Posts Tagged ‘Mary Cheh’

“A clearly reluctant D.C. Department of Transportation has tentatively agreed to restore Wisconsin Avenue to six traffic lanes in Glover Park,” writes Elizabeth Wiener in today’s Northwest Current. “In the spring, the agency will remove the newly painted median strip that was designed to slow traffic and protect pedestrians on the busy commercial corridor.” In her story, Wiener reports at length on the testimony at a December 4 hearing on the road’s configuration called by Ward 3 City Council member Mary Cheh.

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Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3B has launched an online survey to collect Glover Parkers’ opinions on the lane patterns created by last year’s Wisconsin Avenue streetscape project. This survey will inform the ANC’s testimony at a December 4 hearing on the matter scheduled by Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh.

“Voices have been raised, mostly loudly by people who do not live in Glover Park, against the lane changes on Wisconsin Avenue, which were designed to slow traffic through our commercial center and increase pedestrian safety,” the survey’s introduction states. “It is possible this hearing will result in a decision to return Wisconsin Avenue in Glover Park back to the way it was before the streetscape project.” Some of the streetscape changes, including left-turn-only lanes north of Calvert Street, have already been reversed in response to concerns about gridlock.

Glover Park residents can take the ANC’s survey at surveymonkey.com. To ensure that only ANC 3B constituents weigh in, survey participants are required to provide their names and addresses.

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District Department of Transportation workers will completely remove a painted median strip on Wisconsin Ave. between Calvert and Garfield streets, reports the Georgetown Current in the Georgetown Dish. The surprise work began last week.

The decision to reopen the middle lane of Wisconsin Ave. to traffic was made “in the interest of pedestrian and vehicle safety,” chief traffic engineer James Cheeks wrote in a notice quoted by the Current. The median strip was added earlier this year in the name of pedestrian safety, but many have blamed it for long traffic backups on Wisconsin and additional cut-through traffic elsewhere in Glover Park.

City Council member Jack Evans, who represents Georgetown, has advocated removing the painted median strip all the way south to Whitehaven, but City Council member Mary Cheh, who represents Glover Park, told the Current he shouldn’t count on it: “’We’re not going to do that,’ said Cheh, who chairs the council’s transportation committee. ‘I don’t think we’re at the stage yet of throwing out all that work in Glover Park.’”

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The news blog Georgetown Patch has invited residents to submit photos and street addresses for a listing of unshoveled sidewalks in the area. The first entry: 2621 39th Street in Glover Park.

District law requires residents to clear snow and ice from sidewalks abutting their property within eight daylight hours of the end of each snowfall. But the law is tough to enforce: if you don’t shovel, all the city can do is shovel for you and then sue you for the cost (plus a $25 fine).

On February 9 at 10 a.m., the City Council’s Committee on Public Works and Transportation will hold a hearing on a bill that would make enforcement much easier, allowing municipal workers to issue $25 fines. We hear the bill faces strong opposition from residents of certain Northwest neighborhoods with larger lots than ours. Residents wishing to testify in support of bill—and of winter walkability for all District neighborhoods—can contact bill co-sponsor Mary Cheh, 202-724-8062 or mcheh@dccouncil.us.

Until the bill passes, you won’t get far by reporting shoveling scofflaws to the city. But now, at least you can rat them out to the Patch.

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The snow-shoveling bill that languished for a year in mean old Jim Graham’s Committee on Public Works and Transportation was reintroduced today by cosponsors Mary Cheh and Tommy Wells, TBD.com’s Dave Jamieson reports. The bill stands a better chance of coming to the City Council for a vote now that Wells has been named the chair of that committee.

Cheh and Wells’s bill would provide for a $25 fine for residents who fail to shovel snow from their sidewalks within 8 daylight hours, as is already required by District law.

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Whenever D.C. gets a big snow, an absurd hole in the District’s public-safety law reveals itself. Furious citizens demand that the hole be patched, and lawmakers promise to do so. Then the snow melts and people forget. The law is not fixed. Eventually, it snows again.

And when that happens, snow on unshoveled sidewalks quickly gets trodden down into hard packs, which then freeze into ice sheets that can last for weeks. The sidewalks become unsafe for small children, elderly people, and those with disabilities. People slip and break bones. People walk in the street and get hit by cars. People feel trapped at home for fear of injury.

Angry, frustrated citizens ask why there isn’t a law requiring residents to keep their sidewalks clear. But in fact, there is such a law. According to the D.C. Code (§9-601), anyone whose house fronts a public sidewalk must clear the sidewalk of snow or ice within eight daylight hours of the last flake’s falling.

So that’s the law, and here’s the hole: there’s no workable enforcement provision. The city can’t easily fine you for failing to shovel, the way it can fine you for parking in a fire lane, leaving your garbage where rats can get at it, or otherwise endangering public health or safety.

Last December, City Council members Mary Cheh and Tommy Wells cosponsored a bill that would allow city workers to issue $25 tickets to residents who don’t clear snow as required. This bill was referred to the Council’s Committee on Public Works and Transportation, headed by member Jim Graham—and there it remains, more than nine months later. The committee did hold hearings, and the Council’s Office of Policy Analysis issued a report that recommends “giving ticketing authority to municipal workers.” The report also advises steps already within the District Department of Transportation’s power, such as designing sidewalks for easier snow removal and training snowplow operators to be more mindful of pedestrians’ needs.

Graham says he expects to take action on the matter before the snow season begins, but “it is still unclear whether the Committee will report a bill to the full Council [for a vote], or whether we will simply request that DDOT initiate some of the recommended actions for which they already have authority.”

That’s right: Jim Graham’s committee has not yet decided whether it will even allow the Council to vote on fines for scofflaws. If you would like to help them decide, you can write to ask them to release the bill. Here are their addresses:

Jim Graham: jgraham@dccouncil.us
Tommy Wells (bill cosponsor): twells@dccouncil.us
Muriel Bowser: mbowser@dccouncil.us
Kwame Brown: kbrown@dccouncil.us
Phil Mendelson: pmendelson@dccouncil.us

Under the current law, the only way to get penalized for not shoveling snow is for the city to clear it and then sue you for the cost—which it never does. After years of watching politicians vow—and fail—to make the law easier to enforce, one wonders whether it’s possible to sue the city for not enforcing the law as-is.

Photo of Puck the Corgi copyright 2010 by Wendy Stengel, all rights reserved.

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