September 2015 ANC3E Meeting
The ANC has challenged GDS to be creative about our traffic management plan, and they have set a goal for us to bring no new cars to the neighborhood with our school consolidation. Our robust draft plan demonstrates that GDS shares the goal of seriously limiting neighborhood car traffic. GDS recognizes that this is essential both from a sustainability perspective and from a neighborhood impact perspective.
We will be addressing traffic through both structural changes to our campus and behavioral/procedural changes within our community.
Structural changes to our campus
We are proposing three entrances for drop-off and pick-up: the existing Davenport entrance, and new entrances on River Road and Ellicott Street, ensuring that there will be no queuing on neighborhood streets, no parking on neighborhood streets, and that school buses and cars that come to campus will be distributed evenly among the separate entrances and cause no negative impact to any one street. This design also remedies existing issues of cars cutting through neighborhood streets to access the one existing vehicular school entrance. Our traffic consultants are looking at River Road and contemplating a small left turn lane for eastbound cars turning into the GDS entrance. It is their contention that this will mitigate any back up of other cars travelling east on River Road. The DC Department of Transportation will review the River Road entrance, and the left turn lane and make a determination on whether this will negatively impact the traffic network. There are other structural design elements to our traffic management plan, like a bike garage within the underground structure, a bike maintenance facility to support biking to school, and electronic boards that have real-time posting of bus and metro schedules.
Procedural/Behavioral Changes for our staff and families
Our proposed School Traffic Management Plan is built on four key strategies: school busing, public transportation, walking and biking, and carpooling. Before the start of each school year, our families and staff will be required to select one of these four modes as their primary means of getting to campus.
To make this new transportation management system work, there will need to be a cultural and behavioral shift at GDS. Already in this school year, we are starting a dialogue with our staff and families about the impact of transportation choices on sustainability, and we are developing programs to support sustainable choices. We are confident that by the time we open this new campus in 2020, the GDS community will be ready and able to make our transportation plan a success.
Four Ways to Get to GDS
- School buses. GDS has never before offered a real school bus program. With the campus consolidation, we will offer a new program where children and staff can get on a GDS school bus at specific locations around the region and be dropped off at school. Our plan is to identify conveniently located, safe access points around the area where parents can drop their kids off. Buses will be available to staff at no charge.
- Metrobus/Metrorail. Over 43% of our students live within 1 mile of a metro stop. We will fully subsidize all students that are DC residents who select this as their primary mode of transit. We will provide a monthly $50 SmarTrip card to students who are not DC residents. Additionally, in an effort to get more lower and middle students to use public transit, GDS will institute a ‘transit buddy’ system, matching older students that take transit/walk or bike with younger students from families who are interested in this service. High school students who escort elementary and middle school students will receive training and obtain community service hours for this work.
- Carpool. Today, carpooling is optional for families who drop off their students at school. In the future, families who select driving their children to campus as their primary means of coming to school will have to carpool. Over 69% of our families live within a ¼ mile of another GDS student. So while there may be a few exceptions made for families who live far from any other GDS family, we believe that these numbers indicate that a stronger commitment to carpooling is reasonable and will be effective.
- Walking and Biking. We will encourage biking and walking to school through education and incentive programs and build bike maintenance and storage facilities on campus.
GDS’s Traffic Management Plan will continue to evolve with input from DDOT and feedback from the ANC, and we will remain committed to meeting two thresholds—to have no adverse impact on the community and to reduce our carbon footprint.
For other information on traffic planning and studies, please visit the Traffic section on this Campus Planning page.
Retail/Residential Traffic Management Plan
Our proposal is consistent with the most rigorous standards set by DDOT, the ANC, and the Zoning Commission. Below are some highlights of the plan:
- We commit that residents of the building will be prohibited from obtaining RPP or Visitor Parking Pass (VPP) permits.
- Bicycle parking will be provided meeting or exceeding existing regulatory minimums.
- We will pay for the installation of a Capital Bikeshare station and one year of maintenance and operating costs at location to be determined in coordination with DDOT.
- The residential building lobby will display real-time transit and other alternate mode information, using an electronic video screen.
- Showers and lockers in the building’s fitness center shall be made available to retail employees that chose to bike to work.
- Car-sharing spaces will be reserved in the underground garage.
- We will install two 240-volt electric car charging stations in the garage.
GDS is aware that parking is a concern to the community.
In the retail/residential buildings, there will be one space for every two apartments, which is the high end of DDOT’s parking requirement. There will be 45 spaces available to serve the retail; again this is the high end of DDOT’s parking requirements.
GDS is planning to build a parking lot under the proposed new school building that will connect underground to our existing lot, which is under the field abutting River Road.
Parking will be for staff, approved student-drivers, and visitors, and buses.
The lot will not only be for parking, but also for circulation and student drop off/ pick up.
There will be room for 180 cars in the new lot, but on a typical school day, much of that area will be taken up for circulation and drop-off and pick-up as mentioned above. On a typical school day, this much space for parking will not be necessary, but it will ensure that when there are community-wide events for parents and families, there is enough parking available so that there is no overflow into the neighborhood.
Our plan continues to envision a new lower/middle school building in the area now occupied by Safeway, and two retail/residential buildings on Wisconsin Avenue at the site of the old Marten’s Volvo dealership. As was announced last month, GDS has lowered the height and reduced the density of the two retail residential buildings.
We are proposing that the two retail/residential buildings be separated by a broad terraced pedestrian esplanade that we are naming The Davenport Steps. With a large plaza adjacent to the Wisconsin Avenue sidewalk, and wide steps terracing down to 42nd Street, we see this as a wonderful public place, unlike anything in the Tenleytown neighborhood. Both buildings will have retail in the base, amounting to roughly 38,000 square feet. The north building is designed to accommodate a mid-sized grocer as well as a café. The market entrance will be near the northern peak of the triangular lot, making it easily accessible from Wisconsin Avenue and from 42nd Street. At the base of the Davenport steps, there will be additional neighborhood serving retail.
For information about the zoning process and timeline, please click check the timeline line in the sidebar.
PUBLIC BENEFITS AND PROJECT AMENITIES
As defined in the DC Municipal Regulations, “the planned unit development (PUD) process is designed to encourage high quality developments that provide public benefits.” GDS would like your input on the community amenities that you would like to see. Please e-mail your ideas and suggestions to TalktoGDS@gds.org.