D.C. to upgrade transit in Columbia Heights

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Local,Taryn Luntz
The streets of Columbia Heights are about to receive a $15 million makeover, part of a District Department of Transportation project slated to begin in the next two months.

The first phase of construction will focus on the area surrounding the intersection of 14th Street and Park Road Northwest and will include wider sidewalks, curb extensions, improved crosswalks and on-street parking.

The area also will be spruced up with ornamental trees, public art, lighting and a large, fountain-filled plaza, which officials hope will serve as a community gathering place.

DDOT, which awarded the contract for the work to Civil Construction LLC last week, described the project as “an ambitious effort to implement consistent, practical and aesthetically pleasing urban landscape elements in what can best be described as the heart of the city.”

Other areas slated for work are Park Road from 14th Street to Newton, 14th Street from Irving Street to Newton and Irving Street from Hiatt Place to 14th Street.


Columbia Heights, an area in which transportation planning has lagged rapid development, includes commuter arteries 16th Street and Georgia Avenue and presents a challenging environment for pedestrians and cyclists.

The streetscape project will add bike lanes to a two-block section of 14th Street north of the Columbia Heights Metro station, where they will connect to existing bike lanes.

DDOT also is considering capping green traffic signal lengths at 90 seconds at all intersections, except along 16th Street and Georgia Avenue.

Signal lengths reach 100 seconds along 14th Street and others during rush hour, leaving pedestrians waiting on the curb for extended periods.

“Shorter cycle lengths will encourage pedestrians to wait for the walk signal, reduce jaywalking, and help eliminate the ‘barrier effect’ of north-south roadways in the neighborhood,” a DDOT planning document said.

The streetscape project should begin before mid-November and be completed within 18 months, DDOT spokeswoman Karyn LeBlanc said.
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