“This week Georgetown University is informing DDOT [the District Department of Transportation], the Office of Planning and the National Park Service that we are no longer pursuing the loop road as proposed in the campus plan filed in December 2010. Instead, we have identified a new location near Harbin Hall, in the center of campus, for the bus turn around,” said University Spokeswoman Stacy Kerr.
The loop road was originally proposed [PDF] to reduce GUTS buses’ reliance on West Georgetown streets by creating a connection between the Canal and Reservoir Road entrances. However, the proposed loop road, which would have bordered Glover-Archibald Park, was vehemently opposed by Foxhall Community Citizens Association and Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, on the grounds that it would increase noise pollution in the park.
The university maintained through June that the loop road was the “only feasible means to facilitate bus turnarounds,” because, among other reasons, “it minimizes impacts on pedestrian safety by separating bus traffic from high-volume areas of pedestrian activity at the center of campus, and provides safe areas for pedestrian travel and queuing near bus stops.”
However, according to Kerr, “Throughout this process, our goal was to balance the interests of our neighbors with the needs of the University. We looked for alternatives that would meet our goals of pedestrian safety and walkways and centralizing buses in the middle of campus of campus, away from neighborhood streets. The Harbin location meets those goals. It will allow improved access to the center of campus for our faculty, staff and students in a way that also improves pedestrian walkways and addresses pedestrian safety concerns. And it responds affirmatively to the interests of all of our neighbors.”
The university hasn’t released any details of the plan yet, but we at Vox speculate that it will be modeled after one of the original drawings of Tondorf-post science center (there is a small loop between Harbin and the new science center).
Our friends at GM speculate that the university will use this to discount the Foxhall testimonies and submissions. This is part of an ongoing strategy of conceding to the neighbors rather than trying to win them over (God knows that’ll never happen), and at the same time appearing community-oriented to the Zoning Commission.
In response to community groups and DDOT, the university has already increased the number of reimbursable details in Georgetown, added an M Street shuttle, removed the planned realignment of 38th st., removed the request for left turns onto Canal street in the morning, agreed to a voluntary enrollment cap, and promised 250 more beds on campus.
The next Zoning Commission hearing is on November 17, and in the meantime the university and DDOT are further analyzing traffic issues around campus.