Thursday, September 10, 2009

K Street Without Congestion? Perhaps...


In an attempt to wrangle competitive federal transportation stimulus funds, the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) sped things up over the summer to include a K Street Redesign as part of the application for U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) funds. The K St Redesign will cost $139 million, which DDOT hopes to cover entirely with TIGER funds. Thanks to the September 15th application deadline, DDOT may finally put an end to the six years of discussion, with interested parties including WMATA and both the Downtown and Golden Triangle BIDs.

DDOT is currently considering two build options to address infrastructure, safety, congestion and access problems in the busy K St corridor. The K Street transit system "serves over 250,000 of the city's approximately 700,000 workers...If workers cannot commute to and through K Street comfortably and efficiently, tenants and jobs will leave the city's core" said Rich Bradley, Executive Director of the Downtown BID in making his case for the K Street redesign.

K St's infrastructure is about 30 years old and the current design is inefficient to say the least. The four center lanes are congested with the various metro buses, commuters buses and cars. The service lanes, separated from the center lanes by medians, are meant for loading, parking and turns, but are more often plagued by parking violations. Beyond the inefficiency and congestion, there is no continuous east-west cross-town transit system to connect Georgetown, Downtown, the Convention Center and Union Station, as stated in the K Street Busway Executive Summary.

The first option includes two center bus/transit lanes, which might allow taxis at certain hours, separated from the general purpose lanes by a median. During rush hour there would be three general purpose lanes and during regular hours the curb lanes might be used for loading and parking. In this alternative, commuter buses would stop in the curb lanes to pick up passengers traveling to the MD and VA suburbs.

The second option includes three center bus lanes at all time (where the road allows). The third lane would act as a passing lane and would switch every few blocks to allow buses in each direction to pass one another. The center lanes would also be separated by a median from the two general purpose lanes. There would not be any parking allowed at any time, but certain locations would be set aside for loading. In this scenario, the commuter buses would use the transit lanes, with Metro and Circulator buses using the center lane to pass.

Bicycle lanes have not been completely ironed out at this point in either alternative.

The project submitted for TIGER funds did not choose an alternative as each would incur the same cost. According to DDOT spokesperson, John Lisle, the EA will be released late this month for a 30 day public comment period. The preferred alternative will be decided after the public comment period ends.

TIGER money is awarded on a competitive basis as "capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure projects that will have a significant impact on the Nation, a metropolitan area, or a region." Final decisions on awards will be granted in February of 2010. DDOT intends to bring the plan to 30% design phase by that time. Assuming the TIGER grants come through, construction for the project could begin by late 2010.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bus lane = bike lane. Its done elsewhere and is an easy solution.

Anonymous said...

I think I like the second option. An ability to pass needs to be a part of this if we're talking successful cross-town transit. I'd also like to see separate bike lanes, but we'll see what happens.

Anonymous said...

both of these plans look terrible, get rid of the interior medians and open them to traffic

Anonymous said...

Whatever they do, it better anticipate the streetcar line that is planned to eventually run there from H-street/Union Station. Given that eventuality, the two-lane option would seem the best option on its face.

dcshaw said...

I like the plans but wonder if they are considering street cars for K Street. I thought I had hear of an interest in this. I'd rather see the street be configured to support street cars, mass transit buses and bikes before much is done for average cars. As long as we make it easy for drivers to drive in, they will. Make it harder and they'll see the benefit of using mass transit!

Anonymous said...

yeah...where are the street cars? ding ding ding went the trolley!

Anonymous said...

I am not sure why the buses need a passing lane in lieu of parking along the street. I am not advocating for the parking itself, but having parked cars along the sidewalk will make it much more comfortable and safe for pedestrians.

Anonymous said...

The bus passing lanes seem to exist in only a couple of places, so they don't look like they'll accomplish anything. The starting and ending points for these center lanes look like they'll back the busses up anyway.

Anonymous said...

Why do the bike lanes need to be on K? Why not dedicated eastbound lanes on L and dedicated westbound lanes on I? I don't see how the bike lanes fit at the squares.

Anonymous said...

The plans assume streetcars in the future. Even with streetcars there will be bus routes using K Street. The passing lane is necessary so that buses can pass other buses loading and unloading passengers.

Anonymous said...

Just how many buses are going to be traveling down these dedicated bus center lanes? And how many cars could utilize that space? Since parking/stopping anywhere along K street will be removed, why not start by eliminating parking along K St now and find out what will happen? Sounds like a money grab to me.

Anonymous said...

Heaven forbid anyone working on K Street stoop so low as to take the Orange line to work.

 

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