DDOT Embraces Ambitious Agenda for Georgetown

Photo by AJfroggie.

Last week the District Department of Transportation issued its Multi-Modal Long-Range Transportation report, the product of its Move DC initiative. Yes, that sounds terribly dry, but it’s actually an incredibly ambitious report, particularly for Georgetown. And if these plans ever become reality, Georgetown will be a much more pleasant place to travel to, from and through.

There are a raft of recommendations in the report, but GM will highlight just some of the more dramatic plans that could affect Georgetown:

Biking

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The report calls for the construction of several new bike lanes, including separated cycletracks (like you see on 15th St., show above).

The city is currently finishing a cycletrack on M St. from downtown to the intersection of M and Pennsylvania in Georgetown. That’s great, but unfortunately it dumps riders on to M St. in Georgetown, which even an experienced city biker like GM does not feel comfortable riding. The report declined to recommend continuing a cylcletrack on M St. through Georgetown, but it does recommend the painting of bike lanes through the same stretch. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start at least.

The report does call for the creation of a cycletrack on Q St., from the Dumbartion Bridge to 28th, up to R St. and west to 37th. This is more designed for bikers looking to get quickly through Georgetown (and it’s a popular route already for drivers looking to do the same). GM finds the stretch of Q St. from 28th to the bridge (and eastward) to be a dangerous stretch for bikers. The creation of a cycletrack there would be a great improvement.

The report also calls for a cycletrack on K St. GM believes this would go a long way towards addressing car/bike/pedestrian conflicts on that stretch (plus it will probably pull some bikers away from the park, which causes conflict).

Roosevelt Bridge

The report embraces the idea (first floated by GM back in 2011) to construct a bike bridge to Roosevelt Island from the Georgetown Waterfront Park. It was an idea also embraced by the BID’s 2028 report.

From a bike planning perspective, it’s a no-brainer. Connecting the Georgetown Waterfront Park with the island and Virginia beyond would link up several heavily used regional bike trails including the Capital Crescent trail, the C & O towpath, Rock Creek trail, the Custiss Trail, and the Mount Vernon trail. All those trails converge right at Georgetown (or directly across the river).

From a logistics and political perspective, it’s a much longer shot. Some groups, such at the Friends of Georgetown Waterfront Park, are strongly opposed to idea of a bridge. Many users of the island also would likely oppose it. Biking is currently banned on the island. While the plans GM has seen call for a single path allowing bikes to quickly cross the island, it would nonetheless require a rule change. And GM has been told that the trust that originally donated the island to the Park Service still maintains an easement on the property that allows it to prohibit any construction like this.

And that’s not to mention the $6 million price tag.

So it’s a long shot, but done correctly it could be a real gem.

(One additional benefit GM likes with the plan is that it would effectively block all large motorboats from heading up to the Key Bridge and beyond. This stretch of the Potomac is designated as a non-motorized boating zone, and canoeists and kayakers, etc., would probably appreciate the absence of all those booze cruises).

Transit

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The report embraces two ambitious transit projects for Georgetown: streetcar and Metro.

Above is the Georgetown section of the report’s map. It shows a solid red line for the initial streetcar, which is already under construction. There is a dotted red line to show a possible extension of the streetcar to Georgetown. Since the current plans call for a streetcar along K St., it’s not clear how a streetcar could continue on up to Georgetown. It’s (remotely) possible that one approach would involve a tunnel from underneath Key Bridge over to the south eastern corner of the university.

This could theoretically make sense if you consider the other major project embraced by the report: Metro. Metro has decided that its long-term plans include two stations in Georgetown, shown in the map along the dotted brown line. The GU station is shown exactly a the terminus of the proposed streetcar extension. Could a streetcar tunnel connect directly with the GU metro stop? It’d be a nifty trick.

Another possibility would involve the demolition of the Whitehurst Freeway. A ramp could be built from K St. up to Canal Rd. carrying the streetcar to the south entrance of the school where it could enter the garage and continue to a terminus basically underneath the Southwest Quad.

The thick blue line is the Circulator, which would be bisected by the streetcar. Service would continue to go up and down Wisconsin, but end at K St., where passengers would transfer to the streetcar for service downtown. The report recommends extending this branch of the Circulator all the way up to Tenleytown.

GM will probably have more to add as he digests this massive report, so stay tuned.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “DDOT Embraces Ambitious Agenda for Georgetown

  1. qstreeter

    In the past week or so they’ve painted a bike crossing at the corner of M and 28. But it doesn’t connect to anything!

  2. dsz2

    I think having the streetcar come up to the University basically requires demolition of the Whitehurst – even if some sort of tunneling arrangement were technically feasible (and I’m by no means certain that it is), NPS would never allow such work. There’s almost certainly no way to do TBM there, and cut-and-cover is out.

    My other sense is that the chances of a dedicated University metro stop are effectively zero. The angles and trajectories don’t line up, and there’s no property value (read: tax) windfall to be made. Let’s hope that the ultimate siting and surface improvements accompanying the sole Georgetown stop are done logically and with a focus on maximizing access and connectivity.

    I don’t see a gondola in the report, do you? ;)

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