Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: More about the Metro budget


Photo by ElvertBarnes on Flickr.
WMATA to hire 1000: WMATA's next budget calls for hiring more than 1000 new workers. Most are needed to run the stations and trains on the Silver Line or perform repairs. (Post)

Bike lockers get cheaper: Metro will lower the annual price of a bike locker from $200 to $120. Officials hope the price change will mean more lockers get rented and more bikers will opt to take Metro. (WashCycle)

Sarles answers only some questions: In yesterday's hangout, Richard Sarles talked about the fare increase and maintenance, but declined to go into many specifics when asked by the panelists or Twitter users. (Post)

Transit center delayed: The Silver Spring Transit Center will not open until the summer, a year later than scheduled. Part of the reason: the contractor didn't use enough concrete to protect steel reinforcement bars from the elements. (Examiner)

Fairfax wants FBI: Fairfax County wants the FBI to move near the Franconia-Springfield Metro. Rebuilding on the Hoover Building site, which the FBI has outgrown, would likely be cost prohibitive. (Post)

Grants push a better H Street: Four H Street NE businesses received DC government grants to expand and improve their businesses. Councilmember Wells hopes grants like this will help promote "5-minute living." (DCist)

Herndon says no to roundabout: Herndon lawmakers reversed their decision to build a roundabout after residents objected and some initial data turned out to be wrong. The town will instead add a median and reduce the number of lanes. (Post)

Poor kids miss play: Though DC has 101 playgrounds, some lower income kids might not be using them if the area is considered violent. Low income parents also tend to have less time to escort their children to these playgrounds. (WAMU)

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Steven Yates grew up in Indiana before moving to DC in 2002 to attend college at American University. He currently lives in Southwest DC.  

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Why would rebuilding at the Hoover building site be cost prohibitive? And as for space, they could build a building that takes better advantage of the space, build a taller building or build another building very close by to house the operations that the main building can't handle.

by Tim on Jan 11, 2012 9:46 am • linkreport

Is there a transcript of the Sarles interview? I know kids these days with their blogs and MyFaces love their videos, but all the readers who work in this area's...uh, main industry...can't stream at work.

Not that I read blogs while on the clock or anything.

by Ronald on Jan 11, 2012 10:00 am • linkreport

Or they could use the Hoover building space to consolidate other DOJ operations, which are scattered all over the region.

by Moose on Jan 11, 2012 10:01 am • linkreport

Man oh man...the FBI moving their headquarters elsewhere would be a nicely wrapped gift to the District.

Getting that prime piece of PA ave real estate back on the tax rolls would be a boon to the entire city.

@Tim,

Rebuilding at Hoover is cost prohibitive for a variety of reasons.

They either do the smart thing and relocate the buildings occupants offsite during the multiyear rebuild, the relocation itself would probably drive the cost up 15-20%, or they let the people stay in it and rebuild piecemeal like they did the Pentagon which ended up taking nearly 15 years, again...super expensive.

Cleanest and cheapest thing for them to do is stay where they are until the new place is built and simply move everyone over.

by freely on Jan 11, 2012 10:09 am • linkreport

@ freely and Tim:

Another problem, I suspect, is the building's style of construction...Brutalist concrete is notoriously difficult to renovate, as I recall. That would surely add both time and cost to a full renovation.

Also, getting rid of the FBI might do wonders to clean up some of the streetscape along that section of Pennsylvania Ave.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Jan 11, 2012 10:17 am • linkreport

I don't really think a 30-min online forum (at least how this was constructed) would give us much more than what we got. I don't think he was being necessarily evasive by not going into specifics. Some things, like the union-busting question, just couldn't be answered.

His answer on metro mismanagement and the 30-yr old arbitration agreement made sense - at least to me.

by HogWash on Jan 11, 2012 10:24 am • linkreport

Re: FBI

The GAO and GSA have studied it. Renovating the building (for any tenant) is not likely to be cost-effective. The space is laid out inefficiently, and the architecture prevents much in the way of re-arrangement. The architecture also adds to costs significantly.

Renovating it for the FBI would also fail to address the FBI's security concerns (see the large setbacks for the ATF building in NoMa as an example of the minimum requirements).

http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/586151.pdf

by Alex B. on Jan 11, 2012 10:33 am • linkreport

Thousands of additional jobs going to Springfield may be a traffic issue although Metro is just a few minutes away by walking, but Fairfax has been wanting the Feds to do something with those GSA warehouses for years. FBI to Springfield could be a convenient location between Quantico and DC that is already federally owned from the perspective of the feds, but it would be wanted by Fairfax County since it would be something new instead of warehouses with little traffic. BRAC has already significantly helped office development in the area, but central Springfield has lagged due to Vornado holding up redevelopment of the Mall.

by selxic on Jan 11, 2012 10:35 am • linkreport

@selxic:

Given the proximity of the Franconia-Springfield station, I think this would be much less of a problem than it could be otherwise. And Springfield could use the business - it's knitting together as a community rather well, but something like this wouldn't hurt.

And it might finally provide some more incentive to extend the Blue Line to provide coverage to Fort Belvoir. (OK, OK, no it won't, but a fellow can dream, can't he?)

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Jan 11, 2012 10:58 am • linkreport

I can't wait to see the end of DC's biggest eyesore.

by Frank IBC on Jan 11, 2012 10:59 am • linkreport

I look forward to the day when the FBI leaves, and the sounds of new construction fill the site. Imagine that lot with ground floor retail on all sides!

by MrTinDC on Jan 11, 2012 12:03 pm • linkreport

Another good thing about an FBI move is that the new building in Springfield would not have to be named after J Edgar Hoover.
I propose calling it the "Leonardo DiCaprio FBI Building" - has a nice ring to it.

by Mike on Jan 11, 2012 12:11 pm • linkreport

I can't wait to see the end of DC's biggest eyesore.

Wait, what's happening to Crystal City? [I kid because I love]

by David C on Jan 11, 2012 1:35 pm • linkreport

Some questions about the idea of moving the FBI to Franconia-Springfield:

How close is the site to the metro station? I glanced at Google Maps but am having trouble confirming the location of these GSA-owned warehouses that are supposedly on the site. My main issues - exactly how walkable from the station would a new FBI HQ be? And is the site actually big enough, and secure enough, to meet the FBI's standards? When this issue was discussed a few weeks ago, I remember the Post describing the vision of a CIA-like campus for the FBI (FBI and CIA being roughly comparable in size). In glancing at Google Maps, I don't see a site near the F-S Metro that is that big. Am I missing something here?

Over the long term (maybe 10-15 years), would a Springfield site increase or decrease the number of FBI employees using transit? Given the current location is served by multiple lines from all directions, and that F-S Metro is served by one line (and maybe by Amtrak/VRE?), wouldn't more FBI employees choose to drive to the new site? Perhaps a Blue Line extension southward, for several new stops toward Lorton or beyond, would encourage FBI employees to live in those places and commute by Metro to Springfield; and perhaps some would choose to live on the Blue line in Alexandria/Arlington, and then reverse commute to Springfield. But nevertheless, I would expect increased traffic and decreased metro usage by FBI employees.

Finally, everyone on here is eager to redevelop the current FBI HQ site. Who owns the land? Would it be given over to private development once the FBI leaves? Or would the Federal government continue to own/use it, just for a new or different function?

by Nick81 on Jan 11, 2012 2:33 pm • linkreport

Nick81, the GSA warehouses are directly west of the Franconia-Springfield station. The station has Metro, VRE, Greyhound, and Omnibus amongst others. I don't think Amtrak still stops there.

by selxic on Jan 11, 2012 3:28 pm • linkreport

Amtrak does not stop there, but VRE does, albeit only in single-flow direction. This might be impetus for VRE to start some counterflow service to Springfield. It's close enough in so that VRE might not have a hard time persuading CSX to up their joint operational agreement.

The VRE station platform access there though is terrible - up and down a long flight of stairs, or a slow elevator.

Forget about a Blue Line extension. Nobody has $10 billion to spare, and the board would almost certainly ask the Commonwealth to pay most of that freight.

by Jack Love on Jan 11, 2012 3:57 pm • linkreport

The GSA complex is here. From the station, it's not really walkable. On exiting the station, a large parking deck stands in the way, and it is ringed by a speedway a.k.a. feeder road. Cars and busses ply this circle constantly.

From my recollection and from reviewing this map, it does not look like it will require an awful lot of work to put in some trails or dedicated paths between the GSA site and Metro.

I would also expect that there be a review of bus service to the station. Already the station is a terminal for some Metro buses (one of the 18s and maybe some others). This may need to be expanded to include service into the heart of Fairfax, or to the Pentagon, or to downtown.

It will get sticky if and when the Commonwealth is asked to put up some funds for this.

by Jack Love on Jan 11, 2012 4:24 pm • linkreport

Another reason underlying reason why they don't move the entire FBI out during a renovation is the backwards way the GAO does their accounting and one reason it took the Pentagon years to renovate. If you move everyone out of a building, the building becomes the property of the GAO and they can reassign the building to anyone. thus, even though you move out and it was your building, there is no guarantee the agency that moved out would be able to move back in. but, if you only move a floor our or wing then the agency still controls the building.

Yes, the government is that backwards thinking.

by Burger on Jan 11, 2012 4:38 pm • linkreport

It will get sticky if and when the Commonwealth is asked to put up some funds for this.

The Commmonwealth has an economic development fund they use for attracting big employers like Northrop Grumman. I suspect they can use some of that money for infrastructure improvements necessary to persuade the FBI to move to Springfield.

by Falls Church on Jan 11, 2012 4:57 pm • linkreport

It'd be nice to redevelop the Hoover building, sure. But wouldn't GSA have to go through the whole long, drawn-out process of disposing of federal property? And wouldn't that process dictate that it only go to a few uses, like public housing, education, government, etc.?

In other words, could DC even redevelop the building back into the downtown landscape? I guess putting new federal buildings there wouldn't be the worst thing, but then you don't have the tax advantages for the city.

by Tim on Jan 11, 2012 7:11 pm • linkreport

@Jack Love: You linked to the Metro station, not the warehouses. Unless they're really THAT close to the station ...

@Burger: Do you mean GSA?

by Tim on Jan 11, 2012 7:15 pm • linkreport

Hi Tim. Yes I know, I just entered "Springfield Metro" and let Google take it from there.

The large block area to the west (left) in the sat view is the GSA complex. So yes, they are that close, b/c just to the west of them is I-95. From the highway, they look like WW-II vintage barracks.

@Falls Church "The Commmonwealth has an economic development fund they use for attracting big employers like Northrop Grumman. I suspect they can use some of that money for infrastructure improvements necessary to persuade the FBI to move to Springfield."

In Virginia, "infrastructure improvements" all too often == "roads". I'll give you the area needs some roadway improvement: the exit from the Parkway to Metro will need major upgrades, and maybe additional exit points.

When the downtown FBI workers transition to a suburban facility, they will be sorely tempted to drive, especially with I-95, I-495, and the Fairfax County Parkway so close at hand.

I don't think this move should be planned wholly by roads. What I'm driving at (no pun ha-ha) is that VA needs to get with Metro yesterday on this. Rail is part of the solution, but not all. I would start thinking about express buses from downtown, Pentagon, etc, running at rush hours with limited service all day.

So if VA wants to throw some of that development cash at Metro and VRE to improve mass transit options, great. Otherwise, if it's just roads, it's going to be ugly.

by Jack Love on Jan 11, 2012 8:57 pm • linkreport

I left a comment directed towards Jack Love in a browser tab over the weekend. At this point it's not worth arguing, but it is worth noting, the Feds want a site that is 2.5 miles outside of 495.

by selxic on Jan 16, 2012 3:27 pm • linkreport

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