW, illegal U-turns by motor vehicles across the cycletrack (which is located in the center of the street) resulted in 11 crashes in the first 15 months of cycletrack operation. A one-block pilot test of “zebra” barriers showed a reduction in U-Turns. Learning from that experience, we will be installing longer, recycled-rubber curbs on both sides of the entire cycletrack, in order to provide a physical barrier to those tempted to make an illegal U-turn.

Green paint and long dividers help protect bicyclists on DDOT's new First Street NE protected bike lane.

Green paint and long, rubber curbs help protect bicyclists on DDOT’s new 1st Street NE protected bike lane.

On the brand-new 1st Street NE cycletrack, we built two blocks using concrete curbs to prevent motor vehicles from entering the cycletrack. In sections where the road is not wide enough to include the beefy concrete curbs, we are supplementing flexible posts with narrow, recycled-rubber curbing. To further emphasize that the cycletrack is for bike traffic only, we have added a coat of slip-resistant green paint along its entire length.

A rendering of the proposed changes to the L Street Cycletrack.

A rendering of the proposed changes to the L Street Cycletrack.

On the L Street Cycletrack, we plan to test narrowing a section (between 20th Street and 22nd Street) from eight to six feet wide, and installing additional barriers to provide smaller gaps to enter. Consistent with the design of the forthcoming M Street Cycletrack, we hope that the narrower width will reduce the ability and temptation for drivers to illegally enter the cycletrack. If successful, we will then narrow the remaining bicycle-exclusive sections of the cycletrack.

Cycletracks are new, so continuing education and modifying behavior remains important as well. However, none of these measures are necessarily the final answer to ensuring that our cycletracks are safe, clear and inviting places to ride a bike.

That’s why we’ll remain vigilant and flexible about the measures we take to improve our cycletracks. We will be monitoring illegal U-turns on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, illegal parking on 1st Street NE and L Street NW and crash reports on all three routes. We will continue to participate in cutting-edge research on cycletrack design and operation, such as the forthcoming Green Lane Project cycletrack evaluation research. We will also continue incorporating what we learn to improve existing cycletracks and the ones that we hope to build in the future.

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DDOT and D.C. Students Celebrate Third Annual National Bike to School Day

Safety first! A student participant in National Bike to School Day gets their helmet adjusted at DDOT's kick off at Lincoln Park.

Safety first! A student participant in National Bike to School Day gets their helmet adjusted at DDOT’s kick off at Lincoln Park.

Students and families in the District joined communities across the country to celebrate the third annual National Bike to School Day on May 7, 2014. Schools, bicycle advocacy groups, public health organizations, students and parents organized bike rides and bike trains to school to highlight and celebrate the benefits of choosing student-powered transportation to school.

At Lincoln Park, United States Department of Transportation Acting Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez joined about 200 hundred students from 12 Capitol Hill area schools to celebrate the third annual National Bike to School Day. The event was organized by the Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). Special guests were present from a number of national partners, including the National Center for Safe Routes to School, Safe Kids Worldwide, and The Safe Routes to School National Partnership. Students left the school in groups, breaking through “Bike to School Day” banners on their way to school.

In all, 18 District schools officially participated in Bike to School Day today, and the total number of participating schools is expected to grow throughout May, which is National Bike Month.

A sign in sheet at School-Within-School (920 F Street NW) to count Bike to School Day participation for the Golden Bicycle Competition.

A sign in sheet at School-Within-School (920 F Street NW) to count Bike to School Day participation for the Golden Bicycle Competition.

District schools are competing for the DDOT Golden Bicycle Award, which will be awarded to the school that had the highest percentage of students who biked to school today.

Bike to School events are being held nationwide today and throughout the month of May. To browse the names and locations of registered events, visit http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/go/whos-biking/2014. 

DDOT’s Safe Routes to School Program

Walking and biking to school mean healthier children and less traffic. DDOT’s Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program works to make it safer and more convenient and fun to get to school on foot or by bicycle. SRTS is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.

 

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DDOT Encourages Families and Schools to Participate in National Bike to School Day on May 7, 2014

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The 3rd Annual National Bike to School Day is quickly approaching. Held on May 7, this one-day event highlights and celebrates the benefits of choosing student-powered transportation to school.

To support schools holding National Bike to School Day events, DDOT is offering the following:

  • Temporary Tattoos for schools to hand out to Bike to School Day participants. To receive temporary tattoos, register your school’s Bike to School Day event at walkbiketoschool.org by May 2nd. Registered schools also have the chance to win prizes from the National Center for Safe Routes to School, including ten bikes and twenty bike helmets. Looking for ideas for your school’s event? Try here.
Key Elementary School proudly displays the Golden Bicycle it won in 2012.

Key Elementary School proudly displays the Golden Bicycle it won in 2012.

  • The Golden Bicycle Competition: For the third year in a row, DDOT is pleased to sponsor the Golden Bicycle Competition. The school with the highest percentage of kids who arrive to school on bikes, scooters and skates will win the Golden Bicycle Award to display until next year’s Bike to School Day. To participate, please report the number of students who rode bikes, scooters, skates or skateboards on Bike to School Day to DDOT’s Jennifer Hefferan (Jennifer.Hefferan@dc.gov) by the end of the day on May 9. While DDOT encourages walking to school on National Bike to School Day, only students on bikes, scooters or skates can be counted for this particular contest.
  • Bike to School with a Bike Ambassador: DDOT offers a limited number of Bike Ambassadors to accompany groups of students biking to school on Bike to School Day. The Ambassadors are knowledgeable in bike safety, and will bike with your students and model safe bicycling skills. If interested, contact Jennifer Hefferan at Jennifer.Hefferan@dc.gov.

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DDOT’s Ward 8 Project Update Presentation

PTSA Associate Director Carl Jackson answers DC Streetcar questions; Supervisory Civil Engineer Keith Foxx talks about efforts to reconstruct Southern Avenue.

PTSA Associate Director Carl Jackson answers DC Streetcar questions; Program Manager Keith Foxx talks about efforts to reconstruct Southern Avenue.

The expansion of DC Streetcar in Anacostia was the first order of business at DDOT’s Ward 8 Project Update presentation on March 26.

Two potential routes (that is, build alternatives) for the future Anacostia Streetcar Extension were discussed at the meeting.  One route (Alternative 4) would run on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE and be a high-profile addition to the street’s commercial corridor. The less costly of the two options (Alternative 9) would utilize existing railroad tracks and have less of an effect on on-street parking.

Either of these alternatives would serve to augment the Anacostia Initial Line, bringing the streetcar line to the foot of the 11th Street Bridge and providing Ward 8 residents, federal and local employees and businesses with a modern, reliable and environmentally-friendly transit service.

DDOT officials also took some time to update attendees about two other high-profile projects in the area: the 11th Street Bridge project–which began featuring a new, inbound ramp on I-695 (Southeast / Southwest Freeway) earlier this month–and the South Capitol Street Corridor project, which includes the replacement of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge.

For more information on these projects, and other DDOT initiatives to improve Ward 8–including the St. Elizabeths East Campus, Oxon Run Trail, and Southern Avenue projects–please see the slideshow, fact sheets and Q & A pages from the presentation.

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