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Breakfast links: Defending against BRAC

Photo by wiwutv51 on Flickr.
Carpools key to Mark Center sanity: If the Department of Defense wants to avoid complete gridlock around the Mark Center later this year, it needs to take a page from its old playbook and incentivize 4-person carpooling. (WAMU)

Bethesda in for a BRAC surprise: Though Bethesda got millions for traffic improvements in the budget deal, none will be finished by the September 15 start of BRAC. Pedestrians coming from the Metro are expected to more than double. (Post)

East Falls Church plan a go: The Arlington County Board unanimously approved the East Falls Church station area plan that will bring mixed-use TOD to the Metro, and add better bike and pedestrian access. (ARLnow)

Shuffling VA Metro seats: Virginia's WMATA Board delegation will see some changes to accommodate the state's new appointment. Fairfax may lose it's alternate seat, and Arlington's member would switch from a voting to an alternate member. (Examiner)

A cheaper underground Dulles station?: The MWAA has invited to state and regional leaders to sit down and discuss the Authority's decision to build an underground station at Dulles, hinting that they have found a cheaper way to build it. (Post)

Finding out-of-District DCPS students: Over the last 3 years, 235 DCPS students have been illegally attending as non-DC residents. The good news: DCPS schools must be better than some surrounding ones. The bad news: DCPS is out $648,000. (Examiner)

A long battle for vehicular manslaughter: It took 7 years to pass Maryland's new vehicular manslaughter law, which will hold drivers responsible for killing people on bike or on foot, but to at least one family, the fight was worth it. (WTOP)

Getting smart growth right in MD: Prince George's new TOD emphasis won't have maximum effect until Maryland takes a holistic look at its 100+ transit stations and develops some statewide standards and priorities for smart growth. (RPUS)

And...: A couple of Virginia drivers are miffed that MWAA is using toll revenue to pay for the Silver Line. (NBC Washington) ... County police are targeting speeders on the Fairfax County Parkway, but acknowledge that the road's design encourages speeding. (WTOP) ... Talk of federal budget cuts has raised the age-old question: "Would you pay for the Smithsonian?" (Washingtonian)

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Erik Weber has been living car-free in the District since 2009. Hailing from the home of the nation's first Urban Growth Boundary, Erik has been interested in transit since spending summers in Germany as a kid where he rode as many buses, trains and streetcars as he could find. Views expressed here are Erik's alone. 


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Cheaper station in subway at Dulles Airport?

The $64,000.00 question is, what methods and alignment changes will be made to reduces costs. Make the station smaller and or shallower, shorten the length of the tunneled portion of the alignment. use a cheaper tunneling method.

The number of options available to do any combination of the above are endless.

by Sand Box John on Apr 18, 2011 9:25 am • linkreport

It's never been clear to me why the approach tunnel needed to be so long. The portal is all the way up near the interchange between the Airport Access Road and the Greenway.

I would think that, despite the disruption, you could do cut and cover through the parking lot for much cheaper - perhaps with some NATM sections where disruptions are unacceptable and detours unavailable.

by Alex B. on Apr 18, 2011 9:41 am • linkreport

Hell, you could just build one level of parking garage in the hourly lot, then throw a metro station on top. Landscape the rest and you've got a far more attractive solution.

Hmm, what else in the news? Thelma Drake is resigning for the NVTC to allow a transit expert to take the Virginia's seat -- despite the constant assertion of Alpert that she was the secret designee.

by charlie on Apr 18, 2011 9:49 am • linkreport

DCPS Parents: prepare for highly onerous proof-of-residency requirements coming soon.

by ah on Apr 18, 2011 9:51 am • linkreport

I personally don't care if the Dulles station is underground or not. I do care that it's as close to the terminal as possible. Apparently, in order to preserve the supposedly historic look of the front of the terminal, the station must either be underground or far from the terminal. Of course, transit riders would never see the "historic" terminal if the station is underground, so really, we're only preserving it for drivers.

All that aside, I'm open to cheaper options, though I'm curious what they'd be. Shorter tunnel? Shallower? Smaller station/platforms? I hope they don't make any stupid cuts, like making the platform only six cars long.

Trivia: Metro planners made a rough sketch of a Dulles station back in the 70s. It only had one platform, because the plan was for it to be a terminal station and trains could reverse direction there.

by Tim on Apr 18, 2011 10:02 am • linkreport

Anyone know what WMATA's minimum turning radius is?

I recall seeing a document related to Potomac Yard and their infill station mentioning a 1000 foot minimum turning radius, but that was for a 45 mph track. Is that really the shortest turn radius we can have for revenue track? I don't see why a 45 mph rated track is necessary, particularly as you enter a station where trains will need to slow down in any case.

by Alex B. on Apr 18, 2011 10:10 am • linkreport

Its good that the police are stepping up enforcement on 7100 but the county needs to have some sort of long range plan for what it envisions for Fairfax county parkway. Right now a lot of its problems are from its piecemeal design that will take you from a local road to an expressway. I can see the arguments for either but it would be nice to see a comprehensive plan for both the road and the areas it serves especially around fair lakes and reston.

by Canaan on Apr 18, 2011 10:14 am • linkreport

The looming BRAC-catastrophe in Bethesda will hardly be a surprise. It's not much comfort to note that the other BRAC-catastrophe, in Fairfax, will likely be worse.

by MattF on Apr 18, 2011 10:16 am • linkreport

On DC educating so many Ward Nine students:

""investigated cases usually develop from family custody cases and other court hearings"".

So 487 students were determined to be suburbanites from court custody cases. That means there's a tremendous number of PG County kids we're educating. Certainly thousands.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 18, 2011 10:28 am • linkreport

sorry that was 235 determined to be non-DC residents.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 18, 2011 10:39 am • linkreport

This is a widespread issue. Stand by any drop-off line outside mamy DC public schools (including those that are at capacity and where there are disappointed "out of bounds" students who don't make it through the lottery) and one will see a substantial number of Maryland license plates. Even accounting for a caregiver or a divorced parent who may live in Maryland (where the other lives in DC), the number is large. DCPS has either not wanted to look into this or hasn't had the resources. At some schools, the MD kids are assumed to be the kids of DC government workers who value a school closer to their workplace and the favorable before-and-after care programs. The result is that DC taxpayers foot the bill (at a time when higher taxes are on deck. Equally important, deserving kids who live in DC but not in the in-bounds areas for desirable schools, lose out in the lottery to Maryland kids whose families use connections or fraud to get them in.

On DC educating so many Ward Nine students:
""investigated cases usually develop from family custody cases and other court hearings"".

So 487 students were determined to be suburbanites from court custody cases. That means there's a tremendous number of PG County kids we're educating. Certainly thousands.

by ADP on Apr 18, 2011 10:47 am • linkreport

I concur with ADP. Several of the highly sought after 'west of park' schools have this as well. From Key and Eaton to Murch and Janney.

DC Taxpayers, and more importantly, DC schools children, are getting shafted. It is high time some attention was brought to this issue.

by William on Apr 18, 2011 10:57 am • linkreport

@Alex B.: I doubt many of the turns downtown (that aren't under big parks) have a 1,000-foot radius. For example, the orange/blue line turn from McPherson Square (on I Street) to Metro Center (12th Street) is likely much smaller. Then again, it's a very low speed.

by Tim on Apr 18, 2011 10:57 am • linkreport


I did find one document saying that Metro's tightest turn on mainline track has a radius of 755 feet. That would make a lot more sense to me - 1,000 feet is pretty wide.

by Alex B. on Apr 18, 2011 11:10 am • linkreport

RE: Vehicular Manslaughter Law ...

I think we should stop declaring that the law "will hold drivers responsible for killing people on bike or on foot" when it is much more general than that. Negligent drivers kill people in cars too.

by Geof Gee on Apr 18, 2011 11:12 am • linkreport

David Alpert-Is there any reason to keep the "Ward 9" comment by Tom Coumaris? Tom-any reason you can't just say PG County?

by thump on Apr 18, 2011 11:23 am • linkreport

Sorry, shouldn't have posted so soon. Wanted to finish that statement by saying that the article says both Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Tom, is there some reason why you decided that all those students are from PG and not MoCo or somewhere else. Nothing to say about VA students?

by thump on Apr 18, 2011 11:27 am • linkreport

thump- "Ward 9" is the common term in DC to refer to the large number of non-current DC residents who register and vote here and who avail themselves of DC benefits. It's commonly used for PG County but the rationale would apply to any suburban resident who votes here or uses DC schools or other resident benefits.

The fact that it's an established term shows what a problem it is.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 18, 2011 1:38 pm • linkreport

@Tom Courmaris -- it strikes me that "Ward nine" is basically a shorthand argument for retrocession. I do not know if that was your intent, but maybe you want to present your views a bit more carefully.

by goldfish on Apr 18, 2011 2:01 pm • linkreport

goldfish- The term "Ward 9" has nothing to do with retrocession. I can't even imagine how that connection would come about. (Unless it would be for ceding the suburbs to DC.)

The term has been used politically for a while to describe the fact that many registered DC voters no longer live in DC. It has come to include the fact that many "Ward 9" residents in fact still vote here, put their kids in public schools here, that the influential churches have mostly suburban members, and that many of the promised jobs from government-subsidized developments and employment programs go to "Ward 9" residents.

As such it is a perfect two-word description of what causes a lot of trouble for DC.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 18, 2011 3:07 pm • linkreport

There's a very lively discussion on over the approval of the EFC area plan ... 159 comments and counting.

by Anon on Apr 18, 2011 3:17 pm • linkreport

@Tom Coumaris -- consider where the thought leads. PG county residents are getting DC benefits without paying DC taxes -- wouldn't it be better if DC were a part of PG county? That way the PG county people that use DC services would pay for them, but also DC residents would get representation in Congress. It solves two problems at once, and there would be no need for a commuter tax. All neatly boiled down to "ward nine."

by goldfish on Apr 18, 2011 3:42 pm • linkreport

goldfish- as a staunch statehood or no federal taxation advocate I can't imagine the term could ever be used that way. It's a term we DC residents use to deride the influence of suburbanites here.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 18, 2011 4:10 pm • linkreport

"Wouldn't it be better if DC were a part of PG county?"

OMG! Although PG finally seems to have a decent county executive, in general PG county government services, transparency, responsiveness and corruption is about where DC was 15-20 years ago, before the control board and Tony Williams. The whole Jack Johnson scandal seemed to have echos of the Barry era. If DC became part of PG, there would be open revolt in parts of the city.

by ADP on Apr 18, 2011 4:59 pm • linkreport


Your argument's a bit strained, but it's irrelevant in any case: Tom's right, "Ward 9" already has a meaning. You'll have to look elsewhere. :)

by oboe on Apr 18, 2011 5:10 pm • linkreport


You can pretty much forget about shortening the platform to 450'. The 7k car will be configured to run in train that are either 4 or 8 car long 300' and 600'. One of the WMATA specification that is written in stone is platforms shall be 600' long. When I remarked that the station could be made smaller I thinking more in the line of narrower width platform, The FEIS call for a 40' platform in the airport station. The rest of the platforms in the stations on the N route Silver line are 30' 1/2" wide.

@Alex B.:

The minimum main line curve radius on the N Route Silver line are 755' 40 MPH, the minimum non revenue curve radius is 300', Falls Church Yard lead. There are a total of 10 curves on the line that have a radius of 755'. Both tracks in the Leeburg Pike VA-7 Dulles Toll Road interchange west of the Spring Hill Road station, both tunnels on the east approach to the airport station, the westbound tunnel west of the airport station, the eastbound tunnel under the intersection Aviation Drive and Autopilot Drive, both tracks on the west approach to the VA-606 Morgan Road station and both track on east approach to the VA-772 Ashburn station. Being that the alignment for the station in subway at the airport is different then the FEIS alignment the curve in the tunnels on either side of the station may or may not end up being minimum radius curves.

by Sand Box John on Apr 18, 2011 10:31 pm • linkreport

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