Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: How to pay


Photo by dan reed! on Flickr.
Taxes needed for Purple Line, CCT: Without a tax increase from the Maryland legislature, design on the Purple Line and Corridor Cities Transitway will come to a halt. (Post)

Gas tax alive and well: Governor McDonnell's transportation bill might not be completely dead, but his proposal to eliminate the gas tax almost certainly is, say Senate Democrats who initially defeated the plan. (WTOP)

South Cap now has 2 racetracks: DDOT has tweaked the South Capitol bridge plans. The "racetrack" oval will remain, and the circle on the east side will become a second oval, but they will get wide sidepaths for walking and biking. (WABA)

What gets people riding: There's a positive correlation between the number of jobs and Metro ridership, but that's not the only thing that effects ridership. Tourists, holidays, special events, and the price of gas all play a role. (PlanItMetro)

More performance for parking: DDOT may expand performance parking to 20 new locations, including Georgetown and Adams Morgan, by early 2014. AAA's John Townsend is opposed, even though it makes parking easier to find. (WTOP)

Startups can start up: A new "startup accelerator," 1776, launched yesterday to foster tech startups in the District. Along with private supporters, DC gave it a grant which requires it to stay for 5 years and include at least 20% DC residents. (DCist)

What's in a name?: Congestion pricing might be a good idea, but is it the wrong term to gain support? "Decongestion pricing"? "Road fares"? (Human Transit)

Less-empty downtown upsets some Clevelanders: As some of Cleveland's many vacant downtown lots fill in, some people are complaining about parking because all those lots meant people didn't have to walk a few blocks. (Plain Dealer)

And...: Car2go breaks the 10,000 member mark in DC. (UrbanTurf) ... How effective are bike helmets? (WashCycle) ... Should DC bring HOV rules to local roads? (RPUS)

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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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Thanks for giving us a heads up on the Purple line's issues and the BRT network. I think this is the most important smart growth initiative there is an the fact that O'Malley dosen't see it's importance, both environmentally and economically tells me he isn't 2016 material, unless something changes. For that matter, it's time to hold Obama's feet to the fire considering the importance he gave to global warming in his inarguration speach. Let's see if he follows it up with concrete proposals in the State of the Union speach. Don't let us down Obama!

by Thayer-D on Feb 7, 2013 9:06 am • linkreport

RE: South Capitol Bridge
Wow, this might even be worse than what was originally proposed. Bike/ped paths are great but the design looks more speedway-oriented in the new mockup.

by MLD on Feb 7, 2013 9:13 am • linkreport

I like the look of the east side of South Cap. bridge because it looks like it cuts down on ramp spaghetti but I'd like to see the one on the west side still go away and try to simply integrate with the grid more.

by drumz on Feb 7, 2013 9:18 am • linkreport

Congestion pricing might be a good idea, but is it the wrong term to gain support? "Decongestion pricing"? "Road fares"?

Tolls.

Should DC bring HOV rules to local roads?

I'd prefer dedicated bus lanes.

House-keeping note: Where did the pop-out links go? Didn't links use to open a new tab? Please bring 'm back.

by Jasper on Feb 7, 2013 9:23 am • linkreport

"I drive a lot in the city, I live in the city, so I know the different parking rates and it does make it less appealing to come to Georgetown," says resident Claire McAndrew.

"For me, when I hear higher prices for any reason, I'm going to stay away from there," says Jamal Gray of Prince George's County.

And thus these two quotes demonstrate why performance parking works. And the AAA specifically complains the new rates are "market rate" which is ok if you're a downtown garage charging 20 dollars for a few hours but is an unassailable assualt on motorists rights if the government figures out the same thing for curbside spots.

Meanwhile we have a circulator designed to run every 10-15 minutes from Rosslyn to Georgetown if you can't make the walk across the Key Bridge. You can spend 10-15 minutes looking for a parking space easily so it about evens out.

by drumz on Feb 7, 2013 9:24 am • linkreport

Not only is Car2go membership up, it's interesting to see where the car2go vehicles end up. I keep finding them in Truxton Circle. Must be some heavy c2g users there.

In the U street area a car2go lasts about 5 minutes parked at the curb. They are never idle!

I wonder if there is any data/visualizations on car2go usage and availability. Is there any intentional balancing or is it 100% based on users?

by Ward 1 Guy on Feb 7, 2013 9:29 am • linkreport

+1 drumz well said.

by Ward 1 Guy on Feb 7, 2013 9:30 am • linkreport

Also like "congestion pricing" could do with a brand change so could performance parking. It's not intuitive what that means, especially for the average motorist just trying to find a spot and isn't worried about a supply/demand curve.

by drumz on Feb 7, 2013 9:35 am • linkreport

I wonder if there is any data/visualizations on car2go usage and availability.

There is an API with a bunch of information so somebody could create something. Would be cool to see a visualizaton of cars moving around the city.

by MLD on Feb 7, 2013 9:39 am • linkreport

@Thayer-D-That O'Malley has yet to even nominate someone as Sec. Transportation is deeply disturbing. It's been over 7 months since Swaim-Staley left (and he knew she'd be leaving for TWO months prior to that!!!)! Interim positions aren't bad, but it makes it hard for the Acting Sec. Transpo to do any sort of heavy lifting for you.

by thump on Feb 7, 2013 9:51 am • linkreport

Yeah. I do think that this is a slightly better proposal for South Capitol, but have to repeat Geoff Hatchard's initial concern that we might be massively overengineering the project, given that the 11th St Bridge has a pretty high likelihood of removing a ton of traffic from that corridor.

by andrew on Feb 7, 2013 9:52 am • linkreport

I'd love to see bus lanes on 16th/Conn/Wisconsin/K st among others, but if not HOV lanes would be a good step. I'm afraid that it would be impossible to enforce effectively though. It would need to be monitored by camera or something because I don't see where you could even pull cars over to ticket them during rush hour.

by Alan B. on Feb 7, 2013 9:52 am • linkreport

I think the new west-side oval looks a lot worse. Shrinking the oval and punching potomac through like that just makes it worse in my opinion. I am guessing that had to occur due to problems in acquiring the land near the north end of the west oval, or in effort to keep the old bridge open while the new one is constructed by leaving one side of the current alignment of So.Cap intact.

I am not a traffic engineer, but in my opinion a better option would be to shrink the racetrack into a three-lane circle (with one merge-in/merge-out lane that goes all the way around the circle). To elaborate: Straighten the intersection at Potomac and So. Cap. and leave it in. Locate the circle further south. The circle will be fed by South Capitol, the bridge, and R street. Morning commute will send people around the circle and up south captol to turn left or right on potomac. Evening commute will have a mainly left turn from potomac onto So.Cap or straight down So. Cap and the people from McNair can empty onto the bridge using R street.

Please respond if you have the skill/tools to draw this on a map, or to tell me why this idea is horrible. To me it seems like simplifying the factors involved by getting Potomac and Q out of the oval equation. With the completed 11th street and interchanges at 11th, and the transformation of So.Cap to have no dug-under spaces this circle idea seems more appropriate too.

by The Maelstrom on Feb 7, 2013 9:57 am • linkreport

I live in Adams Morgan and this is what I find often when I pull up the Car2Go app:

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/487909_10151288748959646_817149194_n.jpg

I wish/hope there is some balancing going on. According to the map in the link above, there were 7 cars in the triangle formed by Mass., RI and Conn. Aves NW.

by recyclist on Feb 7, 2013 10:02 am • linkreport

Re: South Cap Racetrack
I still don't understand what's wrong with a simple traffic light in this situation.

by Sayne on Feb 7, 2013 10:05 am • linkreport

@Sayne

It's the volume of cars that want to turn right from eastbound potomac (from McNair), those that want to turn left from westbound potomac (Navy Yard and some other places), and those coming south on So. Cap.

However, thinking about it, that would be solved by making the bridge three lanes (two left turn lanes from westbound and one right turn lane from eastbound).

Although, one must consider that they put an oval in the FEIS, and taking it totally out now would require loads of re-submitted paperwork. We may be stuck with some sort of oval or circle.

by The Maelstrom on Feb 7, 2013 10:10 am • linkreport

I just have this feeling that in 20 years, we're all going to be cursing what a disaster the South Capital mess is. Everyone will hate it, including drivers.

by Gavin on Feb 7, 2013 10:19 am • linkreport

Since Frank Luntz is F.A.I.L. for the G.O.P., maybe he can find a future playing word games for the smart growth set. BTW "decongestion pricing" is what I pay for my Neti Pot and whatever i'm mixing in with the distrilled water. Not a good association -- at least for moi.

by Tom M on Feb 7, 2013 10:23 am • linkreport

I agree with Gavin. I still have absolutely no idea what the hell is the point to the traffic ovals. What function do they serve that couldn't be served simply with a straight alignment? Traffic circles are good at managing traffic coming from different sources, but it seems to me that the vast majority of the traffic at this intersection is simply from South Capitol alone. If the sole reason is "grandeur", then we've got to redouble or efforts to kill the City Beautiful monster once and for all.

by TM on Feb 7, 2013 10:39 am • linkreport

I like the new "Divulging Diamonds" intersection that was designed (first in NC I think) to replace circles in heavy traffic areas. It's been amazingly successful replacing the circles at Arundel Mills and 295. If it can be adapted to this intersection it would have the benefit of providing more car-stop points where pedestrian crossings could be placed while moving cars safer and faster. (Hopefully this will become a big pedestrian area someday).

story:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dr-gridlock/post/new-interchange-underway-on-bw-parkway-near-arundel-mills-casino/2012/05/01/gIQAopptuT_blog.html

moving diagram of the DD:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBE0-TGGt-c

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 7, 2013 11:05 am • linkreport

@Coumaris

Don't DDs require a multi-level intersection? They specifically won't want a multi-level intersection here because it's on the front doorstep of Nats park.

by The Maelstrom on Feb 7, 2013 11:13 am • linkreport

@Thayer-D

If it wasn't for O'Malley (who made transit/smart growth a priority since he entered office) the Purple and Red LRT lines would have been dead years ago. Clueless whacko Ehrlich even wanted to turn the Purple Line into a BRT route, which would have certainly killed it.

Take for example the state of MARC service before O'Malley entered office, and the state of it now. The difference is nearly night and day. Yeah, there's still no weekend service on the Penn Line and the Brunswick Line desperately needs more trains, but it's been Amtrak and CSX that have prevented those improvements.

And no I'm not an O'Malley shill, and I am disappointed that he's backed out of making transportation funding a priority this session so he can position himself for 2016. I understand his last proposal gained almost no traction, but I also agree that he should have made another attempt at getting this critical piece of legislation passed. Leaving it to the incompetent legislature is not a solution since that almost guarantees we'll get nothing done by the end of the session.

by King Terrapin on Feb 7, 2013 11:14 am • linkreport

As a former Clevelander, the article about parking doesn't surprise me but definitely has me lol-ing. Back when I lived there I once read about how downtown Cleveland has more parking spaces per sq mile of downtown area than nearly every other US city. Yet people are whining because they have to walk two blocks! No wonder everybody is so overweight in the Midwest.

Cleveland's RTA started out with a solid foundation in 2 light and 1 heavy rail lines but has suffered greatly under corruption and mismanagement since the late 70s. The saddest part is there is a steady revenue stream from a 1% county wide sales tax. Yet the only people who use public transit in Cleveland are those that have no other option.

When I first moved to DC I was awestruck at how much people complain about Metro and how especially how often the media takes swipes at them. Meanwhile in Cleveland a once great system literally disintegrates and no one notices. Compared to Cleveland, Metro is the rock star of public transit.

by dcmike on Feb 7, 2013 11:38 am • linkreport

DD's refer to the Diverging Diamond, which is fairly commonplace in France and was first brought to the US in Springfield, MO. It's a modification on the standard diamond interchange. Some have argued that they're pedestrian-UNfriendly, but I think that can be easily mitigated. It might be beneficial as a replacement to the 295/Suitland Pkwy interchange, but I don't think it's appropriate along South Capitol St.

by Froggie on Feb 7, 2013 11:43 am • linkreport

The comments on the Cleveland article are a bit of a hoot, too. Wow, just....wow.

by Birdie on Feb 7, 2013 11:46 am • linkreport

@ The Maelstrom- DD's don't have multi-levels- the center is an X crossover with a stop sign or light.

At this intersection I could see such an X crossover with a light and pedestrian crossing dividing 3 or 4 smaller spaces suitable for small parks.

The way it's presented here reminds me a lot of the Lincoln Park "oval" on Capitol Hill. It makes a nice big area for a large park but Lincoln Park isn't so easy to drive around because of the numerous stops when many pedestrians are in an area. Much like a congested traffic circle.

The intersection of S Capitol and M seems to work well where there's ramps for traffic and sidewalks on the bridge overpass. But I don't know if DC is willing to submerge S Capitol here.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 7, 2013 11:59 am • linkreport

Tom Coumaris, I think the plan is to rip out the current configuration of M & S. Cap and make it an at-grade boulevard.

I cross that intersection on foot every day, it's a real pain in the butt. Lots of problems with it, some the result of prioritizing cars over pedestrians, some drivers deciding that it doesn't matter they they're in a straight-only lane, they're going to turn. Lots of pulling blocking the box, too.

by Birdie on Feb 7, 2013 12:07 pm • linkreport

Diverging Diamonds are NOT pedestrian friendly b/c they rely on high-speed right hand slip lanes (freeway exits/entrances). Pedestrians will ALWAYS have to cross at least one.

by thump on Feb 7, 2013 12:15 pm • linkreport

thump: that can easily be remedied. It just hasn't because, thus far, all DDs built in this country have been put in suburban locations.

by Froggie on Feb 7, 2013 12:50 pm • linkreport

Ditto to what both dcmike and Birdie said about the Cleveland article.

by Little Red on Feb 7, 2013 1:02 pm • linkreport

I still have absolutely no idea what the hell is the point to the traffic ovals. What function do they serve that couldn't be served simply with a straight alignment?

The answer is in the WABA article "federal planning and aesthetic interests"

by David C on Feb 7, 2013 2:00 pm • linkreport

@Froggie, I'm glad you're optimistic, but I'm not. How would it be corrected? Right turn slip lanes seem like an integral part of DD's.

by thump on Feb 7, 2013 2:25 pm • linkreport

@recyclist. That is a funny (and sad) screenshot. Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink.

by Ward 1 Guy on Feb 7, 2013 4:14 pm • linkreport

@thump:

2 things. First, DDs are designed moreso to accommodate heavy LEFT turning volumes than they are right turning volumes. Second, it would be fairly easy to signalize the off-ramps (coordinated with the signals on each end), which would solve much of the pedestrian problem. Building tighter radii on those ramps would also improve things.

by Froggie on Feb 7, 2013 4:22 pm • linkreport

(Full disclosure: I had a *terrible* experience with Car2Go for the 4-ish months I was a member) Ward 1, I find a lot of Car2Go cars in my (Brentwood) neighborhood, as well. I thought it was odd, given the dearth of people here who would use them (most people in the neighborhood have cars, and those who don't and would use something like Car2Go are few and far between). The other day, I was walking by a spot where I FREQUENTLY see one parked (which is not a place that a resident would park), and a Car2Go pulled up and a guy jumped out and started heading in the direction of the Metro and stores. I stopped him and asked if he was using it to shop, and decided to park it on the residential street so that he could swipe out (if he were a resident, he would have headed the other way). Hilariously, he was an employee, who was charged with moving cars around to neighborhoods where they might get used for trips downtown. Since he was, obviously, just a workaday employee, I didn't point out to him that the cars normally sit in that spot for DAYS before they are used (and are sometimes vandalized because those spots are not fronted by homes where people will hear breaking glass or whatnot), but, apparently, part of seeing those cars in "odd" neighborhoods is them INTENTIONALLY placing them there. I mean, I guess that's kind of helpful (transit is good here, but not great, and, at times, it is indeed faster to drive some places than use transit), but it's not that they're luring a "different demographic," just intentionally providing the cars for members in certain neighborhoods. I know a couple (and I do mean a couple...I know of 3 or 4) of my neighbors are members, and I'm sure Car2Go knows that, too. I just have to wonder if that's a marketing gimmick to get people in "under-served" neighborhoods to sign up, and whether it will continue if membership and use continue to grow. I suppose if it does continue, it's a good thing for those members and would be helpful in getting people to give up or limit the number of cars they have in neighborhoods that are less-served by transit and other services, but are growing and will be pressed for parking in a few years.

by Ms. D on Feb 7, 2013 7:16 pm • linkreport

As a former Ohioan who has spent a good bit of time in downtown Cleveland (BIG Indians fan), color me whatever color is associated with "no shock at all." The Rapid is not all sunshine and rainbows, and the bus system is not great, but the system is often serviceable, at the very least. Whenever I bunk with friends - who live nearby suburban Rapid stations - they are SHOCKED that I have little interest in driving downtown for a game, lunch, or whatnot. Even when I explain that we can drink as much as we want and not have to worry about how to get home, or deal with traffic and parking, or worry about weather (it can get pretty nasty up by the lake), they just don't *get* it...why would I take transit when there's a car available? Ohio *has* to be one of the most car-bound places ever, even when they *have* a choice.

by Ms. D on Feb 7, 2013 7:31 pm • linkreport

@Ms. D

I lived in Columbus for a year, and the COTA was actually fairly good. Granted, I was right off of High St, and just a mile from OSU and 3 miles from downtown, but it did seem like it was still fairly well used.

by Kyle-W on Feb 8, 2013 9:19 am • linkreport

When I was growing up in Cleveland, we had a special name for RTA - "Rancid Transit Authority". I suppose WMATA has too many letters for someone to come up with a funny, catchy, and demeaning expansion of the acronym.

by The Maelstrom on Feb 8, 2013 9:27 am • linkreport

@Froggie-I have yet to see a DD where right turning vehicles are forced to stop. I believe that it's an integral part of a DD to allow unobstructed right turns.
Even so, if we did signalize right turns, and make turning radii tighter, we're still isolating pedestrians on little islands surrounded by traffic. You have to wait to cross to the island, then once there, wait for the left turning traffic to move across the diamond (either on the side or down the middle as is more common). You have to repeat the process in reverse on the other side. Being on an island surrounded by traffic is never going to be a comfortable experience for a pedestrian.

by thump on Feb 8, 2013 9:53 am • linkreport

Kyle, I have a few friends who live in Columbus, and *some* of them live in nice, urban neighborhoods where they don't use a car for every little thing. I've spent some time visiting one friend who lives in German Village, in particular, and we walk to go out and that's fantastic. He's also mentioned that the bus is an option. For those who can afford to live in those neighborhoods (as far as I can tell, his house was pretty pricey for Columbus), it seems like the one Ohio city where cars, while not necessarily optional, are less necessary for day-to-day things. Yet, when we went out late, there seemed to be an understanding that we had to be walking-distance. I'm not sure how late the buses run, but it seemed like not terribly late.

Meanwhile, I've had the "pleasure" of experiences like above and others (springs to mind...nearly having to drag my brother by the ear to WALK to the pizza shop 3 blocks from his house to pick our order up...I had called it in, and knowing it was only 3 blocks away, said we would pick it up because it's just insane that we would get delivery from 3 blocks away...and then he wanted to drive for the pick-up and scolded me for not asking for delivery). Personally, in high school, I drove the *2* blocks to school. Of course, that makes *no* sense to me now (given traffic around the high school in the morning and afternoon, it probably would have been faster to walk), but, looking back, that's typical of the "if you have a car, you use it" mentality. And only REALLY poor people don't have a car.

Is the Rapid pleasant? Not always. But it does run with decent frequency until a little after Midnight, and that's good enough for me to go downtown for a game, get my drink on, and get back to my bed without risking a DUI or designating a driver. I'm MUCH more careful while riding it than when on Metro or any number of major US or international subways, but it's still serviceable. And it would be better if people just got over themselves and realized it's a good way to get in and out of the city.

by Ms. D on Feb 9, 2013 6:29 pm • linkreport

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