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Survey Responses: Proposed Signals at Chevy Chase Circle


On July 23, 2012 all 225 Section 5 resident households were mailed a survey on whether or not they favored the installation of traffic control signals at Chevy Chase Circle. A total of 117 responses (52%) were received. Of these responses, 61 (52%) were in favor of new traffic signals, 51 (44%) were opposed, four had no opinion, and one household was split for and against.

Comments from those who favor traffic signals focused on reducing aggressive driving into and around the circle. They believe traffic signals will improve safety for both drivers and pedestrians. But, some support was contingent on short-duration lights, pedestrian-activated lights, and peak period red lights only.

Those who opposed traffic signals were primarily concerned about slowing down traffic and creating backups on Connecticut Avenue, especially during rush hours. They were either not aware of previous traffic analyses, or skeptical of the consultant's findings that traffic signals on Western Avenue at both approaches to the Circle would “significantly improve traffic operations”; “provide for efficient movement of traffic around the Circle”; and “substantially reduce delays on all major approaches to the Circle.”

A number of respondents from both sides agreed that there was a problem with drivers who fail to yield to traffic in the circle, but they differed on the best solution. The following pro and con comments were offered:

For Signals

  • “Safer is better. Plus Western gets jammed up, if this helps that - well worth it!”
  • “I am in favor - but it depends on how it is done. We support measures that protect pedestrians - including speed humps and cameras.”
  • “But I don't think it's important to be able to walk from Conn. Ave. to CC Circle. I can't remember the last time I saw a pedestrian on CC Circle.”
  • “Thanks for the query. I support this initiative on the occasion when a pedestrian wishing to cross the road to the fountain activates the traffic signal by pushing a button. I do not support a constant 24-hour/7 day ongoing procedure when not pedestrian-activated. (some friends of ours were hit by a car at this very location.)”
  • “On Good Friday, I crossed at Oliver with the traffic signal using my rolling wheel walker. I had barely enough time to do so in the time allotted, even tho' I moved every microsecond. I think pedestrian access and safety is important and hope enough time will be allowed for ped. safety. Think of mothers & others with strollers. The access will open up the beautiful fountain & park for neighbors enjoyment.”
  • “I strongly favor signalization. I often cross Western Ave. on foot on the eastern side of the circle and never feel safe at that crossing. Cars are so focused on traffic in circle, they ignore pedestrians. Also believe that it will be much safer for cars. People are often too aggressive in the Circle.”
  • “I am for anything that makes people safer.”
  • “With the proviso that the signal at Oliver street would no longer operate - except when a bus needs to pull out, if any buses still use the old station.”
  • “If they put these in it would be nice if they took out the light at Oliver St. - that could lead to back ups if they were out of sinc.”
  • “Fine with it as long as it's a short light.”
  • “Best, perhaps, to have it in use only during peak usage and blinking yellow the rest of the day and on weekends.”
  • “For a signal Conn. going South. For a signal Western Ave. going West. Retain Western Ave. signal at Oliver St.”
  • “Good idea. Crazy driving at the circle.”
  • “Increasing traffic in area makes it very dangerous to enter the school at many times during the day.”
  • “Will improve safety at Chevy Chase Circle.”
  • “This is a much needed safety improvement to Chevy Chase Circle.”
  • “I think it will make the circle safer.”
  • “This would be a great idea as it seems most folks don't understand the traffic laws at a rotary.”
  • “Yes! And better markings! Paint lines and arrows to divide lanes including enter and exit lanes.”
  • “My main concern is that with the current traffic lanes, there can be a collision when both parties are acting properly. For example, someone in the left or middle lanes can exit the circle to Conn. Ave. northbound, while someone in the right lane can continue around the circle.”
  • “(1)There should be a test. they can put in temporary signal posts. (2) Seems to me signals needed more @ Connecticut Ave. North & Southbound before traffic enters circle. Largest problem is traffic not yielding as it enters circle - especially Southbound CT Ave. I enter circle from Western and nearly get hit every other day because IDIOTS do not yield when entering circle Southbound CT Ave.”
  • “Provided it has been thoroughly studied and will work as needed for traffic safety.”
  • “Long overdue!”
  • “Long overdue! Yes!”
  • “This is overdue!!”

Against Signals

  • “Defeats the purpose of a circle.”
  • “The purpose of a traffic circle is to avoid the traffic light. The existing traffic lights at Conn. Ave. & Oliver Street in effect control traffic in the circle already. Yes, you have to be patient at rush hour, but other than rush hour the current set up expeditiously moves traffic through the intersection.”
  • “The traffic circle works fine as it is. Adding signals will only slow down traffic and create additional backups, particularly along Connecticut Ave. during the morning commute.”
  • “Lights not necessary - more signs to yield to drivers already in Circle.”
  • “The lights will make a much longer wait to get through the circle. Lights aren't necessary - what is needed is folks who consistently yield to traffic in the circle, and enforcement against drivers - particularly those entering from Conn. Ave. (N and S) - who fail to yield.”
  • “The biggest problem is that Western Ave. heading West is not clearly marked as 2 lanes, so traffic backs up behind single cars. Otherwise, Circle works well and I believe traffic will be much more backed up if lights are installed. Also, could use more attention-getting signs heading S. on Conn. before circle to “Scream” at drivers that they must yield to traffic in the circle.”
  • “Need signals at both Conn. & Western or neither.”
  • “We'd like to see a light on Connecticut (inbound to D.C.) prior to the Circle.”
  • “Having just gone through/around the signalized Ward/AU circle, I can't believe doing signals at Ch. Ch. Circle would help. I think it would be better for pedestrians, however signals make it more confusing for drivers.”
  • “Instead of a signal, put in a crosswalk with the orange flags. I actually go to the fountain, but still think a signal would be very disruptive to traffic flows.”
  • “I ride the bus and am a pedestrian. I am accustomed to simply walking to shops from Western. The circle is so large that I have no desire to cross it directly.”
  • “ (1) It might be worth considering a crossing for pedestrians between the Circle and Bradley Blvd. (2) As a daily commuter through the Circle, I consider the idea of a light at the Circle a huge mistake. It will complicate an already congested area around the church and school at Brookville and Western. Please don't do this!”
  • “Yes, one does have to wait during peak hours to get into the circle from Western Ave. in either direction, but I think signals would only back up traffic everywhere. Has anyone noticed that pedestrians rarely cross the circle? It is entirely possible to go around it in whatever direction.”
  • “It would turn an attractive Chevy Chase Circle into something else. The inconvenience of current situation is outweighed by maintaining a circle with the congestion of traffic lights more common in commercial areas as opposed to residential area.”
  • “Traffic jams coming from & to the city - essential for all of us - would be impossible.”
  • “It would be a waste of money and impede traffic flow.”
  • “I commute down Conn. to my office and think the stop lights will only impede traffic and create traffic on side streets. There are pedestrian crosswalks and simple stop lights.”
  • “All it will do is slow down traffic all along Conn. Ave & Western.”
  • “It will create MORE gridlock than ever! The backups will be worse than ever. Forget it! In bad weather these signals could be a disaster. Who thought this one up?”
  • “I think it will only slow traffic around the circle & hinder access to all intersecting roads.”
  • “This would seriously jeopardize flow of traffic.”
  • “It will slow down traffic and make the trek up and down Conn. Avenue even longer.”
  • “Concerned by potential traffic issues resulting from signalization; need to find another way to address circle traffic safety.”
  • “Signalization will add significantly more traffic to Connecticut Ave. which already gets backed up.”
  • “Signalization is not a word. Give us details what this means. Red lights? This is a dumb survey. I'm for traffic safety, but this is too vague.”
  • “The traffic entering and leaving the circle is not that bad - or dangerous - driving most of the day. The critical period is when Blessed Sacrament school children are dropped off during about a 20 minute window in the morning. A 24/7 traffic light would be a considerable inconvenience and may lead to dangerous situations as drivers make right-on-red turns into the circle.”