Monday, August 25, 2008

Yes to Traffic Circle at 16th and Columbia

Should 16th Street and Columbia Road be the site of DC's newest traffic circle or park? An idea that's been floated in recent years, the circle would beautify a rather mundane looking but busy intersection as well as have a traffic calming potential. A new gathering place for the community could be created and Mount Pleasant could get an appropriate entrance, replacing the confusing s-curve left turn from northbound 16th Street.

Today the intersection is a busy, yet, controlled crossroads connecting Columbia Road, Mt Pleasant Street, 16th Street and Harvard Road. The crisscrossing roads create three islands; Rat Park and two smaller cement pedestrian islands. There are 9 legal places to cross the streets as a pedestrian, although jaywalking is not uncommon. Bicycles share the road with the pedestrians and daily car traffic from the District, Marylanders and Virginians alike. 16th St, Columbia, and Mount Pleasant St are each key bus corridors carrying the popular H series buses, S series buses, and of course the 42 buses.

A circle, or square, would break up the trip from Adams Morgan into Columbia Heights and act as a barrier and break in between those two neighborhoods and Mount Pleasant. Buses may be delayed from their current timetable, but crosstown traffic on Columbia and north-south traffic on 16th would be slowed. Dog owners would have a place to run and relieve their pets, greatly reducing the use of our front yard. As much as I love Lamont Park Rat Park, a new, grassy park with a memorialized historical figure would look even better. Hmmm.... who? There are plethora of choices. I nominate Walter Washington, the first modern mayor of the District. Or Alexander Graham Bell, or Harriet Tubman. They both have schools nearby.

This, of course is all speculation and dream, but ideas like this have to start somewhere. Here's to dreaming, once again.