UPD increases H St. safety

Although GW placed a University Police officer in front of the Marvin Center last week because of construction, there are currently no plans to permanently station an officer there or close off H Street, officials said.

Michael Gargano, associate vice president for Student and Academic Support Services, said officers may be stationed outside the H Street crosswalk for a few more days if necessary.

At the beginning of last year, the Marvin Center put an officer in the same spot for about a week, but this year pedestrian safety concerns and traffic problems caused the University to station one there for a week longer, said Director of Marvin Center Operations Mike Brown.

“The first week back to school gets pretty hectic, and the officer is there to slow down traffic and protect the safety of the students,” he said.

UPD Chief Dolores Stafford said the additional officers cost $2,600 for nine days of service. She said the funds will come from the Marvin Center’s budget.

Construction on the J Street addition has caused congestion problems for motorists and pedestrians, Gargano said. He said he hopes traffic direction will keep students safe.

“You have a lot of obstructed views (with equipment and workers) outside the Marvin Center,” Gargano said. “It’s not the best environment for street crossing.

Metropolitan Police Commander Phillip Lanciano said southbound traffic diverted from the State Department adds to the gridlock.

Some students said the officers only add to traffic, and some students disregard them.

“Everybody pretty much ignores the officers anyway,” sophomore Sandy Durnin said. “I think it’s useless because kids are going to cross the street no matter what.”

“(D.C.) is a big city; there are cars and there are people,” freshman Maryanna Tabol said. “Traffic is just something you deal with.”

Some other students said officers are a positive addition.

“The situation is difficult for both pedestrians and drivers because the street is so congested,” junior Norman Pentolovitch said.

Officials said GW will try to solve the problems while focusing on safety.

The Marvin Center staff is working with Construction Manager Warren Yaun to move the dumpster in front of the Marvin Center, which would improve visibility for pedestrians and drivers at the crosswalk, Gargano said.

Officials also said cited illegally parked cars and increased MPD patrols as ways to improve congestion.

“What would really help would be for some people to get tickets. Only MPD can issue tickets for speeding and parking violations, and there are a lot of illegally parked cars,” Gargano

to cross the street no matter what.”

“Traffic is just something you deal with,” freshman Maryanna Tabol said.

Some other students said officers are a positive addition.

“The situation is difficult for both pedestrians and drivers because the street is so congested,” junior Norman Pentolovitch said.

Officials said GW will try to solve the problems while focusing on safety.

The Marvin Center staff is working with Construction Manager Warren Yaun to move the dumpster in front of the Marvin Center, which would improve visibility for pedestrians and drivers at the crosswalk, Gargano said.

Officials also cited illegally parked cars and increased MPD patrols as ways to improve congestion.

“What would really help would be for some people to get tickets,” Gargano said.

Lanciano said said he issued eight tickets to vehicles on the 22nd block of H Street Monday afternoon.

Increased safety measures have been on administrators’ agendas for the past several years.

“Last year (the city) rejected my request for speed bumps but agreed to repaint the large crosswalk because it’s a highly traveled area,”
Stafford said.

Gargano called the repainted crosswalk a safety improvement, but noted students’ “widespread disregard for the designated walkway.”

While most students said they would like to see H Street closed permanently, Gargano said it is “highly unlikely.”

He said the back entrance to the G Street fire station, the Marvin Center garage and the Gelman Library and Lisner Auditorium loading docks would be blocked if the block were closed to traffic.

Gargano said speed bumps and turning H Street into a one-way street could make it more pedestrian-friendly.

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