Capitol Hill residents have won support a community-authored proposal that could stop Metro plans to make the Eastern Market Metro station a major bus-rail transfer point.
At a public hearing held by the City Council last week,the D.C. Department of Transportation endorsed the community proposal, which would place the transfer point permanently at the Potomac Avenue station.
In announcing the endorsement, Anthony M. Rachal III. assistant director of the D. C. DOT for mass transportation, said the new proposal would be submitted to the Metro board with the new few weeks. Under the proposal, an enlarged Potomac Avenue station would become the main bus-rail transfer point for cummuters to and from Prince Georges County.
About 90 Capitol Hill residents attended the public hearing at Friendship House, about half a block from the Eastern Market station. Under the Eastern Market plan, which Metro announced in October, 77 Prince George's county buses a day would begin or end their trips at the Eastern Market station. The routes slated for the change - H-11, H-12, H-14, K-12, and K-19 - now begin and end at the Potomac Avenue station.
The change to the Eastern Market terminus was considered necessary because the bus bays at Potomac Avenue cannot accomodate all the buses, according to Metro officials. At present, passengers transferring to eastbound Prince George's buses from Metrorail have to cross six lanes of traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue. To avoid this, the D.C. DOT now proposes constructing a recessed bus stop area directly in front of the Potomac Avenue station. When the construction is completed by March, 1978 according to DOT officials, passengers will not have to cross Pennsylvania Avenue to board the buses.
Until the completion of additional bus bays, Rachal said, the present system will be retained. Rachal said he believed the Metro Board would accept the alternative plan.
However, George Howie, associate director of the Prince George's County Department of Public Works and Transportation, expressed doubt that the alternative would solve the present problems quickly enough.
"This plan doesn't provide assurance of safety for our people during the winter months." Howie said in a telephone interview. "For about three or four months our people will still have to cross Pennyslvania Avenue. We can't give way on something that leaves our people in a situation of extreme hazard."
Rachal said in a telephone interview that a traffic light near the Potomac Avenue station had been reset to increase the time for pedestrian crossing. He added that the DOT would try to have a police officer at that crossing to and pedestrians until construction is completed at the Potomac Avenue station.
The original plan to make Eastern Market the main transfer point was approved by the Metro board in September, subject to community review. Community residents, led by Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Diane Della Loggia, devised the alternative proposal. Most residents testifying at the public hearing said they preferred a third plan - using the Stadium-Armory station as the main transfer point.
However, Rachal said, the Stadium-Armory plan was not acceptable to the DOT because of the money and time that would be required to implement it and because buses would have to travel through some residential blocks. He the either of the other proposals - the Eastern Market plan or the Potomac Avenue plan would be acceptable.
"The Eastern Market proposal is not dead," warned Della Loggia.
Eleven residents testified against the Eastern market proposal, citing the increased congestion, air pollution and pedestrian safety hazards that would be created.
City Council members Jerry A. Moore Jr. and Nadine Winter, who conducted the hearing, indicated they might hold another hearing to solicit views from residents of the Potomac Avenue area.
In other business at the hearing, Rachal told residents that as a result of community complaints two additional changes in bus routings would be implemented.
A-8 buses, which now terminate at Eastern Market, would revert to their original routing - from Anacostia to 10the and Pennsylvania NW. Rachal also said 397 of the 402 buses per week that layover in a residential area on 15the Street SE would be switched to layover points on Pennsylvania Avenue and potomac Avenue, next to a vacant lot. The change for about half of the 397 buses would be made immediatedly. Rachal said, the remainder by next spring.