Speed limits going up on four more D.C. streets

December 17, 2012


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The District on Tuesday is going to slightly raise the speed limit on four more streets that are well-known to commuters. These are the roadways affected and the new limits:

  • New York Avenue eastbound from Bladensburg Road to the Maryland line: The speed limit will increase from 40 to 45 mph.
  • New York Avenue westbound from the Maryland line to Bladensburg Road: from 35 to 40 mph.
  • Bladensburg Road from Mount Olivet Road and 17th Street to New York Avenue: from 25 to 30 mph.
  • North Capitol Street from Michigan Avenue to Harewood Road: from 35 to 40 mph.
  • Canal Road from Chain Bridge to Foxhall Road: 35 to 40 mph.

These are not neighborhood streets. All are open stretches and most have multiple lanes in each direction. Most also have speed cameras that are very well known to commuters. The North Capitol Street segment, in the map above, is a multi-lane divided roadway where drivers keep below Interstate speeds only because they know a mobile speed camera is likely to be waiting for them near the Irving Street interchange.

The Canal Road speed increase does worry me a bit, because that’s a two-lane, undivided roadway that tends to get icy during the winter. But in no case have drivers routinely traveled at speeds that average below the posted limits. And this announcement from the District Department of Transportation does not change the areas where speed cameras are authorized. (You can see the full list on the D.C. police Web site.)

This is the second round of speed increases in two months. In November, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray authorized increasing the limit to 35 mph on Benning Road NE between Oklahoma Avenue and D.C. 295, and to 50 mph on D.C. 295.

In announcing the latest round, effective at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, DDOT said it will continue looking at all District speed limits with the goal of completing a comprehensive review by October 2014.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.
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Mark Berman | December 17, 2012