Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Overtime, over budget, overdrive


Photo by ktylerconk on Flickr.
Metro workers pulling long hours: 337 WMATA employees earned more than $40,000 extra in overtime. Overtime work is often cheaper than hiring an additional employee, but only to a point. (Examiner)

Silver Line funding still in question: In return for MWAA's cost-saving decision to build an aerial station at Dulles, the authority wants Virginia to contribute $500 million to the Silver Line project. Virginia transportation secretary Sean Connaughton responded, "We don't have it, and we have no intention of giving it." (Post)

AAA still fighting for speeders: AAA is upset about another speed camera, this one in College Park, and claims it's placed illegally. Officials say AAA doesn't understand the law and the cameras have slowed down speeders. (Post)

Program matches parents for carpools: A new online service created by MWCOG matches parents who can carpool to area schools. It's starting with 8 schools and hopes to expand to many more. (Examiner)

What's "just right" for porch height: There's a specific geometric relationship between the height of front porches and railings, the presence of fences or hedges, and whether the porch stimulates or hinders active street life. (Steve Mouzon, Geoff Hatchard)

MLK Memorial will open to all: NPS rebuffed the mayor's proposed "DC Day" at the MLK Memorial. DC Day will be open to everyone as national parks are open to everyone regardless of a visitor's residency. (Post)

Arlington marks scandal and intrigue: The county installed a historical marker outside the Rosslyn garage where Mark Felt, a.k.a. "Deep Throat," revealed details of the Watergate break in to Post reporter Bob Woodward. (Post)

Satire map plots stereotypes: A map of DC overlaid with neighborhood stereotypes has sparked some controversy. (SocialStudiesDC, TBD) ... It's just a joke. (DCist)

Could an overlay stop more churches on RI Ave?: Rhode Island Avenue is filled with storefront churches and may get one more. RI Ave Insider suggests a neighborhood commercial overlay, to give residents more input into redevelopment. Or will it run into trouble with RLUIPA, a federal law about churches and zoning? (City Paper)

And...: Dirt excavated at the CityCenterDC project has been trucked to a landfill in Prince George's County. (City Paper) ... Urbana is deploying goats to eat invasive plants. (TBD) ... Councilmember Marion Barry was caught parking in an Anacostia crosswalk. (City Paper)

Have a tip or cheeky map for the links? Submit it here.
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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Funny map, but it should have used Fruit Loop for DuPont instead.

by TGEOA on Aug 18, 2011 9:21 am • linkreport

The most southern speed camera, across from the 7-11 on Rt. 1 is within a half mile of the entrance to UMD. The camera next to Rita's is just outside a half mile. However, my understanding is that the cameras may be placed within a half mile of a school "as the crow flies" which would put both cameras well within a half mile radius.

by thump on Aug 18, 2011 9:40 am • linkreport

The speed camera on Paint Branch Parkway just was dismantled after being up for nearly a year – it did quite well to slow people down, and was in a relatively sneaky spot around a corner. I drive by M-F, and it certainly did the trick.

It's been gone for about two weeks and people are still driving slower than before the camera.

by Denny on Aug 18, 2011 9:45 am • linkreport

Oh, wonderful: an anti-gay slur first thing in the morning. Please tell me this isn't normal behavior on GGW.

by KJN on Aug 18, 2011 9:49 am • linkreport

Sorry - I meant "among GGW's commentariat".

by KJN on Aug 18, 2011 10:02 am • linkreport

@TGEOA, you might want to stop and consider what you have typed in the comment box before posting ignorant/offensive things.

by MLD on Aug 18, 2011 10:04 am • linkreport

@DuPont has been affectionately had that name for decades

by TGEOA on Aug 18, 2011 10:05 am • linkreport

KJN-Where was the anti-gay slur? Are you referring to the satirical poster? Where it simply says "GAY"? Not sure what the problem is...

by thump on Aug 18, 2011 10:05 am • linkreport

KJN-Ah, sorry. I didn't have the slightest idea what TGEoA was alluding to and was posting when you corrected.

by thump on Aug 18, 2011 10:08 am • linkreport

Meh...more red light cameras and fewer speeding cameras are the way to go. The former deals with a much more serious infraction. Everyone speeds, but only really bad drivers run red lights.

Although I wouldn't complain if they put some speed cameras near the "controversial" crosswalks on the GW Parkway and Memorial Bridge. NPS could make a small fortune there I'm sure.

by aaa on Aug 18, 2011 10:14 am • linkreport

Re: the metro overtime story, isn't this really, really old news. I rememeber the same issue being raised at least 7 or so years ago and the rationale was basically the same then as now.

RE: TGeo's "slur", I thought she was being satirical..like the map.

by HogWash on Aug 18, 2011 10:21 am • linkreport

I don't think a situation in which one person has satire fly over their head should be marked as "controversy."

by OX4 on Aug 18, 2011 11:08 am • linkreport

Regarding the second phase of the Dulles metro construction, I can't understand why it costs so much. I realize heavy rail isn't cheap but this is pancake-flat, in the median of the Dulles Toll Road with limited land acquisition costs, and involves limited tunneling or ariel structures.

Additionally, if there isn't a significant amound of transit-oriented development planned around the stations, then MWAA should really think twice about building a station at the proposed location.

by Ben on Aug 18, 2011 11:33 am • linkreport

Speed camer apologists like to make the "safety" argument to justify their use. However, it's difficult to buy the "safety" angle when Maryland municipalities such as College Park and Bowie have actually expanded school zones to enable a wider deployment of speed cameras and the cameras are operating 24/7 even when school is not in session. That leads one to conclude that "safety" is not the real reason for their installing speed cameras. It's about revenue, plain and simple.

As for the area near the U-Md campus, there are no pedestrians in that area because there is no infrastructure for them on that road. No sidewalks and no place for anyone to walk to.

So what's the "safety" reason for putting a speed camera there?

None. It's about revenue, plain and simple.

by ceefer66 on Aug 18, 2011 12:22 pm • linkreport

"DuPont" doesn't exist, it's "Dupont".

And it's not very gay anymore, they've all moved east.

by Juanita de Talmas on Aug 18, 2011 12:26 pm • linkreport

"AAA still fighting for speeders"

headlines like this are no different than when conservative types argue that the ACLU fights "for terrorists"

by Kolohe on Aug 18, 2011 12:38 pm • linkreport

The idea that MARK FELT was 'Depp Throat' of that eve none person was 'Deep Throat' is absurd and not backed by anything but journalistic fantasy. (We should also remind ourselves those Woodward & Bernstein stories were wrong as much as they were right.) So, whoever gave them info was apparently not well informed. Also, isn't it amazing with parking and traffic issues abounding in Arlington Country with its backward County Board...that they would have time to commemorate such a 'nothing' part of history. sheezzz...

by Pelham1861 on Aug 18, 2011 1:43 pm • linkreport

That was mighty snarky about how AAA protects speeders. When one reads the article, well, they have a point! How accurate are those cameras, how can a driver prove otherwise if it is indeed screwed up?

That entire stretch of road north and south of U of Maryland has a limit that is way too low. 30 mph is fine through the campus downtown area, but the rest of it should be easily at 35 mph.

Its great to get people to slow down, its another thing if the purpose of the cameras is to really increase ticket revenue. If I were a betting man, I know what the primary reason for these cameras really are.

by Ray Bottorff on Aug 18, 2011 1:56 pm • linkreport

Please tell me this isn't normal behavior on GGW.
It is. Just keep it thinly veiled.

by greent on Aug 18, 2011 2:10 pm • linkreport

@Ben:

The reason why the high price tag has to do with the support infrastructure at all but the airport station. 5 of those stations are slated to have at least 1 multilevel parking garage built at them. The cost to build each of those garages is a large percentage of total the cost of each station. If those garages were replace by parking lots that were 20 percent larger then foot print of the garages they could probably come pretty close to shaving that $1 billion from budget.

I think Dulles Transit Partners should put in the foundation for those garages then pave over them with larger parking lots. At some time in the future grant money can be used to build the garages on the existing foundations.

All those garages at the Orange Line stations in Fairfax County did not exist when those station original opened.

by Sand Box John on Aug 18, 2011 2:16 pm • linkreport

The Examiner doesn't like it when people make a decent living. they'd rather that people have no idea how many hours they might work at a non-living wage.

by Rich on Aug 18, 2011 3:16 pm • linkreport

@Sand Box John:

You're clearly knowledgeable about the Dulles metro extension and I appreciate your response but this doesn't seem to explain all of the costs of the phase II extension.

I did some quick math (always dangerous) with some very rough estimates. Assuming that each station has 1,500 spaces in the structured parking at $30,000 per spot, this would be $225M. I remember reading the cost for the infill stations at NY Ave and the estimated cost for the Potomac Yards station is $80. Using this cost, for the five stations, it would be $400M. Add parking and it's $625M.

$3.5B still seems like a lot for this. Your point is well taken, however, about parking. I don't understand why FFX and Loudoun have to build all of the structured parking up front. Can't they add more at the stations as ridership develops? This would actually allow WMATA and the respective counties to see where more parking is needed, and preferably, adopt a comprehensive transportion demand management system for each of the stations to reduce the need for costly structured parking.

by Ben on Aug 18, 2011 3:27 pm • linkreport

Of all the speed cameras in the region, the ones in College Park may be the worst for so many reasons.

First, College Park doesn't have a police force of its own, yet established a "Department of Public Safety" for the sole purpose of getting into the speed camera game. Yet on other public safety matters, like street crime, lighting, and abandoned or neglected properties, College Park is notorious for its inaction.

Second, the intent of the law was to protect school zones. Now a school zone, to me, indicates a place where CHILDREN go to school. An elementary, middle, or high school. A major university where adults go to school is not a school zone by any reasonable definition. Why wasn't the entire area around the University of Maryland a "school zone" before?

Third, the placement of the cameras, as has been pointed out, is often mind-boggling. Why is there a camera on Paint Branch Parkway between Route 1 and the Metro Station? That road was specifically built to be a direct, high speed way to access the Metro. Very, very few people walk along that route and there is a giant sound barrier wall between that road and the apartments behind it.

Fourth, College Park claims that the speed cameras save money and are overall more efficient because they can generate ticket revenue without tying up police officers on traffic stops. Yet along Route 1, the UMD Police still park and run radar and pull cars over. I saw one car pulled over right next to the speed camera. Did he get two tickets? One from the camera and one from the cop?

The truly sad part is that College Park is model of a city that has failed in nearly every way to improve the quality of life for residents and visitors. The economic development plan seems to be pizza places that close after 6 months and praying that the university will rent space in empty office buildings. Route 1 is a disaster, and an unsafe one for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers at that, yet nothing is done. Remember when the College Park Metro station opened and the city actually prohibited UMD buses from city streets around the Metro? How long did it take after Lasick's burned down before the city finally made them clean that site up? How about the run-down "no tell" motels and junk car lots?

Yet when it came to speed cameras, the city suddenly moved pretty quickly to get things done.

by umdalum on Aug 18, 2011 5:15 pm • linkreport

You also need to remember the number of miles of elevated structure in phase II is now more then the number of miles in phase I. The amount of ground work, excluding the utility relocation that was done in Tysons Corner and the amount miles of barrier walls and grading is slightly greater for phase II compared to phase I.

Correction 4 of the 6 station will have parking garages, the exceptions being Reston Parkway and the airport station.

Parking garage capacities from the FEIS, you do the math:

Station # of structures Levels Capacity
Route 772 (Ashburn) 2 North 7, South 6 3,300, 1,650 each
Route 606 (Morgan Road) 1 5 2,000
Route 28 1 8 2,000
Herndon Monroe 2 4 east, 4 west 1,750, 875 each
*3,500
Total 9,050
*The existing garage at Herndon Monroe has a capacity of 1,750.

My guess is, the large amount of parking at these stations was put in to boost the projected boarding these stations would generate. Had the parking capacities been smaller the matrix used the calculate the boardings may have been below the approval threshold used by the FTA.

by Sand Box John on Aug 18, 2011 11:26 pm • linkreport

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