Forging Ahead — staff editorial

In a drama that has played out many times in the past, Foggy Bottom residents and GW are at odds about expansion. The proposed sight for a new, 371-bed hospital on the parking lot between the Foggy Bottom Metro, New Hampshire Avenue and 23rd Street is at the center of the dispute.

Complaints from the Foggy Bottom Association include increased traffic on Washington Circle and New Hampshire Avenue and the proximity of loading docks to homes. But upset residents must take into account they are living adjacent to a major university that is constantly expanding.

The association seems to have lost the battle when the D.C. Board of Zoning and Adjustment – by a 3-1 vote – approved the project with a set of conditions. These provisions include keeping emergency vehicles off New Hampshire Avenue, a new traffic light at New Hampshire and Washington Circle, enclosed docks, a widened sidewalk on 23rd Street and restricting deliveries to between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The hospital must be given the benefit of the doubt in meeting the specified conditions, which many residents say are unenforceable, set forth by the BZA. Otherwise, community opposition to the project is premature.

The hospital, set to be completed by 2001, will have an emergency room twice the size of the current ER, larger operating rooms and a floor devoted to all women’s services. To survive in the increasingly competitive health-care market, the new GW Hospital is greatly needed.

The project, first proposed in February 1998, is a reality that nearby residents will have to deal with; the brand new facility will benefit the Foggy Bottom neighborhood in the long run. As long as the hospital does not violate any of the conditions set forth by the BZA, opposition to the project rings hollow.

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