Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A study that only looks at parking under the National Mall is too narrow | Needed: a broader discussion and the creation of a comprehensive approach to visitor services and management

The proposal by the National Coalition to Save the Mall to create underground parking under the National Mall has been around for awhile.  The Washington Business Journal reports ("In the future, here's where you might park on the Mall — under it") that DC City Council has legislation before it endorsing a preliminary study of the concept. From the story:
Is it time to seriously — again — explore underground parking on the National Mall? The National Mall Coalition, which has advocated for an underground parking option for many years, thinks so, and it is asking the D.C. Council for help.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Councilmen Jack Evans, D-Ward 2, and Charles Allen, D-Ward 6, have co-sponsored a bill to gauge council support of a feasibility study for underground parking. The nonprofit coalition would pay the estimated $100,000 cost of the study, which would be conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"From my personal point of view, an underground facility would solve a lot of problems," Evans told me. "You could have parking at all those museums, parking for tour buses. So I would really like to take a look at it. We need to know what is under there. Are there water pipes? Can you even build under there?"
I don't have a problem with underground parking there, but as I have written in a number of posts:

-- "Parking under the National Mall should be part of an integrated approach to visitor services and management," 2013 (This post, "Need for a comprehensive visitor transportation plan in DC," from December 2011, is also relevant.)
-- "A National Mall-focused heritage (replica) streetcar service to serve visitors is a way bigger idea than a parking garage under the Mall," 2013
-- "Another element of underground parking at the National Mall: High-capacity bicycle parking," 2013
-- "New DC Circulator route serving National Mall reminds us that we are neglecting connections from west to east and fail to adequately connect Georgetown to the National Mall," 2015

it should be a part of a larger study concerning visitor management more generally, and management of the National Mall both every day in terms of management such as operations and management as well as for special events.

From a past blog entry:

... as I argued before, building a parking garage under the Mall--their priority was more dealing with flooding issues--isn't worth doing unless it's part of a complete program to "serve visitors."

Otherwise it's a little idea, not a big one.

The recommendations from the blog entry included:

• an infill Yellow Line subway station to serve the west edge of the Mall, specifically the Jefferson Memorial (although the station would have to be on the Long Bridge side, which is east of the Memorial
• a visitor center located at the proposed Jefferson Memorial Station
• a primary visitor center for the city at Union Station
• promoting parking to tourists at Union Station
• running a bus service on the National Mall between the visitor centers and the various destinations, with the main staging sites being Union Station and the Jefferson Memorial subway station
• developing service corridors under the National Mall as part of the parking structure so that waste removal and other services for the National Mall can be delivered underground.

But I have to say while I thought reasonably big, I didn't think "massively big" (although the infill Yellow Line subway station is a very big deal--and is not original to me).

• Note also that an advantage of an under the Mall parking garage is the ability to serve tour buses and get them off the street. For a variety of reasons tour buses don't like staging at Union Station.

Besides building that parking garage, instead of running that bus service (ideally as a double deck bus service as suggested in my WCP entry, "Grow the Buses"), why not run streetcars instead? ...

•  Why not run a National Mall-focused heritage (replica) streetcar service to serve visitors?

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