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Breakfast links: Plans for the future


Photo by lunaed on Flickr.
Narrow here, wide there: In the latest round of updates to regional transportation plans, DC wants to narrow some roads like East and South Capitol Streets, while Virginia plans to widen many roads, particularly near Tysons. (Examiner)

Cycle track's death greatly exaggerated: DC also removes the 9th Street cycle track from the regional plan, which governs how federal funds are spent, but it's not dead. In fact, it could now be easier to build without burdensome federal rules. (WashCycle, BeyondDC)

Sustainable politics: Some proposals in Mayor Gray's Sustainable DC plan, like pay-as-you-throw or a bottle deposit, are listed as "long term", which basically means it's too politically difficult to achieve right now. (Post)

The future of Fairfax is smart growth: Fairfax chairman Sharon Bulova said in her State of the County address that walkable, mixed use, transit-oriented redevelopment is Fairfax County's future, using examples like Tysons, Springfield, and Merrifield. (Post)

DASH gets bike racks: Alexandria's DASH Bus has installed bike racks on its entire fleet of buses. A Virginia Department of Transportation grant covered the cost of retrofitting 53 buses in DASH's fleet that were purchased before 2011. (AlexandriaNews)

Sequester in the park: Sequestration would mean some big cuts at local national parks like the Mall and Rock Creek (which include smaller DC parks like Dupont Circle, Meridian Hill, Franklin Square, and many more. (DCist)

No longer in the zone?: Zoning started as a way to separate housing and industrial uses, but with more uses mixing and many exceptions to zoning regulations, has the word now become anachronistic to how we actually plan cities? (Post)

And...: DC's invited to bid for the Olympics and Mayor Gray is considering it. (DCist, WTOP) ... Seattle considers building gondolas. (Seattle Times) ... New car sales hit a record low in Europe thanks to a slow economy and good public transit. (NYT)

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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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This is gonna be a good comment thread I have a feeling today. Bring on the Tysons hate from the State of the County speech.

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 21, 2013 8:29 am • linkreport

Productive first comment! Okay, Tysons Engineer, I'll bite: what do you think people will hate so much about the State of the County speech?

by Gray on Feb 21, 2013 8:48 am • linkreport

I've already seen a lot of the hate. This video looked like a advertisement straight out of Pawney Parks and Rec.

Comments making fun of the above ground rail, as if that means anything (just got back from France lots of very fancy cities with above ground rail including 9th district of Paris on the Blue line). Wooptie doo

You have heard them too, I am just hear to listen to them, and laugh.

On the olympics topic (productive comment) I really hope DC doesnt do it. Study after study has shown how olympics and the construction that goes into them leaves cities far poorer and in worse conditions than they were before. DC is finally crawling out in to a world of fiscal solvency, the worst idea would be to waste all of the money on shiny bells instead of paying to improve transit, parks, and schools (things that residents actually care about)

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 21, 2013 8:57 am • linkreport

Where specifically are they talking about when it comes to narrowing East Capitol Street? I would argue that East Capitol between the Capitol and Lincoln Park is one of the most functional streets in DC. Cars, buses, bike lanes, crosswalks...seems like that would serve as a pretty good model. I assume they are talking about the portions east of Lincoln Park.

by MJ on Feb 21, 2013 8:59 am • linkreport

@Tysons Engineer

Most of the summer Olympics break even or make a small profit, with the outside of Athens and Beijing (Since 84, US Olympic games show a decent profit). But outside of the new venues, transportation gets the bulk of the funding. So bid for the Olympics get a massive infusion of cash build new recreational facilities, tourist accommodations, and upgrade/create transit for little or no cost (maybe even at a profit)? Count me in. Plus the Olympics present a deadline that has to be met, so there is a little sense of urgency for these projects and little tolerance for project delays.

by RJ on Feb 21, 2013 9:16 am • linkreport

@RJ Not sure where you get your information. London reported a total disaster. Remember during the olympics they kept saying how much less crowded it was than they expected at local restaurants.

You should really read this

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/politics/2012/07/why-hosting-olympics-bad-cities/2689/

Seriously, it would be very bad for DC especially considering what else the money could be used for

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 21, 2013 9:19 am • linkreport

The Olympic Bid should definitely be a joint DC/Baltimore Metro bid. It would be nice to have the Amtrak line be upgraded to four tracks between the two cities and BWI.

by mcs on Feb 21, 2013 9:27 am • linkreport

I think the Olympics would be stupid, financially and politically. Over and over we've seen a huge investment in infrastructure that really doesn't meet the needs of the city long term. They always come in way over budget. I say let some developing countries take the wheel for a while and hopefully they can manage it better. We don't need the Olympics to invest a billion dollars on streetcars. Plus where would you even put stuff? It would all go to Maryland and Virginia anyway.

by Alan B. on Feb 21, 2013 9:30 am • linkreport

MJ, if you go to this link, you can see a map of all the roads DC wants to narrow.

by David C on Feb 21, 2013 9:34 am • linkreport

Did we have this Olympic discussion before? It's like building the tallest building in the world, it's way more about prestige than it is about financial soundness.

by David C on Feb 21, 2013 9:37 am • linkreport

@MJ

I'm guessing they mean East Capitol street on the far side of RFK and the Anacostia River; it's a bit of a speedway out in that direction if I remember correctly (been a while since I drove on it). Similar, actually, to South Capitol St. across the Anacostia where it runs for a while next to Bolling. That part of S Capitol feels like a highway; I used to bike on it for my commute which, while exhilarating, was not the most pleasant experience.

by CapHill on Feb 21, 2013 9:41 am • linkreport

If the olympics come to DC, I'm out of here. Like gone to the West Coast out of here. Selling any property I may own, quitting any job I have. It'd be too much of a hassle. That said, I would very much enjoy watching it from Seattle on television!

by David F-H on Feb 21, 2013 9:43 am • linkreport

@Tysons Engineer,

London's long term effects are too early to tell, not sure what aspects you claim were total disasters (was it Mitt's criticisms?). But the Article point out Beijing and Athens, which shouldn't even be discussed. Athens was a complete joke, in no way could Greece or the city of Athens afford the games. On the other hand Beijing went so far over the top that there was nothing but waste after games, that is not going to happen here. Look at LA and Atlanta, and in some ways SLC (although they were Winter games), the US has a very good track record in running and planning for the games, then again we are talking about DC. But you say DC could spend the money elsewhere, but the fact is there will be no additional money (mostly Federal and private investment) if they don't get the games.

by RJ on Feb 21, 2013 9:44 am • linkreport

the specifics of E. capitol Street, from the link MJ posted:

East Capitol St. from 40th St. to Southern Ave.

Implement pedestrian safety and traffic operations improvements and remove one of three travel lanes in each direction. Complete: 2015

by Birdie on Feb 21, 2013 9:45 am • linkreport

The new stuff in Merrifield so far is a vast improvement, but Mosaic still feels like a walkable island/outdoor mall. Crossing 29 and/or Gallows on foot or bike is intimidating. 29 is 8 lanes at Eskridge(!), and Eskridge is supposed to be the main pedestrian link to the Metro. Hopefully a foot bridge or tunnel is built in the future, otherwise I see the walkable development being most successful in the NE quadrant of the intersection.

by m2fc on Feb 21, 2013 9:59 am • linkreport

So bid(sic) for the Olympics get a massive infusion of cash

From where? The money has to be borrowed by the winning bidders, it doesn't just appear out of thin air.

by Juanita de Talmas on Feb 21, 2013 10:03 am • linkreport

"Hopefully a foot bridge or tunnel is built in the future,"

Or just set the lights to favor Eskridge and not rte 29. That will both make the crossing easier, and get the rte 29 commuters screaming for the tunnel/bridge.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 21, 2013 10:05 am • linkreport

There seems to be a current fascination with "gondolas" (or ropeway, aerial tram, cable car, whatever you want to call it). Let's hope this idea meets the same end as the Monorail, Maglev, PRT, and other tech-obsessed trends.

Aerial trams can be useful in places where you want to be able to traverse a short distance that other modes can't easily do - similar to where funicular/inclines are useful.

by MLD on Feb 21, 2013 10:06 am • linkreport

We need a Portlandia style "No Olympics" campaign. Here's why, if you do everything perfectly and everything runs as plans, the best you can hope for is to make a little money. If things go wrong, you can lose your shirt and be stuck paying debt for the next 30 years.

The same could be said about building stadiums for sports teams. But, at least with a sports team, the city gets a lasting source of entertainment and civic pride. The Olympic wad is shot in two weeks. Also, the amount of money (and hence the risk) is a lot less. Things are going pretty well for DC. There's no need to roll the dice on the olympics.

What would be the most likely long term effect of the Olympics in DC? Usually, the Olympics take place in the poorer parts of a city in order to kickstart economic development. The Olympics in DC would likely have a very large presence EOTR and if all goes well and according to The Plan, result in large-scale gentrification of EOTR (with all the pros and cons that entails).

by Falls Church on Feb 21, 2013 10:13 am • linkreport

London's long term effects are too early to tell, not sure what aspects you claim were total disasters

For starters, the Olympics cost $14 billion, were 150% over budget, and resulted in fewer tourists in London than you would have had during that period without the Olympics.

by Falls Church on Feb 21, 2013 10:16 am • linkreport

Most serious bids for the Olympics in the US don't require large new venues.

by selxic on Feb 21, 2013 10:20 am • linkreport

Well that's what I get for expecting the average washington post commenter to have a little bit of nuance about the type of development that is typical of Tysons and what the redevelopment plans actually entail.

Anyway, went to the Mosaic district this weekend because its a potential place for my wife and I to move to. If I could ask the governor to do one thing I'd ask him or her to create a place-making department in VDOT who has to review any project for place making impacts. Maybe then you could see greater success that isn't hampered by VDOT insisting on an extra lane or two wherever they can squeeze it.

That way you could begin to avoid headaches like an ever expanding 29 or 7.

by drumz on Feb 21, 2013 10:21 am • linkreport

What would be the most likely long term effect of the Olympics in DC?

If it were planned well, it would be a reason to build new Metro lines, upgrade MARC and VRE to S-bahn levels of service, and focus all of the investment in projects that will move people and handle visitors with the versatility of use post-olympics.

Sporting venues would be the least emphasized. Use existing venues where possible, upgrade them if necessary.

It's no slam dunk, to be sure. But if the investment is focused, it could work.

It's a long shot anyway. The US provides the vast majority of revenue to the IOC via our TV rights. NBC is thus vested in finding a friendly timezone to broadcast from, but the corruption in the IOC and a spat over TV revenues between the USOC and the IOC means that the USOC might not even bid. The USOC feels (and not wrongly, I might add) that given the US financial support of the Games via media revenues, it should get the benefit of hosting more frequently than it has (or, as mentioned, at least hosting in timezones friendly to US viewership).

by Alex B. on Feb 21, 2013 10:22 am • linkreport

It's great to see 395 on that list, David C.

by selxic on Feb 21, 2013 10:28 am • linkreport

Don't forget Washington-Baltimore bid for the 2012 games:

http://web.archive.org/web/20021014132755/http://dc2012.org/WhyDC/WhyDC.html

by Vicente Fox on Feb 21, 2013 10:29 am • linkreport

Don't forget Washington-Baltimore bid for the 2012 games:

I can't believe someone actually typed "Baltimore Arena" into any sort of official document regarding a DC-Baltimore Olympic Bid.

by dcdriver on Feb 21, 2013 10:37 am • linkreport

What would be the most likely long term effect of the Olympics in DC?

If it were planned well, it would be a reason to build new Metro lines, upgrade MARC and VRE to S-bahn levels of service, and focus all of the investment in projects that will move people and handle visitors with the versatility of use post-olympics.

The sum total of Atlanta's 1996 olympic transit expansion was three new MARTA stations. The Olympics will not be a reason to create additional Metro capacity to relieve commuting bottlenecks (like at the Rosslyn tunnel) or expand Metro further out in the suburbs (because the olympics won't be happening in the farther out suburbs).

by Falls Church on Feb 21, 2013 10:49 am • linkreport

I wouldn't be opposed to DC hosting the Olympics in theory but the problem that I see is that they typically go over budget and under deliver in terms of economic development post-games.

This might be the easiest way for the Redskins to move back to DC too.

by Fitz on Feb 21, 2013 10:50 am • linkreport

There is no way that DC could win the bid without tons of new venues. We've got the Verizon Center and RFK. I don't know if Nationals can be easily enough reconfigured for events. Fedex and UMD College Park facilities are possible but you'd have to negotiate with the owners. Where would you put a major aquatic facility or two that would be of use the population? Where would you put an athlete's village. Seems like a stupid investment for at best marginal returns. Anyway even if you could do it on a shoestring that kind of bid would never win. It's a money pit, the only people that win out is the construction industry at the cost of taxpayers.

by Alan B. on Feb 21, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

The sum total of Atlanta's 1996 olympic transit expansion was three new MARTA stations.

As I said, if it were planned well. Atlanta's Olympics were not planned well.

The Olympics will not be a reason to create additional Metro capacity to relieve commuting bottlenecks (like at the Rosslyn tunnel) or expand Metro further out in the suburbs (because the olympics won't be happening in the farther out suburbs).

Sure it would. Take the old 2012 DC plan, with a cluster of venues at RFK and a rail link to Baltimore for venues there. Sounds like a perfectly reasonable case for the new Blue line - Union Station out towards River Terrace.

I'm not saying any of this is a sure thing, but my point is simply that you can get long-term benefit from this if you plan for it. London got a lot out of their hosting in terms of new transportation infrastructure (or repurposed right of way, as in the case of the Overground): http://www.transportnexus.com/olympic-games-5/

If DC were to bid, I'd want more London, less Atlanta.

And don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing that this would be cheap or even that it would be wise, but I am pushing back on the idea that hosting the Olympics inherently means the local area can't and won't benefit from the investments.

by Alex B. on Feb 21, 2013 11:05 am • linkreport

@Falls Church: The sum total of Atlanta's 1996 olympic transit expansion was three new MARTA stations.

I'm not a huge proponent of blowing a ton of money on the Olympics, but I don't think it's particularly fair to use the example of Atlanta. It's widely recognized to have been the worst-run Olympics in quite a while, primarily since the organizers were determined to have the whole thing paid for by corporate sponsors.

Montreal went into debt for decades, and only paid off the Olympic Stadium a few years ago--but they did get public support for some real transit improvements out of it.

There are more recent examples, too...but yeah, Atlanta totally blew it. And you didn't even mention that they specifically sited the track and field stadium, which turned into the new Braves stadium, in a location near downtown but completely cut off from MARTA.

by Gray on Feb 21, 2013 11:07 am • linkreport

I haven't refreshed my memory of the 2012 bid, but I recall a lot of it was using existing venues (GMU, UMD, RFK, Baltimore Stadoum, etc). I think there was a temporary velodrome, which could easily be assembled on the RFK lots or elsewhere. Beach volleyball on the Ellipse!

If it took care of needed transit and housing infrastructure and could use, but improve existing venues, it could be very viable and relatively cost effective.

Note, I am not endorsing it either, but it isn't that far-fetched.

by Andrew on Feb 21, 2013 11:18 am • linkreport

The Olympics in the Greater Washington area would be a great idea, if the region would cooperate. Spreading out the competition venues would be easy and could use many ready-made features of the area. In London, competition was spread out among three main London "zones", plus sites across England, Wales, and Scotland (football, aka soccer, matches were played in both Glasgow & Cardiff). Like in London, it would be easy to repurpose facilities across the region for the Olympics and only need to construct/refurbish a few new places. Here is a short list:

~ JFK - refurbish for opening ceremony & athletics
~ Charles E. Smith Athletic Center (at GWU) (5000 seat)
~ D.C. Armory (10000 seat)
~ Kastles Stadium
~ McDonough Gymnasium (2500 seat)
~ Multi-Sport Field at Georgetown (2500 seat)
~ Verizon Center (20000 seat)
~ William H. Greene Stadium (Howard) (9000 seat)
~ William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center (main court - 7500 seat)
~ Facilities at George Mason, including Patriot Center (10000 seat), Aquatic Center, and Stadium.
~ Plus, 30 to 40 sports venues in Maryland.

With a quick look at the London venues, it seems that the only venues D.C. would need to construct would be for these sports:

~ Indoor Cycling (Velodrome, baby!)
~ Canoeing
~ Rowing (& Canoeing Sprinting) - unless there is something in Annapolis??

by Thad on Feb 21, 2013 11:35 am • linkreport

the one things DC and many american cities have going for us is we wouldn't have to build many new venues. We could use the convention center for things like judo, fencing, etc. With all of the colleges we have, we have plenty of 5000 or so seat venues which is all you need for many sports. We would need to build a swimming venue and an olympic stadium, but that is about it. Throw some temproary venues for beach volleyball and other such things on the mall, and you are golden.

I would build an olmpic village on the RFK parking lots which you could easily convert to normal housing afterwards

by nathaniel on Feb 21, 2013 11:38 am • linkreport

You think the olympic committee will be cool with DC's proposal to use a 60 year old stadium which hasnt been used by a major sports team in a decade and consistently gets trashed in local news about its deterioration conditions?

Yowza

No chance. For anyone who thinks that venues wouldnt be the number 1 spending line item they are kidding themselves. A brand new 500 million dollar + stadium would be built, plus we have no place for track and field events or soccer if we only build it to Football standards, so it might be even more expensive.

Add in the swimming pool arena (not gonna work in Verizon center) and you got a 1 billion dollar venue cost.

Ok... now spend what little you have left on improvements to road ways and transit (and forget about any connection between Baltimore and DC).

Its like the FBI discussion. It sounds all good and fine in DC, until you actually look at what it will take.

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 21, 2013 11:44 am • linkreport

Thanks, Tysons. The point isn't that the event couldn't be hosted here. It's that the IOC is never going to choose a shabby bid that doesn't promise lots of exciting shiny new things. We have limited "world-class" facilities and we can't afford to build a lot more.

by Alan B. on Feb 21, 2013 12:02 pm • linkreport

As I said, if it were planned well. Atlanta's Olympics were not planned well.

I'm not a huge proponent of blowing a ton of money on the Olympics, but I don't think it's particularly fair to use the example of Atlanta. It's widely recognized to have been the worst-run Olympics in quite a while

Really? It was one of the only Olympics not to be a financial catastrophe.

Montreal went into debt for decades, and only paid off the Olympic Stadium a few years ago--but they did get public support for some real transit improvements out of it.

Those Olympics are widely recognized as a financial disaster. From wikipedia and another source:

The Olympics were a financial disaster for Montreal, as the city faced debts for 30 years after the Games had finished. The Quebec provincial government took over construction when it became evident in 1975 that work had fallen far behind schedule; work was still under way just weeks before the opening date, and the tower was not built.

The Montreal games have become a poster child for the financial disaster an Olympics can leave behind. Mismanaged construction didn't even allow for the Olympic tower to be completed until after the ceremonies, and Olympic Stadium — the landmark structure that ended up costing $1.6 billion after repairs, construction and interest payments — has been left without a major tenant since the Montreal Expos left in 2005. According to many sources, the 1976 summer games left Montreal taxpayers with a staggering $1 billion in debt — a liability the city wasn't able to pay off for 30 years.

So, getting a some nice transit improvements at the significant risk of a financial disaster doesn't sound like a good deal. Oh, and if DC has trouble building a simple streetcar line on time, one can imagine the potential debacle the Olympic construction could turn into.

by Falls Church on Feb 21, 2013 12:10 pm • linkreport

@ Tysons Engineer - Actually, RFK was used by the Nats until 2007 and is still used by DC United. I admit that the stadium is not in great shape, but refurbishing RFK would a better solution than waiting for it to fall down. Additionally, it is not unknown to reuse old venues for the Olympics (see: LA Memorial Coliseum, which was 61 years old for the 1984 games).

Actually, if you investigate London, which of the recent Olympics is the most applicable, they spent £10.8bn total. And, how much was spent on venues ... £1.1bn ... or roughly 1/10th of the total budget. The biggest line item of the London Olympics was the Olympic Park at £1.822bn - but that included a lot infrastructure.

(figures are from this handy visualization - http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/datablog/interactive/2012/jul/26/london-2012-price-olympic-games-visualised )

In addition, I would like to add that while we are talking about the Olympics, we shouldn't forget that the same venues and village is used during the Paralympics.

Cheers!

by Thad on Feb 21, 2013 12:12 pm • linkreport

@Tyson's Engineer, Thad said JFK, not RFK. I assumed he was proposing that we put track and field in the Kennedy Center for the performing arts. Is that incorrect?

by David C on Feb 21, 2013 12:16 pm • linkreport

Only $10.8 billion, what a steal! DC is already full of tourists in July, why do we need an Olympics? I would absolutely vote against any mayors/council members that supported this bid.

by Alan B. on Feb 21, 2013 12:18 pm • linkreport

@davidC Haha, I just spit coffee onto my screen, can I send my IT departments bill to you?

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 21, 2013 12:36 pm • linkreport

Putting aside whether we can afford it or it's prudent to spend the money on new/refurbished venues, can you imagine the security measures they'll impliment in order for the capital city of the United States to host one of the premier international sporting events?! I'd either hole up in my house for a month or take an extended vacation rather than stick around for that hassle.

by 7r3y3r on Feb 21, 2013 12:47 pm • linkreport

Tysons Springfield and Merrifield walkable??? That's a laugh. The only place in all of fairfax that could be considered "walkable" is Reston TC, and it isn't transit oriented (and still won't be when the Silver Line arrives). Out of all the counties in MD/NoVa that reach inside the beltway fairfax is by far the biggest offender in building cookie-cutter, car-dependent, sprawling subdivisions.

by K Street on Feb 21, 2013 12:59 pm • linkreport

K street

Mosaic district is quite easy and pleasant to walk around in. The halstead developments north of rte 29 are pleasant to walk in, and are an easy walk to the metro. The difficulty crossing rte 29 has been mentioned above.

Tysons and Springfield of course are works in progress.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 21, 2013 1:02 pm • linkreport

More lanes feeding into the Tyson's area sounds like a good idea, particularly for the holiday shopping season rush, but that concrete jungle is complex enough to navigate as it is, so I hope this doesn't mean another major redesign of traffic patterns.

by Chris on Feb 21, 2013 1:19 pm • linkreport

We would need to build a swimming venue

Add in the swimming pool arena

Arlington already has that covered: http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/parksrecreation/forums/northtract/parksrecreationforumsnorthtractnorthtractoverview.aspx

by Vinh An Nguyen on Feb 21, 2013 2:01 pm • linkreport

I dont think you guys understand. Its not good enough to be just some space that has the elements or the amount of field needed for the events. The olympics give the bids to the cities that are gonna look good on TV. You aren't gonna get the bid unless you build the state of the art everything.

Its one thing to say whether the olympics could operate in DC area, its another to say that the olympic committee will want it to.

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 21, 2013 2:38 pm • linkreport

Even before assuming there would be improvements made to some, what venues wouldn't be considered "world class?"

by selxic on Feb 21, 2013 3:15 pm • linkreport

RFK would not be considered world class, hence why our baseball team left it, because it was deteriorating. Beyond that, its look is dated and no amount of refurbishment will change its bulky look (this coming from a person who loves the Skins and loved RFK).

It doesnt play well on TV, it looks blocky and aged. It simply does not look anything like China's impressive look, Rio's impressive designs, etc. London spent 1 billion (and it has equally as many stadiums for Football), so why would you think DC wouldn't also have to spend that kind of money if not more (After all London had Wimbly still considered one of if not THE premier stadium of the world, which DC does not).

Come on people, you are kidding yourselves if you think they are gonna look at Verizon Center and RFK and go, yea lets go with DC just dont change a thing with those.

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 21, 2013 3:18 pm • linkreport

"Come on people, you are kidding yourselves if you think they are gonna look at Verizon Center and RFK and go, yea lets go with DC just dont change a thing with those."
----

Yeah - and they're really kidding themselves if they think DC will get off with not improving road access and parking and pretending everyone of those million or so visitors will take Metro, walk, crawl, swim, bike or beam up to get to the venues.

by ceefer66 on Feb 21, 2013 3:27 pm • linkreport

Its not good enough to be just some space that has the elements or the amount of field needed for the events. The olympics give the bids to the cities that are gonna look good on TV. You aren't gonna get the bid unless you build the state of the art everything.

Don't get me wrong, they care about TV. But you can make a good presentation without a huge permanent edifice. Plenty of the most popular TV sports in London were held in nothing but temporary venues: beach volleyball in some sand trucked in to a public park, surrounded by bleachers covered in stylized tarps; swimming involved a fancy new pool, but flanked with temporary bleachers (that actually looked damn ugly on TV) to expand the capacity that will come down after the games; London's 12,000 seat basketball arena will be disassembled and recycled this year.

RFK won't work simply because a running track won't fit inside of it, and they have requirements for how big a stadium must be in terms of seated capacity.

by Alex B. on Feb 21, 2013 3:33 pm • linkreport

Just because some venues can accomdate the actual events doesnt mean they can accomodate sufficient spectators and Olympics add-ons as they are. Even ones that do will likely need a lot of improvements. It would be a total money pit.

by Alan B. on Feb 21, 2013 3:55 pm • linkreport

To pile on a bit, DC can absolutely host an Olympics using infrastructure already in the area, and if they could get permission to do that, it would likely be worth it.

But they can't WIN the Olympic bidding process using infrastructure already in the area, because some city is going to offer all new, world-record breaking facilities and offer to lose money to gain prestige. We should not be one of those cities.

by David C on Feb 21, 2013 4:09 pm • linkreport

The DC Olympics?

A great idea, but it will never happen.

Let’s be honest, DC, in fact, the entire region, is a place where you can’t get anything built without opposition and community input run amok. You can’t announce a plan to build a damn molehill around here without the preservationists, environmentalists, neighborhood groups, “concerned citizens’ groups”, lawyers, and professional activists coming out of every crevice. Does anyone honestly think the Olympic Committee would put up with that?

And how will people get around? On our too-small regional road network, in a city where “public parking” is the new dirty word? On our constantly under-repair – and too small - Metro?

Come on, folks! This is a place that can’t build transportation infrastructure without controversy and all sorts of delay. It took over 40 years to build the ICC in suburban Maryland and 295 and 395 in DC are finally connected after more than half a century of inconvenience and inefficiency. It’s taken about seven years for DC to lay a couple miles of streetcar tracks and they still haven’t figured out where to put the power to run the cars.

We’re finally getting rail to our international airport – with all 20 or so stops from downtown. And the Silver Line has turned out to be a bigger and more costly boondoggle than Boston’s Big Dig. Good grief!

Finally, there’s another very important thing: the Olympics are known for distinctive architecture. People in DC don’t like distinctive architecture. This is a place where they spend hundreds of millions of dollars to erect a new building that looks just like every existing building. A place where we call 12-story boxes “towers” and the mere mention of simply studying the possibility of adding 2 to 4 stories to the allowable DC height limit brings out the venom.

Face it. We won’t get the Olympics. It would be nice, but our reputation precedes us.

by ceefer66 on Feb 21, 2013 4:13 pm • linkreport

But they can't WIN the Olympic bidding process...

The one thing to remember is that the bidding process is more political than technical, and the rift between the rest of the IOC and the US is quite large at this point. The USOC might not even choose to bid. As things stand, the political factors work against a US bid winning. If that were not the case, then maybe things would be different and an efficient approach would work.

At the same time, there is a realization on the part of the IOC of the problems their approach of building magnificent stadiums only to see them rust away has. Part of that is the reason London got points for their temporary venues and use of lots of existing facilities. That said, it remains to be seen how far that will go.

by Alex B. on Feb 21, 2013 4:15 pm • linkreport

"People in DC don’t like distinctive architecture."

Well, color me surprised. A lot of tourists seem to like it though.

by Chris on Feb 21, 2013 4:20 pm • linkreport

Let’s be honest, DC, in fact, the entire region, is a place where you can’t get anything built without opposition and community input run amok.

It's almost like we could use some sort of goal to rally around as a motivating factor, something with a firm deadline approaching.

What kind of event might do that? Hmmm...

And the Silver Line has turned out to be a bigger and more costly boondoggle than Boston’s Big Dig. Good grief!

This is not even close to true.

Finally, there’s another very important thing: the Olympics are known for distinctive architecture. People in DC don’t like distinctive architecture.

The latter is simply wrong, and the former isn't really true either.

I was just in Atlanta, and saw their olympic torch from afar:
http://image.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/172378/172378,1205602529,1/stock-photo-atlanta-olympic-torch-10396411.jpg

I did a double-take, I thought I was back near the airport looking at a radar installation:
http://media.defenceindustrydaily.com/images/ELEC_Radar_ASR-11_Facility_lg.jpg

by Alex B. on Feb 21, 2013 4:28 pm • linkreport

@Ceefer

Gonna disagree with you about one thing. Parking, road traffic, lack of transit use? Now YOU are kidding yourself if you think that people from other countries will be LESS likely to use transit than we in the US haha.

London's mayor screamed about how the streets would run black with the oil of cars in traffic, there was almost none. Most people used the ample tube access.

People around the world mock us for our strange hatred of transit. The only thing they will wonder is why there isnt more in DC.

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 21, 2013 4:51 pm • linkreport

Realistically, no non-VIP, except maybe a token number of people with disability tags, is parking anywhere near a major Olympic venue.

by alexandrian on Feb 21, 2013 5:07 pm • linkreport

@Tysons Engineer: RFK. One venue. There's a general assumption there will be a new stadium somewhere in the region by then. If RFK remained, there would likely be temporary and/or cosmetic fixes like when the Nats used the stadium. However, as much of a dump RFK is to all of us, it still is superior to many international stadiums. The Olympics and World Cup even use temporary venues now. The venue arguments get old quick considering the venues are already listed as part of any plans. I'm in partial agreement with David C. DC can do it and it might be nice, but DC isn't likely to be chosen.

by selxic on Feb 22, 2013 8:01 am • linkreport

Just because RFK is serviceable doesn't mean it will impress the IOC though. You need to have at least some "WOW!" factor.

by Chris on Feb 22, 2013 11:59 am • linkreport

@Vinh An Nguyen: We would need to build a swimming venue...Add in the swimming pool arena...Arlington already has that covered:

Rec center pools around here are nice but as an Olympic venue they just don't cut it -- they don't have the spectator capacity and the warm-up areas. The best pool I have seen is at U-Md: it is fast, beautiful and large and basically unused (they cut the swimming program last year!), with plenty of nearby parking. However even that is not good enough.

What is required for the Olympics is something like the Indiana University Pool. I am sure a new pool will need to be built to get the bid.

I would be a good addition to the area because we need a lot more water around here.

by goldfish on Feb 22, 2013 12:33 pm • linkreport

RFK could host some soccer games although FedEx would probably be a preferable venue. It could also do archery.

The main stadium needs 80,000 seats and a track.

by alexandrian on Feb 22, 2013 1:19 pm • linkreport

It could also do archery.

Yep, that is about it.

by goldfish on Feb 22, 2013 1:23 pm • linkreport

If DC put together a low-cost bid based on re-using existing facilities with minimal-to-moderate upgrades, financed through heavy corporate sponsorship, I'd probably support it. However, it would have about zero chance of getting selected by the Olympic Committee.

Atlanta pulled that strategy off (particularly the corporate sponsorship part) which resulted in one of the most financially successful games ever. Predictably, the Olympic Committee hated it and I doubt they would choose a bid like that again. Losing significant amounts of money on the games is basically a prerequisite to hosting it and there is no shortage of cities willing to do just that. DC's $5B bid simply isn't going to trump some other major city's $15B bid.

by Falls Church on Feb 22, 2013 1:33 pm • linkreport

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