Union Station Intermodal meeting recap
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who secured the three Federal earmarks that are paying for this project, spoke briefly about the many years she's been working on this in Congress. Union Station was once "a slum owned by the Federal Government," and this project gives us the opportunity to turn it into "the centerpiece of a true intermodal system."
The DDOT people are going to consider every need in this study, from pedestrians to cars, emergency egress to delivery trucks. Streetcars will definitely be factored in, to give the future H Street line a place to turn around and service vehicles.
I asked about the potential new Blue Line. The project reps had only learned about that project yesterday, didn't have specific details (yet) and suggested speaking to WMATA. Of course, WMATA would do the actual engineering, but we should minimize the chance that something built from this study further complicates the future task of building the Blue Line.
As for Columbus Circle, there is actually already a detailed engineering design done by Parsons (the same consultants working on this project) that's awaiting NCPC and Architect of the Capitol approval. I'm working on getting a copy of that design.
Dan asked about bike sharing; the DDOT folks assured us that they are working hard on creating a bike sharing facility on the west side of the station.
There was a usual crop of "antis" there to push for as few people walking around the neighborhood as possible and as many lanes for traffic as possible. One resident complained that the Technical Advisory Committee was weighted toward those with an interest in "getting more customers in, getting more people to the Capitol." What a tragedy if we get more people going to the Capitol! Every public meeting I've been to also included a few people complaining that they didn't get enough notice about whatever is being discussed, and this was no different.
ANC 6B01 Commissioner Dave Garrison asked about tour buses dropping people off at Union Station who are going to the new Capitol Visitors Center. DDOT Mass Transit Director Freddie Fuller spoke up to "dispel innuendo" and assure people that they "have not designated Union Station as the primary transfer point for the Capitol Visitors Center." They have increased headways on the N22, which runs from Union Station right past the Capitol on its way to Eastern Market and the ballpark.
Anyone want to illuminate exactly what the issues are here? Do residents want the buses at Union Station or do they want them driving down to the Capitol? Is having the buses stop in the garage at Union Station and people walk the four blocks to the Capitol undesirable? It seems it would minimize traffic compared to having buses go down First Street and end up turning around/idling in the neighborhood. And I'd think residents would be pushing for the buses to be at Union Station while the tour operators would want to drop people off right at the Capitol. Can anyone shed more light on this?
Finally, on the topic of Greyhound, Akridge may be building facilities for Greyhound as part of the project, but Rick Rybeck of DDOT added that they are pushing for the buses to go to Union Station right away rather than waiting the 10-15 years that Burnham Place will take to build. The bus deck in the garage currently has extra room, Rybeck said, and they're looking to move Greyhound operations there. (One resident piped up about not sacrificing any public parking spaces. Rybeck explained that the bus deck has no public parking to lose. Though, if moving Greyhound to the train station meant losing a few parking spaces, I wouldn't shed any tears.)
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