Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Where the trail's at


Photo by TrailVoice on Flickr.
Finish the Met Branch: DC and Montgomery County have stopped making progress on the Metropolitan Branch Trail. Maybe this is a time to tweak the routing of the trail so it can get done faster? (WABA, RPUS)

Bike progress in Herndon: The Herndon Town Council approved new bicycle facilities including extending trails, new bike lanes, and a cycle track. The measure does not commit funds, but should make funding easier. (Connection)

Light rail plans in Maryland: Officials are planning a light rail line from the Branch Ave. Metro to Waldorf that they hope will spur mixed-use development similar to Clarendon and perhaps draw some federal agencies to the area. (SoMdNews, Ben Ross)

Rejection defended: The elections board says it didn't make any mistakes in rejecting Initiative 70; instead, proponents just didn't have the colors of their checkmarks which weren't on the black and white copies the board provided, and didn't avail themselves of options for monitoring the process that the board didn't tell them about. (Post)

On the waterfront: The redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront known as the Wharf will better engage the city with the water and better connect the sleepy neighborhood with the rest of the city. (Atlantic Cities, Circle Thomas)

GOP on transportation: Republicans officially want to cut Amtrak and high speed rail funding and think President Obama's investments in infrastructure have been for "an exclusively urban vision of dense housing and government transit." (Streetsblog)

And...: 2/3 of urban trees come from natural reproduction. (Atlantic Cities) ... A city's size seems to have little to do with how many car accidents it has. (Atlantic Cities) ... Cast your vote for a Route 1 bus design. (Patch)

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 »

I think the description of the petitions is a bit off; from the article it seems as if the people challenging the board are the ones making pretty basic errors. Amateur hour.

by charlie on Aug 30, 2012 8:36 am • linkreport

each of those Rt 1 buses look like one needs to board them with a stoner friend and his talking dog. And then figure out that Old Man Henkins is really The Ghost of Hyattsville.

by Kolohe on Aug 30, 2012 8:53 am • linkreport

Officials are planning a light rail line from the Branch Ave. Metro to Waldorf that they hope will spur mixed-use development similar to Clarendon

Really? You want to mimic Clarendon by NOT extending the metro line that's right there, and create a transfer point for everyone? Shudder, dropped jaw.

GOP on transportation: Republicans officially want to cut Amtrak and high speed rail funding and think President Obama's investments in infrastructure have been for "an exclusively urban vision of dense housing and government transit."

Yeah, just like that very first approved ARRA project: the connection of the Fairfax Count Parkway going straight through that empty government-owned military base.

Oh, and what new transit has actually been built with ARRA funds?

by Jasper on Aug 30, 2012 9:23 am • linkreport

Or maybe, we shouldn't make the legitimacy of petitions contingent on whether the copies are b/w or in color. The court may find in favor of the elections board but that's because they seem to have set up a complicated system that makes it hard for ordinary citizens to understand.

by drumz on Aug 30, 2012 9:35 am • linkreport

jasper = the headline here is misleading - heres the article

"With zoning that allows two- to five-story, mixed-use development near Leonardtown Road and three- to 10-story buildings near Acton Lane, the area has the same growth potential as Clarendon, Va., or the Annapolis Towne Centre in Parole, he said."

Parole does not have heavy rail. this was a reference to the zoning envelope, not a claim that light rail will have the same impact as the Orange line.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 30, 2012 9:41 am • linkreport

SW waterfront development: this has been in the pipeline for some time now.

I wonder if this development will be a considered a terrible mistake in the near future. This will be a huge and radical change from what is there now, and I gotta say, it is pretty scary. The contention that building a line of 10-story buildings along the waterfront does not provide "a connection to the urban resource" as some people claim.

by goldfish on Aug 30, 2012 9:45 am • linkreport

"This will be a huge and radical change from what is there now, and I gotta say, it is pretty scary."

Change IS scary. Perhaps you should have a nice cup of herbal tea?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 30, 2012 9:52 am • linkreport

RE: Met Branch Trail

Growing up in the Philadelphia region, I watched the Valley Forge - Downtown bike path as it was slowly built. Over the course of about 20 years kind of slow. I thought it would never be completed but completed it was.

Yes, I'd like to see the Met Branch Trail completed faster but, taking the long view, once completed it will be with us for generations to come just like other transportation infrastructure like subways.

by Oh For A Pretzel! on Aug 30, 2012 9:57 am • linkreport

I wonder if this development will be a considered a terrible mistake in the near future. This will be a huge and radical change from what is there now, and I gotta say, it is pretty scary.

I'm gonna need some clarification. Building neighborhoods near water has been done as long as we've built cities.

by drumz on Aug 30, 2012 10:05 am • linkreport

I'm with the commenter above about those designs looking like they're inspired by a magical high. On the flip side, they do beat the phallic MarylanD busses that the University used to run and became the running joke of the student body.

You know what would be great. Put the major stops on them like a Metro line. People like riding the Metro, they don't ride the bus because they find it confusing. Make it look like a Metro map on the side of the bus. Boom, you get riders, you provide information, and it doesn't look as stupid as these ideas.

by t11 on Aug 30, 2012 10:23 am • linkreport

wrt the MBT, the point I made in the meeting was that the two developments in the pipeline in Brookland, Monroe & Market, under construction now, and the soon to be started development at the Col. Brooks Tavern site, will increase residents, attract more bikers, and I think put more pressure and demand on getting the trail done. In the Fort Totten area, as the Cafritz and JBG developments move forward, energies to move the trail forward will happen as well.

The thing about the WABA post is that it under-reports the problems in dealing with the National Park Service, which is the major problem with making the north of Riggs Road connection along the tracks and through to the community garden on Blair Road near Madison St.

I wasn't around when the Mount Vernon Trail was built, at citizen behest and volunteer effort, but NPS is tough to work with and for them, they must feel under the microscope all the time as all their DOI and Congressional bosses are located in the city and watching.

by Richard Layman on Aug 30, 2012 10:26 am • linkreport

RE: Southern MD Light Rail Line

This one has been in the pipeline for quite some time and it's a project I'd love to see completed. It's unfortunate that there's no practical way to route the line through National Harbor.

Of course, as the article mentions, it's been pushed to the back burner ever since the state started focusing on the Baltimore Red Line, Purple Line, and Corridor Cities Transitway (which will unfortunately be a busway, instead of LRT as the article states). A lot of this has to do with politics, since Charles County isn't as populous as Upcounty MC, Downcounty MC/Northern PGC, or Baltimore City, but the other two LR lines are also more critical economically speaking. The Purple Line really should be opening now, and the Red Line is absolutely necessary for Baltimore to maintain and increase its (very slow) population growth.

RE: GOP on Amtrak
Congressional Republicans are anti-growth, pro-sprawl idiots and want to shut down Amtrak. So what else is new?

by King Terrapin on Aug 30, 2012 10:28 am • linkreport

I like the idea of rail to Waldorf as well, but I would like to see some level of full time bus service (at least mid day and Saturday) precede it in order to stimulate ridership demand. Right now, all that is there is the peak hour only 901.

by Adam on Aug 30, 2012 10:38 am • linkreport

From the 70 article:

What appears to be at issue is the board’s notation for indicating valid and invalid signatures — a system that includes check marks, “OKs” and various other codes. The activists tallied up all the the signatures bearing check marks and OKs, prompting the allegations of undercounting.

But, the board argues, “all [check-mark] symbols are not created equal” — there are red ones, from the first round of review, and green ones, from the second round of review. A valid signature is indicated by a red check or a green “OK” overriding a first-round challenge.

Problem is, the Public Trust activists were working with black-and-white printouts. That, said lead activist Bryan Weaver, is what they paid elections officials more than $200 to review, “and never once did they explain the color-coding.”

Well, this certainly smells less like horseshit.

by oboe on Aug 30, 2012 11:26 am • linkreport

@ AWalker: I don't care so much about the development as the stupidity of not extending a metroline when you have one available. It would make complete sense to extend the Green Line all the way to Waldorf or even La Plata along MD-5 and US-301.

Especially considering the fact that US-301 will be upgraded at some point to relieve I-95 in NOVA now that VA has (stupidly) decided to built the HOT lanes, and thereby stop any widening of I-95 for the next 75 years.

US-301 will turn into some kind of extension of I-97 between Bowling Green and Baltimore and become an entire DC by-pass for long distance traffic.

by Jasper on Aug 30, 2012 11:29 am • linkreport

@AWitC: nah, I don't drink anything like that unless it has caffeine.

Take a walk around that neighborhood. Currently there is nothing but underground parking lots where those new building will go up. At least right new, you can see the water from Maine Ave. After those things are built, you won't be able to.

by goldfish on Aug 30, 2012 11:50 am • linkreport

"I don't care so much about the development as the stupidity of not extending a metroline when you have one available. It would make complete sense to extend the Green Line all the way to Waldorf or even La Plata along MD-5 and US-301."

the green line is a heavy rail line with long trains and third rail power. I think its difficult to have such a line crossing streets at grade. the cost in a green line extension would be much higher, therefore, than a LR line.

And no, ranting on here will not increase the funds available to Md.

@goldfish

but you WILL be able to see it from a walkway along the water, right? Why will that be in any worse?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 30, 2012 11:59 am • linkreport

The Northwest waterfront in Georgetown still features a vibrant commercial strip

It does?

by Vicente Fox on Aug 30, 2012 12:43 pm • linkreport

@AWitC: I dunno. Point is, the change will be profound.

Have you walked the ground? I have a friend that lives over there, and he reports that everybody that lives there is concerned.

by goldfish on Aug 30, 2012 12:57 pm • linkreport

Last time I walked around there was at least 18 months ago, I think.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 30, 2012 1:00 pm • linkreport

Have you walked the ground? I have a friend that lives over there, and he reports that everybody that lives there is concerned.

I'm positive that after the changes go into affect, everybody who lives there will see higher property values, not lower ones, in spite of the fact that there may be new buildings blocking their view of the water. Higher property values mean that on balance, things are better for the people living there (because higher values mean that more people want to live there and they would only want that if things were better overall) -- even if some things are a little worse.

I've walked, biked, and driven around there and have found the amenities available there to be much improved over the years.

by Falls Church on Aug 30, 2012 1:24 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church -- properties that had views of the river obstructed, due to the line of 10-story buildings to be build along Maine Ave, will decrease in value.

by goldfish on Aug 30, 2012 1:32 pm • linkreport

"I wonder if this development will be a considered a terrible mistake in the near future. This will be a huge and radical change from what is there now, and I gotta say, it is pretty scary."

"properties that had views of the river obstructed, due to the line of 10-story buildings to be build along Maine Ave, will decrease in value."

maybe, but the new buildings will have units with river views. From the point of view of the city and the region, that wont be a radical change at all. When you said scary, did you mean for the city, or for the owners of units with water views?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 30, 2012 1:36 pm • linkreport

I should point out the buildings that will be built as part of the Wharf will be done with alleys between them so there will be some view of the water preserved. I have to agree with Falls Church that any loss in value from a lost view will be more than made up for in the increased desirability of the neighborhood.

by Steven Yates on Aug 30, 2012 1:41 pm • linkreport

@AWitC: for the people that live there. This will change their neighborhood utterly.

by goldfish on Aug 30, 2012 1:42 pm • linkreport

RE: Waldorf Light Rail

Bit late to commenting, but here's my take (dating to ~2009 or 2010) of a transitway connecting Branch Ave down to Waldorf: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1lm0iEyM5aARGRNZUJoZVp1U1E/edit (Google Earth kmz file)

by Bossi on Aug 30, 2012 1:53 pm • linkreport

I like Southwest as it is.

by MidCentury Fan on Aug 30, 2012 1:59 pm • linkreport

@goldfish --

I bike past the Maine Avenue waterfront several times a week, on my commute, and I'm not sure which buildings currently have a waterview that would no longer have one as a result of the new development.
http://bit.ly/OMaLzS

Just about everything West of 6th Street is no more than a few stories tall (shorter than many of the trees along Mass Ave) and most of it already has a view blocked by either Arena Stage, Jefferson Middle School (soon to become a museum) or the USDA or DAV buildings.

The property near St. Augustine is being developed (separately from the Wharf developed) and will have 6 or seven stories, compared to the low-rises that are there currently.

And the tall buildings west of 4th Street may lose a west-facing view of the river, but their south or southwestern views will remain, particularly because the parking/traffic circle near the police pier is going to become a park, not a building.

All that said, the neighborhood will certainly be changing, and some people will likely be displaced (by development off the water, not the development on it) but the views won't necessarily be a big change. (Unless you're talking about the views from the L'Enfant Promenade, where nobody lives).

I think the biggest issues of concern for current residents are the 100 or so liveaboard residents at Gangplank Marina, ensuring they have a place to live.

by Jacques on Aug 30, 2012 2:43 pm • linkreport

@jaques: While important, the new buildings will change much more than the views. Maine Ave is pretty open; this development will put a very tall wall there. The whole feel, and appeal, of the place will change.

by goldfish on Aug 30, 2012 3:23 pm • linkreport

@Jacques: If the buildings had some pizazz or something to make up for the loss of the view -- like the giant arch in Rowe's Wharf -- I think most people would accept them.

But what is proposed is a boring wall of boxes (take a look here). I am not encouraged, and I think many neighbors also feel that way.

by goldfish on Aug 30, 2012 3:37 pm • linkreport

Yes, Maine Ave will start to feel like an actual urban street, as opposed to the suburban arterial feel that it has now with surface parking to one side and an ill-defined streetwall to the other.

by Alex B. on Aug 30, 2012 3:46 pm • linkreport

@Alex B -- so you propose substituting one mistake for another?

by goldfish on Aug 30, 2012 3:48 pm • linkreport

No - I don't think the SW Waterfront plan is a mistake at all.

I don't think that giant arch in Boston is any great shakes, either.

by Alex B. on Aug 30, 2012 4:01 pm • linkreport

@Alex B: are you indifferent to the design?

To me, the new Maine Ave will look just like K Street. I was hoping for something better.

by goldfish on Aug 30, 2012 4:17 pm • linkreport

@goldfish This will change their neighborhood utterly.

Which I think is the point.

by David C on Aug 30, 2012 6:00 pm • linkreport

@goldfish I was hoping for something better.

It's a long way from "This could've been better" to "this is going to be a mistake." I disagree that it will look like K Street, but your taste is different. That's cool.

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by David C on Aug 30, 2012 6:04 pm • linkreport

@David C: Of course nobody cares about my opinion (possibly excepting you). I was only offering it as a facsimile of what people in the neighborhood are thinking. Since I have been talking to one of them who agrees with me, I think that is reasonable.

by goldfish on Aug 30, 2012 6:12 pm • linkreport

What specifically is the problem with K street (or comparisons to it) my main one stems from the way the road is designed rather than the architecture.

by Drumz on Aug 30, 2012 6:25 pm • linkreport

@Drumz: The problem with K Street: a wall of nondescript, non-distinguished buildings, lots of rude traffic, zero curb appeal for pedestrians. Nobody lingers there.

At least for Maine Ave, there is the fish market and some little bit of character. Looks like this project will take away what little of this there is.

by goldfish on Aug 30, 2012 7:43 pm • linkreport

Well, this adds a residential component. I don't know what your criteria for a building beig distinguished are. And the road on K street is tough but is being changed and also unique to the district anyway. And the fish market is being kept isn't it?

by Drumz on Aug 30, 2012 8:56 pm • linkreport

@Drumz: I guess my bottom line is, if you went there on an errand, would you like to stay afterward and get a cup of coffee?

OK, maybe my comparison to K St is not quite right. How about, the buildings look just like they do at Tyson's (in fact, they do) ? Would you want to get a cup of coffee there?

And yes, the traffic on Maine is also pretty bad -- it is a boulevard with drivers bombing off of the SW freeway, expecting to maintain their speed. So how will that get fixed with this proposal?

by goldfish on Aug 30, 2012 9:08 pm • linkreport

I love the waterfront plan. We're finally taking back our waterfronts, but the architecture is definatley K street quality.

by Thayer-D on Aug 30, 2012 9:20 pm • linkreport

Goldfish,

If you went down there today, would you stay and get a cup of coffee?

You don't need to answer that, since there are few places you can actually get a cup of coffee in SW.

And no, I don't think the buildings look like they belong in Tysons. Now, that building from Boston you cited (built 1987), I think that would fit in nicely with all the other mid to late 80s buildings in Tysons.

by Alex B. on Aug 30, 2012 9:59 pm • linkreport

@Alex B -- yes if I could find one. I think could score one down at the waterfront (but would rather get it at my friend's house).

Regarding the Rowe's Wharf building -- actually it has a lot of interesting subtleties that are not easy to spot from a wide angle shot, that become apparent standing there in person. For example, its facade curves slightly to match the street; it wears a lot of understated jewelery inside its arch. This attention to detail, that invite the eye to wander, indicate care and craftsmanship that are not in those Tyson's Corner boxes, nor in the proposed buildings.

by goldfish on Aug 30, 2012 10:15 pm • linkreport

The SW waterfront will activate a sparse and underutilized part of the city. It will add to the tax base. It will make add housing close to the urban core, that will make help people live closer to where they work. It will add enetertainment venues. In other words it will add all the things that make living in DC great - more people and more places to go/things to go - at the cost of a limited and not particularly spectacular view [How often do you see photos of the SW waterfront view in the Flickr pool?] Are people worried it will suck? Sure. It's a big change, and a lot is at risk - but there is nothing in the current plans that makes me believe that fear is well-founded.

by David C on Aug 31, 2012 12:01 am • linkreport

@David C: the risk of a bad design is amplified by turning it ALL over to a single developer. They have no one to compete against, to make their buildings stand out; and/or if they are incompetent, we will get five prominent examples of their incompetence.

It reminds me of Cambridge Center, where the city turn over the redevelopment of a large area near the Kendall Sq T-stop to a single company. The design sucks.

by goldfish on Aug 31, 2012 9:24 am • linkreport

the risk of a bad design is amplified by turning it ALL over to a single developer

Probably true. So that is a "cost". But there are benefits to this too, in that things will likely move faster and be cheaper. That's a benefit. So the question is has the District taken sufficient steps to mitigate the risk.

Other than a 30 year old project done by a different company in a different place, run by different people and a different city, do you have any other examples of where this created a design that sucks? As a counter-example, I'll point to the Yards, which is also done by a single developer, but doesn't suck, and it was done in the same Ward at nearly the same time and managed by the same govt. people.

by David C on Aug 31, 2012 9:56 am • linkreport

@David C: bad designs often do not become apparent for a while, after people have had some time to live with it. I was very enthusiastic about those Kendall Sq buildings for a while soon after they were built; it took about a year walking through it, living with it in the different seasons, to realize its shortcomings.

The jury is still out on the Yards.

by goldfish on Aug 31, 2012 10:24 am • linkreport

bad designs often do not become apparent for a while, after people have had some time to live with it.

Well then, we should never change our plans based on objections to design, because we won't know if it is bad until after people have had some time to live with it.

by David C on Aug 31, 2012 10:53 am • linkreport

@David C: plans should be changed to correct problems that are plain to everyone. The uninspired, boxy buildings of the Waterfront proposal is indeed a problem that many have recognized. However, sometimes the problems are not obvious.

by goldfish on Aug 31, 2012 11:35 am • linkreport

The uninspired, boxy buildings of the Waterfront proposal is indeed a problem that many have recognized.

Have they?

by David C on Aug 31, 2012 12:08 pm • linkreport

@David C: Besides me, look here.

by goldfish on Aug 31, 2012 12:41 pm • linkreport

1.5 negative comments from laymen hardly qualifies as "a problem that many have recognized." If there is evidence that these designs are considered objectionable by a large number of people or by experts in the field or by legislative bodies or something, then I think that would be useful.

by David C on Aug 31, 2012 12:49 pm • linkreport

@David C: what is your point, that I waste my time here? You may be right.

by goldfish on Aug 31, 2012 1:09 pm • linkreport

My point is that we have a process to make sure that buildings meet a certain aesthetic standard, that process has been followed and all the evidence is that most people approve of these buildings. That a few people don't approve is both inevitable and irrelevant. Show me a building or monument, and I'll show you someone who thinks it's ugly.

If there is a problem with the process, or the process has not been followed, that's relevant. That individuals don't like the outcome is not. In every court case there is someone who doesn't like the outcome, but that doesn't mean all the decisions are wrong.

by David C on Aug 31, 2012 1:50 pm • linkreport

@David C: so you think that we never end up with buildings and neighborhoods with a bad design?

by goldfish on Aug 31, 2012 2:07 pm • linkreport

you think that we never end up with buildings and neighborhoods with a bad design?

No. In fact, I guarantee we will. In part because people are flawed, and in part because tastes change.

But the best we can do is create a good process and then follow that. As near as I can tell, that's what we've done here. So again, complaints by some that they don't like the outcome are to be viewed as an unfortunate byproduct, but not as a reason to stop.

by David C on Aug 31, 2012 3:07 pm • linkreport

Maybe it's that the buildings are a bit squat and too wide? A finer and more varied fabric would soften the street and lend some picturesque quality what ever styles are chosen. Buildings can be re-skinned and replaced, but the basic tennants of good urbanism seem to be here.

by Thayer-D on Aug 31, 2012 9:11 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