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Breakfast links: Deck party

Photo by The Great Photographicon on Flickr.
OP wants to restore a L'Enfant avenue: The Office of Planning suggests decking over the railroad tracks on Maryland Ave SW from 12th St to 7th Street. The avenue would be recreated as a grand boulevard leading to the Capitol. (SWTLQTC)

Sidewalk cafes bloom downtown: One benefit of DC's wide sidewalks is extra space for sidewalk seating at restaurants. Despite predictions of mayhem, DC's first sidewalk cafe opened 50 years ago Monday at 13th & E Sts NW. Recently, the number of venues with sidewalk seating downtown has jumped from 95 in 2009 to 135 this year. (Post)

Walter Reed charging forward: With Walter Reed's closure, the District is moving fast to nail down its final proposal for the site. A bus garage to replace the existing two is unlikely. An ANC commissioner is skeptical that more retail will be successful and doesn't like the prospect of new buildings fronting Georgia Ave. (City Paper)

Metro counts bikes: WMATA took a bike census at all of its stations to count the number of bikes on racks, the number of empty racks, and the number of bikes locked up nearby. Vienna's racks were full, forcing cyclists to lock up nearby. (PlanItMetro)

SUVgate, Congressional edition: Congress wants to cut spending; how about starting with their own car leases, paid for by the government? At least 90 House members including Eleanor Holmes Norton have government-funded car leases. (Fox 5)

DC strikes oil in burgers: DC will get its first biodiesel plant. Local restaurant grease will be recycled into fuel and will lower delivery costs since the nearest biodiesel plant is 150 miles away. (City Paper)

Discuss R Street bike lane, east of river Circulator: A special meeting of ANC 5C tonight will discuss the R Street bike lane connecting to the Metropolitan Branch Trail. (ANC 5C05) ... DDOT will meet again with residents to get feedback on the circulator route east of the Anacostia.

And...: 4 Metro employees were arrested for defrauding the agency. (Post) ... Maryland is installing a speed camera on a work zone in I-270. (Post) ... Councilmember Yvette Alexander was fined $4,000 for misuse of her constituent service fund. She was cleared of more serious allegations. (City Paper)

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Eric Fidler has lived in DC and suburban Maryland his entire life. He likes long walks along the Potomac and considers the L'Enfant Plan an elegant work of art. He also blogs at Left for LeDroit, LeDroit Park's (only) blog of record. 


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re: Sidewalk Cafes...

I saw this in the print edition (!) this morning, and the quote that caught my eye:

“I think Washington is just perfect the way it is,” socialite Gwen Cafritz told a reporter in 1959. “I don’t think the tempo in Washington is suited to sidewalk cafes. Nobody would have time to sit in them.”

Hilarious! Has anyone ever seen Gwen Cafritz and our own @Lance in the same room? Heh.

by oboe on Aug 4, 2011 9:25 am • linkreport

I love how Eleanor Holmes Norton gets driven something like 4 blocks to work....

by Joe on Aug 4, 2011 9:33 am • linkreport

1347 E St. NW would be at the corner of 14th & E (not 13th & E). Although that block of E Street is now called Pennsylvania Ave.

by Tom on Aug 4, 2011 9:40 am • linkreport

I like the Maryland Ave Plan!

Any chance we can restore Virginia Ave too, while we're at it? (Also, what are we doing about the Thomas Circle Freeway stub? Surely we can find a better use for that once the 11th St Bridge is done?)

by andrew on Aug 4, 2011 9:42 am • linkreport

@Tom: The obituary of Harry Zitelman, the restaurant's owner, says it was at the corner of Pennsylvania and 14th. It's hard to tell whether it was Pennsylvania or E at the time, and whether it's Pennsylvania or E now. But the north-south street was definitely 14th.

by Tim on Aug 4, 2011 10:09 am • linkreport

Wait, they want to deck over train tracks in southwest but not I-395? This sounds really good for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel but it's basically a Boulevard to Nowhere. If you're going to deck over something, connect Southwest to the Mall by connecting the overpasses and planting trees and grass, or better yet, deck over the tracks north of Union Station to connect Capitol Hill to NoMa and Mid-city.

by Ward 1 Guy on Aug 4, 2011 10:29 am • linkreport

Re: Congressional Cars:
From what I can tell in the article, it's not as if the money they don't spend on their cars would go back to the tax payer, they would just go back into each congressional office's budget (so you could spend it on an extra person or paperclips or whatever). And for some congressman, they might think the best way to serve their constituents is to have a car. I actually thought the delegate from Puerto Rico made a compelling case. Now does EHN need one? That I'm not so sure.

by Steven Yates on Aug 4, 2011 10:34 am • linkreport

Ward 1 Guy, there are plans in the works to deck over both 395 and the railyard north of Union Station. See

by JS on Aug 4, 2011 10:36 am • linkreport

OP wants to restore a L'Enfant avenue...

Damn that infernal Tommy Wells! I thought Kwame Brown took Transportation away from him!! Like a bad penny, this guy keeps showing up...


by oboe on Aug 4, 2011 10:47 am • linkreport

The plan for the Maryland SW is not all that clear with respect to what they plan to do with the train tracks. The tracks are above the local roads at the VRE L'Enfant Plaza station, then go over 7th and 9th streets and then under L'Enfant Plaza SW checking the map. Are they planning to change the elevation of the tracks? Which would be a MAJOR project.

Wonder how closely they have coordinated or discussed their plans with CSX, VRE, Amtrak, and the FRA? The tracks will have to have double stack clearance; the passenger tracks would need it to reserve clearance for future electrication. Building over the train tracks means they will have to provide for ventilation for the diesel locomotives. Any changes have to be done in coordination with the planning to replace the Long Bridge and the whole route through there.

Still if this plans moves forward, would the next logical step be to look at covering over the Southwest freeway? Or at least building accessible walkways and paths across the freeway?

by AlanF on Aug 4, 2011 10:50 am • linkreport

Turning waste grease into biodiesel is, I suppose, better than sending it to a landfill, although I believe most waste grease is currently already recycled but in less glorious ways. Nevertheless, with biodiesel it's important to always keep scale in mind, because there's no way the waste-to-fuel chain can become a significant part of our motoring fuel supply.

Presently, the US uses about 380 million gallons of gasoline per day, which is about 1.2 gallons per person per day. This is not counting diesel fuel or jet fuel, so to a good approximation this is what every ordinary American uses just motoring around to work and so forth. Roughly, you can get one gallon of biodiesel for one gallon of oil, so there would have to be more than one gallon of waste oil per person per day in order to fully substitute biodiesel from waste oil for gasoline.

DC, because of our transit, walkability, density, and so forth, uses, far less gasoline per capita than the rest of America. There are about 125 million gallons per year sold in DC, or 0.6 gallons per person per day. This is of course complicated because DC drivers frequently buy gasoline outside of DC, and non-DC residents sometimes buy gasoline in DC, but it's certainly the right order of magnitude. So the 5 million gallons per year that this plant would produce could replace about 4% of DC's gasoline consumption, which represents about two weeks worth.

by thm on Aug 4, 2011 10:53 am • linkreport

One big problem with sidewalk cafes is that the outdoor tables are often dominated by smokers -- an unfortunate side effect of banning smoking inside restaurants. My asthma is very sensitive to cigarette smoke, so being seated near lots of smokers is a problem for me, and thus I rarely sit outdoors at a restaurant even though I love eating outdoors.

by Rob on Aug 4, 2011 10:54 am • linkreport

WMATA Bike Census - the last time they did a census survey of the bike rack usage at stations was in 2006-7? Shouldn't that be something they do every one or two years? And have the station managers tell them when the bike racks are full on a regular basis?

Congressional cars - as noted, the funds are coming out of the office budget for each congressman and Senator. It is up to them to decide how to allocate it. If the cars are used by the Congressman and his staff back in his/her home district to visit constituents and local pols and for official duty, I don't see the problem. Same goes here for EHN. If they are leasing the cars for driving around DC from their apartment/house to the hill and for mostly personal travel, yes, then that is questionable.

by AlanF on Aug 4, 2011 11:05 am • linkreport

@thm; I like your figures, but throw in diesel, which luckily in this country is mostly commercial use. I'd say your gasoline estimate is a bit high (9 m b/d) as I've seen some stuff that suggest it might be closer to 6 mb/d. People are driving less.

Here is an idea. Mint had a link several days ago on how much their members are paying for gas. I don't use mint, so I don't know how they separate gas from say soda at the station, but let's go with it.

ARL: 125/m
DC: 112/M

half a gallon is about $2 a day, or 60 a month.

by charlie on Aug 4, 2011 11:16 am • linkreport

Thanks, Tim! Today, it seems that anything within three blocks of there gets a Pennsylvania Ave. address. See, e.g., the Warner Theater ("1299 Penn") and National Place food court ("1331 Penn").

by Tom on Aug 4, 2011 11:26 am • linkreport

And have the station managers tell them when the bike racks are full on a regular basis?

LOL. That's a good one. Have the station managers pay attention to something AND report on're killing me.

by David C on Aug 4, 2011 11:42 am • linkreport

I just sent this to the ANC 5C commissioners re: the R Street bike lanes and encourage others to do the same:
In advance of your public meeting tonight, I urge you to support expanded bike lanes on R Street. Studies have shown that bike lanes are a vital tool for keeping bicyclists safe, reducing traffic accidents while encouraging healthy and environmentally-friendly transportation. In particular, biking expands transportation options without worsening air pollution, which contributes to asthma and other health problems.

Currently, R Street is one of the few crosstown routes for bicyclists. Expanding the R Street bike lanes to connect to the Metropolitan Branch Trail will significantly strengthen the network of bike routes in DC. It will also bring new business to ANC 5C and expand commuting options for ANC 5C residents, without putting more cars on the streets.

I encourage you to support two-way bike lanes on R Street from Florida Ave. to the Met Branch Trail, including on the block between 2nd and 3rd Streets NE where R Street is currently one-way. Bicyclists should not have to take a confusing detour up a steep hill in order to go crosstown.

Thank you for your consideration.

by Gavin on Aug 4, 2011 11:44 am • linkreport


The 9M bbl/day figure comes from:

I suspect the 6M bbl/day figure you recall is the figure for conventional; there is an additional 3M bbl/day for "reformulated" gasoline which is still mostly gasoline; if I understand the table correctly there are 0.8 M bbl/day Ethanol which are included in that.

by thm on Aug 4, 2011 12:10 pm • linkreport

@thm; yep. The reformulated gasoline is the summer gas, isn't it?

And those numbers are productions numbers, not consumption numbers. Small import/exports, but always safe to say 1/2 of US oil use is for gas.

The mint numbers would have been useful on the CNT thread and estimates of car costs. sorry, wrong posting.

None of this helps estimate diesel use locally. I'd actually say the plant is a good thing and could represent a higher percentage of diesel use than your estimate (which is based on gas). Sorry to go off topic.

by charlie on Aug 4, 2011 12:22 pm • linkreport

re biodiesel. Yes, it may only be a small %, but thats still serious money and a good use of local resources. We can further supplement it further with recycled oil from cars, plastic, etc. However, I don't think that anyone is pretending that we are all going to be driving biodiesel cars.

by SJE on Aug 4, 2011 1:16 pm • linkreport

@AlanF You said "Are they planning to change the elevation of the tracks? Which would be a MAJOR project. Wonder how closely they have coordinated or discussed their plans with CSX, VRE, Amtrak, and the FRA? "

The answer is they won't. Railroad rights-of-way are pretty much the word of God in the US (thank you Cornelius Vanerbilt and John D. Rockefeller). So if CSX doesn't want to lower the tracks, they can basically tell DC to pound sand.

by Chris on Aug 4, 2011 5:36 pm • linkreport

Wait, Rockerfeller made his money in oil. He cared about RR rights of way?

by Tim Krepp on Aug 4, 2011 5:54 pm • linkreport

You're right, of course, I misspoke about Rockefeller. He got in a huge fight with the PRR over oil transportation. We have him to thank for lots of other awesome quirks in American law, though.

My comment about Vanderbilt and the fact that the Railroad right of way is always supreme, stands.

by Chris on Aug 4, 2011 7:22 pm • linkreport

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