Wednesday, March 10, 2010

M Street Redesign Discussed Last Night

Last night, I attended a meeting hosted by Council member Tommy Wells that discussed possible changes for M Street using the Complete Streets concept, which is defined as a street that's safe, comfortable, & convenient for travel by automobile, foot, bicycle, & transit regardless of age or ability. Greater Greater Washington and JDLand have good summaries of the meeting, so there's no need for me to repeat what has already been written, but basically, the Council member is interested in improving sidewalks and placing concrete-like cycle tracks along M Street from 11th Street, SE to Maine Avenue, which would remove one lane of M Street in each direction and serve as a traffic calming measure along this busy stretch of road. These changes would get people (commuters) used to less traffic lanes for when streetcars eventually make their way to M Street and give bicyclists refuge from cars. With 10,000 residential units planned and 25,000 employees projected to make their way to the M Street SE/SW corridor upon full build-out (a mid-sized city as Wells put it), a holistic approach needs to be taken to address inadequacies along M Street. There was trepidation from some ANC 6D commissioners and other members of the audience about losing a lane of traffic in each direction, but there were others who were excited about the changes. Generally, people are afraid of change, especially in an area of the city that's seeing a lot of change, so perhaps a less permanent solution should be used for a trial period to see if these improvements could work on M Street. If it works, then make the changes permanent, otherwise, the road can be easily converted back to its current state and another solution can be explored. At any event, I think the status quo on M Street shouldn't be maintained because the road now acts more like a highway than an urban street. Above is a photo of the Maine Avenue corridor.


Mike said...

As a pedestrian, I'm all for keeping traffic in check. However, if M is narrowed down on both sides, what are the alternatives? It seems like M is the only major east-west thoroughfare in the area.

Anonymous said...

100% in favor of this change. People are already screaming down M street.

The whole point is that M Street is NOT a thoroughfare. It's a street. If people want to go east or west beyond of the boundaries of our neighborhood, then they can take the SE/SW freeway - that's what it's there for.