Posts by Steven Yates
|Steven Yates grew up in Indiana before moving to DC in 2002 to attend college at American University. He currently lives in Southwest DC.|
Dulles and Baltimore Washington International airports can sometimes feel like they're not all that close to the District. But what would happen if they were built closer to DC? Like, in DC itself?
Dulles (black) and BWI (red) airports over DC. Rendering by the author and base image from Google Maps. Click for interactive version.
Above is where the runways would fall if you built Dulles or BWI as is in DC. In the image, each airport's terminal is roughly aligned with Union Station.
As you can see, Dulles is more spread out than BWI: from north to south, its runways span the distance from T Street NW (in the overlay, the Black Cat is among the northern-most landmarks that the "airport" covers) to south of the Navy Yard. East to west, it spreads from the Lincoln Memorial to 9th Street NE and SE.
While it's relatively compact, BWI would cover a good chunk of Capitol Hill and spread nearly to 12th Street NW.
And all that's just accounting for Dulles and BWI's runways. Contributor Adam Froehlig created an image to show just how much land all three of the region's major airports take up:
Centered on the Capitol, Dulles takes up a huge amount of land, from north of the McMillan Reservoir to Mississippi Avenue SE. It covers all of Arlington Cemetery and nearly reaches the Starburst intersection. BWI looks modest in comparison, while National looks downright tiny.
What do you notice?
From time to time Google, updates the images it uses for Google Maps and Google Earth. It just refreshed its stock for parts of the Washington region.
We've covered Google's efforts to keep up with the region's changing landscape before. Like always, this set of images includes some where big changes occurred between when they were taken and when Google made them public.
The most interesting new thing on the map is probably Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada's "Out Of Many, One" portrait on the National Mall, which is pictured above.
The Monroe Street Market in Brookland is done:
You can see the green-painted First Street Bike lane:
Construction is underway on the Takoma/Langley Crossroads Transit Center:
Lots of work getting done for the coming Wharf development in Southwest DC:
You can see the Capital Wheel at National Harbor (or, more easily, its shadow):
You may notice something missing in the rundown of new additions to the area: the Silver Line. That's because the imagery hasn't been updated west of the West Falls Church Metro. In fact, you can see the seam cut right through the West Falls Church Rail Yard:
Another place that's now much different from the image Google has: On Google Maps, you can see demolition underway on the PEPCO plant on Benning Road. Today, the structure is totally gone:
When, exactly, did Google take these pictures?
According to Google Earth, the new images are from October 7, 2014. But the "taken on" date was off by a day last time, and that could be the case again. It's hard to know for sure since October 7th was a Tuesday and most weekdays look pretty much the same from the sky, but it's a safe bet that the 7th is at least very close since we know the fair pictured below that was going on at Fort McNair from the 7th to the 10th.
What have you noticed?
Despite speculation that the Silver Line might change how the Fairfax Connector runs to Wolf Trap, the service's Route 480 Wolf Trap Express will continue to run from West Falls Church this season. While some Silver Line stations are closer, it turns out West Falls Church still makes sense.
According to Nicholas Perfili, the Fairfax Connector section chief, Wolf Trap and Fairfax County DOT officials did discuss the possibility of changing the service to run from a station on the Silver Line. Ultimately, they decided against it.
West Falls Church still has a lot to offer
The main reason for keeping the current routing is to make sure concert goers can stay at Wolf Trap for as long as possible. While the last train to DC leaves Spring Hill at 11:18 pm during the week, the last train from West Falls leaves at 11:32. Concerts can run late into the evening, and those extra few minutes can be the difference between having to leave before a show ends and catching the encore.
Perfili also pointed out that the route from West Falls Church to Wolf Trap offers a more reliable trip time because it has HOV-2 restrictions on the Dulles Connector Road and a bus-on-shoulder lane that lets buses bypass other traffic. Also, a bus from Spring Hill would be subject to Tysons congestion, which can be quite bad.
While there's ample parking at West Falls Church, there isn't at any of the Tysons stations. A final thing West Falls Church has that the others don't: room for buses to park and wait if need be.
The Wolf Trap Express will undergo one change this year: it will now use West Falls Church's Bus Bay E, which is closer than Bay B, which it used to use. The move comes thanks to the Silver Line, which made it possible to cut the number of buses needing to run through West Falls Church.
That means that, albeit indirectly, the Silver Line is making trips to Wolf Trap shorter... if only by a few feet.
Wolf Trap is one of the region's premier entertainment venues, and you can take transit to most of its major events. Thanks to the Silver Line, the exact route might change.
Right now, the Fairfax Connector provides bus transportation from the West Falls Church Metro station along along route 480 for events at Wolf Trap's main stage, the Filene Center. The West Falls station is a little over seven miles from Wolf Trap, about a 12-minute drive without traffic.
With the Silver Line up and running, it may make sense to run that connection from the the Spring Hill Metro station. Spring Hill is less than 2.5 miles from Wolf Trap, and the drive can take under five minutes.
Running the Wolf Trap Express from Spring Hill instead of West Falls would require half the number of buses for about the same level of service. That'd save the Fairfax Connector money, and it'd also mean passengers would spend less time on the bus.
Fairfax is open to the change, but it's not in a hurry
In a chat with Dr. Gridlock last year, Fairfax Transportation Director Tom Biesiadny said that a Silver Line connection to Wolf Trap could be an option this year. But the season of events starts in a little over a month, and so far there is no word of a change.
That could be because there's reason to consider keeping service as it is. First, passengers traveling from east of East Falls Church (which is home to the vast majority of the system) would likely not see much of a difference in total travel time. While the current routing means a longer time on the bus, it's almost all on highways, meaning it's about as fast as Metro.
Also, Spring Hill doesn't have the bus facilities or parking that West Falls Church does. Finally, a change like this would require new signs and a public education campaign.
It's unclear whether the benefits of changing the Wolf Trap Express to run from Spring Hill rather than West Falls Church would outweigh the costs. But if they did, it'd be smart to make the change before the start of this year's concert season.
This past year, we hosted live chats with DC's leading mayoral candidates. A lot of you said you found them useful. Next year we'd like to do even more live chats, but we need your help.
You got to ask questions, questions that no one else was asking, which we posed to Muriel Bowser and David Catania. Many of you said you found out information that helped you decide who to vote for, information you didn't hear elsewhere.
But to do more chats like that, we need your support.
The software we use for the chats costs money, and so does staff time to actually organize and run them. While there is not a mayoral election next year, there are two special elections in DC and two seats up in Arlington, to start with. Plus, we can talk with elected officials on the future of our area or with area planners on exciting new projects.
If we get enough support from you we, we'd also like to start a series of live-streamed video events with fascinating speakers from around the country to give you insight into the trends in building better cities. Want to hear Harriet Tregoning's thoughts on DC's future? Have a burning question for a Montgomery County councilmember? Imagine getting real answers from a different guest every single month. Who would you like to hear from? Tell us in the comments!
These types of events can get you direct answers from people in the know on what is and what should be going on in your community. Access and answers you don't find anywhere else.
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