Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: By the numbers


Photo by formulanone on Flickr.
Gray vetoes budget: Mayor Gray vetoed the 2015 DC budget because of its funding cut to the streetcar, the sales tax on exercise, and other factors. Gray says under the DC Council's budget, the 22-mile streetcar system won't be built until 2045. The original budget passed 12-1, and the council could override the veto with 9 votes. (WAMU, City Paper)

Pedestrian barrier for Route 1: Spurred by recent pedestrian deaths along Route 1 in downtown College Park, the Maryland State Highway Administration will install a barrier in the median to prevent pedestrians from crossing mid block. (WTOP)

How to pay for Phase Two?: After Dulles Toll Road drivers complained they were shouldering too much of the Silver Line's costs, MWAA capped the s tolls. But with no more federal money for Phase Two, will there be enough funding? (Post)

Region falls behind in job growth: The DC area lost the fewest jobs during the recession, but now the area has fallen to 14th place out of the 15 largest metropolitan areas. Office leasing and housing sales are falling as a result. (Post)

Buy DC land, build affordable housing: A new bill before the DC council will require that new residential buildings on former public land include 30% affordable units. This will help create mixed-income communities around the city. (DCFPI)

Housing trouble in Chinatown: The owner of a Section 8 building in Chinatown, whose contract is expiring, demanded an exorbitant price from existing residents to avoid tearing down the building. David Catania wants to fix the loophole on an emergency basis, but Phil Mendelson won't take action until the fall. (City Paper)

Milloy doesn't back down: Courtland Milloy stands by what he wrote in his column. He's not advocating violence, but is just warning cyclists about what might happen. He'll also meet with David Alpert and go on a ride with Veronica Davis. (City Paper)

Like riding a bike: Tirana, the capital of Albania, used to forbid private cars. Now, over twenty years after the fall of communism, the streets are clogged with them, and pollution is the worst in Europe. Can cycling make a comeback? (Guardian Cities)

Can't buy booze in New Hampshire: According to the letter of New Hampshire law, an ID from one of the 50 US states or a Canadian province is enough to buy alcohol, but not an ID from the District of Columbia or the US territories. (Concord Monitor)

And...: Denmark and Sweden consider connecting with an 8-mile bike-bridge-tunnel. (Citylab, Ryan S) ... Negative perceptions of cyclists are similar to those of other "out-groups." (Citylab) ... Residents of a public housing complex in SE DC struggle against an allegedly corrupt but very-well-connected building manager. (Post)

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Matt Malinowski is a consultant advising government clients on improving the energy efficiency of consumer electronic products, but is interested in all aspects of sustainable infrastructure and community resilience. He lives with his wife in the Truxton Circle/Bates neighborhood of DC. 

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Hint; the problem is DC not being a "proper state" but that we allow clerks to ask for papers to buy legal items.

by charlie on Jul 14, 2014 9:00 am • linkreport

Instead of just making it harder for people to cross the street, why doesn't MDOT do something to actually make the street safer for pedestrians? They can start by extending the median to make a pedestrian refuge, even if that makes cars turn more slowly.

by Mike on Jul 14, 2014 9:06 am • linkreport

Oh, I get it now. Milloy was only joking about bicyclists. Silly us.

by DaveG on Jul 14, 2014 9:07 am • linkreport

Im confused, so the TIFIA loans aren't happening now for Ph2? I thought they were agreed to. This is assuming no surface transpo agreement is made?

by Navid Roshan on Jul 14, 2014 9:14 am • linkreport

I agree that pedestrian crossing at places other than corsswalks often indicates a design problem, but it's also true that people will try to save 20 seconds by crossing, for example, right by a Metro entrance instead of a crosswalk 80 feet away. And vehicle flow is not a totally frivolous concern.

by Crickey7 on Jul 14, 2014 9:15 am • linkreport

RE: College Park. Shaking my head at how dumb that decision is.

Why not ban pedestrians? Thats optimal safety!

by JJJJ on Jul 14, 2014 9:18 am • linkreport

Biggest problem with Route 1 in College Park is that the lights are too long -- pedestrians get impatient waiting two or three minutes for a light. Lights should be timed much shorter and beg buttons should be much faster. Prince Geo's is still obsessed with making lights timed for the convenience of speeding through traffic (much of it from outside the county) rather than timing them for the convenience and safety of local residents. Our whole street infrastructure is designed with Howard county commuters in mind, not the people who actually live here.

by Greenbelt on Jul 14, 2014 9:19 am • linkreport

@Navid - MWAA announced that the TIFIA loan was approved on May 1, 2014. http://www.metwashairports.com/7000.htm

by Mitch on Jul 14, 2014 9:21 am • linkreport

Milloy's not advocating violence, he's just directly suggesting it.

A bike rider got Milloy'd in Mt. Rainer last week by a group of tough guys who threw a full can at him, then stalked him down the road and got out of the car to beat their chests the threaten.

Courtland should drive back to Fort Washington and stay there. And the Post should really reconsider employing Rush Limbaugh types like Milloy. That type of hate mongering is destructive and meanspirited, and those types do not deserve real estate in the paper or on the air.

by Greenbelt on Jul 14, 2014 9:24 am • linkreport

@Navid Roshan

The TIFIA loan is still happening. That's what is enabling MWAA to freeze the toll increases until 2018.

I'm not even sure what the article is about. They talk about the toll increases, implying that it is an ongoing thing. Then they bury the information that the tolls won't increase for the next 4 years. OK.

by MLD on Jul 14, 2014 9:26 am • linkreport

If that's the only change to be made in College Park, then it's stupid. But my impression was that they were also making other hardscape changes for pedestrian safety and possibly some signal changes as well. I'm not even sure the pedestrian barrier will be part of the final design.

by Crickey7 on Jul 14, 2014 9:32 am • linkreport

Re: College Park
There's supposed to be a rebuild of Baltimore Avenue coming. Last I heard the big question was if the City was going to pony up to underground utilities. SHA has said they'd do it if the City assumes the cost. If that streetscape plan contains serious redesigns and improvements, then a temporary 'fix' now might be okay. I'm concerned that this becomes something more like the giant fence at Prince George's Plaza, however.

by Distantantennas on Jul 14, 2014 9:33 am • linkreport

Anyone else see a little irony here:

The line “squeezes money out of us who are forced to use the toll road to pay for the cursed Metro,” said Fringer, 61, who pays $140 a month on round trips between Reston and his environmental engineering job in Rockville.

by BTA on Jul 14, 2014 9:35 am • linkreport

That was already done, Greenbelt.

by selxic on Jul 14, 2014 9:36 am • linkreport

@MLD thats my opinion about Reston2020 and the DTR complainers this whole process. Over and over their wishes are being met, and then they just move the goal post and complain about something else.

But I am just confused as to what part of the federal "funding" is going to be affected by the stuff in congress. Phase 2 doesnt have any federal funding, it never did. It does have a TIFIA loan, which I didnt think is affected by the issues over the surface transpo bill. Very confusing as to why thats brought up as a strawman or why Reston2020 keeps going around telling people tolls are going to 18 dollars.

by Navid Roshan on Jul 14, 2014 9:36 am • linkreport

It's often safer to cross mid-block, given the low rate of compliance with marked crosswalks, the non-existent compliance with unmarked crosswalks, and the absence of turning cars. Pedestrians are quite good at protecting themselves. Fences merely facilitate the faster movement of cars. They do not make it safer to cross the street, they make it less safe.

by Ben Ross on Jul 14, 2014 9:48 am • linkreport

Note also that mid-block crossings are entirely legal in that section of Route 1, because of the presence of unsignalized intersections.

by Ben Ross on Jul 14, 2014 9:54 am • linkreport

People complaining about tolls on the DTR is rich. Especially when MWAA is building an excellent toll avoidance system right in the median of the road.

Instead, he says, these lines should be read as a "public service" warning cyclists that if they are violent on the road, drivers may react with violence.
Oh ok. Because "violent cyclists" has been a problem lately. Sure.

by drumz on Jul 14, 2014 9:58 am • linkreport

I'd say a wall/fence combo trumps one's legal right to cross Rte. 1.

by Crickey7 on Jul 14, 2014 10:04 am • linkreport

it was interesting that the complainer the post quoted was someone who lived in Reston and commuted to Rockville. People often suggest that suburban employment locations do not mean long auto commutes. They can be served by transit, and middle income people can usually find affordable housing nearby. For a job in Rockville, that would include upper MoCo - and even Frederick Cty I guess would be an easier commute than from Reston.

Yet someone is doing the "illogical" commute from Reston to Rockville. Why? In fact people often do "illogical" commutes - they are in dual income families, or they have changed jobs but do not want to change houses, etc. The result is that employment locations in the periphery not only have lower transit shares than more centrally located employment locations, but they tend to have more people with long, around the circumference auto commutes than one would expect if one assumes that everyone lives as close as possible to where they work (and if assumes one job per household.)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 14, 2014 10:09 am • linkreport

it was interesting that the complainer the post quoted was someone who lived in Reston and commuted to Rockville.

And another person they quoted commuted from Waldorf to Reston!

Bingo on everything you said.

by MLD on Jul 14, 2014 10:17 am • linkreport

Milloy's comments are, again, just like the unreconstructed racists "I'm not condoning violence, just saying that I can understand why [insert out-group] people get shot.

by SJE on Jul 14, 2014 10:20 am • linkreport

Let's do some math:
“Tolls are a real cash cow,” said Erik Thompson, 41, who stopped using the toll road about 18 months ago when his tolls hit $70 a month for his commute between Waldorf, Md., and his job as a recruiting manager in Reston.

Woah, $70 a month! That's a lot! That's like how much I have to spend to take the bus to work every day!

Waldorf to Reston is ~50 miles, so at 55 cents a mile he is spending $55 a day to drive or $1100 per month (20 working days). Even if you believe the "real" cost of driving is half that you're looking at $550 a month in commuting costs.

by MLD on Jul 14, 2014 10:25 am • linkreport

"People complaining about tolls on the DTR is rich".

I don't even live in FFX or Loudoun, and have taken the DTR once in my life, but the sheer blinding lack of admission of others viewpoint on a subject reflected here is astounding.

We know that you, as a daily metro rider already receive the most subsidized rides to work in the region, and that you as a metro rider aren't having to contribute one penny towards the construction of the silverline through any sort of increased fare or surcharge. We get it, but ignoring the more than 3 billion dollars a relative handful of drivers are contributing to a project that won't benefit them is beyond obtuse.

52% of the $6 billion cost of building the Metro Silver is being paid for via tolls from one road. When the project was "sold" to the public, that was supposed to be 1.5 billion in tolls, but it has doubled to 3 billion, and you honestly don't understand what the issue is; and these folks are called "whiners"? These drivers (according to the EIS done for the project, won’t see one iota of difference in reduced traffic on the DTR, are directly paying for half of this thing that most won't ever ride, nor will be able to ride.

And this is on top of the hundreds of millions the tax paying residents of Loudoun and Fairfax are already contributing to the construction of the Silverline.

We get that the folks of GGW love to ridicule anyone and anything related to auto ownership, but considering they are paying more than half the freight for something you haven't contributed a dollar towards, perhaps a simply thank you would be more productive?

by Shells on Jul 14, 2014 10:33 am • linkreport

"We get it, but ignoring the more than 3 billion dollars a relative handful of drivers are contributing to a project that won't benefit them is beyond obtuse."

I do not agree it won't benefit them. It will mean fewer cars on the DTR, especially if, as claimed here, the impact of tolls is greater than originally expected. Even if it does not, the Silver Line, plus the increase in employment at Tysons it makes possible, will likely mean higher home values along the corridor than would otherwise be the case (that appreciation has likely already taken place to a considerable degree). The tolls are really just a form of value recapture.

"and these folks are called "whiners"?"

For me the problem is that state money has gone to keep the tolls down, and still we hear complaints.

"And this is on top of the hundreds of millions the tax paying residents of Loudoun and Fairfax are already contributing to the construction of the Silverline."

Which is being paid by ALL residents of the counties - in the case of FFX in order to get the county wide benefits of the Tysons transformation. Its being paid by folks in Annandale and Springfield with lower housing values and incomes than are common in the DTR corridor.

"We get that the folks of GGW love to ridicule anyone and anything related to auto ownership, "

I own and drive an auto. The ridicule here is not at auto ownership, but at people complaining about pricing a road.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 14, 2014 10:44 am • linkreport

Pedestrian fences in medians are common in the rest of the world, but rare in the USA. I wonder why. Fire department regulations, related to needing to lay hoses across streets, perhaps?

by Frank IBC on Jul 14, 2014 10:44 am • linkreport

@Shells - and those taxes are being paid by people in Southern FFX County whose transportation needs are barely being met and are only now being studied along the Rt. 1 corridor ... but you won't find me arguing against the Silver Line or similar transit improvements in the area, even if I don't experience any direct benefit from them.

by Thad on Jul 14, 2014 10:51 am • linkreport

@BTA -"environmental engineering" is HVAC, not habitat for butterflies and frogs.

by Tina on Jul 14, 2014 10:53 am • linkreport

that you as a metro rider aren't having to contribute one penny towards the construction of the silverline through any sort of increased fare or surcharge.

Maybe not the construction, but certainly the upkeep. It's not like metro is free to ride.

nd you honestly don't understand what the issue is; and these folks are called "whiners"?

I honestly don't see an argument besides "the price used to be X but now its Y!".

The argument that driver's are being "fleeced" would have the exact same application if tolls were being raised to add a lane to either direction. But the silver line is actually able to carry many more people per hour than an extra lane could anyway.

are directly paying for half of this thing that most won't ever ride, nor will be able to ride.
Which doesn't mean that they still won't see any benefit.

perhaps a simply thank you would be more productive?

No I'm very thankful for the silver line. I was thankful when my wife used the DTR everyday and the tolls went up and I knew it was because it was directly financing the silver line.

I think the toll financing is a great way to address capacity. I'd like to see it applied to other corridors now.

by drumz on Jul 14, 2014 10:54 am • linkreport

The gentleman who drives from Waldorf to Reston probably overpays for that stretch, but underpays for the rest of his trip. So to say it's unfair is not really accurate--it's only unfair in that other people have their entire route subsidized.

We oridinarily use sobsidies as a public policy tool, to promote more use of a service because that fits a public goal. That is true of transit. We promote it becuase it's a more efficient use of the transportation footprint, and in the inner core, we cannot expand that footprint.

The subsidy of auto travel is a historic accident. It is contrary to stated public policy, and for good reasons. So to complain about the subsidy of transit, while not recognizing the error of subsidizing auto travel, is to toally miss the point.

by Crickey7 on Jul 14, 2014 10:59 am • linkreport

FYI, looks like WMATA's Trip Planner has been updated for Silver Line adjustments. For example, right now I'm on a train each morning that leaves Vienna at 5:59 AM. On the rare occassion I miss that train, I catch one at 6:08.

When I put in a date after 7/26, I see trains will leave at 6:01 and 6:09. Most mornings, a 6:01 should allow to me make the same connection at L'Enfant, so I'm good to go.

Afternoon rush is less predictable predicting the actual minute when I switch to Orange at L'Enfant heading to Vienna. But, I rarely have to wait more than 3-4 minutes. Sometimes the board even shows 3 straight Orange trains arriving within 4 minutes and, if I think I have the time, I can wait for the one that's 8 cars and not have to worry about a crowded train.

by jh on Jul 14, 2014 11:06 am • linkreport

DTR users are not paying 52% of the silver line. Had the state and federal government not added more money, they would have paid 52%.

Very important distinction.

by John on Jul 14, 2014 11:31 am • linkreport

@ "Gray says under the DC Council's budget, the 22-mile streetcar system won't be built until 2045. "

Dream on Mayor, if you think throwing money away is going to build 22 miles of streetcar infrastructure by 2045. DDOT couldn't finish 2.4 miles in 6 years.

At any rate, it's a lot of money to spend for an unmaneuverable tram in mixed traffic that's less energy efficient and won't move anyone more quickly than a bus.

by Brett on Jul 14, 2014 11:36 am • linkreport

Re: Milloy
@Veronica Davis
Veronica it would only be poetic justice if your ride with Courtland included the 15th St climb up Meridan Hill (Malcom X for you Courtland ;) )

Also - I'm very tired of this war on cars or war between cars and cyclists meme. This is being pushed exhaustively by the AAA and the media is very lazily regurgitating it. I was present at the protest and the reason I was there - and the reason I felt most of the other riders were there - wasn't because we felt we were in some "war". We were there because of the irresponsibility of a single individual.

by jeffb on Jul 14, 2014 11:42 am • linkreport

@Brett,

Don't forget (or lie by omission) that tracks were laid as part of repaving the street with the intention that all other construction was years away, so while it's been 6 years, it hasn't been 6 years of construction; in fact the early part of that is the sort of foresight we should expect from the government (though yes they've dropped the ball since starting the rest of the project).

Also, the other 22 miles are planned to be privately designed, built, and operated so its not completely comparable.

Are you sure a tram is less energy efficient (electricity is definitely cheaper than the equivalent power from a vehicle's combustion engine)?

Perhaps it would be no faster/no higher capacity than an articulated bus with off board payment, but certainly better than the no build option.

by John on Jul 14, 2014 11:50 am • linkreport

Milloy's comments are, again, just like the unreconstructed racists "I'm not condoning violence, just saying that I can understand why [insert out-group] people get shot.

For better or worse, joking in this way can be considered socially acceptable (if you consider Chris Rock's humor to be socially acceptable).

Chris Rock - "I'm not saying he [OJ Simpson] should have killed her [his wife]...but I understand"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8TqhBIEbWA

by Falls Church on Jul 14, 2014 12:02 pm • linkreport

@Tina @BTA

Nope, environmental engineering is about the natural environment. HVAC and plumbing fall to mechanical engineering, probably more as an artifact of how the field developed than as the expression of some logical connection.

by David R. on Jul 14, 2014 12:13 pm • linkreport

Drumz,
"Maybe not the construction, but certainly the upkeep. It's not like metro is free to ride"

No, you paid zero for the construction, you pay 56% of the operational costs, and zero for Capital Costs (i.e. the upkeep). The feds currently pay for the bulk of capital costs.

I suggest we start tacking on a dollar per trip onto metro fares to pay for road improvements. Perhaps then you will "get it".

by Shells on Jul 14, 2014 12:38 pm • linkreport

@John

"Don't forget (or lie by omission)....so while it's been 6 years, it hasn't been 6 years of construction"

Don't make excuses for (or lie by omission) this disastrous project, which is already 2+ years behind schedule and millions over budget. Tracks were being installed in 2008 and total infrastructure was not complete until 2014. No one cares what hangups they've had along the way, it has taken 6 years to complete and it's still not in use.

"Also, the other 22 miles are planned to be privately designed, built, and operated so its not completely comparable."

Private contractors were used in the design and construction of this one as well. The issue is about planning and management.

"Are you sure a tram is less energy efficient"

Yes.

"Perhaps it would be no faster/no higher capacity than an articulated bus with off board payment, but certainly better than the no build option."

If it's no faster/no higher capacity and less maneuverable than an articulated bus, then what's the benefit and what's the justification for spending so much money on it?

by Brett on Jul 14, 2014 12:40 pm • linkreport

"No one cares what hangups they've had along the way, it has taken 6 years to complete and it's still not in use."

If the question is now long it will take to build the rest of the 22 miles systme, than the reasons matter immensely.

"then what's the benefit and what's the justification for spending so much money on it?"

I think that's been discussed here before. Since both Mayor Grey and the Council expect to build more street car lines, I don't the question of the benefit cost analysis of the modal choice is relevant to today's post.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 14, 2014 12:54 pm • linkreport

Re: College Park, I'd love an explanation from SHA on how a median barrier for pedestrians reduces the number of drunk drivers speeding through a college campus. Their solution seems entirely unrelated to the problem, whose root cause has been clearly identified – ergo, driving through a college town fast enough to kill humans. The solution is to get vehicle speeds down in line with surrounding context. If you want drivers to be able to go no more than 25 mph though the campus portion of Route 1: 1) remove all the turn lanes; 2) alter the color/texture of the road surface; 3) raise the crosswalks at each intersection; 4) signalize each intersection and DO NOT coordinate the signals; 5) increase the pedestrian lighting; and 6) automate all pedestrian signals (no beg buttons). If drivers want to speed north/south, try nearby Kenilworth or 295 – both are designed just for that purpose. It’s a disgrace how the State treats its flagship University.

by BW on Jul 14, 2014 1:01 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity

"I think that's been discussed here before. "

Yet you can't give any reasons that justify the costs. Economic development is a hope and a dream, no more likely with mixed-traffic streetcars than buses.

by Brett on Jul 14, 2014 1:05 pm • linkreport

BW, the campus portion isn't normally the problem area.

by selxic on Jul 14, 2014 1:12 pm • linkreport

"Yet you can't give any reasons that justify the costs."

I could, I just don't want to debate that for the umpteenth time, and I do not think it helpful to go for a hundred comment discussion of it every time some mention of the street car appears.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 14, 2014 1:16 pm • linkreport

I have attended two separate meetings where an SHA official and a senior police officer stated that the pedestrians were at fault and the drivers were not at fault for the pedestrian fatalities along US-1. I do not know whether that is correct, but their reconstructions of the crashes were different than the reconstructions that have been described in GGW comment threads.

In particular, they showed videos of student-age people walking randomly into US-1 at night outside certain establishments, as if it was a parking lot. They denied that the pedestrian killed while walking (when one account said that the " don't walk sign was blinking") ever had the right of way, implying that the blinking part of the quote was wrong.

The police also declined to enforce the crosswalk rule because they don't think that is cost effective, compared to reducing the incidence of drunk pedestrians walking into US-1 and MD-182 by TicToc.

I think that their position is that they will directly enforce laws against driving drunk rather than engineer around that, but they will engineer around drunk pedestrians rather than arrest people for walking while drunk.

I have no direct information if the facts but wanted to let you know what officials have stated at the last two PG bike ped meetings.

by JimT on Jul 14, 2014 1:22 pm • linkreport

MD193 not 182.

by JimT on Jul 14, 2014 1:25 pm • linkreport


No, you paid zero for the construction, you pay 56% of the operational costs, and zero for Capital Costs (i.e. the upkeep). The feds currently pay for the bulk of capital costs.

And people who drive to work but don't use the DTR paid 0 as well.

But the object isn't to find out who pays less for a mode of transportation. It's to move the greatest number of people effectively.

by drumz on Jul 14, 2014 1:31 pm • linkreport

"Are you sure a tram is less energy efficient" "Yes."

Of course that is obviously false. Go look at the per mile cost of gasoline and the per mile cost of electricity. It's not even close. Electricity requires expensive investment in infrastructure, but at a certain amount of traffic, it pays off. A large generator is more fuel efficient and adaptable to cheaper fuels than a small generator.

"Don't make excuses for (or lie by omission) this disastrous project"

I wasn't making excuses, I was discrediting your argument by pointing out that the construction was intentionally long, though agreeably not this long; part of the 6 years was an intentional pause in construction (it makes sense to tear the road up only once).

Further, it's rather foolish to call an entire project a disaster simply because the construction went poorly. Does the rate of construction matter 10 years after it's done? No. If you have a quality concern, let it be heard.

"Private contractors were used in the design and construction of this one as well. The issue is about planning and management."

It is very different to bid out a design/build/operate contract than one design bid, one build bid, and intend to operate it yourself....

by John on Jul 14, 2014 1:31 pm • linkreport

This morning, I saw a metro train labeled Silver today at Federal Triangle. Said "Spring Hill" on the side. It was pulling out of the station as I was exiting my Orange line train, so I didn't get to see whether it was also labeled that way on the PID.

Kind of cool to see that for the first time! Thinking it may have been an error, though, since the simulated service begins next week.

by Nick C on Jul 14, 2014 1:33 pm • linkreport

The big constraint is that SHA insists on at least two full lanes of through traffic on Route 1 at all times. The most deadly drivers in North College Park are the ones who weave between lanes to speed faster.

A better solution in my opinion would be to allow parallel parking in downtown College Park on Route 1 outside of rush hour. Heck, I'd allow parallel parking in North College Park too. Narrow the road down, put in some bike lanes, allow parking, build median havens and bulbouts to make crossing easier, pullouts for bus stops, shorten the light timing, and make only small storage areas for left turners -- that's how you calm traffic, improve business, and improve safety.

by Greenbelt on Jul 14, 2014 1:56 pm • linkreport

@John

"Of course that is obviously false. "

Not at all when you compare the current BRT hybrid-electric bus fleet that WMATA currently uses for the X2, which the new streetcars will replace.

" I was discrediting your argument by pointing out that the construction was intentionally long"

LOL @ "intentionally!" Was it also intentional when the mayor/DDOT made several promises over a 2+ year period of time that the line would open?

"Further, it's rather foolish to call an entire project a disaster simply because the construction went poorly."

It's also tens of millions over original budget!

"It is very different to bid out a design/build/operate contract than one design bid"

More excuses...

by Brett on Jul 14, 2014 1:58 pm • linkreport

Two lanes in each direction, that is...

by Greenbelt on Jul 14, 2014 1:59 pm • linkreport

@Brett

Re: Energy Costs

Hybrids (plug-ins are another story, but the battery technology adds greatly to cost and subtracts greatly from the efficiency) offer a small benefit over gas/diesel/natural gas by having regenerative breaking (as do electrical trains) and near 0 consumption while idling (as do electrical trains). It is cheaper, even with the same fuel source, to produce energy in a few large places and transport it over wires (might change when heat/combustion isn't in the picture). There is a reason Tesla beat Edison and that your air conditioner's motor is electrical not gas.

Re: Time

No one is saying that it hasn't taken too long. The 6 year figure is, however, misleading. 2 years late is far more honest.

Re: Budget

Its never ideal for projects to go over budget. However, the project can still be worth it at the higher price. This one arguably is; and certainly can't be dismissed simply because the price went up alone.

Re: Design/Build/Operate

Well for one, it does shift the planning, management, and operation away from the group who failed at planning and managing the H Street line...It may be an "excuse" (what is it excusing?) but it's certainly relevant.

You don't simply stop doing things cause you screwed up something in the past. Obviously the construction of a streetcar line is capable of not being screwed up. Fix the problems you've had (by changing how you design and build) and do it again (if there is value in having the other line (and there is).

by John on Jul 14, 2014 2:14 pm • linkreport

Found a link for energy costs. For an "average" sized car. Electricity, even with a battery, is 1/3 the price of gasoline for going the same distance. There are greater savings with a streetcar as you eliminate energy lost charging the battery (and the benefit of not replacing a battery) since you are using a wire. Electric motors also require less maintenance (you aren't trying to tame an explosion after all).

by John on Jul 14, 2014 2:23 pm • linkreport

@Jeffb

I'm mapping out a route. I got some great suggestions from #BikeDC on twitter

by Veronica O. Davis (Ms V) on Jul 14, 2014 2:42 pm • linkreport

@John

"Re: Energy Costs"

WMATA's new hybrid-electric buses on H are just as (if not more) energy efficient as the average street car.

"The 6 year figure is, however, misleading. 2 years late is far more honest."

6 years (and counting) is how long the project took to complete. 2 years is how long it took AFTER we were told it would be complete. They're not the same, but both 100% accurate.

" However, the project can still be worth it at the higher price. This one arguably is; "

And, again, that reason is?

"You don't simply stop doing things cause you screwed up something in the past."

I'm waiting like everyone else to finish what they've begun, including, the Anacostia line, which is on hold "indefinitely." The objection I have is funding for additional lines when 1) the planning has been disastrous for the 2 existing and still INcomplete lines and 2) there's no reason that justifies spending this much money on mixed-traffic streetcars, that do NOTHING to solve our transportation problems.

The money should be geared towards an additional Metrorail line, b/c subway is actually quick and gets traffic off the roads.

by Brett on Jul 14, 2014 2:57 pm • linkreport

I agree that SHA will not reduce the number of through lanes on US-1 from 2 to 1. If they tried, they would surely be over-ruled, so I would not fault then for not pursuing traffic calming through engineering.

I do fault SHA and the police departments for not trying to do traffic calming the other way: Through aggressive law enforcement of all traffic laws. Town police could enforce speed and crosswalk laws, and I think Campus police can enforce the law on parts of US-1 that cuts through the campus. Fines should cover the cost of such enforcement. The 12-mph grace does not apply to tickets written by a police officer.

But since College Park does not have a town police force, the town can't enforce the law.

by JimT on Jul 14, 2014 3:04 pm • linkreport

Re: Energy Costs

No, those are not pulling energy from a power plant; all power they use comes from diesel carried by the bus. They save some energy by charging a battery when braking and not idling. Again, it is more efficient to use a large power plant and distribute power via wire. Why do you think Amtrak uses electric where the infrastructure has already been built?

Re: Time

6 years is misleading (I didn't say it was inaccurate, but it's cherry picked) because 2 years of that was time where no construction was ever scheduled to be completed. Would it have been better in your mind if they had not installed the tracks when they were repaving the road? By charging them with the entire 6 years as construction costs, their performance improves by doing so.

Re: Value of building streetcar

I see, so you were against it from the get go. I'm not going to argue decisions made in the past. I suggest you find a post from 4 years ago to whine in. We are talking about how to proceed from here.

Re: Planning methodology

I'm not sure you can defend that it's better to not plan for the future until you complete what you are currently working on.

Re: Justification

Of course, dedicated lanes would be better. I suspect that will happen in the future. However, there are long term and operational savings as mentioned above for energy and also maintenance (streetcars last 2x-3x that of a bus, electric drivetrains are cheaper to maintain/less prone to breakdowns*, etc). The ceiling for capacity of a street car is higher than a bus*. The ride is more comfortable. The acceleration is better*. The list goes on and on. I can't say if the cost over a true BRT system are justified as its difficult to know what the number would cost or how to monetize street car's non-financial benefits.

* These 3 things are how they work better than BRT; of course, both of these do SOMETHING for transportation over the status quo.

Re: Metrorail Instead

The entire street car system's budget would buy how many miles of underground tunnel? Is it politically feasible with VA and MD?

by John on Jul 14, 2014 3:17 pm • linkreport

@Veronica I'm glad you're taking Rush (I mean Courtland) on a bike ride, but please don't get in a car with him!

That guy has had his license revoked for speeding! That means being caught and ticketed by live officers many times in a short span of time. Do you know how hard that is to accomplish in this area?

by Greenbelt on Jul 14, 2014 3:21 pm • linkreport

@John

"No, those are not pulling energy from a power plant"

According to DOE figures, the hybrid-electric buses, by btu/passenger mile, are lower than avg. light rail/streetcar AND heavy rail. Now if you have something that refutes the DOE figures, I'm happy to entertain it.

"I didn't say it was inaccurate, but it's cherry picked"

That's your personal opinion, but in fact, it has taken 6 years to complete, and counting.

"The ceiling for capacity of a street car is higher than a bus*. The ride is more comfortable. The acceleration is better*. The list goes on and on."

LOL. If an articulated bus is not enough, add a double articulated bus or deploy two double articulated buses simultaneously.

And a smoother ride isn't worth over 100 million for a 2.4 mile segment.

"The entire street car system's budget would buy how many miles of underground tunnel?"

Subways are worth the investment b/c they are faster and actually solve transportation problems by removing commuters from the road. No such benefit with mixed-traffic street cars.

by Brett on Jul 14, 2014 3:58 pm • linkreport

Double articulateds and their issues were discussed here some time ago.

Really brett, thanks for making the case - the case that GGW would benefit from a FAQ page.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 14, 2014 4:08 pm • linkreport

According to DOE figures, the hybrid-electric buses, by btu/passenger mile, are lower than avg. light rail/streetcar AND heavy rail. Now if you have something that refutes the DOE figures, I'm happy to entertain it.

You're looking at the Transportation Energy Data Book, right? Does it split out hybrid vs other buses? Where?

BTUs per passenger mile is a meaningless measurement. Why would we measure anything in BTUs? That doesn't tell you anything about what fuel was used, emissions from it, how much it cost to produce, transport, or anything like that. So it is a measure of "efficiency" in exactly what way?

by MLD on Jul 14, 2014 4:22 pm • linkreport

DTR users are not paying 52% of the silver line. Had the state and federal government not added more money, they would have paid 52%.

Ok John...you win. DTR users are paying 49% of the cost of Silverline. Well done.

Then again when this thing was "sold" to the public, DTR users were supposed to pay 25% of the 4 billion (at that time) cost, or 1 billion dollars.

Now DTR users are being fleeced for 49% of the now 5.6 billion dollar boondoggle, or 2.74 Billion, a 174% increase that a small number of drivers are having to support.

And you wonder why they are so upset...

by Damon on Jul 14, 2014 5:12 pm • linkreport

I mean that "DTR Users Pay 25%" thing was a pretty nice idea until the state of Virginia decided to put 10% into the project (and only after SERIOUS arm-twisting) instead of the agreed-to share. Thanks, McDonnell!

And many of those DTR users are paying higher tolls in lieu of Loudoun County raising their taxes to put in more.

by MLD on Jul 14, 2014 5:26 pm • linkreport

Now DTR users are being fleeced for 49% of the now 5.6 billion dollar boondoggle, or 2.74 Billion, a 174% increase that a small number of drivers are having to support.

Or, we found a great solution to an issue that had a discrete number of people directly paying for a solution to their own transportation issues.

One can already avoid the DTR if they don't want to pay a toll. Now it'll be even easier to avoid that toll.

by drumz on Jul 14, 2014 5:27 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerIntheCity

"the case that GGW would benefit from a FAQ page"

Great idea! I think a FAQ page (with actual facts) on streetcars and the H St line would help dispel a lot of the myths, misinformation, and inaccuracies that continue to circulate on GGW.

@MLD

"BTUs per passenger mile is a meaningless measurement. "

LOL, so meaningless that DOE uses it as a measurement. Ignoring it because Portland's system is over 2500 btu/pm, Baltimore's is over 5,000, and DC's hybrid-electric buses are under 2000 btu/pm?

by Brett on Jul 14, 2014 5:33 pm • linkreport

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

The example given of the man from Reston going to Waldorf. How exactly is the Silverline helping him? It canít get him where he is going, and the number of cars its taking off the road is within a margin of error so his trip next year isnít going to be any faster, so again I ask how is he and the other hundreds of thousands of people who use the DTR who are in the same situation? These people arenít shelling out money for their own transportation solution.

In 2009, 327K vehicles a day used the DTR, thatís fallen by 11% since, of the of the 291K trips per day remaining, only an estimated 15% of those even live within 1.5 miles of a current or proposed Silverline station.

by Damon on Jul 14, 2014 7:09 pm • linkreport

First I'd like to say that the impression that Silver Line supporters somehow hate or despise DTR drivers is off base. I'm very thankful for them because without them we wouldn't have the Silver Line. And the Silver Line really represents a benchmark in transportation planning in NOVA. That's a big deal.

I do get annoyed at those who argue that DTR drivers are just being taken advantage of. Because it's so obviously not true.

Anyway,

[not] everyone lives within walkable distances at both ends of a metro trip to both their job and their home, and doesn’t have any kids or afterwork issues to deal with that would make the silverline usless to them, but we all know it isn’t the case.

I don't even live within walking distance of a metro rail station. But hundreds of thousands of people ride metro every day. Clearly it works for many people and can work for many more. But we've got to actually build the new lines.

The example given of the man from Reston going to Waldorf. How exactly is the Silverline helping him?
There's a not insignificant number of people who commute from DC/Arlington to Tysons and beyond. A great many of them will be using the silver line and not driving to work like they were before. All of a sudden the Waldorf/Reston guy benefits.

Waldorf to Reston is a pretty extreme commute in any case. If we're going to discuss transportation choices let's focus on typical trips rather than atypical trips.

These people aren’t shelling out money for their own transportation solution.

But they are. Some will switch to taking transit to work, others will benefit by having that much more room on the road while they're driving.

And look, unless we have the money for transportation projects donated by Bill Gates then someone is going to have to pay. Either all USA citizens from federal money. Or more money from all Virginians. Instead MWAA said they could do it with toll money. That's a pretty small group of people but they're also some of the biggest beneficiaries to the project as well.

The only way to be "fleeced" is if one thinks that one shouldn't ever have to pay to use a road.

only an estimated 15% of those even live within 1.5 miles of a current or proposed Silverline station.

But with the Silver Line you can manage a lot of future growth (coming regardless) into a discrete number of places which makes it easier to provide more transit (and fewer car trips).

And that number only counts the new stations. Plenty more people live close to existing metro stops that will benefit from having a quicker trip to Tyson's. And then you count the myriad new bus services that have been introduced as well.

All of that thanks in part to the voluntary transactions of drivers on the toll road (of which I count myself).

by drumz on Jul 14, 2014 8:14 pm • linkreport

"The example given of the man from Reston going to Waldorf. How exactly is the Silverline helping him?"

If he lives in Reston (but wasnt the reston man commuting to Rockville?) the value of home is likely higher because of the silver line. plus as a FFX resident, he will benefit from the development at Tysons.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 14, 2014 8:15 pm • linkreport

We have now heard from aggrieved Blue line riders, aggrieved DTR motorists, and even aggrieved owners of "adult" goods shops in Tysons.

I trust soon the Post will start interviewing the folks who will directly benefit from the Silver Line - and give a separate article to each group. Tysons residents, reverse commuters, folks taking the line from Reston inbound, people accessing it by bus and bike, and the folks out in Largo who will get more train service.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 14, 2014 8:18 pm • linkreport

The guy commuting to Reston from Waldorf got a toll-free Wilson Bridge and a toll-free freeway conversion of MD-5.

by JimT on Jul 14, 2014 9:12 pm • linkreport

@JimT paid for mostly by general funds that come from all residents not the gas tax which didn't get increased for years in VA/MD and the Fed still pending. The road users who imply that transit users are the ones that are net takers are insane. They only see it from their view point, they don't consider that transit riders now have a nice additional sales tax which 95% of which will go towards HIGHWAY and ROAD projects, not transit projects. If you want a pedestrian project in this state it has to be approved by a referendum to find funds, but somehow the state can lose $300 million to a design firm for 460 bypass and end up with an unbuildable project and no way to recoup those funds.

Lets see, $300 million would basically pay for every pedestrian project in Tysons over the next 35 years and then some, but yea thank god hundreds of my dollars the past 2 years went towards a road project that won't even get built! No need for that $15,000 crosswalk, or 1 additional bus per hour, we have an imaginary road that never got built!

Road drivers are only annoyed because their special status as the golden childs is actually being questioned. You demand private industry, you have it, its called toll roads, perhaps you should fight for logical increases to user fees like the gas tax and we wouldn't have to rely on private industry.

BTW, all of this comes in the context that TOLL ROAD PRICES ARE GOING TO REMAIN THE SAME THANKS TO EVEN MORE MONEY BEING PROVIDED BY ALL TAX PAYERS TO AVOID THEM GOING UP. But yes, it will be 18 dollars blah blah blah, no mention that a hamburger in 2050 will also be $15 or that using future value is a stupid measurement specifically for the fear mongering of the masses.

by Navid Roshan on Jul 14, 2014 10:29 pm • linkreport

Oops, forgot that VA didn't even raise the gas tax. They kept it the same and "broadened" the tax base, which is another way of saying they reduced how much road drivers actually contribute by relying on people who use roads less like me (3 miles per day)

by Navid Roshan on Jul 14, 2014 10:30 pm • linkreport

As usual in Maryland, they are favoring cars over pedestrians. I'm on a rare assignment in Alexandria and am driving home through DC--also a rarity. I notice that in downtown DC on Wisconsin Ave there are mid block crosswalks. Wow, what a concept, Maryland DOT, well-marked crosswalks that drivers are expected to honor!

by Henrietta on Jul 14, 2014 11:17 pm • linkreport

Framing this (the College Park pedestrian fence, I assume) as favoring cars over pedestrians is unfair. As reported by WTOP, the fence is being coupled with several changes which benefit pedestrians, including a reduction in the speed limit to 25MPH, increased speed camera enforcement, and some kind of signal at the unsignalized crosswalk at Hartwick Road. The latter improvement is long-overdue, as drivers generally ignored the crosswalk, despite its clear markings.

The last time I tried to cross at the Hartwick Road crosswalk during rush hour, a women in an SUV held down her horn and maintained speed when I stepped into the crosswalk, even though there was plenty of room to stop. I'm hoping that the new signal will turn red when pedestrians cross, like the one at 37th St, because area drivers have proven themselves incapable of stopping, even when someone is actually in the street.

I don't think some posters realize quite how bad the drunk pedestrians get at night, though. I frequently drive through the area around 11PM-1AM due to my work schedule, and pedestrians slowly stroll into the street when oncoming traffic has a green light, completely confident that all oncoming traffic will see them and stop immediately. I'm not talking about the frantic dashing you see when a pedestrian is taking a calculated risk, nor am I talking about the slow, defiant saunter in the street that you sometimes see when the pedestrian is trying to look intimidating. We're talking about completely oblivious jaywalking, which is the scariest kind.

Once I asked a young UMD student about the jaywalking in front of the bars, and if she thought it was dangerous. She replied that it wasn't, because all drivers already know that they're driving through a college town and expect pedestrians, and those unfamiliar with the area will see all of the "really shady" storefronts and figure it out for themselves. I'm not sure if that's really working out, so the fence is probably best.

by jms on Jul 15, 2014 12:49 am • linkreport

I'm not giving The Post any more page views for the Milloy nonsense. But if he is going on about "bike violence" now... what a crock. How can he even take himself seriously after car drivers killed six people over the Independence Day weekend, just days before his racist rant was posted? Six! And far more to come over the remaining months of this year.

Meanwhile, cyclists kill, well, none this year, that I know of. I think it would take more than a decade for all cyclists in the greater DC region to equal the death toll inflicted by car drivers in just one weekend. Milloy is just plain nuts. Call it what it is.

by Citizen on Jul 15, 2014 2:13 am • linkreport

Not to pile on here, but in addition to allowing parallel parking after rush hour (effectively narrowing Route 1 down to one lane each way), I think College Park should consider just closing the road the motor traffic, starting when the shops and restaurants close around 10pm and extending until final call at the bars, maybe 3am?

Make it an official pedestrian party/social zone, but write tickets for public intoxication for students who overdo it.

Sounds like fun to me!

by Greenbelt on Jul 15, 2014 9:56 am • linkreport

Apparently the problem isn't just with New Hampshire:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/15/tsa-agent-dc-license-passport_n_5588735.html?cps=gravity

by DaveG on Jul 16, 2014 4:18 am • linkreport

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