DC residents take road safety into own hands by painting crosswalk near where pedestrian killed

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On Sunday, two men took improving pedestrian safety in Southeast, D.C. into their own hands, painting a crosswalk on 16th Street in the city's Anacostia neighborhood.

This is something that's illegal no matter where you live, but the men say it was a risk worth taking.

Ronald Thompson says he put in a request with the D.C. Department of Transportation in October of 2018 for a painted crosswalk in an area where there's a bus stop, a sign warning of a blind pedestrian and cut curbs on both sides of the street.

"These kids I see, these parents, these grandparents walking their kids to school, they do not have a safe accommodation here," Thompson said.

Correspondence Thompson provided to FOX 5 shows he was told it would take DDOT 270 days to complete the work.

He says it's far from the only safety issue in the area. There's the school zone sign with flashing lights blocked by a utility pole. And just a few feet away, there's another sidewalk with cut curbs and no crosswalk that Thompson says also poses a risk to those walking to school. Teaming up with a man he recently met at an event calling for safer streets in D.C., they painted the crosswalk on Sunday morning.

Michael Kaercher lives in Northeast, but biked over to Anacostia to get the job done.

"If the city isn't going to do it, and it's something I can do, in this case I felt like I could do it and so I did it," said Kaercher.

He said he got it done in about two hour and supplies cost him $150.

It was just a few blocks away that a man walking was hit and killed a week ago after police say a driver ran a stop sign.

The day of the crash, Thompson and other neighbors told FOX 5 they had been calling for a four-way stop and other safety improvement for a long time.

Less than a week after the crash, DDOT changed the intersection to a four-way stop and painted new crosswalks.

"It should not take angry, upset people, it should not take a death for us to get necessary changes to make people safe, particularly in Ward 8," said Thompson.

The men said while painting the crosswalk was a risky move, they're not worried about the consequences.

"Of all the things to possibly get arrested or fined for, helping to make people's lives a little bit safer and a little bit less stressful? I'm fine with that," said Kaercher.

The blind man who lives in the area, Joseph Waller, shook hands with Kaercher and Thompson after they completed the work Sunday.

"It's good that somebody is stepping up," said Waller.

The DDOT has declined to answer questions from FOX 5 regarding the legality of painting your own crosswalk, nor have they said what possible penalties one might face.

They did provide this statement:

Public input is critical to our efforts. DDOT encourages residents to call 311 to submit service requests for enhancements that improve public safety. The general pavement marking service level agreement is 270 days for turnaround due to marking installation being very weather dependent. The conditions for installation generally only occur from March to November. The agency often installs markings well before the 270 day turn-around time and we are evaluating whether the SLA should be changed. Mr. Thompson's service request came in at the end of the 2018 pavement marking season. DDOT has his request in cue and expects it to be installed shortly. DDOT has received 417 service requests for pavement markings in 2019 and closed 141 of them. Our safety team will be investigating the location to see if additional markings, signage and speed humps are needed in the area.