The service lane shall live on.
Cleveland Park residents and businesses have been mostly divided over the fate of a service lane running along Connecticut Avenue for years, but this week the D.C. Department of Transportation said that it would not turn the lane into a wide sidewalk as part of a broader $1.5 million streetscape plan for the neighborhood.
According to DDOT, a large portion of the 500 comments the agency received on the streetscape plan sided against getting rid of the 18-foot service lane, which was carved out of a 30-foot sidewalk in 1960 to provide 27 parking spots on the east side of Connecticut Avenue between Macomb and Ordway Streets.
Since the possibility of changes to the service lane was floated this summer, business owners and some residents have argued that the parking spots were needed in the heavily trafficked neighborhood. Other residents disagreed, arguing that the presence of the service lane left pedestrians with a narrow sidewalk to walk on.
At a public meeting on Wednesday DDOT officials said that opinion in the neighborhood was mostly divided between keeping and getting rid of the service lane, while two compromise options that would have widened the sidewalk while maintaining some parking received little interest. A proposal for a pilot project in which the service lane would be temporarily closed to test the impact on pedestrians and parkers also received tepid support.
Still, an informal survey conducted by Cleveland Park resident Bob Ward found that 56 percent of respondents who lived in the neighborhood favored getting rid of the service lane. Ward also found differences by age group: younger residents were more likely to side with turning the lane into a sidewalk, while older residents preferred keeping the service lane untouched.
While the streetscape plan won't make any changes to the service lane, DDOT still plans on adding benches and trees and reconfiguring some crosswalks to better accommodate pedestrians.