School Transit Subsidy Program Handles Influx of New Applications

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DDOT churns out another Student Travel Card for its Student Transit Subsidy Program.

The task was tall, but the School Transit Subsidy Program (STSP) team, within DDOT’s Progressive Transportation Services Administration (PTSA), could handle it: Metrobus for District students in public, charter, and private schools would be free this year. Free! Who wouldn’t want to ride for free?

To prepare for the onslaught of Travel Card ID applications, PTSA transportation planner Anthony Foster and his colleagues turned a small conference room into a center for their special operations. Mr. Foster and team, which last year managed 10,000 applications for the STSP throughout the whole 2012-2013 school year, received 12,199 applications by mid-September of the new 2013-2014 school year.

“We pulled a lot of different resources together to handle the influx,” Mr. Foster said.

The team found space to sort and assemble the applications on cabinet tops and between cubicles. They called in traffic control officers, enlisted help from Administrative Services, and recruited one temporary employee to work late evening shifts entering the data from the applications into the DDOT Travel Card ID database. 

DDOT's Anthony Foster, Joanne Bassett-Lowe, and Angelica Johnson process a table full of School Transit Subsidy Program applications.

DDOT’s Anthony Foster, Joanne Bassett-Lowe, and Angelica Johnson process a table full of School Transit Subsidy Program applications.

“I just like the fact that we’re helping the community, helping the children,” said Angelica Johnson, a transportation specialist, who worked on the project. “I’ve been getting a lot of good feedback from parents who say this has taken a load off of them.”

In July, less than two months before school would start, D.C. Council passed legislation to offer free Metrobus  transportation Monday through Friday, from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“We all worked as a team, supporting each other,” added Joann Bassett-Lowe, another transportation specialist who worked on the project.

For more information about DDOT’s School Transit Subsidy Program, please visit the program’s website at http://ddot.dc.gov/schooltransitsubsidy.

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New Mexico Avenue Bike Lane Coming This Week!

Chalk outlines of the new northbound bicycle lane and the relocated center line on New Mexico Avenue NW.

Chalk outlines of the new northbound bicycle lane and the relocated center line on New Mexico Avenue NW.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is planning to begin installing a new dedicated bike lane on northbound New Mexico Avenue NW–from 39th Street to Nebraska Avenue–starting this week, weather permitting.

Along with the installation of the bike lane, DDOT will adjust the center line on New Mexico Avenue to accommodate northbound vehicular traffic and paint shared-use “bike sharrow” markings on southbound New Mexico Avenue.

Looking down on a long uphill climb for bicyclists on northbound New Mexico Avenue NW.

Looking down on a long uphill climb for bicyclists on northbound New Mexico Avenue NW.

According to DDOT Bike Coordinator Jim Sebastian, dedicated bike lanes are being installed on northbound New Mexico Avenue because of the steep grade of the hill. Under the current configuration of the roadway, bicyclists struggling to climb the hill often back up trailing vehicular traffic and vehicles sometimes enter the southbound lane to try and pass bicyclists, which leads to traffic safety issues.

Why bike lanes on New Mexico Avenue?

New Mexico Avenue is already a popular signed bike route with more than 100 cyclists per day.  The bike lanes will help assign space for bikes and motor vehicles.

What will the lanes look like?

Most of the project will consist of a one-way bike lane on the east one side of the street in the uphill direction, also known as a climbing lane.  Climbing lanes are useful because they separate slow-moving bicyclists (pedaling uphill) from fast moving cars. Cars passing cyclists on the hill will not have to cross the yellow line to pass.  

What about all the traffic?

This project will not eliminate any travel lanes for cars and thus should not have an impact on traffic.  Bike lanes like this are common in the District, even on streets with more traffic, parking and bus stops.  Adding bike lanes can help calm traffic and improve safety by separating bicyclists, particularly slower uphill bicyclists, from motor vehicles.

Where can I get more information on this project?

Please contact Bicycle Program Specialist Mike Goodno at 202-671-0681 or at mike.goodno@dc.gov

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DDOT Celebrates Opening of Union Station Inter-City Bus Deck

Travelers pass by new waiting stations at the Union Station Inter-City Bus Deck.

Travelers pass by new waiting stations at the Union Station Inter-City Bus Deck.

District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Director Terry Bellamy and members of the DDOT team joined Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and officials from the U.S. Department of Transportation and Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC) to celebrate the grand opening of the Union Station Inter-City Bus Deck Plaza on September 17.

In the past, bus patrons had to travel several blocks or more from Union Station to access inter-city bus carriers. Now, travelers that arrive to Union Station by Amtrak, Metro, DC Circulator, or the soon-to-debut DC Streetcar can access a large selection of major bus operators without leaving the confines of the station.

The Bus Deck provides new waiting and service pavilions and terraces to over 2.6 million bus travelers passing through Union Station. In the first year of operations, approximately 1,906 buses carrying 49,943 passengers departed the Union Station Bus Terminal every week. The Bus Deck, designed by Washington, D.C.-based architects Studio Twenty Seven, has raised the standard of comfort and efficiency for patrons of inter-city bus service, and created a new architectural icon within the historic facility.

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DDOT Director Terry Bellamy and Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (center left and right) participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the bus deck on September 17.

“This facility serves as a hub for local buses and buses bound for destination outside of the District.” said Director Terry Bellamy. “The Bus Deck also provides bus riders with a safe, efficient way to access Union Station and the variety of other multi-model transportation options the District has to offer.”

The Bus Deck compliments other improvements to Union Station that DDOT has helped realize in the past few years, added Director Bellamy.

“Riders can now get off a bus and onto a bike through our Capital Bikeshare stations or at the Brunel Award-winning Washington Union Station Bike Transit Center,” said Director Bellamy. “They can also step out into the city through the new and improved Columbus Plaza, which we unveiled this year.”

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Finding Solutions for the Area Near H Street, 3rd Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW

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The intersection of H Street, 3rd Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW

Recently, DDOT has received concerns about traffic congestion in the area surrounding the intersection of H Street, 3rd Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW.

Although we have modified the timing of traffic signals in the area to address concerns about congestion in the past, the confluence of traffic from large arterial roads and local development has led to gridlock in the area. DDOT traffic engineers are assessing this area again to ascertain whether the traffic signals in the area can be altered to facilitate the smoother flow of traffic.

Please bear with us as we work to decrease congestion in the area, without sacrificing the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers who frequent this well-traveled location. As always, safety is Job #1.

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DDOT’s UFA Creates a Positive Buzz

UFA helped relocate this hive that was on 18th Street NW in Adam’s Morgan.

UFA helped relocate this hive that was on 18th Street NW in Adam’s Morgan.

DDOT’s Urban Forestry Administration (UFA) is combing the city to preserve or relocate honey bee hives and swarms that are discovered in local public trees, bushes, and gardens. In conjunction with the District Department of Health and local bee keepers, the “UFA Bee Project,” as it is being called, is creating a positive buzz throughout the community.

The District is a regional safe haven for honey bees in part because the city’s public gardens and trees are not allowed to be sprayed with pesticides and insecticides.

Once hives and swarms of bees are found in any public tree, UFA’s urban foresters investigate to see how the community, the tree, and the hive can co-exist. If they can’t, UFA finds ways to relocate the bee hive.

In late July, UFA worked to remove a bee hive near the intersection of 12th Street and Maryland Avenue NE. The hive, which was 30,000 bees strong, was given a new home at the Matthew Henson Earth Conservation Center in Southwest.

In other cases, UFA relocates bees to local honey-making colonies, such as one located in the Franciscan Monastery.

For more information about UFA, please visit http://www.dc.gov/trees.

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M Street Bike Project Update

Progress continues on the design of the M Street cycle track, the planned bike lane between 14th and 28th streets which will serve as the compliment to the L Street cycle track.  Over the past few months DDOT has been working on the design with stakeholders along the corridor, and the project has been in the media recently (WAMU, City Paper, Greater Greater Washington, The Washington Post). As with the L Street design process, during which we accommodated an existing hotel loading zone, we have also looked for ways to integrate the bike lane project with existing uses. This process has included the Metropolitan AME Church, located between 15th and 16th Streets.

During the design process, it became clear that the original cycle track design would have had an impact on church operations that take place within the block and limit the ability to accommodate special events at the church along with routine activities.  Metropolitan AME has a large congregation and has been an important institution on this block since 1925.  In addition to an existing arrangement for angled parking for Sunday morning services, the church frequently hosts special events throughout the day and the week, such as funerals, that occupy several lanes to manage large numbers of vehicles.  The street on this block is narrower than those west of Connecticut Avenue which limits flexibility in the allocation of space for the competing uses.

Although the M Street project will provide over a mile of protected lane, this block will be designed and maintained as a “traditional” bike lane to the left of parked cars without the buffer of parked cars or flexible posts. We will include green paint for much of the block to increase the visibility of the lane. The design revisions have included other minor changes and adjustments based on feedback we received at our May public meeting and in working with other corridor stakeholders.

As we have done with L Street, where we will soon be completing a post-installation evaluation, we will continue to look closely at these issues as we finalize the design and after the installation of the lane to see what changes are needed. We have specifically chosen to implement M Street as a “retrofit” to allow everyone time to evaluate the design and operations before resurfacing the street and setting it more permanently.

We plan to install the cycle track later this fall after completing traffic and environmental analysis and finalizing the design.

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moveDC Public Workshops – Round Two Underway

Yesterday, DDOT began a second round of public workshops for moveDC, our long-range multi-modal transportation planning process underway now. There are 4 in person workshops and two web-based meetings over the next week (more information here: http://www.wemovedc.org/participate.html#choices) and we are looking for the broadest input from District residents, and regional users of the District’s transportation system. moveDC is a plan to make travel choices available and accessible for people of all ages and abilities, and it is this public input that will make for a successful plan. Each of the workshops addresses the whole of the District, and each is designed for people to spend as much or as little time as they are able in sharing their feedback.

DC and the entire Washington region is growing and changing quickly, and this has placed strains on our transportation system as we make options available to people, but also deal with some of the challenges of construction, growth, and aging infrastructure. When moveDC held worPrintkshops in March to gather input on the big picture and the vision for transportation in DC, we heard a lot of common themes, from improved transit services to building a “smarter” and more sustainable system. We also heard some key differences, including some of tradeoffs between “congestion relief” and “neighborhood livability”. The feedback and outcomes from those workshops are here: http://www.wemovedc.org/ideasthatbuild/ We’ve also continued to ask people “How’s it Moving?” to identify some of the specific locations that need attention or are working well. All of that feedback is mapped here: http://www.wemovedc.org/howsitmoving.html

We are now at the stage of thinking big about the future of transportation in DC and what system we will need not just tomorrow but in 2040. Imagine trying to predict today’s transportation system in the mid-1980s, and think of the uncertainty we would face. We’ve been successful in building a multi-modal system in the last 30 years, and now we’re thinking that far into the future and thinking about the investments we will need to make to build on our solid foundation. Based on what we’ve heard so far and the analysis we’ve done, we’ve developed three scenarios that we will refine through these workshops and then test over the summer. Each scenario is multi-modal, balancing the needs of all users, but they take some different paths to get to the same vision. As we test these scenarios over the summer, we’ll understand how each performs both District-wide and in neighborhoods.

We’re looking for feedback now on ideas we’ve missed, ideas that resonate well, and those that may not be as popular. We’ve thought of ideas for transit connections, new roads and bridges, and completing the bicycle network, but we can’t think of everything, and we need feedback on what we’ve done so far. As moveDC progresses, we’ll continue meeting with the Transportation Plan Advisory Committee, and each of these meetings is open to the public and includes opportunities for public engagement (the next meeting is 6/26 at 6pm. Check back here for updates: http://www.wemovedc.org/participate.html#upcoming) And we’ll be back with public workshops in late September/early October sharing the results of our analysis of the scenarios, and working towards a draft plan that we can all use as a road map to guide the future of transportation in our city.

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