Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Cuts and losses

Chopping the point: Clark Realty is not going to develop Poplar Point. Clark could no longer afford to do the whole project amid the bad economic climate, and DC decided to end the partnership rather than pay a portion of the cost. The city will move forward with the land transfer and EIS for now, prepare the land itself, and then re-bid the development. DC United and the District have stopped talking about a new stadium on the site as well, according to the Post. Marion Barry blames the administration for this project's collapse. Meanwhile, another developer has backed out of a project at Wheaton's Metro Plaza.


Photo by skwagner on Flickr.

Blocking the train: Virginia State Senator William Wampler of Bristol, in Virginia's far west where I-81 crosses into Tennessee, wants intercity rail to Washington. That's great, but less great is his budget amendment that would block the planned commuter rail service to Richmond and Lynchburg until the train goes all the way to Bristol. Rail advocates and the Chamber of Commerce guarantee the bill would kill any hope of new trains anytime soon. Tip: Daniel.

Record ridership, time for service cuts: Chris Zimmerman laments the folly of funding capital improvements in transit, as the stimulus does, while leaving operating expenses in the cold. Transit agencies around the nation will be buying new buses to run less service. Roger Lewis argues for more transit funding, and Steve Offutt agrees. Get There discusses some reader proposals for cutting Metro costs.

RIP Don Praisner: Montgomery County Councilmember Don Praisner has died just one year after his wife and less than a year after being elected to complete her Council term. Praisner has asked the County Council to appoint a caretaker to finish the term but who won't run again, to save the County the expense of another special election.

Rats vs. rates: Jack Evans proposes a tax credit for businesses that buy trash compactors, which help reduce rat infestations.

Benefits of open information: Wired profiles Mark Gorton, founder of New York's Open Planning Project (which publishes Streetsblog). The article focuses on TOPP's open source GeoServer, which enables many people to build GIS maps who never could before. Tip: Tom.

David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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You know what else reduces rat infestations? ENFORCING THE EXISTING TRASH DISPOSAL LAWS. WTF are we giving garbage-producing businesses tax credits? If they were leaving garbage overflowing with regular dumpsters, what makes you think it will be any different with compactors?

by monkeyrotica on Feb 2, 2009 7:49 am • linkreport

The economic stimulus is basically a one-time deal. It's not good economic sense to fund ongoing operating costs from one-time funding.

Hence why the stimulus is focusing on capital expenditures. Transit operating costs/funding is much better addressed in the transportation reauthorization bill later this year.

by Froggie on Feb 2, 2009 8:09 am • linkreport

That's the first time I've ever heard of that proposed Trans-Commonwealth Express train. Sounds pretty cool. I wonder what the frequency will be. It could be a really great weekend getaway vehicle (that is if it actually runs on the weekend).

by Reid on Feb 2, 2009 9:19 am • linkreport

Two things about the stimulus.

One, Froggie is right as to the reason it focuses on capital projects. It's also worth noting, aside from Chris Zimmerman's statement, a lot of those capital projects would not be new things exactly, but funding of the maintenance that needs to be done.

Two, the stimulus also contains a large chunk of money for general state aid to help the states balance their budgets. States, unlike the Federal government, do not have the ability to run significant operating deficits. They usually can only borrow for capital projects, and even that is usually limited. Thus, since they've all been pinched in this recession, they'll get some help.

Presumably, that aid can and will trickle down to address the needs of agencies like WMATA. That's also a form of stimulus, as keeping the states and local governments and agencies running prevents them from laying people off. The whole idea is to allow government to spend.

It can be kind of confusing, since that kind of aid won't fall under the 'transportation' heading, but that's one of the vagaries of accounting. It also means that WMATA will have to delve into the area of state politics to fish for it.

by Alex B. on Feb 2, 2009 9:22 am • linkreport

Hey, great post on Brookland Small Area Plan, except it showed up in my reader but not on the website. What's up?

by Ward 1 Guy on Feb 2, 2009 1:00 pm • linkreport

I posted it too early by mistake. I's back up now.

by David Alpert on Feb 2, 2009 1:03 pm • linkreport

These compactors Evans is pushing, how well do they handle corpses?

by Turnip on Feb 2, 2009 8:33 pm • linkreport

Pew has launched a project on federal subsidies:

http://subsidyscope.com/

The project will build the subsidy database industry sector by industry sector.

by Jazzy on Feb 3, 2009 6:50 am • linkreport

Reid, the Trans-Dominion Express has been batted around for at least a decade, and several studies have been funded. Norfolk Southern has been very receptive.

The news story is actually a bit unfair to Wampler. Sen. Wampler was pushing this idea long before anyone in Lynchburg or Charlottesville cared. Arguably the region that would benefit most from this is the I-81 corridor, the Roanoke Valley, Christiansburg/Blacksburg area and on south to the Tennessee line. The train would offer an alternative to the usual white-knuckle trip up 81. Unfortunately, serving SW Virginia is also the costliest part of the proposal, because that's where most of the track upgrades are needed. That's why Wampler doesn't want his constituency to be forgotten.

Back in the 90s when the idea has first proposed, the Trans-Dominion would add two trains in each direction. Trains would run DC-Lynchburg and Richmond-Lynchburg. They would be coupled together in Lynchburg and continue on to Bristol, and vice-versa in the other direction. So, with these new trains, Charlottesville and Lynchburg would have three frequencies per day to DC, with Amtrak's Crescent. (Actually three days a week C'ville would have four, if you include Amtrak's Cardinal.)

by Paul on Feb 3, 2009 8:34 am • linkreport

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