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Commuting Through a Neighborhood

Just got back from a morning rush drive along Military Road NW, a link for many commuters between Georgia Avenue, 13th Street and 16th Street to the east and Connecticut and Wisconsin avenues to the west.

The District probably will undo some of the changes it tested along the road this year, going back to four travel lanes rather than the current two. That should benefit commuters. It would eliminate the jam-up that occurs at Oregon Avenue as travelers who have been sailing along the two freeway-like lanes through Rock Creek Park have to narrow down to a single lane to get through that lovely residential neighborhood on the western side of the park.

Once the traffic narrowed down to the single lane, it flowed pretty smoothly through the neighborhood. The District Department of Transportation has an idea that about 15 percent of the drivers who used Military Road before the one lane in each direction system was imposed are avoiding Military now.

It's hard to believe that many neighbors would object to that reduction in traffic, but DDOT officials say some of that traffic is cutting off into the local streets to get around Military. Those drivers must have a pretty low threshold for bailing out of the main route. Once you get past Oregon, you've cleared the real bottleneck, so it's difficult to see how drivers would gain much, if any, time by peeling off down a neighborhood street to jump the line on Military.

If the District goes ahead with the new plan for four travel lanes, it would have to do the restriping of the lanes in the next few weeks if it wants to be done before winter weather sets in. The neighbors would be able to park in the left lanes on Military during the off peak hours.

If you have any questions or concerns about the changes, DDOT invited peole to contact one of its officials, Patrick Ogbeide, at 202-671-2363 or

It's always tough to balance the interests of residents and commuters when a major artery cuts through a neighborhood. Anybody have experience with this route under the old system and under the current system?

By Robert Thomson  |  October 30, 2006; 9:43 AM ET
Categories:  Commuting  
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The new pattern has been a disaster for anyone who routinely uses Military Road. the back ups, particularly in the PM rush getting back to the East side of town are horrible.

Shame on the residents who bought houses ON Military Road for forcing this change on the rest of the region, and Yea to the rest of the world for making sure DDOT saw the error of their ways.

Arterials are supposed to be jusst that. Why force traffic onto streets that were not designed to handle it. Yes, there is more traffic everywhere, which is why the capacity should be optimized and directed they way the grid plan was created.

Same thing with River Road and the stupid $350,000 signal DDOT is planning on building there. A small traffic circle, or a return to the way it was originally should be in order. People bought houses on River Road and Fessenden Street knowing what the traffic patters are, but were able to co-opt the system to get preferential treatment to essentially close off a collector street pushing traffic on to Ellicot and elsewhere. It is one of the reasons that Western and Wisconsin is so bad all of the time.

For shame.

Posted by: DC resident | October 30, 2006 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I absolutely hope that the District reverses this ridiculous, year-old change!! Taking Military Road is the most sensical route to take to get me from my just-in-NW DC home to work in Georgetown. This change has added 25-50% of time to my morning commute on an average morning, and I have a Silver Spring-based coworker who has changed her work schedule so she can come in at 7 a.m. to avoid the Military Road back-up. Alternate routes through Rock Creek Park in the morning also are extremely more backed up than a year ago before the change was made. (There has to be some irony that this change has seemed to add traffic through the Park, when most people want to do away with any through-park traffic.)

I have never been able to figure out why this change was made, anyway - other than to appease the (presumably wealthy) folks who live along Military Road in between Rock Creek Park and Connecticut Avenue.

Robert, if this change is reversed, I'd be real curious to know how much the District spent to resurface/restripe this area (twice) in the initial few months, and then again to reverse the changes.

Thanks for sharing the possibility of good news.

Posted by: NW DC | October 30, 2006 11:35 AM | Report abuse

The changes on Military Road have been a nightmare. They have added at least 15 minutes to my commute which was only 20 minutes to start. I just do not understand how this helps. My husband has devised shortcuts for me where I drive through Rock Creek Park and then come down Western Avenue into Chevy Chase. So I am still driving through neighborhoods.

What is especially dangerous is when an ambulance or fire truck needs to travel down Military RD. There is no place to move over, there are no shoulders on the left and the emergency vehicles are slowed down tremendously. This is so scarry and unsafe.

I just do not understand why a few speed cameras could not be placed on the residential areas of Military RD to slow down the traffic.

Posted by: NE DC Resident | October 30, 2006 1:46 PM | Report abuse

The result of canceling an entire planned freeway system, under the assumption that EVERYONE will come into town on the proposed subway:

Traffic that belongs on a highway ends up on local STREETS, mainly in residential areas.

Looks like Metro didn't make the freeways unnecessary after all. The traffic didn't go away; it went where it could.

Posted by: CEEAF | October 30, 2006 5:31 PM | Report abuse

"I just do not understand why a few speed cameras could not be placed on the residential areas of Military RD to slow down the traffic."

That's because there's no money in it.

All claims to the contrary, the speed cameras aren't intended to improve safety. They are deployed to generate revenue.
That's why they're installed in places like I-395, New York Avenue and 295.

Concerned about speeding in residential areas? Tell your police chief to stop lying and put the cameras where they REALLY need to go.

Posted by: CEEAF to NE DC Resident | October 31, 2006 11:06 PM | Report abuse

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