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D.C. Looking Into Safety Improvements For Florida Avenue NE

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Florida Avenue NE is a traffic artery leading in and out of D.C.
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Florida Avenue NE is a traffic artery leading in and out of D.C.

One of the District's busiest avenues will be studied for possible safety improvements.

As pedestrians amble down Florida Avenue Northeast, traffic whizzes by just a few feet away. The road is six lanes wide, the sidewalk just a few feet wide.

"You can see those kids riding those bikes on the sidewalks. When you have deaf people walking there is a potential for them to run into them. So we are trying to improve safety," says Gabe Onyeador, who is with the District Department of Transportation and will be heading the 10-month safety study of Florida Ave. from H Street/Benning Road west to New York Avenue. The deaf people he's referring to attend Gallaudet University, which stands along the thoroughfare.

Changes will be considered to improve pedestrian safety while opening the road to more travel modes. by possibly taking away car lanes to add bike lanes, and even dedicated bus lanes.

Between West Virginia Ave. and Sixth Street, 15 percent of cars go at least 13 miles an hour over the 25 mile an hour limit, according to DDOT figures. In May, a pedestrian was killed while crossing Florida Ave. at a crosswalk. In the wake of that incident, city officials say they want to install a HAWK traffic signal, which uses lights to warn oncoming car traffic that pedestrians are crossing the street.

"Florida Avenue is the old boundary road in the L'Enfant plan, and it's always been a boundary between neighborhoods. It's been a back door for a lot of the city and a barrier between neighborhoods and we are looking to stitch that together and bring neighborhoods closer together," says Sam Zimbabwe, associate director for planning, policy and sustainability at DDOT.

DDOT is encouraging the public to offer suggestions to improve safety.

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