Transportation departments are slowly evolving from construction agencies into mobility services. They still will build and repair roads, but they also will work with communities to create new ways of moving by car, bus, streetcar, bicycle or foot power. It's a customer-service strategy in which the customers are commuters, residents and businesses that depend on getting around quickly and safely.
The District Department of Transportation has taken several steps in this direction. The department is taking advantage of technology to increase awareness of its activities and allow for two-way communication, including complaints. A redesigned Web site at http:/
Gabe Klein, who just completed his first year as the department's director, says he wants people to get a better idea of what the agency does and what it can do. He says the old Web site "was great -- in 2002." The redesigned site is a nicer-looking way for the department to show off, but it's also an enriched source of basic information.
At the moment, the middle of the home page features a YouTube video explaining a program that replaced some old-style parking meters with ones that can take credit cards as well as coins. The topic is timely: Drivers recently started paying $2 per hour at most meters.
A two-hour stay at an old-style meter means hauling around 16 quarters. The department is experimenting with about 50 of the credit card meters, but look for many more this year.
To the right of the video centerpiece, department activities are highlighted. One of the current highlights is DDOT's new Action Agenda for the next two years. These are among the goals:
-- Expand the enforcement powers of traffic-control officers and school crossing guards.
-- Ensure appropriate speeds on all roads. Lower speeds below 25 mph on some local streets.
-- Implement traffic-calming studies citywide.
-- Increase the use of rapid flashing beacon signs for safer pedestrian crossings.
-- Improve safety at the top 50 high-crash intersections.