A project that aims to beautify and make a major commuter corridor in the District safer for pedestrians is making the neighborhood side streets less safe for those on foot, residents say.
Now more than halfway completed, the Wisconsin Avenue streetscaping project north of Georgetown in Glover Park will remove one of the three lanes in each direction, a move residents say will only encourage more traffic on their streets. The mile-long project has already been a headache for those who are dealing with thousands more cars rolling by their homes twice a day as commuters try to avoid the clog created by the construction work zone.
According to a District Department of Transportation study conducted after the project began in April, 37th Street, which runs parallel to Wisconsin, now handles an estimated 2,840 more cars each weekday.
And residents disagree with DDOT's assessment that the volume will subside once construction finishes in September.
"It's been a frustrating experience," said J.P. Montalvan, a Glover Park resident. "Many of us are concerned about the effect. DDOT says when construction stops, the traffic will go away, but the narrowing of the construction actually mimics what's going to happen when the project is finished."
The agency has agreed to add crosswalks and stop signs at key points on side streets in order to calm traffic for pedestrians. But the residents also want a commitment that DDOT will conduct another study after the project is finished and revise the Wisconsin Avenue plan if traffic continues to be a problem.
A spokesman for DDOT referred The Washington Examiner to the first study it released, which says the agency "will continue to monitor traffic volumes" and that the "next round of traffic counts are anticipated" after the project is completed.
Streetscaping projects are often treated as a necessary evil by residents and businesses affected by the construction. Mayor Vincent Gray last week celebrated the completion of Adams Morgan's 18th Street remodel, which is recovering from a streetscaping that business owners said cut into sales by up to 60 percent while construction was camped outside their doors.
But the good news is that for most projects, there is an end. Glover Park residents are worried the narrowing of Wisconsin Avenue is just the beginning for them.
"It's pretty logical that if you jam up the Glover Park corridor, all the traffic is all of a sudden going to reach deadlock," Montalvan said. "Those cars aren't just going to disappear."