Excessive auto infrastructure gets attention
Fox 5 picked up the Medical Center "Secret Plan" story last night, with a short segment during the evening news. Yesterday, the Examiner's Bill Myers covered the issue, noting that he read about the controversy here on Greater Greater Washington. Fox reporter John Henrehan reached out in the comments to interview me and also ACT's Ben Ross:
As an extra bonus, you get to see my living room. Apparently Montgomery officials still aren't commenting on their supposedly not so secret plan. And why no captions for the interviewees?
There's a fascinating juxtaposition between the way the anchor introduces the issue and the way Henrehan does moments later. The anchor starts out by talking about how the commute is rough, but by showing a picture of cars, not the crowds of Metro riders, and how the tunnel is a plan to relieve the traffic. Henrehan, on the other hand, notes how hard it is for riders to get to and from NNMC, and how an entrance would relive that. This gets at the fundamental debate here: do you look at this area as a problem for cars alone, or a problem for people? And, of course, more riders on Metro also helps the drivers by taking other cars off the road.
Meanwhile, the Post discusses the grossly underutilized DC USA garage. Reporter Paul Schwartzman digs up some helpful facts: the garage's peak utilization is still only 47%, which was last November. In May, only 25% filled up. Many suburban retailers plan parking for the day after Thanksgiving, which leaves most of the lots empty the rest of the time; clearly, here, even by that overly generous standard the garage is still about twice as big as it should be.
Developers, who cited a $50,000 price tag per underground space, have started to get the message. The Highland apartments in Columbia Heights, for example, still have about 80 empty spaces, even now that they've rented out almost the whole building.
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