Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Good news in MoCo


Photo by mdfriendofhillary on Flickr.
Hans Riemer for better transit, smart growth: Montgomery County Councilmember-elect Hans Riemer says he will focus on smart growth, walkability, and improved transit options, including the Purple Line, stronger Ride-On service and busway corridors. (Wheaton Patch)

New central MoCo middle school: The Montgomery County Board of Education voted last week to move forward on a new middle school in the Chevy Chase area to help relieve overcrowding, marking one of the first new schools to be build for residents inside the Beltway to accommodate urban growth around Bethesda. (Post, Cavan)

First look at DC Wal-Marts: Initial renderings of a proposed Wal-Mart at New Jersey Avenue and H Street NW reveal a relatively promising urban form that seems to take some architectural inspiration from the GPO buildings one block east. The Post also has more details about all four proposed locations. (UrbanTurf, Post)

Arboretum to destroy azalea exhibit: The National Arboretum has revealed plans to remove the mature azalea display on Mount Hamilton. The plants are among the oldest azaleas in the country, and are one of the Arboretum's biggest attractions. In fact, one of the reasons given is that they attract too many visitors and there is not enough parking or restrooms to accommodate them. All the more reason for better transit access. (WashingtonGardener, Julianne F-M.)

Flood wall on Mall not enough: The planned flood wall at 17th Street may not be enough to fully protect the city from future flooding. It will not prevent all flood scenarios, particularly those arising from the Anacostia instead of the Potomac. (Post)

Third Church project gets JBG money: Hopes of replacing the Third Church of Christ Scientist at 16th and I with a mixed-use project are again moving forward after JBG signed on to provide capital. Any plan still has to pass historic review, which will surely apply close scrutiny to any plans. (Capital Business)

TSA policies could have deadly consequences: Since it is likely that the discontent over more invasive airport security measures will push more holiday travelers to drive, one economist suspects an indirect result will be more highway deaths. (Raw Story)

Bike hate in the Big Apple: Even the New York Times is prone to writing anti-bike "news" pieces that sound like some of the reporter's neighbors whined to them about the issue. Ben Fried takes apart the Gray Lady's reporting that gives prominent billing to a "protest" that drew more reporters than protestors. (Streetsblog)

And...: Will heightened security measures make the leap from airports to rail and bus stations? TSA head says its an "equally important threat area." (WUSA) ... Springfield Mall is just one of three malls in the DC area with a vacancy rate over 30%. No other metro area has more than one mall in such condition. (Post, Eric Fidler) ... NYC will solicit proposals for the soon-to-be largest bike sharing system in the US, 10 times the size of DC's own. (Transportation Nation)

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Erik Weber has been living car-free in the District since 2009. Hailing from the home of the nation's first Urban Growth Boundary, Erik has been interested in transit since spending summers in Germany as a kid where he rode as many buses, trains and streetcars as he could find. Views expressed here are Erik's alone. 

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A couple of things:

The heightend security frenzy was started by the Drudge Report a couple of weeks ago, and all the lazy reporters in the mainstream media took the bait and ran with it this week. Shame on them. Polls find that most Americans support showing their underparts to TSA screeners anyway.

The Arboretum is very inaccessible. Getting there by bike is an adventure, especially fighting with the NY Ave/Route 50 traffic. Wouldn't it be possible to open another entrance somewhere?

by aaa on Nov 23, 2010 8:37 am • linkreport

Non-car access to the National Arboretum is a National Disgrace. It's hard to bike to or even run to because of New York Avenue's car-only orientation. Forget about NPS ever approving a CaBi station on the grounds.

If the National Park Service could ever shake off its vendors and embrace bike-sharing and bike racks then out-of-the-way treasures like the arboretum could get more visitors. Once that starts happening, there will be critical mass to provide more regular bus service.

Unless of course they shun visitors, as this strange set of quotes from Mr. Aker, the "Garden Unit Leader", tends to suggest.

by Steven Glazerman on Nov 23, 2010 8:48 am • linkreport

The National Arboretum is run by the Dept. of Agriculture, not the NPS.

by Eric Fidler on Nov 23, 2010 8:55 am • linkreport

Usually, there is another side to every GGW linked story. Killing the Azelas? That person needs to be fired. Right now. They are too popular? Dear lord!

(the story on the malls, for instance, has very little to do with malls and a lot to do with greedy companies that want to redevelop the real estate. Or incompetent ownership groups like the Lerners.....)

by charlie on Nov 23, 2010 9:04 am • linkreport

The Arboretum is very inaccessible. Getting there by bike is an adventure, especially fighting with the NY Ave/Route 50 traffic. Wouldn't it be possible to open another entrance somewhere?

I don't disagree with the general thrust of your comment, but there are two entrances to the Arboretum: One is off of NY Ave, but the other is off of R Street NE. Heading north on Bladensburg Road, you take a right on R Street. It's actually pretty safe riding from H Street to the Arboretum on Bladensburg Road, which is six lanes in either direction. If you're skittish about riding in traffic, you can always ride the sidewalk--it's pretty wide.

A bike-sharing station would be a natural fit for the Arboretum, though rather than a destination, the Arboretum is a nice place to ride your bike in its own right. Lots of pavement, and very little traffic. A few steep hills, but lots of flat parts, and gentle slopes. (I taught my daughter to ride a two-wheeler there when she was not quite four years old.)

by oboe on Nov 23, 2010 9:12 am • linkreport

There is another way to get to the National Arboretum.

@aaa Re: TSA: I wonder how many of those who polled and replied with "no problem with TSA molesting them" fly on a regular basis -- or even at least once a year.

by Oliver on Nov 23, 2010 9:14 am • linkreport

I'm reminded of the NPS plan to chop down cherry trees at the Tidal Basin... to make way for a security barrier.

by Eric Fidler on Nov 23, 2010 9:23 am • linkreport

@aaa, Steven: You can ride bikes to the Arboretum on Bladensburg Road instead of New York Avenue. Traffic is much more reasonable and there are restaurants (a couple on Bladensburg itself and many more on H Street NE) for snacking on the way back. My traffic-averse wife enjoys this ride, and we've done it several times in the last few weeks to catch the fall foliage.

by davidj on Nov 23, 2010 9:25 am • linkreport

Actually, that Wal-Mart looks *far* better than I expected it to. If Safeway was the anchor tenant of that building, I don't think we'd have heard a peep about it on this blog.

(This is a good thing. I'm pretty firmly in the anti-Wal-Mart camp, and have been very impressed by the attention that they've paid to their DC expansion plans.)

by andrew on Nov 23, 2010 9:30 am • linkreport

I appreciate the Arboretum info. Oliver -- I'm big into civil liberties and all that -- but there's a pretty big trade off for lesser security at airports. It wouldn't take more than an incident or two for people to re-understand that (especially people in Drudge's audience).

by aaa on Nov 23, 2010 9:32 am • linkreport

There used to be a metro bus that serviced the arboretum but they canceled it a few years ago due to low ridership. I think a better idea would be a Kennedy center type shuttle that goes back and forth from the Stadium armory metro stop. Even still, the key is marketing. If like the metrobus nobody knows about it, nobody is going to use it.

As for bikeshare. I'm a hug fan, but I'm not sure it's a good fit in this instance. Wouldn't you risk getting stranded there if no bikes are there when you want to leave?

by TM on Nov 23, 2010 9:39 am • linkreport

@aaa:
You realize that the TSA has never to date caught anyone with a bomb, right? Every post-9/11 plot has been foiled by alert passengers, terrorist incompetence, or non-TSA law enforcement action. Most airport security is nothing but CYA for the inevitable day when another attack occurs (which, realistically, it will).

by Nate on Nov 23, 2010 9:41 am • linkreport

I love the Walmart building. While not a fan of the Wal-marts or any mega store, if they build responsable urbanism that's actually attractive, I say what the heck.

I also wish Hans Reimer all the best, he sounds like a fighter, but from what I hear the real stumbling block in Maryland is the Department of Transportation. Somehow, getting the stated smart growth goals of Maryland and Montgomery County needs to be implemented by the Department of Transoprtation.

As for the Tea Party's (Republican) fear of smart growth, it's clearly based on where they get their political power and money. I say, use the "locals should decide" mantra and let them build themselves in to obsolecence and economic stagnation. We need to move forward and stop fantasizing that the whole world is happy to sell us their cheap oil.

by Thayer-D on Nov 23, 2010 9:54 am • linkreport

As for the Tea Party's (Republican) fear of smart growth, it's clearly based on where they get their political power and money.

This point isn't made often enough. The Tea Party is essentially for tiny ineffective cuts to government programs, and massive bottomless government expenditures for Red State America.

This is why Ag subsidies will never, ever be touched, we'll never see cuts to Defense, and for all the posturing on "government-run health care" you'll never ever see cuts to Medicare benefits for the elderly. The Teabagger demographic is "old, white, and rural".

Eliminate subsidized lunches for poor minority children? Great idea! We'll save a few million dollars! Eliminate payments to upper middle-class farmers to supplement their $100k per year incomes? Well, sure we might save a few tens of billions of dollars, but that spending is *essential*!

by oboe on Nov 23, 2010 10:20 am • linkreport

Killing off the azaleas because they're too popular and draw too many visitors?!

Non-bike access is not the issue. This idiot's short-sightedness is.

by lou on Nov 23, 2010 10:26 am • linkreport

@Nate: To be fair, the TSA has caught many, many weapons.

by Tim on Nov 23, 2010 10:30 am • linkreport

The arboretum has six entrances. The one on NY Ave and R street are open for most users; A pedestrian gate is open on the NE corner next to the Washington Times building and I think you can use their parking lot; and there is a canoe tie up on the river I think.

There are two other entrances that are closed, but should be opened. One on the east end of M Street NE and a pedestrian gate along Bladensburg road. There is no reason these should be closed, and it would make it easier to visit via bike, foot or bus (as the bus stop on Bladensburg Road is not far away). DDOT wanted the M Street gate opened so that the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail could use the Arboretums roads as part of its route. But they thought it was a security risk (even though the gate at the Times is completely untended).

On the security issue. There has only been one PETN bomb that Al-Qaeda has sucessfully detonated. It killed the bomber and no one else. It was hidden where the sun don't shine (so I look forward to that search). The goal isn't even to blow up planes, it is to get us to overreact and spend lots of money. As GWB would say "Mission Accomplished." I doubt it was even a "lucky break" that we found out about the printer bomb. They probably told us about it on purpose to make sure it was discovered.

by David C on Nov 23, 2010 10:39 am • linkreport

@Tim

To be fair, nail clippers and bottles of breast milk are only weapons because the TSA said so.

by JTS on Nov 23, 2010 10:41 am • linkreport

There are two other entrances that are closed, but should be opened. One on the east end of M Street NE and a pedestrian gate along Bladensburg road. There is no reason these should be closed, and it would make it easier to visit via bike, foot or bus (as the bus stop on Bladensburg Road is not far away). DDOT wanted the M Street gate opened so that the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail could use the Arboretums roads as part of its route. But they thought it was a security risk (even though the gate at the Times is completely untended).

I'll give you three guesses why the southern gates are kept locked while the inaccessible (or auto-accessible) gates are always open.

by oboe on Nov 23, 2010 10:44 am • linkreport

The goal isn't even to blow up planes, it is to get us to overreact and spend lots of money.

Thank you.

Now, if only our elected officials would occasionally point this out. This is the whole point of asymmetrical warfare. Al Qaeda's entire stated goal was to instill fear, and get us to overreact. One of the explicit goals was to get America bogged down in a series of cripplingly expensive and ill-conceived war.

Al Qaeda couldn't have done any better if Osama bin Laden had won the White House for the GOP eight years running. We have been, and continue to be, perfect patsies.

by oboe on Nov 23, 2010 10:48 am • linkreport

Not a facetious question: What kind of "historic review" could be applied at 16th & I? Most of the surrounding buildings are pretty generic office towers.

by Gavin on Nov 23, 2010 10:50 am • linkreport

@Gavin: Agreed many of the buildings there now are pretty bland, but given that 16th Street stares straight down at the White House, I'm sure various groups with their hands in the historic review will hold a pretty high standard, however incoherent in may be in the context of the immediately surrounding buildings.

by Erik Weber on Nov 23, 2010 11:45 am • linkreport

County Councilmember-elect Hans Riemer's comments on his focus, sound excellent! Thank you, Councilmember!

by Matt on Nov 23, 2010 2:20 pm • linkreport

I am curious as to the location of the new school in the BCC cluster. I cannot think of an available site. The only closed schools are the former Radnor(now a holding facility), Lynbrook and Arylawn Elementary Schools(very small sites surrounded by parkland). The former Montgomery Hills JHS is used by a jewish school and is located in the far eastern reaches of the district.

by Cyrus on Nov 23, 2010 10:10 pm • linkreport

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