Emergency Legislation Aims to Force Faster Redesign of Florida Avenue, NE

Lack of transit equity in road design leads to high speeds, pedestrian and bicycle fatalities over past 8 years with no action

Today, Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6) will introduce emergency legislation requiring Council approval for the Department of Transportation (DDOT) to reprogram any capital funds until the department completes a long-delayed redesign of Florida Avenue, NE, which has been stalled since 2009.

On Friday, April 19, Ward 6 resident Dave Salovesh was killed by a driver travelling in excess of 60 mph who ran a red light and struck him at 12th and Florida Ave, NE. In 2013, Ward 6 resident Ruby Whitfield was killed in a marked crosswalk on Florida Ave walking home from church less than two blocks away. DDOT has been studying and planning to redesign the corridor on Florida Avenue stretching from 2nd St NE to H St., NE since 2009.

“Residents living along Florida Avenue have warned for years that if the city doesn’t take action, someone else is going to get killed. On Friday, we waited too long and that someone was a father, a husband, and a dedicated member of our community,” said Councilmember Allen. “Soon I’ll introduce more comprehensive legislation to legally mandate building complete streets. But right now I’m done waiting on DDOT to get serious about safety on Florida Avenue.”

Councilmember Allen continued, “In the four years since Vision Zero was announced, pedestrian, cyclist, and driver deaths have gone up, not down. Too many streets in neighborhoods in every Ward have gotten more dangerous, not less. It’s past time to treat this with the urgency needed and re-think our roadways to be safe for everyone who uses them – whether on foot, bike, bus, or car. The hard work to create transit equity is inseparable from ensuring equity in safety for all road and sidewalk users.”

As part of DDOT’s oversight responses earlier this year, the agency reported that design of new Florida Avenue would not be complete until December 2020, the latest delay. In FY18, DDOT reprogrammed $3.2 million in extra money to other agencies. “That money could have been used to easily make safety improvements on Florida Avenue or any number of dangerous intersections in the city. This is why the Council needs to take a more hands-on approach in reprogramming,” said Allen. There are no capital funds in the current FY19-20 capital budget dedicated to Florida Avenue.

Florida Avenue splits between Wards 5 and 6. ANCs in both Wards have urged DDOT to make improvements repeatedly to protect all users. Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie is a co-introducer of the bill, along with Councilmembers Mary Cheh and David Grosso.

Several schools, including Gallaudet University, churches, and thousands of residents live along the Florida Avenue, NE Corridor. 

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