Friday, June 24, 2011

HCCA Testimony - Confirmation of DDOT Director


RE: PR19-0246, the “Director of the District Department of Transportation Terry Bellamy Resolution of 2011”

Friday June 24, 2011

My name is Veronica O. Davis. I’m the Street, Traffic & Transportation Chair for the Hillcrest Community Civic Association (HCCA) and proud resident of Fairfax Village in Ward 7. Today I will be submitting testimony on behalf of HCCA.

We would like to thank Councilmember Tommy Wells and the honorable members of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation for the opportunity to submit testimony in support of PR19-0246, the “Director of the District Department of Transportation Terry Bellamy Resolution of 2011”.

The mission of (HCCA) is to work “to enhance the quality of life and prosperity of residents, families, community organizations and institutions located within the designated geographic boundaries.” We look forward to working with Mr. Bellamy to enhance transportation in our community.

Our testimony will focus on five key issues we would like to see Mr. Bellamy address during his tenure as Director:

1. Genuine Community Outreach: Between the Pennsylvania Ave Great Streets construction project, the 11th Street Bridge construction project, and the Far Southeast Livability Study, our community has had increased interactions with DDOT’s staff and consultants over the last year. The experience for each interaction has varied from collaborative to frustrating.

The 11th Street Bridge construction project has a citizen’s council comprised of community leaders from the affected communities that meets quarterly. This is a great model for receiving information about the project, asking questions, and tracking specific issues from the community with the respective response.

On other projects and studies, the communication between DDOT and the community has been less than ideal. Many of the frustrations come from lack of timely information, the inability of DDOT to effectively communicate technical terms to laypeople, and an overreliance on the Internet to advertise in a ward where lack of Internet access still exists.

Moving forward, we think DDOT should engage in genuine and proactive community outreach, which includes engaging in targeted outreach to affected areas and working more collaboratively with the ward planners from Office of Planning. We believe DDOT should spend more resources on messaging to help the community understand technical recommendations and transportation programs. In addition, DDOT should utilized community advocates and leaders to assist with engaging residents.

2. Implementation: We've had multiple transportation studies in the last decade. At this point, Branch Ave has to be the most studied corridor in the City. Some of the newer studies regurgitate information from previous studies. While we understand the importance of examining existing conditions, we are beginning to suffer from study fatigue. We want DDOT to move from studies to implementation of recommendations from those studies.

3. Pedestrian/Bicyclist Safety: In the last year we’ve had four pedestrians and one bicyclist hit by motorists in our community. All of these incidents occurred on Alabama Ave SE. We have a population of residents who are aging-in-place and a high percentage of young people. Our older population should be able to walk to the senior wellness center and children should be able to walk or bike to school safely. We would like to see DDOT place pedestrian and bicycle safety as a top priority.

4. Complete streets: There is an obvious link between pedestrian safety and sidewalks. Many streets in Hillcrest still lack a sidewalk on either side, so pedestrians are forced to walk in the middle the street such as Hillcrest Drive, Camden Street, Fort Baker Drive, while hoping to avoid speeding motorists. Bus riders traverse grass then stand in mud at bus stops along Branch Ave. This is an urban area and it should be treated as such. We would like DDOT to prioritize installation of sidewalks in areas where pedestrians need to access bus stops, along high volume corridors, and along routes to school and recreation.

5. Focus on public transportation planning: Since taking office, Mayor Gray has made the development of the Skyland Shopping Center a priority. A development of this magnitude in our community will become a transportation trip generator. Our road network cannot handle much more traffic without impacting our quality of life. While we wait for shovels to go in the ground, we believe DDOT and WMATA need to begin examining public transportation options to move people in and out of the shopping center.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. We support Mr. Bellamy’s confirmation and look forward to his leadership at DDOT.

Submitted by

Veronica O. Davis, PE
Street, Traffic and Transportation Committee Chair

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