The 10 Year Campus Plan: GUTS Busted
The University is formulating its 2010 Campus Plan, which, once it passes ANC and D.C. Zoning Commission muster, will dictate how the University can expand over the next decade. Previous Campus Plans excluded neighborhood input in their planning stages, much to the neighbors’ dismay. So this summer, University officials will hold a series of meetings to gather community input. For those of you who aren’t here, Vox will be attending all meetings and recapping them here on the blog. Keep in mind that the proposals under discussion are only tentative. At the same time, they do comprise, as University architect Alan Brangman told Vox, Georgetown University’s “wishlist.”
As Kate mentioned on Tuesday, at Saturday’s community meeting Georgetown’s permanent residents were just as down on the University’s affect on local traffic as they were on its students’ behavior. It should come as no surprise then that a major portion of the afternoon session focused on the University’s transportation plan, especially GUTS buses.
Historically cited for noise and even house-shaking, on Saturday, the neighbors and attendant ANC representatives described GUTS buses as both carelessly piloted and wreaking havoc on Reservoir Road traffic (speaking to the former charge, a University official said that the Georgetown had implemented better training for drivers a couple years ago, but that perhaps further improvements could be made).
ANC commissioner Ron Lewis said, “They’re still in our communities and on Reservoir Road in our neighborhood and that is unacceptable.” The neighbors seemed to agree and collectively insisted that the University included a provision in its 10 Year Plan that all buses use the Canal Road entrance to leave and enter the school—a demand University officials seems ready to comply with.
That’s right: on the University’s “wish list” is a tentative plans to send all buses in and out Canal Road, with the exception of the Wisconsin Avenue bus. Most noticeably altered would be the Dupont Circle bus route. Instead of its traditional 2.1 mile route, it would permanently follow the 4.7 mile test-route it has been using recently in spite of student protestations.
While there are many caveats to the University’s plan—including the need to coordinate with the Federal Highway Association and possibly the D.C. Department of Transportation (neither of which the University has spoken to) in order to make the left turn onto M Street from Canal Road less insanely difficult on weekday mornings—administrators did not mention basic convenience for GUTS passengers as one of them.
Besides rerouting most of its 29 GUTS buses, the University is looking to reduce their numbers by potentially replacing them with Circulator buses that would stop closer to campus and encouraging use of other WMATA buses. (Keep in mind that both make additional stops and neither is free.)
Lewis said this was not a desirable solution if it meant that WMATA would increase the number of buses running through the neighborhood. A University administrator stressed that it was only a suggestion, and that coming up with a plan suitable to neighborhood residents was difficult because, “we haven’t looked at these buses ever any other way than the way we get people on and off campus.”
This plan may yield one positive change for students, the potential greening of Tondorf Road. In order for GUTS buses entering Georgetown by Canal Road to be able to loop around and exit the same way (which University Architect Alan Brangman said they cannot do using the existing road structure), Georgetown will need to construct a service road behind campus, which would eliminate the need for Tondorf to be open to service vehicles.
The new service road, ‘Park Road,’ would require the approval of the Park Service, whose land is adjacent to the strip the road would be built on. Lewis was not confident that the University would be able to get their approval, but Brangman noted coolly that there is an easement within which the University is authorized to build a service road. Pressed for a “Plan B,” Brangman noted that they could construct a “turnaround”—although the former would have the benefit of enabling buses to pickup passengers near the hospital.
Conversation about the University’s parking plan followed. Earlier, Lewis’ case against additional housing on the 1789 block included a plea that the University not “add cars to already saturated streets.” So unsurprisingly, the University’s potential plan for parking—which is to split 1,000 new parking spaces between the new hospital facility and potential convocation center—had neighbors in a tizzy over how big events on campus would exacerbate traffic problems on Canal Road and Prospect Street.