WASHINGTON — An 18th Street Pedestrian Zone is finally debuting in Adams Morgan later in the month after much community discussion, according to the local business improvement district.
The pedestrian zone will be located along 18th Street NW between Kalorama and Columbia Roads NW and closed down to cars once a month on Aug. 21, Sept. 4 and Oct. 23 from noon to 10 p.m. The busy area is home to more than 60 bars, restaurants, and stores.
The original mayor's order included a fourth August date, but WMATA could not accommodate it, according to the Adams Morgan Partnership BID.
The nonprofit adds they are working hard with the D.C. government to continue the Pedestrian Zone on a more regular basis and, hopefully, for entire weekends in the future.
The district says that the objective of the pedestrian zone is to be a tool for the economic recovery of Adams Morgan businesses.
"Closing the street to vehicular traffic allows for more pedestrians, bicyclists and people on scooters to have additional safe space to walk to their favorite cafe, shop for a unique gift, bike to dinner with friends, scooter to a hair or nail appointment, or wander the tree-lined streets of Adams Morgan and enjoy the architecture," the neighborhood's BID said in a release. "For the last two years, the BID has worked tirelessly with DC government representatives and community partners to bring the Pedestrian Zone back to the neighborhood."
Traffic control plans along with bus reroutes have also been finalized in anticipation of the monthly change. Organizers share that people can expect to see barriers in place, bustling streateries and people moving freely on both the sidewalk and in the street. Entertainment and activities for all ages will take place throughout the days the pedestrian zones are in effect.
The plan to close down 18th Street NW to car traffic on a temporary basis has been in the works since June 2020, according to Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau and the Adams Morgan Partnership BID.
At that time, DC closed down the Adams Morgan street to car traffic, on one weekend, so people could safely interact with one another during the early stages of the pandemic.
Adams Morgan Partnership BID Executive Director Kristen Barden said the 2020 closure was a success.
“We saw the businesses have tremendous economic growth with the first closure that the mayor did in 2020,” she said. “They saw a lot of pedestrian traffic.”
The BID received a $525,000 grant from DC government’s “Streets for People” program to put the latest street closures plan into motion before the Mayor made her order official.
Barden said Adams Morgan looks forward to hosting the event.
“We have lots of room here and the streateries are all still fully operational and the businesses are waiting to welcome you back,” she said.
Madam’s Organ owner Bill Duggan isn’t opposed to the idea.
“Anything that gets more people in the neighborhood sounds like a great idea,” he said.
But he did say he was concerned the planned closures could take attention from the already popular Adams Morgan Day festival on September 11. Additionally, he said he wished the planned closure days were more consistently scheduled.
“I think that's the only way people know about anything,” Duggan said. “It's got to be consistent.”
On social media, a lot of people also claimed the upcoming street closures were a win for cyclists and people who want to walk freely without concern for car traffic.
However, others expressed concerns that prohibiting car traffic could actually hurt businesses in Adams Morgan.
Meanwhile, Duggan said he prefers having periodic street closures like the ones that will soon come to 18th Street NW as opposed to streateries that are on the street 24/7 because sometimes those complicate deliveries to his business and make it hard for musicians to drop off their gear.
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