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Breakfast links: Wet and muddled

Photo by BrianMKA from the Greater and Lesser Washington Flickr pool.
What a storm: You probably noticed an extremely violent rainstorm yesterday, which killed two (and messed up the huge Boy Scout parade) after a day of record high temperatures (Post) ... Hundreds of thousands lost power, especially in Montgomery County, and Metro couldn't finish A/C maintenance on all railcars, slightly impacting this morning's rush.

Communication train wreck continues in slow motion: Metro's muddled messaging on the "Yellow and Orange Line Service Increase" confuses Dr. Gridlock, whose explanations and map frame the proposed change as "moving Blue Line trains" and lead off with the possible need for more colors. No!

No IZ units yet: After one year, there have still been no inclusionary zoning units created. This reminds me of the articles perenially declaring the ballpark area a failure because it isn't all done after a couple years. Um, the economy has been in the tank. And if Mayor Fenty hadn't delayed for two years before implementing IZ, some would have been created years ago. (Capital Business)

Will Latino museum be interesting?: The location isn't the only issue for the planned National Museum of the American Latino. Can it avoid being as dead as the American Indian museum, which fragmented its programming too much so that each tribe could have its own space? Philip Kennicott worries that soon, "the Mall could have a large collection of very quiet and not terribly relevant museums."

Living close to transit is cheaper: Montgomery residents far from transit pay more in added transportation costs than they save through cheaper housing prices, according to a report by the Montgomery County Planning Board which the Examiner doesn't link to and which I can't find on the board's or planning department's sites. (Examiner)

Photography legal despite what guards say: Annys Shin covers frequent harassment of photographers trying to take pictures in public places, which we've reviewed in the past. Metro is one of the few agencies that gets good marks for training its people to not harass photographers. This follows Shin's earlier coverage of Maryland prosecuting a man for videotaping a traffic stop. (Post)

And...: Montgomery DOT would like your input to improve the county's bike map (WashCycle) ... Restaurant roof decks are as controversial as they are profitable (WBJ) ... BGE facing obstacles to rolling out a "smart grid" widely. (Post)

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David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. 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 now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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Your note appears to suggest having trains travelling different routes share a single colour. I hope that is just confusing wording in the blog.

Having trains of any one colour travel different routes is a very very bad idea. Many people will find it confusing and end up somewhere other than their intended destination. In London, the Northern Line makes this mistake, which is sometimes called the "Mornington Crescent" mistake.

It is really important that any one colour of MetroRail train travel a single route, and to have that route on the MetroRail maps in the system and online.

by anonymous coward on Jul 26, 2010 9:55 am • linkreport

Good lord. If you don't like bars and roof top decks, don't move into the city. Problem solved.

by aaa on Jul 26, 2010 10:01 am • linkreport

why not just color the new west falls church to largo service silver since it will eventually be replaced by the silver line anyway?

fwiw, i would draw the franc-springfield to greenbelt service as a dashed line, whatever they decide to do, since it won't exist except at rush hour.

by anonymous on Jul 26, 2010 10:05 am • linkreport


At least not that area of the city. In fact, I live one block off U Street and I agree the sirens are by far a bigger problem than the bars and restaurants.

by Adam Lewis on Jul 26, 2010 10:07 am • linkreport

The only thing that could be confusing with the blue line split is that L'Enfant Plaza will have two blue lines, which will make signage fun.

by RJ on Jul 26, 2010 10:10 am • linkreport

Once again WMATA is ignoring the impact for orange line riders in Arlington who want to get to the Pentagon, Crystal City and National. They didn't even bother to provide numbers. Particularly during non-rush hour, how bad will the wait be -- once the Silver Line gets here.

by charlie on Jul 26, 2010 10:16 am • linkreport

There will not be two Blue Lines at L'Enfant. I highly encourage commenters to read the original article on the Yellow and Orange Line Service Increase if you haven't.

by David Alpert on Jul 26, 2010 10:17 am • linkreport

Don't you talk to Dr. Gridlock on a regular basis? Doesn't he read this blog before starting a new posting? What do you think he was thinking with such a misguided piece. I opened my newspaper this morning, read the piece, and though "crap, here he goes screwing this one up!"

by Sam on Jul 26, 2010 10:23 am • linkreport

@ Extra colors: Yes, extra colors please, as I noted in the original article. NO need to confuse people more. Better yet, build truly more capacity in stead of rerouting two trains and pretending you're doing something about metro congestion. For instance, by building an extra Potomac crossing, or an rail switch at Rosslyn so that there can be a train from Vienna to Alexandria.

@ Sam: Doesn't he read this blog before starting a new posting?

I expect not. Dr Gridlock works with the mighty Post! Why would he read a mere blog that's not even printed on paper?

@ Latino museum: In stead of a yet another ethnic museum, why not create a museum for all Americans? A museum of Science and Technology.

From the last 50-100 years, Americans of all ethnic backgrounds have led the world in science and technology (including medicine). They have cured disease, deciphered DNA, RNA and part of the proteome, gone to the Moon, created the atomic bomb and nuclear energy, invented to Internet, founded software companies, created complex telecommunication networks, developed economic theories, raked in Nobel prices and generally been an example to the world. Yet few people understand what these scientists like Edison and Bell have invented, and why Nobel laureates like Chu and Krugman got their prizes.

No place better than the National Mall to shine a light on these important people. And perhaps the museum can also explain why Al Gore got a Nobel for inventing climate change, but one for inventing the Internet ;-)

The Air and Space museum is the most popular museum (in the world?). The Native American museum has significantly less visitors. This is an incentive to make more museums like the Air and Space museums and less like the Native American museum.

by Jasper on Jul 26, 2010 10:43 am • linkreport

but not one for inventing the Internet ;-)

by Jasper on Jul 26, 2010 10:44 am • linkreport

Things must have changed recently concerning the harassment of photographers by WMATA employees and the MTPD. I have been confronted by employees and polices officers multiple times both inside and outside metrorail stations. Prior to the events of 09 11 2001 I was never confronted.

Though the language in the Use Regulation (4.37 MB PDF file) has changed sense before 09 11 its meaning has remained the same. There is no nor has there ever been a prohibition of casual photography in public areas on WMATA property.

by Sand Box John on Jul 26, 2010 10:47 am • linkreport

@Jasper; agreed a museum of science would be a big hit. Air/Space and parts of the American History do a good job but very focused on early 20th century. Also a question of what the Smithsonian has in stock -- it is often less a museum and more of an attic.

by charlie on Jul 26, 2010 11:09 am • linkreport

I think it's interesting that the NMAI had a Peruvian festival recently. Maybe the answer to increasing its visitors and addressing the desire for a Latino museum would be to expand the definition of American Indian to include native people from all the Americas. That doesn't capture all the elements of Latino culture but it's probably a more nuanced way to address the issue.

The more fundamental problem with these museums is the lack of objectivity. The political overtone to the creation and programming of these museums is palpable. It's always a fuzzy line between celebrating a subject and propagandizing a subject, but I think these museums have strayed to much into the later. For instance, please correct me if I'm wrong, but has the NMAI ever done an exhibit exploring the issue if casinos and how they may be a mixed blessing? That's what a serious museum would do.

But maybe they don't want to be a serious museum. It's not like visiting the Air and Space museum could get you course credit, but at least it wows you with impressive artifacts. The NMAI fails to do even that.

by Reid on Jul 26, 2010 11:25 am • linkreport

My institutional memory failed, Dave is right. The only points of "confusion" would be at the Pentagon and L'Enfant where you have to pay attention to which yellow line is going where.

by RJ on Jul 26, 2010 11:26 am • linkreport

I know museum curators won't want to hear this, but while the NMAI exhibits may be quiet, the cafeteria is rocking 7 days a week. I imagine the same could be true for a Latino museum.

Yeah, we want to read serious glass-encased historical exhibits about Cesar Chavez and Santa Anna, but the immediately tangible exciting things about Latino history are its cultural contributions in terms of food and music. I'm getting hungry just thinking about this. When will the Indian- and Thai-American museums open?

By the way, if you think the NMAI is political, just wait until they start planning exhibits for a Hispanic American museum. We are still very polarized on this. My comments above about food and music were facetious, but celebrating culture may be much easier to pull off than exhibiting history.

by Ward 1 Guy on Jul 26, 2010 11:35 am • linkreport

There's still a "no photography" sign at the Pentagon metro station

by A on Jul 26, 2010 11:48 am • linkreport

The Washington Post article notes that photography is prohibited in the Pentagon Metro station because it's DoD property.

Everywhere else, Metro allows photography, and I have never been harassed for taking pictures (except at Pentagon).

by Matt Johnson on Jul 26, 2010 11:51 am • linkreport

The Montgomery County study can be found in the link from Rollin Stanley's blog, but also seems to be located in the research section of the Planning Department's website.
The bit about housing prices and transportation costs is on slide 30.

by AB on Jul 26, 2010 12:00 pm • linkreport

@ charlie: Shocking, we agree ;-) Quick! Let's find a way to disagree again...

Also a question of what the Smithsonian has in stock -- it is often less a museum and more of an attic.

True. The Smithsonian in general (with exception of the Air & Space) are kinda classical museums. They are missing the boat on interactivity. But I bet that academia and industry would be very happy to unload share their historic material with a National Science and Technology Museum. Especially if there could be one of those fine "on loan from/donated by" signs next to it. I mean, seriously, you don't think Apple wants to sponsor a exhibit from the first telephone to the iPhone? And that big Pharma would not be interested in showcasing their achievements? And that IBM would not want to showcase the first computers that filled a room?

Anyway, probably never gonna happen. Nobody cares about technology these days. Everybody is way to busy tweeting outrage over the Latino museum on their PDA. Who needs science?

@ Reid: Maybe the answer to increasing its visitors and addressing the desire for a Latino museum would be to expand the definition of American Indian to include native people from all the Americas.

Brilliant idea. And hence, it will never happen. You'll probably find that the Apachi and Mohavi loath Mexicans just as much as Arizonans. After all, they were the originals Arizonans ;-)

by Jasper on Jul 26, 2010 12:13 pm • linkreport

FWIW, I disagree with yours (and Kennicott's and marc fisher's) characterization of the exhibits at the NMAI. They use a narrative form that is culturally-referent and challenges conventional wisdom. Maybe they don't always pull it off and sometimes it comes across as new agey, but some of the exhibits can be particularly powerful (e.g., the exhibit on guns when they first opened), which is not the case for most Smithsonian Museums.

The real problem with these museums is that they aren't very creative because they are "national" institutions and as such they become more focused on maintaining the idea of American power and myth, as well as managing multiple and conflicting constituencies such as Congress.

Curators who try to do something new or more challenging (e.g., the narratives on the Enola Gay) are likely to get their asses kicked by Congress and various special interest groups.

My joke in response to Marc Fisher's complaint that the NMAH isn't all that interesting was a challenge: how about change the narrative trope to American Imperialism, the maintenance of American Power, and Empire as a way of life (the latter the title of a book by William Appleman Williams) as a way to interpret "American History." I imagine any curator who did that would soon be looking for work elsewhere.

When I check out museums in other places, I am usually pleasantly surprised that their scope and interpretations for exhibits is typically much broader and more interesting than those of the Smithsonian Museums.

E.g., in Montreal, I saw an exhibit about Miles Davis and Jazz (he had keynoted their International Jazz Festival a few times). I don't like jazz that much, but I thought it was a phenomenal, very creative exhibit, with a variety of types of artifacts and modes (music, paintings, ephemera, etc.).

by Richard Layman on Jul 26, 2010 12:18 pm • linkreport

“Roof decks are the only real option for outdoor seating, eating, drinking and enjoying one’s self without sitting on a busy, dirty street,” said Patrick Oberman, a member of the Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC). They are also perhaps the only way to accommodate patrons who smoke.

Personally, I'll take a sidewalk cafe over a rooftop deck any day ... since part of the fun of sitting outside IS the 'busy street' ... i.e., running into your neighbors and friends as they walk down the street. So many impromptu 'neighborhood exchanges' are possible ... It's part of what makes living in the city so interesting. A roof deck doesn't really lend itself to that ... It's really more of a 'let's bring the party outside' thing ... Be it for smokers ... or just for people not necessariy from the neighborhood looking for a star-filled or sunlight party. It's very different from a sidewalk cafe ... and definitely not appropriate for as many streets as a sidewalk cafe. Sound travels a lot further when you're up on a rooftop ... A lot more neighbors need to be taken into account for than for a sidewalk cafe at the same location. AND the fact that it doesn't lend itself as easily to being a neighborhood amenity also has to be taken into account. Why should neigbhors have to put up with that kind of noise if the place is the source of that noise isn't even from 'neighbors'? I know Adams Morgan is an extreme example. But I'd bet that 99% of the folks up there on their roof top decks enjoying the party atmosphere live nowhere near that neighborhood ... and can just get in their cars and drive home to their quiet neighborhoods when THEY get tired of the noise.

It was interesting to hear the ANC commissioner bring up smoking. Ever since they passed regulations prohibiting smoking indoors in restaurants and other buildings, I've found it increasingly difficult to sit outside and enjoy a nice dinner without being assaulted by smoke from all sides. I'm a former smoker and I really don't appreciate being forced to smoke again whenever I want to eat outdoors ... Maybe it's time we started lobbying for an extension of the smoking ban to outdoor restaurant areas which are intended for the general public?

by Lance on Jul 26, 2010 12:23 pm • linkreport

Reid -- note that NMAI already does what you suggest. They interpret the "American Indian" as from "the Americas" meaning not just the U.S., but North, South, and Central America.

Which is why they had a Peruvian festival...

or someone like Lila Downs (not just 'cause she is 1/2 American) as a performer during their initial opening ceremonies.

by Richard Layman on Jul 26, 2010 12:25 pm • linkreport

p.s. Does ANC 2B have a new commissioner?

by Lance on Jul 26, 2010 12:31 pm • linkreport

It's interesting to see how hard it is to convince people that a new color isn't necessary for the new service arrangement, and that having separate colors for a service that exists only during rush hour might be more confusing.

Hopefully cooler heads will prevail at WMATA. I agree with the idea of a dashed line since the service is rush-hour only (for now). A dashed Orange Line to Largo and a dashed Yellow Line to Franconia-Springfield should do.

Maybe a dashed Yellow Line to Greenbelt could make sense, but some Yellow Line trains already terminate there even without any Yellow signage. No confusion from that yet.

by Omar on Jul 26, 2010 2:07 pm • linkreport

I always get aggravated when I read Dr Gridlock, as he completely misses the point of most people's questions and/or gives useless answers. i.e, people are complaining about orange train frequency going down, he doesn't appear to talk to anyone at Metro to find out what happened on day 'X', or have any substantive response.

by Aaron on Jul 26, 2010 2:11 pm • linkreport

Bar and restaurant owners may not realize that adding a rooftop facility to an existing building can have ADA compliance implications.

Tha ADA Accessibility Guidelines include this provision: "4.1.6(1)(f) If an escalator or stair is planned or installed where none existed previously and major structuaral modifications are necessary for such installation, then a means of accessible vertical access shall be provided..."

by Lois Thibault on Jul 26, 2010 3:12 pm • linkreport

I always get aggravated when I read Dr Gridlock, as he completely misses the point of most people's questions and/or gives useless answers

You got that right. He is clueless most of the time. A good example: Once a reader asked why the 16th Street buses NEVER run on time and why they frequently arrive in bunches.

Gridlock's answer: Metro says this shouldn't happen.

Well no shit, it shouldn't happen, but it does all the time. Most of his other responses are equally inane.

by Juanita de Talmas on Jul 26, 2010 5:22 pm • linkreport

'A museum of Science and Technology'

The American History Museum was originally called the Museum of History and Technology.

by Vicente Fox on Jul 26, 2010 5:24 pm • linkreport

I would love to see museums that pull tourists into parts of the city other than the Mall and Arlington.

Well, there's already an African-American Museum in Anacostia, yet they're building another one on the Mall.

by Marian Berry on Jul 26, 2010 5:39 pm • linkreport

The "African-American" museum in Anacostia is a type called an "eco-museum" and is more locally focused. It's more a 1960s/1970s response to charges that the Smithsonian didn't address diversity, cultural and local issues. It was never intended to be a national museum fully and completely surveying and presenting the African-American experience.

by Richard Layman on Jul 26, 2010 7:46 pm • linkreport

@Richard, While it may not have been intended to me a national museum, it's really quite well done. I advocate everyone seeing it.

As for all these 'ethnic' museums on the Mall ... I can understand having an American Indian Museum there since that predates the current culture that defines this nation ... and one can't exactly go to "America" to find it in any form but its remants. But I sincerely question both the reasonableness and the need of having museums for each of the ethnicities/cultures that are going into the 'mixing bowl' we call the American culture and will someday be called the American ethnicity. I mean should I be expecting to see an Italian American Museum on the Mall or maybe a French American Museum on the Mall? Those are my roots and both these cultures/ethnicities have contributed immensely to this nations culture. Should we have an Asian-Pacific Museum on the Mall? Or an Indian (the subcontinent that is) Museum given the many recent immigrants from there? If we're to give a museum to each and every ethnicity/culture that is contributing to this new still-forming American culture/ethnicity, we're sure to run out of room after each of the 180+ nations on earth that contribute to our culture get their own museum. And I don't mean 'run out of room on the Mall' ... but rather 'run out of room in DC' ...

And are they needed? First off, 100 years from now when all these "NAME-YOUR-COUNTRY" ethnicities have melted into the American ethnicity/culture, will there be anyone with any very close ties to any of these ethnicities/cultures left? Or will the average American be so many generations away from these sources, and so 'mixed' with the other ethnicities/cultures, that these "NAME-YOUR-COUNTRY" ethnicities will simply be viewed as 'foreign'. I mean do you think there are many folks nowadays clamoring for an "English-American Museum" on the Mall? Besides, those interested in these ethicities always have the real countries to go visit. And I suspect a visit to France, or Italy, or India, or even England would be far more worth the visit. Museums are meant to capture that which other wise isn't visitable. The Louvre presents us with the artifacts of the long gone Ancient Egyptians, of the long gone Persian Empire, of the less long gone Roman Empire. It doesn't present us with the cultures of the current people in France or even of Italy or Iran or wherever. I.e., we shouldn't be using museums for political purposes which is what happens when you use it to showcase a culture that is NOT long dead ... Just my 2 cents.

by Lance on Jul 26, 2010 9:13 pm • linkreport

The GGW solution to the Blue Line Split, I honestly hope that idea has been submitted. If not, get off your butt and submit it!

I am talking about this:

Either do it soon or someone else might do it for you, I fear.

by Zac on Jul 27, 2010 8:32 am • linkreport

Lance -- whether I agree with you or not, and in any case I do think we ought to have a cultural plan for the Mall and for the federal cultural presence here, and we don't really have such a plan, as well as a DC cultural plan, I will point out that your comparison to the Louvre isn't quite apt. While I don't know the museum scene in Paris, I am sure there are other museums in Paris--after all the ecomuseum is a French concept--that cover more modern interpretations, topics and peoples.

But I would agree that at some point, having culturally-ethnic specific museums is not about museology, it's about politics, organizing, providing goods to specific types of groups, etc.

by Richard Layman on Jul 27, 2010 10:57 am • linkreport

Why not have a museum that specifically addresses ethnicity/culture/geographic region and give a floor to European, African, Inuit/Amerindian/Mestizo, Semitic (north africa, neareast,south europe, south west asia), East Asian, West Asian, Oceanian and within each of these go into each ethnicity that resides in these regions.

by kk on Jul 27, 2010 11:40 am • linkreport

@Zac: The problem with that map is that it uses the same thick, slashed lines that Metro uses to indicate a future line, so that's a source of confusion as well. I think it would be better to use narrower, dashed lines to indicate the fleeting nature of the service.

In other words:

- - - - - - - -

insead of


(but with thicker dashes)

by Omar on Jul 27, 2010 2:45 pm • linkreport

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