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Breakfast links: Unifying Union Station

Photo by M.V. Jantzen on Flickr.
Streetcar will open mid-2013: DDOT announced that the H Street streetcar will open by mid-2013. The city still needs to build a car barn and a connection to Union Station. (DCist) ... There are 3 current options: On top of the Hopscotch Bridge, at 2nd and F NE, or going up to NY Ave Metro and then back down 1st Street NE. (City Paper)

Columbus Plaza getting fixed, finally: After Labor Day, work will finally begin on a reconfiguration of the roadways and parkland outside Union Station 7 years in the making. It would be even better with fewer bollards. (City Paper)

Tweet for DC voting rights: Drawing on the MLK memorial opening, Mayor Gray wants District residents to tweet or post Facebook messages calling for DC voting rights at 8:28 this morning. (NBC Washington)

Nowhere to put a bike at MLK: The MLK Memorial opened yesterday to the public (Examiner); unfortunately, there's nowhere to park a bicycle. Police chased off a guy (African-American, no less) on a bike. (TheWashCycle)

Brown would consider tax hike: Kwame Brown has reversed his earlier position and now says he would consider raising taxes on wealthy residents. Brown says the revenue should pay for maintaining parks, schools and recreational facilities. It would also delay the municipal bond tax. (Post)

Alexander faces more challengers: Kevin B. Chavous and Tom Brown are running against Yvette Alexander for the Ward 7 council seat next year. Chavous and Brown join Ron Moten as challengers. (Post)

Is photography a constitutional right?: DC wants to throw out a lawsuit in which police stopped a man for photographing a traffic stop. The man says police violated his constitutional rights but DC officials argue there is no constitutional protection for photographing public servants. (Georgetown Patch)

And...: Montgomery County is introducing QR codes for its parking meters (Post) ... Central Americans comprise a large portion of the DC's growing Hispanic population (DCentric) ... Take a look at some of DC's best murals (TBD) ... District zoning regulations are over 50 years old. (@OPinDC)

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Jamie Scott is a resident of Ward 3 in DC and a regular Metrobus commuter. He believes in good government, livable communities and quality public transit. Jamie holds a B.A. in Government from Georgetown University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Policy at Georgetown. 


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I'm so tired of reading about police officers and jurisdictions trying to limit and intimidate those who photograph and record the actions of LEOs on duty under this fake guise of "privacy." God forbid that LEOs be given greater incentive to act within SOP and not lie.

by Fitz on Aug 23, 2011 8:52 am • linkreport

The link to Montgomery County QR codes doesn't work.

by Gregory O. on Aug 23, 2011 8:57 am • linkreport

Paying for park and school grounds maintenance would be a lot easier and more palatable if they simply rented them out and streamlined the permitting process (right now it benefits only huge "leagues" like soccer and kickball).

Treating them as community resources instead of student only resources (where they may get 1 hour of use a day on average) would kill two birds with one stone.

Did parks have problems with drug dealers before? Yes, but that's a problem that solves itself with permits and active use by sports teams.

However, I suspect this is really just the excuse KB is using to "sell" the tax increase.

by eb on Aug 23, 2011 9:07 am • linkreport

I've fixed the link to the Post story on Montgomery County QR codes for parking meters. Thanks for pointing that out.

by Jamie Scott on Aug 23, 2011 9:19 am • linkreport

Encouraging news about the streetcar, although the western end is still a mess.

If I understand correctly, they are now saying that their plan from a month ago (terminate in the Union Station parking garage) is off the table? Now that option is just a stop on the bridge?

by East_H on Aug 23, 2011 9:37 am • linkreport

RE: Photo Rights

I've met Jerome and he seems like a nice guy, but I'm astounded at how often he runs into issues when photographing. I've only ever been asked to stop once, to which I just cited the law to the WMATA Station Manager and ignored whatever else he said as I went right back to taking photos.

And only once did an officer ever inquire: a Secret Service agent while I was photographing embassies in Van Ness at around midnight, just on the eve of the Egyptian revolution. He was a nice officer- I didn't feel like I was being detained; I just felt he was doing his job. But I've also worked with many police officers over the years, so perhaps I'm just more sensitive to where they're coming from.

Being an engineer... I take a *lot* of photos of things people normally don't take photos of... power supplies, bridge structures, signaling systems... I'm really quite surprised I'm not stopped more often.

But it does make me curious to know what it is that sets Jerome apart from others... or perhaps what it is that sets me apart, if it's that I'm among the few without issue. Is there something that makes Jerome more suspicious; me less? I hate to offer the race card, but it may not be something to be ignored. Or perhaps in confrontational situations: perhaps Jerome is more argumentative than others; or perhaps I'm more conversational?

Any other photographers feel they're more in Jerome's camp of frequent issue; or on my side of generally unhindered?

by Bossi on Aug 23, 2011 9:49 am • linkreport

Bossi - In DC it is sometimes difficult to be a photographer who likes to go out and explore. There is private security and public security everywhere. Many of them are undertrained and bored. I dunno if race contributes to it, but if you ask people who like to photograph buildings in this area (whether white or non-white), you will hear more of the same.

by aaa on Aug 23, 2011 10:05 am • linkreport

I live a 10 minute walk from the Mall -- I'm no stranger to photographing federal buildings :)

...Though I've still never had issue on that end. Now when it comes to being asked to disperse because they disagreed with other activities or the size of a crowd: that's something I'm *quite* familiar with.

by Bossi on Aug 23, 2011 10:07 am • linkreport

So what is the chance that DDOT will route the streetcar all the way around Union Station, and waste time of generations to come?

by Jasper on Aug 23, 2011 10:07 am • linkreport

Come on guys, in talking about the lack of space to park a bike at the now open MLK memorial, is it really necessary to point out the the police tried to hassle a "black" cyclist as if it the story would be less interesting had he been white. We get man being hassled at the black memorial. :)

The new entries into the Ward 7 race may make it easier for Alexander to win after all. I'm looking to campaign for the Ward 7 race and as of now, haven't seen a serious justification for why Alexander shouldn't win.

by HogWash on Aug 23, 2011 10:13 am • linkreport

Please tell me the Union Station/Columbus Plaza work will include repaving of Mass Ave through there. That's got to be the lumpiest stretch of street in the city, it's hell on a bike or in a car.

by Joe on Aug 23, 2011 10:17 am • linkreport

Police chased off a guy (African-American, no less) on a bike.

Are you saying they should have let him park his bike there because he is African American?

by Scoot on Aug 23, 2011 10:27 am • linkreport

I assumed the point was being made that biking isn't just stuff white people like.

by ah on Aug 23, 2011 10:36 am • linkreport

Scoot: No, they should have a place for anyone to park a bike.

by David Alpert on Aug 23, 2011 10:58 am • linkreport

@Ah, I pretty much assumed that was the reason as well. Just wish the "black people ride bikes too" plug wasn't mentioned in the same space as celebrating MLK's long overdue memorial.

Unecesssary and untimely snark.

by HogWash on Aug 23, 2011 11:11 am • linkreport

@ah @HogWash

The comment about the biker at the MLK Memorial wasn't intended to be a plug for black people biking. WashCycle commented in the original post was that there was some irony in the situation. We wanted to highlight that too.

by Jamie Scott on Aug 23, 2011 11:15 am • linkreport

Scoot: No, they should have a place for anyone to park a bike.

So then why mention that he was "African American, no-less"? Is this at all germane to the discussion?? Also, according to WashCycle, the man on the bicycle was waved down and told to leave, not "chased off".

Given that there is currently no bicycle infrastructure at the memorial and NPS is doing it can to control crowds in an area over which multiple organizations are claiming authority, I don't have a problem with the prohibition on bicycles for the time being. This man was doing a lot of people a favor by walking his bicycle ... I wasn't there to see him being confronted by police so I can neither agree nor disagree with their discretion in this particular situation, but not everyone with a bicycle is so considerate.

by Scoot on Aug 23, 2011 11:17 am • linkreport

@Jamie, even though I don't really get why addressing the "irony" was necessary or appropriate here, it's no biggie.

Or maybe I'm a little lost on what the irony is?

by HogWash on Aug 23, 2011 12:02 pm • linkreport

I'm assuming that the garage loop is off the table because of the bus expansion.

As far as the streetcar goes, I don't see anyway to have a station on the bridge that won't have to close when they rebuild the bridge. That was one of the best parts of the station in the tunnel plan.

Considering that they will have to build a carbarn on the eastern end now anyway, you would think that Amtrak would let them have a temporary one track station in the tunnel (connected to the pedestrian tunnel to Metro) that would close as soon as the bridge was rebuilt with a new station on the bridge (which I'm assuming would have side platforms). I can't believe that Amtrak would be in any way able to expand in Union Station in anything less than 8 years anyway.

The third option with a stop at NY Ave Metro is interesting, but that's alot of extra trackage that might just be abandoned after the bridge reconstruction.

by kinverson on Aug 23, 2011 12:09 pm • linkreport

About f--ing time with Columbus Plaza. The plans for that have been on the books for ages, and its current condition is a disgrace.

Maybe they'll also start shoveling the snow in the winter?

The homeless guy who lives there does a better job of maintaining the place than the park service does when it snows. (I'm not kidding.)

Some concerns I have:

  1. Buses. Lots of them stop here, both public and private. I don't see room on the plans *anywhere* that address bus circulation. In fact, the area in front of Union Station looks too narrow for a bus to turn out of.
  2. Options for pedestrians crossing Mass Ave from 1st St (south of the circle) kind of suck.
  3. They seem to be underemphasizing the importance and amount of foot traffic that moves between the Metro Station and the crossing at Delaware Ave. Those sidewalks are awfully narrow.
  4. This circle forms part of the East Coast Greenway, with approaches from both 1st St, and F St (via 2nd St), which then pass down through Louisiana Ave to the National Mall. Is bicycle traffic properly accommodated along both of these corridors?

by andrew on Aug 23, 2011 12:22 pm • linkreport

you would think that Amtrak would let them have a temporary one track station in the tunnel (connected to the pedestrian tunnel to Metro) that would close as soon as the bridge was rebuilt with a new station on the bridge

Actually, that was the plan that they rejected. The tunnel was never meant to be permanent, but would have likely remained as an access point to a maintenance facility west of US (which is now off the table, probably for the best).

by andrew on Aug 23, 2011 12:25 pm • linkreport

@HogWash - It's like 10,000 bikes when all you need is a rack.

by ah on Aug 23, 2011 12:33 pm • linkreport

@ah: It's like rain on your biking day.

by Gray on Aug 23, 2011 12:44 pm • linkreport

Actually, that was the plan that they rejected. The tunnel was never meant to be permanent, but would have likely remained as an access point to a maintenance facility west of US

Oh, I know the station was always going to be temporary, but I never heard that the maintenance facility would be. That's a huge difference, there would have been space for six (when are they going to order the other three?) cars, with offices, equipment, etc. It would seem to me that just a track and a platform (NOT all that other stuff) that is guaranteed to go away is a different story. But I guess that ship has sailed.

by kinverson on Aug 23, 2011 12:54 pm • linkreport

Oh, the irony that people will actually have to walk and march to the MLK memorial.

I mean, don't we all remember the Selma to Montgomery Bike Ride, and the historic 1963 Bike Ride on Washington. That's the one where Dr King gave his memorable, "I have a bicycle" speech.

by Mike S. on Aug 23, 2011 7:44 pm • linkreport

Pssst! TBD! I think that "cowboy" mural is supposed to be Toulouse Lautrec. Pardner.

No self-respecting cowpuncher would be caught dead in a scarf.

by TJ on Aug 23, 2011 8:52 pm • linkreport

Actually, I misremembered. The Adams Morgan mural is not Toulouse-Lautrec. It is based on one of his posters of this guy:

Anyone else remember Cafe Lautrec? I had my very first port wine there. I felt very grown up at the ripe old age of 22.

by TJ on Aug 23, 2011 9:01 pm • linkreport

Great to see Columbus Plaza finally moving forward. Anything would be better. I agree that the path to Delaware Avenue looks a bit narrow and the way the sidewalks are laid out, shortcutting will happen.

Someday two things should happen to Union Station...

First, the access to the station from all points to the east is terrible. This really should be fixed. Passages need to be opened through the restaurants over on the east side so that you can get from the station conveniently to the east. That would make that whole part of Union Station much more lively, and a good lunch destination for folks in the offices nearby. I think it would also make the front of Union Station more pleasant. Conceivably, with more foot traffic through the station interior, the restaurants could have seating in the arcade.

Is there any plan afoot to reconfigure the SE part of the station to improve circulation and access?

Second, more pie-in-the-sky, when Metro finally stops falling apart and we decide to invest in better access to Metro stations, etc., a foot tunnel from the Metro Station, under Mass Ave (and maybe under E St too) would help unclog the area a lot. That's a lot more expensive...but it would be real nice...

by DavidDuck on Aug 24, 2011 12:46 am • linkreport

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