Greater Greater Washington

Afternoon links: Good choices


Rendering of retail in the GSA headquarters. Image from NCPC.
GSA picks retail over barricade: The GSA has decided to include ground-floor retail in plans for modernizing its headquarters at 1800 F Street, NW. They considered a big security barrier instead but decided they could go with the retail. (NCPC)

Making the case for trains in Va. Beach: Conservative rail advocate Bill Lind spoke in favor of rail investment at a forum in Virginia Beach. He got there by train. State transit head Thelma Drake was also supposed to speak, but got stuck in traffic from DC because she didn't take the train. (Virginian-Pilot)

DDOT will be all together in SE: DDOT is moving to 55 M Street, SE and consolidating almost all of its operations there. Today, engineering and planning are far apart (14th and U versus NoMA), making coordinating more difficult.

Library renovations through 2017: Mayor Gray's budget also lays out a timeline for renovating more of DC's libraries, including in Capitol View, Southwest, Cleveland Park, Palisades, and Woodridge. (Housing Complex)

Maryland will build even more roads to Konterra: The developers of Konterra bought a huge property in the middle of nowhere and started lobbying for a big freeway, the ICC, right to their door. Then, When Maryland wanted to take some of the land for the ICC, the developers sued. As a settlement, Maryland will now spend even more money on roads to access the development. Sounds like a good racket if you can get it. (Post)

Pop-up canal announced: DC will divert the Anacostia to create a pop-up canal in Southwest, complete with floating food trucks. Yup, it's a great April Fool post we missed in our roundup. (People's District)

Not a joke: George Will takes train: George Will gave up his individualism and succumbed to socialist collectivism: He rode the train. (Grist)

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David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. 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 daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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two really funny stories about trains and advocates/detractors of train travel not-riding/riding the train!

by Tina on Apr 4, 2011 5:13 pm • linkreport

I'm sure some people wish the Konterra thing was an April Fool's joke too.

by Froggie on Apr 4, 2011 5:28 pm • linkreport

^yep.

by Tina on Apr 4, 2011 5:32 pm • linkreport

The idea that trains "diminish individualism" is hogwash, to say the least.

Hundreds upon hundreds of people, each in a separate yet strangely identical car, barreling down the freeway, within the lines, all going to the same place ... is that really individualism? Roads still only go the places that they exist ... that's the nature of infrastructure. And if thousands of people are doing the same thing that you are, why do it in separate vehicles?

by Tim on Apr 4, 2011 5:36 pm • linkreport

What about the MLK Library? It sure could use some TLC...

by andrew on Apr 4, 2011 5:39 pm • linkreport

David,

I'll see your train story and raise you a thousand.

On March 19th, I was one of thousands of passengers on one of Amtrak's "trains to nowhere." Ours was scheduled to leave Union Station for New York at 920am, but we were still sitting there at noon. A low voltage problem had shut down the entire Northeast Corridor. Nothing was moving. When it became impossible to get to New York in time to meet our obligations, we got off the train and got refunds. But it could have been worse.

The 9am Acela had a list of dignitaries including Amtrak Prez and CEO Joseph Boardman, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo, and Amtrak Board Member Jeff Marchand. They were on their way to Wilmington, DE for the official naming of the Joseph Biden Rail Station. Their train got stuck in Baltimore about 930am. The ceremony was scheduled for noon.

Boardman was sitting next to ABC News Political writer (and self-styled train geek) Michael Falcone. Bad timing.

How embarrassing was it when a couple of Amtrak functionaries hustled Boardman and the other two dignitaries off the train and into two black limousines so they could head up Route 95 to get to the naming of the Biden Station in time?

Full disclosure: I love trains, and wish we spent more money to have a decent intercity rail system.

Full disclosure II: I sent this story to you two weeks ago- along with the fact that Amtrak still hadn't updated their website with news of the Northeast Corridor shutdown three hours after it happened. Somehow, you didn't consider it to be newsworthy, even though you consider this minor league Tidewater story blogworthy.

by Mike Silverstein on Apr 4, 2011 6:14 pm • linkreport

Mike, I'm sorry about not following up on the email. I get so many emails every day and pieces of news that it's impossible to keep up and give everything its due.

by David Alpert on Apr 4, 2011 6:21 pm • linkreport

@Mike S. - George Will is minor league tidewater? Otherwise IMO your story would be more relevant if the power outage had some explanation, e.g. what caused it? What fixed it? How likely is it to occur again? Otherwise its just a random event with bad timing.

by Tina on Apr 4, 2011 6:23 pm • linkreport

Tina,

The Tidewater Minor Leaguers are Thelma Drake and Bill Lind. IIRC, Drake was a one-term or two-term Congresswoman and Lind is a conservative who supports rail transportation. Neither one is a big name in the cosmic scheme of things. I wasn't referring to George Will, but I'm glad to see he was able to rise above his principles.

As to what caused the mess, my understanding is it's an ancient power source - someone wrote that it is nearly a hundred years old. Amtrak has supposedly been trying to replace it for years, but hasn't been able to secure the funding from Congress.

The thing that scares the hell out of me is the response. The fact that the whole system went down and three hours later, Amtrak's website was reporting that my train - which hadn't yet left the station - was going to arrive in New York ON TIME raises some serious questions about whether anyone is in charge on weekends. It reminds me of the "mechanical difficulties" Metro reported on its website after the Fort Totten crash.

But the takeaway from both the Virginia Beach story and the Biden Station story is the same: the whole damn eastern corridor is a mess. There is not a safe, reliable, decent way to get from here to there. The highways are clogged and inefficient, the air corridor is prone to delay and hassle, and Amtrak is a poor imitation of what we need in the way of rail service. And I'm too damned old to bicycle to New York.

by Mike Silverstein on Apr 4, 2011 8:18 pm • linkreport

Mayor Gray's budget also lays out a timeline for renovating more of DC's libraries, including in Capitol View, Southwest, Cleveland Park, Palisades, and Woodridge.

Libraries For Whom?

(With apologies to the dog park & bike lane demogogues)...

by oboe on Apr 5, 2011 9:53 am • linkreport

@Tim

Hundreds upon hundreds of people, each in a separate yet strangely identical car, barreling down the freeway, within the lines, all going to the same place ... is that really individualism?

Interesting how you conveniently forget the existence of bumper-stickers. And optional sports packages.

:)

by oboe on Apr 5, 2011 9:56 am • linkreport

Konterra and the surrondings will take off, whether we like it or not, because all of the roads that are being built will be used. No need for trains, just drive drive drive - that area is about to see boom OF DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITY THE LIKES OF WHICH HAVE NOT BEEN SEEN FOR MANY MANY YEARS. expect it.

by df on Apr 7, 2011 3:56 pm • linkreport

At the Konterra Town Center site, is not the Muirkirk MARC station a 15-20 minute walk away? Is that not some sort of rail link? I would say that's better than nothing.

by retrostyleguy on Apr 8, 2011 1:01 pm • linkreport

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