Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: State power for car-centrism


Photo by magandafille on Flickr.
VDOT's way or the highway: A new Virginia policy would let VDOT essentially rewrite local plans around its road plans. If the rule goes into effect, it could force paring down Tysons Corner redevelopment and widening I-66 in Arlington. (Examiner)

Govs pushing Outer Beltway: Governors O'Malley and McDonnell are again talking about a new Potomac crossing, part of the long-debated Outer Beltway. (Examiner)

Obama cuts Metro: President Obama's budget cuts 10% from the promised $150 million per year the feds are paying for Metro repairs. The feds promised the money in exchange for a state match and 2 federal members on the WMATA Board. (WTOP)

Parking no longer King: Alexandria will get rid of parking at King Street Metro and add landscaping, bicycle parking, and more room for buses. City leaders thought the sub­urban parking lot was out of place and want safer pedestrian access. (WAMU)

Oops, we lost your rec center: DC demolished the Kenilworth-Parkside recreation center, but didn't realize the soil was contaminated, and the Park Service won't let them rebuild. Any hope for a new rec center is now many years away. (City Paper)

Some CMs pass on raise: Mary Cheh, David Catania, Michael Brown and Kwame Brown will all forgo legally-mandated cost of living raises this year. Tommy Wells, who does not have an outside job, says the move is just game playing. (Examiner, WAMU)

Tunnel too small: The expansion of the Panama canal will bring larger ships to Baltimore, but the Howard Street Tunnel is to small for double stacked freight cars. CSX may build a transfer station to stack cars on the other side of the tunnel. (Post)

Bike to DCA: It is possible to ride your bike to National Airport. While the airport is conveniently located off the Mount Vernon Trail and has some bike parking, those facilities are not covered and require traversing stairs. (Patch)

And...: Gaithersburg may get a new town center on its current fairgrounds. (Gazette) ... 47 New Flyer buses have an electrical problem. (Post) ... ZipCar is adding vans. (TBD) ... Preparing for the Olympics, London is selling a Tube map with lines and stations replaced by Olympic sports and athletes. (Yahoo)

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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.  

Comments

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err, is biking to DCA news?

by charlie on Mar 29, 2012 9:04 am • linkreport

If the federal $150M is cut 10%, and if the federal presence on the WMATA Board was 'bought' with the promise of the 10-yr federal contribution, the federal members of the Board whould have their votes cut by 10% too.

by Anon202 on Mar 29, 2012 9:05 am • linkreport

I wouldn't exactly call King St Metro a "suburban parking lot". The *ONLY* parking spots there are metered spots attached to the Kiss-and-Ride. That said, I won't shed a tear at their removal.

by Froggie on Mar 29, 2012 9:13 am • linkreport

They should do the same thing a the East Falls Church parking lot. There are much better uses for the small surface parking lot currently adjoining the station. I'm sure the residents of EFC would much rather have retail/restaurants than more parking.

by Falls Church on Mar 29, 2012 9:30 am • linkreport

Sounds like the vdot rule will piss off FFX and Loudoun, as well as Arlington - only real support in the region is from PWC.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 29, 2012 9:38 am • linkreport

I've biked to DCA before. It's the only place in the area you can rent a car on Xmas or the Fourth of July.

by Crickey7 on Mar 29, 2012 9:49 am • linkreport

Local government is fine for Conservatives, but the Libs just use it to screw things up. I applaud the move by the state to keep leftist Northern Virginia in line. I-66 needs to be widened and we shouldn't let the Socialist Republic of Arlington hold it back. By the same token they shouldn't be allowed to ruin Tyson's with their insane plan to punish drivers and those who prefer the freedom or the automobile to the tyranny of public transportation.

by Sterling Sam on Mar 29, 2012 9:49 am • linkreport

Virginia Yays and Boos:

Yay for Alexandria (and +1 to "Falls Church" re the EFC lot).

And then boo to the Commonwealth for expanding the powers of VDOT -- an agency so completely incompetent and chock full of out-of-whack priorities. How's about this: Before you widen roads and build new ones, you figure out how to manage and maintain the ones you have?

by Alexandria's Joe on Mar 29, 2012 9:51 am • linkreport

The combination of elitism and tyranny on the subway is terrible. Last night I was having a great time on the Orange Line, enjoying the complimentary champagne and caviar. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, the driver announces that every third rider will be arrested and taken to an undisclosed location, riot police storm the train and drag a bunch of people away...

by rg on Mar 29, 2012 9:54 am • linkreport

That's total BS.

There's no way anyone can understand what the drivers say.

by Crickey7 on Mar 29, 2012 10:00 am • linkreport

I am so gosh darn angry about the Fed stepping all over our beloved Commonwealth, but I sure enjoy trampling all over those uppity Yankee localities.

by watcher on Mar 29, 2012 10:02 am • linkreport

Local government is fine for Conservatives, but the Libs just use it to screw things up. I applaud the move by the state to keep leftist Northern Virginia in line. I-66 needs to be widened and we shouldn't let the Socialist Republic of Arlington hold it back. By the same token they shouldn't be allowed to ruin Tyson's with their insane plan to punish drivers and those who prefer the freedom or the automobile to the tyranny of public transportation.

Sad thing is, the reactionaries in large parts of the country have become so unhinged, I can't tell if this is parody or "on the square" anymore.

by oboe on Mar 29, 2012 10:15 am • linkreport

A new Virginia policy would let VDOT essentially rewrite local plans around its road plans. If the rule goes into effect, it could force paring down Tysons Corner redevelopment and widening I-66 in Arlington.

Also...while this is awful news, I can't say I'm particularly surprised, and it's one of the reasons I often say that implementing sane, urbanist policies in MD or VA is going to be much more difficult than in DC. While Congress has a reputation for meddling in DC affairs, it has tended to be in culture war issues rather than urban design.

Obviously I'll eat my words if Congress mandates that DC expand and extend N Capitol Street to become D. Willinger's illusive I-395 completion, and NY Ave is extended to connect up with I-66, but that seems far-fetched.

by oboe on Mar 29, 2012 10:23 am • linkreport

Sad thing is, the reactionaries in large parts of the country have become so unhinged, I can't tell if this is parody or "on the square" anymore. Sad thing is, if I didn't know oboe from his other comments, I couldn't tell if this is parody or "on the square" either.

by Arl Fan on Mar 29, 2012 10:26 am • linkreport

“[A new Potomac River crossing] is something that obviously has enormous support in the region. It may not have support from all the special interests, but it is something that is long overdue for us to really examine very seriously,” Connaughton said.

Just who are these "special interests", I wonder? Also, I'm curious how they're going to build a new bridge over the Potomac (with a significant highway connection) without an incursion of the Agricultural Preserve in MoCo. Doesn't that pretty much put everything from Memorial Bridge to Point of Rocks off-limits?

by oboe on Mar 29, 2012 10:31 am • linkreport

@Arl Fan - does that mean you think @sterling Sam's comment was a respectful, well reasoned opinion delivered in a manner that encourages dialogue?

by you people on Mar 29, 2012 10:35 am • linkreport

Local government is fine for Conservatives, but the Libs just use it to screw things up.

Transalation: Freedom is great as long as you do as I say.

Also, where was the state senate on this issue of giving away the house to VDOT? What's the point of securing $300M for the Silver Line if they're going to allow VDOT to doom Tysons to failure?

by Falls Church on Mar 29, 2012 10:37 am • linkreport

Va Sec'y of Transportation Connaughton "Imagine if you can get one out of every eight to nine cars off the [Beltway].... There’s not another improvement we can make with that sort of impact on traffic."

That's 12% of all Beltway traffic. Which 12% is this? MD-VA rush hour? Northeast to Mid-Atlantic travellers? What times of day? And on which side of the Beltway? What types of traffic? (e.g. trucking, personal vehicles)

The real sticking point in the outer beltway discussion between Virginia and Maryland is which side of the city? Maryland wants an alignment close to US 301, which could use some congestion reduction. 301 is already a viable corridor and could be modified to route northeast traffic either across the Bay Bridge and into Delaware, or up to I-97 to Baltimore.

Virginia, on the other hand, wants to open up the western suburbs. An eastern alignment does nothing for economic development in the Commonwealth.

So do we build both? And what of the northern alignment? Connect to the ICC? Or separate parallel road?

I can see the billions floating away right now. $10B... $20B... $30B...

by Jack Love on Mar 29, 2012 10:38 am • linkreport

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Poe's_Law

"Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won't mistake for the real thing."

by Michael Perkins on Mar 29, 2012 10:38 am • linkreport

Re Bike Parking - why does it matter that it isn't covered and/or has stairs? Don't you have to be able bodied enough to ride outside to the airport? Also if you are riding, I don't think you're luggind a suitcase....

by Wheatoner on Mar 29, 2012 10:42 am • linkreport

I felt the Post article on the Howard street tunnel read like a MDOT press release. No critical analysis, no pros and cons. Perhaps I'm ill informed, but I don't see why MD should help CSX build a new intermodal facility. Let CSX figure it out. I really don't care whether imported goods get to the midwest slightly more cheaply, if the means of that "efficiency gain" is heavy new truck traffic and road deterioration/building, environmental degradation, and quality of life reductions in my backyard. I'd be more interested in knowing whether there's a revolving door for employment between the state and the company. But that would require investigative journalism.

by Greenbelt on Mar 29, 2012 10:47 am • linkreport

Govs pushing Outer Beltway: Governors O'Malley and McDonnell are again talking about a new Potomac crossing, part of the long-debated Outer Beltway. (Examiner)

If the govs want to take long distance traffic off the Beltway, all they have to do is upgrade US-301 between Bowling Green and US-50 and then hook it up to I-95 in the south, reroute I-97 over MD-3 and call the whole thing I-97, the Washington-bypass. The road is there, the ROW is there, southern MD needs congestion relief.

Of course, that's not what they want. They want more roads to build more sprawl.

by Jasper on Mar 29, 2012 10:48 am • linkreport

@wheatoner

Bike parking needs to be covered because rain does far more damage to a bike than a car. Also, stairs are difficult and dangerous to traverse with a bike even for the able bodied. My wife can do a 30 mile bike ride but has trouble lugging her mtn bike up stairs.

by Falls Church on Mar 29, 2012 10:58 am • linkreport

"Also...while this is awful news, I can't say I'm particularly surprised, and it's one of the reasons I often say that implementing sane, urbanist policies in MD or VA is going to be much more difficult than in DC. While Congress has a reputation for meddling in DC affairs, it has tended to be in culture war issues rather than urban design.

Obviously I'll eat my words if Congress mandates that DC expand and extend N Capitol Street to become D. Willinger's illusive I-395 completion, and NY Ave is extended to connect up with I-66, but that seems far-fetched."

will you eat your words if and when the Fairfax and Loudoun delegations get this provision taken out?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 29, 2012 11:18 am • linkreport

I often say that implementing sane, urbanist policies in MD or VA is going to be much more difficult than in DC.

I'll eat them and wash them down with a beer. Hopefully it comes to pass.

by oboe on Mar 29, 2012 11:21 am • linkreport

The charlottesville MPO is opposing this as well.

http://cvilletomorrow.typepad.com/charlottesville_tomorrow_/2012/03/mpo-laws.html

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 29, 2012 11:28 am • linkreport

Obviously I'll eat my words if Congress mandates that DC expand and extend N Capitol Street to become D. Willinger's illusive I-395 completion, and NY Ave is extended to connect up with I-66, but that seems far-fetched.

You'll eat nothing, the ghost of JFK and a thousand Illuminati will come back from the dead to prevent it.

by square deal on Mar 29, 2012 11:38 am • linkreport

Second Crossing is just talk. It will never, ever happen.

by Crickey7 on Mar 29, 2012 11:49 am • linkreport

Realizing that the intermodal freight yard is the more immediate project, I'm disappointed the Baltimore harbor/rail tunnel story didn't include any discussion about the longer term concepts for improving rail circulation through Baltimore, with the Great Crescent freight and passenger tunnels.

Baltimore's geography (with steep hills to the north and a deep harbor to the south) create an incredible pinch point for the National rail network. The passenger tunnels are also in decrepit condition and in need of replacement.

Given the chokepoint this represents for both rail freight and rail passengers, and given the international connections via shipping, this is a matter of national significance.

Matt Johnson wrote about the concepts on GGW previously:

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/3467/washingtons-rails-part-5-unbottlenecking-baltimore/

by Alex B. on Mar 29, 2012 12:04 pm • linkreport

The only place they could drop in the second crossing realistically would be where Route 28 ends at Route 7

There was a plan that died ten-odd years ago to build the TechWay by sending the Fairfax Parkway through Great Falls along the current Seneca Rd, but then someone realized that there're more lawyers living in Great Falls per square mile than anywhere on the damn planet, and they cavalcade of lawsuits made Warner change his mind otherwise.

by Matthew B on Mar 29, 2012 12:06 pm • linkreport

@Sterling Sam: Nothing says conservative like throwing billions of dollars at a road that induces more sprawl and traffic and bottlenecks. And nothing says freedom like inelastic demand for gasoline.

by DAK4Blizzard on Mar 29, 2012 12:15 pm • linkreport

@greenbelt

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.] Maryland has a real opportunity with its port to bring in thousands of jobs, and a lot of money, not to mention improve the local rail network. [Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Matt R on Mar 29, 2012 12:49 pm • linkreport

Freedom = driving my car whereever and whenever I want
Socialist slavery = mass transit

Nothing else needs to be said!

by Fred on Mar 29, 2012 1:51 pm • linkreport

Since when has anything dems support become socialism? Mass transit is an OPTION not required.. turn off FOX and read a book and actually learn something.

by Moe on Mar 29, 2012 2:21 pm • linkreport

Zoning codes = Capitalist freedom

Letting builders build what they want = a socialist scheme to have the govt tell us how to live! A true product of the Leninist Mind!

by Youguysdontgetironydoyou on Mar 29, 2012 2:28 pm • linkreport

It is pretty funny that in the Hellish liberal enclaves of the city, people actually have multiple options for getting around. Meanwhile, in the Land of Freedom if you don't own a car, you're pretty much screwed.

The greatest trick the Devil ever played was convincing slaves that their slavery was freedom. And vice versa.

FREEDOM!!1

by oboe on Mar 29, 2012 2:49 pm • linkreport

"I'm sure the residents of EFC would much rather have retail/restaurants than more parking. "

EFC residents have generally hated everything and anything that has to do with developing around the EFC metro site. That's why it looks like it does, rather than more like just about any other station on the Va Orange line.

by Kolohe on Mar 29, 2012 4:15 pm • linkreport

"If the govs want to take long distance traffic off the Beltway, all they have to do is upgrade US-301 between Bowling Green and US-50 and then hook it up to I-95 in the south, reroute I-97 over MD-3 and call the whole thing I-97, the Washington-bypass. The road is there, the ROW is there, southern MD needs congestion relief."
------

As a matter of fact, the possibility of creating such a route has been long proposed - and long opposed by NIMBY's and the assorted road-hating rabble who come out of the woodwork at the very mention of expanding road capacity in this region.

But who knows? The road-haters failed miserably at stopping the ICC (they are now reduced to whining about the cost, which their delaying tactics helped to increase) so maybe all isn't lost. Maybe one day, we can drive around our own region fairly easily while the long-distance traffic uses the bypass - like in every other major US city.

by ceefer66 on Mar 29, 2012 4:42 pm • linkreport

@ ceefer66:As a matter of fact, the possibility of creating such a route has been long proposed - and long opposed by NIMBY's and the assorted road-hating rabble who come out of the woodwork at the very mention of expanding road capacity in this region.

I know. And I don't understand. I'd vote for more metro, VRE, MARC and Amtrak over more roads in this region, but this one is a no-brainer. The only problem I can imaging is that you might move the bottleneck from DC to Baltimore.

You would have to figure out if the extra traffic could be handled by the tunnels and bridges in Baltimore.

by Jasper on Mar 29, 2012 4:49 pm • linkreport

If you're going to anywhere north of baltimore then isn't baltimore and its environs already handling it?

by Canaan on Mar 29, 2012 4:53 pm • linkreport

Im not aware of opposition to the eastern bypass from the GGW crowd, Coalition for smart growth, PEC, etc - all of whom AFAIK prefer it to the western bypass. I wouldnt be surprised if there is local opposition - but AFAIK the issue is that Va hasnt given up on the western bypass yet.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 29, 2012 5:01 pm • linkreport

I don't have an issue with Second Crossing. I'm jsut noting what others have, that given the areas it would have to run through, the political reality is that you wouldn't have to worry about slow growthers--you'd have to worry about heads of industry, cabinet members, scions of influential families, law firm managing partners and the like exerting every erg of power they have to kill it.

by Crickey7 on Mar 29, 2012 7:23 pm • linkreport

This provision by VDOT has doomed any semblance of discussion. I have been reporting on the problems of VDOT for the past 4 months. VDOT has maliciously held up the approval of 9 projects in Tysons Corner on the grounds that the existing infrastructure does not support it and that Route 7 and 123 must be widened first.

Did anyone listen to me?

No, I was shouted as being insane when I said that VDOT was creating a power struggle based on ideology and politics rather than fixing roads. Now VDOT has land use policy making capabilities which far exceed those that the county itself has.

The only solution will be devolution, because Fairfax is too important and too powerful to be held in check from a state senate which comes from the unprofitable, unsustainable, and frankly ignorant regions of the state. We are done playing along to these hypocrites as they take 81 cents of our 1 dollar tax money to pay for projects that in no way help us. All the while areas in central virginia reap 2 dollars for every dollar they give to taxes in projects that bring 0 money to the rest of the state.

So lets throw the breaks on Tysons because if people cant drive to their offices then how can they work? Oh god won't someone think of the children!? Idiots the whole lot of them, and if they keep messing with our right to govern our own locality then they will be treading on their golden cash cow that keeps their fake monopoly of power in tact. Enjoy having the economy of such powers as Arkansas and Wyoming once we leave you because thats the kind of state revenue you can expect without NOVA

Good bye VDOT, don't let the door slam your butt on the way out.

http://thetysonscorner.com/vdot-too-big-to-fail/

by Tysons Engineer on Mar 29, 2012 7:31 pm • linkreport

@Matt R -- I don't see how the proposed CSX-MDOT intermodel transfer facility would "improve Maryland's rail network," especialy if by that you mean passenger rail. I don't have any problem with a real solution to the freight rail bottleneck, such as expanding the tunnel or digging a new tunnel. That might improve our rail network.

But the intermodal facility is just a work around, with much more limited benefits for Maryland. Maybe some additional jobs unloading ships in Baltimore, but nothing for my area but negative externalities. I don't want MD taxpayers to support heavy new truck traffic in my backyard and additional wetland paving next to our local streams to help CSX get a few pennies off its shipment costs to the midwest. Not worth it, especially for those of use who would be hurt by the externalities. Let CSX do its thing if it must using my taxes contribution on a project that would reduce my quality of life. Any MD elected official or appointed official who supports the Beltsville CSX site will obtain a great deal of scrutiny from externality bearers in Beltsville, Greenbelt, College Park and the downstream communities!

by Greenbelt on Mar 30, 2012 9:50 am • linkreport

@Matt R

The new panamax ships are coming. That freight will move through the region one way or another. Moving it on rail has far fewer externalities than moving it by truck.

Yes, new rail tunnels are needed in Baltimore - but even if the designs were finished and funding were ready to go, they wouldn't be operational by the time the new Panama canal locks open and these new larger ships. This is a project of regional and national importance, and the transfer facilities are a part of that.

I'll close with two things: one, at least you're being honest about your NIMBYism. Two, negative externalities can be mitigated.

by Alex B. on Mar 30, 2012 10:03 am • linkreport

NIMBYism has prevented a lot of really stupid planning ideas. If only the NIMBYs had been more powerful in preventing the ICC, Maryland would have 3 billion dollars with which to build tunnels to enhance our rail network (or, for that matter, to rebuild arterial roads as complete streets to enhance our quality of life in suburban MD).

by Greenbelt on Mar 30, 2012 1:13 pm • linkreport

I'm glad that the east side of King Street Metro Station will be redone. On the few occasions that I've visited Alexandria, I've had difficulty finding King Street after exiting the station.

by The Civic Center on Mar 30, 2012 6:13 pm • linkreport

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