Greater Greater Washington

Links


Breakfast links: Help wanted


Photo by supertobor on Flickr.
Help wanted at Metro: Even in a tough economy, Metro is having trouble finding qualified people to hire, leading to large amounts of overtime. The problem will likely get worse as Metro ramps up for the Silver Line. (Washington Times)

Help wanted on ethics board: Mayor Gray can't seem to find people to serve on the city's new Board of Ethics and Government Accountability. Several people turned down a post. (Post)

A blanket of traffic cameras: Mayor Gray would ultimately like to cover the entire city with traffic cameras, including ones that ticket drivers who do not yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. (Post, Falls Church)

Henderson is chancellor, not Kwame Brown: The DC Council's recent education bill could be the start of a lot of meddling by the Council. Getting rid of this is why DC abolished the school board, and DC "does not need 13 chancellors." (Post editorial)

No Bethesda vs. Wheaton: The redevelopment of Wheaton and the second Bethesda Metro entrance were never really at odds, says Roger Berliner. Instead, the council sees a transit-based future while County Executive Leggett prioritizes roads. (Gazette)

Cars over veggies: Bethesda's farmers' market is moving away from the center of Bethesda because the county wants to keep Elm Street open Sundays during construction. ACT says it's not necessary and will hurt street life.

Affordable housing needed: Experts say Montgomery County will need financial incentives to encourage affordable housing. Otherwise it will just get more traffic, as workers who can't afford to live in the county commute from elsewhere. (Examiner)

Garvey wins: Democrat Libby Garvey won the open Arlington County Board seat in a special election that saw historically low turnout. She defeated Republican candidate Mark Kelly by less than 900 votes. (Post)

And...: As Metro celebrates its 36th birthday, the Post finds a story from its first. ... PETA jumps on Virginia's street naming program, suggests Spay Today Way. (Examiner) ... A petition seeks a referendum on Maryland's congressional districts. (Examiner)

Have a tip for the links? Submit it here.
Steven Yates grew up in Indiana before moving to DC in 2002 to attend college at American University. He currently lives in Southwest DC.  

Comments

Add a comment »

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray had one idea for breaking the decided homogeneity in Metro’s workforce: Hire more D.C. residents. Indeed, the good-old-boys network that comprises Metro’s 10,000 field workers is dominated by men from Prince George’s County, with only 14 percent of Metro workers living in the city. Including executives, 15 percent live in Virginia.

“There’s a story behind that,” Mr. Downs said. “At one point, 70 percent lived in the District. A bus driver can make $70,000 and that’s middle class, and like a lot of middle-class people they want to move to the suburbs. The same people are still working for Metro, they just moved to Prince George’s.”

field workers?

So, it looks as if about 1/3 of the workforce is bus/train operators.

by charlie on Mar 28, 2012 8:45 am • linkreport

Mayor Gray would ultimately like to cover the entire city with traffic cameras, including ones that ticket drivers who do not yield to pedestrians at crosswalks.

The Oboe Strategy, FTW.

Obviously we'll have to wait and see where these cameras go, but it's about time DC began to really play to its strengths in attracting residents who want to live in an urban environment, not some Bailey's Crossroads-esque traffic sewer. Getting scofflaw drivers under control is just another major step in doing this. Drivers reined in means more bikes on the streets means safer streets for everyone.

Now if we could just get 3-4 of these super-cameras at 13th and Constitution & Tennessee NE...

by oboe on Mar 28, 2012 9:29 am • linkreport

Even in a tough economy, Metro is having trouble finding qualified people to hire...

To be fair, the pool of existing managers' childhood friends and drug-buddies is finite. Perhaps they need to start thinking outside of the box.

by oboe on Mar 28, 2012 9:32 am • linkreport

oboe,

"attracting residents who want to live in an urban environment"

Maybe, but will it repel businesses to MD and VA?

by RJ on Mar 28, 2012 10:03 am • linkreport

"Mayor Gray would ultimately like to cover the entire city with traffic cameras, including ones that ticket drivers who do not yield to pedestrians at crosswalks."

I'm trying to imagine how this technology might work: vehicle passes through crosswalk while pedestrian (warm body) is also in crosswalk. Some room for interpretation there, which means they all have to be reviewed by a human before going out. It would be great to see this happen (I'm looking at you, Maryland drivers on 16th Street northbound in the evenings).

by Jack Love on Mar 28, 2012 10:06 am • linkreport

Re: Metro having hard time hiring qualified people. Based on the damning article that came out in yesterday's Washington Times, it seems like there might be plenty of qualified applicants, but cronyism favoring much less qualified people keeps the best people from being hired -- a problem which doubles down on itself because of rising attrition.

by Scoot on Mar 28, 2012 10:07 am • linkreport

Maybe, but will it repel businesses to MD and VA?

Interesting. What would the mechanism for this be?

by oboe on Mar 28, 2012 10:11 am • linkreport

The more traffic cameras, the better, especially on main arteries.

I felt like I was going to die going 35-40mph on a 35 mph limit stretch of N. Capitol last weekend - people were easily going 60 around me.

by Nick on Mar 28, 2012 10:11 am • linkreport

@Scoot:

...it seems like there might be plenty of qualified applicants, but cronyism favoring much less qualified people keeps the best people from being hired...

Thought this was interesting too:

Only 1 in 4 applicants passes Metro’s three-part test with reading, behavior and customer-service sections. But a statistical analysis of test results shows curious results.

In one class, nearly everyone who could read, according to the literacy test, was marked down as failing a “behavior assessment.” Everyone deemed tops on behavior, meanwhile, failed the other segments.

Makes you wonder what kind of "behavior" they're screening for. :)

by oboe on Mar 28, 2012 10:15 am • linkreport

The Oboe Strategy, FTW.

Now that they are implementing Part I of he Oboe/Alpert strategy of blanketing the city with cameras, will you agree to Part II which was reducing the fines? Or was the position of "more cameras, lower fines" just a ploy to get more cameras and the "lower fines" part will be put off to some indefinite future?

Re: Metro

What's obviously going on here is that the hiring folks are conspiring with the union to keep vacancies high, which leads to higher overtime and ultimately higher pensions. I really hope this series of articles exposing what we all suspected at WMATA (that there's something really wrong/corrupt with how it's run since that's the only logical explanation for their constant problems) will result in an investigation and action.

by Falls Church on Mar 28, 2012 10:42 am • linkreport

If the NPS permits it, there are millions of dollars in speed cam revenue waiting to be snatched up on the Memorial Bridge. I know the peds in the area would appreciate it too. I'd get my usual 5% finder's fee, of course.

by aaa on Mar 28, 2012 10:45 am • linkreport

Are we going to simultaneously start actually ticketing people who enter the crosswalk after the flashing Don't Walk has started? Because otherwise, at certain intersections, I think the result will be that you won't be able to make a turn at rush hour at all. As someone who is frequently both a pedestrian and a driver, I think better enforcement all around would be helpful.

And @Nick, that stretch of North Capitol has had mobile cameras at various times over the past year, and the police regularly sit on the ramps at Scale Gate Rd and pull people over. It hasn't helped, because the road's designed in a way where it's easy to go much faster (i.e. 3 separated lanes in each direction with no sidewalks). I think they need to look into redesigning the road in that stretch, personally.

by prognostication on Mar 28, 2012 10:56 am • linkreport

I hope the mayor is open to suggestions for where to place the traffic cameras, because I've got a lot of them!

by LoLo on Mar 28, 2012 11:00 am • linkreport

@ Jack Love: I'm trying to imagine how this technology might work: vehicle passes through crosswalk while pedestrian (warm body) is also in crosswalk. Some room for interpretation there, which means they all have to be reviewed by a human before going out.

No room for interpretation whatsoever. DC law states that you must *stop* for pedestrians *in* a crosswalk. This in contradiction to Virginia where you must *yield* to a pedestrian *near* a cross-walk. [Don't know the specifics of MD law.]

Oh, and also, DC law states that you can not *block* a pedestrians crosswalk *at any time*. So, even if you stop for a red light or a pedestrian, you can not be *in* a crosswalk. The 'box' that you can't block includes crosswalks.

I swear there is gonna be a day that I am gonna just walk into some car that is standing in the middle of a crosswalk, looking innocent and with a look like 'well, I can't block the box, nor can I back up'.

by Jasper on Mar 28, 2012 11:02 am • linkreport

I'm trying to imagine how this technology might work: vehicle passes through crosswalk while pedestrian (warm body) is also in crosswalk. Some room for interpretation there, which means they all have to be reviewed by a human before going out. It would be great to see this happen (I'm looking at you, Maryland drivers on 16th Street northbound in the evenings).

I don't think the technology is there yet. I can't count how many times I've gone through a green light and before my car was completely out of the crosswalk there was someone entering it to cross against the light.

I think more cameras are a disaster that only asks to be abused when poor saps get directed through them during motorcades: http://www.princeofpetworth.com/2012/03/dear-popville-red-light-camera-ticket-for-motorcade-question/

by lemon on Mar 28, 2012 11:03 am • linkreport

Now that they are implementing Part I of he Oboe/Alpert strategy of blanketing the city with cameras, will you agree to Part II which was reducing the fines?

I see no problem with that at all. Of course, lower fines are contingent on massive numbers of cameras. Also, I'm not quite sure how much raw political power Alpert (or I) possess, but by the looks of it, it's considerably more than in reality. Alpert's hardly got the "swing" to bait-and-switch.

by oboe on Mar 28, 2012 11:08 am • linkreport

the gazette article is interesting on the roads vs bethesda vs Wheaton kerfuffle in MoCo

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 28, 2012 11:14 am • linkreport

Obe
"Interesting. What would the mechanism for this be?"

I can see many businesses seeing this as another cost of doing business in DC. It all depends on their perceived magnitude of the costs and whatever benefit remains by being located in DC.

by RJ on Mar 28, 2012 11:20 am • linkreport

Cameras all over DC? Who's going to make sure that these are properly calibrated, etc. This is a big law suit waiting to happen. The usual cheerleaders for panacea will like it until they get caught.

by Rich on Mar 28, 2012 11:24 am • linkreport

@Jack Love - I was wondering the same thing. What would the standard be? Are we talking "as long as there's a pedestrian somewhere in the crosswalk, you can't turn through," or is there a proximity issue?

I like the idea; when I'm a pedestrian, I particularly loathe the taxicab intimidation move of getting right up on me as I walk. But when I'm a driver, I will turn right on a green light if pedestrians are only entering the crosswalk from the other side, and it's an intersection of considerable size (i.e., most of downtown DC). If I can get through well before they get to me, I certainly will. Have other jurisidictions implemented this sort of camera with success?

by worthing on Mar 28, 2012 11:26 am • linkreport

As a pedestrian who has to take his life in his hands crossing downtown DC streets, I support the Oboe/Alpert strategy.

by Fred on Mar 28, 2012 11:31 am • linkreport

@prognostication

Agreed. Permanent speed cameras would be a good deterrent there. People were also speeding at similar rates around the missouri ave/ft totten area. And this was on a peaceful sunday morning, too.

by Nick on Mar 28, 2012 11:43 am • linkreport

I felt like I was going to die going 35-40mph on a 35 mph limit stretch of N. Capitol last weekend - people were easily going 60 around me.

That's because N. Capitol has unnecessarily-low speed limits, has to many stretches of route 50/NY Avenue. Whether this is poor traffic planning or simply a mechanism to allow the police to give out speeding tickets at their discretion is unknown.

by JustMe on Mar 28, 2012 11:43 am • linkreport

Another way of looking at it is that NY Avenue (and N. Capitol to a lesser extent) is a dead-zone of traffic sewage because it's been inappropriately ceded to auto traffic. We need to reclaim it.

by oboe on Mar 28, 2012 12:08 pm • linkreport

Oboe FTW. Reclaim our streets! 6 lanes and residents and pedestrians will never mix well. Kill all the third lanes and speed camera the dickens out of every street in the city. What, you want a cookie for not speeding? Obey the law.

by SunnyFloridaAve on Mar 28, 2012 12:37 pm • linkreport

@Prognostication: You wrote "Are we going to simultaneously start actually ticketing people who enter the crosswalk after the flashing Don't Walk has started?"

My understanding of the law is that it's perfectly legal for a pedestrian to enter the crosswalk after the flashing Don't Walk has started, as long as you're moving fast enough to clear the intersection before the light turns to a solid Don't Walk. It's similar to (though not exactly the same as) a yellow light for cars.

by Rob on Mar 28, 2012 12:43 pm • linkreport

Another way of looking at it is that NY Avenue (and N. Capitol to a lesser extent) is a dead-zone of traffic sewage because it's been inappropriately ceded to auto traffic. We need to reclaim it.

Well, it has to go somewhere.

Until DC manages to develop the technology behind "traffic light synchronization" and figures out that "transit" is more than just a commuter-focused metro system, it's not unreasonable to expect a couple "major artery" roads going in and out of the city, and then it's not unreasonable to expect that they be treated differently than downtown city streets and that they should have higher speed limits.

by JustMe on Mar 28, 2012 1:02 pm • linkreport

Reclaim North Capitol and Irving!! 25 mph speed limits for everyone!!

by Boomer on Mar 28, 2012 1:27 pm • linkreport

Well, it has to go somewhere.

True, but there's nothing enshrined in the Constitution that says it has to go somewhere at 55 miles per hour. Put N Capitol on a road diet, and allow-pedestrian friendly development just like you see along N Capitol all the way to MacMillan sand filtration plant. This will have the benefit of adding more DC taxpayers at the (minor) expense of non-taxpaying out-of-town commuters.

by oboe on Mar 28, 2012 2:07 pm • linkreport

Traffic synchronization may be a reasonable expectation on the main strip in Dumfries, but it's not even theoretically possible in a dense urban environment. The street network is too complex, and congestion is too much of a factor.

The lack of synchronized traffic lights in DC is no more a conspiracy than the absence of unicorns.

by oboe on Mar 28, 2012 2:12 pm • linkreport

The lack of synchronized traffic lights in DC is no more a conspiracy than the absence of unicorns.

I experience it in Manhattan all the time. And with places like North Capitol Street and NH Avenue, we're not even talking about the Urban Core.

The silliness comes from a bunch of people whose idea of city planning is:

a) Lower speed limits
b) Then a miracle occurs
c) Awesome urbanist paradise!

by JustMe on Mar 28, 2012 2:41 pm • linkreport

I concede that synchronized traffic lights might provide some minor measure of relief on North Capitol street from approximately Rhode Island Ave to about Rock Creek Church Road. That's a pretty thin reed to build your greater greater Washington on, though.

When you look at the city at-large, it's less than a band-aid solution. Obviously forcing drivers to obey the speed limit laws is just a first step towards traffic-calming, and taking back our streets from the driver humans.

by oboe on Mar 28, 2012 5:43 pm • linkreport

@JustMe

Manhattan has the advantage of being a narrow island with traffic constrained to moving in a few parallel directions. North-South traffic generally flows well along the Avenues, crosstown traffic is a bear.

Which is the larger point about signal priority - if you prioritize one direction, then you're lowering the priority of traffic moving in the other direction. And when you've got a lot of traffic moving in all sorts of directions, there's not a lot of juice to be squeezed out of prioritization.

Oboe's right, it can make a difference, but only on the margins.

by Alex B. on Mar 28, 2012 5:54 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or

Support Us