Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Openings and closings


Photo by Daquella manera on Flickr.
WMATA opens bus data: Yesterday, WMATA released several bus data APIs, allowing developers to access real time bus locations and other data. WMATA is holding a developer contest to develop apps that improves navigation for people with disabilities or facilitates multimodal travel. (Dr. Gridlock)

DCPS closures and an opening in the works: According to a new DCPS proposal, two Ward 7 elementary schools will merge next year, while two campuses in Ward 5 will merge and move to the currently unoccupied Langley School in Eckington. Meanwhile, a Ward 6 Montessori school will expand into its own building near Union Station. (Post)

CaBi won't close for winter: Many bikeshare programs around the world will shut down for the winter, but Capital Bikeshare is planning to stay on the street. They are developing a "snow day" policy, though. (TheCityFix)

Discovery to alter site plan: After this summer's hostage situation, Discovery Communications closed the public garden at its Silver Spring headquarters, in violation of its agreement with Montgomery County. Now the company has asked for a change to the agreement, citing the desire for some reactive security measures. (TBD)

Pepco to cut your trees: Pepco will start trimming trees on private property, unless the property owner specifically requests against the work. Pepco said it "plans to spend an extra $200 million over five years," on improvements in response to Sunday's Post report, but later reveals that it actually plans to make customers spend that extra dough. (WTOP)

Fairfax creating bike plans for Tysons, county: Fairfax County's Bicycle Master Plan is being developed, with the first portion covering Tysons Corner expected to completed by February. Fairfax will then expand the master plan to cover the entire county. (Vienna Patch)

NOVa police to learn defensive driving: A Northern Virginia police training center has new driving simulators that will allow police to train for real life, urban and suburban situations, instead of driving courses on the Old Dominion Speedway. (WUSA)

USDOT shuffles HSR money: Ray LaHood has taken back high-speed rail money from the states whose incoming Republican governors have said they don't want it, and redistributed it to other states. DC, Maryland and Virginia will not get any of the reshuffled money. (Dr. Gridlock)

And...: Toll rates at the main plaza on the Dulles Toll Road will jump a quarter on Jan. 1. The monies will go towards constructing the Silver Line. (Post, Cavan) ... A new charter school will open next fall at Andrews AFB, with 35% of slots reserved for non-military families in Prince George's County. (Gazette) ... Turns out, last year's homebuyer tax credits may have done more harm than good to the housing market. (Examiner)

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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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I'm glad to see HSR in the midwest killed. It would be nice for me, but I just don't see the case for it. The Ohio line, in particular, was a bad joke.

However, it says Florida was getting the money, and that project is also a joke -- Tampa to Orlando.

I think this says a lot about the bond market. States that require a balanced budget do have a limited ability to raise debt for massive capital projects like this. Having a federal corporation raise debt, and put in an implicit federal guarantee, might be the answer. Lowers the cost of capital, and I also think there is a problem with municipal bond finance in terms of the size of the instruments.

Or perhaps a system where the state finances the rail construction, but a private company operates the trains for a 25 year period, and pays a concession which then services the debt.

by charlie on Dec 10, 2010 9:13 am • linkreport

I can understand why in Montreal the bike-share shuts down, but generally, usage is the best way to keep bikes running. Bikes stay a lot better when used, than while standing still. Even when it's in a well conditioned space.

by Jasper on Dec 10, 2010 9:45 am • linkreport

Putting aside the (hopeful) fact it was a once in a lifetime weather pattern that produced last year's snowstorms, does CaBi's snowday plan involve covering or storing the bikes somewhere? I know they're built to withstand the elements, but many of the traffic islands and corners that host CaBi stations were buried in 8 feet of snow and ice when DC decided pedestrians were--to put it mildly--less of a priority than cars. I can't imagine all that weight and two weeks of being frozen in place for three weeks would be good for even the sturdiest bikes.

by Nice Marmot on Dec 10, 2010 10:26 am • linkreport

@Nice Marmot - you could read the article:

"In D.C. closing the system for a bad weather day is just a 'flip of the switch,' with standard practice in heavy snow conditions being to remove bikes in the stations that would be affected by snow banks on the sidewalks created by passing snow plows, and leave those bikes that are unaffected locked in the stations. "

I think if there was a huge snow event predicted like the ones last year, they would remove all the bikes and store them.

by MLD on Dec 10, 2010 10:43 am • linkreport

Jasper,

One hunch...salt. Salt destroys bikes. I wonder if CaBi has a plan in place to clean bikes of salt after a snow.

by RJ on Dec 10, 2010 10:51 am • linkreport

Snow piles and plows seem far more dangerous for the stations, rather than the bikes. Would hate to see a plow nick a station.

Still seeing massive damage to curbs a year after the snow. Snow plow drivers here could use more practice..

by charlie on Dec 10, 2010 11:04 am • linkreport

@Nice Marmot: "when DC decided pedestrians were--to put it mildly--less of a priority than cars"

Should vehicular traffic not be a priority in states of emergency? When the fire brigade or the food supply comes by foot, let me know...

by ChrisW on Dec 10, 2010 11:47 am • linkreport

I love the Pepco whining. "Waaah, we lose electricity all the time from downed tree limbs." "Waaah, Pepco wants to cut my tree limbs to reduce downed limbs on wires."

So residents should be able to keep their own trees in crappy shape so that they cut off power to everyone on their block, but also get to complain about Pepco's being unable to keep the power on? Spare me.

by ah on Dec 10, 2010 11:57 am • linkreport

@ RJ: Salt destroys bikes.

Yeah, but the salt will get/fall/melt/fly off when you keep riding the bikes. Even biking through snow helps, as it dilutes the salt. I agree it is disastrous when bikes end up under a pile of snow and salt.

by Jasper on Dec 10, 2010 12:14 pm • linkreport

Pepco is spending $200 million on tree trimming in response to the Post report which concluded "By far, Pepco equipment failures, not trees, caused the most sustained power interruptions last year."?

That's the kind of forward thinking policy that keeps our service poor, but expensive. Why is Pepco allowed to keep their monopoly again?

by Jacob on Dec 10, 2010 12:22 pm • linkreport

CaBi's a great idea, but you have to wonder about the placement of some of the racks. For example, there's one at American University placed in the tree box right next to Massachusetts Avenue, when it presumably could have been placed on the campus side of the sidewalk. One can just envision what will happen this winter: the rack and bikes buried under a small mountain of ice, snow, road debris and sand thrown up by the plows along Mass. Ave.

by Bob on Dec 10, 2010 12:24 pm • linkreport

@Nice Marmot: but many of the traffic islands and corners that host CaBi stations were buried in 8 feet of snow and ice when DC decided pedestrians were--to put it mildly--less of a priority than cars

DC, like most cities where it snows regularly, has laws on the books that make the adjoining property responsible for clearing the sidewalks adjacent public to their properties. I.e., with the exception of 'islands' and and sidewalks along District-managed parks, we have the adjacent neighbors to blame for what we witnessed last year and not the District .. Except, of course, that unlike other cities where it snows regularly, the District didn't issue tickets to the non-compliant owners/renters of the adjacent properties. I think it has something to do with the way it's written up, the law is hard to enforce ... Maybe the Council can take this up this year BEFORE it's needed, so that it can be enforced. Last year we heard something would be done. Of course, everything it snows a lot and people complain we hear that. But the law never gets clarified and the requirement that adjacent owners/renters shovel, never gets enforced. And I'm talking decades that I've heard this ... Incidentally, the worst scafflows last year were the group houses ... It seems that despite all the obvious capable hands in many of these houses, no one stepped up to the plate in most instances to clear the walk. Businesses were originally bad too ... especially those that are not locally owned. And regrettably, all it takes is one non-compliant person on one block to make it hard for everyone. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that for once the Council will stop worrying about telling people how to carry their groceries home or whether they should be drinking soda, and instead do whatever it is is needed for the District to issue fines for non-compliance of this law. Only when it has some teeth will we see all the sidewalks cleared, and our sidewalks being safe for walking in the days and weeks after a winter storm.

by Lance on Dec 10, 2010 12:43 pm • linkreport

Lance, as I recall, some of the biggest complaints about sidewalk snow removal last winter came from sections owned by NPS.

by Froggie on Dec 10, 2010 1:26 pm • linkreport

Yes Froggie that's true. But we definitely had our fair share of problems with this up in the neighborhoods too. (I can't say I went down to the federal part during that time period ... couldn't get out of the neighborhood between the unshoveled sidewalks and unplowed roads.) As for the CaBi stations, I think most aren't on NPS sidewalks (if any). And that actually raises a good question ... will DDOT handle the snow where these are? Or did the adjacent owner/renter just get an additional duty this coming year related to clearing the walkway in front of their areas?

by Lance on Dec 10, 2010 4:36 pm • linkreport

@ Froggie

Dont forgot that DC Govt was also apart of the problem they didn't shovel s**t around their schools and other properties

@ Lance

Who fines DC Govt for not shovelling around their schools ? I'm willing to bet that if they do setup and enforce the law every single year their properties will be exempt some how.

by kk on Dec 11, 2010 10:29 am • linkreport

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