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Breakfast links: Track worked


Photo by Kevin H. on Flickr.
A good weekend to bike: After the Cherry Blossom holiday, Metro track work is back with a vengeance this weekend, with all 5 lines affected. The Red Line will include a downtown shuttle between Farragut North and Gallery Place. (Post)

Saved from the tracks: A man fell off the platform at Pentagon City Metro. An Annandale woman and her father in his 70s immediately pulled him to safety. (Post)

No one wants the middle seat: In a study of passenger behavior in the NYC subway system, the Transportation Research Board finds that riders like to stand near a door, prefer vertical poles to overhead bars and avoid middle seats. TRB's recommended layout replaces bench-style seats with "airline" seats at both ends of the car. (Wired)

Move Constitution Avenue?: The US Institute of Peace wants to move part of Constitution Avenue, or really the on-ramp to I-66 past its new building, because there's too much "noise and vibration." Still unclear is who would pay for this, where the new ramp would be, and why they didn't anticipate the noise before. (NBC4)

The rent really is damn high: Rents in the DC area rose more than anywhere else from 2009-2011. (Examiner) ... Windowless 2-level units in Adams Morgan are renting quickly. (City Paper) ... Bethesda could get 3,700 new units; it needs them. (BethesdaNow)

DC gov employees will get fatter paychecks: The Gray administration announced pay raises totaling 13% over the next 4 years for about 23,000 city employees, about two-thirds of the total workforce. Unions representing police, firefighters and teachers have not yet reached agreements with the city. (Post)

Cuccinelli won't repeal VA transpo funding: The presumptive Republican gubernatorial candidate, who opposed the recent $1.4 billion transportation package, says he won't attempt to repeal it if elected. (Post)

Ride Montgomery for Earth Day: The Sierra Club, Montgomery Bicycle Advocates, and Greater Greater Washington contributor Dan Reed are organizing a bike ride Saturday from Silver Spring to Takoma Park. (Patch)

Share with brotherly love: Philadelphia is considering launching bike sharing as soon as fall 2014. DC and Boston experts offer advice from experience: go big in the first phase, put stations in low-income neighborhoods, offer subsidized memberships. (Next City)

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Peter James is an architectural and urban designer working in Dupont Circle. Prior to training as an architect, he worked in marketing and communications in the design industry. He received a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Maryland. A Columbia Heights resident and daily bike commuter, he looks forward to the day he moves to a lower elevation. 

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So we have 8 windowless apartments and 3 of them have been leased. Is that really evidence that "Apparently, a lot of people" are willing to "pay thousands of dollars every month to live in a windowless apartment"? Is that really evidence that "Those are going very quickly"? And, why the need for an open house on May 4 if these things are so popular? If they are really going so fast, they should all be leased by then.

by jh on Apr 18, 2013 9:14 am • linkreport

VA Transportation Funding: I doubt it Cooch. He only says he wouldn't repeal it because it wouldn't work, not because he believes in it.

DC Raises: Do these includes COLAs? If these raises are just COLAs, then of course it makes sense. If we are giving COLAs and raises, WHY? Why does the lady who processes licenses at the DMV deserve Inflation+3% every year, if she is doing the exact same job? If her responsibilities increase, she should have a step upgrade or whatever, but to just blindly give everyone raises and COLAs is ridiculous. I didn't get 6% last year...

by Kyle-W on Apr 18, 2013 9:16 am • linkreport

It was unusual, Stessel said, for someone to make a rescue when the train was “quite so close” as it was about 6:40 p.m. Thursday, when a man who was texting “walked right off the platform” as a train was arriving.

Theres's got to be some way to make that illegal.

by Alan B. on Apr 18, 2013 9:17 am • linkreport

From the article, DC has 30K employees? I posted a few days (around the transit benefits) that it might have 10k.

The context is 7000K union employees got a $25 metro benfit, so that is only around 1/3 of all employees.

by charlie on Apr 18, 2013 9:27 am • linkreport

jh

38% leased, and its not even ready for move in yet? Uh yeah, that's moving quickly.

I was at an open house at AVA several weeks AFTER their move-ins had started. Thats the way the RE business works - its hard to lease out unfinished units. And buildings always market - rather than just waiting for units to fill - if they fill on their own, they haven't priced correctly.

by EmptyNester on Apr 18, 2013 9:42 am • linkreport

Good luck to the IOP. The idea makes some sense, although it presumably converts hard-to-access public park land to effectively private parkland in front of the IOP. It also looks like it will take a lot of realignment of roadways and perhaps higher viaducts to eliminate what would be some conflicts in airspace.

by ah on Apr 18, 2013 9:45 am • linkreport

How about moving the US Institute of Peace to the ugliest building ever built museum? It was an anachorism even before it was finished being constructed.

by aaa on Apr 18, 2013 9:46 am • linkreport

re: The rent is too damn high, it's amazing how many issues are wooven into this problem. From the local economic impact there's a great blurb from WAMU this morning:

http://wamu.org/news/13/04/18/no_one_silver_bullet_to_addressing_traffic_congestion_study_says?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+WAMU885LocalNewsPodcast+(WAMU%3A+Local+News+Podcast)

The short of it is we need "to concentrate growth around transit centers, built high-occupancy toll lanes around the entire Beltway, and created a regionwide express bus system, traffic congestion would decrease significantly." All essential for "a future of job and population growth"

On the national economic side there's a great article in the "Foreign Policy magazine" describing what should be our focus.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/01/09/a_new_US_grand_strategy

This dosen't even address the environmental, physical and psychological health issues related to our current land use policies. I hope our leaders are listening.

by Thayer-D on Apr 18, 2013 9:49 am • linkreport

I was just on a tour of the Institute of Peace a while back. I was told that eventually the Navy complex behind the IOP would be given/sold that land as well and allow for larger conferences/events at the whole site. They would also open part of the building as a public exhibition space for tourists and stuff on the mall.

I would think that would alleviate some of the problems and provide an opportunity to integrate with the city as much as you can in that site.

Also walking there from Foggy Bottom I discovered the most ridiculous non-sidewalk in DC probably. It was maybe a foot of space between a concrete wall and the parked cars.

by drumz on Apr 18, 2013 10:00 am • linkreport

a man who was texting “walked right off the platform” as a train was arriving

His rescuers did the world a disfavor; this is a case where a Darwin Award needed to be given out.

by Vicente Fox on Apr 18, 2013 10:00 am • linkreport

Decided not to put the City Paper "war on cars" in the links, eh? I do hope that means it's getting its own separate post. Readying popcorn now :)

by Dizzy on Apr 18, 2013 10:08 am • linkreport

I was told that eventually the Navy complex behind the IOP would be given/sold that land as well and allow for larger conferences/events at the whole site.

I think they've got that area earmarked for State Dept expansion...

http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/breaking_ground/2013/02/state-department-weighing-foggy-bottom.html?page=all

by Alex B. on Apr 18, 2013 10:11 am • linkreport

I've never seen a DC mayor pump out so many hundreds of millions of dollars as favors so fast in preparation for a re-election campaign. Gray's 2014 campaign will certainly be the best-financed in the history of DC.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 18, 2013 11:04 am • linkreport

@AlexB; from your link:

"The campus was the site of the first National Observatory and had served as the original headquarters for the CIA. The Navy Bureau moved out of the campus last spring for new space in Falls Church. The U.S. Institute of Peace has been promised two buildings on the Navy Bureau’s campus. The institute, a publicly funded nonprofit, is still determining how it will use its space."

I thought the DNI had it, but haven't been keeping up with their moves:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/19/AR2006071901812.html

by charlie on Apr 18, 2013 11:12 am • linkreport

From what I recall the land that the current building sits on was also the Navy's. Maybe it will all go to state or not but IOP apparently definitely have plans for it.

Then I got to hear fun stories about how the week the building opened congress also completely zeroed out the IOP budget with one rep. or sen. claiming that since there are wars going on the IOP clearly isn't doing its job.

by drumz on Apr 18, 2013 11:15 am • linkreport

Can't blame The US Institute of Peace for wanting more peace and quiet in their building. It's what they do.

by TS on Apr 18, 2013 11:35 am • linkreport

Re: the Adams Morgan apartments, I lived in a windowless apartment in New Orleans for about 3 months while I was there for work two years ago. The apartment building had been a warehouse back in the day, and windows couldn't be added because of historic preservation... or something. The apartment was only a couple minutes' walk from the work site, and my work hours were very long and intense, so I wasn't too upset to be able to go home and be absolutely and completely cut off from the outside world for a few hours. I wasn't in the apartment a lot, so it was a rare bit of peace, quiet, and darkness when I really needed it.

That said, when I was sent back to NOLA last year, since I was only there for a month, I could stay in a hotel. I guess I could have stayed in a bigger, nicer place, but I chose a small garret room in the Quarter because it had one little window that I could open. That window made all the difference in the world! I'm really glad I didn't have to go back to that windowless apartment, even if it did have some advantages, at least for workaholics and vampires.

by Steven Harrell on Apr 18, 2013 12:00 pm • linkreport

@pay raises for city workers - Never before have I wished I worked for DC government and not the feds

by Kate W. on Apr 18, 2013 1:10 pm • linkreport

RE: Middle Seats

After 5 years of riding MARC (as well as having used other commuter RR's such as NJT, MNR, LIRR, and MBTA) I can personally attest to the fact that many people would rather stand than sit in the middle seat in the 3-2 seating scheme that most single level commuter rail cars have. In the middle there's no place to rest your arms, no view/access to the aisle, and no way to increase your personal space if one of your neighbors is a little, er, "hefty."

RE: Rent too d*mn high

Don't worry, rent will come down in a few years, and in a big way. If you look around the region, there are far more residential projects underway than there are Class A commercial. The office market is still soft and financing is hard to come by for new office space. Conversely, construction of new apartment units (the condo market is still slowly recovering), especially inside the Beltway and north/west of it, pretty much guarantees a hefty return at today's rental rates. As a result, the skylines of DC, Arlington, Silver Spring, Bethesda, et al are littered with tower cranes.

# of new apartment units under construction in:

Washington DC = 8,274
Montgomery Co. = 4,427
Fairfax Co. = 4,145
Arlington Co. = 3,266

The problem (for the developers anyway) is that 2 to 4 years from now the market will be saturated with multifamily high rises, and won't be able to absorb all of them, placing downward pressure on rents. This could create a downturn in the imporant construction sector (unless they start building office space again, which is unlikely thanks to sequestration and the government's real estate belt-tightening).

The Washington Business journal has a very informative article on the topic

by King Terrapin on Apr 18, 2013 2:26 pm • linkreport

On the new doubledecker NJT trains they took out the 2+3 for a 2+2 configuration with two levels similar to trains I've been on in Europe. Much superior unless you are in a group of 3 or more which most commuters aren't.

by Alan B. on Apr 18, 2013 3:28 pm • linkreport

@King Terrapin

I think that is certainly true to some respect. However, they are certainly missing a group of people who would love to live in DC/Arlington/Bethesda but just can't quite afford it. I have two good friends living in Fairfax in a 2BR that just couldn't quite afford Arlington. Give them two years of 3-4% increases, and then if rents drop 5% due to this coming supply, they can all of a sudden afford Arlington.

by Kyle-W on Apr 18, 2013 3:56 pm • linkreport

I think it's fair to say that there is a signifcant amount of latent demand for units in the area. Even if rents don't go up I don't see how it will be a disaster for developers to deliver new units to the most expensive rental market in the country. I mean unless construction costs are significantly higher here than say other major cities, it seems like this is still the ideal market.

by Alan B. on Apr 18, 2013 4:22 pm • linkreport

@Dizzy: I'm on my second batch.

by goldfish on Apr 19, 2013 10:20 am • linkreport

The IOP question should be expanded to address the excess freeway/highway elements between constitution, KC, and Virginia ave. Wouldnt realigning constitution ave to its original axis and getting rid of a few ramps and tunnels be a good thing?

by ArlRidge on Apr 19, 2013 2:44 pm • linkreport

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