Georgetown University has been working on a new Campus Plan since 2012. In includes plans for dealing with an increased student population, by adding student housing and new facilities while improving neighborhood life and expanding the Medstar GU hospital. It also contains a transportation element, with the goal of creating a more bicycle and pedestrian friendly campus. The plan was completed in September and brought before the zoning commission this month.
DDOT has reviewed and supports the transportation element, but had a few requests.
- That Healy Circle be reconstructed as a non-auto oriented, bicycle and pedestrian gateway - GU didn't oppose this, but didn't see it as having much of a purpose beyond aesthetics. They viewed it as a "nice to have" but they didn't have the money for it, so they wouldn't commit to it.
- The provision of a connection at the campus border at a point where the future Palisades Trolley Trail can be connected to the campus bike network if the trail proceeds. - GU does not want to commit to this because they're neighbors don't want them to.
- Include bike routing and wayfinding on the university's new wayfinding system - which GU agreed to.
Later they were asked about bike sharing. They noted that they have one station on campus and are working on two more.
DDOT also requested a new N-S pedestrian path along the west side of campus, which GU resisted because they plan on improving two other north-south routes for pedestrians, and they fear a path on the west side (which wouldn't connect to anything in their view) would create noise and light issues for neighbors.
GCP seems to misunderstand what DDOT is asking for. They're opposed to a high-speed commuter bikeway across campus, but that's not what DDOT is asking for. What DDOT wants is an agreement to connect the University to trail on the Glen Echo Trolley right-of-way if one is built. Nonetheless, the spokesman for the GCP added onto his statement his opinion that "The university is correct... and that the offer to look at [DDOT proposals] in the future when more facts are available, especially the proposed east-west bikeway through campus, is an appropriate and indeed very generous offer. I think what's underlying the caution here, is that this is a pedestrian campus with thousands of students and another thousands of hospital workers, patients and visitors all they're all traversing this on foot and I think we should be very, very careful before agreeing to have high-speed commuter bike pathways going through a campus like this. So I think the University has gone at least as far as appropriate by saying let's look at this in the future, if and when it comes up. I do not believe a commitment to do that is right at this point."
During his time, the DDOT representative also brought up the connection to the Palisades Trolley Trail, which he said is also a connection to the Capitol Crescent Trail. He said it was not meant to be a commuter route, but a way for people to get to and from Georgetown (which I would call commuting, but he means not a high-speed bike commuter route for cyclists heading into town). He said he did not think it was unreasonable to ask for a commitment for GU to allow for a connection to the trail if it came to fruition during the lifespan of the plan.
The GU representative disagreed. On the subject of the Palisades Trail, the GU representative echoed the concerns of the GCP and said they were not willing to commit to a connection to the trail. Like the GCP, GU was concerned that "even if the intent is solely to provide this connection for people to get from the campus to the trails (and I think that's a great idea), if it has the potential to create that through traffic, that's something that would impact both the University and, in particular, West Georgetown, though also potentially Foxhill uphill the other way. And that's something that we all need to look at together, so that's why at this point we can agree to look at it, we're happy to look at it, but we can't say we'll make the connection, because that gets us in hot water with our partners, potentially. So, we need to look at it thoughtfully. So that's why we can't agree to that."
When asked about the trail, the DDOT representative said DDOT didn't know what the volume would be on the trail, and noted that they weren't even sure the trail would be built in the 20-year span of the plan.
What's interesting is that GCP says they agree with GU and that they think they're being wise; but GU says their main concern is that GCP seems to be concerned. So GCP is trying to hide behind GU.