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Breakfast links: Gray areas


Photo by Charles Allen.
U-turning taxi hits cyclist: A taxi making a U-turn in the bike lanes hit a bicyclist on Pennsylvania Avenue yesterday. Tommy Wells is promising to introduce emergency legislation to stop the DMV from overturning U-turn tickets. (DCist)

Service changes raise Gray's ire: Mayor Gray disagrees with service changes to two bus routes WMATA made in response to incidents of rock throwing. One spokesman said that the four incidents did not constitute a pattern to justify the route changes. (DCist)

New depths for extra height: A developer is seeking permission to build a 12- to 22-story complex of office and hotel buildings a block from the Pentagon City Metro and is offering to fund a pool and streetcar lines in the area. (Examiner)

Make lobbyists disclose faster: Paid lobbyists at the DC Council only have to report their clients twice a year. That means the public doesn't know until long after issues are settled. Many states require this monthly or even more often. (Sunlight Foundation)

Why was Yes a no?: Why couldn't a Yes! Organic Market succeed east of the river? Reasons specific to the store and its location, people say, not a sign that it is a bad place for retail. (City Paper)

Plans for Shaw parcel: A plot of land in Shaw at 7th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW will soon be a large mixed-use building with retail and either a hotel, or residential units, depending on which plan is selected. (UrbanTurf)

Arlington considers homeless shelter: Arlington is considering buying a building to house more county office space, but it would also have a year-round homeless shelter, which has some area residents upset. (Patch)

And...: Sandy damaged many of New York's bikeshare docks and bikes in a Brooklyn warehouse that flooded. (NYT) ... The Brookland and Shady Grove Metro stations get more bike parking. (PlanItMetro) ... Could the area get a high-speed ferry? (WTOP)

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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.  

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Any high-speed ferry would be restricted in that it could only go up to the no-wake zone (which I believe begins at Memorial Bridge), so Georgetown, Foggy Bottom, and any idea of a Rosslyn stop would be out.

by Jacques Arsenault on Nov 15, 2012 8:31 am • linkreport

Wow, the W6/W8 is like a poster child for a terribly designed bus route. Winding in and out of side streets, stopping every 250 feet. It even goes down a dead-end for 1000 feet and comes back out! And along that 2000 foot stretch it stops FIVE times!

by MLD on Nov 15, 2012 8:49 am • linkreport

Passing a law isn't going to change the behavior on U turns; it is going to penalize it.

The need for bollards is even more real. I'd say but them in after the innaguration or take out the bike lanes completely.

Ft. Belvoir would be the logical ferry destination. It might at least cut down on helicopter traffic.

by charlie on Nov 15, 2012 8:58 am • linkreport

Why is a new law necessary to penalize u-turns in bike lanes? If MPDC believes that the current markings or regulations do not ban u-turns on Penn. Ave., why not change those markings or regulations? This isn't hard--the city puts up new signs all the time banning u-turns, or repaints pavement to control traffic. If the signage or lane markings don't meet the necessary requirements (and I realize from another thread here they probably do), why not just direct DPW/DDOT/MPDC to address the problem?

by ah on Nov 15, 2012 9:11 am • linkreport

Why is a new law necessary to penalize u-turns in bike lanes?

Because the Council wants to be seen as doing something about the problem, and the only tool they ever choose to use is lawmaking?

I'm not sure why councilmembers never see fit to actually interface with people at DC government agencies when these problems come up.

by MLD on Nov 15, 2012 9:28 am • linkreport

The Voranado offer in Pent City is interesting - the acquatics center has been a political hot button, as has financing street cars. Sounds like a great deal for ArlCo, whatever the immediate neighbors think. OTOH, Voranado really seems to be doubling down on office space in close in ArlCo - is the market really going to be that strong?

Ferries - best routes would both cross the river, and divert traffic from congested routes, esp in places where metro rail is not great. Right off the top of my head, I would think national harbor to Crystal City would be worth looking at, and Prince William/Southern Fairfax to Capital Riverfront. Maybe Crystal City to Capital Riverfront to complete the triangle. If and when Poplar Pt gets off the ground, that could be included as well.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 15, 2012 9:37 am • linkreport

Re: Arlington homeless shelter
If I could ban a phrase from the lexicon I swear it'd be "shoving it down our throats" in response to political decisions you don't like.

If the county has been discussing something for two years or more thats the opposite of shoving something down your throat. Meanwhile thise will be a homeless shelter that is literally across the street from the police department and jails that house people actually accused of committing crimes rather than simply being homeless. Let's focus on the giant parking lot in the middle of one of the denser areas of Arlington and let the county move on that.

Re: Pentagon City
It'd be nice if it was more than office buildings and hotel. More stuff on the ground floor is always nice but there is already a dearth of residents there (though its changing).

by drumz on Nov 15, 2012 9:47 am • linkreport

As a Pentagon City resident, the idea of dumping any more development on S. Fern St., which is too inadequate to even support the traffic Costco brings in, is frightening. Nothing in these plans suggest widening that road, as far as I'm aware, though I believe as part of the Kettler development they'll bisect the plot between Vornado's half and Kettler's half.

What's more, though, Kettler is about to begin construction of a new residential high rise between the PenPlace site and the Costco as is (with plans for two more on the opposite end of the block to outline their Metropolitan Park).

This is absurdly poor planning without some serious commitment to bolstering the transportation options in the area.

by Matt on Nov 15, 2012 9:56 am • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity:

I've often thought that there'd be some viability in the Mount Vernon area as well...perhaps one ferry station somewhere between Mount Vernon and Alexandria city. (Personally I'd put it a little closer to Alexandria, in the Belle Haven area - I think it would see greater use there.) There's a lot of people south of Route 1 who might be willing to use it. Of course, there IS the question of where to put parking.

That and bikeshare would really take some people off of the GW Parkway area, I think.

And Prince William County should definitely be part of the network. Maybe even a stop up the Occoquan before getting to the Potomac?

And how far downriver should it go in Maryland, do you think? I tend to think of southern PG County as more inaccessible than other parts of the region.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Nov 15, 2012 9:58 am • linkreport

Drumz - as Matt points out there are several new residential hi rises there, and more on the way.

Is there really congestion on the local roads there? whenever Im there, the local roads run smoothly, and its only getting on the through roads, I395 and Rte 1, where there is really bad congestion. it seems like an area where transit and bike/ped mode share could really reduce excess VMT. A good TDM program for the new developments would make sense.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 15, 2012 10:02 am • linkreport

While riding my bike in the PA Ave bike lanes, i had someone make a u turn right in front of me right near one of the no u turn signs. What if bollard bases (the little Rubber/plastic things that hold the bollard posts) were installed along the bike lane border, not the entire bollard? That would at least discourage drivers from flying across the bike lanes. Maybe the Royal Fine Arts Council wouldn't have as much of a problem with that either.

by aaa on Nov 15, 2012 10:02 am • linkreport

Committing money to fund streetcars isn't enough? And the CCPY transitway isn't planning for the transportation options there?

I'm being somewhat facetious but I also don't know how feasible widening the road is there. It's not an option if it comes at the expense of sidewalk space or what not.Expanding the size of fern street would likely exacerbate problems

The problem with Costco is that A. its costco and B. the huge lot that it has in the middle of a downtown type area.

by drumz on Nov 15, 2012 10:03 am • linkreport

"Is there really congestion on the local roads there? whenever Im there, the local roads run smoothly, and its only getting on the through roads, I395 and Rte 1, where there is really bad congestion. it seems like an area where transit and bike/ped mode share could really reduce excess VMT."

The problem, to put it bluntly, is the Costco. Shopping at Costco and using mass transit options just don't work because carrying all the stuff you buy on the Metro, or a street car, or a bike, is not feasible. And everyone in the DC Metro area shops at the Costco.

For what it's worth, the traffic is most severe on Saturday and Sunday. S. Fern St. is a parking lot on those days, holidays, any time bad weather is approaching, and any time there's a holiday coming up.

by Matt on Nov 15, 2012 10:14 am • linkreport

IIUC the county wants to replace the Costco (and the entire discount shopping center) with high density mixed use, but that hasn't come together yet.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 15, 2012 10:19 am • linkreport

Re: Costco - The new one on NY Ave in the district is due to open soon, and I wonder if that might help divert some of the excess traffic in Pentagon City. I'm guessing that a large percentage of people coming to the PC Costco from DC will opt not to cross the river. I have no idea what that translates to percentage-wise, but I'd guess somewhere around 10-20%? Just a thought.

by Andrew M on Nov 15, 2012 10:21 am • linkreport

"And everyone in the DC Metro area shops at the Costco."

LOL! of course aside from folks who won't set foot in one, there are plenty of Costco's in the suburbs. I suspect that one gets most of its patrongage from South Arlington, and northern Alexandria.

I guess also some from DC. A new costco EOTR at the same time this one closes, would be good for the whole region, I think.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 15, 2012 10:22 am • linkreport

@andrew - ah, thanks for clarifying.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 15, 2012 10:22 am • linkreport

Yeah the costco is bad. However, I think its a bad idea to halt development on the basis of one business who have a bad site.

Develop the rest of the area as planned and then sort out Costco when its time.

by drumz on Nov 15, 2012 10:24 am • linkreport

and yes< i guess it must be an important %. Once you are at the beltway in NoVa there are more convenient Costcos further out. I suspect the major customer base in NoVa for the PC costco is south arlington, baileys crossroads, and the less affluent parts of Alexandria. All of which are either transforming or getting closer to transforming.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 15, 2012 10:24 am • linkreport

I've lived in Alexandria for almost 20 years, and worked in Pentagon City and Crystal City, and a Costco member for a good part of that time. Yes it can get crazy in and out of the parking lot, but I've never perceived Fern St as the site of huge backups or gridlock. Most patrons there are from DC, Arlington and Alexandria, and not just the "less affluent" parts. The next nearest one is south of Springfield I think. Another one is under construction on south Rt 1 in the Mt. Vernon Area. There is no question that the PCY Costco will eventually go away. Its a transitional use, as is the whole Pentagon Center. 30 years ago it was a Western Electric telephone warehouse and rehab facility. Eventually, 12th Steet will be continuous and connect Fern and Eads, where today there is a pedestrian path.

by spookiness on Nov 15, 2012 10:33 am • linkreport

Someone should note that the Examiner article on the proposed project for Pentagon City has this quote: "Aurora Highlands Civic Association President Jim Oliver said he supports the project, but that he's requested the county require the construction of an establishment -- possibly an upscale restaurant or an indoor shooting range -- that would benefit residents."

Upscale restaurant OR an indoor shooting range?? Don't see those 2 options pushed by a civic association everyday.

by AlanF on Nov 15, 2012 10:45 am • linkreport

High Speed Ferry stops

Aquia Harbour/Stafford, VA (commuters)
Quantico, VA (commuters) (make the military get over safety concerns, if Marines can't stop the threat of a ferry, they're in no shape)
Indian Head, MD (commuters)
[I wish I could see a savvy way to include something at the mouth of the Occoquan near the Woodbrdige VRE station and commuter lots, but that seems too far out of the way)
Ft Belvoir, VA (commuters)
Mt Vernon, VA (tourists)
National Harbor, MD (tourists)
Alexandria, VA (tourists, link to metro)
NRL, MD (commuters)
Potomac Yard/DCA/Pentagon City, VA (commuters, tourists, link to airport and metro)
Watergate, DC (commuters, link to Foggy Bottom metro, tourists)
Georgetown Harbor, DC (tourists)

A second route could go up the Anacostia to the DC Harbor/Buzzard Point, Ballpark, Navy Yardand RFK. I am not as familiar there though. All these points are close to metro though, so it seems a no brainer.

by Jasper on Nov 15, 2012 10:53 am • linkreport

Re: Pentagon City
A quote in the linked article: "Aurora Highlands Civic Association President Jim Oliver said he supports the project, but that he's requested the county require the construction of an establishment -- possibly an upscale restaurant or an indoor shooting range -- that would benefit residents."
A shooting range a block from the Pentagon? Is he nuts? An upscale restaurant is his other idea of what would benefit residents?
The Long Bridge Park pool needs to find its funding elsewhere, and PenPark needs to offer a public pool in its facilities. Now that would benefit residents, and those who work in the neighborhood. We need more aquatics facilities.

by pru on Nov 15, 2012 10:56 am • linkreport

There are a TON of DC plates at the South Fern Costco. My wife and I go 2-3 times a month. Always on Saturday and Sunday. Just for reference sake, if anyone takes South Fern, take the first right, right before Costco, and park in the parking garage. Will save you a TON of headache.

With that said, when the NY Ave Costco opens, we will never return to the Arlington Costco. Excited for no food tax at DC Costco, and on the actual items I buy, would prefer the 6% goes to DC anyways. Also, think it will be a touch quicker to get to NY Ave Costco from Petworth.

by Kyle-W on Nov 15, 2012 11:08 am • linkreport

I suspect that one gets most of its patrongage from South Arlington, and northern Alexandria

As well as North Arlington and almost all of DC.

by Vicente Fox on Nov 15, 2012 11:08 am • linkreport

Vincent Gray can stick a fork in his sob, sad, song. I've taken that route for years (in both directions) and can not count on both hands the number of times lil'..%&3* kids decide to throw objects at the bus. But wmata is a bit off in narrowing it down to rocks. They throw anything and especially relish in throwing these green things (about the size of a softball) which grow on trees around here starting late summer...I think. And having been on a bus where one shattered the glass next to a elementary-aged girl, they might need to reevaluate parts of the route.

It serves too large an area to stop the entire route. Couldn't remember if that was the suggestion.

by HogWash on Nov 15, 2012 11:12 am • linkreport

The problem, to put it bluntly, is the Costco.

That's the problem with Costco in dense, urban areas. The tax revenues they generate aren't sufficient to cover the added burden they place on infrastructure. Costco is better suited for suburban, auto-oriented areas, or places that are lacking development and retail options but have unused road capacity (like DC EOTR).

That's also why you want lots of professional office buildings in your area. They generate the most tax revenue compared to their infrastructure/facilities burden of any type of development.

by Falls Church on Nov 15, 2012 11:17 am • linkreport

just to clarify - I personally find shopping at Costco very unpleasant - not a complaint, I guess they implement the business model about as well it can be done - but the noise, the visual clutter, etc drive me batty. On the rare occasions I venture into one its because my wife insists on going to one, and logistics make it necessary that I accompany her. Were I single I would never venture into one again in my life. A fortiori if I were more affluent than I am now. So in my gut I tend to discount that "choice" shoppers would use them regularly - though obviously there are lots of people who do not share my tastes.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 15, 2012 11:22 am • linkreport

While I appreciate the new bike parking at metros, it's a shame Metro had to pour new concrete to make this happen, rather than re-allocating existing impervious surface. Regionally, we need more ground that can soak up rainwater, but I've seen very little physical action or coordinated effort to make this happen. The Architect of the Capitol added two or three new covered bus stop shelters (where no buses run) and paved about 100 square feet of lawn for each, Park Service recently began reconstruction of Waterside drive in Rock Creek Park, and the plan covers about 1/10th of an acre of ground with a new merge lane and cuts down a number of mature trees, and now Metro is doing this as well.

Meanwhile, DDOT Urban Forestry and DC Water have done some projects to remove concrete and asphalt, but I'm afraid they are not making progress, just keeping up.

by will on Nov 15, 2012 11:53 am • linkreport

A ferry stop on the Alexandria waterfront would be about a mile from the closest Metro station, so I wouldn't call that much of a "link to Metro." But there are a lot of residents and office workers, in addition to the tourists, near the river in Old Town who might be able to take advantage of a ferry service. Not sure if there's any good river access to the Crystal City or National Airport Metro stations, either, but a Potomac Yard station would be very close to the water.

by jimble on Nov 15, 2012 1:18 pm • linkreport

Traffic around the PC Costco is a joke. People must be really desperate for discounts over there. A couple of weeks ago it took me at least 20 minutes to get from Army-Navy Dr to 15th St on Fern St on a Sunday. I thought there was some event going on or auto accident. You can imagine my shock when I saw it was just people turning into that place. In the unlikely event that I ever find the need to visit Costco I'll just go to the one they're building across from the Metro in Wheaton.

As for the Vornado development...So, they want to pay for streetcar lines *and* a $30 million pool, in addition to investing hundreds of millions in development into the economic/cultural deadzone that is Pentagon/Crystal City? Am I missing something here??? What's the catch?

by K Street on Nov 15, 2012 2:16 pm • linkreport

The most unique thing about that Costco is that it's on a subway line. It does provide access to good quality at low prices for a lot of people with no car.

by Tom Coumaris on Nov 15, 2012 2:56 pm • linkreport

This isn't hard--the city puts up new signs all the time banning u-turns, or repaints pavement to control traffic.

Yes and no.

Honestly, I think that U-Turns across a double-yellow median (or any road where left turns aren't allowed) should be illegal, regardless of signage or the presence of bike lanes.

If I had a nickel for every time I saw a cab swerve into a U-turn in the middle of a busy street at 30mph....

by andrew on Nov 16, 2012 10:17 am • linkreport

Costco actually helped me go car-free last year. I'd take out a Zipcar every 3 months, and stock up on all of the nonperishable/heavy stuff that I didn't want to schlep back from Giant on my bike.

Yes, you need a car to get to Costco, but I know of several car-free or car-lite households that use the Pentagon City Costco for these same reasons. A single car trip every few months makes it much easier to get to the store on foot for all of those shopping trips in between.

I really don't love the location of the NY Ave Costco, but I'm not too upset about it as a business either. They treat their customers and employees pretty well, and provide a service that I like.

by andrew on Nov 16, 2012 10:20 am • linkreport

When is the NY Ave Costco going to open? I thought it was slated for November opening. November is soon passing us...

by PVfinest on Nov 16, 2012 5:22 pm • linkreport

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