After years of planning for a street redesign on 8th Street NE to help address dangerous conditions and close the gap in the Metropolitan Bike Trail, last week DDOT abruptly announced that they were functionally killing the project. The news came as a shock to the community which has been waiting since the opening of the MBT for a solution for this critical stretch.
In response, over 650 residents signed an open letter to DDOT and the local Edgewood businesses whose letter expressing opposition to the most recent proposed solution was the most notable public change before the announcement.
Here is the text of the letter:
September 21, 2021
Mayor Bowser, Acting DDOT Director Lott, and Edgewood businesses:
We are residents who want safe, sustainable ways to travel around Ward 5. We are customers who want to support our local businesses. We are parents who expect our city to protect our children on neighborhood streets and trails. We are writing to demand that the District Department of Transportation reverse its decision to pause the plan to close the 8th Street NE gap in the Metropolitan Branch Trail. We demand that DDOT construct the planned protected bike lane on this neighborhood street by January 1, 2022.
We are tired of empty promises about safer streets. We are not convinced by DDOT’s unsupported, last-minute claim that a street configuration that DDOT has been planning for half a decade (and that would protect our most vulnerable road users and improve the safety of families traveling to school) does not meet specifications for emergency vehicles. We do not
believe we are being told the truth. And far more importantly, you are not putting the safety of our children first.
In the wake of continued, unacceptable deaths from traffic violence in Ward 5 and across D.C., your actions are what matter to us. That is why we are requesting that DDOT close the 8th street NE gap in the Metropolitan Branch Trail by January 1, 2022. While DDOT is implementing this long overdue safety measure, DDOT can continue a conversation with local businesses and residents about whether to use the remaining space to prioritize parking or two-way vehicle access.
We are saddened that quickly and proactively implementing safety measures on our neighborhood streets and trails has not been your priority. It is never too late for you to embrace and implement policies that would fulfill the Mayor’s promise to eliminate traffic deaths and injuries in the District. Until you do, we will use our dollars, our voices, and our votes to hold you accountable for your actions that put our neighbors, partners, and children at greater risk of injury or death from traffic violence.
You can find the letter and list of signatories attached below: