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Breakfast links: Transportation funding

Photo by thisisbossi on Flickr.
Transit funding rules change: USDOT wants to change regulations to scrap the ridiculous rules that force transit in highway medians and other "cost-saving" measures that create worse projects. Access to affordable housing and other community factors will also play a role. (Slate, BusinessWeek)

Tough road for bill: Governor O'Malley wants to introduce a transportation bill in the upcoming 90-day session, but could face strong opposition to his proposal to raise the gas tax 10 cents per gallon. (Post)

Blame placed on wear: WMATA is blaming premature wear and not human error for a friction ring falling off a Metro train last month. Now officials will try to figure out why the part wore out so quickly. (Examiner)

Metro fights union: WMATA is fighting an aribitration decision giving pay raises to its white-collar union workers and limiting its number of contractors. The agency recently lost a similar battle against the ATU. (Examiner)

Lots of money, little housing: Peaceholics squandered $4.6 million of city money on 3 housing projects as contractors took advantage of the group's inexperience. Then the Department of Housing and Community Development spent even more on contractors who still failed to deliver. (Post)

Fix Clarendon: Arlington plans to redo the major intersection of Wilson, Clarendon, and Washington Boulevards in Clarendon, adding more sidewalk space and removing slip lanes. They're looking for public feedback through a survey. (Miles Grant)

No BRAC here?: A new round of BRAC could spare the DC area as what bases remain are too important to the Pentagon's mission. On the other hand, at one point the closing of Walter Reed was unthinkable. (WBJ)

And...: Mayor Gray announces 5 more HRPB nominees. (City Paper) ... Arlington could soon make money off its new water treatment plant. (ARLnow) ... Why do businesses keep closing in Hyattsville? (Patch) ... US Park Police tase a man at OccupyDC. (Post)

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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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Maybe it is WMATA playing word games with the broken brake disc story, but if the failure was "premature wear" why would you replace all the brake discs on a line of cars?

I'd understand if the part was defective, and it does look like the supplier is taking some responsibility.

Perhaps just bad transcribing of a press release. However, I have to think the herky-jerky braking of trains under manual control is part of the problem.

by charlie on Jan 30, 2012 8:55 am • linkreport

Hmmm. Maybe we should ask guys in the AfPak theater how important the Pentagon is to the military's mission... :P

by Arl Fan on Jan 30, 2012 9:07 am • linkreport

The potential of Fort McNair and especially Fort Myer closing is pretty significant for the region.

by selxic on Jan 30, 2012 9:27 am • linkreport

The photos of the brake disc published on Unsuck looked more like a brittle fracture than fatigue. I wouldn't be able to confirm this without better pictures, though.

Brittle fracture could be the result of a poor quality metal alloy.

Again, this is speculation based only on photos.

by Michael Perkins on Jan 30, 2012 9:45 am • linkreport

Not only was the closing of Walter Reed unthinkable - I'd still like to know whose palm was crossed with silver to make the Mark Center happen. That and Fort Belvoir, actually...

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Jan 30, 2012 9:52 am • linkreport

re: Peacaholics and DCHA.

This is why DC government should be in the business of issuing Section 8 housing vouchers and nothing else. How many millions of dollars to create substandard housing at practically market rates that has the added benefit of further concentrating poverty in low-income neighborhoods in DC? Excellent work!

by oboe on Jan 30, 2012 9:54 am • linkreport

Metro fighting arbitrator: Who knew there was a distinction between blue and white collar unions! What's the idea behind firing workers only to rehire contractors for the same work? WTF

Soooo, the Peaceholics squandered 4.6 million of our money? Not that many of us didn't suggest this was happening as Moten was traversing the city with Fenty. But g'damn!

And this "for the people" guy is running for Mayor?

by HogWash on Jan 30, 2012 9:55 am • linkreport

@Mperkins; I agree. And certainly WMATA (and the suppliers) action speak for a defective part being installed. Although, if the "friction ring" is a lifetime part, why was it even replaced?

by charlie on Jan 30, 2012 9:58 am • linkreport

@Michael Perkins: can you please provide the link of the picture? Thanks.

by goldfish on Jan 30, 2012 10:06 am • linkreport

Closing Walter Reed may have been unthinkable to Washingtonians, but not within the military. It had been discussed for years ahead of time. Any astute watcher of military affairs shouldn't have been shocked by it. A very mild surprise, perhaps, along the lines of "huh, they're actually going to pull the trigger on that one?"

by Tim Krepp on Jan 30, 2012 10:27 am • linkreport

No issue with raising the gas tax but their is a legit point of view that money drivers spend on gas should stick with road improvements.

by Matt R on Jan 30, 2012 10:28 am • linkreport

As I read the story about how Peaceholics found favor during the Fenty administration, allowing them unfettered access to the city's coiffers, allowing them millions to (for the first time ever) get into the building affordable housing business, I just shake my daggone head.

This is sort of an old story but I wonder to what extent pay-to-play play here? Likely nothing illegal but I don't think it a stretch to conclude that Moten and Fenty were "in on it" and neither one benefitted from the relationship. Fenty, if nobody else, should have KNOWN better!

by HogWash on Jan 30, 2012 10:30 am • linkreport

Here's the article with the photos:

by Michael Perkins on Jan 30, 2012 10:31 am • linkreport

As you can see, the fracture surface looks basically undistorted, like a crack went through the part without fundamentally affecting its shape. When you can put the two pieces back together cleanly, that's almost always a brittle fracture.

Fatigue fractures usually have some area where the material is distorted and can't be put back together cleanly. I don't see any of those areas on the part, but then again these are only photos and I can't see every part of every surface.

Brittle fractures can happen when a part is overstressed or has a lowered fracture toughness (a material property that is dependent on chemistry and heat treament, among other things).

Fatigue failure can happen when a material is repeatedly stressed. Usually the part designer figures out the maximum cyclic loading and estimates the number of expected cycles, and then figures out that the part is only expected to see a fraction of the maximum allowable cycles in its lifetime.

by Michael Perkins on Jan 30, 2012 10:39 am • linkreport

@Michael Perkins: great pics, thanks.

Brittle stress rupture makes no sense, because then it would have failed the first time the brakes were applied.

Looks to me like the failure initiated at the v-shape part of the fracture surface, near the cap screw countersink. If you look closely next (not in) to the v-shape, you can see that fracture surface is different, and looks rougher. My guess is that is a fatigue crack growing.

by goldfish on Jan 30, 2012 12:22 pm • linkreport

Can we use this BRAC round to close Mark Center?

by jim on Jan 30, 2012 12:33 pm • linkreport

@goldfish: good point. Although brake application forces can vary from time to time, it's unlikely that the threshold brake application would happen so far into life. More likely a fatigue failure early.

Maybe it was an undetected initial flaw?

by Michael Perkins on Jan 30, 2012 12:49 pm • linkreport

The Fort McNair land would be a pretty juicy target for development, considering that it will be right on the streetcar system once that gets finished and basically adjacent to Nats park.

by Dan Miller on Jan 30, 2012 1:35 pm • linkreport

"Friction ring" are not lifetime part. Like brake rotors on motor vehicles they wear out. I have seen metrorail brake rotors with as much as 1 1/2 of the meet worn off of them.

by Sand Box John on Jan 30, 2012 2:14 pm • linkreport

@Sandbox; while I respect your expertise, WMATA apparently feels differently:

from the linked article today:

"Metro officials are replacing about 1,500 pieces of the brake systems on much of its rail car fleet after what a board member called "catastrophic failures."

They also are trying to determine why a piece that should have lasted the life of a rail car wore out early and whether conditions on the rail system made it worse.

A so-called "friction ring" broke off a worn-out brake hub of a 5000 series rail car on Dec. 20, damaging two other trains. Another ring broke from a different model, a 2000 series car, on Jan. 6"

by charlie on Jan 30, 2012 2:18 pm • linkreport

Closing Walter Reed had more to do with resolving interservice coordination of health care than the factors that might affect Fort Myer or Fort McNair. In past rounds of base closings, the underlying value of real estate played a big role, which is why the post near Big Sur was closed. That might affect Fort McNair or Fort Myer, although Fort Myer would retain security value because of its proximity to sensitive sites.

Peaceaholics is nothing new as a boondoggle. The Fenty-loving Post tended to ignore it in the past.

by Rich on Jan 30, 2012 2:53 pm • linkreport

Dan Miller, Buzzard Point lost out on several bids because it was too far from Metro. The streetcar will help that area. I imagine the Arlington land would be more valuable though. I can't imagine that land being turned over easily regardless of if it is being used by the military.

by selxic on Jan 30, 2012 3:32 pm • linkreport

@charlie: The writer at The Washington Examiner is either blowing smoke out of his ass or his source he used is blowing smoke out of his ass. The truck, these so called "friction ring" are a part of, are rebuilt on a regularly scheduled bases. The trucks will be rebuilt dozens of times over the life of a rail car. The rebuilding of the trucks consists of the replacing or rebuilding of bolsters, axle journals, suspension chevrons, suspension airbags, traction motors, brake disks "friction ring" brake calipers, associated brake pluming and other parts along with the replacement of various nuts, bolts, studs, bushings, fasteners, hoses and cables.

Below are pictures of trucks that were completely rebuilt by WMATA employes in the shops at Greenbelt Yard:

Rebuilt 1k truck

Rebuilt 2/3k truck

by Sand Box John on Jan 31, 2012 12:13 am • linkreport

I don't see Fort Myer being turned over anytime soon...not unless they want to spend the money to put a bigger wall up between it and Arlington Cemetery. Right now there are a few locations where you can get between the two.

Fort McNair may be a better target...but that would first require them to finish St. E's (instead of the recent 5-year delay at St. E's) so they can move Coast Guard Headquarters out.

Expanding Fort Belvoir was a no-brainer...they had PLENTY of land with which to move agencies there. The problem with Fort Belvoir is that they moved the agencies before building the transportation improvements.

by Froggie on Jan 31, 2012 6:59 am • linkreport

Part of the problems with everything moving to Fort Belvoir is that everything hasn't actually moved to Fort Belvoir. NGA was a stretch to be considered Fort Belvoir when it was built on a former EPG site. Mark Center/WHS is now considered Fort Belvoir too.

by selxic on Jan 31, 2012 7:41 am • linkreport

Metro is fighting a "final and binding arbitration" ruling of a pay raise for one of Metro's smallest Unions, Local 2 OPEIU.

One's first thoughts may be something like: Metro can't afford to pay, they are talking about fare increases, or those spoiled Union workers are always complaining about something.

The truth of the matter is that while Metro is fighting a raise for the Union employees (possibly on your tax dollar), they are giving themselves raises. Raises for the non-represented employees who are mainly management and upper-management!

by Mike2095 on Jan 31, 2012 6:44 pm • linkreport

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