WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - DDOT, the District’s transportation agency, announced roadway changes Thursday on Wheeler Road Southeast, where a 9-year-old KIPP student was struck last week.
That 9-year-old, Kaidyn Green, is still on life support. A family attorney tells FOX 5 he will undergo a spinal fusion surgery in the coming days. He has no movement in his hands and feet.
"It’s people driving fast, not [following] the rules of the road, driving aggressive, driving reckless, and so we really want to reinforce that we need people to slow down," said DDOT acting Director Everett Lott at a Thursday news conference.
Lott and members of his team also gave a tour of some of the safety improvements recently added to the Wheeler Rd. by Mississippi Avenue Southeast.
That same intersection is where a dad and his two daughters were struck by a car turning back in October.
Further uphill is where just this past Friday, Kaidyn Green was struck crossing Wheeler Rd. after leaving KIPP DC Honor Academy.
Crystal Powell told FOX 5 she’s a longtime teacher, currently working at the charter school called Eagle Academy Public Charter School, which is also located on Wheeler Rd.
Powell said so many kids cross this four-lane stretch, she was really happy to hear changes were coming. However, the first-grade teacher and Southeast resident also described the push for that change as a battle.
"It does take something tragic to happen to our kids for someone to come out and show up and do something about it, I don’t care how many letters we write, how many ANC meetings we go to, our voices aren’t really heard until something like this happens and it’s so unfortunate," said Powell.
Lott said the plan to force traffic to slow down on Wheeler Road includes shrinking the stretch from four lanes, two lanes in each direction, down to just one lane in each direction. Images of the proposed changes also include pans for a median to be installed.
Lott showed reporters the new school zone warning signs around the area. Other measures like speed bumps on Mississippi Ave. SE have also been installed.
A speed camera went up by Wheeler and Congress St. shortly after 9-year-old Kaidyn was struck. FOX 5 asked the acting director about these changes being made only after more recent and high-profile incidents.
"We’ve had plans in place that we’ve been studying this particular corridor as a matter of fact for a little over a year now. Those plans were finalized about three or four months ago, maybe a little longer than that. And so now we’re at the point we’re ready to implement," said Lott.
"I’m encouraged to hear from the director, but you’ve got to remember, I heard this three directors ago and still to no avail, still nothing’s happened," said Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White.
Lott said DDOT normally does not carry out construction during the cold winter months. The Wheeler Rd. improvements will likely begin in April. FOX 5 was also told the finalized plan depends on community input.