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Weekend links: Empty promises


Photo by wfyurasko on Flickr.
ICC costs more than money: The Intercounty Connector has ruined neighborhoods but hasn't done much to help east-west surface traffic, which anecdotal reports say is almost as heavy as before, thanks in part to high tolls. (WAMU)

Reconciliation takes time: Councilmember Barry's comments on Asian-Americans and their stores expose the cultural and racial fault line between the African-American and Asian-American communities that has existed for yearsa fault line that is slowly healing. (Post)

Traffic cameras not raking in the bucks: Riverdale Park is getting less revenue than expected from its speed cameras, because people are speeding less. Officials say revenue wasn't the point, and they'll make up any budget holes elsewhere. (Patch)

Stores get a surprise: DC officials suddenly told secondhand stores, which have operated for years, that they have to get the same kind of license as pawn shops. They have just 7 days to comply, and the new license costs hundreds extra. (City Paper)

Capitol Hemp alleges injustice: Under a deal with prosecutors, Capitol Hemp will close its stores despite insisting their innocence to selling drug paraphanelia. The reason? They think they'd go bankrupt challenging the case even if they won. (Washingtonian)

Push the primary: Councilmembers and local politicos were dissatisfied with this year's primary date, and many want to see it changed to a later date. Holding the primary in April brings problems of long lame-duck periods for losing incumbents, as well as lower exposure for potential challengers through the holidays. (DCist)

The biker blame game: The cycle of blame and recrimination between cyclists and drivers hides from all parties the mutual benefits of bike lanes, forcing cyclists and drivers into unsafe, and avoidable, situations. (NPR)

The slow attrition of car use: Jane Jacobs addressed transportation in her seminal work, arguing that a city can accommodate as much or as little traffic as it wants; the rest will disappear. (Human Transit)

And...: This week 44 years ago, DC burned, and it was captured on video. (Left for LeDroit) ... H Street's retailers close up with big roll-down security, deadening the streetscape for nightlife patrons, but perhaps not for much longer. (Post)

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David Edmondson is a transportation and urban affairs enthusiast living in Mount Vernon Square. He blogs about Marin County, California, at The Greater Marin

Comments

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Just FYI, the last link from the post doesn't have a hyperlink.

by Max on Apr 7, 2012 1:22 pm • linkreport

Right you are! Error in the HTML - put href- instead of href=

Fixed it now, but if your page isn't reloading well it's here.

by David Edmondson on Apr 7, 2012 1:28 pm • linkreport

"drug paraphernalia"- a negative spin for apparatuses for smoking anything other than Virginia Bright Leaf.

by Douglas Willinger on Apr 7, 2012 3:14 pm • linkreport

Looking at those images from '68 is really sad. The worst part is it's doubtful that the individuals responsible for such reprehensible actions ever received the punishment they so richly deserved. Afterwards, 'society' was willing to find excuses for why people would burn other people's businesses ... and walk off with other people's property ... and even kill other people. The criminals and malcontents in our society used a sad occasion to make things even sadder for others. There was nothing redeeming about their actions.

by Lance on Apr 7, 2012 8:47 pm • linkreport

@Lance: The other shame of the riots was that rioters burnt out a number of buildings which were much taller than what present-day neighbors would currently allow to be built. Leaving DC with stunted neighborhoods and a housing shortage.

by Steve S. on Apr 8, 2012 1:03 pm • linkreport

@Steve S

Those rioters were obviously unaware of the implication towards future urbanism during their actions. If only we had condescending urban blogs to better inform them back in the 1960s.

In other words, what an odd opinion to hold about the riots...

by Fark on Apr 8, 2012 3:10 pm • linkreport

On the ICC: I din't have a strong opinion before the road was built, though I was leery of the environmental impact. I was greatly in favor of anything that held the promise of relieving the daily traffic jams on the Beltway.

Unfortunately, the road was ill-conceived. The western terminus apparently serves some flow who want to avoid I-270 or the Beltway, but the eastern end isn't getting the traffic, because the western endpoint is too far north to attract people coming from the other end. I also think the road would be more traveled if it connected with the BWP (295), instead of ending at Rte 1, as planned. That, however, would damage even more park land.

The biggest problem, though, is the tolls, which are too darn high, for the distance traveled. The concept of adjusting the rates actually compounds the problem. If the ICC starts to get busy, the rates go up, but that will deter a lot of drivers from using it at precisely the hours that it could be most useful in providing an alternative to Beltway jams. While the idea may be to charge what the market will bear, that works only as a revenue-generating exercise.

As I understood it, that was not the point of building the highway.It really is the driving equivalent of a gated community -- Lexus lanes, indeed. This offends me on so many levels. The highway was built with funds paid, in part, by folks who think they can't afford to drive it. I feel the same about the HOT lanes under construction north of Baltimore and in Virginia. I'd rather see a widening of the roads to serve everyone, not just create smooth sailing for the few who are willing and able to pay the tolls.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Apr 8, 2012 3:53 pm • linkreport

On the ICC, it was never meant to relive congestion on the beltway. It was meant to reduce auto traffic on the back roads that are an alternate to the ICC route.

The tolls aren't designed to maximize revenue, they're designed to raise a the minimum amount of revenue needed to pay interest on the bonds issued to build the ICC. However, I agree they're too high but not during rush hour which is the ICC's bread and butter. Rather the tolls are too high at off peak times. No one's going to pay $3.20 at 10pm or at 6am on a weekend. The hours where you pay the overnight toll instead of the off-peak should be expanded. That would probably raise more, not less revenue.

I also agree the ICC was ill-conceived. The money would have been better spent expanding the Beltway rather than building what is essentially an outer beltway through environmentally sensitive land. The ICC cost $2.2B while Virginia's HOT lane beltway expansion costs about $2B.

by Falls Church on Apr 8, 2012 4:39 pm • linkreport

The ultimate problem with ICC tolls isn't that they're tolling to raise funds to add capacity, but they're tolling the wrong road.

The beltway is the highway that needs tolls.

by Alex B. on Apr 8, 2012 5:23 pm • linkreport

Re: ICC... I'd love to see the stats on the change in traffic volume on the local roads in MoCo (198/28, Muncaster Mill, etc.) since last November when the full ICC opened. I live along Randolph Road and there was an immediate drop in volume during rush hour since Thanksgiving. Was it worth $2B? Prob not... but it saves time going across the county for sure. They could have got more bang for the buck by having HOT lanes through all of MD on the beltway... and I'd gladly pay $$ to save 30-45 min some days! Time is money...

by MoCoRes on Apr 9, 2012 8:48 am • linkreport

re: The Biker Blame Game

There is actually a huge body of work that explains this "out-group/in-group" dynamic. The in-group understandably feels that any win for the out-group will come at their expense. And throughout history, members of out-groups have thought that if they could just convince everyone else in the out-group to be *perfect*, that they'd finally win the in-group over, and win a place at the table.

(I'll skip any specific historical comparisons for the sake of some readers who might not understand that when you draw comparisons between two things, you are not saying those two things are the same thing.)

If you look at the history of drivers (and urban driving), you'll see that drivers took over the streets as their numbers grew. And while their numbers grew partly because of the car's inherent benefits, it's also true that increasing numbers of cars in the city degraded every other mode of transport.

The same is possible with cycling: As more DC residents ride bikes--indeed move to DC explicitly for the "livable, walkable lifestyle", the issue of "scofflaw cyclists" will completely go away. At least as an issue unique to cyclists.

But drivers sure as Hell didn't go from being demonized outcasts to driving all other users out of the streets by being perfect little angels.

by oboe on Apr 9, 2012 2:32 pm • linkreport

@Fischy RE ICC:
The biggest problem, though, is the tolls, which are too darn high, for the distance traveled.

While you may find the price high one must realize it would have to be even higher if the ICC were to support itself. Instead MD has raised tolls through out the state to support the ICC.

The funds to finance, operate, preserve, maintain, improve and protect Maryland’s eight toll facilities come directly from the tolls that customers pay. The MDTA combines toll revenue from all facilities to pay operating costs and the debt on bonds that are issued to fund major projects. Revenue “pooling” makes the MDTA financially strong with top bond ratings that reduce borrowing costs.
http://www.mdta.maryland.gov/Toll_Increase/Home.html

by JeffB on Apr 9, 2012 3:41 pm • linkreport

Funny about other's comments. The eastern end of the ICC should have and was planned to go farther north to accommodate the growth in Howard County Commuters. It was only after someone from PG county pitched a fit about racism in the public meetings that the eastern terminus was moved farther south. The eastern terminus goes no where which is it's most glaring flaw.

The ICC was doomed anyway. As the bikeshare project has shown us, you need a 'destination' at either end of a traffic corridor and you really don't have anything useful at either end now. Maybe when MD/VA finally put a supplemental Potomac river crossing at Travilah, you'll see a fully utilized highway. Right now, the Beltsville to RIO Sport and Health market is painfully shallow.

I do agree with the above poster that the highway should extend to 295, but that's wishfull thinking at best.

by Name on Apr 10, 2012 2:04 pm • linkreport

The eastern end of the ICC should have and was planned to go farther north to accommodate the growth in Howard County Commuters.

Incorrect.

Only the so-called "Northern" alignment, which would have done great damage to Spencerville, Burtonsville and the Patuxent River watershed (a source of drinking water for WSSC customers in Prince George's and Montgomery Counties) was considered in the 1990's and 2000's EIS proceses as a direct result of pressure from federal environmental regulators unhappy with the longtime master-planned route, which was the only route on the M-NCP&PC Master Plan of Highways.

In the context of M-NCP&PC community and transportation planning in both counties, it was never "planned to go farther north."

The ICC was doomed anyway. As the bikeshare project has shown us, you need a 'destination' at either end of a traffic corridor and you really don't have anything useful at either end now. Maybe when MD/VA finally put a supplemental Potomac river crossing at Travilah, you'll see a fully utilized highway. Right now, the Beltsville to RIO Sport and Health market is painfully shallow.

Ever heard of I-270? I-95?

Rockville? Gaithersburg? Olney? Aspen Hill? Norwood? Cloverly? White Oak? Fairland? Laurel? Beltsville?

I do agree with the above poster that the highway should extend to 295, but that's wishfull thinking at best.

The ICC in Prince George's County (A-44) was once planned to run east and south past the Md. 197 and B-W Parkway interchange, and on to U.S. 50 near Freeway Airport, and beyond to U.S. 301 near Upper Marlboro.

by C. P. Zilliacus on Apr 10, 2012 11:43 pm • linkreport

"The cycle of blame and recrimination between cyclists and drivers hides from all parties the mutual benefits of bike lanes..."

Yes - mutual benefits. Motorists get cyclists out of their way, and cyclists get the cycling equivalent of the 'blacks only' water fountain.

by Ian Cooper on May 15, 2012 7:21 am • linkreport

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