Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Oops


Photo by tedeytan on Flickr.
Contractor takes down wrong, historic tree: A contractor for the Park Service accidentally cut down a healthy, 140-year-old tree at Farragut Square when they were supposed to cut down a totally different tree. (Post)

Multiple pedestrians die: Cars and drivers killed a 94-year-old woman on Georgia Avenue near Howard (by turning into the woman in a crosswalk), a 59-year-old man crossing Georgia in Aspen Hill, a man in Bowie on Route 301, and this morning, a man on New York Avenue by Ivy City. (WTOP, WJLA, Gazette)

Gas tax "compromise" emerges: A Virginia Senate panel passed a transportation funding plan which raises the gas tax 5¢ (instead of eliminating it), adds a 1% sales tax on wholesale fuel, moves some general fund money to transportation, and lets counties also impose a 1% sales tax for transportation. McDonnell said Virginia is "on the brink of success," though it seems this is the exact opposite of his plan. (Post)

Door freely, wear a helmet: Bike advocates testified against the Maryland helmet bill, while Nancy Floreen argued for it. Meanwhile, Chap Petersen's anti-dooring bill failed on a tie vote in a Virginia house committee. (Baltimore Sun, WashCycle)

FBI at Greenbelt has pluses for Metro: WMATA isn't taking sides on the FBI location, but is proposing to amend a development agreement at Greenbelt so the developer or county can try to lure the agency there. Planning staff say the FBI at Greenbelt would help Metro by increasing reverse commuting and improving station facilities. (Post)

Performance loading?: DDOT wants to establish permits for commercial loading zones. Vehicles could get $325 annual passes, $25 day passes, or pay meters hourly. (WBJ)

Widening pressure never ends: Fairfax County supervisor Pat Herrity wants to study widening the Fairfax County Parkway, but colleague Catherine Hudgins thinks transit service would do more to move people and also not destroy homes. (Examiner)

Lauren Graham, cyclist: Actress Lauren Graham, who grew up in the area, thinks Washington "is a really wonderful area" and bicycles a lot on trips. No word on whether she bikes for transportation at home as well. (Washington Flyer)

And...: Want to work part time for the DC Pedestrian Advisory Council? (idealist) ... Democrats want Virginians to read Ken Cuccinelli's new book. (Post) ... People still mostly hate the proposed DC taxi colors. (Post)

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David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. 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 loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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If Maryland enacts a helmet law, they might as well get rid of bikeshare. No point in wasting a system people won't use:

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/helmet-law-makes-nonsense-of-bike-hire-scheme-20100722-10my2.html

by Adam L on Feb 13, 2013 8:54 am • linkreport

Maybe now Metro can build its Farraguts pedestrian tunnel under the NPS parkland "by mistake."

by jnb on Feb 13, 2013 8:56 am • linkreport

A 5 cent increase is very easy to absorb. Given, in about 5 years we'll have to revisit it.

As as McDonnel hater, I have to admit he has done a great job here. Great politics, Governor. A radical idea to scare everyone, the senate scare, all of it really brillant.

The permitting for commerical zones seems very low, by an order of magnitude. This is where pricing could be a useful tool, as opposed to regular parking. Bascially measure streets where the double parking is killing traffic.

by charlie on Feb 13, 2013 8:56 am • linkreport

FBI to Greenbelt it is....

Are there limits on the study Pat Herrity wants for the Fairfax County Parkway? That's not actually clear in the article although it says "ranging from adding more interchanges to creating express or high-occupancy lanes." New interchanges have always been part of the plan and it's not clear if he intends to exclude options. Transit has been discussed for the route for years.

by selxic on Feb 13, 2013 9:17 am • linkreport

Charlie beat me to the punch suggesting that maybe that was McDonnell's plan all along.

RE: fairfax county parkway
I don't know the history of how the road was planned but now its in a weird zombie state where they are adding piecemeal interchanges while still keeping lights in other parts. It doesn't really work on either end. Then you have the issue that some houses were built there with their only access is the parkway.

It is an important north/south route but if there isn't transit on it already that seems pretty obvious to give before working out how you're going to turn the whole thing into a actual highway.

by drumz on Feb 13, 2013 9:17 am • linkreport

The driver of the Dodge Ram stayed on the scene and was cited by police. Police did not identify the driver of the vehicle.

I wish they gave us more information. The driver is "cited" which implies culpability, yet he isn't arrested for killing the lady?

by dc denizen on Feb 13, 2013 9:24 am • linkreport

Cars and drivers killed a 94-year-old woman

Is that phrasing a typo or intentional?

by Bossi on Feb 13, 2013 9:26 am • linkreport

@charlie:

As I read the Post story, the Senate committee draft will not only increase the gas tax by 5 cents, but will also link it to the Producer Price Index, so hopefully it won't have to be revisited again in the near future.

by rock_n_rent on Feb 13, 2013 9:29 am • linkreport

i remember when the parkway was still pohick road and it was a winding, up and down 2 lane country rd. Now they want hot lanes on it? Makes me feel old, and I'm not that old.

by jj on Feb 13, 2013 9:29 am • linkreport

RE: Performance loading?

Would the commercial loading zone permit applications explain that cycle tracks and bike lanes are not loading zones? Could a delivery company be more easily fined or their permits revoked for repeat offenses? I'm appalled by the flagrant misuse of the L Street cycletrack and other bike lanes around town for loading.

by Clark on Feb 13, 2013 9:29 am • linkreport

Would locating the FBI HQ near the Franconia-Springfield station not accomplish the same thing for Metro: encouraging reverse commuting to the end of a line? What is the difference, from a Metrorail ridership perspective, with the FBI HQ being located at Greenbelt/end of the Green Line/Yellow+) vs. Franconia-Springfield (end of the Blue Line/Yellow+)? In fact, the FBI training center is located along the VRE F'burg Line -- an even better transit connection with Franconia-Springfield vs. Greenbelt. Maybe Va. needs to get its act together and promise enhanced VRE service to provide a better connection.

GSA should not have to "feel sorry" for Md. because businesses want to locate in D.C. and/or Va. Maybe Md. lawmakers should instead be asking why businesses, including federal tenants, seem to want to be in D.C. and Va. and work to make Md. more attractive.

by Transport. on Feb 13, 2013 9:38 am • linkreport

I believe it was originally intended to be a true limited access parkway, drumz, but what was built was the compromise with hopes things could change in the future when the entire road was completed.

by selxic on Feb 13, 2013 9:42 am • linkreport

"GSA should not have to "feel sorry" for Md. because businesses want to locate in D.C. and/or Va. "

GSA is not being required to feel anything. It congress' prerogative to direct the location if it so desires - and improving the employment/residence balance of the region seems a worthy public policy goal.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 13, 2013 9:45 am • linkreport

I believe it was originally intended to be a true limited access parkway, drumz, but what was built was the compromise with hopes things could change in the future when the entire road was completed.

That's my thought as well, though if that's the case they really didn't see Reston and Herndon turning into the types of business centers they are today perhaps. Unless you want to deal with two lane country roads there isn't really any other way to access those areas from the south without detouring first to 28 or 495.

by drumz on Feb 13, 2013 9:49 am • linkreport

Wacky, how the McDonnell proposal for increasing transportation revenue is turned totally on its head. If this was McDonnell's plan all along, he is a better politician that I thought. The VA Senate is much better, with an increase in the gas excise tax and a 1% wholesale tax. I'm confused from the Post article as to what exactly the change would be to the state sales tax. Is it a 0.5% sales tax increase with the new revenue going to rail and transit or a change in the allocation of the current 5% sales tax.

PA is also considering, what is in effect, a gas tax increase by lifting a cap on the gas wholesale tax. If VA can pass a gas and sales tax increase along with allowing counties and cities to impose an additional local sales tax, that could get MD to reach an agreement to increase taxes for transportation funding as well. While much of the new transportation funds would go for roads, there would be more funds for rail & transit projects as well.

by AlanF on Feb 13, 2013 10:00 am • linkreport

Couldn't the park service have just tagged the tree? Mistakes happen, but a little extra step to mark it would not have hurt?

by spookiness on Feb 13, 2013 10:00 am • linkreport

Tell Nancy what you think about the helmet law, especially if you're a MC resident:
councilmember.floreen@montgomerycountymd.gov
http://nancyfloreen.blogspot.com/
(remember to be respectful! After all, it's not like she can vote on it)

by Ben on Feb 13, 2013 10:05 am • linkreport

@selxic, "FBI to Greenbelt it is". None of whee the FBI will end up is settled. The selection of the new location will be an intensely political process with GSA, the FBI, the proposals from the developers all playing a supporting role. With Mikulski and Steny Hoyer now in influential positions, MD has political heavyweights in Congress that may tilt the selection to a MD location. But the proposed locations will have to meet a long list of requirements.

The Greenbelt site is at the end of the Green Line, but is rather isolated otherwise. The Purple line won't be going there, although a transfer at College Park would make for a short connection.

by AlanF on Feb 13, 2013 10:17 am • linkreport

The Virginia thing is heartwarming. How they got there, I have no clue, but at least they are making progress. Currently, half a cent of the state’s sales tax goes to transportation. The measure passed by the Senate Finance Committee would increase that by 0.05 percentage point, thereby bringing in more than $230 million a year for rail and mass transit by 2014 — the largest single statewide revenue raiser in the package.

So currently it is .5c per dollar. It will now be .55c, so an increase of 1/20th of a cent per dollar. So when you buy an Ipad for $500, 25 cents that would have gone to the general fund would instead go to transportation. Seems reasonable, and something the conservatives can be happy about, especially if they are going to give in on the gas tax.

Most importantly, the thing needs to be indexed to inflation. Even if it raises it a half cent a year, that means in a few years, it is up another 2 cents, which isn't much, but it keeps it moving in the right direction.

@Jasper

I know you haven't commented today, but I just thought it was super convenient that the day after our conversation yesterday, a link about Greenbelt and how WMATA owns the land was presented. Its like a gift from above! (and no, I didn't suggest that link :)

by Kyle-W on Feb 13, 2013 10:24 am • linkreport

The need for reverse commuting will really hurt DC. Metro was originally a way to get workers into the center but as it becomes saturated in the center and maximum utilization of transit resources is needed, the feds and many others will seek locations utilizing reverse commuting since the unused transit is already there.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 13, 2013 10:33 am • linkreport

@Transport

"GSA should not have to "feel sorry" for Md. because businesses want to locate in D.C. and/or Va. "

The GSA has a heavy influence on local economies and the private firms that service the Federal government through placement of large groups of skilled workers and therefore has a responsibility to be balanced for the benefit of all of its employees throughout the region. NOVA wouldn't be NOVA without the Federal government and more specifically the DoD. Businesses tend locate around the agencies they serve and we all know that the defense industry has enjoyed trillions of dollars since the cold war. To imply that MD is somehow inferior because there is an imbalance is a mistake. VA lucked out with the Pentagon. I'm not so sure NOVA would be the same if the Pentagon was located in New Carrollton. In addition, Alexandria is closer to the federal core being just across the Potomac. That speaks more to a geographical advantage than a friendlier business climate. If any region received help from the GSA it would be NOVA with the DoD and the resulting defense industry.

Also, consider what happens when the defense budget shrinks due to Sequestration. VA will be impacted heavily.

Like AWalkInTheCity stated, it is just good policy to have a good regional balance for federal employees and businesses in the region.

by adelphi_sky on Feb 13, 2013 10:35 am • linkreport

How come it seems that every time someone who pushes a bike-unfriendly policy that claims to be a biker themselves never uses their bike for anything but exercise? It's always "hey I ride 15 miles a weekend on the C&O Canal, so I know what bikers need." You never hear from people who use bikes to actually get around push stupid bike regulations.

by TM on Feb 13, 2013 10:35 am • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by movement on Feb 13, 2013 10:41 am • linkreport

"Cars and drivers killed a 94-year-old woman on Georgia Avenue near Howard (by turning into the woman in a crosswalk), a 59-year-old man crossing Georgia in Aspen Hill, a man in Bowie on Route 301, and this morning, a man on New York Avenue by Ivy City. "
----
Yeah.

Cars and drivers are deliberately seeking out and killing pedestrians.

by ceefer66 on Feb 13, 2013 10:48 am • linkreport

The tree being cut down makes me sick. That's a pretty shocking mistake, especially if an arborist was supposedly on site. There's no mistaking an Ash and an Ginkgo.

The stories on the pedestrians struck didn't have a whole lot of details, but I don't understand the one being "cited" either. It's vehicular manslaughter. Let's hope there are some prosecutions on this, and possibly others if it's warranted.

by thump on Feb 13, 2013 10:56 am • linkreport

Re: Cars and drivers. Thought it was an odd way to phrase it myself. Both the car and the driver killed a person? Was it the bumper or hood of the car that caused the death?...HA!

Chuckled at WashCycle's coverage of the helmet law debate. Especially this gem, "And those all sound like reasons to wear helmets (reasons that one could argue with, but we don't have to). But what about the evidence showing that helmet laws reduce ridership. Then the preference of one science vs. another, "And what about the studies that SHOW that they reduce cycling. Does she not believe the science? No, no, I know you're right on the facts, but what about this other study, I like this study more because it's more in psynch w/what I already believe.

Now sure how making a distinction between the "age of the door'er" make sense.

The commercial pass makes sense as a way to make money. I wonder whether the p/vehicle cost is too much.

by HogWash on Feb 13, 2013 11:01 am • linkreport

For what it's worth, AlanF, I support the FBI headquarters being built in Springfield, but since the initial announcement and list of qualifications it was clear that it was written for Prince George's County. PG never publicly identified sites and I've been pretty consistent that it's hard to judge something that doesn't exist. WMATA involvement makes this look like a done deal though. I still believe Springfield is the better location.

by selxic on Feb 13, 2013 11:04 am • linkreport

I'm really sad about the tree, really not so much for the tree itself, but the location which is one of the few quality green spaces that downtown workers can easily get to. There has got to be some strong punitive measures they can use to make an example.

by Alan B. on Feb 13, 2013 11:21 am • linkreport

As as McDonnel hater, I have to admit he has done a great job here. Great politics, Governor. A radical idea to scare everyone, the senate scare, all of it really brillant.

That seems like a contorted way of reading what happened. The actual facts are that McDonnell proposed a ridiculous idea, the Repubs in the House passed it basically as-is, and it was up to the Dems in the Senate to turn the proposal on its head and come up with a sensible plan just in the nick of time before the legislative clock expired.

I don't think the notion that Repubs propose ludicrous things like letting the country default on its debt or shutting down the government (or eliminating the gas tax) is good politics or good for the country. Even if Dems finally convince them at the last minute to avoid catastrophe. And, I certainly wouldn't credit (blame is more like it) Repubs for coming up with the ridiculous proposals in the first place.

How about a novel idea...start with a reasonable plan and then work with others to improve it even further?

by Falls Church on Feb 13, 2013 11:24 am • linkreport

Widening pressure never ends: Fairfax County supervisor Pat Herrity wants to study widening the Fairfax County Parkway

Please, please, please consider extending the Blue Line along the Franconia-Springfield Parkway, Fairfax County Parkway and Ox Rd and Hunter Mill Lane to end at the Silver Line near Wolf Trap. This would greatly improve transportation in Fairfax County and there is plenty of space along this road to increased density.

@drumz:I don't know the history of how the road

It was planned as the original Outer Beltway. Local opposition stopped it.

@ Transport:Maybe Md. lawmakers should instead be asking why businesses, including federal tenants, seem to want to be in D.C. and Va. and work to make Md. more attractive.

That is not a correct view. There is a relative simple difference between the type of businesses that Md and NoVa attract. NoVa does well with defense, security and internet. Think CIA, Pentagon, all the defense contractors, AOL and CSC. MD does well attracting science. Think NIH, NIST, APL, NASA Goddard.

@ Kyle-W: I just thought it was super convenient that the day after our conversation yesterday

We'll see how it plays out. Personally, I am only slightly biased towards Franconia. I just generally think that Fairfax has it's sh!t better together than PG County. But we'll see. Somebody did mention yesterday that the Appropriations Committee is not chairwomaned by a MD senator. I had not realized that. She might utterly overrule any VA lobby.

by Jasper on Feb 13, 2013 11:41 am • linkreport

@Jasper

I can certainly agree with that. Outside of its traffic, Fairfax County is an extremely well run county. I speak as a DC resident, so fairly impartial, that I feel that locating the FBI at a place like Greenbelt is a much better move for the region as a whole, as opposed to cramming even more into Fairfax County.

It will certainly be interesting, and I will be following closely.

by Kyle-W on Feb 13, 2013 11:58 am • linkreport

@AlanF - you write "The Greenbelt site is at the end of the Green Line, but is rather isolated otherwise."

Isolated? It's right next to the Beltway! It's also approximately a mile from several major commuter/retail corridors including Route 1, Greenbelt Rd, and Kenilworth Ave.

True, the interchange (with the Beltway) there only goes one direction, but the interchange will probably be completed whenever the site is developed.

by John on Feb 13, 2013 12:20 pm • linkreport

@ Kyle-W:Outside of its traffic, Fairfax County is an extremely well run county.

Most jurisdictions here are run well. DC and PG County are not. The politicians there don't seem to be able to hide their corruption.

As for traffic, I am not sure Fairfax can do much about it, much like, Arlington, PG County and MoCo have litlle influence on what happens to their main roads. Our local transportation infrastructure is a mess. The roads are overflowing, and there is too much resistance to improve transit. We are all held back by the fact that we are rather randomly divided up into too may government that all suffer from navel starting. Even if someone would have a decent vision to fix our infrastructure, it would be impossible to implement is because some jurisdiction will delay things for some reason.

by Jasper on Feb 13, 2013 12:22 pm • linkreport

John, it's not a great driving distance from things, but there is nothing within walking distance of the area around the actual station.

It's easy to say any jurisdiction is not run well, but I fail to see any of them failing to operate on a daily basis. There have been high profile corrupt politicians outed publicly in certain jurisdiction, but that hasn't halted operations or prevented them from providing most services.

by selxic on Feb 13, 2013 12:45 pm • linkreport

@Transport

"GSA should not have to "feel sorry" for Md. because businesses want to locate in D.C. and/or Va. Maybe Md. lawmakers should instead be asking why businesses, including federal tenants, seem to want to be in D.C. and Va. and work to make Md. more attractive."

For one, I'm sure GSA doesn't feel sorry for anyone. Second, since when have businesses been relocating to DC? Third, suburban Maryland also has far more federal installations (not counting military) than Northern VA does.

I do agree that Maryland (and DC) does struggle to compete with NoVa for large private businesses though. This is mainly because of the high-corporate taxes in heavily liberal MD, and the fact that VA (like every other Southern state) is right-to-work, two things that aren't likely to change anytime soon.

Maryland is left to compete in areas that mainly benefit employees such as (arguably) better quality-of-life, better mass transit, less traffic, and better public services. Of course, most for-profit companies are only focused on their bottom line, and don't take these things into account. Not to mention that the MoCo and PGC Depts. of Econ, Development does a really poor job of selling the county/state.

by King Terrapin on Feb 13, 2013 1:03 pm • linkreport

When I saw "accidentally cut down healthy, 140 year old tree" I was said, but then I read it was a ginko.

The berries of those things smell like buttcrack.

by Frank IBC on Feb 13, 2013 3:17 pm • linkreport

"said" = "sad".

by Frank IBC on Feb 13, 2013 3:22 pm • linkreport

@FrankIBC -only the females produce berries and they only stink if they're fertilized.

by Tina on Feb 13, 2013 3:24 pm • linkreport

@Jasper

The idea of the Fairfax County Parkway as an outer beltway was pretty much DOA. I think it's worked mostly fine for what it was designed to do up until about a decade ago or so.

@drumz

The Fairfax County Parkway serves people from southern and western Fairfax County pretty well, which is what it was created to do. It wasn't created to help people from PW County get into the county. I do think Rt. 28 badly needs upgrades south of Braddock Rd. in Centreville and Manassas.

@KingTerrapin

When you talk about how businesses only care about their bottomline instead of quality of life, which is why they move to VA rather than MD, you're making it sound as if the quality of life and the other things you mention are so dramatically different in Maryland. It's not. I agree the departments of economic development haven't done as good a job as they could have, but that's because they focus on the things that you mention that aren't so obvious to a lot of people when you look at the Suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia as a whole. Frankly, it comes across as very smug to suggest that if businesses cared about their employees' quality of life, that they wouldn't be in Virginia.

by Vik on Feb 13, 2013 3:32 pm • linkreport

@John, re Greenbelt Metro station location, what is there around the Greenbelt station site that is in walking distance? Some residential areas, but I don't see retail or commercial sites close by. I probably should have written "sort of isolated", but checking the location on Google Earth, I see a lot of open land around the station, limited access to the Beltway, and mostly medium/low density neighborhoods. I am not familiar enough with the area to know how walkable it is. However, the FBI may be looking for a campus site with an extensive security perimeter, lots of parking, and only a few entrances, so the Greenbelt site may meet their needs. Close proximity to College Park could be a plus for continuing education for agents.

The process of selecting a new site for the FBI HQ is in its early stages. At this point, we do not know all the contender locations.

by AlanF on Feb 13, 2013 4:21 pm • linkreport

@King Terp

There are more companies with locations in NoVa that are on the list of Best Companies to Work For than in MD. So, I wouldn't say that MD has a monopoly on companies who care about their employees.

by Falls Church on Feb 13, 2013 4:27 pm • linkreport

A radical idea to scare everyone, the senate scare, all of it really brillant.

Has McDonnell ever favored a higher gas tax? It doesn't sound like something Republicans usually favor.

by David C on Feb 13, 2013 8:23 pm • linkreport

No, no, I know you're right on the facts, but what about this other study, I like this study more because it's more in psynch w/what I already believe.

Hogwash, I think you misread what I wrote. I did not argue with the science that backed the efficacy of helmets. Then I asked why she denies the science that shows the impact of helmet laws. So I think I was pretty consistent. The science is probably right on helmet efficacy and it is probably right on helmet laws as a deterrent to riding. It is the Delegate (and you) who is accepting only the science she likes - about helmet efficacy - and rejecting the science she does not - about helmet laws.

The fact is that, in this debate, whether or not helmets work is irrelevant.

by washcycle on Feb 13, 2013 8:27 pm • linkreport

@FrankIBC -only the females produce berries and they only stink if they're fertilized.

While this is technically true, I lived for years on a street with several mature female gingkoes, and they would inevitably produce incredible amounts of the most disgusting fruit imaginable. The city would treat them with an anti-fruiting sprays every year, but it had almost zero effect.

by oboe on Feb 13, 2013 8:44 pm • linkreport

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