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Breakfast links: More Shelters, fewer riders


Photo by jGregor on Flickr.
Shelters out-of-place?: Mayor Bowser's plan to open eight new homeless shelters in the District is already facing backlash. A flyer circulating in Ward 1 lists "congestion, loitering, safety, and decreased property values" as potential issues. (DCist)

Ridership down: Ridership on all transit modes declined by 5.4% last year, according to WMATA's second quarter financial update. Rail ridership took the hardest hit, and the drop is creating a budget gap. (DCist)

To peak or not-peak: Due to unsynced clocks, some Metro stations have been charging peak fares at off-peak hours. Metro has extended the off-peak grace period at affected stations until it can fix the glitch. (Post)

Toxic department: The DC Fire Department's medical director resigned from her position this week, citing the department's "toxic" resistance to reform. (WTOP)

Bus lane patience: 16th Street's S buses are getting a dedicated lane, but the project will likely could take 4 years to complete. Part of the reason: A new system that gives buses priority at stop lights will take a while to get up and running. (WAMU)

Taxing Reston: Officials say Reston will require more than $2.6 billion in transportation work over the next 40 years. A special tax district might help pay for it. (Reston Now)

Pay to build?: In Virginia, developers help pay for public projects like roads, parks, and schools. Some lawmakers argue that this proffer system means higher costs for buyers while others say it keeps cities functioning. (WAMU)

BRT in Richmond: Richmond is getting a BRT network that proponents will be the start of a regional system. Some opponents say the coming route won't adequately poor neighborhoods and job centers. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Breaking even: In the DC region, homeowners must own their property for an average of 4.5 years before its value outweighs the cost of renting. It takes longer to reach the "break-even point" in our region than anywhere else in the US. (Urbanturf)

Ackridge out: DC-based developer Akridge pulled out of a deal to develop the 1.3 million-square-foot Loudoun Parkway Center South. Detroit-based Soave Enterprises now stands to develop the transit-oriented site on its own. (WBJ)

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Breakfast links: This time around


Photo by Joe Flood on Flickr.
Here we snow again: Officials are trying to stay on top of today's snow business. DC's Snow Team went into "full deployment" overnight; Metrobus reversed its plan to offer limited service today. (WTOP)

Paid leave on the table: DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson has a pared down version of DC's family leave act which he hopes is more palpable. The draft version will go before a public hearing later this week and reduces the 16 weeks of paid leave in the original bill to 12 and puts a sliding scale for payout based on income. (WAMU)

Failure to communicate: Metro has temporarily removed two employees involved in last weeks incident on the Orange Line. The close call may have been caused by miscommunication between the train's operator and a rail controller. (Post, NBC4)

Feds pressure WMATA: USDOT says it will withhold funding for transit from DC, MD, and VA if they can't establish a new Metro safety oversight body on time. Meeting the 2017 deadline is tricky since it requires identical bills in three legislatures. (WAMU)

No sidewalks, no peace: A resident of Fairfax County points out that in many areas, there aren't even sidewalks, let alone ones the county can clear after a snow. There, walking is dangerous all year round. (Post)

Burnham Place will rise: When might buildings rise over the railroad tracks north of Union Station? Not for a while - first, it needs a master plan, which could take through 2018. But the vision for the area once done is impressive. (UrbanTurf)

Zoned in Georgetown: What does DC's new zoning update look like in Georgetown? It will be easier for new corner stores to open and for homeowners to add accessory apartments to their homes. (Georgetown Metropolitan)

Bikeshare ideology: The WashCycle debunks an argument against proposed changes which would make it easier for localities to use federal funds for bikeshare. The argument cites Capital Bikeshare as an example of mismanagement. (Daily Signal)

Save the tree(house): DDOT says that the Capitol Hill residents who built a treehouse over the historic alley behind their home have to move the structure. The family wants to crowdsource the cost of moving the treehouse off of public space. (DCist)

Moving on up?: If only the solution to our housing crisis were as easy as this Superbowl ad makes it seem. (Post)

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Breakfast links: Too close for comfort


Photo by philliefan99 on Flickr.
Close call: An Orange Line train ran a red light signal and came within 150 feet of another train on the platform at the Smithsonian station last Friday before the Rail Operations Control Center intervened and stopped the train. (NBC4)

Bike lane battle: Three Shaw churches said they are open to compromise over a proposed bike lane in the rapidly changing neighborhood in a meeting on Saturday. But the United House of Prayer is holding firm in its anti-bike lane stance. (WAMU)

Unresolved problems: WMATA missed a deadline to submit plans on improving smoke detection in Metro tunnels and other serious items to the FTA. The agency also rejected WMATA's plan to address reduced resources for walking track inspection. (WTOP)

More flair, please: The future Reston Town Center Metro station will basically look the same as the other Silver Line stations. Local officials would have preferred a design with more "artistic flair." (Reston Now)

A bold, new strategy: The DC Taxicab Commission is considering creating Xclass, a ride-hailing service similar to UberX that will require drivers to undergo background checks and follow DCTC regulations. (WAMU)

Some justice served, finally: The MPD arrested 13 robbery suspects last week, and seven of them were juveniles. Chief Lanier says a small number of people are responsible for a large share of recent robberies. (DCist, Post)

New hope for Prince George's?: Prince George's County residents hope a proposed federal office complex near several Green Line stations could be a catalyst for economic development that they feel the county has long missed out on. (Post)

Fire station compromise: The Montgomery County Planning Commission reached a compromise on the redevelopment of the Bethesda Fire Dept. station that will allow for a 70-foot maximum building height and mixed-use "floating zone." (Bethesda Beat)

More rail for BWI: The FRA approved plans to add a fourth track to a section of the Northeast corridor around BWI. The project hopes to reduce congestion and improve safety with new platform and pedestrian bridge. (Capital Gazette)

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Worldwide links: Cheap(ish) houses

Cheaper housing is doable, but it's about way more than just construction costs, strict rules are killing Sydney's night life, and a potential light rail line from Brooklyn to Queens. Check out what's happening around the world in transportation, land use, and other related areas!


Photo by Hans Drexler on Flickr.

A house, on the cheap: Auburn architecture students have developed a house that costs $20k to build and that, by conventional standards, is very nice. But building costs are only one challenge to affordability; remaining hurdles include formidable zoning codes, trouble securing mortgages, and finding a knowledgable contractor. (Fast Company Co-Exist)

Say goodnight, Sydney: Regulations that restrict alcohol servings and bar hours in some key entertainment districts are killing Sydney's night life. From 2012 to 2015, foot traffic dropped by 84%, and 42 businesses in the night life industry shut down. (Linked In Pulse)

Big Apple transit: New York City is considering a 16-mile light rail line that'd run between Queens and Brooklyn. The Mayor hopes that it will connect places on the waterfront but the idea is getting mixed reviews from residents and pundits. And those on Staten Island wonder when their time for investments will come. (New York Times)

Even on trains, voices carry: Thanks to new technology, it's now less likely that a train operator or bus driver makes an announcement on a transit system, and more likely that it comes from a pre-recorded or even non-human voice. That can mean more consistency, but matters like pronunciation have left some riders unhappy. (Guardian Cities)

Consider the flip side:Do the usual anti-transit suspects make you want to pull your hair out? Jarrett Walker, the author of Human Transit, says its worth considering the good points they make even if they're buried in bad ones. (Human Transit)

Alley cats: Hong Kong's alleyways can be cluttered, messy, smelly... and beautiful. Cleaning them up, says photographer Michael Wolf, can lead to a feeling of "sterilization" that dismisses character and charm. (Smithsonian Magazine)

Quote of the week: "Soon enough, the park could be growing trees from trash and rats would no longer have a buffet of garbage to feast on every night." - Cole Rosengren writing about a future in which vacuum tubes take our compost away. (Fusion)

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Links


Breakfast links: Safe and secure on Metro


Photo by Emergency_Vehicles on Flickr.
A few bad apples: Some question whether DC students should get free transit access after six high school students assaulted another Metro rider last month. But DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson says the incidents are isolated and free transit helps kids who can't afford transportation get to school. (WTOP)

Smile! You're on WMATA cam: Metro's new Security Operations Control Center is helping Metro identify and apprehend people when assaults, robberies, or other crime occur in the system. (Post)

WMATA's new finance wrangler: WMATA has hired a bankruptcy lawyer who once helped Detroit get back on its feet. Kevin Orr wants to lower WMATA's debt load, get its jurisdictions to invest more, and negotiate better labor deals with the unions. (Post)

Disabled in snow: The recent snowstorm highlighted just how difficult severe weather is for people with disabilities. DC has created an advisory committee to improve its snow response so people with disabilities can still get around. (City Paper)

Kicking Baltimore while it's down: A recent Washington Post article makes light of Baltimore's troubles. Does the DC press look down on Baltimore in the same way that New York does when they try to talk about DC? (City Paper)

Parking to housing: A developer wants to transform a parking lot near the Wiehle Ave Metro station into 260 residential units. Several developers are seeking rezoning in the formerly industrial area so that they can build more housing. (Reston Now, KC)

Surprising no one: As expected, former Mayor Vincent Gray announced that he is running for the Ward 7 seat. A recent poll shows him easily beating the incumbent, but ongoing controversy about his 2010 campaign financing could hurt him. (WAMU)

Housing zipcode by zipcode: This interactive map breaks down 2015 home sales in our region, showing sale prices and how quickly they sold by zip code. (Post)

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Breakfast links: Gray weather


Photo by Elvert Barnes on Flickr.
Gray goes for 7: Sources say former Mayor Vincent Gray will run for his old Ward 7 seat on the DC Council instead of an at-large seat. A recent poll showed him beating Ward 7 incumbent Yvette Alexander by 12 percentage points. (NBC4)

Snow woes, still: Maryland General Assembly members ask Maryland's transportation secretary why it's taking so long to clear Montgomery County roads after the snowstorm. (Post) ... Mail service in Arlington is still a jumbled mess a week and a half later. (ArlNow)

Affordable housing for Westbard: Montgomery County Councilmember Elrich says the affordable housing plans for Westbard are just an excuse for overdevelopment of the area, and don't make sense because the area isn't near transit. (Bethesda Magazine)

SmarTrip here to stay: Plans for a modern fare payment system for Metro are now delayed following a lackluster pilot of new fare gates last year. The new payment system would allow riders to use smartphones or chip-enabled credit cards to pay for Metro or bus fare. (WAMU)

Less summer, more school: 11 DCPS schools will add 20 days to the school year starting this fall to minimize students' loss of academic gains over the summer. (DCist)

Holy ground for sale: There's a lot of new housing coming to the big, grassy lawns of the "Little Rome" neighborhood near Brookland. Some residents worry it will change the neighborhood's character. (Washingtonian)

A public place for pot?: A task force will study if DC should allow marijuana use in private clubs. The DC Council extended its ban on the clubs through the end of the year for now. (WAMU)

Thinking outside the white lines: Removing white lines, disrupting straightways, and using visual tricks to make roads seem narrower all work to slow down traffic and make roads safer. (The Guardian)

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Links


Breakfast links: Justice for all


Photo by Beth Cortez-Neavel on Flickr.
Legal fees: The Silver Spring Transit Center is finally open, but now Montgomery County is looking to sue the project's designers and builders. County officials say they're why the project took so long, and that they should have to pay for the budget overruns, which totaled more than $50 million. (WTOP)

Pay for safety: The DC Council says it pays to behave! The council passed a bill that'd pay stipends to offenders who don't repeat, modeled on a successful California program. Mayor Bowser isn't on board yet. (WTOP)

16th St bus lane: DDOT is moving ahead with plans for a dedicated bus lane on 16th Street NW. The S series, which runs there, is one of DC's most crowded. To speed up service, the project will consolidate stops and let you pay before boarding. (Post)

Outsource MetroAccess?: WMATA may cut the cost of its MetroAccess program in Montgomery by outsourcing rides for disabled passengers to Uber and Lyft. Disability rights advocates, labor unions, and taxi drivers say it would be a bad deal. (WAMU)

Mix up on WMATA board: WMATA's board just got a new chair, but more changes could be in the works if Transportation Secretary Foxx decides to appoint new federal reps. Of the 4 current ones, only 1 has experience in public transit. (WAMU)

A dying art?: If a warehouse art space becomes a luxury hotel, dozens of DC artists will need to go somewhere else. The building owner's rezoning request includes some studio space, but arts supporters say it it won't be enough. (City Paper)

Getting ahead, falling behind: Post-recession growth in the DC region lags behind other metro areas when you consider wealth and race, says a new study. The gap between DC's rich and poor is the highest it's been in decades. (DCist)

Slow riding is good riding?: There's a correlation between slow-moving bikes and bike-friendly cities. When riding isn't seen as being just for those who want to pedal fast, more people do it, and it's easier to build infrastructure. (LEW)

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Breakfast links: Grocery stories


Photo by Mr.TinDC on Flickr.
Waiting for groceries: Muriel Bowser called a high-level Walmart exec to try to convince the retailer to still open two planned stores east of the Anacostia. Without them, residents face a continued dearth of grocery options. (Post)

Next stop: groceries: Metro is working with Peapod, a grocery delivery service, to test a pickup service at three Metro stations. If the six month pilot is successful they hope to roll out the program throughout much of the system. (Post)

Tiny Orange houses: Vincent Orange wants to build small houses for low-wage earners, seniors, and millennials. But critics question if it will actually help as well as how it will be paid for. (City Paper)

Bail for Baltimore?: A Baltimore ad campaign aims to attract residents who want a city lifestyle but are being increasingly priced out of DC. (Baltimore Sun, MarkusT)

You think it's hard to walk?: People in wheelchairs had some of the toughest experiences with the snow, as ramps to most crosswalks remained impassable long after the storm. (WAMU)

Hotel or studio: An art space on New York Avenue NE near Union Market will become a boutique hotel. The owners hope to keep some arts, including studios, a gallery, and sculpture garden, but it will fit about 20 artists versus 70-100 today. (City Paper)

Bright lights of Loudoun: Business leaders in Loudoun are looking to increase nightlife and walkability of the county in hopes of attracting young workers. The planned Silver Line stations could present an opportunity to do so. (Post)

The rent is slightly lower!: After a sustained run of increases, apartment rents are declining in some US cities, following a boom in construction. (City Observatory)

The tracks beneath: DC has many miles of streetcar track from its former system. The rails are difficult to remove so they were just paved over in many places. (Post)

Bikeless in Seattle: Many bike sharing systems across the country have been successful, but Seattle's Pronto system has struggled. Helmet laws, a hilly terrain, and weather all present challenges to the system. (KING 5, Aaron W)

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Breakfast links: For a safer system


Photo by Elvert Barnes on Flickr.
Metro's crime spike: An FBI report confirms that the number of robberies and aggravated assaults increased in the Metrorail and Metrobus systems in 2015. (WTOP)

No new fares: New WMATA board chair and DC councilmember Jack Evans wants to avoid fare increases at all costs in the near future. He cites his home in Georgetown as the reason he doesn't use Metro often, but is willing to give the buses a try. (WTOP)

Unnecessary shutdown: A former SEPTA executive from Philadelphia says WMATA's policy of shutting down Metro after eight inches of snowfall doesn't make sense. Other strategies and a smarter operating culture could have kept Metro open. (Post)

Blizzard's hefty price tag: January's snowstorm is estimated to cause at least half a billion dollars in economic damage to the Washington region, but is unlikely to negatively affect the region's long-term economic outlook. (Post)

Where's our interchange?: Montgomery County officials aren't too happy about delays in a project to add an interchange at I-270 and Watkins Mill Road near Gaithersburg and say it could harm development in the area. (WAMU)

New afforable housing projects: Mayor Muriel Boswer has announced $82.2 million in funding for 12 affordable housing projects that will house up to 1,760 city residents and include a mix of preservation projects and new construction. (DCist)

Picking Purple Line builders: Maryland could announce its choice for a contractor to build the Purple Line as soon as the end of February. The MTA has been working with WMATA to select plans that limit the impact of construction on Metro. (WTOP)

Marriott's decision deadline: Marriott hopes to conclude its search for a new, Metro-accessible urban headquarters by the end of 2016. (WBJ)

No ballot initiative: A District judge blocked a $15-per-hour minimum wage ballot initiative due to the lack of term limits on Board of Elections members. Some worry the ruling could question the validity of popular recent initiatives. (City Paper)

Memorial sneak peek: The planned World War I memorial at Pershing Park in DC will feature an 81-foot-long sculptural relief wall and freestanding sculptural figures, and will retain a statue of its namesake general. (Washingtonian)

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Breakfast links: Ticket to ride


Photo by Tommy Wells on Flickr.
Jack's back: DC Councilmember Jack Evans was unanimously elected chair of the Metro board, a role he's served in twice before. It ends a tumultuous year, when a group of new board members challenged what they saw as complacency from members like Mort Downey and Tom Downs. (Post)

Metro opens all doors: Metrobus and Metrorail service is back to normal today. But Metrorail is running only six-car trains because several railcars were damaged during the storm. (Post)

Parking tickets tossed: Mayor Bowser will pardon 2,829 parking tickets issued for cars parked on snow emergency routes on Friday. Like the sidewalk shoveling law, Mayor Bowser arbitrarily chose not to enforce another snow regulation. (City Paper)

Gondola goals: The Arlington County Board unanimously voted to give $35,000 to study a Rosslyn-Georgetown gondola. Some members were skeptical about the idea, but want to see the idea studied and have a say in the process. (Post)

Soft support for RFK stadium: 58% of DC voters support a new football stadium at RFK, but 25% might change their mind after seeing the price tag. Large majorities also support marijuana legalization, a higher minimum wage, and public financing of elections, according to a poll by the City Paper.

Tear down this treehouse: DC's public space committee denied a request to allow a controversial Capitol Hill treehouse to encroach 20 inches into a public alley. The owners say they'll keep the treehouse up, but move it out of the alley. (Post)

Sidewalk savior: Maryland won't clear sidewalks on Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda, but Richard Hoye will. He has machinery to clear the sidewalk, but that can't handle more than 18 inches, so he bought a $15,000 Swiss snow blower. (Bethesda Magazine)

Where VA grows: From 2010 to 2015, Loudoun County, Falls Church, Alexandria and Arlington were Virginia's four fastest growing localities, representing a shift toward urban growth. (StatChat, Hamilton Lombard)

Need more people to eat: It's proving hard to find a restaurant to go into a Hill East building. The owner says he needs more residents nearby; several new buildings are in the pipeline but not built yet. (WBJ)

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