Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Stop in the road


Photo by Doug Kerr on Flickr.
Road project on hold: New Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe halted the $1.4 billion Route 460 bypass between Petersburg and Suffolk, which many called Bob McDonnell's most wasteful road project. The new administration will evaluate the project before spending any more money. (The Tysons Corner)

Will McAuliffe stop the Bi-County?: McAuliffe will also decide whether to keep pursuing the Bi-County Parkway or cancel the controversial road. Bob McDonnell finished a key agreement before leaving office. (WAMU)

Gray in the lead: Mayor Gray attracts 24% of primary voters for mayor, compared to 11-12% for Bowser, Evans, and Wells, according to a Post poll. But Gray is only slightly ahead of David Catania in a hypothetical general election match-up. Voters generally think Gray is managing the city well but still have concerns about ethics.

More bike racks downtown: More bike racks are coming to a block near your office in downtown DC. The Downtown Business Improvement District is working with DDOT to double the number of bike racks over 3 years. (DCist)

Federal budget falls short for St. Elizabeths: The 2014 Omnibus Appropriation bill falls short of what GSA and DHS say they need to redevelop St. Elizabeths. (WBJ)

Walk under Wisconsin Ave: The Montgomery County Planning Board gave a thumbs up to a pedestrian tunnel linking Walter Reed Medical Center to NIH under Wisconsin Ave., directly linking both sites to the Medical Center Metro. (Patch)

The rent is less damn high: Surprisingly, DC rents have finally dropped, at least for Class B apartments. That's because the inventory of brand new buildings is meeting, or surpassing, demand. (Urban Turf)

Traffic kills 1 million a year: A new report finds that there are more than 1 million traffic-related deaths each year, and traffic fatalities disproportionately affect poor countries worldwide. (Post)

Rockville #MasterPlan: The City of Rockville aims to involve residents updating their Master Plan through an interactive website and social networking. (Gazette)

Bye Geoff and Jaime!: GGW editors Geoff Hatchard and Jaime Fearer are moving to California (Geoff got a job working on maps for Apple)! The City Paper interviews them about what they like most and least about Washington. (City Paper)

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Elina Bravve moved to Washington in 2009, after completing a degree in City Planning at UNC-Chapel Hill. She's lived in the Columbia Heights neighborhood since 2010. After recently parting ways with her car, her goal is to learn how to bike around the neighborhood. 

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actually, rents in DC class B apartments didn't drop.

class B effective rents: 1880

12/ 12 1879

12/8 1661

The report notes that many class B will be taken out, renovated, and rented at a higher rate.

by charlie on Jan 15, 2014 9:05 am • linkreport

As poor of an idea the bi-county parkway is, the 460 bypass was way dumber.

by drumz on Jan 15, 2014 9:12 am • linkreport

Good on the Downtown BID for installing more bike racks. Hopefully the Golden Triangle BID takes note and does the same.

The recent drop in area wide rents (Class A too) should surprise no one who has been paying attention. No one except Lisa Sturtevant who thinks we should be building as much every year as we did at the height of the bubble.

by dno on Jan 15, 2014 9:19 am • linkreport

@dno: Are you saying that it's a bad thing? It seems like across the political spectrum, DC area residents are unified in wanting more affordable housing (while not willing to let housing supply increase as much as needed to actually get that result). What's so bad about supply finally catching up with demand enough to stabilize rents, at least temporarily?

by Gray on Jan 15, 2014 9:33 am • linkreport

Surprisingly, DC rents have finally dropped ... That's because the inventory of brand new buildings is meeting, or surpassing, demand.

Good. Keep building. Rent in DC is still too high. As long as builders want to build, the rent can go down.

by Jasper on Jan 15, 2014 9:34 am • linkreport

@ dno; again, class A didn't drop in DC proper either.

more density means more expensive housing.

by charlie on Jan 15, 2014 9:35 am • linkreport

New Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe halted the $1.4 billion Route 460 bypass between Petersburg and Suffolk
...
McAuliffe will also decide whether to keep pursuing the Bi-County Parkway or cancel the controversial road.

Because I agree with these decisions, I am happy.

On the other hand, this is not a proper way to handle large infrastructure projects. We need to find a way to create actual consensus over such projects, because otherwise you can never get any long term project done. Elections are rarely about such projects, yet if any new administration can just jerk projects out, that is very unproductive.

Just remember how McDonald worked hard to slow down and annoy NoVa with all his demands about the Silver Line. And the [censored] campaigned with his Fairfax roots!

by Jasper on Jan 15, 2014 9:38 am • linkreport

Jasper +1, keep building.

by Thayer-D on Jan 15, 2014 9:47 am • linkreport

McAuliffe is deciding on the projects in the same way McDonnell did. So it's not just the jerking out but the jerking in as well.

That should probably change though.

by drumz on Jan 15, 2014 9:49 am • linkreport

With regards to the road projects I'm ok with this as no actual work has begun (and I think the projects are terrible). If work had started/contracts were signed then I'd have more of a problem with him stopping this.

by jj on Jan 15, 2014 9:57 am • linkreport

I never said DC proper as this is probably best viewed with a regional perspective.

I don't think a temporary drop in rents is a bad thing at all. I think it's a natural and healthy result of the market responding to the rapid rent increases we saw post crisis as major projects were put on hold or scuttled. But I am skeptical of folks who say that the region can never build enough housing quick enough. That's not smart growth. If we returned to a 2006 rate of development, the negative affects would probably outweigh the positives once again, especially considering how fiscal and macroeconomic factors might affect the region in the coming years. Also, while I don't usually buy into the developer funding conspiracy theories, I also skeptically note that some folks make careers out of taking such positions, and that it can be convenient for developers even when the analysis doesn't make sense from a smart growth perspective.

by dno on Jan 15, 2014 9:58 am • linkreport

And McDonnell and phase 2 of the sliver line was less about "is this a good investment for the state?" it was more "NO PLA OR UNION LABOR" and the states share at the time in phase 2 was I think only $150 or $300 vs. $900 million for the 460 bypass.

by jj on Jan 15, 2014 9:59 am • linkreport

"a pedestrian tunnel linking Walter Reed Medical Center to NIH under Wisconsin Ave."

Actually it's Rockville Pike there. Wisconsin Avenue ends at the intersection of MD 355 with Woodmont Avenue (north end) and Glenbrook Parkway.

by Frank IBC on Jan 15, 2014 10:03 am • linkreport

More people wanting to move to DC means higher rent. I suppose housing supply increases can only do so much to offset increases employment and social/entertainment/cultural offerings.

by BTA on Jan 15, 2014 10:08 am • linkreport

I will assume GGW will do something with the Mayoral, At-Large and Ward Council races this spring, but the polling, in a sense, doesn't surprise me. The results show that people are happy with the direction of the city (it could always be better, but it could be a lot worse) and none of the challengers have platforms that suggest any real change or difference - just "I'm not Gray" or "I am Fenty 2.0".

Unless there is an indictment, I personally am inclined to go with the status quo given the options.

by William on Jan 15, 2014 10:11 am • linkreport

I'm more afraid of splitting the vote and ending up with someone I really don't want like Bowser than I feel the need to get rid of Gray. So basically he gets the standard incumbent bump which is probably enough in this case to win the primary.

by BTA on Jan 15, 2014 10:27 am • linkreport

In the District Class A rents declined and Class B rents esstentially stabilized, per this data. Rents in both Class A and Class B declined in NoVa, which has seen both rapid new residential multifamily construction, and a weaker employment market than DC.

This is one more drop of evidence that new construction does lower rents.

Does it make sense for developers to continue their pace of building? I would suggest two things - A. Even at these slighly lower rents, the rents for new construction are still quite high (by historical standards, and compared to other comparably sized metros) and appear to still be profitiable enough to incent new construction. B. The rents have only declined slightly, despite the torpid pace of construction. even a slight slow down in construction might well increase them.

From the public policy POV, the rationales for enabling new construction remain.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 15, 2014 10:30 am • linkreport

With regards to the road projects I'm ok with this as no actual work has begun

$200M has already been spent on the 460 project. That's not a good reason to waste a further $1.4B but it's annoying to waste that kind of money.

by Falls Church on Jan 15, 2014 10:31 am • linkreport

@charlie:
more density means more expensive housing.
Wrong. More housing supply in a particular location, holding demand (and other factors) constant, yields less expensive housing.

I think your misunderstanding is that you see that dense areas are expensive. Because dense areas are in the greatest demand, these are the places where demand most outstrips supply. Allowing them to have more supply (and therefore more density) has stabilized prices, as shown in this report.

by Gray on Jan 15, 2014 10:31 am • linkreport

"But I am skeptical of folks who say that the region can never build enough housing quick enough. "

I am sure there is a volume of new housing construction that would be problematic. I am not convinced that the current pace is that. The entire metro area has a way to go before its price competitive with other metro areas, including several similarly sized ones - and housing in WUPs is still at a particular premium, AFAICT.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 15, 2014 10:32 am • linkreport

@jj, actually the states involvement on the 460 project is over 1 billion because of the use of port authority funds also. The 900 million is just out of VDOT monies.

Thx for the link btw!

by Navid Roshan on Jan 15, 2014 10:33 am • linkreport

Right, it's all the tremendous new housing supply stabilizing rents, not the mini-recession, the sequester, or BRAC.

If you check the areas most affected by those you'll see the rental rate drops most. Areas least affected by those factors like central DC keep steady or are climbing. In central DC the $25K re-dos of existing class B's will cause rents in those buildings to go up substantially soon. And if there's any sort of recovery hold your seats.

Gas also dipped below $3/gal because of the economy, not just new supply.

by Tom Coumaris on Jan 15, 2014 10:41 am • linkreport

Re: St. E's

DHS got $150M of the $260M they had requested for 2014. Considering how much uncertainty was around this project, I'd definitely look at this from a cup-half-full perspective rather than cup-half-empty.

by Falls Church on Jan 15, 2014 10:42 am • linkreport

Right, it's all the tremendous new housing supply stabilizing rents, not the mini-recession, the sequester, or BRAC.

So, less demand impacts rents but not more supply?

by Falls Church on Jan 15, 2014 10:44 am • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity; the report on class A actually found that in DC proper (again, where the bulk of new construction is taking place) rents increased .8% YoY.

What you are seeing is weaker markerts in the DC area getting killed by an increase in units for rent in DC. It is suprising that for 2500 a month you'd rather live in DC than Ballston, Falls Church, or Rockville.

IT is called supply and demand people -- not just supply!

I do think rents may drop in DC if the rest of the country can start to employ college graduates. Federal hiring and promtion is going to kick a lot of youngers out as well. There is no question that like all markets the rental market in DC overshot.

Whether that translates to lower rents, however, is a function of demand.

by charlie on Jan 15, 2014 10:46 am • linkreport

The 460 project has looked to me like the biggest potential waste in the region, so stoppage, even if it isn't the best way, is a good thing.

by Richard on Jan 15, 2014 10:46 am • linkreport

AWITC, I generally agree with you that the current pace is relatively healthy, but the GMU analysis I referenced claims that we should be building four times the current pace consistently over time. I don't think policy makers should be incentivizing that, but when one represents their analysis as authoritative and fact driven, there is a chance it seeps into policy (much like DCFPI advocacy, er analysis, on other issues).

by dno on Jan 15, 2014 10:48 am • linkreport

and I've always found DC more than most places determines all prices including rent by the income level; more what the market can bear or what people can afford rather than supply and demand. Except there seems to be some sort of ratchet effect that keeps rents from going down much when the economy heads south but allows them to skyrocket when incomes do.

by Tom Coumaris on Jan 15, 2014 10:51 am • linkreport

If the goal is improving mobility between Hampton Roads and I-95 for both commerce and additional evacuation capacity, why not just upgrade existing 460 and incorporate bypasses? It looks to me at first glance that there is maybe 3-4 towns at most along the route. Certainly seems cheaper than building an entirely new freeway and destroying hundreds of acres of wetlands.

I've spent some time in the area so I understand the challenges dealing with a stretch of I-64 that needs attention badly as well as the desire to leverage commerce from the ports, but it needs to be done smartly.

by Joe on Jan 15, 2014 11:02 am • linkreport

"and I've always found DC more than most places determines all prices including rent by the income level; more what the market can bear or what people can afford rather than supply and demand."

Income level is one of the determinants of demand - an important one.

"Except there seems to be some sort of ratchet effect that keeps rents from going down much when the economy heads south but allows them to skyrocket when incomes do. "

There may well be some downward price stickiness in rents, as there is for wages and some other prices. Its widely reported that rent cuts tend to come in the form of incentives like one month free rent, rather than actual rent cuts, probably due to landlords wanting to focus them on folks in the market and not on folks already living in their building. Also with general inflation remaining positive, nominal rents remaining the same means real rents drop.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 15, 2014 11:02 am • linkreport

I've always found DC more than most places determines all prices including rent by the income level; more what the market can bear or what people can afford rather than supply and demand

The proper/textbook way of determining what rent you should advertise is based on an analysis of comparable units. If you don't do it that way, you're not going to compete very successfully. Ditto for how people determine what price to list a property for sale.

by Falls Church on Jan 15, 2014 11:05 am • linkreport

" the report on class A actually found that in DC proper (again, where the bulk of new construction is taking place) rents increased .8% YoY. "

from 2586 to 2558? I am confused.

"IT is called supply and demand people -- not just supply!"

Its both, of course.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 15, 2014 11:05 am • linkreport

Arguable DC was slightly oversupplied for housing when the population hit its nadir. I imagine most of us are using the early 2000s as a reference point when I think rents stayed artificially low in a lot of places because demand was practically dead. On the otherhand there is a lot of develoment going into Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, PG, and Montgomery right now so hopefully that will put downward pressure on DC rents as well in the medium term. Also remember these are average rents (median?) and you can still find a metro adjacent one bedroom below $1500 easily enough in the region.

by BTA on Jan 15, 2014 11:12 am • linkreport

from 2586 to 2558? I am confused.

Because despite the headlines talking about a slight decrease from last year's rents, Charlie (for some reason) keeps referring instead to the figures from 2008.

DC's population is also up by about 64,000 since 2008.

by Alex B. on Jan 15, 2014 11:13 am • linkreport

AWITC- Owners do indeed not lower listed rents because of it's effect on existing rents, but many of the owners of class A buildings also purchased them from developers at a price based tightly on existing rents with expectation of future higher rents. They cannot afford to lower rents without having losses.

Add to this the fact that especially class A neighborhood-wise is not a free market but is an oligopoly of a very few huge corporations and companies.

Also housing, whether rental or sale, is much less of a price-conscious decision than an emotional one. People want what they want and will pay whatever they can to get it.

That's why the question in DC is always "what can they afford to pay" in setting prices and not "what can we afford to charge".

by Tom Coumaris on Jan 15, 2014 11:41 am • linkreport

@Joe:

There are 6 towns that would need to be bypassed: Disputana, Waverly, Wakefield, Ivor, Zuni, and Windsor. That said, traffic isn't all that horrible along the existing route. The main issues are safety-related: no shoulder (often with a steep dropoff into a ditch), no median, and no left turn lanes in many locations. Fixing this was considered, but didn't meet the "purpose and need" for the "project". Namely, the port and the state wanted a fully controlled-access connection to I-95.

by Froggie on Jan 15, 2014 11:58 am • linkreport

"AWITC- Owners do indeed not lower listed rents because of it's effect on existing rents, but many of the owners of class A buildings also purchased them from developers at a price based tightly on existing rents with expectation of future higher rents. They cannot afford to lower rents without having losses. "

By the same token they can't afford empty units. Which is why they try to have the best of both worlds with promotions.

"Add to this the fact that especially class A neighborhood-wise is not a free market but is an oligopoly of a very few huge corporations and companies."

That would impact price only if A. units are being priced so that many are held vacant or B. Developers are holding back the pace of development. Do you have evidence of either of these?

"Also housing, whether rental or sale, is much less of a price-conscious decision than an emotional one. People want what they want and will pay whatever they can to get it."

My experience and impression is that its VERY price conscious. Most people evaluate the value compared to alternatives, and a few (though I suppose not many in Logan Circle) pay less than they can afford. Of course in general thats much less true in such an expensive market, and its not as true for purchases, where our tax code incents one to buy as much as one can afford.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 15, 2014 11:58 am • linkreport

@Froggie:

Thanks for the clarification. Even with 6 towns, I still don't see how upgrades to the existing road wouldn't be the more prudent option. Adding things that you mentioned are missing, like shoulders, a median, and either adding left turn lanes or putting in jughandles would improve both safety and flow.

Maybe with the project under new-found scrutiny the above plan can end up coming to fruition afterall.

by Joe on Jan 15, 2014 12:06 pm • linkreport

"it's complicated" because it depends on submarkets both within DC and outside of it and because for the longest time, until starting in the early 2000s, DC probably had undersupply of premium units especially in places where people wanted to live (like Downtown or in Greater Downtown).

But yes, it's more price stabilization than decline. Certain submarkets may be able to attain high rents (Columbia Heights, Brookland?) and others may (Petworth) or may not (Fort Totten) even if they have transit proximity.

How many of DC's submarkets will remain premium-priced is an interesting question.

2. WRT charlie's point about density yielding higher cost housing, density is usually a function of high demand and therefore the pricing is likely to remain premium regardless of supply. Plus, building in denser areas costs more both in terms of land and construction, yielding higher prices. Plus, developers build for the highest value segments, meaning higher prices. Etc.

by Richard Layman on Jan 15, 2014 12:12 pm • linkreport

AWITC- Capitol Riverfront is full of half-empty buildings where realty companies would rather fall on a sword than adjust prices to market. Remember, Uncle Sam pays a good part of those losses.

Housing is price conscious up to the point of what someone can afford to pay. After that it becomes more emotional (with comforting rationalizations made) in just finding out what one needs to pay to get what they want.

by Tom Coumaris on Jan 15, 2014 12:16 pm • linkreport

There are 6 towns that would need to be bypassed: Disputana, Waverly, Wakefield, Ivor, Zuni, and Windsor. That said, traffic isn't all that horrible along the existing route. The main issues are safety-related: no shoulder (often with a steep dropoff into a ditch), no median, and no left turn lanes in many locations. Fixing this was considered, but didn't meet the "purpose and need" for the "project". Namely, the port and the state wanted a fully controlled-access connection to I-95.

I think the state wants to toll it, so they want a new road.

by Richard on Jan 15, 2014 12:16 pm • linkreport

Also housing, whether rental or sale, is much less of a price-conscious decision than an emotional one. People want what they want and will pay whatever they can to get it.

But, people also shop around even with emotional purchases. If you're charging 10% more than a comparable unit in a comparable location, renters are going to figure that out and rent from the other person. It's easier than ever to pull up listings on Craigslist or Zillow, compare locations and amenities, and zero in on the best value.

by Falls Church on Jan 15, 2014 12:16 pm • linkreport

"AWITC- Capitol Riverfront is full of half-empty buildings where realty companies would rather fall on a sword than adjust prices to market. Remember, Uncle Sam pays a good part of those losses. "

Half empty residential buildings (IE not the office buildings being held out for big anchor tenants)? Evidence? Why with such a high vacancy rate already are four new residential buildings now UC, one more having broken ground last month? Is that how an oligopoly works?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 15, 2014 12:27 pm • linkreport

Beyond emotional preferences, time is money. Maybe you could save a net $200 a month moving from Columbia Heights to Greenbelt (factoring in increased transportation costs to downtown as well) but if that adds 200 minutes ~3.3 hours a week to your commute time it may not be worth it. There are still a lot of high income jobs (often with long hours) downtown and people with disposable income will sometimes have a preference to save time rather than money.

by BTA on Jan 15, 2014 12:38 pm • linkreport

@RichardLayman; and short term vs long term. WIll DC benefit from renewing its condo/aptment stock for the new 30 years -- absolutely. In a 5-10 year range, however, that new supply isn't going to do diddly to rents.

The real demand that isn't being met is SFH and larger (think 3+ bedroom) condo construction for familes. That is where you see real distorations in the market.

by charlie on Jan 15, 2014 12:58 pm • linkreport

Because of the cost of land, SFH isn't likely to be built except in extreme situations. That train has left the station.

Only in out of the way locations such as the Comstock dev. on New Hampshire Ave. a couple blocks from the MD border, Fort Lincoln, odd bits of land like what EYA acquired from St. Pauls College in Brookland will you see SFH. I haven't looked at the Fort Lincoln stuff, but the houses in the other two developments are zero lot houses for the most part, with only enough land for the house and a wee bit of front yard.

I would argue that the city likely has a lot of SFH, although not enough for "demand" because DC is experiencing extranormal demand.

2. Someone sent to a list I'm on an article about how in the priciest areas of Manhattan, developers are no longer constructing one bedrooms, just big apartments, because at a $/s.f. basis, they can't sell 1-bedrooms for the price they need to, so it's just easier to develop bigger units.

AS DC BEGINS TO DEVELOP A SENSE THAT MULTIUNIT BUILDINGS are acceptable places to raise families, maybe this will change a bit here, that there will be more of those types of units provided.

The issue is about preferences though, because on a $/s.f. basis it seems likely that SFH, except in the most expensive submarkets (like Georgetown) will be cheaper.

cf., although not about larger units, but about preferences and positioning and segmentation:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/where-we-live/wp/2013/08/05/town-square-new-york-style-comes-to-d-c-s-west-end/

by Richard Layman on Jan 15, 2014 1:16 pm • linkreport

RE: Virginia Hwys

Good to see sensible transportation policy return to Virginia. The completely idiotic (even for road-loving repubs) Route 460 bypass made VA a laughing stock. Hopefully the nearly-as-absurd Bi-County parkway gets the axe as well.

by King Terrapin on Jan 15, 2014 2:11 pm • linkreport

Do you mean detached SFH? There are quite a few townhouse type developements going into NE from what I've seen though obviously it's hard to wrack up a large number of units when they are both so large and consist of 2/3 floors only. My friends cousin just moved into one in I guess Fort Lincoln from Alexandria. I doubt we will ever see a statistically significant number of new detached homes in DC that ship last sailed thank god.

by BTA on Jan 15, 2014 2:23 pm • linkreport

Pretty sure Walter Reed and Macmillan projects will also include townhouses.

by BTA on Jan 15, 2014 2:23 pm • linkreport

Re: SFH

Not to always beat the drum of EOTR but you can buy a buildable lot within a 10 min walk from Deanwood metro (and a short bike ride from a coming 800 person beer garden) for $60k and build a nice detached SFH on it. The only thing preventing people from doing it is the perceived crime level. Hopefully, Chief Lanier finds a way to change that perception / reality with or without extra officers.

by Falls Church on Jan 15, 2014 2:39 pm • linkreport

One more note about the 460 Bypass: If you read into the article you'll see how McAuliffe didn't really put it "on hold", he simply directed the state to not continue with design and ROW acquisitions until the federal approvals come in. Money is still being spent on the efforts to get those approvals. Although he did indicate even with the approvals the project will be scrutinized before any dirt starts getting moved.

by Joe on Jan 15, 2014 2:41 pm • linkreport

Falls Church: Not to always beat the drum of EOTR but you can buy a buildable lot within a 10 min walk from Deanwood metro (and a short bike ride from a coming 800 person beer garden) for $60k and build a nice detached SFH on it. The only thing preventing people from doing it is the perceived crime level.

The crime level is a perception, but the fact is that it's a suburban area in the middle of nowhere with nothing interesting around, other than the future gay leather bar you mention. (Nothing against gay leather bars, but it's something of a niche appeal.) Live in Deanwood and you might as well go two blocks down the street to PG County where you'll be in an identical neighborhood and at least get two senators and a congresswoman. DC really screwed itself by spending most of the twentieth century filling the District with suburbia.

by jr on Jan 15, 2014 2:58 pm • linkreport

@jr Fair points, but PGC property taxes are over twice as much, plus you would be further away (eastern end of H St NE, for example, is pretty close to Deanwood and offers a variety of entertainment options - not too mention its starting to creep down Benning Rd).

If it's a lively more neighborhood people are after, you can get purchase a lot in Anacostia for only a few k more and then build a rowhouse. Anacostia's amenities would be plenty sufficient in other cities - multiple sit down restaurant/bars, multiple art galleries, a theater, four mins or less on buses/metro to Barracks Row and/or The Ballpark, historical sites, recreation, small biz incubator etc Not sure why it gets a bad rap here.

by h st ll on Jan 15, 2014 3:44 pm • linkreport

In the kind of small city where Anacostia amenities would actually be impressive (what, two sit down restaurants, one theater, and a handful of small galleries - I think downtown Lancaster Pa has more than that) people would only go to such a downtown if it did not have the kind of social service concentration Anacostia has, and the resultant street life. And even then not more than a handful of people would choose to live close to such a downtown - not really more than the number of renovators historic Anacostia actually has.

Anacostia may well transform in 5 years, when Barry Farms comes down, when the street car is on its way, when Navy Yard is closer to build out, etc. But the current level of residential interest appears to be exactly rational to me, not motivated by some bizarre prejudice.

by OhNotThisAgain on Jan 15, 2014 4:23 pm • linkreport

RE: Virginia Hwys
Glad to hear the new governor is only going to scrutinize the new 460 project, and not scrap it altogether. If the Commonwealth wants to diversify its economy beyond the Federal employment and contracting sector, seems like beefing up its infrastructure to support to the Port of Virginia is a good start.

by Rich 'n Alexandria on Jan 15, 2014 4:32 pm • linkreport

So exactly why is the Bi-county is an "absurd" and "poor" idea?

That area is one of the country's fastest-growing places in two of the state's fastest-growing counties. Shouldn't new expressways accompany such population growth, or are you trying hard to hold on to our title as #1 in traffic congestion?

by Burd on Jan 15, 2014 5:00 pm • linkreport

Because the problem that the bi-county parkway is solving doesn't really do as much as continuing to solve east/west congestion. You can solve the issues of people traveling between PW and Loudoun if you can fix the issues of people traveling from those places to fairfax and beyond.

It's also the opportunity costs. Money spent on this could be spent on say, extending VRE to Gainesville or making sure transit service to Loudoun's new Silver Line stations is frequent.

by drumz on Jan 15, 2014 5:10 pm • linkreport

Plus the project was/is being explicitly sold as making Virginia/Dulles competitive when it comes to freight. Fixing the existing problems on 95/495/28 would seem to help both commuters and freight businesses.

by drumz on Jan 15, 2014 5:12 pm • linkreport

@ drumz

Your response does not explain why the bi-county is a bad idea. It only pointed out the problems that exist elsewhere. And what do 95, 495 and 28 (all in Fairfax) have to do with a parkway between northern PW Co and southern Loudoun?

The fact is that drivers in PW Co commute to Dulles and its environs and vice versa, and without a more direct link, unnecessary congestion is created on 66.

by Burd on Jan 15, 2014 5:27 pm • linkreport

Like I said, opportunity costs. There's only so much money and so many planners at local and state level to work on things. Let's focus on what we know are the problems that are widespread and known rather than the narrow focus/benefit that the Bi-County provides.

It might be a nice thing to have but it shouldn't be a high priority.

by drumz on Jan 15, 2014 5:38 pm • linkreport

@ drumz

And here's a problem that can be solved by building the bi-county pkwy: drivers from PW Co who clog up 66 to get to 28.

by Burd on Jan 15, 2014 5:47 pm • linkreport

As for additional reasons why it's a bad idea.

It cuts through large parts of PWC/Loudoun that are striving to be kept rural (not just by residents, but by actual county policy).

It's likely the road will see induced demand after a time meaning that all of a sudden both the bi-county parkway and 28 are horribly congested with the "only" solutions being widening one or both of the roads.

In general, if you're trying to improve the environment you don't do things that means more local pollution in the form of car exhaust.

by drumz on Jan 15, 2014 5:49 pm • linkreport

And if it ends at 50 then it doesn't actually "go" to Dulles.

And the better ways to improve 28 would be.

A: toll it
B: add transit
C: Improve transit from Manassass to the east taking people off 66, thus freeing up space from those trying to go north.

And those options have environmental benefits as well because they're all more efficient use of resources and put less vehicles on the road.

by drumz on Jan 15, 2014 5:52 pm • linkreport

@ drumz

Again, this is already a fast growing area, and continuous
residential development in No. PW and So. Loudoun is to blame for putting "vehicles on the road" not any new roadways that may be built to handle that growth.

Again, 28 is in Fairfax, not PW, and if you cared so much about the environment, then a solution should not involve PW drivers clogging up 66 to access 28, but creating an alternative to 28 in PW Co.

by Burd on Jan 15, 2014 8:24 pm • linkreport

the fact is that it's a suburban area in the middle of nowhere with nothing interesting around

Detached SFH is always going to feel suburban. You could say the same thing about parts of upper NW and they don't have the kind of transit access Deanwood has. I agree with Charlie that there's a shortage of SFH with 3+ bedrooms in DC and Deanwood is one of the few places you can still build that in DC.

As for Deanwood not being close to anything, it's biking distance to H ST NE and four metro stops to Eastern Market. Once again, there is plenty of upper NW that's farther from things.

As for DC Eagle catering to a niche, I'd say that most bars cater to some type of niche unless they're boring and generic. I don't know that a bar that caters to gay people is anymore of a niche business than one that caters to hipsters who want artisinal cocktails using handmade bitters. Actually, the latter could never sustain an 800 person footprint, so it's much more of a niche.

by Falls Church on Jan 15, 2014 8:35 pm • linkreport

Burd,

And I gave alternatives to the situation you describe. All of them make better use of existing infrastructure.

I don't know if I can provide the proof you seem to be wanting but I think there is a good case that'd it be a poor choice to prioritize this over other projects that could move more people and have better ancillary benefits.

by Drumz on Jan 15, 2014 8:57 pm • linkreport

if you cared so much about the environment, then a solution should not involve PW drivers clogging up 66 to access 28, but creating an alternative to 28 in PW Co.

Not if it incentivizes more people who work up by Dulles living in PWC. We have identified the corridors along which we want people to move to get to Dulles (Silver Line, 267, Greenway) and have invested in those - that's where people should live if they want a job up there.

Not to mention the bi-county isn't even planned to run all the way to 267, so what, you are taking cars off of 66 and then dumping them on 50 to get to 28? OK

by MLD on Jan 16, 2014 9:17 am • linkreport

Who are you speaking for, MLD?

by selxic on Jan 16, 2014 10:01 am • linkreport

Just addressing the "if you cared about the environment, then you'd build this road!" argument. Unclear how the bi-county pkwy is good for the environment; it might reduce some congestion on 66 in the short-term, but in the long-term it will probably mean more people who want to work in the Dulles corridor living in PWC rather than living somewhere along the corridors with transit service that we want to grow and that can manage that growth in a more sustainable way.

by MLD on Jan 16, 2014 10:36 am • linkreport

That and it's not insensitive to suggest that someone move (job or home) to be closer to work/have an easier commute when the alternative is spending a bunch of money on something that solves a pretty narrow problem.

by drumz on Jan 16, 2014 10:49 am • linkreport

@drumz

"All of them make better use of existing infrastructure"

That's your opinion, and none of what you said eliminates the problem example of people and shippers traveling to/from PW Co. to Dulles and environs.

@ MLD

"that's where people should live if they want a job up there."

LOL. Who are you to tell people where they should live? The 267 corridor is much more expensive to own a home than, e.g., in No. PW Co, and many people get transferred or switch jobs.

And, btw, it's not just people who work up there, it's people who frequently fly in/out of the airport, trucks delivering goods to/from the airport, environs, etc.

New routes don't manifest new traffic, residential development and jobs create new traffic. New routes help alleviate the congestion which causes No. Va and DC metro to be one of the smoggiest places in the country.

by Burd on Jan 16, 2014 12:08 pm • linkreport

That's your opinion
Ok. And your opinion is that the road is needed.

and none of what you said eliminates the problem example of people and shippers traveling to/from PW Co. to Dulles and environs.

Yes it does, and none of what you said indicates why this should have high priority over other projects in Northern Va.

Obviously it's hard to argue against "this road connects a to b, therefore it must be built" but that's not the context we're talking about. We're talking about the use of finite transportation dollars and how to leverage that into projects that can mitigate sprawl and traffic, not exacerbate them.

by drumz on Jan 16, 2014 12:15 pm • linkreport

LOL. Who are you to tell people where they should live?

It's called regional planning. We try to have foresight and plan for where we want things to happen so that in the future travel can be efficient. It's not "telling people where to live," it's trying to guide the way the region grows so that we don't create huge problems down the line.

New routes don't manifest new traffic, residential development and jobs create new traffic.

Correct - so I don't understand why you're having such a hard time understanding what we are saying. Building the new route encourages development in certain patterns around that route - patterns that are undesirable because they are counter to the ways we have already developed our transportation network.

by MLD on Jan 16, 2014 12:30 pm • linkreport

@ drumz

No, it's not my opinion. It's a fact that there are more cars on the road in No. Va. It's a fact that PW CO. and Loudoun Co. are among the fastest growing counties in the country. It's a fact that traffic congestion has increased. It's a fact that people travel to/from No. PW Co. and Dulles, and it's a fact that the shortest distance between two points is a line.

"none of what you said indicates why this should have high priority over other projects in Northern Va."

Yes it does. The fact that this is the state's fastest growing region, is a key reason why this should be a priority.

"We're talking about the use of finite transportation dollars and how to leverage that into projects that can mitigate sprawl and traffic, not exacerbate them."

Again, roads don't create traffic. New residential and office developments create traffic, b/c whether you like it or not, suburbanites drive. If you want sprawl mitigated, then lobby the counties to stop allowing residential and economic development, lobby the feds and fed'l contractors to stop growing, etc.

by Burd on Jan 16, 2014 12:35 pm • linkreport

And your conclusions from all those facts is that the only solution is more roads. Mine is not.

I'm not debating facts (so there is nothing to prove or disprove like you're asking me to). I'm telling you what I think the commonwealth should do in light of those facts.

by drumz on Jan 16, 2014 12:40 pm • linkreport

@ MLD

" It's not "telling people where to live," it's trying to guide the way the region grows"

And here you ignore the fact that it's much more expensive to live along the 267 corridor.

"Building the new route encourages development in certain patterns around that route"

Really? So why don't we build a 6-lane highway in Antarctica and see if that encourages any development.

Jobs and economic opportunity "encourages development" not roads.

by Burd on Jan 16, 2014 12:40 pm • linkreport

@ drumz

And if your solution doesn't involve expressways, it's not realistic, b/c, again, like it or not, suburbanites DRIVE and most shipments to/from Dulles are DRIVEN.

by Burd on Jan 16, 2014 12:42 pm • linkreport

That' s kind of self fulfilling then. Lots of suburbanites do take transit (and those numbers grow when transit is added). And I'm sure freight carriers would be grateful to have less people in cars overall when you choose to move people a different way.

by drumz on Jan 16, 2014 12:48 pm • linkreport

And here you ignore the fact that it's much more expensive to live along the 267 corridor.

It is more expensive because it has more connectivity to places people want to go. Building the bi-county parkway would create connections that will make PWC more desirable for people, making it likely that it will be more expensive to live there. Making a place more desirable will funnel development there.

Really? So why don't we build a 6-lane highway in Antarctica and see if that encourages any development.

Jobs and economic opportunity "encourages development" not roads.

Christ, I thought we at least understood that there are jobs in this region and therefore demand for this region to grow. Isn't that the foundation of all of this? DC ain't f-ing Antarctica.

The road encourages development around it because THIS REGION IS GROWING! You're telling me that building a highway from point A to point B doesn't make it more likely that people who want to/are going to work in point B would live at point A rather than some other random place?

I didn't say "building a road anywhere encourages development there" I said "building THIS road HERE will encourage development around it!"

by MLD on Jan 16, 2014 1:19 pm • linkreport

@OhNotThisAgain

Your reasoning was rational. But that is not most people's reasoning for avoiding Anacostia. Most ppl think they'd be robbed/stabbed up or wouldn't find anyone like themselves (college-educated, professional) there, neither of which is true. So yeah, there is still quite a bit of irrational prejudice that partially explains Anacostia still flying under the radar.

Also, your reasoning explains why someone might continue to rent in a happening neighborhood over buying in a quieter place like Anacostia where they could get much more space for likely less than their rent. But it doesn't explain those same people de-camp to neighborhoods like Woodridge, Ft. Totten, Mt. Rainer, etc. over Anacostia when those places also cost a bit more to get less and have less going on & are farther from the core. (No offense against Woodridge, Ft. Totten, and Mt. Rainier, which are also lovely, relatively affordable neighborhoods. I just used them to make a point).

by PG2SE on Jan 16, 2014 1:32 pm • linkreport

@ drumz

Lots does not equal most. By far, most drive. And, like it or not, people will continue drive regardless of public transportation options.

@ MLD

A road alone will not make people want to live there. Jobs, economic opportunity, convenience, services, and prestige make places desirable. Not a road.

"The road encourages development around it because THIS REGION IS GROWING"

Newsflash: No. PW Co. and So. Loudoun are already developing
and are the fastest growing places in the state and country!

The fact that no new expressways have been created to handle this growth is exactly why the region is #1 in traffic congestion and quickly climbing the ladder in air pollution.

"I said "building THIS road HERE will encourage development around it!""

Not quite, but that's the same tagline the ICC opponents used, and we all see 3 yrs later that it was not true.

And if developers choose to build along the proposed bi-county pkwy, it won't be because of the pkwy itself, but b/c they see the economic viability of developing in this area.

by Burd on Jan 16, 2014 3:06 pm • linkreport

You know how to get from "lots" to "most"? By providing more transit.

by drumz on Jan 16, 2014 3:14 pm • linkreport

@ drumz

"You know how to get from "lots" to "most"? By providing more transit."

LOL!! Not even in DC, which has the metro area's most public transport options, do "most" people with cars commute by public transport. More people drive or carpool than take metro or buses.

by Burd on Jan 16, 2014 3:59 pm • linkreport

Ok.

What was the point of asking me to explain why the road wasn't needed if you're going to rely the tautology that we must build roads because we must build roads?

by drumz on Jan 16, 2014 4:21 pm • linkreport

@ drumz

No, I asked "exactly why is the Bi-county...an 'absurd' and 'poor' idea?" and I didn't give any "roads for the sake of roads" tautology as you claim.

I clearly explained with multiple reasons, pointing to actual facts, why the bi-county pkwy is long overdue.

But most of your reasons didn't actually explain why the bi-county pkwy is a bad idea. THe only one that came close was your fear that the proposal would rip through rural areas.

Of course, if either Loudoun or PW Co planners really cared about preserving the remaining rural areas between 66 and Dulles, it wouldn't already be the state's fastest growing area.

by Burd on Jan 16, 2014 5:02 pm • linkreport

"The fact that no new expressways have been created to handle this growth is exactly why the region is #1 in traffic congestion and quickly climbing the ladder in air pollution."

How many new expressways have been built ANYWHERE in the USA in the past 20 years?

by Frank IBC on Jan 16, 2014 5:05 pm • linkreport

Clearly the road would do what it's meant to do. The argument argument against it is two fold.

A: It relies on a framework that acknowledges that the default mode for any and all travel is via car. I don't think that its a framework that communities should keep pursuing.

B: The costs and benefits for the road must be weighed against other projects the state is looking to fund. The project has a narrow focus (make it easier to get from 234 to Dulles mostly for freight), is redundant (we already have numerous roads that go to Dulles and this project doesn't even do that), and works against other goals the counties involved have about preserving it's remaining rural areas. So I think the problems it's trying to solve are small and needlessly expensive. That McDonnell pushed for it so hard does seem absurd. Especially when he railed against other transportation projects because they might have preferenced union labor.

B1: Considering that it's true. It's not exactly mind boggling that a county can be A: fast growing and B: want to preserve rural character. Sure the areas may be fast growing but their total populations don't stack up to it's denser neighbors.

So I think all that's reasonable to oppose the bi-county parkway.

by drumz on Jan 16, 2014 5:15 pm • linkreport

@ Frank IBC

I haven't counted them all but there have been several in this region, the ICC, Dulles Greenway, Sully Road freeway, Rte 5 freeway in MD, etc. Other fast growing metro areas have built more.

What's your point?

by Burd on Jan 16, 2014 5:29 pm • linkreport

@ drumz

A. Your thoughts have little to do with reality. The fact is that most commuters use cars, and freight to/from Dulles to/from the metro area is road-based.

B. No, we don't have any expressways going from No. PW Co to Dulles, and the bi-county is just the first phase of a longer route that would be extended beyond Rte 50 btw. Phase I would cost 444 million, less than DC's planned Douglass Bridge, compared to 3 billion for phase 1 of the Silver Line.

B1. I don't understand what point you're making here. Both counties have approved massive development in the region between 66 and Dulles, and both counties are encouraging more development there.

by Burd on Jan 16, 2014 5:42 pm • linkreport

Good comment PG2SE.

@OhNotThisAgain, I wasn't comparing it to a downtown. More like the Belmont nhood in Charlottesville, Colonialtown in Orlando, certain Asheville neighborhoods etc. And I didn't present any conspiracy theories. I don't think Anacostia has a more social service provider feel than most other DC neighborhoods, though Congress Heights does because of the St. E's shelter there. The Pavilion looks nice, though.

by h st ll on Jan 16, 2014 7:42 pm • linkreport

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