The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.


Breakfast Links: Fe Fi Fo Fum

Cleveland Park Giant approved: The DC Zoning Commission has approved the long-proposed Giant redevelopment in Cleveland Park. The vote was unanimous, over the objections of the Cleveland Park Citizens Association. (Jaime, DCist)

Wisconsin Giant site plan

New push for Metro construction: Virginia Congressmen Gerry Connally and Jim Moran are trying to find support for a $20 million earmark to study a greatly extended Metro system in Virginia. The proposal touches on all three existing Virginia lines, extending the Orange, Blue, and Yellow lines to Centreville, Woodbridge, and Fort Belvoir. If ultimately approved in full, this would represent the largest expansion of Metro beyond the original system in its 30-year history. Commentators argue that these far-flung places (except, perhaps Fort Belvoir) would be better served by peak-service commuter rail, and that inner-core expansion is critical. (WBJ, Gavin B)

Hine redevelopment moving forward: The list of potential redevelopers of Eastern Market's Hine Junior High School, closed since 2007, has been whittled from six to four. The Eastern Market Metro Community Association is holding a meeting from 6pm to 9pm tonight at Tyler School to review the conceptual drawings. The EMMCA has announced that it will use five criteria to assess the proposals: promotion of neighborhood uniqueness, provision of space for a flea market and town square, protection of the neighborhood's "residential" character, attraction of pedestrians and cyclists "but not cars," and accommodations for "community programming." (Thom, DCmud)

Fireworks back on: The DC Fire Chief's ban on fireworks at Nationals Park was short-lived. The displays are now planned to continue, with minor adjustments. Because there hasn't been a home game since Sunday's announcement, the ban did not impact any event at the diamond. (City Paper)

No vote for now: With some in the media announcing it is "dead in the water," Congressional leaders have announced that the DC voting rights bill is on-hold indefinitely, because of a lack of "consensus" on the firearms amendment. In describing the situation, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton has stated in an email, "Please understand that we are holding the bill for now, not giving up on voting rights." (Post, Decider)

Streetcar chugging along: Arlington's Columbia Pike streetcar project is hitting another milestone, as the Metro board moves to vote on the project Thursday. The critics, however, remain unsilenced: the head of the Northern Virginia Transportation alliance has complained that "[w]e have billions and billions of needs and to put a couple hundred million dollars in Columbia Pike seems a poor investment at this time." It has not been reported what the NVTA believes would be a better use for scarce transportation dollars. (Examiner)

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Joey Katzen is an entrepreneur and attorney who previously lived in Arlington, Virginia. A native of the Commonwealth, he hopes our public and private sectors can work together to continue transforming each of our neighborhoods into attractive places we can be proud of. 


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I'd completely agree that extending Metro with commuter lines makes more sense. But as far as getting people into downtown the Orange line is already too crowded. Finding ways to get people who work in suburbs to other suburbs seems to make more sense.

Very mixed on the Columbia Pike streetcar. Yes, it will be a success. Yes, it will do great things on Columbia Pike. But how does that help the rest of region?

by charlie on Jun 10, 2009 9:01 am • linkreport

The Columbia Pike streetcar is a relatively small project and will have primarily local effects. But in its small way, it will have regional impact in the redirection of development to inner redevelopment instead of sprawl.

It is also important to look at it as just one segment of what could be an interconnected trolley/light rail network across NoVa, and that really would have regional impact, and relatively (compared to Metro) little cost. I liked, for example, the proposal for light rail on route 7.

by RichardatCourthouse on Jun 10, 2009 9:27 am • linkreport

Orange Line: Desperately needs to be extended to Fair Oaks...beyond the 66/50 split you are not getting as much "bang for your buck". As for commuter rail, there is none within a 20 to 30 minute drive of western Fairfax (the closest being Burke Centre).

Blue Line: Seems more cost effective to expand VRE, as it literally parallels the proposed Metro tracks and there are already VRE stations in Lorton and Woodbridge. Not to mention, commuter rail from these points are more desirable anyway as there are fewer stops to Alexandria, Crystal City, etc.

Yellow Line: It would be nice to extend it down Route 1 and use this as a vehicle for smart growth down the corridor, but i think the distance of track required plus the lack of ROW makes this a very inefficient way to spend rail dollars.

The most cost-effective way to spend heavy rail dollars in NOVA would be to create a "Y" line going down Columbia Pike, Route 7, and Van Dorn Streets (between E Falls Church, Pentagon, and Van Dorn...junctioning at Baily's, about 10 miles of track)...and use this as a catalyst to remake close in burbs of Seven Corners, South Arlington, Baily's, Seminary, and Landmark as new Ballstons/Clarendons.

by stevek_fairfax on Jun 10, 2009 9:30 am • linkreport

>But how does that help the rest of region?

One might ask how a highway interchange project or arterial widening in Prince William County helps the rest of the region. Also, at the moment 100% of the money on Columbia Pike is locally generated in Arlington County, so even if that were a legitimate argument (which it's not), it wouldn't matter because the rest of the region isn't paying for the project.

Anyway, two points about NVTA:

1) NVT Alliance is different than NVT Authority. Alliance is a pro-roads / anti-transit special interest group populated mainly by Fairfax County corporate types. Authority is the quasi-governmental institution that acts as Metropolitan Planning Organization for Northern Virginia.

by BeyondDC on Jun 10, 2009 9:33 am • linkreport

Oops. Didn't close that [i] tag correctly. Sorry.

by BeyondDC on Jun 10, 2009 9:34 am • linkreport

"Finding ways to get people who work in suburbs to other suburbs seems to make more sense."

I think that's the main thinking behind the Silver Line... the selling point is that Tyson's is a major regional employment center rather than a DC bedroom community. The hope, I gather, is that the Silver line will not add to the volume of passengers heading into Washington/Arlington but rather have some type of reverse flow into Tyson's instead.

by Adam L on Jun 10, 2009 9:36 am • linkreport

Also, at the moment 100% of the money on Columbia Pike is locally generated in Arlington County, so even if that were a legitimate argument (which it's not), it wouldn't matter because the rest of the region isn't paying for the project.

It always seems to be the ones who are net takers who are the most insistent on telling the net givers how they should be spending their money in their own backyards. I imagine that if all transportation revenue raising and spending were devolved to the local level transit would end up with more money since the places with the most transit are also the places that have the most money.

by Reid on Jun 10, 2009 9:39 am • linkreport

Ia m happy to see some talk about an extension of the metro network. It is long overdue. It is sad to see the lack of ambition, and the coupling of the lines to large roads. But, I guess that's the way things go here.

I would also like to see a metro line along the Fairfax County Parkway, the PWC parkway and under Glebe Rd.

As for the folks who like to see more lines in DC, I say: do not despair. What you're gonna see is that the MD delegation will jump on this to get their lines extended as well. Good. And then folks will find out that downtown DC can not manage all the extra passengers, and an extension will follow there too.

As for the difference between the VRE and Metro, I'd prefer to see the VRE (and MARC) killed and replaced by metro. Metro trains are lighter and cost less energy to move around. Furthermore, it is annoying and complex to have all those different services, especially since the VRE (and MARC) ride only on such irregular intervals.

by Jasper on Jun 10, 2009 10:06 am • linkreport

Jasper, with your suggestions we might as well just have heavy rail to Baltimore. That would be a great fantasy since it would induce more transit demand in our neighboring city that is already woefully underserved with intra-city rail.

It's a nice dream, right? Meanwhile we need to rally behind the Baltimore Red Line.

by Cavan on Jun 10, 2009 10:15 am • linkreport

Fantasy map time! Time to update the fantasy map!

And kudos to Virginia's leaders for having the passion and skills to promote a VISION for their state. Where is that same leadership in DC? Who in DC is doing the most to advocate for DC's transit future?

by michael on Jun 10, 2009 10:17 am • linkreport

I would think that if nothing else, the light rail, could be used as a proof of concept, thoughts?

by Art on Jun 10, 2009 10:18 am • linkreport

Without express tracks, using metro to go distances more suited to a commuter rail will seriously limit their appeal to riders. I couldn't imagine riding the Orange Line in from Centreville or Fair Oaks. You'd have so many stops you'd go insane.

What we really need to focus on is exploring a Metro/Commuter hybrid. I'm thinking of the S-Bahn in Germany or perhaps the District Line in London. Something that feels like a subway in the inner core but a commuter rail immediately outside the core. I guess Metro is in some ways already like this. But perhaps there would be a way for the cars to skip the inner-ring.

I've always thought we should explore having the Silver Line stay on I-66 east of Falls Church and completely skip all the stops until Rosslyn (or perhaps even skip Rosslyn and go down through Arlington Cemetery and come across the 14th st. bridge).

Perhaps too the Blue Line could jump over to the commuter rail tracks once it reaches Alexandria and speed into Union Station.

If we're going to keep this commuter rail/subway hybrid, I think we need to incorporate more traits of a commuter rail if we're going to reach out further.

by Reid on Jun 10, 2009 10:25 am • linkreport

@ Cavan: The transit options from DC to Baltimore are pathetic. In any European country there would be an all-day long 4 perhaps more times an hour direct connection between comparably close cities. Here, we are stuck with MARC that drives irregularly, but often during rush hours, but can't get you to an Orioles game.

by Jasper on Jun 10, 2009 10:38 am • linkreport

A Columbia Pike streetcar could help spur a wider system of streetcars. The Arlandrian pointed out the two quotes relevant to Alexandria the other day. The hope is this is the first domino in what becomes a network.

As for the Metro expansion, I think the rail to Belvoir makes the most sense since BRAC has moved/is moving thousands of jobs from Crystal City to that location. I picture there being a lot of NIMBYs that live on the East side of Rt. 1, but that corridor would only stand to benefit hugely from Metro. It's a strip mall lover's dream right now. I've taken the REX bus from King Street Metro to Ft. Belvoir and it gets pretty full. It takes 50+ minutes to go the 10 or so miles, which seems pretty long tacked onto the end of whatever length of Metro trip. It really disincentivises using mass transit to Belvoir.

That said, they should figure out a way to get VRE into Belvoir since many Crystal City employees were riding VRE from exurb locations, anyway. Many of those employees lose that option and so will need to switch to cars.

by Nick on Jun 10, 2009 10:40 am • linkreport

Streetcar chugging along:

I am not a big fan of the Columbia Pike streetcar project. The reason why you may ask? Building this line will for all practical purposes slam the door on building the metrorail line that was shown as future for this corridor in the 1968 WMATA Adopted Region System map. I will also note Dulles was also shown as future on that map.

by Sand Box John on Jun 10, 2009 10:55 am • linkreport

Regarding the proposed extensions, it should be noted that only the "blue line extension to Woodbridge" could reasonably be served by commuter rail instead. Steve K already noted that the Orange Line proposal isn't anywhere near commuter rail tracks (except at Manassas proper, if you read the PWC transit plan), nor could commuter rail reasonably serve the east end of Belvoir or the Route 1 corridor between Belvoir and Alexandria.

As for a Yellow Line extension and the "lack of ROW", my conceptual idea is that it could be routed under Kings Hwy and Route 1. VDOT and Fairfax County have proposed reconstructing Route 1 anyway, so it would be a good opportunity to build Metrorail tracks underneath. Topography supports such at least through Beacon Hill. And if we could tunnel under the Potomac, surely we could tunnel under Hybla Valley, Little Hunting Creek, and Dogue Creek.

Sure, such tunneling will be expensive (as Steve K suggests), but one could've made the same argument about the Orange Line through Ballston-Rosslyn back when it was being planned. Between major anchors on each end, an existing major arterial, and existing commercial nodes (Beacon Hill, Hybla Valley, Woodlawn), a Yellow Line extension could easily spur a corridor similar to Ballston-Rosslyn, plus give Fort Belvoir a decent transit connection (which will become painfully necessary once the BRAC moves are completed).

by Froggie on Jun 10, 2009 10:56 am • linkreport

It's good to see the Wisconsin Giant finally reaching a securely positive ending. I think, in 10 years, people will look back and think about what a terrible idea opposing the final plan was. In 10 years, it'll probably be so thriving, it'll not even be considered part of Cleveland Park.

by цarьchitect on Jun 10, 2009 11:06 am • linkreport

Just to clarify, most of the Crystal City jobs are not going to Ft Belvoir, they are gong to Metro Park at Seminary and 395. There are plenty of jobs going to the FTBELV. but most will be located at the souther half and most over at the EPG on the other side of 95.

by Rj on Jun 10, 2009 11:08 am • linkreport

Also, it's time planners looked into building transit lines such that they encourage the growth of satellite cities of DC. Rather than simply adding more people from further out to the crush, MWCOG needs a new regional plan that creates more nodes outside of the center of the city.

by цarьchitect on Jun 10, 2009 11:10 am • linkreport

@ цarьchitect, I agree it's nice that the Cleveland Park Giant is finally going to get built. The only down side is that the location on Wisconsin instead of Connecticut makes it difficult for residents near the Cleveland Park Metro stop to walk to it. Taking a bus is possible, but I don't particularly enjoy lugging bags of groceries onto a bus. That's why Cleveland Park, and Woodley Park for that matter, while great little hoods, are locations that I would be resistant to move to. Dupont, Van Ness, and Friendship Heights have grocery stores within a few blocks for the residents living in those areas.

by Aaron on Jun 10, 2009 11:25 am • linkreport

Well, it's not going to be the Cleveland Park Giant anymore. It's going to be its own neighborhood center, in between Glover Park and Tenleytown. The Giant is for people who live in the area, or will be living there when more density is built.

You're right that the transit options aren't the greatest. The Mass Ave and Woodley buses are better than they get credit for, but a BRT or tram line is probably a good investment in the future.

by цarьchitect on Jun 10, 2009 11:57 am • linkreport

most of the Crystal City jobs are not going to Ft Belvoir, they are gong to Metro Park at Seminary and 395

Actually, they're going to Belvoir, Quantico, Washington Navy Yard, Bolling AFB, and Metro Park.

by crystal on Jun 10, 2009 12:19 pm • linkreport

If the Orange Line is extended to Centerville, one project that should be pursued is light rail on the Route 28 corridor. Light rail could connect from I-66 to Dulles airport and perhaps the Route 7/Route 28 interchange. The Route 28 coridor has a lot of jobs and several large master-planned town centers are proposed for the area. VDOT has previously studied building light rail along Route 28 (

by Ben on Jun 10, 2009 12:37 pm • linkreport

I don't think some of you guys appreciate just how expensive it is to build Metro.

Yes, Metro is better than a streetcar, but for the cost of one new Metro extension you could put light rail on every major corridor in Northern Virginia. Or, for the cost of one new Metro extension you could improve MARC and VRE so they ran at least hourly service all day long.

It would be irresponsible to go to the expense of building Metro to places like Centreville when with different modes we could provide very high quality transit service to Centreville *and* to a dozen other places that don't currently have anything, if only we were willing to step outside the intellectual box that incorrectly says "Metrorail is the only good transit".

Match the mode to the need, or you're just throwing money away.

by BeyondDC on Jun 10, 2009 12:38 pm • linkreport

"And kudos to Virginia's leaders for having the passion and skills to promote a VISION for their state. Where is that same leadership in DC? Who in DC is doing the most to advocate for DC's transit future?"

I agree with Michael.

Who is leading DC's transit future?

Increased access to heavy rail AND light rail inside DC's borders can surely help to capture more of the job growth and population that is coming to the DC region. Population and employment in the DC region may grow by 20% over the next 25 years. DC leadership needs to be jumping up and down and doing all they can to capture more of that growth. I don't see it happening.

I've seen a lot of plans but hardly any implementation.

DC held a groundbreaking ceremony on November 13, 2004 for a demonstration streetcar line in SE DC. It's now in the middle of 2009, and we still don't have streetcar service. They started construction this year, but then promptly delayed the start of service until sometime in 2012.

Who's leading the effort to resolve how DC will power the streetcars through the L'Enfant city grid?

As for Metrorail, the ad hoc planning seems destructive to the system as a single functioning unit

Political leadership in Virginia is getting aboard on the Metro(rail) brand. It's popular. Metro surely is a hybrid system of urban subway and commuter rail. I believe further extending Metrorail away from the core will only strain the system more as a whole in its dual role.

by otavio on Jun 10, 2009 12:40 pm • linkreport

I don't think some of you guys appreciate just how expensive it is to build Metro.

It is not. It's a large investment that pays itself back. Easily. As long as you plan properly and (re)develop the area around the new line. It's even cheaper when you plan ahead, so you do not have to retrofit a neighborhood around a new line.

Yes, Metro is better than a streetcar, but for the cost of one new Metro extension you could put light rail on every major corridor in Northern Virginia. Or, for the cost of one new Metro extension you could improve MARC and VRE so they ran at least hourly service all day long.

Streetcars are way slower than metro. Way slower. They are good for replacing buses on routes with a very high frequency. 15 mins or below.

MARC and VRE are no good because the trains are too big and they only run at rush hour. Not in between, not at night, not in the weekends.

MARC and VRE can be changed to long-distance or express routes. Union Station-FrancSrping-Woodbridge-Quantico-Fredericksburg-Richmond. Or Union Station-New Carrolton-(...)-BWI-Baltimore. And they should run at least once an hour, all week, night and weekend long. Service should go up to 4-6 times an hour during rush hour. Perhaps VRE and MARC should be coupled, so you can get from Richmond to Baltimore without a change of train. I should be able to get from FrancSpring to Baltimore in less than an hour, especially during rush hour.

by Jasper on Jun 10, 2009 1:10 pm • linkreport

Aaron- The Giant on Wisconsin and Newark Avenue is only a twenty minute walk from both the Cleveland Park and Tenley metro stations. I can understand someone not wanting to do that walk with heavy bags of groceries but it is certainly reasonable to walk from the Cleveland Park metro to one of the many restaurants in the area.

by Ben on Jun 10, 2009 1:11 pm • linkreport

Jasper, MARC and VRE only run at peak hours now, but that doesn't need to be the case. It will be far easier to upgrade the service levels of MARC and VRE to meet standards of things like Metro-North in NYC or Metra in Chicago.

by Alex B. on Jun 10, 2009 1:30 pm • linkreport

Jasper, I agree that we ought to be building more metro and that the initial costs, although sky-high, do pay themselves back most of the time.

But, in the grand scheme of things, we need to embrace other forms of transit and implement them when most appropriate. The demand for frequent rail in Centreville or Woodbridge simply isn't there. I've posted before that I think extending the orange line to Fair Lakes is pretty much a no-brainer in my mind. Centreville makes some sense if it's developed alongside a Rt. 28 light rail line. But even then, the demand I don't think would be there. Ft. Belvoir and Rt. 1 also seem like no brainers to me.

So not only is the demand not there now, but we should evaluate whether it is responsible to try and spur high density development in western fairfax and prince william counties w/o much already there.

Building up MARC and VRE are musts and they will make people quickly forget metro out in the exurbs IMO. If you've ever taken Metro North or other commuter rail systems in the country that are done fairly well, you wouldn't want to sit on a frequent-stop, relatively uncomfortable heavy-rail metro car. They do need to be run more regularly and frequent than now though which I agree with.

Basically, I can see you understand the correct scenarios for forms of transit, but I don't agree with some of the local applications of them. Metro on Prince William and Fairfax County parkways is ridiculous as would Glebe Rd., almost a perfect situation for light-rail.

I'd like to see metro on Columbia Pike, but I think light-rail will do the trick there and metro would be a pipe dream whether or not the streetcar were planned or not and it would take probably 4 or 5 times as long to get planned, funded and completed.

by Vik on Jun 10, 2009 1:39 pm • linkreport

@Jasper: It is expensive to build Metrorail. It may be a great investment that pays huge dividends in the future to property holders and even positively affect tax revenue, but I can't go to a construction contractor and ask them to build me a rail line because in two decades everyone's house will be worth a little more. I have to have cash in hand, which means I have to issue bonds, which means I have to have tax dollars associated with those bonds in order to get a decent interest rate. In this political climate, all the tax dollars are spoken for, and there's a "no new taxes" mentality going around.

So the idea that Metrorail is more expensive than street car is a fact that can't just be hand-waved into nothingness because it's a good idea. Tax revenue is finite, and for every mile of Metrorail built, you could have several miles of streetcar instead. Metrorail may have advantages over streetcar, but those can't be immediately translated into tax revenue in the short term.

by Michael Perkins on Jun 10, 2009 1:43 pm • linkreport


True, but the big enchilada (approx. 10-15k), The Army's Washington Headquarters Service Center is going to Mark Center, which actually will become Ft. Belvoir

by RJ on Jun 10, 2009 2:00 pm • linkreport

@ Michael Perkins: "In this political climate, all the tax dollars are spoken for, and there's a "no new taxes" mentality going around."

And how is that different from three years, ten or thirty years ago? Seriously.

There is never a climate in which the people want to increase taxes. Especially in America. There is always some kind crisis going on. Just check the Arlington videos that are being posted. What you are saying is "not now". And what it will become is "never". It is the ultimate obstructionist answer. It sounds reasonable, and is always true. So nothing ever happens.

In the mean time, the whole south side of the beltway from Springfield to National Harbor has got a multibillion upgrade, including a shiny new bridge (with bike trail!) and currently unused space for a metro rails. 9/11 was not enough of a crisis to stop building there. Furthermore, the ICC is on track for being built. Apparently, the current financial crisis is not a large enough crisis to stop them. So what is the crisis stopping us from building more transit?

On the matter of streetcars vs metro. I like both. They just serve different purposes.

Streetcars/trams are for relative short-distance transportation and are ideal for replacing frequent bus lines. Think of the 12 minute map. You want to replace the buses with the streetcars because they run more smoothly, and usually have the right of way, wherever the are. That saves time. Their tracks allow them to move a bit faster than a bus. Streetcars should run from early till late and at very high frequency during rush hour.

Metro/subway serves mid-range distances. Downtown to suburb. And - very importantly - suburb to suburb. Hence my constant whining about metro along the Fairfax and PW parkways. See it as the VA version of the purple line. Except that you can just extend the blue line. If you want those areas to become less car dependent, you can only do so with metro. Metro should run from early till late and at very high frequency during rush hour.

Heavy trains like VRE and MARC should be used for longer distances. Exurb to downtown. City to city. Village to village. Those trains should run very regularly. Preferably every half hour or every twenty minutes, and connect on both ends to local transit. Be it bus, streetcar or metro.

by Jasper on Jun 10, 2009 3:03 pm • linkreport

I didn't see any comments on the proposal to extend the Purple Line (light rail--not yet part of WMATA system) with a new Potomac crossing to Tysons's. I would note that it's a long distance from Bethesda to Tyson's with pretty low density for a relatively slow mode.

I guess you could route it up Old Georgetown Rd to serve NIH and then over toward Montgomery Mall to serve that area but what do you do after that?

Not sure this is worth spending study dollars on at this point.

by kreeggo on Jun 10, 2009 3:32 pm • linkreport

Well, Tysons Corner is such a mammoth destination that it doesn't matter much what that line would go *through*. Just getting to Tysons would probably be worth it.

by BeyondDC on Jun 10, 2009 3:34 pm • linkreport

... Also, the fact that such an extension would be light rail rather than Metrorail means it would be much less expensive, comparatively.

by BeyondDC on Jun 10, 2009 3:36 pm • linkreport

Tysons Corner might deserve treatment as the center of its own transportation center, it's so big. I don't want to encourage more sprawl, but like Gaithersburg/Rockville, it's so dense and so far out there that it might justify radial lines to it, including from the east, rather than conceiving it as part of the DC commutershed.

by цarьchitect on Jun 10, 2009 4:03 pm • linkreport

"The Giant on Wisconsin and Newark Avenue is only a twenty minute walk from both the Cleveland Park and Tenley metro stations. I can understand someone not wanting to do that walk with heavy bags of groceries but it is certainly reasonable to walk from the Cleveland Park metro to one of the many restaurants in the area."

The owner of the very popular 2Amys restaurant, which adjoins the PUD site, testified to the Zoning Commission that in all of his years of operation, no one has ever called to ask what bus serves the restaurant. I guess they all walk a mile from the Metro -- or, more likely, they drive (and park in the always full Giant parking lot).

by roadie on Jun 10, 2009 4:32 pm • linkreport

If the stops are limited between Bethesda and Tysons, which it most likely would be, w/ a lower cost light rail system, it might be worth it. Light rail isn't as fast as heavy rail but I don't think it would take that long. A decent light rail system could go probably 50 mph or so.

by Vik on Jun 10, 2009 4:48 pm • linkreport

"no one has ever called to ask what bus serves the restaurant. "

Or the customers are sharp enough to decipher the bus route info WMATA provides.

by ah on Jun 10, 2009 4:50 pm • linkreport

Jasper, I agree with some of your reasoning, but not just distances should be looked at when you're you're comparing modes. You have to look at the demand along those corridors. So sure, from the distance standpoint, perhaps heavy rail is a better technology the Rt. 28 or the FFX county pkwy, I'd argue for BRT, but you can't possibly tell me that there is much demand to go from Springfield to Fair Lakes or from Fair Lakes to Reston to spend billions and have metro rail running relatively frequently for barely any people. To make it more attractive than driving, people's destinations would also have to be within a relatively close proximity.

In general, I think higher density urban and suburban areas and job centers that are located on a corridor with like development in close proximity are the most suitable areas for metro. I think if the leaders weren't so short-sighted and had a better perspective, they'd realize that if they pushed for commuter rail in farther flung areas and developed around them for higher density, they'd realize it's better, more comfortable, cheaper and more attractive to riders than a heavy rail metro system that isn't suited for those distances. I do think that the stigma and "Metro" name leads the politicians to be a bit myopic.

by Vik on Jun 10, 2009 5:03 pm • linkreport

It would be good to figure out a way for a Bethesda > Tyson's Corner line to go by CIA and McLean. That would cut a little of the no man's land out of the trip. Perhaps it could travel down the capital crescent trail and there could be a river crossing near Chain Bridge. It could then follow 123 past CIA, through McLean, and end up in Tysons. There would probably be 5 or 6 total stops along there (Somerset, near Little Falls Mall, CIA, 2 McLean stops, and Tysons). It's 10 miles along that route.

I can't see any other real options that wouldn't impact tons of residences or replace an existing right-of-way on the Maryland side, unless you considered the Beltway.

by Nick on Jun 10, 2009 5:10 pm • linkreport

If they want to extend the lines further they should just build a circluar line so that when the orange or blue gets crowded they could just hop back on the other line and go to the next transfer (yellow line) station.

The way people want to extend metrorail I bet by 2050 where going to have a line going almost to Kings Dominion at this rate. They current lines should be going no further any new line extensions should be separate from current lines and only connected via transfer stations

by KK on Jun 10, 2009 7:03 pm • linkreport

For a Bethesda to Tysons Line, the trail right of way is the obvious choice. I would have the trail share ROW from the Bethesda tunnel to the intersection with Little Falls Pkwy. I would then close the Parkway to cars and reroute the CCT to the Parkway south to Mass Ave. The trail could then use the existing trail for a spell before rejoining the rail ROW south of Mass Ave.

The transit line should then leave the ROW and have a station at Little Falls Mall- the NIMA facility will by then have moved to the Engineer Proving Ground, and be ripe for transit oriented redevelopment.

The river crossing is the big problem, obviously. I forsee the line crossing in the vicinity of the Little Falls Dam. Whether it should be a tunnel or a bridge is a big question. The line should emerge from the tunnel, or new at-grade or elevated ROW, at the gates to the CIA. Of course that would involve taking several pricey properties, but oh well. From there it should follow 123 into Tysons.

This line would have VERY high ridership, but would face intense opposition on both sides of the river. One thing that may help build support to construct it is the nightmare that will be any American Legion Bridge replacement/widening. The beltway may approach total gridlock with the extra two HOT lanes funneling into the river crossing.

by kinverson on Jun 10, 2009 8:40 pm • linkreport

Regarding any Purple Line extension southwest into Virginia...

NPS has jurisdiction over both sides of the river proper, at least between the Beltway and Georgetown. As I recall, it's been mentioned/discussed that they would be opposed to any new bridge crossing of the Potomac that wasn't located at one of the existing bridge crossings. That basically limits a Purple Line bridge to either Chain Bridge (while figuring out a way to get the rail line down into the valley) or at the Beltway (which puts it out-of-the-way of almost all the suggestions made in this thread).

by Froggie on Jun 10, 2009 9:30 pm • linkreport

You give EMMCA way too much credit for tonight's meeting on Hine. DC Department of Planning and Economic Development held the meeting, at the urging of Councilmember Tommy Wells. It was an rip-roaring success!

I am sure GGW will report on what went on, and I won't steal your thunder, but over 200 people showed up, all four developer groups gave excellent presentations, the questions were respectful but pointed, and something rarely seen occurred--the whole community was involved in the process, and/but the process moved forward. It can happen!

EMMCA's only role has been to relentlessly encourage involvement by the residents, and to come to a consensus in the five criteria we all agree should be paramount in judging the proposals.

Job well done, and special praise should go to city official Jose Sousa, who ran the meeting in a very professional way. As we like to say over in this neighborhood, "Sousa rocks!"

by EMMCA on Jun 11, 2009 12:02 am • linkreport

@ Vik: .you can't possibly tell me that there is much demand to go from Springfield to Fair Lakes or from Fair Lakes to Reston to spend billions and have metro rail running relatively frequently for barely any people.

* First, the parkway is always busy, so folks are apparently moving along.

* Second, demand will follow any metro line you build.

* Third, you seem to think that everybody only traffic to and from downtown DC. Many people in NOVA (and I assume MoCo and PG) are very happy where they are. There are houses, jobs and malls. Oh, and let's not forget tourist sites like Mt Vernon, Gunston Hall, the Manassass battle fields and Great Falls. Not that those all need metro connections, but I am just saying, DC folks forget that life outside the beltway is possible. Fairfax is one of (if not the) richest counties in the US. However, there are little transit options, and those that do exist are largely focused on commuting to and from DC. Not through the area.

* Fourth, despite its self-reliance, a lot of people do work in DC, and can't get there decently now. Try and get to DC from Burke (only 20 miles). Or try getting to George Mason. Or Ft Belvoir.

by Jasper on Jun 11, 2009 9:29 am • linkreport

Great post regarding rail from Bethesda to Tysons via the CCT and 123 ROWs!

The fact that there are these 2 existing right-of-ways provides such an opportunity, and the fact that there are the regions 2 biggest job centers (besides downtown DC) at either end provides a tremendous catalyst for ridership!

One would think the bridge through national park land would be the hardest park...but then again think of Rock Creek Park...those beautiful stone Olmstead bridges are park of what make the park feel more natural, in a poetic sort of way. So perhaps if this bridge is though of as a way to ENHANCE the natural beauty from the begginning (think stone arches with pedestrian paths on either side, with a small overlook in the middle to view Little Falls), then the National Park Service might not only NOT stand in the way of the project, but actually be a vehement PROPONENT of such a bridge.

by stevek_fairfax on Jun 11, 2009 11:09 am • linkreport

@stevek, I hope you're right about NPS being interested. That would be a big obstacle. I do think Capital Crescent Trail supporters and the very wealthy McLean residents would probably be a bigger opponent than anyone, but who knows. Maybe they'd appreciate getting on light-rail and getting to and from Tyson's easily.

It really sets up the possibility for almost a complete loop if you follow Rt. 7 all the way to the proposed Columbia Pike light-rail, to the proposed Rt. 1 light-rail, then make a river crossing. Better yet, the line could cut down Columbia Pike to Four Mile Run Rd to Glebe and pick up Rt 1 there. That would cut out some of the zig-zagging and hit Shirlington and Arlandria. Probably less viable since the Columbia Pike and Rt. 1 lines are already in the discussion/planning phases.

I don't know what you'd do to connect to the PG County end of the purple line, but I'm sure there are viable rights-of-way if you could get across the river.

by Nick on Jun 11, 2009 12:08 pm • linkreport

Getting across the river isn't the issue. Recall that the new WWB was built to accommodate rail transit on the inside part of the Thru Lanes in each direction.

No...that won't be the problem. The problem would be how to get such a line TO the WWB.

by Froggie on Jun 11, 2009 12:35 pm • linkreport

Once you get to Rt 1, I don't think getting to the WWB is an issue. The long term transit plan in Alexandria includes a potential light-rail line along Rt. 1 that I think goes most of the way to 495/95. Of course, you could argue that cutting down Rt 1 makes no sense since there will already be Metro access the whole way down (Crystal City, Potomac Yard, if that happens, Braddock Rd, and King St). Maybe Rt 7 all the way from Tyson's to Rt. 1?

by Nick on Jun 11, 2009 1:03 pm • linkreport

Unless you know something I don't, the line proposed through Potomac Yards would only go as far south as Braddock Rd. Then there's the matter of getting from there to the Beltway through Old Town. No easy way to do that unless you take out or share with what are already gridlocked traffic lanes. Maybe use one of the side streets, but then you'd have access issues with the buildings and residences along whichever side street you choose.

by Froggie on Jun 11, 2009 1:21 pm • linkreport

@Froggie: Wouldn't the point of building transit on the "already gridlocked traffic lanes" be in part to ease that gridlock? It is a proven fact that transit can move more people more efficiently than private automobiles. Faster and more convenient? Depends on the situation. Either way though, I think that having a congested corridor is just the reason to argue for transit there - not the reason to argue against it. The straight path from Braddock Road to the Beltway would be a great place for a continuation of this hypothetical line.

by Chris Seay on Jun 11, 2009 1:29 pm • linkreport

Jasper, I know FFX County very well, the parkways isn't always busy, which is relative, and the destinations for people aren't always near the parkway for them to be walking to after hopping off the metro. They need to develop a long term plan to develop nodes off the parkway with a much higher population density to even begin to discuss a metro rail line.

There are so many roads like Little River Turnpike, Braddock Road, Rt. 50, etc. that need better mass transit, but metro isn't it. Part of what people appreciate by being in suburbs is the lack of density. This plan would never happen so there's no point in discussing it.

I understand people need to get from suburb to suburb, but the planning was horrible. There's no way to accommodate everyone, and BRT and LRT are the best ways to it right now. And people in places like Burke ought to have a better commute, but they have a VRE line and ought to upgrade it.

Seriously, have you used some of the good commuter rail systems in this country? They're better than heavy rail for getting from outer burb to downtown.

by Vik on Jun 11, 2009 1:37 pm • linkreport

@Froggie, you're right, the plan is only to go to Braddock Metro. I thought I had heard that it was planned to further down Rt. 1. Here's a link to the the Transit Corridor document. That last leg could be a problem, but I guess there are a lot of potential problems between Bethesda and Old Town, as well. It would be a pretty major planning effort and commitment by numerous municipalities. It definitely should be done, though. It connects many densely populated areas to Metro and each other that currently have only 1 real option: personal automobiles.

by Nick on Jun 11, 2009 1:48 pm • linkreport

@ Vik: Seriously, have you used some of the good commuter rail systems in this country?

I live next to the Lorton VRE stop. Don't use it. I can not get to the station by foot or bike without risking my life. Furthermore, I hate transit that goes at random times. So, I bus to F-S and ride in. All in all, it takes me 1h15 (if I'm lucky) to travel 20 miles. That's an average speed of 20m/1.25h=16mph. I know that driving up 395 during rush hour is slower, but I am sorry, if your transit (transportation) system can't get over 16 mph, it is pathetic. This is the political capital of the world. Not some backwater village.

I have ridden MARC a few times. Same problem with the random operation times. The trains themselves were shady. Not very comfortable, not very clean, but not bad enough to be worried.


Hmmm. I am never calculated this before. I am truly shocked. 16 mph? WTF? Question to GGW: Can you start taking an on-going poll in which people can indicate their travel speed? Give distance, time traveled, and perhaps divy up by means of travel (bus, metro, bus+metro, car, bike, bike+bus, foot).

Quite frankly I find it more shocking and concerning that I only do 16 mph than that it takes me 1h15 to get to work. I shows that the transportation system in DC is not just broken, but gone.

If GGW would start collecting this data, it could trace major disruptions in the transportation system in the US. On those days, you could see the travel time in a certain mode of transportation go up....

by Jasper on Jun 11, 2009 3:11 pm • linkreport

Jasper: The point is that MARC and VRE *aren't* good commuter rail systems. They could be improved *so much*. Chicago's Metra is an example of a much better commuter rail operation.

Also, the actual mph of commute times is pretty well known. In fact, WMATA uses those numbers (including time stopped at lights, etc) when planning bus route schedules.

by BeyondDC on Jun 11, 2009 3:16 pm • linkreport

@jasper, my trip (including walking and a short bike ride, waiting time for train) is 11 miles in 50-55 minutes, or about 12-13 mph.

In a car, including walking time and time to find parking, it would be about 35 minutes if I had a passenger, and about 50 minutes if I do not. That's about 19 mph, so not that much better.

The additional 15-20 minutes I spend by taking the train I chalk up to the fact that I can read and respond to email, read books, get by with only one car for the family, not have to fight for the remaining free parking spaces at 8am (they're usually gone by 7:30), etc.

I've just come to terms that this is how far I live from work and basically nothing is going to make my commute shorter, unless due to crowding Arlington or WMATA started running express buses down I-66 from East Falls Church to drop off at L'Enfant or something like that. Probably not going to happen because the only reason they'd do that is to alleviate crowding on the Orange line, and the number of buses needed to alleviate crowding (a dozen per hour is only about the same as about four rail cars) would probably saturate I-66 pretty quickly.

by Michael Perkins on Jun 11, 2009 3:29 pm • linkreport

@ BDC: Ok, I agree.

@ Michael P: I reside in the pain too. There are all kinds of reasons why I don't want to/can not live closer in.

But honestly, I am still shocked by the realization that I travel only 16 mph. That is pathetic. Absolutely unacceptable.

I was looking for something in the past that went 16 mph. The Pony Express did 11 mph. In one hundred and fifty years, we have gone from 11 to 16mph. Supertankers and cruise ships go about 20 mph.

by Jasper on Jun 11, 2009 5:07 pm • linkreport

@jasper: I live and work in midtown Manhattan. My commute involves walking ~1/2 mile and subway. It is exactly 2 miles. Depending on how long I have to wait for the train, it takes 20-25 minutes. That is 5.3 mph on average. Incidentally, since it is Manhattan, a taxi takes 15-20 minutes, aka essentially the same time as public transportation and sometimes more.

I'm from Richmond and think the VRE should be made into a truly statewide rail service, with express and local rush hour, non-peak and weekend service (think NJ Transit/Metro North). Downtown Washington, Downtown Richmond and Downtown Newport News are all major employment centers and that is just one corridor. One could also envision links from DC and Richmond to Charlottesville and SW Virginia, not too mention a few other radial lines from Richmond... What are the chances of that happening in the next 20 years?

by dono on Jun 11, 2009 11:44 pm • linkreport

I think these travel speed calculations are why I consider that as much as I love trains, the bicycle combined with paved roads is actually the greatest form of human transportation ever.

Consider: A properly equipped (fenders, rack, lights), quality bicycle for city use is around $500, new, or about two weeks' pay. Good maintenance can make that bike last a decade or more and costs about $100 per year (tires, tubes, adjustments). So say $1000 over a decade, or less than 1% of minimum wage for that same decade. If you make more than minimum wage, it's even less. Cars or transit passes run about 10% of minimum wages or more. (ok, you can do more stuff with a car, sure)

That bike upgrades your travel speed from 2-3mph (a quick but not strenuous walking pace) to 12-15 mph (a quick but not strenuous bicycle pace), about a 5x improvement.

Which is about the same average speed as urban transit at least based on the few anecdotes here.

by Michael Perkins on Jun 12, 2009 8:48 am • linkreport

@ dono: One could also envision links from DC and Richmond to Charlottesville and SW Virginia, not too mention a few other radial lines from Richmond... What are the chances of that happening in the next 20 years?

I am all for that. But the chance of it happening is zero.

@ Michael P: That bike upgrades your travel speed from 2-3mph (a quick but not strenuous walking pace) to 12-15 mph (a quick but not strenuous bicycle pace), about a 5x improvement.

Seriously. I always considered it too far to bike, but now I found that biking would not slow me down that much, I'd consider biking a lot - on decent weather days. However, there is no bike path from home to DC.

by Jasper on Jun 12, 2009 9:05 am • linkreport

I live in Centreville

I drive a short distance to a park & ride (which fills up by 8:15am except gov. flex days of Monday and Friday), take a bus to Vienna, and take the Orange line to McPherson Square. My commute is almost 3 hrs per day and has been over 3 hours too many times lately for an average of about 8 mph. I cannot read on the bus or Metro because of mild motion sickness. I would much prefer to drive, but at the time of day I work, it would easily take me 90 minutes each way. Heaven forbid how long it takes when raining!

There simply isn't a good way to get from Centreville to downtown unless you drive before HOV turns on. Even if you leave later and HOV, you are stuck in the I-66 parking lot, and you will take at least an hour to get downtown. Working in IT, I do not have a 9-5, so carpooling is not practical.

After all the hassle of commuting and changing lines, I constantly feel like a zombie. I get home exhausted, and this latest assignment has definitely hurt my quality of life. I am looking for a new job because of this, and I don't think I will ever take a job again where working downtown is a possibility.

Extending the Orange line to Centreville might seem like a good idea, but they will have to put up another parking garage and charge $4.50 a day to park. Will it fill up too quickly like Vienna? And how long will it take to get downtown? Hopefully that would be a big positive; they can't put too many stops between Centreville and Vienna.

I do not understand a 'light-rail' solution, so maybe someone could explain how it would work, where it would be physically located, and how long it would take to get from say, Centreville Park & Ride to Vienna, and how much it would cost. After all, my bus transfer only costs $.75 each way today... I'm sure light rail would be more, maybe as much as an express bus from Monroe P&R a $3.50?

Bus service is too varied and does not have all-day service. The buses are at the mercy of the I-66 parking lot traffic, which has added a big delay to my commute over what it used to take to get to Vienna a few years ago. The last bus to Centreville leaves at 8:15pm, which has left me calling for a ride too many times.

Out-of-towners might say, "move closer to work." I used to work 2 1/2 miles from my house, which is why I moved to Centreville. Then I got sent downtown by the same company. Then I worked on Wisconsin Ave near Tenleytown. Next was working in Centreville, about 1 1/2 miles from home. I've had several other engagements or assignments that have seen me at Union Station, L'Enfant Plaza, Herndon, and Reston. The farthest I have had to work was Greenbelt. Besides, I couldn't sell my house in this downturn.

by Brody on Jun 12, 2009 12:15 pm • linkreport

One other comment: When I first moved here I used to drive downtown, leaving my workplace in Chantilly at 8:00am. There were days when I could be pulling into my parking garage at Metro Center in 30 minutes. The typical drive in took about 35-40 minutes, but those days are long gone with all the uncontrolled, unplanned development.

by Brody on Jun 12, 2009 12:25 pm • linkreport

@Aaron, there are 3 grocery stores, a bakery and a CVS within one block of the Cleveland Park metro stop: Magruders (right on top of the metro); Brookville supermarket and Yes natural foods, plus Firehook bakery and the CVS. and 2 blocks away is Vacci! The eastside of CP (near the CP metro) is fairly well served.

by Bianchi on Jun 12, 2009 12:55 pm • linkreport

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