ANC reviews H Street safety study, hears campus construction proposals

Media Credit: Camille Desanto | Photographer

Commissioners welcomed Evelyn Hudson, who represents the single member district 2A05 that encompasses Amsterdam and Shenkman halls, at a meeting Wednesday.

A local governing body deliberated over proposals that would improve transportation projects and move forward with construction projects on campus at a monthly meeting Wednesday.

Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners reviewed the findings of a traffic engineering company’s study of the section of H Street between 20th and 23rd streets. Officials presented updated plans for the renovation of Thurston Hall, which is set to undergo construction at the end of the academic year and reopen by no later than fall of 2022.

In case you missed it, here are some highlights from the meeting.

Safety improvements on H Street
Senior and ANC Commissioner James Harnett introduced the findings of a traffic study the infrastructure design consulting company Kimley-Horn conducted. The study found that cars frequently rolled through crosswalks on the block of H Street near Kogan Plaza, and pedestrians often did not cross the street using the crosswalk.

Officials added a second crosswalk to H Street last October after hearing concerns from students about safely crossing the street between Kogan Plaza and District House. A car struck a student in the crosswalk near Kogan Plaza earlier this month.

Harnett said he worked with Kimley-Horn to create a final draft of the study. He said commissioners discuss in the next month potential safety updates that can be made to H Street and vote in January on a proposal that recommends the changes to the District Department of Transportation.

“We’ve gone through multiple drafts, come back to the table a number of times on what sort of work we think would make sense to show and to help inform other commissioners, the neighbors and the District Department of Transportation on what makes sense,” Harnett said.

Smith Center renovations
Director of Community Relations Kevin Days announced that officials are considering removing the pool in the Smith Center to expand the basketball court. He said officials discussed updating the Smith Center at the Board of Trustees’ October meeting and that officials will work with student athletes who practice in the pool to find alternative swimming locations.

Days said the University will file a notice of intent to remove the pool with the D.C. Zoning Commission Dec. 12 and will present final plans for the change at the ANC’s January meeting.

“This is really continuing with our commitment to enhancing the student experience primarily focused on enhancing the experience of our student athletes,” he said.

Thurston Hall updates
Officials presented updates on the Thurston Hall renovation project, which is set to include an atrium and community spaces. Officials presented four exceptions to the original plan – like adding a courtyard to the center of the building or heightening the penthouse floor – that would increase the amount of natural light that would enter the residence hall.

Susi Cora, the director of campus planning, said the green courtyard will include trees, outdoor lighting and several study areas to “really amp up” the lighting in the current building.

“We’ve cut a notch out of the building to allow light and air into the interior courtyard,” Cora said. “It is covered with a canopy that is open to the air on its side, providing fresh air to the interior courtyard.”

She added that officials plan to include food service and study and social spaces on the hall’s lower level.

Welcoming a new commissioner
Commissioners welcomed Evelyn Hudson, the commissioner representing the single member district 2A05, which encompasses Amsterdam and Shenkman halls. Hudson said she’s lived in the neighborhood for 17 months and looks forward to working to improve infrastructure conditions for Foggy Bottom residents.

“I’d like to be able to improve the services the community and betterment of the community, and to help solve issues that are important to our residents,” Hudson said.

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