Greater Greater Washington

Friday funny: This town ain't big enough

Image from BeyondDC.

I mean, can anyone definitively say the gunfight at the OK Corral wasn't to settle a zoning dispute over pop-up condos?


April showers in the Flickr pool

Here are our favorite new images from the Greater and Lesser Washington Flickr pool, showcasing the best and worst of the Washington region.

National Cathedral. Photo by ep_jhu.

King Street station. Photo by nevermindtheend.

Metropolitan Branch Trail. Photo by Joe Flood.

March to Justice. Photo by Joe Newman.

Emancipation Day fireworks. Photo by Victoria Pickering.

Ballston's "Blue Goose."
Photo by John Sonderman.

Got a picture that depicts the best or worst of the Washington region? Make sure to join our Flickr pool and submit your own photos!

Walkability by Metro line, graphed

Transit succeeds when stations are within walking distance of living spaces and jobs. Using recently-released walk shed data from PlanItMetro, we developed an interactive visualization that shows which Metro lines and stations are most accessible by foot.

Graphic by John Ricco and Steve Bronder. Click for interactive version.

Each dot on the charts represents one Metro station, and you can view different variables using the "line" and "indicator" toggles at the top.

At first glance, these charts confirm conventional Metro wisdom: stations in DC's dense northwest neighborhoods have the most households in walking distance, and downtown is a walkable job center.

But there are other interesting patterns to uncover here, too. For instance, we see that stations with multiple entrances tend to have larger walk sheds. It's also clear that Tysons has a long way to go in its transformation.

What else do you notice in these graphs?

There's history to behold on some of DC's manhole covers

The District has thousands of manhole covers, and a lot of them offer a glimpse into the city's history. This one, for example, is from a 19th Century streetcar company that hasn't existed in over 100 years.

An extant manhole cover from the Anacostia & Potomac River Railroad. Photo by the author.

The "A&P RR" refers to the Anacostia and Potomac River Railroad, which was the fourth streetcar company to begin operation in DC. A&P ran from 1876 until 1912, when the Washington Railway and Electric Company bought it.

The manhole was almost surely for below-the-street electrical power access. A&P was the last company to switch from horse-cars to electric power, making the switch in 1900, so we can reasonably assume this cover to be from between 1900 and 1912.

This cover is on 11th Street SE, between Pennsylvania Avenue and Lincoln Park. I've seen three covers like it in the area, and another on Maryland Avenue NE, just east of 14th Street by the Checkers. Those are the only ones I know about. These locations are a bit surprising since the A&P didn't run on these streets, nor did any other streetcar. The A&P did run in 11th Street SE, but only south of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Know of any interesting manhole covers in the DC area? Mention them in the comments!

Breakfast links: Metro changes

Photo by Kevin Harber on Flickr.
Safety strides: Metro will institute four safety measures after January's smoke incident: fix all tunnel light fixtures, clear tunnels of debris, create an audit system for testing ventilation systems, and review underground alarm protocols. (DCist)

New addition: Governor Hogan has appointed Keturah Harley to the WMATA Board. Hurley served as general counsel for the DC Public Employee Relations Board and will bring labor expertise to the Board. (Post)

Red light, green light: DDOT will begin a month-long campaign to reprogram traffic signals at 650 intersections downtown. DDOT wants to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety but does not include plans for bus signal prioritization. (Post)

Evict-ory for tenants: Residents won't need to pay $250 million to avoid eviction from a Chinatown building. The owner was required to give tenants a chance to buy the property but a judge ruled that the owner's selling price was too high. (City Paper)

Balancing act: Two bills before the DC Council offer differing views on the role of the newly elected attorney general. Attorney General Karl Racine wants a voice on legislation and contracts, while Mayor Bowser wants to curb the office's power. (WAMU)

Education budget in limbo: Education Committee Chairman David Grosso said he will not support the current capital budget at a Committee hearing to debate Mayor Bowser's budget that delays funding for nearly 20 school renovations. (Post)

Reset: Montgomery County wants to move away from traffic efficiency standards that lead to wider roads. County Councilmember Roger Berliner wants planners to focus on lowering commute times and getting people to live closer to work. (BethesdaNow)

Funding mass transit: Only 20% of the highway trust fund goes to mass transit, even as ridership is growing nationwide. With newer members of Congress who do not support transit funding, the fight to maintain funding is getting more difficult. (CityLab)

And...: The West Heating Plant in Georgetown was not designated as a historic landmark. (UrbanTurf) ... Montgomery County is planning a bicycle network around the Corridor Cities Transitway. (TheWashCycle) ... The International Spy Museum unveiled designs for a new building in L'Enfant Plaza. (WBJ)

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Here are the answers to whichWMATA week 48

On Tuesday, we posted our forty-eighth photo challenge to see how well you know Metro. I took five photos in the Metro system. Here are the answers. How well did you do?

This week, we got 16 guesses. Six of you got all five correct. Great work, Peter K, JamesDCane, William M, Frank IBC, FN, and Mr. Johnson!

Image 1: Glenmont

The first image shows the eastern entrance to Glenmont station. Structurally, this is a unique escalator covering. But it's also distinctive because of the artwork Swallows and Stars tiled along the canopy supports.

Today, escalator canopies are commonplace on Metro because WMATA wants to protect the moving stairs from the elements. But before the agency started putting in the standardized glassy canopy, like the one at Virginia Square featured in week 40, they built unique canopies at new stations.

When Glenmont opened in 1998, it was among the first to get a canopy like this. Columbia Heights and Georgia Avenue followed in 1999. Congress Heights included an entrance pavilion similar to the Mid City stations two years later when it opened. Fourteen of you recognized Glenmont.

Image 2: Franconia-Springfield

The second image shows the roof of Franconia-Springfield. The structure, especially the width of the roof, should have told you this was a high peak station. But which of the four could it be?

The main clue was the vantage point. The photo is from the VRE overpass, which is higher than the roof of the station. Southern Avenue and Suitland both have overpasses leading to the station, but their escalator configuration doesn't allow this view. Six of you guessed correctly.

Image 3: East Falls Church

This picture shows the roof of East Falls Church looking up through a "hole" in the platform from the mezzanine. The roof type is general peak, and the perspective means the station's mezzanine is below the tracks. That eliminates six of the eleven stations of this type. Of the remaining five, only East Falls Church fits the bill.

The crossbars below the glass are closely spaced, which is only the case at East Falls Church, Dunn Loring, and Vienna. And as noted above, you can discount Dunn Loring and Vienna. The other clue is the railing visible at the bottom center of the photo. That's present only at East Falls Church, and you could (barely) see it in week 46. Eight of you got this one.

Image 4: Naylor Road

The fourth image shows the newest general peak station in the system, Naylor Road. This station is a bit different from the other stations because it has an extremely shallow glass peak.

Note how in the images above (East Falls Church) and below (Addison Road), the peak is angled at roughly 45 degrees, with a right angle at the apex. Compare that to Naylor Road, where the slope is probably closer to 20 degrees above horizontal and the apex is a very obtuse angle. Seven of you guessed correctly here.

Image 5: Addison Road

The final image shows the canopy at Addison Road. Like the last two images, it has a general peak roof. But Addison Road has a unique variant of the canopy. This is the oldest general peak station in the system, opening in 1980. All of the other general peak stations, except for East Falls Church and Dunn Loring, have two columns supporting the canopy on either side of the peak (see image 4).

Addison Road has a single row of columns centered under the peak. This unique element is the only real clue to solving the final image. And eight of you were able to solve the puzzle.

Thanks to everyone for playing! Great work. Stay tuned. We'll have five more images for you next week.

Transit to Wolf Trap will still run through West Falls Church

Despite speculation that the Silver Line might change how the Fairfax Connector runs to Wolf Trap, the service's Route 480 Wolf Trap Express will continue to run from West Falls Church this season. While some Silver Line stations are closer, it turns out West Falls Church still makes sense.

Photo from FCDOT.

According to Nicholas Perfili, the Fairfax Connector section chief, Wolf Trap and Fairfax County DOT officials did discuss the possibility of changing the service to run from a station on the Silver Line. Ultimately, they decided against it.

West Falls Church still has a lot to offer

The main reason for keeping the current routing is to make sure concert goers can stay at Wolf Trap for as long as possible. While the last train to DC leaves Spring Hill at 11:18 pm during the week, the last train from West Falls leaves at 11:32. Concerts can run late into the evening, and those extra few minutes can be the difference between having to leave before a show ends and catching the encore.

Perfili also pointed out that the route from West Falls Church to Wolf Trap offers a more reliable trip time because it has HOV-2 restrictions on the Dulles Connector Road and a bus-on-shoulder lane that lets buses bypass other traffic. Also, a bus from Spring Hill would be subject to Tysons congestion, which can be quite bad.

Photo from FCDOT.

While there's ample parking at West Falls Church, there isn't at any of the Tysons stations. A final thing West Falls Church has that the others don't: room for buses to park and wait if need be.

The Wolf Trap Express will undergo one change this year: it will now use West Falls Church's Bus Bay E, which is closer than Bay B, which it used to use. The move comes thanks to the Silver Line, which made it possible to cut the number of buses needing to run through West Falls Church.

That means that, albeit indirectly, the Silver Line is making trips to Wolf Trap shorter... if only by a few feet.

More families are waitlisted at neighborhood preschools

In some parts of DC, it's getting harder to snare a seat at your neighborhood preschool. The map below shows how the number of preschool applicants at many DC Public Schools has been increasing in recent years.

All graphics by DC Office of Revenue Analysis. Click for an interactive version.

DC residents are guaranteed a slot at their neighborhood DC Public School beginning in kindergarten, but only a few schools guarantee admission to preschool. All DCPS elementary schools offer preschool for four-year-olds, and most also offer it for three-year-olds.

Eventually, DCPS plans to guarantee preschool slots for neighborhood children at all its high-poverty schools, but for this coming school year that policy is in place at only five schools. Generally, families need to apply for preschool slots through the school lottery.

The graphic above, published on District, Measured, shows that most DCPS preschool programs have recently gotten more popular. The green circles on the map indicate schools that saw an increase in the number of preschool applications from in-boundary families, while the red ones indicate schools where such applications decreased. DC's Office of Revenue Analysis produces the District, Measured blog.

After the first round of this year's school lottery, almost 7,000 students found themselves on waitlists for at least one DCPS school. Many of those are students in kindergarten or above, applying for slots at schools other than the neighborhood one they have a right to attend.

But those waitlists are including more and more families who weren't able to get preschool spots at their neighborhood schools. The graphic below shows which schools have the most in-boundary families on their preschool waitlists. The larger and darker the circle, the longer the waitlist.

Click for interactive version.

Preschool waitlists for in-boundary families aren't a new phenomenon. In fact, 14 schools have waitlisted in-boundary preschool applicants during each of the past three years. But this year, as the table below shows, 11 more DCPS schools joined their ranks.

Click for interactive version.

Have you been waitlisted for your neighborhood DCPS preschool program? Let us know in the comments.

Cross-posted at DC Eduphile.

Alexandria has identified locations for its next 16 bikeshare stations

The City of Alexandria might not follow through on plans to add 16 new Capital Bikeshare stations throughout the city this year. But if it does, city staff have identified the general areas the new stations are likely to go.

Capital Bikeshare stations overlaid on crowdsourced demand map (Click to enlarge). Map by the author from City of Alexandria data.

City staff presented the expansion information at the Alexandria's transportation commission's December. (The overlay map above reflects a slightly updated set of locations I received after reaching out to the city this week.)

The locations are based on the city's public crowdsourcing maps, connectivity to transit, proximity to mixed-use activity centers, and whether the location was within .25 mile of an existing station.

Technical considerations like direct sunlight to power the stations, adequate space, flat ground, and utility clearances will be important in choosing the exact site for each station.

The new stations would be primarily to the east, in Old Town, Del Ray, Potomac Yard, and surrounding areas. But three new stations would add to the cluster in Fairlington, and Eisenhower East will recieve a new station as well. Though there's definitely a demand for stations in West End, activity centers, density, and a lack of nearby stations could make it harder for stations in those areas to be successful.

What else do you notice about the locations?

Breakfast links: On the fence

Photo by Timothy Valentine on Flickr.
Gaining momentum: With election day a week away, the race to fill Ward 8's DC Council seat heats up. Here are the 11 candidates are vying for the spot formerly held by Mayor Barry. (City Paper)

Bike on: Arlington County will maintain funding for bike projects. The County Manager had proposed cutting funding for cycling and pedestrian programs, but the Council Board adopted a measure on Tuesday to keep the programs fully funded. (WABA)

Congressional meddling: A House Committee voted to overturn a DC law for the first time in 23 years, but it still needs House, Senate, and Presidential approval. The law protects women from workplace discrimination based on their reproductive decisions. (Post)

Slowing down: Revenue from DC speed cameras dropped 55% from last year. But it's not clear if people are actually speeding less or just slowing down around the known camera locations. (Post)

Around the corner: 93% of new office developments are within a half-mile walk of a Metro station. Metro anticipates that these developments will play a role in increased ridership in upcoming years. (PlanItMetro)

Curbing homelessness: Arlington County's homeless population is down 18% from last year and a new shelter with 50 permanent beds, originally scheduled to open last fall, will open in June. (ArlNow)

Trailblazing: DDOT wants public feedback about which bike routes could benefit from added signage. DDOT has posted signs for some of the District's longer routes, but is hoping to expand signs to other routes. (D.C. Bicycle Advisory Council)

The many hats of Jim Graham: After four terms as a DC Councilmember, Jim Graham recently retired from politics. But now he's embarked on a new career as a promoter and recruiter for a District strip club. (Post)

Sustainable Seattle: Seattle is an urban planner's dream, but it's quickly becoming unaffordable. At this year's National Planning Conference in Seattle, planners focused on how to move cities forward while maintaining affordability. (CityLab)

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