Monday night a lively group packed the community meeting room at the library to hear about the Georgetown Community Access and Circulation Study. The meeting was lead by the community engagement consultants, LINK, but DDOT representatives also spoke.
The main thrust of the first half of the meeting was to communicate what the study is, and isn’t. On the “is” side includes a list of possible changes to the way people travel to and from the neighborhood in the short and medium term. Short term items are things that can be installed in 1-3 years (or faster) that don’t need any specific budget authorization. This includes things like curb bulb outs or flex post installation. The medium term includes things that would take more like 2-4 years, and require more extensive design work, but not a full blown environmental review, for instance. That might include things like making certain streets one-way.
What the study is not going to address are projects on either end of short or medium term. In other words, extremely short term projects that already have a review process in place will not be included, simply because they can already be pursued. For instance, if you think an intersection without a stop sign could use one, you can already ask for one from DDOT (whether you’ll get it depends on the facts and circumstances). And on the flip side, long term items are also not included in the study simply because they are so big that they will need their own studies to be advanced. The obvious example for this is a Georgetown Metro station. We might all want it, but this study would have no power to bring it any closer to fruition so DDOT doesn’t want to waste time and money on the idea through the study.
Additionally, since this is a DDOT study, it can’t generate recommendations for things that DDOT doesn’t control. For instance, DDOT has no power over WMATA’s bus routes, so they will not be part of the study’s recommendations. Additionally, DDOT has no power over DPW’s parking enforcement, so it does not appear that the study will address that either (much to the disappointment of some attendees).
Importantly, the configuration of the streets in Georgetown can be in the report’s recommendation. And while bus routes are in WMATA’s hands, whether Georgetown has bus lanes, for example, can be part of the study. In other words, how we use the streetscape, whether for parking, travel, streateries, bike lanes, bus lanes, whatever, is the point of the study. And surely we all have opinions on that!
To that end, during the meeting, attendees could add comments to a map of Georgetown trying to direct attention of the consultants to any issue. Due to the crowds, however, many did not have a chance to do so. And, of course, those who didn’t attend in person didn’t have a chance either. But the consultants have set up a website to gather any and all such comments. And I strongly encourage you do submit them to your heart’s content. (The website is live, but the map is not yet live. So give it a few days first.)
The last portion of the meeting consisted of break-out groups to discuss what they hoped would come from the study. Again, the larger size of the crowd made these sessions challenging, but for my part, I found that my group generated some good ideas concerning the process. I hope for the future meetings, the consultants will budget more time for these group discussions, and perhaps a bit less for the full group Q&A’s, which have a tendency to turn into soapbox sessions.
There will be two more primary community meetings for the study. The first will be this fall during which the initial recommendations will be presented and the community will have a chance to weigh in on them. And then in the winter a final meeting will take place where the ultimate recommendations will be presented.
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