M Street Temporarily Widens Sidewalks

The Georgetown Business Improvement District has begun temporarily expanding the sidewalks of M Street NW by eight feet every Saturday and Sunday to accommodate increased foot traffic, beginning the weekend of April 2 and lasting through November.

Each weekend, the 3200 block of M St. will be widened with a temporary barrier from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. as a part of BID’s 2028 15 Year Action Plan. The 2028 Plan, launched in April 2013, aims to develop the Georgetown area in a sustainable way.

Georgetown BID has experimented with temporary sidewalk-widening in the past for specific events with higher anticipated foot traffic, including along Wisconsin Ave. (The Hoya, “Wisconsin Ave. Widens Sidewalks,” Feb. 21, 2014).

In a promotional video for the sidewalk-widening plan, Georgetown BID CEO Joe Sternlieb said the aim of the initiative — which was introduced following the success of six pilot programs conducted by the District’s Department of Transportation over the past two years — is to improve the overall experience of community members.

“Our hypothesis is that the more comfortable people are walking the sidewalks of Georgetown, the more business they will bring here, the more spending they’ll do in our stores, the longer they’ll spend and they’ll just have a better time,” Sternlieb said. “What we found is that there are a lot of ancillary benefits to doing it — traffic moves better, the parking lots south of M Street are more full, and I think everybody thinks it’s a much better way to use public space than parking private cars.”

Sternlieb highlighted the program as a key component of Georgetown BID’s 2028 Plan.

“The 2028 Plan was really principle-based. The principle was making Georgetown a better space for everyone,” Sternlieb said. “By making the sidewalks more comfortable, by making them safer, that enhances the experience. This project is a crucial element of the 2028 Plan.”

Georgetown BID Transportation Director Will Handsfield said there has been a positive reaction to the plan so far.

“We’re really pleased with the result,” Handsfield said. “Overwhelmingly the residents, visitors of the community, representatives of the community, really like this project and we’re happy to continue doing it.”

The initiative offers discounted parking for $6 at the PMI parking garage as well as free D.C. Circulator rides in Georgetown during the weekends while the widening is underway.

The D.C. Circulator rides include the northbound bus on the Union Station-Georgetown route along Wisconsin Avenue, NW.

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