Greater Greater Washington

Streetcar to GU should top Mayor Gray's jobs agenda

Few initiatives would address DC unemployment more directly than to extend the H Street-Benning Road streetcar on dedicated lanes directly onto Georgetown University's campus, while asking in return for GU to commit to build a satellite campus in Northeast DC.


Photo by Mr. T in DC on Flickr.

The university, Georgetown businesses and residents, and city leaders should all fight for this initiative, because they all win in big ways. GU, the District of Columbia's largest employer, is moving jobs to Virginia. This flight will only further reduce the already low number of jobs these institutions provide to District residents.

The expansion of GU jobs into Virginia, which began in 2004 with the opening of a School of Continuing Studies campus in Clarendon, is being driven by the perception that the University has simply run out of room.

This job migration is almost certain to continue given Georgetown neighbors' recent success in blocking GU's plans to expand the main campus. Mayor Vincent Gray seems very aware of the problem this creates for the District, given that the Education and Health Care job sector is the District's, and the nation's, fastest-growing.

That's why he voiced concerns at a Jobs Summit about the limitations sometimes placed on employees and students to address town-gown conflicts. "I need to understand more about what these [university] jobs would be and reasons for those caps," Gray said. "Historically, there have been tensions between the universities and the neighborhoods in which they reside."

Some growth advocates criticize neighbors for opposing growth on campus without equivalent on-campus housing, and will undoubtedly do so in the comments to this article. The reality is that town-gown disputes are not new and are not going away, so we must learn how to address the concerns of neighbors without losing education jobs. Mayor Gray and other city leaders can and must do just that.

Earlier this year, in response to community opposition to its Campus Plan, GU committed to relocate "1,000 School of Continuing Students students to an off-campus location by Dec. 31, 2013." While one would assume that those SCS students will also go to the Clarendon campus, GU says it is "exploring potential transit-oriented locations elsewhere in the District." What can the District do to compete for those jobs?

To entice GU to build a satellite campus in DC, the District should offer to extend the H Street/Benning Road streetcar line onto GU's campus by a certain date. Specifically, the line would proceed without overhead wires on dedicated transit lanes along Pennsylvania Avenue and M Street, past Wisconsin Avenue and the Car Barn, joining mixed traffic at the Key Bridge intersection where it would reconnect to overhead wires and enter campus on the Canal Road entrance. The route would terminate in the parking lot outside McDonough Arena at the current Georgetown University Transportation Shuttle (GUTS) bus stops.


Green: Preliminary Route; Red: Suggested Route

The streetcar line was initially anticipated to run along K Street in Georgetown. Recently departed DDOT Deputy Director Scott Kubly told the Georgetown BID, however, that he would prefer M Street in order to increase ridership. The M Street route, terminating on campus, would be a real win-win-win for every part of the city.

Improving DC residents' access to District jobs: 72% of DC jobs go to non-DC residents, and given the location of GU and GUH (DC's 6th largest employer) near the Key Bridge the percentage on campus is likely that or higher. A Streetcar onto campus would economically integrate the city, connecting residents around the city and particularly in Northeast with nearly 10,000 jobs on GU and GUH's campus. The much-expected future site of the GU Hospital on North Kehoe field would be a brief walk to a streetcar station in the McDonough Arena parking lot.

Creating GU jobs in DC: A streetcar terminating on GU's campus would provide door-to-door service to and from any satellite campus on the eastern half of the route. This will stem the flow of jobs from DC's top employer to Virginia. Furthermore, GU would face fewer constraints in the growth of its main campus because the congestion created by employees of and visitors to GU and GUH would be addressed. This route would eliminate the need for the controversial GUTS Shuttle to Dupont Circle, as it would include stops at Metro stations on several lines including Farragut North.

Improving Georgetown retail: Georgetown business leaders have experienced much angst lately about losing status to retail districts on 14th Street, U Street and H Street. Bringing streetcars along M Street on dedicated lanes would be a bold move to raise the strip's profile and cachet.

Historic preservation of Georgetown: Streetcars historically ran along M Street to the Car Barn. Any argument that a wireless streetcar on M Street somehow detracts from Georgetown's historic character would clearly be impossible to make. Furthermore, there would be no need for overhead wires as long as there are dedicated lanes.

Kubly explained to the Georgetown BID that the limits of current wireless technology are not in terms of distance, but in terms of time. Thus, a dedicated streetcar lane, meaning that streetcars won't waste valuable time (and thus electricity) sitting in traffic, significantly adds to the distance that a wireless streetcar can travel.

Reducing traffic and parking congestion in Georgetown: A couple years ago DDOT paid for a consultant to do a Transportation Study in Georgetown. One of the interesting findings was that congestion on M Street is at the intersections, and not in between them. Traffic analysis showed that the outside lanes were not used to capacity during rush hour, so the creation of transit only lanes should be able to shift traffic over one lane with minimal increase in congestion.

Even assuming no mode shift as a result of streetcars, then, dedicated transit lanes on M Street would likely result in little to no increase in congestion. Of course, there would be an expected mode shift not only to streetcars, but also to the bus lines that traverse M Street (which are the most-used Metrobus lines in the entire region).

The current fiscal environment makes it difficult to justify an investment in streetcar technology if it is merely viewed as a toy for the new, wealthier urbanites. But design it instead to improve access to jobs for DC residents, and sell it as such, and the project makes sense in just about any budget environment. In fact, few investments would result in as reliable and measurable an increase in jobs for DC residents as dramatically improving access to the largest employer in the city in return for that employer's expansion within the city.

Does the political will exist to do what makes so much sense?

Ken Archer is CTO of a software firm in Tysons Corner. He commutes to Tysons by bus from his home in Georgetown, where he lives with his wife and son. Ken completed a Masters degree in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America. 

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I disagree. The separated blue line should be DC's #1 economic development and employment initiative. It will add capacity to the center city subway system, which will run out of capacity in the next decade. It will serve more areas of the city, and reduce traffic congestion. It will allow other parts of the city to intensify development wise.

While transit to Georgetown from underserved areas of the city could be better, a streetcar all of a sudden won't get people from far SE employed.

How many people work in Georgetown anyway? Sure it's a lot comparatively speaking, but...

by Richard Layman on Sep 15, 2011 10:33 am • linkreport

Could a Streetcar make it up the hill from Canal Road? An alternative to this great idea would be to reactivate the track on O Street and feed into the main campus, or use 37th Street as the turnaround.

by William on Sep 15, 2011 10:47 am • linkreport

If you are promoting growth of GU at a satellite campus elsewhere in DC, then how do you justify the investment of streetcar service in Georgetown? There will be little or no ridership growth there to justify this expanded transit capacity. I doubt traffic from the old to new campuses would justify the investement either. But I like the plan because it looks like there would be a stop at Washington Circle and Pennsylvania Avenue NW to serve Foggy Bottom and GW!

by GWalum on Sep 15, 2011 10:47 am • linkreport

The Red route could also allow for the restoration the streetcar connection to Virginia across Key Bridge. The streetcar could be a short term solution in place of the much more expensive new subway line to roughly parallel the Orange/Blue lines in DC. It could also extend further into Arlington beyond the old Rosslyn Circle terminus, and replace the 38B bus route. Metro has acknowledged that the orange line in the Ballston/Rosslyn corridor will become a choke point, and the streetcar line could help avert major capacity issues on the subway.

by John P on Sep 15, 2011 10:48 am • linkreport

I love the connection into Georgetown, though mustering the will to run the streetcar down M St could be tricky.

I'd be skeptical that many of the folks on M St would switch to streetcar given that many originate or are destined for areas well beyond the streetcar's service area. That said, instead of shifting existing trips to transit; I'd suspect this realignment would instead introduce *new* users. That in and of itself isn't bad, except that still leaves a question of how to handle the streetcar's trip through the traffic along M St.

Placing the streetcar into mixed traffic is not necessarily ideal given the crawl that M St experiences every day, impacting not just the user experience but also posing some considerable technical issues. Or another option would be to take a more hardline approach and take a lane to give over to transit... while I'd personally be rather supportive, I wouldn't be surprised if the opposition mounted a greater show of force than supporters.

One advantage of running along K St beneath the Whitehurst Fwy is that it's easy. Well, it's easy right up until you run out of road & run into a canal followed by a steep slope up to the campus... in which case making that final jump onto the campus would require some effort. Certainly not impossible, but the terrain isn't the most ideal. So just some more fodder to think about.

by Bossi on Sep 15, 2011 10:49 am • linkreport

Extending the streetcar is a great idea - but holding Georgetown University hostage is not.
Georgetown is expanding its continuing education program to Virginia because that is where its customer base lives and/or works. Yes it'd be nice to use a satalite campus to spur development in NE but there are no jobs or dense housing developments in NE.
Also, DC residents can use Metro to commute to Georgetown's Virgina campus for work and still pay DC income taxes.
Walter-Reed would be a great location for a satelite campus, but first must come tranist and commercial development (office and retail).

by Andy(2) on Sep 15, 2011 10:50 am • linkreport

Streetcars without wires are still firmly in the world of magical fantasyland. There will be wires, and the streetcars are still good things! NIMBYs who are petrified of wires -- about as justifiably as my cat is petrified of ceiling fans -- just need to deal with it.

by dal20402 on Sep 15, 2011 10:50 am • linkreport

"Any argument that a wireless streetcar on M Street somehow detracts from Georgetown's historic character would clearly be impossible to make."

Oh come on, do you really think that something as trivial as 'logic' is going to stop the Old Georgetown Board?!

by Shipsa01 on Sep 15, 2011 10:53 am • linkreport

I keep hearing the argument that Wisconsin is too steep to have streetcars, but for decades, they already have in the past. What's changed since the early 20th century?

by thedoc on Sep 15, 2011 11:00 am • linkreport

>> "The separated blue line should be DC's #1 economic development and employment initiative."

I have a hard time seeing a separated blue line coming together before 2040. If they can make a fairly robust streetcar network happen <= 10 years I have no problem putting streetcars above the blue line on the priority list.

by Paul S on Sep 15, 2011 11:14 am • linkreport

I like it. I think it's win win.

by Redline SOS on Sep 15, 2011 11:18 am • linkreport

>> "Kubly explained to the Georgetown BID that the limits of current wireless technology are not in terms of distance, but in terms of time. Thus, a dedicated streetcar lane, meaning that streetcars won't waste valuable time (and thus electricity) sitting in traffic, significantly adds to the distance that a wireless streetcar can travel."

To dedicate lanes in the city core for transit the frequency of use of those lanes should be high. People don't want to see a lane on a given block sit unused for 10-12 minutes. So to justify a dedicated lane it should be used by additional streetcar routes and possibly busses so its being used every 2-4 minutes. This is why the original DDOT plan had many streetcar lines connecting into the K Street which served as the trunk of the system.

by Paul S on Sep 15, 2011 11:19 am • linkreport

If running a streetcar on M to terminate at GU makes sense, it should be done on its transportation merits and not as part of some quid pro quo to get the university to open a branch campus in NE.

by BFM on Sep 15, 2011 11:27 am • linkreport

Wow. Rarely has GGW published an article with so much cognitive dissonance.

by Jasper on Sep 15, 2011 11:36 am • linkreport

I'm sorry, but this makes zero sense.

1. The unemployed in DC are in two specific places.
2. These same unemployed are unemployable for a variety of reasons, being functionally illiterate is the main one, but felony records, lack of any qualifying experience etc are others.
3. What jobs at GU are the massive demo of unemployed District residents remotely qualified for? Is there a large population of unemployed law professors living in SE I am unaware of?

This is the silliest solution to the DC unemployment rate I've ever seen.

by freely on Sep 15, 2011 11:39 am • linkreport

I like the idea of a streetcar on M Street. That is where the people and the activity are, and I always imagined the annoyance/difficulty of climbing up and down the hill between M & K would hurt the ridership of a K Street streetcar.

That said, I don't know how this would solve unemployment, other than possibly improving access to jobs. And where would GU build a satellite campus in Northeast, anyway? At least give us a couple possible sites if you're going to suggest it.

by dan reed! on Sep 15, 2011 11:48 am • linkreport

I've proposed here before that they should move the business school to NoMa near GU Law/Gonzaga HS, and move the med/nursing schools (with a second hospital) to Hill East, freeing up room for the college and academic grad components to grow on the main campus. Having a transit line connecting the three campuses would make that all the more possible.

The trolley line itself won't do a lot for unemployment, but putting more (any) career-centered higher education east of the capitol would lead help solve the root causes.

As for the route itself, would it work if it continued on K Street, following the Capital Crescent railroad bed to a stop near the Canal St entrance? After what H St NE has gone through the past few years, a proposal to do that to M St NW would meet a lot of opposition.

by Novanglus on Sep 15, 2011 11:56 am • linkreport

Any argument that a wireless streetcar on M Street somehow detracts from Georgetown's historic character would clearly be impossible to make.

Cue Lance in 3...2...1...

by dcd on Sep 15, 2011 11:57 am • linkreport

Naturally there is the implication that GU "took" jobs to VA (always the evil villain), never mind whether or not the nature of those jobs had any sort of match to the fitness of those in DC who need jobs the most. The more likely case is that GU went to where the demand was. Its a continuing studies program, not a residential campus, so they are catering to the demands of students who are likely already working. Where is one likely to find more of those? The RB corridor makes a lot more sense than a location in NE.

by spookiness on Sep 15, 2011 11:58 am • linkreport

Having a greater connection with Northeast makes sense, as they may have areas to expand around the Law School - though I'm not sure how affordable rents in that particular area would be. Having a streetcar connection would be a significant advantage over the existing shuttle to the Law School, though resistence to a dedicated streetcar lane would be difficult to overcome - would having a connection between O Street and Penn Ave be feasible?

by Mr. DC on Sep 15, 2011 12:09 pm • linkreport

I love the idea of a streetcar link onto Georgetown's campus, however, turning a streetcar around in the surface lot at McDonough would likely prove challenging (for further discussion, see the challenges of turning busses around. There are also some curves at the terminus that would likely be challenging for a streetcar to make.

Alternatively, what about working with the owners of the Car Barn property at Canal and 35th, to see if there would be the ability to return the ground floor of that building to its original function (trolley turntable and maintenance)?

Also, Ken, I was very confused by this set of sentences.

GU, the District of Columbia's largest employer, is moving jobs to Virginia. This flight will only further reduce the already low number of jobs these institutions provide to District residents.

If Georgetown is the District's largest employer, do you have any data on how many DC residents are on the payroll? Is it a low number in proportion to VA/MD residents, or a low number overall? And how would that number compare to other employers' records on hiring DC residents?

by Jacques on Sep 15, 2011 12:12 pm • linkreport

Also Ken, I think you've now seen enough of Campus Plan proceedings to know that this statement is not true.

Furthermore, GU would face fewer constraints in the growth of its main campus because the congestion created by employees of and visitors to GU and GUH would be addressed.

As shown by the rigged data that a CAG representative put together trying to portray an actual decrease in GU undergrads living off-campus as a massive increase, or the arguments against running the Dupont Circle GUTS bus down Q street (even though a shorter ride leads to more incentives for people to take transit rather than drive to campus), I hope you realize that very few pieces of hard data (including data on congestion mitigation) are convincing to people who are just plain opposed to any additional activity on campus.

by Jacques on Sep 15, 2011 12:16 pm • linkreport

Jacques: Modern streetcars don't have to turn around; they can just switch direction. The old ones needed a turnaround but nowadays they just have a cab on each end.

by David Alpert on Sep 15, 2011 12:21 pm • linkreport

Sorry, no. There's no real reason to believe that a streetcar would be more efficient and effective than the circulator bus and campus shuttles.

A streetcar would be a nice amenity, but it's like a brand new, upscale refrigerator: pleasant to own but doesn't add a lot of value.

by JustMe on Sep 15, 2011 12:23 pm • linkreport

Regarding the location for a Georgetown U. statellite campus, perhaps the recently-purchased Hecths building (http://dcmud.blogspot.com/2011/07/douglas-secures-hechts-warehouse-at.html) on New York Avenue could be suitable, although this would be a considerable distance from the H Street streetcar.

Another good location for a satellite campus, admittedly nowhere near Northeast, would be Van Ness. I attended a UDC campus meeting this week and UDC wil begin building it's student center soon and has plans to add housing on campus for several hundred, perhaps thousands of students. As has been posted on Greater Greater Washington, American University also plans to relocate its law school to Tenley Circle and we've been pushing them for a design that will help open up the campus more to the neighborhood and pedestrians.

Wilson High School has also undergone a campus modernization.

This area could perhaps become an education corridor for the District. This would require a lot of coordinated planning perhaps some wishful thinking but it would also help revitalize a rather drab area of DC that is very transit-accessible.

by Ben on Sep 15, 2011 12:23 pm • linkreport

Hmm. Let me see. Ken lays out a pitch every job program proposed doesn't target the real unemployed. Then he suggests that as a jobs pitch the Mayor build a streetcar in Georgetown, in return for Georgetown building a satellite campus in NE.

What makes me think the problem with unemployment EOTR has nothing to do with lack of executive MBA programs?

@Jasper; actually, GGW publishes them all the time. Just do an author search. You know what to look for.

by charlie on Sep 15, 2011 12:25 pm • linkreport

There are a host of errors and/or unsupported assumptions in this article, most of which have already been pointed out in the comments section. But this one was my personal favorite:

"Georgetown neighbors' recent success in blocking GU's plans to expand the main campus."

Did I miss the Zoning Commission decision?

by Dave on Sep 15, 2011 12:36 pm • linkreport

@ Ben:Another good location for a satellite campus, admittedly nowhere near Northeast, would be Van Ness.

Anybody that thinks that Georgetown, or in fact any of the private universities in DC, will even remotely consider creating a new satellite campus within the District is not aware, denying or willfully ignoring the treatment that the universities get from DC as well as the treatment they get from the VA counties they're flying to.

I got some campaign fodder on my doormat yesterday. Did you know Fairfax got 4 Fortune 500 companies to move its HQ to Fairfax in the last few years? Can you imagine similar companies moving to Amstelveen (next to Amsterdam), Meaux (next to Paris), Slough (next to London), or Koga (next to Tokyo) in stead of the actual capital?

[Yes, I am sure Fairfax sold itself out to those companies, but that's beside the point]

[Wait, what? I am reacting to an Archer post without smearing him? I must be ill!]

by Jasper on Sep 15, 2011 12:38 pm • linkreport

Extending the streetcar is a great idea - but holding Georgetown University hostage is not. Georgetown is expanding its continuing education program to Virginia because that is where its customer base lives and/or works.

All municipalities lure investment with transportation commitments. And GU already said that they are open to transit-friendly DC locations for a satellite campus, as is quoted in the article.

GU knows that Gray wants to keep their jobs in DC. This proposal is a way for Gray to do just that.

by Ken Archer on Sep 15, 2011 12:48 pm • linkreport

I'm not up to date with all the new transit proposal, but with these new street cars and the purple line, has there ever been any thought into connecting all these lines? I'm thinking the purple line gets continued so that it goes bethesda, silver spring, college park, new carrolton, and maybe splits off at some point to turn south and connect up with the H St. streetcars, which would run all the way to georgetown, and in the future all the way up to bethesda. Basically a transit beltway on the two lines.

by adawg on Sep 15, 2011 12:49 pm • linkreport

To dedicate lanes in the city core for transit the frequency of use of those lanes should be high. People don't want to see a lane on a given block sit unused for 10-12 minutes.

All the more reason to have dedicated transit lanes on M Street in Georgetown. The most used Metrobus line (30s), 2 Circulator lines and 38B and D5 run along M Street, and would all run faster and thus less expensively on dedicated transit lanes.

by Ken Archer on Sep 15, 2011 12:50 pm • linkreport

1. The unemployed in DC are in two specific places.
2. These same unemployed are unemployable for a variety of reasons, being functionally illiterate is the main one, but felony records, lack of any qualifying experience etc are others.
3. What jobs at GU are the massive demo of unemployed District residents remotely qualified for? Is there a large population of unemployed law professors living in SE I am unaware of?

Education and health care is the fastest growing jobs sector in DC, which is why the DC Community College is training for health careers like CNA. These campuses also require lots of unskilled labor to keep them going, such as janitorial jobs.

by Ken Archer on Sep 15, 2011 12:53 pm • linkreport

If Georgetown is the District's largest employer, do you have any data on how many DC residents are on the payroll?

I tried, unsuccessfully, to get this data. So, I am assuming that the percentage is no higher than the avg DC employer given that GU and GUH are so close to the Virginia border and the Key Bridge.

by Ken Archer on Sep 15, 2011 12:55 pm • linkreport

I'm confused as to the need for a campus in NE DC for Georgetown. Certainly, if they feel that it's in their best interests to build one along H Street or Benning Road, I'd welcome them. But I think that corridor is filling up rapidly with new commercial and residential developments, and I'm not sure what benefits a Georgetown satellite campus would bring that require substantial city incentives.

On the other hand, I think a streetcar along M Street is a strong enough proposal to stand on its own merits.

by Tim Krepp on Sep 15, 2011 1:00 pm • linkreport

The streetcar should run down K, underneath Washington Circle (where it can have its own stop and avoid traffic jams), serve the Georgetown Waterfront, and turn up Wisconsin, running all the way to the Maryland border. This would serve not only more people than a Georgetown University-based network (but would still allow for enough people to take transit and then walk), but it would significantly improve access to those in Glover Park and northwards. Of course this should be done in tandem with the new Blue Line (although I still think it should turn at NH to P, then turn to M, down NJ, and then Mass to Union Station, not simply under M the entire time).

by Phil on Sep 15, 2011 1:02 pm • linkreport

Ken,

Yes, healthcare is burgeoning but the tens of thousands of willfully unempployed in DC aren't waiting in line to take those classes, or functionally able to. Atleast I certainly hope the DC Community College isn't graduating nurses who cannot read.

Back to the main point at hand.

Colleges and universities have three eschelons of employment, faculty, administration, services.

The tens of thousands of EOTR unemployed aren't remotely qualified to fill faculty or administration jobs, janitorial is the only thing thats left.

I'd be surprised if GU employed more than what...150-200 full time services people (janitorial and plant).

Ward 8 alone with its 25% unemployment rate has what...about 9,000 unemployed people between the ages of 18 and 55?

So GU doubles in size and adds ~200 service folk, AND agrees to only hire District residents (ha, not a chance) what you are telling us is that it would be worth it for the District to spend a few hundred million dollars (in upfront costs, millions a year or operate and maintain) building one streetcar line to employ ~200 District residents people in low wage jobs?

Again, completely silly. Extending that line to GT would have an unmeasurable effect on the EOTR unemployment rate.

by freely on Sep 15, 2011 1:24 pm • linkreport

I agree with freely's analysis but a satellite campus in Northeast would likely encourage other development nearby, creating service-sector jobs some of the less-skilled, unemployed people can fill. Is there any doubt that if you had several hundred students, plus associated faculty and staff located in an attractive new building with the associated streetscape improvements, it wouldn't also encourage new restaurants, coffee shops, etc...

A satellite campus in the District, rather than shift this to Virginia, would also keep tax revenue in the District. Some of the currently unemployed might be unemployable because of the lack of skills, education, etc, mentioned but higher tax revenues could be used to improve and modernize District schools, especially in underserved areas, making future generations of District residents competitive for these better jobs.

by Ben on Sep 15, 2011 1:39 pm • linkreport

@charlie - I think President and Dean, both admin positions, come before faculty, which includes lowly adjuncts. Admin includes administrative assistants, or secretary type work, that is often (but not always) entry-level.

by Tina on Sep 15, 2011 1:42 pm • linkreport

* i meant @freely

by Tina on Sep 15, 2011 1:43 pm • linkreport

Building a streetcar in Georgetown should be Gray's top priority?

Sorry, I had to stop at that line alone. And, based on the comments, it looks like I missed yet another easily Fisked article.

Always entertaining when G'town residents' "solution" to the awful university is to - literally! - try to move parts of it elsewhere.

I wonder what those same residents' reaction would have been had G'town tried to build it's continuing education facilities near campus, rather than in NoVa.

Actually, no I don't since it's so predictable.

by Fritz on Sep 15, 2011 1:44 pm • linkreport

"If Georgetown is the District's largest employer, do you have any data on how many DC residents are on the payroll? Is it a low number in proportion to VA/MD residents, or a low number overall? And how would that number compare to other employers' records on hiring DC residents?"

What I think Jaques means is that out of 68,000 direct university jobs in the DC region, Washington residents are employed in only 16,000 of these, despite the vast majority of the universities being located in the District

http://www.consortium.org/consortium/index.cfm?LinkServID=4E60CCA6-1D09-2FEC-B61F9522EFA26BBF&showMeta=0

by Ben on Sep 15, 2011 1:52 pm • linkreport

@ Ben:Washington residents are employed in only 16,000 of these, despite the vast majority of the universities being located in the District

Why would anyone think that the universities care at all where their employees live? Is there any reasonable argument why Georgetown U would prefer a competent applicant from DC over a competent applicant from Arlington?

Also, I wonder what you mean with the majority of the universities being in DC. GMU is the largest (state) university in VA. UMD is an enormous university. Both are not in DC. Then there are a whole boatloads of smaller private collages all through the region.

by Jasper on Sep 15, 2011 2:13 pm • linkreport

@Jasper:

I'm not saying universities care about this, I was trying to explain the question Jaques was asking in an earlier comment.

Look a the map in the presentation, most of the universities in the DC region are located in the District. The three that aren't that come to mind are George Mason, U. of Maryland, and VA Tech's Alexandria campus. In the District, you have Johns Hopkins, American U, Georgetown, GW, Howard, Catholic, UDC, Galludet, and numerous DC campuses for state and private universities outside of the region. So, yes, the overwhelming number of universities in the DC region are located within DC.

by Ben on Sep 15, 2011 2:20 pm • linkreport

@ Ben -
Actually I was questioning Ken's characterization of Georgetown U re: employing a low number of DC residents.
(Although in reference to the Consortium's chart, I would posit that UMD and GMU are probably equal in combined size to all of the DC universities).

@Ken

So you make an assumption based on Georgetown's location that Georgetown has a higher than average number of out-of-state employees?(A questionable assumption, as while Georgetown's location near the Potomac makes it easily accessible to Arlington County, it's very inaccessible to MD's population centers).

One could just as easily (and perhaps more correctly) assume that given Georgetown's metrorail-inaccessability, it employs a lower number of out-of-state employees, and a correspondingly higher number of DC employees.

Either way, if Georgetown U and Hospital are in the ballpark of the average, they're still employing around 3,000 DC residents, or approximately 1% of all DC residents currently employed.

I don't have a problem with your argument for a streetcar to campus. I do have a problem with positing G.U. as a part of the problem on employment, based solely on your own assumptions (and little apparent recognition of context), as in the below sentences.

GU, the District of Columbia's largest employer, is moving jobs to Virginia. This flight will only further reduce the already low number of jobs these institutions provide to District residents.

Unless someone else is employing far more DC residents, I think it's an irresponsible thing to say.

by Jacques on Sep 15, 2011 2:32 pm • linkreport

This is somewhat tangential, but streetcar service to campus would also allow GU to host basketball games on campus, if they ever decided to build a real arena.

by John Cain on Sep 15, 2011 2:36 pm • linkreport

And how long would the running time be for such a streetcar route? Even with dedicated lanes, surface transit is seriously prone to delays and bunching. Such a route would be like the Queen streetcar in Toronto -- nice in theory, but nearly useless for actually getting somewhere.

by Payton on Sep 15, 2011 2:39 pm • linkreport

Extending the H Street streetcar to Georgetown is a great idea (although perhaps not necessarily all the way to the university). An extension to Georgetown can connect with a Wisconsin Avenue streetcar route and help alleviate capacity issues on both the Red and Orange/Blue lines, while providing competitive travel times with metro-rail by avoiding a circuitous trip to Metro Center and a transfer.

A Wisconsin Avenue streetcar route will also encourage infill development along that corridor, especially with the planned expansion of American University and the Department of Homeland Security's Nebraska Avenue campus.

by Ben on Sep 15, 2011 2:48 pm • linkreport

And how long would the running time be for such a streetcar route? Even with dedicated lanes, surface transit is seriously prone to delays and bunching. Such a route would be like the Queen streetcar in Toronto -- nice in theory, but nearly useless for actually getting somewhere.
by Payton on Sep 15, 2011 2:39 pm

How do people do it now?

by Jazzy on Sep 15, 2011 3:03 pm • linkreport

Georgetown has already identified the satellite location mentioned in the article. It's in Dupont. I'm surprised that Ken didn't know this, since it is publicly available information.

by GU Alum on Sep 15, 2011 3:07 pm • linkreport

@Payton

Probably similar in time to the 30 bus series and calculators that go in the area.

by bren10jb on Sep 15, 2011 3:35 pm • linkreport

I'd think a streetcar through Georgetown would be best used a mid-crosstown route linking Metro Stations and bus routes, something of the order of Rosslyn Metro-Georgetown-Dupont Circle Metro-Adams Morgan-Mt Pleasant-Columbia Heights Metro. If funds actually existed, the route through Dupont could reactivate the streetcar platforms and allow the 42 an effificent way to bypass the Dupont traffic.

The route would link dense areas not well linked under the current bus system and allow alternative connections between Red-Yellow-Green on the DC side and Blue-Orange on the Virginia side.

by Adam on Sep 15, 2011 3:42 pm • linkreport

Both Georgetown and GW have invested heavily in satellite facilities in Northern Virginia because that is where the "customers" for these campuses live and work. You are talking mostly business-type graduate level classes, often paid for (quite generously) by students' employers. These aren't traditional campuses. Students go there for class and then leave. No one is hanging around or looking for a local shop or pizza place to patronize. They have lives and families to get back to.

The clientele for these campuses does not live or work in NE Washington. They live in Herndon and work at Tysons.

But even if Georgetown was to open a satellite campus in NE, there is no reason why those students would ever have to set foot on the main campus. These satellite operations are entirely self-contained. Just like if you take a class at the Central Michigan University campus on King Street in Alexandria, you won't ever find the need to go to Mount Pleasant, MI.

As for employees, they tend to have very few. All of the instructional staff are either regular faculty working out there or adjuncts with part time gigs. There is no food service, no large physical plant to maintain with janitorial and other service workers like on the main campuses. In some cases the school is really just a tenant of a larger office building. Finally, as has been noted, the GU and GW hospitals (which in some ways are really separate from the schools) employ a lot of people which tend to inflate each school's overall employment a bit.

by seaster on Sep 15, 2011 3:56 pm • linkreport

@ Ben:Look a the map in the presentation, most of the universities in the DC region are located in the District.

Yes, the university count in DC is high. But that says nothing about student and employee numbers. As I said, GMU and UMD are rather large universities both with over 30k students. GW comes close with 20k, Georgetown has 16k. The rest is significantly smaller. So, it remains to be seen whether most academics actually happens in DC.

@ seaster:Both Georgetown and GW have invested heavily in satellite facilities in Northern Virginia because that is where the "customers" for these campuses live and work.

And because the ANCs in DC would love to see them shrink and they have to fight tooth and nail to maintain their current size. The only way they can grow is outside the district. Which is what they're doing. Hell, Georgetown has a campus in Qatar!

DC's record on education is clear. The DCPS is the second worst in the nations. Private universities are harassed constantly by the ANCs and utterly ignored by the City Council. DC hates education. No wonder universities are expanding outside DC.

by Jasper on Sep 15, 2011 8:39 pm • linkreport

@seaster

Finally, as has been noted, the GU and GW hospitals (which in some ways are really separate from the schools) employ a lot of people which tend to inflate each school's overall employment a bit.

Nope, the rankings used here explicitly separate the hospitals out from the universities, because the hospitals are separate entities. Georgetown University Hospital is owned and operated by MedStar, while GW is "owned and operated by a subsidiary of Universal Health Services, Inc. (UHS), a King of Prussia, PA-based company, that is one of the largest healthcare management companies in the nation."

In fact, the hospitals themselves are among the top 10 biggest employers in DC. Look at the rankings again.

by Dizzy on Sep 16, 2011 4:38 pm • linkreport

If the Mayor wants jobs in NE how about building a replacement for DC General Hospital within 2 miles from the area.

There is a better chance of more people getting jobs from all the functions that come from a hospital than a College, University or satellite campus of a College or University where almost all jobs would be white collar with a Hospital you would have more Blue and White Collar jobs.

by kk on Sep 16, 2011 8:57 pm • linkreport

Ken,

Suggest this idea to DDOT!

by Zac on Sep 16, 2011 10:20 pm • linkreport

From about 1910 to 1961,there was a streetcar line from Georgetown to Cabin John. Most of the easement for that line is still in tact.
Why not take today's proposed streetcar line and continue it on the same easement,rebuilding sections where needed, and terminate it ar or near the David Taylor Model Basin, and provide parking lot facilities for communters.People can drive from I-495 in the American Legion Bridge area, park and take the streetcar into Georgetown.

by Rayfrid on Sep 16, 2011 10:38 pm • linkreport

I have removed Dizzy's long comment because its content contained a number of violations of the comment policy. Dizzy, thanks for taking the time to post such detailed thoughts on the subject, but if you can't confine your comments to the substance of the issue instead of the person writing it or the appropriateness of posting on GGW, your comments will be deleted. We want to hear your ideas, so please continue to comment but in keeping with the policy.

I would have emailed you directly with details, but you are using a fake email address (itself a violation of the comment policy and the instructions on the form). Please keep in mind that comments arguing about the comment policy are also not permitted; if you want to discuss this at all with the editors, please email editor@ggwash.org.

by David Alpert on Sep 16, 2011 11:54 pm • linkreport

@ David Alpert:Please keep in mind that comments arguing about the comment policy are also not permitted

Not arguing the comment policy. Just noting that people must have been behaving themselves rather well as it took a day and a half for the first censorship comment policy violation under an Archer post. Usually that time is about half an hour. We're making progress! ;-D

by Jasper on Sep 17, 2011 11:11 am • linkreport

David,

Fair enough on the fake email; I've amended that.

I will rewrite the post to remove any references to the author or to the propriety of posting such compositions.

by Dizzy on Sep 17, 2011 12:30 pm • linkreport

Seriously, did y'all plan this just to spite me? You had to uncork this post on a day that I was on a plane for half of it and away from a computer for the other half. GGW posts involving GU make me feel like a little kid on Christmas morning!

Anywho, a lot of the issues with this composition have already been addressed, but let me provide something of a clearinghouse here.

1. Utility

Have you (that's a general you, not a you directed at the author!) ever taken the Circulator from Union Station to Georgetown during anything approaching a peak period? If you have, you surely know that it is extremely slow going. It is far quicker to bus or even walk to Rosslyn, Foggy Bottom, or Dupont Circle and take Metrorail than to rely on a direct bus that is mired in congestion.

For this streetcar to be even a marginally better option than taking the Metro from Benning Road to Rosslyn or Union Station/NY Ave to Dupont and then the GUTS to campus, you simply could not make due with "dedicated transit lanes along Pennsylvania Avenue and M Street, past Wisconsin Avenue and the Car Barn, joining mixed traffic at the Key Bridge intersection where it would reconnect to overhead wires and enter campus on the Canal Road entrance." You would need dedicated transit lanes along pretty much the entirety of the route, including at the juncture with Key Bridge, the King of Bottlenecks.

The finding about the bottlenecks being at the turns, with extra capacity left over in the outside lanes, is plausible but misleading (the finding is misleading, not the author!). With the outside lane frequently taken up by parking or service vehicles and left lanes jammed by attempted left turns, you're left with one real through lane. The intersections result in people attempting to merge in and out of the left turn lane, which causes further disruption. That extra capacity may exist on paper in terms of vehicles per hour, but the current configuration does not allow that capacity to be realized. Hence, traffic sink.

2. Feasibility

The likelihood of this happening, whether in the current political and economic climate or in any alternate one that does not include a devotee of GGW as Dictator of the District, is practically zero. Let's take the very tail end of the route, M Street west of the Key Bridge, which becomes Canal Road. As we know, Canal is a major commuter artery used by many thousands to get to Chain Bridge, the Clara Barton Parkway, etc. DDOT is so touchy about this route that they do not allow left turns from the Canal Road entrance to campus onto eastbound Canal Road during rush hour. Does anyone think they will allow one of the two lanes on each side to be converted to transit-only? Even if the lanes are kept as mixed traffic, do we think DDOT will allow Canal to be ripped up for track installation and then have streetcars 'impeding the flow' of vehicles during rush hour? Not a chance. And remember, for this to be even marginally superior to the combination of Metrorail and dedicated, point-to-point high frequency shuttle bus service, you would need very high frequencies on the streetcar, since it would be making other stops and would be taking on non-University bound passengers.

The common thread in a certain cohort of submissions featured here at GGW is an apparent belief in the Green Lantern Theory of Urban Planning: if a few actors want something bad enough, it will happen. Why Georgetown University has been identified as one of those actors, I have no idea. As we've all seen, vocal support by the University for something is pretty much guaranteed to produce reflexive neighborhood opposition. If that something entails removing two car travel lanes on M... the reaction would be fast and furious.

3. Relevance

As was pointed out above, the University has already settled on a Dupont Circle location for School of Continuing Studies expansion (note - while some classes and offices are located at the Center for Continuing and Professional Education at Clarendon, most of SCS administrative functions are currently located in suites at 3307 M Street. Those jobs are all already in the District.)

The primary reason for these locations being where they are is obvious: Metro accessibility. A streetcar traveling in mixed lanes is absolutely not a substitute for high-frequency heavy rail on its own right of way.

We also need to be clear about what we're talking about when we say "satellite campus." The University is not looking to build a satellite campus - it is looking to lease some office space in a Metro-accessible location to host evening commuter students. A satellite campus is something like GW's Mount Vernon or their Virginia Science and Technology Campus in Ashburn. Georgetown has neither the means nor the inclination to pursue this kind of expansion - what they're looking for is more along the lines of The Graduate School (formerly the USDA Graduate School). I am mystified as to where this notion to the contrary emerged. Simply put, there are no thousands of jobs just waiting to be created and given to DC residents.

4. Questionable factual support for stated propositions

I quote, "This flight will only further reduce the already low number of jobs these institutions provide to District residents."

As has been pointed out, there is zero factual support for this claim of "already low number." Intuition about proximity to the Key Bridge is specious - most of DC is only a few minutes away from a state border, whether by car or Metro. This assertion is deployed to make more acceptable this proposal, which at its core involves coercion of the University. If the University is made to seem like it is underemploying District residents, then coercion might seem more palatable. However, there is no support for the assertion.

I quote: "The expansion of GU jobs into Virginia, which began in 2004 with the opening of a School of Continuing Studies campus in Clarendon, is being driven by the perception that the University has simply run out of room."

Is there any support for this claim? I do not see any. The primary reason was, as I said, the need for Metro accessibility for evening post-work commuter students, not a lack of space. Most undergraduate courses are done by the time 5:30 or 6:00 pm rolls around, and the SCS offices could exist just fine at 3307 M or some other office location in 20007. The claim about "the perception that the University has simply run out of room" is unsupported.

I quote: "Furthermore, GU would face fewer constraints in the growth of its main campus because the congestion created by employees of and visitors to GU and GUH would be addressed."

Really? It would? Does this streetcar proposal include a provision about the dissolution of the Citizens Association of Georgetown and the Burleith Citizens Association? Because that is the primary constraint on Main Campus growth - not any perceived congestion created by employees and visitors commuting to campus. Employee and visitor traffic is a drop in the bucket compared to the number of non-University people who use 35th, Reservoir, Canal, Wisconsin, M, etc. as commuter arteries. Again, a baseless and disingenuous claim (this is not an ad hominem! I'm addressing the claim, not its maker).

Ken, I do appreciate your thought experiments. If you would like to run them by me in the future, so that another set of eyes can look them over and perhaps highlight areas that could be strengthened, I would be more than happy to do so.

by Dizzy on Sep 17, 2011 1:06 pm • linkreport

Thanks, Dizzy!

by David Alpert on Sep 17, 2011 2:07 pm • linkreport

@ Dizzy:If you would like to run them by me in the future, so that another set of eyes can look them over

And keep them from the public? Nooooooo!!!!

by Jasper on Sep 17, 2011 3:11 pm • linkreport

Excellent rebuttal by Dizzy.

by Fritz on Sep 17, 2011 6:49 pm • linkreport

@Dizzy,

Thanks for your comments. I'll address them one by one.

(1) Utility
You would need dedicated transit lanes along pretty much the entirety of the route, including at the juncture with Key Bridge, the King of Bottlenecks.
This streetcar line is expected to be on dedicated lanes all along K Street as part of the K Street Transitway plan, and would have to be on dedicated lanes from Washington Circle to the Key Bridge to be wireless.

Currently a trip from Minnesota Avenue (just east of the eastern terminus of the Benning Rd streetcar) to Georgetown University on Metro takes an hour according to WMATA.com (D2 from Dupont). And that's assuming you live within walking distance of the Minnesota Ave Metro station. The Benning Rd streetcar will eventually extend across the Anacostia River providing a non-stop trip on mostly dedicated lanes from several stops across NE DC and EOTR. Improving access of all the residents along those stops to jobs in NW DC is not my idea - it's a central part of the streetcar plan. (From p.6 of Streetcar Plan: "DDOT anticipates the H St/ Benning Rd Line will provide critical transportation...linking low income residents with critical social services and access to jobs in downtown DC, the largest job center in the region".)

2. Feasibility

The likelihood of this happening, whether in the current political and economic climate or in any alternate one that does not include a devotee of GGW as Dictator of the District, is practically zero....The common thread in a certain cohort of submissions featured here at GGW is an apparent belief in the Green Lantern Theory of Urban Planning: if a few actors want something bad enough, it will happen.

This isn't wishful thinking. It's a search for solutions to real problems - unemployment, town-gown tensions, and Georgetown retail concerns. It seems to me that bold investments like the streetcar will only happen if they provide practical solutions to real problems.

3. Relevance

As was pointed out above, the University has already settled on a Dupont Circle location for School of Continuing Studies expansion

Can you provide a link for this? According to GU's Director of Media Relations, "We are still exploring locations throughout the metro area. No location has been determined."

4. Questionable factual support for stated propositions

I quote, "This flight will only further reduce the already low number of jobs these institutions provide to District residents." As has been pointed out, there is zero factual support for this claim of "already low number." Intuition about proximity to the Key Bridge is specious - most of DC is only a few minutes away from a state border, whether by car or Metro. This assertion is deployed to make more acceptable this proposal, which at its core involves coercion of the University.

A larger topic at play is that lack of good data on who the unemployed in DC are and what are their barriers to employment. The Post mentioned this in an op-ed last Friday.

Having said that, if the city-wide average is 28%, do you really think GU and GUH hires significantly more than that percentage of their employees from DC? I guess it doesn't seem unreasonable to point out that increasing the number of jobs at the city's 1st and 6th largest employers that go to DC residents would be a good part of a jobs program. And what about this is coercing GU? Municipalities compete for employers all the time, and offering transportation investments as a carrot is a common approach.

I quote: "The expansion of GU jobs into Virginia, which began in 2004 with the opening of a School of Continuing Studies campus in Clarendon, is being driven by the perception that the University has simply run out of room."

Is there any support for this claim? I do not see any.

Did you follow the hyperlink on that claim? It's a Washington Post article entitled, "With Georgetown University fast running out of room, Virginia beckons". It cites two previous failed attempts of GU to move student housing to Virginia, and quotes one Arlington developer, "Ultimately it is not a matter of if university-related expansion happens in Northern Virginia, it’s a matter of when".

I quote: "Furthermore, GU would face fewer constraints in the growth of its main campus because the congestion created by employees of and visitors to GU and GUH would be addressed."

Really? It would? Does this streetcar proposal include a provision about the dissolution of the Citizens Association of Georgetown and the Burleith Citizens Association?

I think this is where we simply part ways, as we have in the past. You see (if I'm not mistaken) the only path to a resolution of the town-gown debates as CAG and BCA and ANC2E losing. I think there are creative solutions out there - maybe not for this year, but solutions that can prevent a 2020 Campus Plan dispute if we start now.

by Ken Archer on Sep 19, 2011 9:51 pm • linkreport

How would you fund this Ken?

by Pelham1861 on Sep 20, 2011 2:48 pm • linkreport

How would you fund this Ken?

Capital funding would come from the city, as it enables growth of our #1 and #6 employers.

The M Street portion of the route could also be partially financed by a temporary property tax increase on commercial property owners in Georgetown. This would be a great investment that folks like Anthony Lanier would be open to, as their property values will increase as a result. Scott Kubly has offered this opportunity to the Georgetown BID.

by Ken Archer on Sep 20, 2011 3:03 pm • linkreport

Forget renting a building, where is the contiguous space (50-60 acres) for a satellite campus in NE?

by Box on Sep 21, 2011 12:52 pm • linkreport

Ken,

Thanks for your response. I will address your counterpoints one by one.

This streetcar line is expected to be on dedicated lanes all along K Street as part of the K Street Transitway plan, and would have to be on dedicated lanes from Washington Circle to the Key Bridge to be wireless.

I’m not sure how this is relevant, as your proposal has the streetcar going up Pennsylvania and M, not K. These are extremely different routes. K has no direct access to Key Bridge and therefore does not suffer from the same congestion issues. It also fronts far fewer businesses and is not considered a prime pedestrian corridor. That may change a bit with the new park, but because the connection along K to Foggy Bottom is so pedestrian unfriendly, compared with Pennsylvania, it will remain much more lightly traveled. Moreover, one of the reasons K was chosen for the Preliminary Route is because the Whitehurst Freeway makes the overhead wire debate irrelevant – they can’t obscure views any worse than the elevated does. These are two completely different animals.

Currently a trip from Minnesota Avenue (just east of the eastern terminus of the Benning Rd streetcar) to Georgetown University on Metro takes an hour according to WMATA.com (D2 from Dupont).

Why would you take Minnesota Avenue to Dupont Circle and then the D2 to get to the GU campus? Minnesota Avenue to Rosslyn is 25 minutes, and the GUTS bus from Rosslyn to campus is usually another 10-15 minutes more, for a total of 35-40 minutes. I find it extremely unlikely that a streetcar can traverse your proposed route in that same time.

This isn't wishful thinking. It's a search for solutions to real problems - unemployment, town-gown tensions, and Georgetown retail concerns. It seems to me that bold investments like the streetcar will only happen if they provide practical solutions to real problems.

I think you are confusing “practical” in the technical sense with “practical” in the feasible sense. In theory, this proposal (if modeled and implemented 100% perfectly) would provide transit connectivity that did not exist before and may have other positive effects. Lots of things work in theory, if everything goes exactly according to plan. Communism, the Iraq War, signing Albert Haynesworth, etc. That does not mean they are feasible or have a realistic chance of being implemented as designed.

To whit, you cite: The Benning Rd streetcar will eventually extend across the Anacostia River providing a non-stop trip on mostly dedicated lanes from several stops across NE DC and EOTR. Improving access of all the residents along those stops to jobs in NW DC is not my idea - it's a central part of the streetcar plan.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that progress on the streetcar has actually gone backwards since the start of the new mayoral administration. You say ” Scott Kubly has offered this opportunity to the Georgetown BID” - Kubly is gone, and that is not accidental. The Benning Road streetcar won’t extend across the Anacostia until long after Gray is gone from office, and the only evidence of Gray caring about the streetcar one way or the other points in a negative direction. Creating a post like this, with a title of “Streetcar to GU should top Mayor Gray's jobs agenda” is akin to making a post like “Massive investment in transit infrastructure should top Tea Party’s jobs agenda.” That’s just not a practical proposal or solution – not due to the technical merits (though I’ve pointed out the technical flaws in this proposal as well) but because it is wildly unrealistic.

If Vince Gray made this proposal his top priority, then he would be dead before the final lawsuit between Georgetown residents and the city was resolved (assuming subsequent administrations kept it as a top priority). To suggest that there could be some jobs benefits from this project for Gray, when it is completely unrealizable in the timespan of his administration, is not realistic or practical either, and it is not a serious search for real solutions.

Can you provide a link for this? According to GU's Director of Media Relations, "We are still exploring locations throughout the metro area. No location has been determined."

Nope, can’t give you a link, sorry. But it is common knowledge on campus and beyond – note that “GU Alum” posted this before I did. In the future, I recommend asking others in addition to the person who gets paid to say “no comment” and “We are continuing to examine a range of options.”

A larger topic at play is that lack of good data on who the unemployed in DC are and what are their barriers to employment. The Post mentioned this in an op-ed last Friday.

Yep, but transportation is not a major barrier to employment at Georgetown University, largely thanks to the city’s most intensive shuttle bus system. That would be the same system that the Georgetown Pitchfork Brigade and Burleith Busybody Battalion, along with others, are constantly trying to sabotage. NIMBY’s in the most literal sense of the word: Georgetowners don’t want GUTS buses through their streets – route them through Burleith or Canal Road instead! Burleithers don’t want them through their neighborhood – send them through Georgetown or Canal Road instead! Foxhallians and DDOT don’t want them to use Canal Road – send them elsewhere!

In their most recent victory in their battle against transit commuters, representatives of the neighborhood complained to the administration that the GUTS buses were – get this! – transporting members of the general public. One might, if one were so inclined, interpret the letter of the license under which GUTS operates as not expressly allowing this. As a result, you must now display Georgetown ID or else sign your name, address, and phone number on a sign-in sheet, along with photo ID, in order to board at Dupont. Yes, that includes hospital patients who have diminished capacity and motor skills. Because apparently Georgetown is now a controlled-access zone and we need to keep a record of all those entering. Boarding now takes several minutes longer than it used to.

Having said that, if the city-wide average is 28%, do you really think GU and GUH hires significantly more than that percentage of their employees from DC?

It doesn’t matter what I think – you made an assertion that universities provide an already low number of jobs to District residents with no evidence beyond your hunch that this must be true because Georgetown is near Key Bridge.

Based on my personal experience, though, many Georgetown employees – myself included – do live in the District.

I guess it doesn't seem unreasonable to point out that increasing the number of jobs at the city's 1st and 6th largest employers that go to DC residents would be a good part of a jobs program.

Sure, it would. That would be the “technically practical” part. But it runs into the feasibility problem again. Specifically, you say: ” think this is where we simply part ways, as we have in the past. You see (if I'm not mistaken) the only path to a resolution of the town-gown debates as CAG and BCA and ANC2E losing. I think there are creative solutions out there - maybe not for this year, but solutions that can prevent a 2020 Campus Plan dispute if we start now.”

You imply that your proposal is one such creative solution, but I assure you that it is not, because if there is one thing that has been shown time and time again, it is that Georgetown residents do not want an expanded University and they do not want an inflict of “DC natives” into their neighborhood. The CAG/BCA & company pitchfork brigade views GU the same way that the Tea Party views the federal government: a beast that should be starved and contained to the greatest extent possible, so that it intrudes on their lifestyles as little as possible. Your goal of increased District resident employment through GU expansion is completely at odds with these interests. I think in your heart of hearts you know this, which is why you proposed the satellite campus – you know neighbors will not tolerate anything more than tiny incremental expansions on Main Campus and the Medical Center.

Also, the 2020 Campus Plan dispute is every bit as preordained as this one was, and the one before that, and the one before that. Tension is inevitable – as you yourself said, “The reality is that town-gown disputes are not new and are not going away.”

I also dispute your characterization of how I see things, largely because there is no such option as “CAG and BCA and ANC2E losing.” The University has already capitulated to most of their demands and even gone beyond that, providing carrots like free twice daily trash pickup in the areas around campus and even greater police reimbursable details in the neighborhood. They’ve already won – the only question left open is how badly the University loses.

Did you follow the hyperlink on that claim? It's a Washington Post article entitled, "With Georgetown University fast running out of room, Virginia beckons". It cites two previous failed attempts of GU to move student housing to Virginia, and quotes one Arlington developer, "Ultimately it is not a matter of if university-related expansion happens in Northern Virginia, it’s a matter of when".

That title is something the editor invested, with or without input from the article's author and with no citation or direct evidence. Those attempts you cite were made solely in response to neighborhood pressure, not out of any actual desire on the part of GU. They never got beyond the conceptual phase, largely due to strong student, alumni, and other internal opposition. The same holds for Shinskie’s claim about ‘not if but when’ – this push was caused by neighborhood opposition to any sort of expansion in 20007. Nowhere does it say that the University thinks it is out of space. There’s not a lot of space, for sure, but the most pressing needs can be addressed, and there are plans for this.

I should add, things would be a lot easier if the Pitchforkers hadn’t torpedoed using the Wormley School for the Georgetown Public Policy Institute – because God knows that using a former school building as a… school building… is completely beyond the pale and disrespectful of the neighborhood’s delicate fabric. But there you are. Btw, I’ll give you another insider tidbit for free: GPPI is moving off of Main Campus within a few years.

And what about this is coercing GU? Municipalities compete for employers all the time, and offering transportation investments as a carrot is a common approach.

Yes, that would be the most generous reading, which I will go ahead and afford you. There is an unstated implication, however, that the University has no choice but to accept this proposition, in light of neighbors’ success in stymieing its growth. In other words: “Want to expand? You gotta do it my way.” Since, as I’ve said, the University has neither the funds nor the inclination to actually build a satellite campus, such an ultimatum would indeed be coercion.

The M Street portion of the route could also be partially financed by a temporary property tax increase on commercial property owners in Georgetown. This would be a great investment that folks like Anthony Lanier would be open to, as their property values will increase as a result.

You think there’s a lot of interest among the M Street business community in this, after the experience of H Street? I know track installation doesn’t have to be that disruptive, but I suspect you’ll find little appetite for it. I certainly haven't heard any clamoring for this from businesses.

Scott Kubly has offered this opportunity to the Georgetown BID.

And what did they say? Leaving aside the matter of Kubly’s departure, how’s that performance parking idea that you were pushing going, the one you believed the business community would also be wildly supportive of?

Problems like unemployment, urban design, connectivity, etc. are not solvable through purely technical proposals that ignore the political context and realities in which they are to be implemented.

by Dizzy on Sep 23, 2011 2:11 pm • linkreport

A streetcar in Georgetown is a waste of money. Georgetown is already covered by many buses. It may not be as glamourous as a street car, but it already exists and it works. As for rail, if you can get to Rosslyn via Metro, you can get to Georgetown. It's only a 15 min walk.

As for the route itself, I don't see the benefit of starting at Foggy Bottom. The congestion points are really the downtown core, which if you're going to Foggy Bottom in order to take the street car to Georgetown, you're probably avoiding all that downtown traffic any way by taking the Metro there. The bus works fine between Foggy Bottom and Rosslyn during heavy traffic.

by jinushaun on Sep 28, 2011 5:59 pm • linkreport

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