ANC approves after-hours permit to build helipad atop GW Hospital

Media Credit: Ari Golub | Photographer

Commissioners approved a sped up helipad construction project on top of the GW Hospital at a monthly meeting Wednesday.

Updated: July 20, 2019 at 12:07 a.m.

A local governing group voted to move forward with multiple construction plans at a monthly meeting Wednesday.

The Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission passed a resolution to grant the GW Hospital an after-hours permit to operate a crane that will install a helipad on the hospital’s roof and voted to support bike lane additions to G Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Chair William Kennedy Smith also announced that Commissioner Philip Schrefer, who is recovering from an undisclosed illness, will resign.

After-hours crane operation
Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution granting Universal Health Services, a majority-owner of the hospital, an after-hours permit for helipad construction on Saturdays and Sundays. The D.C. Council unanimously approved the construction of a helipad atop the hospital last summer.

Joe Kehoe, a project manager for UHS, said the crane operations for helipad construction that began last Saturday increased traffic and closed the portion of New Hampshire Avenue adjacent to the hospital.

“We understand that this is a big inconvenience for the community, and we would like to try to help improve that,” he said.

He said the permit will allow crane operations from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. – with no overnight work – and on both Saturdays and Sundays over the next two weeks. The original plan spread construction out over five Saturdays, Kehoe said.

He added that condensing the construction from a five-week to a two-week operation will mitigate traffic.

“That would be able to help reduce the inconvenience throughout the community and help get that opened a lot faster,” Kehoe said.

Bike lane on G Street
Commissioners passed a resolution in favor of installing a two-way protected bike lane on G Street between 17th Street and Virginia Avenue.

The ANC unanimously passed a resolution in January asking the District Department of Transportation to develop bike lanes on 20th or 21st streets. DDOT proposed a bike route in March that would extend from 20th street across Pennsylvania Avenue and connect to a route on 21st Street through F or G streets.

Commissioner and rising senior James Harnett said wider bike lanes would allow for bikers traveling in both directions to more safely pass one another.

“There are often areas where one-way bike lanes are built and they’re not wide enough to have passing,” Harnett said. “We need to make sure the two-way facility is wide enough.”

Chairman Smith said the plan is “confusing” and should be considered by a city planner instead of the ANC before approval. The ANC agreed to hear DDOT’s suggestions about how to better implement the lane to decrease traffic and ensure biker safety at its September meeting.

Updates on Pennsylvania Avenue streetscape project
Commissioners supported modifications to DDOT’s Pennsylvania Avenue West Streetscape Project, a multi-year initiative to create protected bike lanes, signals, bus stops and curb extensions between 17th and 22nd streets.

DDOT will consider modifications like increasing the width of grass buffers between bike lanes and streets, widening bike lanes from 6 to 7 feet and raising bike lanes 3 to 6 inches above street level.

Two people were killed and one person was injured last week after a car went over a curb and crashed outside The Shops at 2000 Penn.

“The street as it is now invites accidents,” Commissioner Patrick Kennedy said. “This is a reason to move quickly on something.”

Replacing a resigning commissioner 
Smith announced that Commissioner Philip Schrefer will leave his position while recovering from illness and is completing resignation paperwork. Smith said a special election will be held to elect a new commissioner.

“We’ll be scheduling some time at our next meeting to pay tribute to his service, which has been excellent,” Smith said. “He and I started at the same time, and we’re going to miss him very much.”

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