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Breakfast links: How to build community


Photo by jsmjr on Flickr.
BIDs can transform neighborhoods: Former NoMA BID president Elizabeth Price discusses the role of BIDs to market neighborhoods. The BID has brought new businesses and residents and started to create a sense of community. (Post)

Eisenhower Ave still lacking vibrancy: The neighborhood around the Eisenhower Avenue metro station isn't as vibrant as planners hoped. New development plans could help because they include more than just apartments and restaurants. (Urban Turf)

Warner wants Potomac bridge: Virginia Senator Mark Warner is pushing for a new bridge across the Potomac River, saying it could help long-term economic growth. But a new bridge could just increase traffic. (Huffington Post)

Some cities banning plastic bags: DC's bag tax has raised about $2.5 million but some cities in California have banned plastic bags altogether. The tax is meant to lower bag use but could an outright ban be more successful? (Atlantic Cities)

DC stops paying federal lobbyists: The District has ended contracts with federal lobbying firms and will instead manage federal lobbying internally. One of the firms was Patton Boggs, where Jack Evans works. (Post)

Gray withdraws elections board nomination: Mayor Gray won't nominate Robert Mallett to the Board of Elections and Ethics because he doesn't meet the legal residency requirement. The withdrawal prolongs vacancy problems on the board. (DCist)

Can you hear me now?: Metro hasn't met its own deadlines to improve cell phone service in stations. The work is mostly done though and is high-priority for Metro. (Examiner)

And...: Adrian Fenty is hosting a fundraiser for Jack Evans (DCist) ... Don't give beer to DC firefighters (NBC Washington) ... Pepco wants to raise rates to pay for upgrades (WTOP).

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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. 

Comments

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Where would a new bridge be? At some point the city will run out out of space.

by Matt R on Sep 26, 2011 9:10 am • linkreport

I think we should get rid of a bridge, since it will result in less traffic.

by ah on Sep 26, 2011 9:16 am • linkreport

@Potomac Bridges

I'd be up for more bridges if they had metro or a commuter rail as well as bike lanes running across them instead of cars. If they end up having to accommodate cars as well, they should be rush hour toll bridges like the George Washington Bridge in New York/New Jersey.

by Nicoli on Sep 26, 2011 9:22 am • linkreport

Matt: they are proposing around Leesburg for the bridge, which is about 30 miles west from downtown DC.

I found myself there a few weeks ago -- how much development and how bad the traffic is early Sunday morning was amazing. But I do not think those in Maryland will build anything to connect to the bridge, because they will have to plow through their agricultural reserve.

by goldfish on Sep 26, 2011 9:23 am • linkreport

I'm fine with a new bridge but it'd have to include options for rail/brt and an option for bikes/peds that is more than four feet wide. That'd go a long way to moving a lot more people across the river in a more sustainable way.

by Canaan on Sep 26, 2011 9:31 am • linkreport

"Northern Virginia has attempted to control growth by not building transportation facilities, and it hasn’t worked."

Damn right, it hasn't. They tried not building extra roads, and then went ahead and built them anyway, without actually going through the planning process.

Hell, even the Silver Line is a mess. The opposition to that "transportation facility" resulted in it being built along the worst possible route, which will severely curtail its usefulness.

by andrew on Sep 26, 2011 9:42 am • linkreport

I support a bridge. However, it's going to need some form of viable mass transit option. Furthermore, that viable mass transit option should be designed in such a way as to link up to other mass transit in the area. But we DO need another crossing of the river.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Sep 26, 2011 9:48 am • linkreport

@goldfish

So the bridge would basicly replace Whites Ferr?

I just used the ferry from Gaithersburg to the outlets a few weeks ago. Not sure why a bridge would need to be there, the VA side is rather built up but there is not a whole lot on the MD side.
The ferry serves the need at the moment.

by Matt R on Sep 26, 2011 9:56 am • linkreport

Matt: I only know what I read. In any case, the bridge proposals are quite far out, and will not (for example) relieve the 14th Street bridge traffic.

Looking at the map, there are no connections between MD and VA past the beltway. You gotta wonder how many trips across the American Legion bridge and then down the Dulles toll road or Leesburg Pike are for commutes to jobs around Dulles. By the way, nobody doing this will walk or use a bike.

by goldfish on Sep 26, 2011 10:11 am • linkreport

One of the issues I have whenever people discuss the bag tax or a plastic bag ban they seem to confuse the two. These two policy choices have different outcomes and goals.

The bag tax in DC reduced overall disposable bag consumption, both plastic and paper. The plastic bag ban in San Francisco eliminated single use plastic bags, but whether it reduced overall disposable bag consumption is mixed.

It comes down to what you want to accomplish. Do you want to drive down consumption of both paper and plastic disposable bags or just eliminate the plastic all together?

The studies for saving the oceans and rivers certainly show plastic contributes a significant portion. However, if you want to be truly eco-friendly, swapping consumption of paper bags for plastic, which take more energy to produce and ship than plastic, may not reach your goal.

I believe driving down consumption of disposable paper and plastic bags is the best strategy, and a tax is the best step to do so. An outright ban (of both) may be a good goal for the future, but I think it will be too dramatic of a change to jump into. If people wish to use disposable bags, then I have no issue as long as they pay the extra cost to offset the costs to the city.

by Edward on Sep 26, 2011 10:31 am • linkreport

Even if the new road was designed like the GW Parkway aesthetically, and with limited exits and connections to prevent as much disruption as possible to the more rural areas of Montgomery County, Maryland politicians will never go for another crossing between the American Legion Bridge and Point of Rocks because of the political suicide in trying to build through that part of Montgomery County. It just simply will never happen, though it is desperately needed. You can blame Virginia for the uncontrolled growth along the north banks of the Potomac River, but Maryland has had uncontrolled growth in other areas. Also, more Maryland drivers commute to Virginia than the other way around, which helps cause gridlock for everyone, so it is not just a Virginia issue despite what the rich folks in Potomac may think. Doing nothing doesn't address the reality that a new bridge is the only way you will reduce congestion, or maybe when the Dulles Toll road costs $10 each way to pay for Metro, Marylanders who work in Virginia (and vice versa) will either move to Virginia, causing more sprawl, or find a job on their side of the river.

Environmentalists who worry that another crossing will keep the turtles from getting from one side of the road to the other, should look to the amount of air pollution caused by gridlocked traffic and longer than necessary commutes because we don't have adequate bridge crossings in an area with 6 million people.

by xtr657 on Sep 26, 2011 10:46 am • linkreport

@xtr657 re: "Environmentalists who worry that another crossing will keep the turtles from getting from one side of the road to the other, should look to the amount of air pollution caused by gridlocked traffic and longer than necessary commutes because we don't have adequate bridge crossings in an area with 6 million people."

So you're seriously making the argument that more freeways will actually reduce air pollution?

by Gray on Sep 26, 2011 11:03 am • linkreport

@ Gray, no of course I don't think a new road will reduce air pollution, but in this case I think it's effectively a wash though I obviously can't say for sure or quantify that assumption. Either way, unless you do an Israeli-style demolition of hundreds of square miles of Loudoun County, traffic is going to be severely restricted for decades to come because the development is there, and is increasing in both Loudoun, Frederick, and northern Montgomery Counties. Of course I would support restrictive zoning measures and increased transit alternatives in exchange for the development of a new crossing.

by xtr657 on Sep 26, 2011 11:11 am • linkreport

Let's see, a proposal to spend billions to build a bridge and connecting roads that will run through wealthy areas on both sides of the river?

The odds of that ever happening are so tiny I can't get too worked up about it.

by Crickey7 on Sep 26, 2011 11:15 am • linkreport

The change around the Eisenhower metro stop the past decade has been nothing short of shocking.

Before the PTO headquarters, it was nothing but hundreds of acres of empty lots.

A few billion dollars worth of development, millions of sq/ft of office space (not including the PTO) and what, a couple thousand new apartments and condos all since 2001.

Eisenhower avenue will be just fine. It may take a few years for its non-work hour vibrancy to follow, but it will.

by freely on Sep 26, 2011 11:33 am • linkreport

The reality is that we need a new bridge.

The reality is also that we'll never get one. Between the politics, the local opposition, the cost, etc etc, it'll never happen.

by Froggie on Sep 26, 2011 11:36 am • linkreport

Former Fenty official (DRES head) Robin Eve Jasper taking over the NoMA bid. To her credit, Jasper cites need for green space in the WaPo article. Let's hope she figures out how to do that.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/robin-eve-jasper-taking-the-helm-in-noma/2011/09/23/gIQApFH2wK_story.html

by Ward 1 Guy on Sep 26, 2011 11:40 am • linkreport

@freely: The Eisenhower Avenue area is going to be great once it all comes together - I agree, I think it's a little premature for handwringing. Though they could help matters by doing something a little bit better with the Eisenhower statue in the roundabout...

It's funny; when I was a kid, and my father and I would take Metro into town, we'd chuckle at the very notion of a stop at Eisenhower Avenue; I don't think we'd EVER see anyone get on or off there. Well, neither of us is laughing now...

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Sep 26, 2011 11:55 am • linkreport

If we are going to build a new bridge anywhere it should be an eastern bypass of DC, branching away from 95 somewhere just south of Fredericksburg and heading over the Potomac turning 301 in Maryland into a grade separated highway. 301 hooks up into I-97 and back into the I-95 network near Baltimore. That could alleviate a lot of traffic on the beltway. For the western side, the Purple line needs to be built and extended across the Potomac to hook into Tyson's Corner.

by NikolasM on Sep 26, 2011 12:08 pm • linkreport

Who in Virginia does a bridge near Leesburg help? I can see how it's helpful for those who live in Gaitherburg or Germantown to get to the Dulles area but I don't quite see where the upshot is for Virginia. Is a shorter trip from Leesburg to Gaithersburg really a transportation priority?

by Steven Yates on Sep 26, 2011 12:55 pm • linkreport

First of all, we just got a new Potomac River bridge. The new Wilson bridge is like twice the size of the old one. And one thing we can do is add transit to that bridge to help improve connectivity. Other bridges I'd support.

1. Actually a tunnel, as part of decoupling the orange and blue line metros a 2nd tunnel pair will be needed under the Potomac
2. On the TR bridge's south side is a sidewalk that in Virginia connects to a grassy spot from which no one can escape. That can be fixed with a little trailbuilding and either a tunnel or a bridge over US-50 southbound.
3. Adding a bike/ped bridge under the American Legion Bridge connected to the C&O on one side and Rivercrest Drive on the other.
4. If the Purple line is extended west it will probably need a bridge to cross the Potomac.

Is that not what Warner meant?

Unrelated. Check out this google map image of what looks like an airliner laying on the Potomac.

by David C on Sep 26, 2011 1:06 pm • linkreport

Oh, and how could I forget. A bike/ped bridge from the Georgetown Waterfront to TR Island.

by David C on Sep 26, 2011 1:07 pm • linkreport

@David C:

I think it's an alien spacecraft because here is another one:

http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=38.965895,-77.148115&spn=0.003287,0.006968&t=h&z=18&vpsrc=6

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Sep 26, 2011 1:10 pm • linkreport

I agree with NikolasM. If we're talking about freeway development along the I-95 corridor to relieve congestion and reduce pollution/VMT, we should be building a bypass east of DC.

For some reason, this option never seems to be on the table, which suggests that the people who want the bridge built have other motives.

Also, it's silly to say "We need a new bridge" without actually specifying where we need a new bridge. The Potomac is long.

by andrew on Sep 26, 2011 1:11 pm • linkreport

Steven Yates: If a new bridge relieves traffic on the beltway river crossing, Dulles tollway, or rt. 7, then everybody living along those routes would benefit. Greatly, from the traffic I have seen in those corridors.

by goldfish on Sep 26, 2011 1:12 pm • linkreport

@David C; sigh. There you go again.

You see, there is a bridge there already -- the TR.

I'll grant you the South side of the TR bridge is a bit of mess. You've done a good job of outlining some solutions.

What might be interesting is looking at a ped/bike upgrade of TR. On the north side, you have good connections (Roosevelt Island and the Kennedy Center) but is narrow. For a variety of reasons, people don't like to bike it. Widening that section (to say the width of the Key Bridge path, for example) could open up a lot.

I have a bad feeling, however, that a project like that might be as much as Topher's much ridiculed Georgetown pedestrian bridge.

by charlie on Sep 26, 2011 1:14 pm • linkreport

You see, there is a bridge there already -- the TR.

Nope. That bridge goes from the east side of the Kennedy Center (which is in Foggy Bottom) to Virginia. Not from Georgetown to TR Island (which is in DC).

by David C on Sep 26, 2011 1:21 pm • linkreport

Here is a map I made of an Eastern Bypass vs Western Bypass comparison:

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=211252832479767848512.00049d22b842d21abcb20&msa=0&ll=38.631891,-77.206421&spn=1.804359,3.636475

by NikolasM on Sep 26, 2011 1:32 pm • linkreport

@Andrew

I think we'd preferably have two new bridges. One east of I-95, and one between Point of Rocks and the American Legion Bridge. Congestion on I-95 is one issue, the other is congestion due to all the development that has taken place west DC in the past decades. Another reason the one east of DC doesn't get mentioned is because the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge was built to help relieve the traffic passing through the region. I think we should have both of these bridges, pedestrian infrastructure and new mass transit as well. I know with limited resources, people are going to become adversarial, but there are probably $100+ billion worth of infrastructure projects that you could make a good case for around the area.

by Vik on Sep 26, 2011 1:33 pm • linkreport

@DavidC; you really want to complain that the TR Bridge trail drops you off at the base of a footbridge to TR Island? You are aware bikes aren't even allowed on the island? Wow, petty.

by charlie on Sep 26, 2011 1:37 pm • linkreport

@Charlie:
I guess my point was I have to think there are just so few people making trips that would be significantly helped by a bridge there thus negating much value region wide (while also ignoring any induced demand), and particularly few people who live on the Virginia side would use it, which made me question why Virginia was pushing it.

by Steven Yates on Sep 26, 2011 1:38 pm • linkreport

good point about the TR bridge bike path. I often run on that bridge and it's a very tight fit when a bike passes by. I imagine two oncoming bikes have to basically stop moving to squeak past each other.

re: a bridge in the western suburbs - looking at the map, it's pretty amazing that there are no bridges across the Potomac there. Great Falls and Potomac are about 4 miles apart and a 30 minute drive.

What's the deal with Whites Ferry? Does it work well?

by Boomer on Sep 26, 2011 1:39 pm • linkreport

Petty? I didn't realize we were at the name-calling portion of the program. Or do you mean Tom Petty? He's awesome.

From the bottom of the Virginia side of the TR Bridge you're still farther from TR Island than you would be from the DC side of a Georgetown to TR Island bridge.

And I do realize that bikes are allowed on TR Island. What does that have to do with anything? You do realize that many people in DC have mastered the timeless art of walking? And that many people use this as a means of personal conveyance? And that with a bike, one can still walk? Or that a rule banning bikes can be changed?

by David C on Sep 26, 2011 2:01 pm • linkreport

David C--you really won't contract any Suburban Cooties by passing through Virginia. I promise. Short of having outstanding warrants or something, I really think that avoiding setting foot in a particular jurisdiction out of principle is a little crazy.

And yes, it's weird that you can't get to TR Island which is technically part of DC from DC without passing through Virginia. But weird geographic quirks are all part of life pretty much everywhere. Check out Point Roberts, Washington. Place so small they don't have their own high school, and though not an island they're not connected by land to the US--the school bus takes them through Canadian and US Customs every day.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Roberts,_Washington

by Catherine on Sep 26, 2011 2:15 pm • linkreport

you really won't contract any Suburban Cooties by passing through Virginia.

Not the issue. I will go much farther to get from Georgetown to TR Island or the MVT if I have to use the current setup. That is the issue. Not sure where you got the cooties concern from.

by David C on Sep 26, 2011 2:18 pm • linkreport

Besides in Virginia it's not the cooties I'm worried about. It's herpes. Everyone in Virginia has herpes.

by David C on Sep 26, 2011 2:19 pm • linkreport

I'm not sure I should even engage on the new MD/VA crossing because that proposal is so dead-on-arrival, it's completely off the table. Erecting a border fence between MD/VA to keep citizens from crossing between the two is more likely and would certainly be preferred by many people in both states (disclosure: I grew up in MD but now live in VA and the fact that my MD friends still speak to me is a miracle). That said, talking about this proposal does touch a broader, more interesting discussion about land use and transpo policy.

As David C righly points out, the first priority of any new potomac crossing carrying non-human powered vehicles should be a new metro bridge/tunnel. Contrary to what some commenters are saying, growth follows transpo development, not the other way around. So, if you want to concentrate future growth along metro, then you need to build metro capacity.

maybe when the Dulles Toll road costs $10 each way to pay for Metro, Marylanders who work in Virginia (and vice versa) will either move to Virginia, causing more sprawl, or find a job on their side of the river.

This is exactly what will happen and is called the free market working it's magic. The solution to every problem is not some huge new government spending program. I did exactly what you're suggesting -- move from MD to VA because my industry is located in VA -- and while I realize it's a total shock to Marylanders, it's not the end of the world. Also, there's no reason why this move would cause more sprawl. Tysons alone is building capacity to add 80K residents along their silver line stops and there is a lot more capaciy to continue building up along other metro stops in VA. Also, people need to absolutely find jobs on their side of the river. Creating jobs in PG county along their metro stations is one of the best ways of alleviating traffic problems which are largely caused by the imbalance of people/jobs between the eastern and western halves of the region.

RE: TR bridge trail

I agree that the trail is too narrow for bikers but a big reason I don't use that trail is that vehicle exhaust seems to be much worse on the TR than Key Bridge. Not sure why that's the case but that would need to be addressed before it will gain higher utilization.

by Falls Church on Sep 26, 2011 2:35 pm • linkreport

"Besides in Virginia it's not the cooties I'm worried about...."

Hello? comment policy? David C is off his meds today....can somebody please help him.

by charlie on Sep 26, 2011 2:39 pm • linkreport

@charlie:
At your earliest convenience, please look up "hyperbole".

Also, please remember that the appropriate place to report violations of the comment policy is not in the thread (doing so is actually a violation of the policy), but by emailing info@ggwash.org.

by Matt Johnson on Sep 26, 2011 2:45 pm • linkreport

Alexandria had a study done a year or two ago on the retail prospects for the Carlyle/Eisenhower area...the results were pessimistic to say the least.

http://alexandriava.gov/uploadedFiles/planning/info/eisenhowereast-carlyle/Carlyle%20Retail%20Study.pdf

by alexandrian on Sep 26, 2011 2:52 pm • linkreport

charlie,

Lighten up. It's a joke. Clearly not everyone in VA has herpes. There are clergy, for example.

by David C on Sep 26, 2011 2:55 pm • linkreport

Now, to begin even thinking about the efficacy of the bag tax, I think we need to know the compliance rate. Cashiers at Harris Teeter wrap meet in the plastic bags and often don't charge for just bagging your groceries in plastic bags. And they are by no means alone.

The BIDs - it's nice to have clean sidewalks, and that's nice, but I hardly think they are instrumental in building community.

by Jazzy on Sep 26, 2011 3:54 pm • linkreport

Besides in Virginia it's not the cooties I'm worried about. It's herpes. Everyone in Virginia has herpes.

Better reroute WAGBRAD out of Virginia then...:o)

In all seriousness, I fail to see the benefits of a bridge connecting "the rest of DC" to TR Island that would justify the cost of such a bridge. Especially considering that there is easy access to TR Island from the MVT, and there is fair (not great, but fair) access to the MVT in the area via Key Bridge and TR Bridge.

It sounds like one of those projects that DDOT could do if they were flush with cash. But I think they'd be better off spending said cash on projects that cover the REAL gaps in the bike/ped network. Anacostia...Met Branch...South Capital...etc etc.

As for new bridges over the Potomac (as opposed to replacing existing bridges...of which there are at least 4 that should be), how about this one: a new CSX rail bridge to get the through trains out of DC?

by Froggie on Sep 26, 2011 4:24 pm • linkreport

If you go back 15-20 years or so, MD officials used to be quite upfront about their motivation to oppose any new river crossing west of the District - and that motivation was to protect MDs investment in BWI by limiting the ease by which MD residents could access Dulles. Interesting how regional transportation policy could be made and held subservient to one area's parochial economic interest in an investment elsewhere

by andy on Sep 27, 2011 1:36 am • linkreport

"The BIDs - it's nice to have clean sidewalks, and that's nice, but I hardly think they are instrumental in building community."

BIDs do a lot more than cleaning sidewalks. Actually, there are plenty of community building projects that BIDs are involved in, such as lunch-time concert series at the metro stations, coordinating farmers markets, summer movie nights, hosting arts and culture festivals in their respective areas, hosting community public safety meetings, etc, youth outreach, doing walking tours, partnering with other organizations like the American Planning Association to envision public spaces and parks in their respective areas, etc.

by concerned on Sep 27, 2011 7:28 pm • linkreport

Regarding new Potomac River bridges, why has no-one broached the subject of these new crossings being built as linear parks, particularly since they would happen around Great Falls and the GW Parkway terminus at Mount Vernon/Ft Washington?
It's a shame the term "Parkway" has been co-opted by clear-cutting interstate-width right-of-way construction techniques. Compared to modern day concepts of parkway that scare folks (Fairfax County Parkway, etc) roads like the Rock Creek Parkway, the George Washington Parkway, and The Arbor/Jamaica/Fen ways in Boston, etc.) are conceptually different from highways, but still permit for safe grade separated travel, albeit at slower speeds and less "straightness". On the plus side, the slower speed permits things like bikeways and jogging paths to work along with the road, and the curves allow the beauty to be revealed. The straightness reduces the amount of construction work too. We seem to have lost our way with Parkways since the time of Olmstead.

by stevek_occoquan on Sep 27, 2011 9:20 pm • linkreport

or rather the LACK of "straightness", reduces the amount of construction work, and conceivably the co$t. Building true Parkways would mean working with the existing landscape, within reason. The Rock Creek and GW Parkways have their fair share of fill, bridges, and tempering natural berms for basic safety, but noting as invasive as today's concept of large-scale road-building.

by stevek_occoquan on Sep 27, 2011 9:27 pm • linkreport

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