Category Archives: Transportation

Georgetown 2028: Transportation Solutions

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. Continue reading

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Georgetown 2028 Report Finalized

Last week, the board of the Georgetown BID approved the final report of the Georgetown 2028 task force. GM was on the task force in his capacity as a CAG board member, so he was restricted in talking very much about the details here. Now that the report is finalized, he’s free to walk you through all the great things that are in it. He’ll spend the next several days doing so.

Today he’s going to talk big picture, and the big picturest item in the report is just one word: Metro.

Early on in the process, it became abundantly clear that when trying to plan for the future of Georgetown, the elephant in the room is Metro. Transportation is such a critical challenge for Georgetown, and there is no solution more dramatic and effective than Metro.

The long term planners for WMATA have floated plans for at least one Georgetown but the time frame is 2040. Meetings with the planners revealed that that time frame was not due to logistics but rather politics. If the politics were changed, the time frame could be changed too. Continue reading

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O and P to Get Swept

New O and P Streets Great for Bikers

 

In a lot of DC neighborhoods, from March to October residents with cars are obliged to weekly move their cars to accommodate street sweeping. For whatever reason, Georgetown is exempt from this burden (GM has heard it was due to the narrow streets where parking is only on one side, but who knows if that’s true). Yet the streets don’t seem so bad, do they? Continue reading

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Georgetown 2028

What will Georgetown look like in 2028? More importantly, what do you want it to look like? Wider sidewalks? Easier parking? More restaurants? Better transit? You may soon have the opportunity to answer those questions, and actually have an impact.

Yesterday the Georgetown BID announced an ambitious new effort dubbed “Georgetown 2028″. The project is designed to take a deep look at what the neighborhood needs to do over the next fifteen years to face the challenges of a city growing and changing at an incredibly fast pace.

From the project’s website:

Future Georgetown must compete against new and “coming soon” commercial areas in the District and nearby areas so it remains home to fine dining, distinct retail opportunities, great hotels, and major businesses. Future Georgetown must have the transportation strategies and system to efficiently move people in, out and around. Future Georgetown, as a riverfront neighborhood, must have the forethought to protect itself from the impacts of a changing climate, including rising water levels. It must understand its future infrastructure needs and decide how it wants its public infrastructure to be designed, used, and managed. And finally, future Georgetown will need to manage all these issues as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The effort is a breathtakingly broad look at all the changes that need to be made to the physical and business environment in Georgetown. The project is organized around a task force of business, educational, governmental, and residential representatives (full disclosure: GM is on the task force representing the Citizens Association of Georgetown). Supporting the task force are three working groups addressing, respectively, transportation challenges, economic development, and the public space. Those topics give you a good sense for what sort of broad-based topics the project will consider.

And the project is also very wide-open in terms of solutions. And consistent with that, the project is seeking input from the public. There will be a community engagement meeting on June 13th at 1055 Thomas Jefferson St. at 5:30 to 8:00. There will be a second community engagement meeting in September.

But the input isn’t limited to community meetings. The project has already set up a community engagement website, which allows you to log in and offers your thoughts on what you want to see change about Georgetown over the next 15 years. There’s even a rewards program! Build up 150 points by logging in, referring a friend, and contributing enough ideas and you win a lunch with the BID CEO Joe Sternlieb, during which you can share your thoughts on Georgetown and what ideas you have to make it better.

Basically this is exactly the sort of comprehensive and ambitious planning effort that GM has been calling for for years. GM is absolutely thrilled that it is finally happening, and he’s honored to be taking part.

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New Bikeshare Station to be Installed Today(?)

Photo by Jason Pier.

GM walked by the Wisconsin Ave. CVS last night and noticed that there was a no parking sign up along O St. The sign indicated that the reason for the restriction was “Bikeshare” and the date was April 24th, today.

This location was one of the locations identified by DDOT for the next round of stations. This will go a long way towards filling the need for residents to have better access to bikeshare stations. There are, of course, already four stations in Georgetown, but they’re on the periphery of the residential sections of the neighborhood. This one will bring the service all that much closer to many residents’ front doors. Continue reading

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How to Widen Sidewalks on the Cheap

Photo courtesy of BYT.

Last weekend was the phenomenal French Market on Book Hill. It was the event’s tenth anniversary and was the best one yet. With luck, an innovation from this year will point the way towards more street fairs in Georgetown: wider sidewalks.

If there’s one thing most people agree on it’s that Georgetown’s sidewalks on M and Wisconsin are far too narrow. GM would love a permanent fix whereby most, if not all, parking on M is taken away to widen the brick sidewalks. But that would be a huge and expensive project, possible someday perhaps but not anytime soon.

The French Market demonstrated, however, how we can temporarily widen the sidewalks with fantastic results. As you can see above, the city removed parking on Wisconsin Ave. and set up fences between the pedestrians and the traffic. Thus essentially doubling the width of the sidewalk.

Crowding was always a problem with the French Market, but extra space substantially reduced that. Continue reading

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BID Experiments With TCOs at Wisconsin and M

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Last week the BID experimented with adding traffic control officers at the intersection of Wisconsin and M. The officers were there directing traffic and preventing gridlock. When GM stopped by on Friday, there were four officers in the intersection.

The effort was only from April 8-13th, but the hope is that it will become a permanent addition. This is part of the BID’s newly invigorated focus on transportation thanks to its new transportation director, Jonathon Kass. In the BID’s press release, Kass stated “We are hoping that intersection management will improve conditions for everyone, including bus riders on the two DC Circulator Routes and five Metrobus routes that traverse this spot.”

Any discussion of officers directing traffic at that intersection is bound to bring up memories of the late, great Joe Pozell. For those unfamiliar with the sad story: Pozell was the manager at Oak Hill Cemetery, where he lived with his family in the caretaker’s house. On the weekends, he volunteered as a police officer directing traffic at M and Wisconsin. Continue reading

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BID Adds Two Exciting Staffers

Yesterday the BID announced the hiring of two exciting new hires. The first is Jonathon Kass as the BID’s new Transportation Director. He comes from the staff of Councilmember Tommy Wells, where he specialized on transportation issues. The second is Josh Hermias, who will be the BID’s new Economic Development Director. He comes most recently from Georgetown University, and before that worked in the District City Administrator’s office and at Brookings.

These hires are exciting for several reasons. This first is that they’re happening in the first place. It’s fantastic that the BID is seriously focusing on these two issues. Transportation and economic development are the two most significant challenges that the Georgetown business community faces over the next 10-20 years. Secondly, this is exciting because both Kass and Hermias bring such heft to the positions. Continue reading

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Lively Discussion on Parking Last Night

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Last night DDOT hosted a meeting with the community to discuss parking. The meeting came out of a long series of discussions that have been going on for years between representatives of the ANC, CAG, and the BID to address the parking situation in Georgetown.

As expected the meeting was lively and well attended. After a short introduction by DC’s parking Czar Angelo and his colleague Damon Harvey, the crowd of about 40-50 was broken up into three discussion groups to tackle three topics of challenges: residential parking, parking for commercial establishments, and institutional parking.

The bulk of the crowd (and GM) gravitated to the first group, where opinions were strong although not always in agreement.

For instance, early on in the discussion, someone suggested the creation of a ANC2E-only parking permit. Under such a scheme, only those who live in Georgetown or Burleith would get the benefit of unlimited parking in those neighborhoods. As it stands now, anyone who lives in Ward 2–which stretches all the way to the Convention Center and down to Southwest DC–can park without restriction in ANC2E.

Lots of heads nodded in approval for that proposal. But then one member piped up, essentially, “Hey I like parking in Dupont. If our zone is reduced, then I can’t drive and park there unrestricted.” Some other heads then bobbed in approval of that, and cited the distance to the Metro. Others then responded, hey if you want to go to Dupont, take a bus. It’s not like there’s any parking anyway.

And that pretty much set the tone for the evening. Lots of impassioned opinions, with nods of agreement often followed by rebuttals.

Probably the most contentious issue was that of the idea of making the side streets pay-for-parking. Some of the objections to the idea were to the aesthetics of not wanting physical meters on the side streets. That, in fact, is not a likely proposal anyway. Any plan for pay-for-parking in the side streets would involve the use of pay-by-cellphone, which only necessitates the signs be changed.

Continue reading

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Meeting on Parking Tomorrow Night

Photo by Matt Hurst.

Tomorrow night at 6:30 pm at Hardy School, DDOT will be hosting a forum on parking issues for the Georgetown community. GM knows that sounds incredibly dry and boring, but this will actually be interesting! The thing is, the city is taking dramatic steps to address how it manages on street parking throughout DC. And the likely changes it will recommend for Georgetown will be based on the concept of performance parking.

Performance parking is a topic GM has discussed several times before. The basic idea is this: on blocks where there is more demand than supply, the city will add meters and charge high enough rates to discourage enough people from parking on that street in order to always have a few spots open. Residents would be exempt from the meters and residents would be given some means to provide guest parking. Continue reading

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