Nicknamed “America’s Main Street,” Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, DC is located between the White House and the Capitol. This historic thoroughfare regularly hosts presidents, dignitaries, and tourists, while also serving a vital role in moving residents and workers from the area. In the past, Pennsylvania Avenue functioned as a major corridor across the city. However, the use of the avenue has changed over time and no longer serves the amount of vehicular through traffic the current configuration was designed to. The additional capacity has created a rare opportunity in the District to consider repurposing available right-of-way to allow Pennsylvania Avenue NW to better serve the many users of this iconic avenue.
The Kittelson team began by working with different stakeholders to determine the roadway’s necessary travel capacity and understand how to activate the avenue using the DDOT Performance Measures Toolbox, which Kittelson helped to create. We worked to establish goals and objectives for this effort, addressing needs such as curbside access, vehicle operations, transit operations, public space design, and ceremonial design. Kittelson then reviewed the regional travel demand model to identify growth rates in the area.
The project team established a multitude of design options using a building block approach. We looked at cycle track options, bus only lanes, transitways, and asymmetrical designs. We then narrowed these down to individual pieces and combined into three options: one with four through lanes, another with six, and a third with eight. Transit operations were evaluated by analyzing bus runs, boarding, and alighting volumes, and delay. Finally, pick-up and drop-off (PUDO) activity was observed to understand where and how much curb space should be allocated for this use. Our alternatives were aimed at providing transit, walking, and biking facilities while preserving the ceremonial grandeur of historic Pennsylvania Avenue.
Transforming "America's Main Street"
The developed alternatives preserve Pennsylvania Avenue’s ceremonial function while meeting the local and national transportation needs of a 21st-century capital city by providing facilities for transit, walking, and biking. The alternatives accommodate the multimodal travel demand in the corridor, create a minimum of 20 linear feet of space that could be repurposed to activate the street, and satisfy the divergent needs of agency stakeholders.