Improvements to a major intersection near the National Zoo have neighbors furious. They say the work along Adams Mill Road on the edge of Rock Creek Park started as a minor project but turned into a construction nightmare.
For years residents have been making an illegal left turn off Kenyon to get to Beech Drive and the zoo, so they asked the city to change the intersection to allow cars to turn left. That simple left turn turned into a multimillion dollar redesign of the entire intersection.
“It seems like this whole project’s a little bigger than the neighborhood first knew about, and it does seem like it’s all about bringing trucks through the neighborhood,” resident Steve Holmer said.
The biggest problem neighbors have with the project is a wall that will divide the two lanes of traffic. It towers over cars, and residents worry it will block their view.
“That’s the last thing we need is more cement in the world, and here they are putting it in place right behind the National Zoo,” resident Thomas Prassa said.
When the project is completed in September, trucks will move through the tight intersection more easily, but in order to accommodate the neighbors’ desire for a left turn and in order to keep the sidewalk that leads to the zoo, some tough choices had to be made.
“It’s the barrier or the trees, pick one,” ANC 1D Commissioner Jack McKay said. “And I think people, when they see it this way, they’ll say, ‘OK, I understand why it is the way it is.’”
McKay, who made the original request for the city to change the intersection, said that while several trees were cut down, a 120-foot oak was saved, but the result was the safety wall DDOT officials say is needed because of the slope of the hill. The wall isn’t going anywhere, according to DDOT.
“It’s going to affect the views in the neighborhood,” Holmer said. “We live right by the park, but now we’re going to get to look at a wall instead of the park.”
Residents will have their chance to tell officials what they think at a public meeting Tuesday night.
Follow Mark Segraves on Twitter at @SegravesNBC4