Part two of the Reno Road public hearings last week confirmed what city officials heard at the first public hearing in April: the road divides residents of Northwest Washington.
Speakers at the hearing appeared to be as split as their advisory neighborhood commissions over traffic restrictions imposed along the 34th Street-Reno Road-41st Street corridor last fall and whether they should be continued or expanded.
Jennifer, Harrison and Grafton streets are closed to through traffic and speed bumps have been installed on Fessenden and 46th streets "out of consideration for the welfare of their residents," said Ellis Baker, who has lived on Reno Road for 24 years. He urged the city to expand the traffic restrictions.
However, Steven Gilbert, a resident of Porter Street, complained that the city's attempt to stem the tide of Maryland auto commuters along Reno Road has failed and merely forced commuter traffic onto side streets such as his. "A solution that removes the problem from one street to another is not a solution," Gilbert said during the 3 1/2-hour hearing at Wilson High School.
D.C. hearing examiner Robert Andretti, whose report on the two hearings will be a major factor in next month's decision on the future of Reno Road, asked those who oppose the experimental morning traffic restrictions imposed along the winding, hilly residential street whether they might drop their opposition if the District also could reduce traffic on side streets.
"I'm talking about throwing up obstructions" to through traffic such as blocks with one-way traffic as well as more stop signs or the street bumps urged by some residents, Andretti said. Such obstructions have been used by Montgomery County in Chevy Chase Village to keep commuters from cutting through residential streets and using Reno Road.
Ann Craig, an Idaho Street resident, said her 13-year-old son suffered a broken leg when he was struck by an auto driven by a Bethesda commuter April 1 while bicycling to school on a side street. She agreed that if the city could substantially reduce traffic on the side streets it would lessen her opposition to restrictions along Reno Road.
The purpose of the Reno restrictions is to reduce traffic along the corridor, which city officials in the 1940s and 1950s--without public hearings--widened and turned into a "minor arterial" commuter road.
Andretti questioned whether the increased side-street traffic could be caused by factors other than the restrictions on Reno Road. Side-street residents insisted it's more than a coincidence and have asked for an origin-destination traffic study on side streets like Porter.
Andretti also told the hearing he was disturbed by complaints that the Reno Road sidewalks are only 22 to 25 inches wide in places, forcing strollers and baby carriages into the street. He asked city transportation officials for a sidewalk report before the official hearing period ends May 28--a deadline he extended beyond last week's hearing to allow additional written comment from citizens.