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Vol. LXV, No. 24
November 22, 2013
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Feedback

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

Feedback: A couple of years ago there was a rumor that NIH was building a new child care center to help with the child care needs of its employees. I have yet to see any more news, nor have I seen any construction related to a child care center on campus. When can we, the employees of NIH, expect to see this new child care center? Many of us are tired of waiting!

Response from the Office of Research Services and Office of Research Facilities: The design plans for the new NIH Northwest Child Care Center are almost complete. This child care center, with a planned capacity of 170 children, will break ground in early 2014 and open in spring of 2015 on the corner of Center Dr. between the Children’s Inn and the NIH Fire Station. The program will serve children ages 6 weeks through 5 years.

Feedback: Recently, in MLP-9, drivers have begun to drive the wrong way again, particularly on the top floor. They lunge for parking spaces and ignore the pedestrians or the “no right turn” sign. Is there some way to report them to the NIH Police so they can respond in a timely manner? It doesn’t rise to the level of a 911 [call], but I’m afraid it’s going to get worse again. Sadly, there is another set of parkers who drive the wrong way out in the evening. They park close to the “entrance” and reverse to exit quickly rather than drive around the one-way circle. They are also a hazard, particularly at the bottom of the ramps, where they then turn right (despite signage!) to exit the garage against the flow of traffic.

Response from the Division of Police, ORS: Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The NIH Police recognize the serious safety concerns that these violations pose. If you witness a violation, contact the NIH Police non-emergency line at 311 (if on an NIH phone) or (301) 496-5685. Officers will follow up with appropriate enforcement action.

Feedback: There is no longer a full length sidewalk along the right side of South Dr. from Memorial Dr. toward the Clinical Center. There are instances where people are heading in the direction of the Clinical Center and are walking on the right side of the road along Convent, rather than the sidewalk on the left side. This creates a hazardous situation. If I recall, the sidewalk was removed in order to make the intersection near the Clinical Center safer, but this counteracts that position. Can anything be done about this, like putting the sidewalk back in and adding a railing to keep people on the sidewalk?

Response from ORF: Thank you for your question. The sidewalk was eliminated in order to improve pedestrian safety at the intersection between South Dr. and Service Dr. West (the intersection southeast of the south entrance to the Clinical Center complex). This intersection used to have 4 crosswalks, requiring drivers to monitor pedestrians from too many directions, as well as monitor other drivers. A dangerous pedestrian accident illustrated this point, so the Office of Research Facilities and the Office of Research Services, with the assistance of a traffic consultant, developed options to improve the safety of this and other intersections. Options were presented to the NIH facilities working group and the NIH community advisory board for security.

The selected option is one that has been employed in other locations, such as in downtown D.C. Specifically, we determined that the safest solution was to channel pedestrians into only 2 crosswalks, enabling drivers to focus better with fewer possibilities for human error. Now, all pedestrians along South Dr. are requested to walk on the sidewalk on the south side of South Dr.

The other factor that was taken into consideration is that the previous sidewalk along the south portion of Bldg. 9 had abrupt elevation changes and also serves as a loading dock, creating potential hazards for pedestrians due to trucks backing up. The third factor is that Bldg. 9 will be demolished soon, and for pedestrian safety, the demolition activities will eventually require pedestrians to refrain from walking there. When the demolition is complete, pedestrian traffic will be reassessed and a sidewalk will likely be constructed there. Eventually, however, NIH hopes to build an Animal Research Center on this site, which will have an active loading dock, so yet another assessment will take place at that time.

A similar approach—channeling traffic from 4 crosswalks to 2—was also employed at the intersection of South Dr. and Center Dr. (where the anchor is located) and has improved pedestrian safety.

ORF and ORS are always interested in suggestions regarding pedestrian safety, so if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to contact the ORS Information Line at (301) 594-6677 or orsinfo@mail.nih.gov.

Feedback: I arrive at work very early in the morning, through the Metro entrance, while it is still dark. This is usually when a lot of the deer are moving about campus. There are at least 5 bucks around this area alone and an untold number of does. Along with the other deer in different areas on campus, this will lead to a huge population increase and more chances of interactions with cars. If you have seen the huge antlers on some of the males, that is something I’d like to avoid. What is NIH going to do as the population continues to increase?

Response from ORS: NIH has and is again reevaluating various approaches to manage the ever-growing white-tailed deer population on campus. Currently, and in years past, the Office of Research Services has consulted with Humane Wildlife Services, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services and the state of Maryland to evaluate and provide recommendations for herd management. Some of the recommendations include landscaping modifications to make the campus less hospitable for the deer.


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