Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Champlain Street-Marie Reed Underpass

Finally had a chance to go see the new Champlain Street-Marie Reed School underpass this weekend. Previously, Champlain Street NW in Adams Morgan was interrupted by a pedestrian only underpass at Marie Reed School. The school straddles both sides of Champlain Street. On the other side of the interrupting island was a street called Old Morgan School Pl. Old Morgan School Pl continued south and connected at an intersection with Florida Avenue.

The area around the former pedestrian way was often dimly lit and sketchy, although it was adjacent to the busy Reed city pool entrance and the school playground. It was known as a trouble spot for as long as I can remember. Not a place you would want to be alone after a certain hour.

But opening the street up to vehicular traffic --along with more lighting and a bike path-- has livened up the immediate vicinity. Its not nearly as intimidating as before. The new car lane is one way, southbound. And it's closed to traffic during school days (until 3:30pm), which makes sense. Bicyclists get a "sharrow" lane with the southbound cars and also get their own contraflow lane in the northbound direction. The northbound bike lane is not protected from cars in the adjacent lane (unlike the buffered 15th Street southbound bike lane). We'll have to rely on drivers slowing down and bikers keeping a straight and steady hand at the wheel.

This has to be great news for residents of all the new-ish condos and apartments on Champlain Street as well as the long time residents. An easier route to Florida Ave and generally greater traffic flow through the neighborhood. Great job by the city on this one.