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Lunch links: From battle to building

Photo by Wayan Vota on Flickr.
West End Library finally moves forward: DC's appeals court denied the final appeal from a Ralph Nader-backed group seeking to block the West End library project, which will create mixed-income housing and a new library and fire station. (Post)

Third Church offices going up: Another building delayed by years of contentious fighting had a groundbreaking ceremony: the office building to replace the Brutalist Third Church of Christ, Scientist at 16th and I NW. (WBJ) ... Is this a "distinctive church giving way to a bland, ordinary office building" or an "underused, anti-urban shell giving way to a pedestrian-friendly building"? (@ghostsofdc, @beyonddc)

What DC can learn about alleys: Alleyways are making a comeback around the country and in DC, becoming inviting and walkable spaces. However, a Mount Vernon Triangle alley shows that regulations can make it hard to activate a space. (Elevation DC)

Van Dorn transformation in progress: The Van Dorn Street area could become a busy, mixed-use area instead of low-density industrial with 3 projects bringing around 800 apartments and 100 townhouses. (WBJ)

From rental to condos: In a city with a shortage of condo units, one 84-unit building at 16th and S NW is converting from rentals to condos. Will this be a trend to watch in the rest of the city? (UrbanTurf)

No to Bloomingdale and the District?: Is calling the area around 1st and Rhode Island NW "Bloomingdale" a form of Columbusing? Does referring to DC as "the District" disempower the people of DC? One long-time resident says so. What do you think?

No time soon for transit center: The much-maligned Silver Spring Transit Center won't be complete until early 2015 as disagreements remain over the concrete beams, The project costs have already ballooned from $26 million to $120 million. (WTOP)

Post goes HOT: The Washington Post editorial board supports high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes in DC, saying they could help alleviate DC's traffic problems and add revenue for transportation.

And...: In honor of Earth Day, check out these 10 Earth Day-friendly homes in the region. (WBJ) ... Here are 6 bike gadgets to help keep you safe, including a 112-decibel horn. (Guardian) ... If you live in DC, you might need a new driver's license. (WAMU)

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Breakfast links: The right transit project?

Photo by Oran Viriyincy on Flickr.
Are transit fantasies folly?: Chicago's transit plans focus on new lines rather than improving existing service. One reason is that new construction brings more jobs and construction dollars, but is it the best use of scarce resources? (Next City)

Is this bus BRT?: San Diego is building faster bus lines, but neighborhood opposition blocked features like dedicated lanes. Without that and off-board payment, is it fair to call them "BRT?" Many say no; others say, at least the bus is a little better. (Voice of San Diego)

A bike boom spills onto sidewalks: Santiago, Chile, has 800,000 cyclists, but insufficient bike lanes and high speed limits on roads are leading to sidewalk cycling. Other cities point the way to creating safe spaces for cyclists. (Atlantic Cities)

Montgomery's elusive jobs numbers: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett is touting job increases before the June Democratic primary, but can his numbers be trusted? Moreover, do the jobs pay enough to sustain a middle-class lifestyle? (Post)

Smog suffocates SLC: Episodes of heavy smog in Salt Lake City have "mobilized the electorate," but proposed solutions are unlikely to have much impact as they do not factor in the region's suburbs or projected population growth. By way of comparison, here is China's smog problem. (Atlantic Cities)

UberX gets a little pricier: Uber will charge UberX drivers more of their fare, since the service was losing Uber money. The company also is adding a $1 per ride fee to cover insurance and background checks, since drivers' private insurance won't cover crashes while transporting people for pay. (GeekWire, Post)

Apps to cure distracted driving: Some new apps can selectively disable teens' smartphones while they are in a moving vehicle. The apps can even discriminate between drivers and passengers. (Post)

And...: Central Park's horse-drawn carriages could be replaced by old-timey electric cars. (Atlantic Cities) ... A local professor tries to fight poverty in Richmond. (next City) ... Enterprise will bring its CarShare service to Arlington. (Virginia Business)

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Breakfast links: How Virginia moves

Photo by Jason OX4 on Flickr.
Vihstadt goes after streetcars: New Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt unsuccessfully moved to block all streetcar work. The move came at the end of a budget meeting, one week after his election. He and Libby Garvey also tried to defund infrastructure in Crystal City. (Post)

Virgina dropping E-ZPass fees: Governor Terry McAuliffe signed a bill eliminating the 50¢ monthly fee for E-ZPass transponders. VDOT will now have to find another way to pay for the $10 million a year system. (Post)

Ethics reform loophole: The ethics reform bill passed by the Virginia legislature fails to limit gifts by non-lobbyists. Even if it had been in place, the law would not have been able to prevent the abuses that sank Governor Bob McDonnell. (ArlNow)

Maybe not so good: The new owner of Montreal's bankrupt bike sharing supplier plans to cancel all contracts except with Dubai and Guadalajara. Does that mean more delay or worse for DC's and College Park's and other regional orders? (City Paper)

500 families in 100 days: DC Mayor Gray kicked a rapid rehousing program to take homeless families out of shelters, where the city pays for four months of rent. But what happens when the money runs out? (City Paper)

Young people don't go suburban: Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Potomac, and similar NYC suburbs are not attracting as many young people as in the past. Do 24- to 34-year-olds want to stay in cities? Lack jobs which can pay for a house? Or want condos and apartments which some such towns have resisted? (NYT)

"People are healthier...": Places where more people bike and walk to work tend to have lower rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. (Streetsblog)

The EU limits bags: The European Parliament passed legislation requiring countries to reduce plastic bag use by 80% by 2019. Some countries tax bags (like DC does), while others can ban them outright. (Daily Mail)

And...: MWAA has received loans for Silver Line construction, which will keep tolls from rising on the Dulles Toll Road. (WTOP) ... Half of cyclists have had their bikes stolen, many more than once. (Atlantic Cities) ... A Brookland ANC commissioner deleted a recording of a public meeting rather than produce it to a court. (PoPville)

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Breakfast links: Resigned

Photo by Kevin Krebs on Flickr.
Transit resignations: Silver Line chief Pat Nowakowski resigned from the Airports Authority amidst long delays for the rail project. Meanwhile, WMATA CFO Carol Kissal resigned just weeks after an FTA audit revealed mismanagement. (Post, WAMU)

Council will sue mayor: Mayor Gray, DC CFO Jeffrey DeWitt, and the GAO think the voter-approved budget autonomy referendum violates DC's charter, and Gray is refusing to implement it. The DC Council will ask a judge to decide. (Post)

A Street NE divided: Residents are pursuing zoning changes and historic neighborhood designation after discovering their neighbor intends to build an 18-unit condominium on A Street NE. Residents say the building would not fit in the neighborhood. (Post)

The state of biking and walking: Biking and walking to work continue to grow as commutings option in the US, especially in cities. Fatalities have increased recently, but the long-term trend shows a decline in deaths. (Streetsblog)

Alaska for the win: Biking or walking to work is more popular in Alaska than balmy California. Although the coldest state in the nation, Alaska has the highest rate of active commuting, showing that climate is no indicator of commuting choices. (Streetsblog)

Bikeshare maker bought: A Canadian furniture mogul has purchased the bankrupt company which makes Capital Bikeshare bikes and docks. This raises hope for DC and Alexandria to soon expand and College Park to join the network. (WAMU)

Projected arrival times, projected: You don't need a smartphone to use a new service from TransitScreen which projects transit arrival times onto a sidewalk or other surface. Arrows show people which direction to head for each nearby stop. (Co.Design)

Everything wrong with London biking: America often looks to Europe for transportation inspiration, but these bike lane snafus in London suggest Silver Spring isn't the only place with ridiculous bike lanes. (BuzzFeed, CapHill Resident)

And...: Hydraulic fracking may soon come to Virginia. (Post) ... A mural in Adams Morgan is being restored. (WAMU) ... Greater Greater Washington's Dan Reed and Kelly Blynn win spots on a list of "Montgomery County Top Ten Young Guns." (Seventh State)

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Breakfast links: HOT lanes and cold weather

Photo by Washington State Dept of... on Flickr.
HOT lane prices rise: Tolls have been steadily climbing for the Capital Beltway HOT lanes. The toll reached $11.55 on April 3rd, coinciding with a tractor-trailer crash. (Post)

HOT lanes on the 14th Street Bridge?: HOT lanes are a possibility for the 14th Street Bridge to relieve some of the commuting congestion during rush hour. Vehicles with 3 or more people would drive for free in the lanes. (Post)

Winter redux: The winter we thought we left behind is back. It's cold today and may freeze tonight. Thursday should be warmer, with a slow creep back toward spring weather. (Post)

Tragic: GWU senior Carlos Pacanins was hit by a driver in College Park and died from his injuries. Police say he was crossing when the "Don't Walk" signal was flashing. Three other pedestrians have been hit at that intersection in the last year. (GW Hatchet)

Why conservatives like sprawl: Why do most conservatives blast government spending on transit but support tax breaks for homeownership? Maybe because exurban areas usually vote Republican while denser areas go Democratic? (Bacon's Rebellion)

What to expect on Metro: When should you give up your seat on Metro to a pregnant woman? What's the right way to ask someone to get up when you're pregnant? (Post)

Don't break up DDOT: Bob Thompson thinks creating more agencies is not the answer to problems at DDOT. It won't stop hasty action but could cut down on multimodal, big picture thinking. Richard Layman calls the bill a case of "ready, fire, aim." (Post)

Belgian Uber ban incites outrage: A Belgium Brussels court ruled that Uber is breaking the law, which drew scorn from an EU official who derided the decision as protecting the "taxi cartel." (TheNextWeb)

Study for the Susquehanna: Maryland is looking to replace the rail bridge over the Susquehanna River. A replacement could include a pedestrian and bicycle path; there is no trail link across the river today. (Cecil Daily)

The real problem in Silicon Valley: Selfish tech workers are destroying San Francisco, right? Not really. In Mountain View, the city forbids new housing near offices like Google's, ostensibly to save an endangered owl, while planning even more office buildings. Other area cities have blocked affordable housing. (TechCrunch)

And...: Today is Emancipation Day: DC government employees get a holiday and some parking rules are suspended. (Post) ... The federal transportation trust fund will likely go broke by the end of July. (Post) ... A water taxi is starting up between Old Town Alexandria and the National Mall. (Alexandria Times)

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Breakfast links: Back to normal

Photo by daveynin on Flickr
Mounds of trash on the Mall: After Cherry Blossom Festival revelers left heaps of trash on the National Mall, the National Park Service admits it wasn't prepared for the crowds. Not enough staff and no overnight workers plagued clean-up. (Post)

Metro hits a high note: With hundreds of thousands of visitors, Metro clocked 638,474 trips on Saturday, the highest the most for a Saturday since 2010's Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. (DCist)

Back to disruptions for Metro: Metro will resume track work now that Cherry Blossom crowds are gone. Crews will test new cars on the Green Line and shuttle service will replace trains on sections of the Orange and Blue Lines. (Post)

Not just one Bethesda: Where are the neighborhoods in Bethesda? To customize development to different areas, planners try to identify distinct neighborhoods such as Woodmont Triangle, Bethesda Row, and the area around the Metro station. (Gazette)

Underpass art: NoMa's dark and uninviting underpasses will become "art parks" with contemporary installations. With a budget of $1.75 million, the NoMa Parks Foundation is looking for submissions, to be installed by 2015. (DCist, WBJ)

Clarendon tops for Gen Y: With its rents, income, and well-educated young population, a new ranking names Clarendon Washington's best neighborhood for millenials. It placed the Washington area third nationally after New York City and Austin, Texas. (ArlNow)

'Tis a silly crosswalk: In Norway, artists replaced a crosswalk sign with a Monty Python-inspired one that encourages pedestrians to cross in a silly way. (Fast Company)

They want you: Alexandria is looking for people to serve on its Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan Advisory Committee. Meanwhile, WMATA still wants input on its late night bus service survey. (TheWashCycle, PlanItMetro)

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Breakfast links: Migration

Photo by ashokboghani on Flickr.
Fewer move to Washington: With fewer high-wage jobs, the DC area is no longer drawing as many people to move here from elsewhere in the country. The area remains a magnet for international immigrants, however. (Post)

Act with autonomy, or not?: Chairman Mendelson plans to approve DC's budget using the process set up by DC's recently-passed budget autonomy referendum, instead of the traditional process. But Mayor Gray says doing that would risk Congress' ire and even a return of the control board and criminal penalties, and promises to veto a budget passed under that process. (City Paper, WAMU)

Sprawl continues amid transit: In 4 of the 5 metro areas that pioneered light rail in the US, the percentage of transit ridership and urban population declined. The investment was not enough to counteract sprawl. (Atlantic Cities, Chuck Coleman)

Purple Line property purchases coming: Maryland is starting the process of buying over 600 properties along the future Purple Line to make way for station platforms and power substations. Construction could start by 2015. (Post)

Bold ideas to improve Rosslyn: A Realize Rosslyn plan outlines the area's challenges and how to overcome them. Improving the pedestrian experience through more welcoming buildings, streets, and even an outdoor escalator will be key. (WBJ)

Peak tourism follows peak bloom: Capital Bikeshare and MARC set ridership records, and trash cans overflowed, as huge crowds of people came to DC for the Cherry Blossom parade. (WTOP, Post)

And...: How much does a parking spot cost? (UrbanTurf) ... Gondolas, hanging trains, and toboggans, oh my! (Guardian Cities) ... WMATA's new test facility in Greenbelt is coming along, and is there an extra 7000-series car up there? (Sand Box John)

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Breakfast links: Peaks and valleys

Photo by Bex on Flickr.
Blossoms blooming: The National Park Service says the Tidal Basin's cherry blossoms are officially at peak bloom. This is the second latest peak in DC since 1992. (Post)

Not the best velodrome time: People who use Ohio Drive and Hains Point for long-distance, high-speed bicycle exercise probably should go elsewhere while the roads there are thronged with people enjoying the blossoms. (WTOP)

With spring, new bike lanes: The first curb-protected cycle track, on First Street NE, nears completion. Meahwile, the G and I Street NE contraflow bike lanes make progress. (WashCycle, WABA)

Don't blame bike lanes: As long as you put bike lanes on streets that aren't congested in the first place, then they don't cause congestion to the point of a traffic jam, even if you take away a travel lane. (FiveThirtyEight, Ed B.)

Numbers up and down: The region's February unemployment rate was 5.1%, up from 5% in January. (WBJ) ... Home sales fell in March for the 3rd month in a row. (Post) ... Vacancies in Class A and Class B apartments are rising in Northern Virginia and the District, which could lead to falling rents. (UrbanTurf)

Who will plan Montgomery?: Applicants for Montgomery County planning board chair include smart growth supporter and current board member Casey Anderson, Republican board member and developer Norman Dreyfuss, former councilmember Mike Knapp, deputy planning director Rose Krasnow, and many more. (Post)

Parking saps vitality (and tax revenue): Surface lots downtown result in an up to 29% loss of the tax base, finds a study that tracked the development of six cities over 50 years. Cities can either be vibrant or easy to drive to, but not both. (Streetsblog)

10,000 map maniacs: The "You Are Here" study, a new project from MIT Media Lab's Social Computing Group aims to develop 100 new maps revealing details of 100 different cities. (NextCity)

And...: Montgomery's Ride On plans a fare hike. (Post) ... McKinney and El Paso, TX, join DC in the ranks of cities with the fastest growing rents. (NerdWallet) ... The DC area has the second-most Energy Star-certified green buildings in the country. (DCist)

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Breakfast links: Boundary line

Photo by Kate Elliott on Flickr.
Next mayor dislikes boundary plan: Mayoral candidates David Catania and Muriel Bowser object to many of the school assignment proposals and may not move forward with any of the options if elected. (City Paper)

School boundaries and housing: Plan to overhaul school boundaries may affect DC's real estate market as many homebuyers look to buy in areas inside the boundary for the best schools. (WTOP)

DCHD eyes Anacostia Metro: Affordable housing is heading to the Anacostia Metro if WMATA approves the sale of a vacant piece of land nearby. DCHD is seeking to purchase the land for $1.5 million. (WBJ)

Scattered shelters not supported: The homeless shelter at DC General Hospital will be forced to remain open if city residents will not support locating smaller shelters throughout neighborhoods in the city, Mayor Gray said. (Post)

Silver Line as public art: The Silver Line's concrete trestles could be transformed with paint if Fairfax County can agree on a design and find funding for the art. (Post)

Closer to passenger service?: The Silver Line's contractor filed paperwork Wednesday saying Phase 1 is complete. MWAA has 15 days to review before handing the project to WMATA, which aims to start service no more than 90 days later. (Post)

Potholepalooza is back: DC will vigorously fill potholes through May 9 with its annual potholepalooza repair program. In 2013, 3,899 potholes were filled during the month. You can let DDOT know of any damaged roads. (Post)

Fund the fund: The federal transportation trust fund, which funds projects ranging from road repair to passenger rail, will run out of money in a few months. The Obama administration hopes to replenish it with a corporate tax, since higher gas tax isn't possible. (WAMU)

Standardizing subway maps: What if all the world's subway maps looked alike? One designer has set out to redesign maps for famous transportation systems. (Slate)

Do you love the Breakfast Links? Think you would be good at them? Want to help them keep going? Chad Maddox is starting a new job and can't keep doing links once a week. If you can, let us know at Thanks so much!

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Breakfast links: Musical chairs

Photo by David on Flickr.
Vihstadt wins: John Vihstadt, a Republican who ran as an independent, won the special election to replace Chris Zimmerman on the Arlington County Board, 57%-41%. Vihstadt will face Howze again in November. (ARLnow)

Tommy may run: Tommy Wells may run as an independent for DC Council at-large. If he did, he would be competing against at least 4 others, including Elissa Silverman, who resigned from DCFPI to plan a run. (City Paper)

And Yvette may run: Yvette Alexander surprised political observers by saying she also is considering a run for the independent at large seat, which she can try without giving up her Ward 7 seat. She wants to focus less on constituent service. Perhaps then Vincent Gray would get his old seat back? (Twitter)

Holder defends investigation: Attorney General Eric Holder defended Ron Machen's decision to cut a plea deal with Jeff Thompson and release documents just weeks before the primary election. That may have cost Gray a second term, but he said keeping the information under seal also wouldn't serve the public interest. (Post)

Mikulski questions Metro: Sen. Barbara Mikulski is asking how WMATA plans to fix issues with bad contracting practices that surfaced in a recent federal oversight report. She said federal funding for Metro repairs is in jeopardy. (Post)

Rock Creek repairs soon?: Repairs of the Rock Creek Park trail could begin in 2015, according to the National Park Service. The project has taken years already, frustrating local bicycle advocates. (DCist)

M is for Mostly finished: The M Street cycletrack is "another week or two" from being done, says DDOT's Jim Sebastian. It includes a very short segment at Rhode Island Avenue where a physical curb separates the lane from traffic. (WAMU)

Purple Line Holocaust bill stalls: A bill that would have disqualified one company from winning the Purple Line contract because of Holocaust ties stalled before the Maryland General Assembly session ended Monday. (Post)

And...: Six developers are each proposing a mixed-use building with ground-floor retail and residential for a DC-owned lot in Shaw. (UrbanTurf) ... DDOT finally opened the 8th Street SE freeway ramp to 295, the latest piece of the 11th Street bridge project to be completed. (Post) ... Streetsblog's annual Golden Crater competition places Jacksonville against Rochester for the title of worst parking crater.

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