2010 Campus Plan: Transportation plans would send Dupont GUTS through Canal Road

campusplanbannerTransportation PlanThe proposed loop road and new GUTS routes

The last time University officials discussed the transportation aspect of the 2010 Campus Plan back in May, they said they were tentatively planning to send the Dupont GUTS bus through the Canal Road entrance, meaning the shuttle route would be extended to the experimental 4.7 mile test route permanently.  At last night’s meeting presenting the University’s first draft of its transportation plans, University officials made it clear that the rerouting isn’t just tentative—it’s now part of the University’s preferred draft plan.

Vice President for Facilities and Student Housing Karen Frank, who presented the University’s transportation plans to neighbors last night, explained that Georgetown would like to build a loop road on the west side of campus (as illustrated above) which would allow more buses to use the Canal Road entrance.

When the University requested the rights to build the Canal Road entrance in its last ten year plan it promised neighbors that the new entrance would be used for GUTS buses. Georgetown students, faculty and staff have been spared from the extended route thus far thanks to the fact that the current set-up of the parking lot near McDonough makes it nearly impossible for buses to turn around on campus.

The other problem is that between 6:15 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. on weekdays—prime rush hour time—drivers are not permitted to make left turns off of the Canal Road entrance.  If the University could get the left-turn prohibition lifted and build the loop road, all buses besides the Wisconsin Avenue route would be able to enter and exit through Canal Road.

The potential roadblock for the plan is the Park Service, which owns the land west of campus that abuts the proposed loop road.  While the road would be on GU property, the University has an agreement with the Park Service to only use that part of campus for service vehicles.  Frank said she is pushing for the definition of “service vehicles” to be any vehicle “dedicated to the University,” which would include GUTS buses.  However, Frank said, the Park Service is “not real easy to work with.”

While Georgetown’s northern neighbors were pleased that there would be fewer buses on their residential streets, residents of Foxhall and the Palisades protested that Canal Road traffic is already at near-gridlock levels without adding more GUTS buses into the mix.

How fast could the plan be enacted? While Frank would not elaborate on what the University’s prioritization of the project would be, when one resident pressed her for more immediate fixes, saying the new routes couldn’t be enacted within the next two or three years, Frank replied, “I wouldn’t be so sure.”

Frank acknowledged in her presentation that GUTS users had raised some objections to the changes in terms of the inconvenience and environmental impact of extending the route.  She also said that using the Canal Road entrance exclusively would inconvenience students who use the bus to get to the Car Barn.

“I’ve made student concerns known,” Aaron Golds (COL ’11), the student representative on Georgetown’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission said after the meeting. “I’ve taken it as far as I can [in terms of voicing student concerns], but I will continue to do so”

The other major issue discussed at last night’s meeting was on-campus parking.  The University wants to add a total of 1,000 new parking spots—500 for GU, 500 for the hospital.  The hospital is working on their plan separately, and the University’s new spots would all be added to the parking lots on the southwest end of campus.

While some neighbors from West Georgetown were pushing the University to find better ways to get people to park on campus rather than in the community, others who live in Foxhall and the Palisades were worried about additional traffic flows on Canal Road.

“There is a problem,” ANC Chair Ron Lewis said during the meeting. “And the problem is that people who come to your classes are jamming up our streets by parking. It’s not our role, it’s not our job to figure out the solution—it’s the University’s. But there is the problem. And unless the problem goes away, it’s going to be a problem for the plan.”

There was one parking issue all the neighbors were worried about: undergraduates with cars.  Frank assured neighbors that undergraduates living in University-owned housing were not allowed to have cars and that the Registrar would not provide them with the proof of residency required to register a vehicle in D.C.

Neighbors were unconvinced, though, and pushed administrators to add a line to the Code of Student Conduct explicitly prohibiting students who live on-campus from bringing cars with them.  Frank refused, saying there would be no way to enforce such a rule and that “there’s now way I’m going out on the streets to patrol.”

Next week will be a biggie for 2010 Campus Plan fans.  Not only will the administrators be holding their first meeting with students on Tuesday, they’ll also be meeting with the neighbors three times.

The next neighbor meeting will be on Monday and will tackle the University’s plans for the 1789 block (the block between N and Prospect Streets and 36th and 37th Streets). The University is hoping to build an infill there for graduate and faculty housing.  Although the plans are still in their draft form, they are currently considering converting six undergraduate student houses on N Street into housing for graduate students or faculty.

Map from the University’s transportation presentation [PDF].

14 Comments on “2010 Campus Plan: Transportation plans would send Dupont GUTS through Canal Road

  1. Ah, so there could be even fewer townhouses available in housing selection. Brilliant.

  2. The neighbors demand that GUTS be rerouted. GUTS that is designed to take many cars off the road to get employees and students to and from a campus that is not easily accessible by mass transit. So, GU agrees, under duress. Then GU asks for more parking. Of course, with GUTS service taking longer, some will choose to drive instead. But, no, the neighbors don’t understand that. PICK ONE, D*%K H3@*S! You can’t have it both ways.

  3. I understand that the concerns of the neighbors are real and valid to an extent, but come on. You cannot expect a fairly good-sized university to be invisible and totally silent and not contributing to traffic at all. We do need more parking–not even all the faculty/staff can park on campus. I also think it’s completely unfair to reroute the Dupont GUTS to that extreme. Talk about contributing to traffic! The current extended route is bad enough, and as has been said many times before, many city buses travel along those same roads without a word of complaint for the supposedly fragile townhouses.

  4. Also, I should mention–if housing is taken away from undergraduate students, where are they going to live? More of them will *gasp* head into Burleith! Great plan for placating the neighbors there! Let’s face it, Georgetown, nothing you do is going to make everyone happy. Side with us, you know, the people who pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to come here.

  5. “There is a problem,” ANC Chair Ron Lewis said during the meeting. “And the problem is that people who come to your classes are jamming up our streets by parking. It’s not our role, it’s not our job to figure out the solution—it’s the University’s. But there is the problem. And unless the problem goes away, it’s going to be a problem for the plan.”

    At least the ANC isn’t contributing to an us vs. them mentality by claiming ownership of the neighborhood streets. How dare we go to school here!

  6. Where are the concessions from the neighbor about all this? Approving the plan? Maybe forcing the many landlords in the area to clean up their houses, improve the condition and actually be practical places to live in? Perhaps some of the focus should be there and not on having the university bend over every which way possible to accommodate this ridiculous NIMBY mentality.

  7. …which is funny, because the neighbors are actually in our backyard. we were here in 1789.. those rich folks kicked out the poor folks much more recently.

  8. Fact Checker or anyone else- Is Dave correct that GU was formed prior to Georgetown?

  9. Let’s hope the Park Service comes through with bureaucracy to gum up the works. Advocating for a route that burns approximately twice as much fuel, for personal gain, is morally reprehensible.

  10. Georgetown was inhabited by, of course, American Indians. Then, in 1751, the white folk descended. (So, in 1751, the Europeans were to the American Indians what the students are to residents.) In 1789, Georgetown was incorporated as part of Maryland. Pre-civil war, it had a mixed population of 75% white, a 25% black (1/3 of which were slaves; 2/3 free). In the late 19th century, it was an upper class, cultural hub, but by the early 20th century it had become a much poorer neighborhood (some historians would say “ghetto”). Then, from the 1930s on, it began to be the town it is today. So, it’s fair to say that, yes, Georgetown the neighborhood was here before Georgetown the school. And, to be fair to the neighbors, for quite a while, the school was just a building or two and a handful of students, so moving here wouldn’t be considered risky from a town/gown standpoint. It’s also fair to say, though, that it’s easy to play the “I was here first” game, but only the Tohoga Indians can win that game. Obviously, the make up of the neighborhood has changed throughout the years, which would argue that now it has changed into a neighborhood that is a hybrid of upper middle/upper class (mostly) white people and smart (albeit sometimes ill-behaved) students. Both have fair claim, just like the slaves could claim it was their neighborhood and the poor could do the same in the early 20th century. So, I’d say that the neighbors have a right to demand that students should be held responsible for breaking local ordinances about noise, trash, and underage drinking. But the claim of sovereignty from the annoyances of legal parking, legal busses, and the like based on “it’s our neighborhood not yours” doesn’t fly with me. It is too the University’s neighborhood. It’s BOTH OF OURS! And, guess what, when and if the poor people, the black people, the slaves, and the indians come back, it’s their’s too.

  11. so it doesn’t look like there’s any way that administration is going to stand up for its students… is there any way that they can make it easier for students? maybe if they finally get smarttrip-gocard collaboration?

  12. I say we ignore the neighbors and attempt to drive them out. Louder and bigger busses, more routes down Q Street, and more public drunkenness. This is my platform

  13. Pingback: Vox Populi » CAG President’s letter to DeGioia about the 2010 Campus Plan

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