Photo by jrodmanjr.
Yesterday, GM introduced the Georgetown 2028 report and discussed its most pressing goal: getting Metro to Georgetown. But the bulk of the plan’s 75 recommendations address what changes can be made to the transportation network before we get Metro. And GM would like to discuss some of the highlights of this group today.
Clang Clang Clang Goes the Trolley
The District government is planning on building a 37 mile streetcar network. The first line is currently being constructed on H St. (in fact a car was just brought to the tracks the other day to begin testing). This line will ultimately snake through downtown and terminate in Georgetown.
The city considered different routes, but appears to have settled on having the streetcar come in to Georgetown on K St. The plan calls for the streetcar to travel on a new transit-only lane down K St. between Mt. Vernon Square to Washington Circle. Unfortunately the current plan calls for the streetcar to return to mixed traffic between Washington Circle and Georgetown.
The Georgetown 2028 transportation working group decided that this would cause unacceptable delays. Thus they concluded that the streetcar should continue to have its own lane west of Washington Circle. This would ensure that the streetcar offered fast and reliable service to and from Georgetown.
Georgetown University has also expressed an interest in the alignment of this line. They would like the line to ultimately connect to the campus. But if it comes in on K St., that goal will be tough to achieve without the demolition of the Whitehurst and the construction of a ramp from Canal down to Water St.
Alternatively, the streetcar could come in on the Whitehurst itself. Pedestrian access could be created via ramps or elevators. Then the streetcar could more easily continue on to the campus.
Either way, the recommendation from the report is just to make sure that the streetcar is fast and reliable all the way to Georgetown.
Clang Clang Clang Goes the Gondola?
As GM floated last February, the BID report is recommending the exploration of constructing an aerial gondola from Rosslyn to Georgetown. It would connect the Metro to M St. and the university.
The benefit of this admittedly unusual idea is that it is supposedly is a lot cheaper and quicker to build than Metro. It would provide a system similar to what you see at ski mountains. The cars would arrive constantly and it would guarantee a five minute ride from the Rosslyn metro to M St. and the university.
There are obviously a ton of hurdles such a project would have to clear, but it could be up an running in far less time than it will take to get a Metro here.
Bridge to Roosevelt Island
This is another idea GM has floated before. The report calls for the construction of a pedestrian/bike bridge to Roosevelt Island.
This has the potential to be a huge boon to bicyclists. As it is, Georgetown is the nexus of a bunch of high quality bike networks: the Capital Crescent trail, Rock Creek, the Custiss trail, and the Mt. Vernon trail. But they do not connect well to each other (particularly between the DC and Virginia trails). Constructing a bridge would achieve that. Plus it would finally mean DC residents could walk to Roosevelt Island, which is part of DC, without having to walk through another state first.
People that like this idea generally love it. But people who don’t like it tend to loathe it. Those who don’t like bikes generally don’t want to see bikes allowed on Roosevelt Island, even if it is just to pass through. Users of the park don’t want there to be more users of the park and are quite happy with the current arrangement (these people tend to be Virginians). The Friends of Georgetown Waterfront Park hates the idea. Other people are afraid it will ruin the view of the island (somehow an 8-lane highway bisecting the island doesn’t ruin it, but a few bikes will).
So needless to say, this one has an uphill battle facing it, but you don’t get something if you don’t ask for it.
More Prosaic Matters
The items above are the eye-catchers, but the report recommends lot of more prosaic improvements like:
- Permanently adding traffic control officers to M & Wisconsin and M & the Key Bridge
- Opening up access to Rock Creek from K St. during rush hour
- Doing more to promote parking apps to encourage more use of the underused garages
- Explore building new bridges across the canal west of Wisconsin to enable bikes and emergency traffic to cross
- Explore a free shuttle to move people north-south
A key individual behind these recommendations is the transportation director at the BID, Jonathon Kass. Or rather the former transportation director, because sadly we’ve lost Jonathon as he has decided to move to San Francisco to be closer to his family. GM would like to offer his heartfelt congratulations and good luck to Jonathon.