Posts about Jim Moran
Last night, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) brought up the pervasive problems with the National Park Service through an Interior Appropriations amendment. It was withdrawn as an unpermitted earmark, but Reps. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Mike Simpson (R-ID) both expressed support for ending the Park Service's "one size fits all" approach to urban parks.
You can watch the exchange here:
The National Park Service should develop flexible standards that take into account the unique circumstances and population of individual parks and changing conditions throughout the country, in keeping with Congressional recognition of both conservation and recreation as primary reasons for our parks. The neighborhood parks in the District of Columbia serve a very different function from Yellowstone. Dont Circle park is a central urban community meeting place in the District ...Moran, whose district includes Arlington, Alexandria, Reston, and southern Fairfax, endorsed the principles behind the amendment, and referred to my Post op-ed:
I have come to the floor because I have tried unsuccessfully to get the Park Service to make small adaptations. perfectly compatible with their mission, to allow for the people in the parks in my own district, and I am certain that other members have found similar roadblocks. For example, the Park Service won't allow bikeshare stations on or near federal parks, and they are not permitting the 3 golf courses in the District of Columbia to be run as a public-private partnership.
Both of these examples have run into the same one-size-fits-all concession concerns. Yet the National Park Service could negotiate concession agreements that accommodate bikeshare in the future. And inflexibility in Park Service insistence on concession contracts that do not allow capital investment, resulting in an astonishing deterioration of invaluable, capital-intensive golf courses in the District, could give way to other approaches, such as public-private partnerships operating under long-term leases that would allow private funding to assist the Park Service with upgrading and maintain these public assets which taxpayers can't possibly by themselves maintain.
Inflexible, one-size-fits-all policies keep Americans from using our parks for compatible purposes such as bike stations or worse, condemn unique iconic resources to inevitable decline.
I think we ought to have a consideration by the Park Service of whether they are sufficiently flexible in dealing with local communities. There was a recent article written in the Washington Post talking about some of the opportunities that exist to bring the community in to local parks, urban parks, where far more people could be involved, people could participate, people could enhance the enjoyment of things that take place. ...However, Moran also noted that the amendment could be considered an earmark, which Congress is now not permitting. Simpson, too, said he felt this was an earmark, but that he agreed with Norton's objective and pledged to work with her "in conference" to accomplish this end.
We could find ways to discourage automobiles and encourage bikes. Have bike sharing, for example, on the National Mall so that people could rent bikes and bike around the mall. It wouldn't cause any environmental damage; in fact, it would preserve some of the lawn on our National Mall and I think some people would enjoy it more. They'd get a little exercise.
On bike sharing, DDOT has wanted to have a station around Archives Metro for a long time, and in fact maps currently show a planned station there. It's a big hole in the downtown coverage. However, DDOT's Chris Holben said the area is controlled by the Park Service, preventing a station from going into this area.
More broadly, many communities would love to be more involved in local parks, perhaps through a public-private partnership involving local businesses and residents pitching in money and time to help maintain the parks, run events, and bring in concessions that enhance the park for residents and tourists alike.
Such steps would even save money, but require more flexibility by the Park Service on its policies and its concession contracts. So far, the Park Service has resisted efforts by residents and even, apparently, by Congresswoman Norton to make progress. Perhaps with more members of Congress joining in, they'll see the light.
Here is the audio of Congressman Jim Moran's appearance on WTOP on Friday, where he complained about DC not being willing to widen the 14th Street bridge and 14th Street itself.
First, starting at 38:03, Moran spends considerable time criticizing the BRAC policy, which will take thousands of defense workers out of perfectly functional office buildings near Metro and relocate them to defense bases like Ft. Belvoir, where there is virtually no transit and the roads can't handle all of the workers driving. Moran is trying to get DOD to help pay for road improvements, but more than that he'd like to persuade them to reverse the policy of moving everyone and keep jobs near Metro. Good for him.
At 47:20, the discussion turns to HOT lanes and Arlington's recent lawsuit against VDOT and FHWA. Moran says of the lanes:
On paper, they make sense, but I can understand Arlington's concern it's going to lead to more congestion. The easier you make it for people to drive the less likely they are to find alternative public trans and ultimately we don't have enough land to lay more asphalt. We have got to put our priority on public transit. That's where the money needs to be, that's where the policy planning needs to be directed.That's a good sentiment. Building more freeway lanes just drives more sprawl and more auto-dependent commuting. Meanwhile, there are plenty of underutilized Metro stations in Fairfax County and lots of development potential on the future Silver Line. Virginia needs to steer its growth there instead of paving the rest of Arlington.
I'm sympathetic to what Arlington is doing but I think the state is ultimately going to prevail. ... We are not putting enough money into public transit which is where it should be going.
But while Moran seems to understand that more paving isn't the answer in principle, he doesn't connect the dots to actual policies. He continues:
As much as the state of Virginia will put into expanding access to the DC bridges, DC is not cooperating. So you get to those bridges and you're going to have just as much of a backup. A lot of the problem is you need extra lanes on the 14th Street bridge and on some of these other bridges ... And 14th Street needs to be widened.
If DC would listen, they could get some revenue that would go into their transportation needs, because they can get some of the money that you get from these HOT lanes. People pay extra to be able to use HOT lanes, to be able to drive by themselves. And of course that goes against all of our policy, but it's a compromise, just like the lottery is a compromise way to pay for education. This is a compromise way to pay for transportation. But once they get to DC it stops. What DC should do is to widen 14th street bridge, widen 14th street and get some of the revenue that's coming from these HOT lanes. We've suggested it time and again and they just won't listen or let alone act on it.
We won't know for sure how good or bad an economic deal the HOT lanes are until the Beltway lanes open. But based on other cities' experience, even if the HOT lane generates a lot of money, that will at best just cover the cost of building the lanes in the first place. Widening a freeway to create HOT lanes isn't a way to use one profitable but perhaps undesirable activity (like the lottery) to pay for something else (like education). It's either just a way to make building more lanes a little cheaper, or just a way to sell more lanes to gullible politicians.
Finally, as we discussed yesterday, there's no room for more lanes on 14th Street. 14th Street travels between large buildings (see right). What could Moran possibly be talking about?
What does make sense is allocating the existing lanes more efficiently. As BeyondDC pointed out, there are studies underway about building dedicated bus lanes from the 14th Street bridge up to the K Street transitway. 14th Street is seven lanes for most of that stretch. Even one bus-only lane in the peak direction would move a lot more people.
Tolling some or all of the existing lanes is also an option, and one that really would generate a lot of revenue without billions in costs. Of course, if DC proposed doing that, many Virginia leaders would be decrying a backdoor commuter tax, even though it's not far from the plan Moran thinks DC isn't listening to.
The 395 "HOV lanes" were originally bus-only lanes. Virginia needs simply to start charging for cars on those lanes and/or increase the HOV requirement to ensure that the lanes move efficiently, then connect them to bus-only or congestion priced lanes on 14th Street. Maybe Moran is the one who could benefit from some listening.
Update: I added a few words to clarify that the HOT lane projects which don't pay for themselves are the ones that involve adding new HOT lanes, as opposed to changing existing lanes to HOT lanes. HOT lanes don't raise enough to widen existing freeways. One California project made money, but that involved adding HOT lanes onto land that had been set aside from the start for the lanes. Other projects that converted existing lanes have made money as well, as Froggie pointed out. Neither is the case here.
Moran, Oberstar defend transit: Virginia's Burke Connection covered Monday's town hall meeting in Tysons. Oberstar, the chair of the House Transportation Committee, got most of the quotes in the article, defending light rail and criticizing the federal funding formula which ignores many factors. And, like all pro-transit officials, he expressed a clear hope that things will change next year. "Shifting dollars from highway to transit? In this administration, that anathema," Oberstar said.
Smart Growth at Tenley library? The chair of ANC 3E (Tenleytown, AU Heights, and Friendship Heights), Amy McVey, is reporting that DMPED has decided to go ahead with a public-private partnership to develop the Tenley-Friendship Library site. Earlier this year, they solicited proposals for a private developer to build housing along with a new library and/or rebuilding the adjacent school; Ward 3 Vision supported the idea, while some members of the community opposed it. A mixed-use project would better utilize this key corner right by Metro. McVey says they've selected LCOR, but it's not clear how closely the final project will resemble their original submission.
Maryland town keeps out the Muslims: The Frederick County town of Walkersville stopped a Muslim sect from building a religious retreat on the town's largest farm, reports the Post. "Many residents told reporters they were nervous about the prospect of so many Muslims establishing a presence in their community." The landowner is suing, claiming violations of RLUIPA along with many other claims.
Sausage makers talk trains: Northern Virginia's Congressman Jim Moran is holding a town hall on called "From Roads to Rail" on Monday evening, July 7th in Tysons. House Transportation Chairman James Oberstar will speak too. Thanks bfox!
Next, Manhattan? Urban farming has transformed people's diets from imported canned goods to fresh local vegetables in Cuba. Cuba's big agribusiness may be inefficient, but look for more of this in the developed world as energy prices go up and up. From the International Herald Tribune. Thanks Bianchi!
Not another drive-thru: Walgreens is planning to build on a former gas station at Veazey and Connecticut, right by the Van Ness stop, reports reader Steve. The somewhat-good news: they're seeking a variance to build only 27 parking spaces instead of 40 (it should be even fewer). The less-good news: Walgreens gets to keep all the curb cuts the gas station had, and so they're building a drive-through. We should not be building drive-throughs in urban areas, especially not next to Metro stations.
Cardin on transit: Ben Cardin,
Delaware's slightly less well known Senator Maryland's newest Senator and a great advocate for transit, gets interviewed by Grist. He talks about the transit component of the Climate Security Act, which he authored (and which failed to pass a Republican filibuster this year). Oops, I confused Carper and Cardin. We have a wealth of pro-transit Senators whose names start with 'Car'.
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