The Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission unanimously approved plans to install a new crosswalk on H Street at a monthly meeting Wednesday.
Officials first introduced the project last month, proposing two traditional crosswalks extending between Kogan Plaza and District House with a roughly five-foot crossing zone between them. Officials said the project will likely increase pedestrian and driver visibility and safety, though the wide design of the crosswalk has been rejected by the D.C. Department of Transportation in the past.
“It’s almost a campus-wide joke that you’re not a GW student if you haven’t been almost killed by a car or seriously injured, and honestly, it’s a miracle that something terrible hasn’t happened yet,” James Harnett, a rising junior and ANC commissioner, said.
Susi Cora, the director of campus planning, said at the meeting that officials dropped the original GW-specific project design – which would have included “raise high the buff” and “raise high the blue” emblazoned on the asphalt between the crosswalks – following pushback from DDOT. She said officials will continue to pursue a permit from the department to move the project forward, though the body previously turned down GW’s wide crosswalk design.
Officials first proposed plans for an H Street crosswalk in 2006, but Cora did not say when DDOT rejected the design.
“We’re open to going back to DDOT, but I have to say with some caution that it’s going to be a real uphill battle,” she said.
Cora added that officials will install tree box fences across the block so students don’t cut through trees to diagonally cross the street. She said four accessibility ramps will also be installed, one on each side of both crosswalks.
Students have strengthened calls for an accessible crossing path on H Street in recent years, since the current H Street crosswalk at the Marvin Center doesn’t feature curb cuts, making it inaccessible to people who use wheelchairs.
Harnett, who championed the installation of an H Street crosswalk in his platform for ANC commissioner earlier this year, said that while he applauds efforts to improve safety for students on H Street, the crosswalk doesn’t extend far enough to the Academic Center, and most students will likely walk diagonally to Starbucks without using the addition.
Harnett said officials should also consider implementing a raised crosswalk that would double as a speed bump, since students often tell him that cars don’t stop for pedestrians at the already-existing H Street crosswalk.
“You still have people blowing through there because they’re not looking for people crossing the street,” he said.
But Cora said adding speed bumps “would require significant engineering to address the flow” of water drainage.
The meeting, which lasted more than three hours, also included the passage of several community initiatives, ranging from restaurant licensing to local development projects.
The ANC unanimously passed a resolution allowing GW Hillel to reconstruct a stairwell outside of the organization’s renovated home on 23rd and H streets. Hillel and a local church have disputed for years whether the organization could tear down its building because previous construction in the area damaged the church’s structure.
The ANC also unanimously passed two resolutions to honor former ANC commissioner Rebecca Coder, who died last month after a 13-year battle with cancer. She will be featured on the West End Library’s Wall of Honor, and a memento will be installed in her memory at Francis Field, which she worked to revitalize during her time on the ANC.
Commissioners also backed a proposal to ensure new grass is planted at Francis Field each summer.
Commissioner William Smith said Francis Field has been historically listed as a dirt field, which called for no maintenance from the city. The field will now be listed as a “green field” so city officials know to maintain the area, which includes a playing field and dog park.
“What we’re going to try to follow up and do is make sure that there is appropriate maintenance set of activities scheduled for the next couple years,” Smith said.