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Breakfast links: Highway robbery


Good spot for a freeway? Photo by M.V. Jantzen.
Moran: Widen 14th Street: Congressman Jim Moran (Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax) thinks DC ought to widen the 14th Street Bridge and 14th Street to add HOT lanes linking up to the potential Virginia ones. He told WTOP, "What D.C. should do is widen 14th Street Bridge, widen 14th Street and get some of the revenue that's coming from these HOT lanes." The "widen 14th Street" part must have been a verbal repetition or something, right? Surely Moran realizes that there are buildings on both sides of 14th Street in the way of widening it. (WTOP)

MPD would rather white people didn't file police reports in Trinidad?: The Capital City Diner guys just can't get a break. Last night, they were robbed on Bladensburg Road. MPD officers seemed uninterested, and once a detective showed up, he tried to talk them out of reporting the crime, partly because they're white, according to their post.

Stop the Sprawlway: Today's Michael Dresser column in the Baltimore Sun lists the many reasons that the $4 billion I-270 widening, which he dubs the "Sprawlway," is really bad. He also mentions ACT's transit alternative.

Developers not interested in Purple Line, except those that are: Sunday's Post has a "news" story about how most developers aren't interested in building around the Purple Line. But upon reading, it appears that developers mainly aren't because the line is many years away and the economy is bad, not because the line lacks economic development opportunities. Plus, on the second page, they start quoting developers who actually are interested in building around the line.

DC can complete Georgia Avenue: DC will probably get to take over most of the Walter Reed campus when the hospital closes in 2011. The State Department initially said it wanted to use 79 acres, but then changed its mind and only needs 18. DC wanted to build a fire station on the eastern edge along Georgia Avenue. If the current plans go through, they can fill in the rest of the dead zone and connect communities along Georgia. (Current)

Not even safe on the sidewalk in Glen Burnie: A 59-year-old woman was on her way to church Saturday just before 7:00 pm, standing on a sidewalk preparing to cross Route 648 in Glen Burnie, when a driver struck and killed her before fleeing the scene. The driver was apprehended shortly thereafter. (Eye On Annapolis, Stephen Miller)

Be glad you don't live in the OC: An Orange County (California) Transit Agency board member suggested ending bus service entirely, and one local paper thinks that's a good idea. Governor Schwarzenegger ended all state operating assistance to transit agencies, and the sales taxes that fund OCTA, like other agencies, are way down. Tipster Stephen T. points out that the OC is evaluating options for the congested I-405, and widening the road without adding transit the only option on the table. (Orange County Register)

Chicago parking deal illegal or just bad?: Some Chicagoans are suing to try to block the city's deal to privatize its parking meters. The deal was indeed lousy for Chicago and poorly thought through, like the penalties Chicago has to pay if they remove parking spaces in the future. However, that doesn't necessarily mean it's illegal. (Consumerist)

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David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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According to the police, it's apparently not a robbery if you give up the money willingly. Even if it's to avoid being shot or stabbed.

As usual, Monkeyrotica has a brilliant comment over at the capital city diner blog.

by Michael Perkins on Aug 24, 2009 9:52 am • linkreport

Get a brain, Moran!

by Joel on Aug 24, 2009 9:54 am • linkreport

Anyone see Robert SamuelsonÂ’s editorial that (among a lot of things) uses Randall OÂ’TooleÂ’s research to support spending money on transit systems?

by цarьchitect on Aug 24, 2009 9:57 am • linkreport

Argh. You can toll lanes without adding them. Yeesh.

And all 12 lanes of the 14th street bridge complex aren't enough?

by Alex B. on Aug 24, 2009 10:08 am • linkreport

I've got a solution: how about Mr. Moran moves to Orange County, California?

by Cavan on Aug 24, 2009 10:18 am • linkreport

Phase 1: Build HOT lanes
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Profit!

by EdTheRed on Aug 24, 2009 10:43 am • linkreport

Jim Moran is back to his favorite hobby: beating up the District, and shamelessly pandering to his motoring constituents, i.e. demanding freebies from people who have no voice. He seems to regard 14th St as an extension of the 8th Congressional District, recalling that he had a hissy fit when Chuck Ramsey wanted to ticket Va. drivers for blocking traffic whilst picking up slugs. If the congressman thinks HOT lanes are such a swell idea, how about we just create insta-HOT lanes by tolling the current center span that feeds the HOV lanes? That way Virginians that want a quicker ride across the Potomac can pay, and the rest can sit in traffic.

by Paul on Aug 24, 2009 10:56 am • linkreport

When i first read "Orange Co." I thought you were referring to Orange Co., VA. Thus I was confused why Schwarzennegar was mentioned in the same sentence..."What's he got to do with VA?"

by Bianchi on Aug 24, 2009 11:06 am • linkreport

Regarding the OC Register column about ending bus service in CA, OCTA was named as one of the best transit agencies just a few years ago under the leadership of Art Leahy (who replaced John Catoe at the Los Angeles MTA when Mr. Catoe left for WMATA). I read the comments posted by readers on the OC Register website and they were suprising very pro-transit for a conservative, auto-dependent county.

by Ben on Aug 24, 2009 11:21 am • linkreport

@ Ben: People who use transit are usually a quiet bunch. They don't have multiple strong lobby groups that cry foul all the time.

Can you imagine a county saying: "Why don't have money for roads anymore"?

by Jasper on Aug 24, 2009 11:35 am • linkreport

FHWA has an EIS-level study going on right now about what to do with 14th Street Bridge, and putting bus lanes on 14th St between the bridge and K Street and been floated by several people and will likely be looked at in a study of its own soon.

As for HOT lanes... well, there are big questions about whether they will even happen.

by BeyondDC on Aug 24, 2009 11:40 am • linkreport

I just looked at the satellite photos, and it looks to me like DC has several MORE lanes on its side of the Jefferson Memorial crossing than Virginia does.

by tom veil on Aug 24, 2009 12:03 pm • linkreport

Depends what you define as a lane. Are you counting only through lanes? Are you counting merging lanes? There's also the question of lane balance, which is skewed on both sides of the Potomac...

by Froggie on Aug 24, 2009 12:07 pm • linkreport

A few years ago I went to a convention in Anaheim and discovered that Orange County, CA in fact has (or then had) the most comprehensive and easy to use bus service of any suburban area I've been in. The headways were not great but not that terrible for such relatively low density, typically half an hour, they actually came at the scheduled time, and transfers were (apparently) coordinated, as I had no trouble making a couple. The buses I rode were definitely used, always at least half full and sometimes packed to the gills. (This wasn't even during rush hour; given the long headways, the drivers try to cram in everybody instead of making people wait for the next bus.) Clearly they should be talking about increasing frequencies, not shutting down!

by davidj on Aug 24, 2009 12:56 pm • linkreport

Widen 14th Street- with all of those large buildings?

Why did he not say widen the SW Freeway with two extra lanes to the Center Leg, requiring only the removal of those strategically evilly placed 28 townhouses a mere 16 1/2 feet from the freeway retaining wall? Why no mention of NCPC's excellent tunnel concept in conjunction with this improved and undergrounded SW Freeway and extended underground Center Leg and East Leg.

Does Moron even look at what he talks about?

by Douglas Willinger on Aug 24, 2009 3:20 pm • linkreport

MORAN is a MORON.

For the same amount of money work could be done to build a separated blue line into the city and get the fat obese Northern Virginians out of their cars and SUVs and living longer. Moron is doing no service to his constituents by encouraging, abbetting their slothful and wasteful ways.

by w on Aug 24, 2009 3:55 pm • linkreport

Not that that would be a bad idea as a supplement, but how much auto traffic is a bike lane going to divert?

by Douglas Willinger on Aug 24, 2009 3:59 pm • linkreport

You mean a bus lane? Lots. DRPT's study of the corridor is showing there is a big demand for better commuter bus service in that corridor... and since that's where the HOV/T lanes end, the DC portion is the weak link in the existing network.

by BeyondDC on Aug 24, 2009 4:06 pm • linkreport

A bus lane makes sense; I once stayed with a friend who lived along the Shirley Highway and thought it was crazy there was no train or bus, especially for commuters.

by Douglas Willinger on Aug 24, 2009 4:14 pm • linkreport

Careful about wishing for new bus lanes. We just might get them. And then there will be political pressure to convert them to regular lanes for cars. We'll have a highway widening through the back door. It will have all the disastrous effects of any other widening.

It already happened with the original Shirley Busway. It was then buses and HOV's then buses, HOV's and Priuses, and now soon to be buses, HOV's, and HOT's. Not a good trend. Any new asphalt is bad asphalt at this point. It'll just be used for something other than what it was intended.

by Cavan on Aug 24, 2009 4:45 pm • linkreport

OK let's get real here;
if Representative MORON really means business;
is he going to propose tearing down the Willard Hotel, and all of the buildings in the city going north of the Mall that abut 14th street? How many lanes are we talking about ???
Or is he planning on tearing down or moving the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing- which at last check- after the Air & Space Museum is the most visited tourist site in the city? Not to mention that it is the world's second largest printing factory and produces half of the nation's paper money
[ does MORON want to move the BEP and Ag Dpt out to Fairfax?]
Does the US Dept of Agriculture also get clobbered?
Not to mention the American Museum of History, and the old Auditors Building [ the pretty brick building w/ clocktower that never got a clock in it]- How far up 14th street is he prepared to go with the wrecking ball??

IS THIS IDIOT ON DRUGS OR WHAT ???!!!!???

by w on Aug 24, 2009 5:00 pm • linkreport

Why no mention of a 14th Street tunnel, entirely within existing right of way? IIRC there were early 1970s proposals for such beneath the Mall, as there were for an E Street Tunnel beneath the Ellipse.

Moran is being somewhat consistent with the outrageous 1963-64 North Central Freeway study (that deviated from the sensible 1962 JFK NCF B&O rr-multi-modelization proposal), designed to fail.

It os all about providing sure failures as some sort of political distraction.

by Douglas Willinger on Aug 24, 2009 5:12 pm • linkreport

I'd hazard a bet that 14th St north of about Maine Ave SW would not be expanded, and that existing lanes would be converted to bus lanes north of that point.

by Froggie on Aug 24, 2009 6:06 pm • linkreport

Cavan- how were people to board the buses in the Shirley Highway median roadway?

by Douglas Willinger on Aug 25, 2009 12:15 am • linkreport

And to add to 'w's list of obstacles: the Holocaust Museum. Even if you didn't carry the lane widening far up 14th street, the very first building that stands in the way is the Holocaust Museum. Aside from the fact that it is a brand new and has won numerous awards, proposing to tear it down for freeway expansion is a horrible political and social message.

by ogden on Aug 25, 2009 1:39 am • linkreport

It is a horrible idea for any road widening But did he call it to be made a freeway (eliminating the traffic lights) or simply widening it? Hence would that not be instead a 'boulevard'?

Moron alas is helping distract from what that area really needs- something akin to this:

http://wwwtripwithinthebeltway.blogspot.com/2008/07/new-i-395-gateway-if-its-coordinated.html

an of course for the current northern I-395 truncation:

http://wwwtripwithinthebeltway.blogspot.com/2007/11/i-395-extension-superior-option.html

by Douglas Willinger on Aug 25, 2009 1:46 am • linkreport

Moran actually represents Arlington, Alexandria, and Reston. To avoid gerrymandering allegations Reston is connected to the rest of the 8th by the Dulles Toll Road.

But back on topic, I'll have to write Moran a letter as his constituent...

by Joshua Davis on Aug 25, 2009 8:23 am • linkreport

One of Moran's hidden points, which I don't think should be overlooked, is that the 14th St Bridges are getting old and will eventually need to be replaced, likely within our lifetimes. 2 of the 3 bridges are close to or over 50 years old (NB was built in 1950, SB built in 1962...HOV lanes in 1972).

Such a bridge replacement would, IMO, gives both Arlington County and DC an opportunity to build a "signiture span", not to mention consolidate some of the substandard access ramps on either side of the bridge complex.

by Froggie on Aug 25, 2009 8:55 am • linkreport

I hope not for a "signature span." I would hope for at most, the same number of lanes.

If I had my magic wand, I would use it as an opportunity to tear down the entire SW-SE freeway and return SW DC to its rightful place as part of the L'Enfant plan.

While I'm at it with the fantasy stuff, I would create a separate (as in separated by concrete barriers so cars don't clog them up) bus lane on the new restored Virginia and Maryland Avenues for commuter and WMATA buses so that the same amount of people can still be moved from Arlington.

by Cavan on Aug 25, 2009 9:33 am • linkreport

Cavan, I think a 'signature span' would refer more to the bridge architecture than lanes. I know the NCPC's big 50 year plan idea was to incorporate all of the crossings in that area into one superbridge - 395, Metro, Amtrak/VRE (this assumed CSX would build a bypass for freight south of the city).

The problem with any sort of signature architecture is that you can't go up, since you've got the approach to National there.

by Alex B. on Aug 25, 2009 9:51 am • linkreport

Thank you, Alex. Yes, I was referring to "signature span" as in architecture. It'd also be an opportunity to consolidate the three separate bridges into one (or two if they do it like the new I-35W bridge in Minneapolis), and consolidate access points on either end, as I mentioned before.

by Froggie on Aug 25, 2009 10:21 am • linkreport

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