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Breakfast links: On the Potomac


Photo by Monika & Tim on Flickr.
Potomac study a foregone conclusion?: VDOT is beginning a study on cross-Potomac traffic. Officials claim they have an open mind, but given their well-known bias toward highway lanes in all cases, will the study even seriously look at transit or inevitably push the Outer Beltway idea? (WAMU, DCist)

Bag fee still working: Revenue from DC's bag fee fell compared to the prior year. That means people used fewer disposable bags. Bag consumption is down 67% since the program started. (DCist)

Less green lines: WMATA lags its peers when it comes to carbon emissions per passenger mile. That's because it runs many buses even on lower ridership lines, and local electricity providers have less clean energy sources than elsewhere. (City Paper)

More on Ride-On-riding 5th grader: The Gazette follows up with the mother, Anna Engelsone, who ran into fearful school officials when she let her 5th grader ride the Ride On bus to Garrett Park Elementary. MCPS says no policy prohibits kids taking transit.

Drive less: Driving as measured by miles driven has yet to exceed its 2007 high. The trend is even starker when one takes population growth into account, where the peak took place in 2005. (Business Insider, charlie)

Less for transit, more on trains: States are flexing fewer federal dollars to transit, but more and more people are choosing intercity rail over driving. (Streetsblog)

And...: See the history of urban maps and diagrams that influenced cities for better or worse. (SPUR, David E.) ... One group recommends 12 ways that governments can make roads safer for pedestrians. (Green Car Congress) ... Learn the history of Boston's decision to stop all new highway building in 1972. (Boston Society of Architects, David P.)

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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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I will not stop screaming bloody murder if a damn dollar goes to an outer beltway bridge to appease the GOP in western loudoun all the while a trickle of funding (none) comes in for inner suburbs.

If they want it so bad, have private companies pay 100% for all of it. Not just the bridge but the upgrades to surrounding infrastructure too

Stupid Connaughton and his Petroleum Institute buddies are destroying virginia one region at a time

by Tysons Engineer on Nov 26, 2012 8:32 am • linkreport

Part of the reason the bag fee revenue may be down isn't less bag use, but simply less enforcement. I have noticed many stores don't charge for all the bags you use and sometime don't charge at all. In particular when stores double bag me they rarely cahrge me for both bags.

by nathaniel on Nov 26, 2012 8:40 am • linkreport

The VDOT bridge report is not a foregone conclusion because we don't know how many bridges they will recommend. My guess is they will recommend one new bridge in northern Fairfax county and one new bridge in Loudon County, with upgrades to the connecting roads; and also upgrades to Gov. Nice bridge.

by renegade09 on Nov 26, 2012 8:46 am • linkreport

RE: Bag Fees

Where does the revenue count come from? I thought the stores paid the fee when they bought bags, and then were required to collect the fee from patrons when they need a bag. If that's the way the revenue works, this means that stores are buying fewer bags in response to customers not using them.

Seems like the only people against the bag fee are a few nuts who see it as some affront to their essential liberty.

by MLD on Nov 26, 2012 9:02 am • linkreport

I'm ok with it if VDOT says that the Nice Bridge should be upgraded because every car that goes over that is a car that's not on 95. I've started using it during the summer going to my family's beach house because its about the same amount of time. And there is already tolling on the southbound side.

I'm not ok a new western bridge because I don't think its a good use of tax dollars to basically subsidize people who live in Rockville or gaithersburg but work in Tysons.

Yes a lot of freight moves across the Legion bridge but if you can get more people commuting in ways other than their cars then the freight bottle neck will begin to solve itself.

by drumz on Nov 26, 2012 9:09 am • linkreport

The VDOT bridge report is not a foregone conclusion because we don't know how many bridges they will recommend.
Indeed. Though I'm pretty sure we can know in advance that it won't recommend any transit, since it's just based on measuring the volume of traffic and extrapolating out. Since there isn't any real transit there, it's pretty hard for there to be much transit ridership.

I know that I'm being somewhat selfish because I live in SS and many of my job opportunities are in Tysons, but it seems like decent connections between Tysons and Bethesda and the rest of the Purple Line corridor would be valuable on both sides of the river. Is anyone on either side willing to consider extending the Purple Line?

Until then, I'll just keep taking the metro all the way around and through DC...

by Gray's The Classics on Nov 26, 2012 9:38 am • linkreport

As long as MD still owns the Potomac up to VA's shore, what's the chance a new bridge would actually happen? Does MD want this as badly as VA?

by TM on Nov 26, 2012 9:41 am • linkreport

VDOT should consider plans for the Nice bridge upgraded, since Maryland SHA is already studying how to do it. Former MDOT Secretary John Pocari decided that it will include a bicycle-pedestrian path.

The Potomac River is in Maryland, so the VDOT must defer to what Maryland is willing to do. Aside from the Nice expansion, Maryland SHA is also open adding lanes at the American Legion Bridge and light rail between Alexandria and Branch Avenue Metro.

by JimTitus on Nov 26, 2012 9:42 am • linkreport

Addendum to my post: it is worth looking into connecting Bethesda/Tysons better. I just think that should come from an expanded purple line or other transit option at or very close to the legion bridge not further upriver.

by drumz on Nov 26, 2012 10:03 am • linkreport

@Tysons Engineer,

Considering Loudoun is directly paying 300 million towards the Silverline it's citizens really don't want (passed by the skin of their teeth), and indirectly paying what, probably another billion or so via the 3 billion for the project funded by DTR tolls that Loudoun Drivers pay a large proportion of, all for a project that barely skirts their County, and most of them don't want, I think they are entitled to spend some transportation money in ways they see fit.

Only in the "smartgrowther" world can half of a project, 3 billion dollars be transfered from tolls on drivers who won't see one iota of benefit from the Silverline (per its own EA) to a train project, and you still aren't satisfied.

Perhaps you would know how Loudoun residents fee if Metro fares went up to raise 3 billion dollars for a road project?

by VDOT on Nov 26, 2012 10:18 am • linkreport

MWAA built the silver line. They own the toll road. They figured the best way to pay for the silver line was by raising the toll on the road they own.

So I have only myself to blame when VDOT does something completely unrelated to what MWAA built and financed? Gotcha.

by drumz on Nov 26, 2012 10:30 am • linkreport

Not also considering that it was really not certain if Loudoun would pay $300M for the silver line but the county board obviously thought the return from having those stations would outweigh the costs which likely will only be borne by a select number of Loudoun residents anyway. Is that not "spending transportation money as they see fit"?

by drumz on Nov 26, 2012 10:35 am • linkreport

I am dubious most LCers didnt want the silver line - the all GOP bd voted for it, AFAICT the LoCo Dem party supported it. There are many benefits to LoCo that account for that, whether or not those benefits could be counted in the EA.

Certainly LoCo needs state support. With its overcrowded schools, it could benefit from support for that. I think the general state support for business probably helps this county that has landed lots of new jobs. Its not clear to me that simply giving everyone transport dollars makes sense though. Of course the state dollars that went into the silver line are dollars that benefit LoCo.

Anyway, its not clear to me that LoCo citizens WANT another Potomac crossing. Certainly not one in eastern LoCo, where IIUC the Dulles area business/development community most wants it. Western LoCo? East of Rte 15? Does western LoCo, mostly resistant to development, want that?

Anyway, Md will have some say.

Seems to me like HOT/transit lanes across the legion bridge are the most likely solution, along with the Nice bridge.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2012 10:37 am • linkreport

@VDOT: Loudoun County has three bridges accross the Potomac River. Which of them do you think needs the upgrade and improved roadway access?

by JimTitus on Nov 26, 2012 10:46 am • linkreport

Tolls on roads are a great way to finance additional capacity.

And that's what the Silver line is doing, more or less. It's just not additional road capacity. Which is smart, because roadways are going to be geometrically inefficient and can't support the kinds of intense land uses envisioned for the area.

So, if crossing the river is a problem, a good conceptual solution would be to 1) toll the crossings for cars. This will help manage demand, but it will also raise revenue. If the demand is indeed so strong that additional capacity is needed (even with the toll), then you 2) build a high capacity transit line nearby. For the Legion bridge, this could be extending the Purple line from Bethesda to Tysons. It could be dedicated bus facilities across the bridge and into feeder networks on both sides of the river. For bridges closer to the core, it could be about the separated blue line.

by Alex B. on Nov 26, 2012 10:51 am • linkreport

@Alex B: have actually seen Loudoun county? It will be strictly car-dependent for many decades to come.

by goldfish on Nov 26, 2012 10:57 am • linkreport

off topic, but any data on how the new HOT lanes did over the thanksgiving holiday?

by charlie on Nov 26, 2012 10:59 am • linkreport

We're getting sidetracked on Loudoun. This is for Northern Va. as a whole in which Loudouns 300K residents is only a small part compared to the Million plus in Fairfax alone and the nearly 400K combine in Alexandria and Arlington.

by drumz on Nov 26, 2012 11:00 am • linkreport

What does Loudoun have to do with it? If they're driving to DC, they can either drive on a more and more congested road network (thanks to development in Fairfax) or they can drive on a less-congested road network with congestion pricing and mass transit (that can better handle that coming development).

Transit benefits more than just the transit users - it's that simple.

by Alex B. on Nov 26, 2012 11:01 am • linkreport

@goldfish

someone driving to a LoCo silver line station is still "car dependent" but is also taking advantage of a high capacity way to deal with congested east-west routes. intracounty commuting, day to day errands etc, are likely to stay more conventionally car dependent - but its not clear what a new crossing does for that. The main purpose of a new crossing to eastern LoCo would be to make it easier for firms in eastern LoCo to attract employees who live in upper MoCo. Im not sure the residents of eastern LoCo value that much, or that MoCo does. Certain FFX has every reason to not want to see that.

@Alex - good luck pushing for tolling the existing lanes. I dont expect to see that. More likely will be an extension of the Express/HOT lanes into MoCo - which will BE both a tolled lane AND a transit lane (buses free in the Express Lane) An extended Purple Line would serve different parts of MoCo (the more urbanized parts of lower MoCo) and could complement that.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2012 11:06 am • linkreport

@drumz: LC is the most likely place for any new bridge in northern VA.

It is where most of the population growth will occur. One of the best places for a new bridge is to extend rt. 28, which is in Loudoun County. I'd bet a case of Wonka chocolate bars that local resistance to a new bridge in McLean and Great Falls would thwart any proposed bridge in those places.

by goldfish on Nov 26, 2012 11:09 am • linkreport

its about Loudoun because its presumably their biz community thats the only element in NoVa that would really want additional crossing capacity upriver of the legion bridge - plus maybe MWAA (to strengthen Dulles vs the other regional airports) and business in Reston/Herndon. FFX county's big bet is on TYSONS, and Tysons benefits much more if any additional capacity - whether its transit, HOV, tolled SOV, or whatever - is added AT or near the Legion bridge. I can't see the powers that be in FFX supporting an upriver crossing.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2012 11:10 am • linkreport

@goldfish

the parts of LoCo along the river there are also already built up, and would also resist.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2012 11:11 am • linkreport

Transit benefits more than just the transit users - it's that simple.

Only if people use it. In the outlying exurbs such as Loudon County, it isn't viable.

by goldfish on Nov 26, 2012 11:15 am • linkreport

Goldfish,

I'll rephrase to say that we shouldn't be focused as much as we are.

While a new bridge in Loudoun would be "great" for them the rest of the region wouldn't see as much ancillary benefit as transit focused crossing downriver would benefit Loudoun.

That said, Loudoun seems to at least have the political will to do it so that's probably what will happen eventually.

I still think its silly that when we have people who live in Gaithersburg but work in Tysons or further west they think its worth it to spend billions to make the commutes of a relative few easier. That's a huge subsidy for a ridiculous commute.

by drumz on Nov 26, 2012 11:18 am • linkreport

Only if people use it. In the outlying exurbs such as Loudon County, it isn't viable.

I think you missed my point.

LC residents do not have to use transit in order to benefit from it. If FFX residents are the only ones to use the Silver line, that's OK - it still benefits LC residents, because that means those FFX folks aren't driving, and therefore aren't congesting the roads.

So, yes, people need to use transit. But those people that use transit do not need to be LC residents for LC residents to benefit.

by Alex B. on Nov 26, 2012 11:20 am • linkreport

@drumz: we have people who live in Gaithersburg but work in Tysons or further west they think its worth it to spend billions

Hm, this is not where the push is coming from. First of all, people in G'burg do not decide how VA spends its transportation dollars. The push is from business interests -- developers -- that recognize that traffic in VA is throttling their expansion and profitability. And also from residents that contend with the rt 7 parking lot every day.

by goldfish on Nov 26, 2012 11:26 am • linkreport

@Alex B: people riding the silver line in FFX don't help the traffic in LC.

by goldfish on Nov 26, 2012 11:29 am • linkreport

@goldfish and @alex

There are currently, NOW, people who use express buses from LoCo to Pentagon and to DC. I think also to WFC metro. They are auto dependent only in the sense that their first mile is typically auto. Many of them will use the Silver line - not so much to commute to DC (too far) but to get to N Arlington and esp to Tysons, with the Dulles TR remaining congested and getting more expensive. The presence of stations in LoCo will also support the focusing of neourban growth at genuine TOD sites. many of the folks liivng there will still commute by SOV (to elsewhere in LoCo) but will probably walk/bike more in day to day errands.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2012 11:30 am • linkreport

I get the impression that both of you are overlooking how suburbanites use metro. Look at the list of top boarding stations. Mostly end of line, with large parking garages. Whether or not TOD pans out at the two LoCo stations, they will still be heavily used by park n ride folks.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2012 11:32 am • linkreport

"{The push is from business interests -- developers -- that recognize that traffic in VA is throttling their expansion and profitability. And also from residents that contend with the rt 7 parking lot every day"

Looks like Macerich just landed Intelsat - for TYSONS. Talking about Virginia being throttled overlooks the competition between Tysons and the Reston-LoCo end of the Dulles corridor.

As for Rte 7 - how many of those folks are headed to upper Loco? If they are going to lower MoCo, adding capacity AT the legion bridge makes more sense, and if they are not going to MoCo at all, then adding crossings is not relevant.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2012 11:34 am • linkreport

"headed to upper MoCo"

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2012 11:34 am • linkreport

Plus the way to solve intracounty congestion problems in LC is transit! (And better land-use decisions). There currently isn't any public transportation in Loudoun besides the express buses to Arlington and DC.

That isn't germane to the question of how to best improve mobility across the potomac however.

by drumz on Nov 26, 2012 11:36 am • linkreport

I get the impression that both of you are overlooking how suburbanites use metro.

I'm not offering up some manifesto about how people use Metro, I am merely debunking the idea that the only beneficiaries of transit are transit users (and the corollary to that idea, that toll revenues should only go back to that road improvements).

I thought the complaint was about LC users having to pay tolls? If they're driving to park and ride stations, they're not paying tolls. That's my point.

Even if they do drive in and pay the tolls, they will benefit from others who will choose transit.

by Alex B. on Nov 26, 2012 11:36 am • linkreport

@drumz: Whatever political committment Loudoun county officials have to building more bridges accross the Potomac River, it pales in comparison to the committment of Maryland and Montgomery officials to prevent such a bridge into MoCo. The ICC was on the plan and it still took 50 years to build. A tunnel from Rt-7 to Poolesville has a greater chance of being built than a bridge from Loudoun into Montgomery.

If more capacity is needed, the place to focus is expansion of the existing crossings. MD SHA has initiated a small "beltway widening" study, and would probably be open to expanding the connections to the three existing bridges connecting Loudoun to Maryland.

by JimT on Nov 26, 2012 11:39 am • linkreport

thats fine alex - it just seemed like you were accepting Goldfish's assertion that almost no one in LoCo would actually ride the Silver line - which seemed to imply that folks in low density autocentric suburbs dont use transit to access the core - which they do in this region, widely, using metro rail or express bus depending on what is locally available.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2012 11:42 am • linkreport

JimT,

That'd be my preference as well. Let's use all this energy we've used on talking about some magical western bridge towards writing our elected officials about the need for a separated blue line.

by drumz on Nov 26, 2012 11:43 am • linkreport

@Alex B: the beltway crossing is maxed out. The people that are using this bridge are not served by Metro, and the silver line will do nothing to help this.

Transit does not do everything. In the spoke-and-wheels transportation network, the Metro is the spokes. The bridge is a wheel. To keep on saying that "we should build more metro" is like saying we will relieve traffic in Houston by building more subways in NYC.

by goldfish on Nov 26, 2012 11:47 am • linkreport

Goldfish

Are you saying the Legion bridge cannot be widened? On what basis?

And of course to the extent that many folks coming into NoVa on the Legion bridge are people who live in Lower MoCo and working in Tysons, an extended Purple line should shift a good portion of them off the bridge.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2012 11:50 am • linkreport

Goldfish,

We're not comparing places thousands of miles away. We're saying that people who live in LC and yet work in any jurisdiction to the east benefit from transit even if they don't personally use it.

Moreover, many current problems can be solved or mitigated by adding a transit element there.

by drumz on Nov 26, 2012 11:51 am • linkreport

and of course folks from non metro served parts of Upper MoCo who work in Tysons, could use express buses down 270 connecting to extended HOT lanes (assuming that its possible to widen the Legion bridge)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2012 11:51 am • linkreport

I am dubious most LCers didnt want the silver line - the all GOP bd voted for it, AFAICT the LoCo Dem party supported it.

Don't forget about the support for the Silver Line from the LoCo Chamber of Commerce. LoCo has a long history of being business-friendly and listening to their CoC, so no huge surprise the all-GOP board voted for it since they don't want to be seen as anti-business.

by Falls Church on Nov 26, 2012 12:00 pm • linkreport

As long as MD still owns the Potomac up to VA's shore, what's the chance a new bridge would actually happen?

Approximately zero. At least for any northern crossing that would impact MoCo's agriculture preserve. It's not even so much about the ag preserve but more about the longstanding dislike between MD/VA.

Of greater likelihood than a Potomac crossing is a an old school duel between O'Malley and McDonnell. I'm not kidding as one could see how their war of words, which has already escalated to a challenge of a "push-ups contest" could lead to a duel:

http://inthecapital.com/2012/10/01/md-governor-omalley-challenges-va-governor-mcdonnell-to-push-up-contest/

by Falls Church on Nov 26, 2012 12:00 pm • linkreport

@drumz. A thought experiment: let say you live in live in Ashburn and have a job in Germantown. Your commute takes you down Rt7 or if you are in a hurry and can afford the tolls, the DTR, over the beltway bridge, and up 270. Yes the new silverline at a cost of $6B of will marginally reduce traffic.

But consider the commute: By Google maps, this trip is 42 miles and takes 56 minutes. If there was a bridge at the end of Rt28, the time and distance would be one-third of that.

The beltway crossing is a bottleneck connection VA and Md. It chokes off much of the growth in both places. The silver line only works for people that are going toward DC; the bridge is for people going perpendicular to that direction.

Regarding the Ag preserve: given the growth patterns, it won't last forever. Sooner or later people will realize that it is costing them dearly for the sake of quaint nostalgia. Even the "smart growthers" will recognize that it will become a huge dead zone in the middle of the metropolitan transportation network, and recognize that its time and usefulness has passed.

by goldfish on Nov 26, 2012 12:22 pm • linkreport

Has anyone seriously studied the idea of extending the purple line from Bethesda to Tysons? Given the number and type of jobs that are expected to be created in these areas, aren't there all types of financial incentives for at least studying this option? Transit friendly folks in chambers of commerce, elected officials, etc in Tysons, Bethesda, others along the purple line route?

Of course those folks are busy with Silver line, purple line and MoCo BRT, but it seems to me like a successful high capacity transit link between Tysons and Bethesda would be game over politically for any projects/interests that don't comport with the urbanization project this blog/CSG and others represent. To use goldfish's example, aren't there developers who would love to attract Ashburn residents or Germantown jobs?

by David on Nov 26, 2012 12:32 pm • linkreport

Well

A. Why is a commute of 42 miles reasonable? Granted it would be less mileage with the presence of a new bridge. Still that's asking for a massive subsidy for a relative few number of people considering,

B. the presence of the silver line doesn't really matter in this specific instance. But it does matter in how the land use and the commuting patterns for most people there.

C. I won't dispute that there is a bottle neck at 495. I think either tolling the existing capacity, adding transit near there or both would provide a far better ROI than building a bridge to satisfy a commuting pattern that is pretty unreasonable in the first place.

D. If I lived in Ashburn but worked in Germantown I'd start to do everything I could to figure out how I could either move my home or my job. All things being equal.

by drumz on Nov 26, 2012 12:34 pm • linkreport

drumz: there are 981,000 people that live in Montgomery County, and around 1.5 million in FFX and Loudoun counties, and only ONE bridge to connect them. This is not a subsidy for a few commuters.

by goldfish on Nov 26, 2012 12:41 pm • linkreport

"A thought experiment: let say you live in live in Ashburn and have a job in Germantown. "

thats a handful of people. average commute for LoCo residentrs is half an hour. Most LoCo residents work in LoCo or in Fairfax, not in Maryland, especially not in upper MoCo (I bet there are a lot more LoCo residents who work in DC than in upper MoCo)

This simply isnt a priority for most of the 1.5 million in FFX and Loudoun (and is actively a negative for FFX, arguably)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2012 12:46 pm • linkreport

@david and @ drumz

right now, FFX and MoCo are studying the crossing issue. While the Purple line extension may make sense eventually - AFTER its built in MD and we see how its working, and after Tysons is further along the road to being a WUP - for now I suspect whats most likely is a HOT lane extension (tolling the new lanes ONLY) across the Legion bridge - it would tie in to the Va HOT lanes, it could tie to the existing Md HOV lanes, and it could leverage the MoCo BRT system. And it would represent a compromise between the modes/development approaches.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2012 12:49 pm • linkreport

@AWITC, thanks, that makes sense, given the time frame of the purple line. Using express buses on the beltway HOT lanes between silver and red line stations could be an interesting solution.

by David on Nov 26, 2012 1:04 pm • linkreport

This is not a subsidy for a few commuters.
-----
"A few commuters" who BTW help subsidize Metro, which they can't all use. The people who begrudge every penny spent on roads always seem to forget that.

by ceefer66 on Nov 26, 2012 1:04 pm • linkreport

A thought experiment: let say you live in live in Ashburn and have a job in Germantown. Your commute takes you down Rt7 or if you are in a hurry and can afford the tolls, the DTR, over the beltway bridge, and up 270. Yes the new silverline at a cost of $6B of will marginally reduce traffic.
But consider the commute: By Google maps, this trip is 42 miles and takes 56 minutes. If there was a bridge at the end of Rt28, the time and distance would be one-third of that.

This is true, but the traffic studies tell us there are very few people making this commute. And the reason very few people make this commute is that it is long and sucks. On average people have a threshold of 30-45 minutes for driving commutes - they don't just choose jobs and housing randomly. So building a road bridge won't alleviate traffic much (because few people would be moved out of existing traffic) but it would create a bunch more traffic on the new bridge and the segments connecting it (because that driving commute is now easier).

Face it, most of the traffic is not through-traffic, nor is it people who commute from Ashburn-Germantown and have to drive in to use the beltway. Most of the traffic consists of people who live or work in the built-up areas close to the beltway and so the beltway is the best way to go regardless or whether you build another auto crossing. The best way to alleviate traffic on the beltway would be to connect these built up places with transit (like the purple line between Bethesda and Tysons) and give a bunch of commuters the option to avoid that traffic on transit.

by MLD on Nov 26, 2012 1:08 pm • linkreport

@ceefer

all residents of FFX subsidize metro (and not those in LoCo will subsidize the Silver Line). Very, very few of those are people who commute to upper MoCo.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2012 1:17 pm • linkreport

"now those"

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2012 1:18 pm • linkreport

This is true, but the traffic studies tell us there are very few people making this commute. And the reason very few people make this commute is that it is long and sucks.

So by cutting the commuting times, another bridge would double the number of job opportunities for around a million people.

by goldfish on Nov 26, 2012 1:20 pm • linkreport

@goldfish

er, no. A. it wouldnt add to job opportunities for folks from about 3/4 of FFX county, who would still be more likely to take the beltway to a job in upper MoCo. Adding capacity AT the Legion bridge would do more to add to their ability to work in Maryland. B. It would not "double" job opportunities for folks LoCo or western FFX - they would still be likely to take the Beltway to jobs in Lower MoCo, which IIUC is where the majority of MoCo jobs are. They too would benefit more from additional capacity at/near the Legion Bridge. Anyway, there arent as many jobs in MoCo overall as in NoVa, so its not doubling even if it WERE the only way to MoCo from NoVa - which it is not.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2012 1:25 pm • linkreport

A new crossing of the Potomac is an idiotic idea and won't happen for a number of reasons:

1. The Potomac River is in Washington D.C. and Maryland so Virginia has no right to build anything, or to modify any of the current crossings, except for the Wilson Bridge (although they would need the consent of MD).

2. Maryland, and especially Montgomery County (where the bridge would likely go), don't share Virginia's pro-sprawl, highway-complex. Loudoun has a clear path to becoming a sprawling suburban wasteland like Fairfax is now, yet instead of trying to curtail that by reigning in the sprawl, and promoting smart growth and transit-oriented development, the county/state actually wants to encourage it. That was especially apparent when Loudoun tried to kill the Silver Line.

3. Even if Maryland/Montgomery County did share Virginia/LC's 1950's mindset, they don't have the money for any large scale transportation projects, such as a new crossing anyways. They don't even have the money to build what they actually want to build (Purple Line light rail, the CCT, and a BRT system). The taxpayers would balk at billions revenue being wasted for a new bridge.

4. The highway connecting the bridge on the Maryland side would likely extend from I-370, meaning that they would have to bulldoze through parkland and the Mansion communities of North Potomac, a move that the county would never approve and would cause the deep-pocketed residents to revolt.

5. The bridge has little benefit other than providing a faster trip to Dulles Airport for residents of Gaithersburg/Germantown/Rockville, which would hurt BWI. The largest job hub by far in Northern Virginia is Tysons Corner, and after that it would be the Pentagon. The Beltway would provide a faster trip to either, especially with the new HOT lanes.

by King Terrapin on Nov 26, 2012 1:25 pm • linkreport

So by cutting the commuting times, another bridge would double the number of job opportunities for around a million people.

It certainly would create more job access for some people by making certain commutes shorter. And it would also create a bunch of traffic along existing routes as well.

Nobody's saying roads don't create any development or have any positive benefits. Of course they do - otherwise there would be no induced demand. What we are saying is that the negative impacts of some road projects (more car traffic/pollution/GHG along certain routes, inefficient land use, etc) outweigh the positive benefits. And we are also saying that transit provides plenty of those positive benefits (reduced traffic along certain routes, more job access) with many fewer negative effects.

by MLD on Nov 26, 2012 1:30 pm • linkreport

Regarding the Ag preserve: given the growth patterns, it won't last forever.

While it may be true that the ag preserve doesn't last forever, marylanders will collectively puke in their mouth if it dies for the benefit of Virginians or Marylanders so traitorous as to step foot in Virginia. These are two states who recently had to have a dispute over using water in the Potomac River settled by the US Supreme Court because they are still arguing over a treaty from the 1600s.

Spoken as someone who's spent virtually all their life living in MD and VA.

by Falls Church on Nov 26, 2012 1:35 pm • linkreport

I'll clarify that I'm not against another Va./Md. crossing per se but as many have pointed out the likely route proposed by the western beltway just isn't a good idea.

Let's toll the legion bridge and see how much demand there really is.

by drumz on Nov 26, 2012 1:39 pm • linkreport

@KT

Fairfax looks like 1950s sprawl because it had a 1950s mindset, in, well, the 1950. And I suppose the 1960s and 1970s as well.

Today FFX county is supporting transit and TOD (and yes, selective highway widening paid by tolls and useable by HOV and transit buses) I fail to see that MoCo is decisively more supportive of the new paradigm than FFX is (and of course neither has gone as far as Arlington County )

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2012 1:41 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity

From what I've seen, Montgomery County has made a strong effort to promote smart growth and transit-oriented development over the past decade or so.

With the exception of Clarksburg (which continues to propagate sprawling subdivisions), the vast majority of new current and future residential developments in Mont. County have been built/will be built around transit (Metro or MARC) in established urban hubs such as Silver Spring, Rockville, and Bethesda, or in new developments such as Crowne Farm, White Flint, Watkins Mill Town Center, or the Science City.

Besides sterile Reston, what has Fairfax done to promote smart growth? No, Tysons doesn't count, since it's not an urban area, despite some claims to the contrary. It's a non-walkable, very car-centric, glorified office park with a huge shopping mall in the middle. The Silver Line is supposedly supposed to change that, but it's a tall order.

I definitely agree that Arlington County has taken the best approach to development of all the suburban counties, but it's much easier when the "county" is so small and dense that it's actually a city. They have had their own slip ups though (see: Crystal City, and "we-close-at-7pm" Rosslyn)

by King Terrapin on Nov 26, 2012 2:17 pm • linkreport

Driving as measured by miles driven has yet to exceed its 2007 high. The trend is even starker when one takes population growth into account, where the peak took place in 2005.

Fresh from ruining American democracy, Evil islamo-fascist sympathizer Nate Silver has turned his nefarious mind to this very topic.

http://www.esquire.com/features/data/nate-silver-car-culture-stats-0609

by Oboe on Nov 26, 2012 2:24 pm • linkreport

Fairfax is coming around. You've got huge TOD projects at Dunn-Loring and Vienna respectively. I was very impressed with some of the design at Dunn-Loring in particular.

And I'll disagree with you on Tysons. I'd say it is urban. Just a crappy form of it. But I think the Tysons comp plan is very promising.

by drumz on Nov 26, 2012 2:26 pm • linkreport

"No, Tysons doesn't count, since it's not an urban area, despite some claims to the contrary. It's a non-walkable, very car-centric, glorified office park with a huge shopping mall in the middle."

As a result of decisions made decades ago, which FFX is herorically trying to transform. This doesnt really differ that much from what MoCo is trying to do with the White Flint area, also centered on a mall. Yes, WF already HAS a metro station, but again, thats a result of decisions made in the 1960s, not different approaches today.

But for other areas where transformation is well underway - look at Dunn Loring/Mosaic, at MetroWest near Vienna. To some extent near Huntington metro. Where its planned - look at Springfield mall, and at baileys crossroads. As for Reston, sterile or not, its increasing dense and transit oriented. I don't find it any more sterile than any other new from scratch TOD. MoCo happens to have more older places - thats due to 19th and early 20th d settlement patterns, not to better 21st century planning. And to some extend FFX answer to bethesda and Silver Spring IS arlington county, which for historical reasons is a seperate jurisdiction.

And as for "slip ups" again you are talking about the result of decisions made decades ago.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2012 2:31 pm • linkreport

There is no way to "solve intracounty congestion problems." Transit won't, but highways won't, either. All that either can do is *possibly* mitigate future congestion. Since both approaches will induce future demand (i.e. shape future growth), transit has an edge in that induced demand will be on rails (or busways) rather than on the existing roads. Not to mention that transit builds more durable, more valuable, and less polluting* places.

Stop thinking about road problems, or transportation problems, and start thinking -- to quote the Charter of the New Urbanism -- about "one interrelated community-building challenge."

* No one has yet mentioned that an upriver Potomac crossing would induce sprawl, particularly if the MoCo ag preserve is paved, that would threaten drinking water quality for several million people

by Payton on Nov 26, 2012 2:37 pm • linkreport

all residents of FFX subsidize metro (and not those in LoCo will subsidize the Silver Line). Very, very few of those are people who commute to upper MoCo.

by AWalkerInTheCity

-------
And you know that, because...?

by ceefer66 on Nov 26, 2012 2:57 pm • linkreport

my general familiarity with commuting patterns in LoCo and Fairfax. Do you really want me to dig up the data?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2012 3:04 pm • linkreport

I had to lol at the links in the Outer Beltway story. Am I the only reader that finds it annoying when "blogs" reference or cite their own past stories as documentation? Expand your knowledge base a little please. Some of your points are valid but don't appear so to casual readers when they see you citing yourself as the only source. Of course, this is not that only blog I read that does this...see arlnow.com for daily examples.

by South Awwlington on Nov 26, 2012 4:41 pm • linkreport

@MLD: actually businesses collect the bag fee from customers, then send in 4 cents of it to OTR when they pay their sales taxes. So, if the business isn't collecting it properly, then they won't be remitting the correct amount.

However, enforcement has been going on for two years now and fines have been levied, along with a great deal of education for the businesses. Customers can also report businesses that aren't charging the fee directly to DDOE's tip line. The link is on http://DDOE.dc.gov.

We do know from trash traps on streams feeding the Anacostia River that fewer plastic bags are littering the streams, which is the intent of the law. So just based on that data, we know the fee is working.

by Julie Lawson on Nov 26, 2012 6:04 pm • linkreport

Thanks Julie!

by Tina on Nov 26, 2012 6:38 pm • linkreport

Maybe they'll propose more ferries named after Confederate Generals?

by Kolohe on Nov 26, 2012 9:01 pm • linkreport

Thank you Julie Lawson.

There are businesses that don't charge for plastic bags. The Giant in Van Ness is one. They put some meat in a plastic bag, after I saw it I said I didn't need it, or you should charge me, but the cashier looked at me in a way that I could tell that she was just doing what she was told. That happens a lot there. Also, Harris Teeter does it, and Safeway too sometimes. I'm not saying always, but they will plastic bag produce and meat and not charge.

But I agree, overall, it is working! And we should be happy, while not lagging in the effort to enforce it.

by Jazzy on Nov 26, 2012 10:26 pm • linkreport

@Jazzy: Bags to wrap meat and other wet items are exempt, even if the cashier gives it to you. Produce I would think is a gray area--produce bags are exempt, but if you walked up to the register with a head of lettuce wet from the sprayer, they could probably give you a plastic "carryout bag" at no charge.

There are definitely a lot of stores still not charging correctly (I'm looking at you, Piney Branch Safeway)--I definitely encourage you to send it to DDOE (http://ddoe.dc.gov/baglawtip) and let them check it out.

by Julie Lawson on Nov 26, 2012 10:41 pm • linkreport

my general familiarity with commuting patterns in LoCo and Fairfax. Do you really want me to dig up the data?
-----

Really? Do you live/work in those areas? Have you ever? Have you studied area commuting patterns?

Please. Dig up this "data" you mention. Do us the favor. You like to have the last word, so let's see how badly this time around. Should be interesting.

by ceefer66 on Nov 27, 2012 1:53 am • linkreport

I did not know that! Thanks for the clarification.

I do occasionally say something to management if given a plastic bag at no cost (apart from produce or meat), and to the cashier, but it's hard to do much 'educatin' in a two minute conversation. I've reached out to other channels as well. Thanks for the link to DDOE (overburdened as it is!), it's good to have it here to come back to.

by Jazzy on Nov 27, 2012 6:35 am • linkreport

Ceefer

I live in Fairfax county, and have for years, and I've worked in fairfax in the past, and have friends around NoVa.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 27, 2012 9:20 am • linkreport

Ceefer,

Even if that number of people is significant. Is it a better use of resources to build a new bridge for that number of commuters or rather continuing improving the network we have and making the more traditional commute easier which will relieve pressure for those doing the odd commute.

by drumz on Nov 27, 2012 9:43 am • linkreport

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