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Vol. LXIII, No. 17
August 19, 2011

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Have a question about some aspect of working at NIH? You can post anonymous queries at (click on the Feedback icon) and we’ll try to provide answers.

Feedback: What is the status of the promised doors for the restrooms in Bldg. 31B?

Response from the Office of Research Facilities: The Office of Research Facilities has committed funds to renovate the second through fifth floor restroom doorways in the B wing of Bldg. 31. Work is anticipated to be completed by the end of December 2011.

Feedback: For awhile I’ve wondered about the homes between Bldg. 31 and the Children’s Inn. Who are they for and do people actually live in them?

Response from ORF: The area you are referring to is known as the “Quarters.” The area is generally used as on-campus housing. Several are rented by senior staff at NIH. Occupants are charged the market rental rate for comparable units in the local area in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget Circular A-45. In some cases, these units are used for administrative offices such as for staff members of NIAID and the NIH Fire Marshal.

The Quarters exist due to a set of land donations to NIH by a local family, the Wilsons, in the 1930s. As part of the first donation in 1935, an existing structure known as “Top Cottage” (Bldg. 15A) conveyed. A subsequent donation in 1938 allowed for the expansion of the Quarters into two to six sets of double quarters and two single detached residences completed in 1939. The Quarters are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

Feedback: Why can’t the shuttle allow riders to board at non-designated pick-up locations, i.e. stop signs?

Reply from Office of Research Services: The ORS Division of Amenities and Transportation Services (DATS) oversees the NIH Shuttle contract. We understand the inconvenience of missing a shuttle bus. However, running to catch one can be dangerous. For more than 10 years, shuttle contracts have stipulated that drivers are prohibited from stopping at undesignated stops. DATS requires shuttle drivers to stop only at specific locations.

Once the shuttle makes a stop and pulls away from the curb, it is not to stop again and pick up passengers a second time. There are two reasons for this, both of which are safety related. When this occurs, the passenger is typically in the roadway or parking lot and cars can attempt to move around a shuttle bus on either side once it starts moving, thus creating a hazardous condition for the passenger. Just as important, the pulling away and then stopping again is commonly referred to as a “false start” and has been identified as a contributing factor in rear-end collisions. The traffic behind the bus sees it start to move, most likely cannot see the passenger approaching and does not anticipate the bus suddenly stopping again. When the bus stops unexpectedly, a collision may occur.

We understand that each designated stop may appear to be safe. However, our goal is to avoid even one injury. Since this policy has been in effect, there have been no reported injuries.

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