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National links: Oklahoma City, here we come

If you want to enjoy a good job and an affordable place to live, you might want to head to Oklahoma, Nebraska, or Iowa. San Jose is apparently the weirdest city in the US, and the people who usually build the freeways in Texas are supporting the idea of tearing one down in Dallas. Check out what's happening around the country in transportation, land use, and other related areas!

Photo by Matthew Rutledge on Flickr.

Not many housing options: Even when people are willing to make tradeoffs to live in places where housing prices are sky high, it's hard to find quality of life, a good jobs, housing that's affordable all in one place. So hard, in fact, that only three cities in the United States have all 3: Oklahoma City, Omaha, and Des Moines. That's according to a study from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis. (Gizmodo)

Weird city science: Cities are full of people and activities that many would label "weird." But which one is actually most different from the county's norm? Based on factors ranging from how many foreign-born workers there are to how many people don't own a car, cotton economist Lyman Stone says it's San Jose, and that Oklahoma City is the least weird. (Washington Post)

Tear down this freeway: Texas' department of transportation, unsurprisingly, loves to build freeways. But in a recent report on what to do with an obsolete downtown Dallas freeway spur, the agency opened up the possibility of thinking less like a typical highway department and more like urban designers, with an option to tear down the freeway and let the city reclaim the land. (Dallas Morning News)

The end of big infrastructure: While there are a few possibilities for national-scale projects we'd benefit from, this author argues that the era of building big infrastructure is over. There just isn't much we could invest in that could bring the return of our railroad or interstate system, meaning smaller, local projects and maintenance should be our priorities. (Transportist)

Ride hailing real talk: Right now, ride hailing companies like Uber and Lyft are giving cities a binary set of options: do what we want, or we'll leave. That isn't productive, and the conversation needs to change if there is to be a solution that serves both city residents and companies that want to innovate. Luckily, there are examples of good partnerships. (Sidewalk Labs)

Seattle's big slice: In the Puget Sound region, where Seattle is, there are five "taxing areas" within three counties. The Sound Transit projects that each receives are reflective of how much each pays in taxes, and the organization's leader (a former FTA administrator) says it'd be best to have everyone pay for a new tunnel in downtown Seattle because the entire network will benefit from it. (Seattle Times)

Quote of the Week

"It's possible San Francisco may have unwittingly demonstrated what I'm calling the Indiana Jones Theory of Housing Regulation. The idea is that when cities increase the burden on new development, whether through inclusionary zoning, expiring tax breaks, or new building codes, they create a deadline boom, as builders rush to get approval before the new laws can take effect. Like Indiana Jones, builders try to get through before the door closes." - Slate's Henry Grabar, explaining his Indiana Jones theory of housing regulation.


Breakfast links: Say "yes" to the... housing

Photo by Ryan McKnight on Flickr.
"Yes" to more housing: You've heard of NIMBYs, but what about YIMBYs? Our region needs more housing, and building it will take saying "yes" to projects that might change our neighborhoods. David Whitehead, our housing program organizer, is helping lead the way. (WAMU)

All aboard Olli: A self-driving electric shuttle named Olli was unveiled at National Harbor yesterday. The 12 person vehicle goes wherever passengers tell it to on the Harbor's private roads, and runs on IBM's Watson Artificial Intelligence. (DCist)

Cycling for SafeTrack: In Arlington, SafeTrack has given more people reason to try riding their bike to work. Last week the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor witnessed a 70-90% increase in biking over last year. (FABB)

Union Market pushback: A development project at Gallaudet University would cut back on barriers between the campus and the community, but one group says it would also destabilize land values and displaces residents in NoMa. (WBJ)

Ward 7 livability: DC wants to make getting around Ward 7 easier for people using all modes of travel easier, and add new parks, green space, and community centers to the area. DDOT recently chose a firm to study how to do this between East Capitol Street and Massachusetts Avenue. (Civil + Structural Engneer, Rebeka Riley)

Boats are better: NYC's mayor plans to use ferries as an alternative mode of public transportation given Subway crowding issues there. Could DC benefit from public ferry service across the Potomac? (NYT, Redline SOS)

Arlington wins: Arlington topped a recent list of "Best Cities to Live in America". The rankings looked at schools, crime, jobs, and local amenities. Cambridge, MA and Columbia, MD took 2nd and 3rd place respectively. (ArlNow)

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Breakfast links: Purple Line pushback

Photo by Elvert Barnes on Flickr.
Another Purple Line delay?: A federal judge says that he thinks Metro's safety problems could hurt Purple Line ridership, and may order a six-month delay to study it. FTA and MTA officials emphasized that short-term issues with Metro won't impact long-term Purple Line projections. (Post)

Rockville pines for free parking: Rockville business owners want to get rid of paid parking along East Montgomery Ave. They say their businesses are struggling because of parking costs, and argue that other areas in Montgomery County have free parking garages. (Bethesda Magazine)

Alexandria's SafeTrack plan: Alexandria is adding more bus service and four Capital Bikeshare stations for upcoming SafeTrack surges. (Post)

New zoning code, new digs: Here's a sneak peek at the types of accessory dwelling units that could come to DC when DC's amended zoning code takes effect in September. (UrbanTurf)

SafeTrack on schedule: As of Monday, Metro had completed most of the work for the first phase of SafeTrack ahead of schedule, though work to replace power cables was still only a little over halfway complete. (WAMU)

Maintenance briefly derailed: A track machine that installs new rail spikes derailed in the SafeTrack zone on Tuesday, but Metro quickly resolved the issue and maintenance work is still on schedule. (Post)

The bell tolls for I-66 budget: Plans to add tolls to I-66 inside the Beltway have turned out to be way more expensive than expected. One of the construction contracts that VDOT recently awarded cost nearly two times what they had estimated. (WTOP)

Free parking isn't free: With the cost to construct a single underground parking space in an urban environment averaging $34,000, the cost of "free parking" is hidden in the elevated prices of rent and goods sold by the stores that offer it. (Post)

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Breakfast links: White is the new Orange

Photo by DDOT DC on Flickr.
The votes are in: Former Mayor Vincent Gray won the Democratic primary in Ward 7, while Robert White beat out Vincent Orange for the at-large seat. Trayon White unseated LaRuby May in Ward 8 while incumbent Brandon Todd held on in Ward 4. (City Paper) ... Tuesday was the 60th anniversary of DC's first primary. (WAMU)

Libby Garvey in Arlington: Incumbent Libby Garvey beat Erik Gutshall for Arlington County Board with 55% of the vote. Gutshall had strong support along Columbia Pike and the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. (ArlNow)

Mobile app makes party changes: A mobile app meant to help voters update their information electronically in DC accidentally changed voters' party affiliation, forcing several voters to cast provisional ballots in yesterday's closed primary. (WAMU)

Building stays industrial near Metro: A historic USPS equipment shop near the Rhode Island Ave Metro will likely become a self-storage facility with U-Haul parking. (WBJ)

Medical Center access is expensive: A pedestrian tunnel and a set of elevators under Rockville Pike will make it easier for Metro riders to get between the Walter Reed Medical Center and the adjacent Metro station. The federal government is footing the bill, but the price keeps going up. (Bethesda Magazine)

Putting the brakes on dirt bikes: DC police have arrested 27 people for operating illegal dirt bikes and have confiscated more than 30 vehicles following a crackdown that began in April. (Post)

Revote for Local 689?: The US Department of Labor says WMATA's largest union, Local 689 Amalgamated, didn't hold a fair election for its leaders last year, and is pushing a federal court to force the union to hold new elections. (NBC4)

Tough day for travel: A small shuttle bus filled with tourists collided with a car on the GW Parkway during rush hour yesterday, killing one person and injuring 15 more. (Post) ... A car fire inside the 3rd St Tunnel melted the tunnel's light fixtures. (WJLA)

Get outta town: With gas prices low, how far will $50 get you? These heat maps show how far you can get on one tank of gas from 35 US cities, including DC. (Co.Design)

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Breakfast links: Vote!

Photo by Keith Ivey on Flickr.
It's primary day: Go vote! Greater Greater Washington has endorsed Erik Gutshall for Arlington County Board, Robert White for DC Council at large, and Vincent Gray in Ward 7.

Tipped wage outrage: Local activists want to put a $15 per hour tipped minimum wage on DC's November ballot, now that the DC Council will likely pass a minimum wage bill that only increases the tipped worker wage to $5. (WAMU)

Preservation plans for affordable housing: DC's affordable housing task force has issued six recommendations for preserving affordable housing. One initiative will give landlords in Ward 8 low interest loans to fix up rental units in disrepair. (City Paper)

Bet on bikes: Bike commuting is way up on Arlington trails, with between 70-100% increase in riders from last June. (CityLab)

Metro money matters: What happened to the $5 billion from WMATA's 2010 Metro Forward plan? $3.7 billion has gone to new buses, railcars, escalators, elevators, lighting, and other infrastructure upgrades. (WAMU) ... The FTA will allow Metro to use $20 million in existing federal capital funds for SafeTrack repairs. (Post)

The best Metro info: Listen to GGWash's own Stephen Repetski chat about the best ways to know what's going on with Metro service in WAMU's latest Metropocalypse podcast.

SafeTrack, visualized: Still not sure how SafeTrack will affect you? Here's a DC designer's visual take on the plan, including bikeshare information. (

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Breakfast links: New density for Fairfax

Photo by Pedro Vera on Flickr.
Fairfax zoning fight: Some Fairfax residents are organizing to stop a zoning change that would allow more height and density near Metro stations and commercial areas. Opponents call it "crazy density." (Post)

New heights for Reston: Fairfax County gave the green light for a new tallest building in the community, which will be 330 feet tall and 23 stories at the corner of Reston Parkway and Bowman Towne Drive. (WBJ)

A library or housing?: There's a proposal to build new housing on the former American Press Institute building in Reston, but some want to designate as a landmark the mid-century Brutalist structure and repurpose it into a new library. (Reston Now)

Less boring in Loudoun: Non-residential buildings like warehouses and data centers in Loudoun County might have to meet design standards in the future. Proponents say "concrete boxes" already "bring the value of [the] Metro area down." (WBJ)

New design, longer walk: More detailed renderings show how the relocated Purple Line will fit in with the Silver Spring Transit Center. But county planners still don't know how much longer the walk from the Purple Line to Metro will be. (Bethesda Beat)

More free Metro: DC students will soon be able to ride Metrorail for free. One side effect: Youth will evade fares less often, allowing for better counting of how many people actually ride. (WTOP)

Welcome to Metro: WMATA's newest hires include an engineer to oversee all SafeTrack operations plus four people to handle social media. The agency hopes this will lead to faster response times for maintenance and repair issues. (WTOP)

Gentrification hits Cleveland: Cleveland saw an influx of younger, wealthier residents like many other US cities. That means its faces some familiar challenges like retaining middle-class families and accommodating middle-income workers. (WSJ)

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National links: More biking in Atlanta

Atlanta's investing a ton of money in bike infrastructure, the negative effects of racist housing policies haven't gone anywhere, and sprawl is costing commuters big time. Check out what's happening around the country in transportation, land use, and other related areas!

Photo by Green Lane Project on Flickr.

Bike lanes for Atl: The Atlanta Regional Commission has approved $1 billion dollars for bike infrastructure in the region over a 25 year period. It sounds like a lot, but considering that it's part of an $85 billion plan... is it? (Bicycling)

Redlining the future: Historic housing policies that barred minorities from living in certain neighborhoods. One consequence that's still playing out is that very rich and very poor neighborhoods are increasing in number, and the children in the poor ones tend to make less money in the future and have more mental health problems. These cartoons explain the matter more in-depth. (Vox)

Sprawl Tax: Every year we hear about how much it costs Americans to be stuck in traffic, but what if we framed it as "how much policies that create congestion cause us?" Introducing the Sprawl Tax. In the 50 largest metro areas, sprawling land use costs commuters an average of $107 billion per year. (City Observatory)

Light rail in Austin: Transit advocates in Austin have been pushing for light rail for over 30 years. With the city focusing on mobility and a bond measure possibly going on this fall's ballot, they are hoping that the rail segment will be added to the mix. (Austin American Statesman)

On the edge: A common theme among transit planners is balancing service for an urban core versus the regional edge. It's important not to forget that transit functions as a network, meaning that if gets weaker in one place, it gets weaker everywhere. When we recognize that core improvements can help the edge and vice versa, our conversations are more productive. (Human Transit)

Quote of the Week

"These great shortcuts used to spread by word of mouth, but now they just spread like wildfire" - Traffic Engineer Paul Silberman on more and more cut through traffic directed off of main streets and into neighborhoods by the app Waze. (Washington Post)


Breakfast links: Traffic takes to the trails

Photo by ulalume on Flickr.
Traffic on (Safe)track: Traffic has not increased drastically so far during SafeTrack, but there are anecdotal reports that more drivers are "blocking the box" and increasing overall travel times downtown. (WAMU) ... There are definitely more bikes on the road. (WJLA)

SafeTrack solutions, round two: Prince George's County will increase bus service and asked the state to increase HOV lane enforcement during the second SafeTrack surge. MARC will add cars on two train lines. (WTOP) ... In DC, DDOT will suspend construction permits for 10 bus corridors. (City Paper)

Data warehouse design: The Loudoun Board of Supervisors narrowly voted to consider design standards for storage facilities and warehouses. Some worry standards would discourage business, but others said prominent, ugly buildings could hurt property values. (WBJ)

The rent is too damn high: 40% of one bedroom apartments in DC are fetching over $2000 per month in rent. 57% of two bedroom apartments rent for over $2500 per month. (UrbanTurf)

Executive branch and bikes: Arnold Schwarzenegger toured DC by bike this week. (Post) ... New York police knocked a Citi Bike rider off his bike when he got too close to President Obama's motorcade. (Jalopnik, Jasper)

Toward a safer Metro: What's behind Metro's ongoing issues with smoke and fire? New chief safety officer Patrick Lavin will take a holistic view, with an in-house investigation team and a peer-reviewed analysis of Metro's power systems. (Post)

Carless counts: How we quantify "access" to cars makes a big difference in how we measure overall reliance on cars for work trips. In the DC region, only 6% of households are car free, but nearly 20% live in a household with fewer cars than workers. (City Observatory)

Congestion pricing for NYC: Fewer drivers are driving in New York City, even as the city gains jobs. A statewide bill calls for higher tolls that could further combat congestion and help fund better transit. (Gawker)

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Breakfast links: Safety and SafeTrack alternatives

Photo by DDOT DC on Flickr.
No stop as yield in DC: The DC Council will soon vote to pass a bike and pedestrian safety bill, but they pulled out a provision that would have allowed cyclists to treat stops signs as yield signs yesterday. (City Paper)

A promenade for who?: A pedestrian promenade will run through Eckington Yards, but the developers want to give access to cars and trucks too. The Zoning Commission is worried the design will compromise pedestrian safety and traffic enforcement. (WBJ)

VRE as a SafeTrack alternative: With extra capacity and good on-time performance, VRE could be a great alternative for Blue Line riders during the next SafeTrack surge, starting on June 18. (WTOP)

CaBi key fobs on the spot: Capital Bikeshare stations have a new look and can issue key fobs on the spot. Here's the first new station in Alexandria. (Capital Bikeshare)

One-way Zipcar: Zipcar is launching a one-way option in DC. Drivers will be able to pick up and drop off cars at different locations. (Zipcar)

Farewell parking, hello mixed-use: A 5-acre surface parking lot next to the College Park Metro will become 430 apartment units with 11,900 square feet of retail. (WBJ)

No charges in Alexandria crash: Alexandria will not file charges against a driver who hit a cyclist back in May. The cyclist suffered a traumatic brain injury. (RedBrickTown)

The cost of sprawl: Commuters lose, on average, $1,400 per year in time thanks to sprawling land use, according to a new "sprawl tax" calculation. (City Observatory)

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Breakfast links: Honest pay for honest work

Photo by The All-Nite Images on Flickr.
Fight for 15: The DC Council unanimously voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour while raising the tipped minimum to $5 an hour. The bill also included an amendment to study the feasibility of a minimum-income system. (City Paper)

Poor workmanship, just deserts: A Virginia couple accused of performing slapdash residential renovations across the District agreed to pay $1.3 million in restitution to home buyers. They are also banned from further house flipping in DC. (WAMU)

Avoid the crush: If people in SafeTrack-affected areas don't find other ways to commute, WMATA says riders will experience "crush loads". That could mean trains that are way, way more crowded than you've ever seen. (WAMU)

7000 problems: Metro pulled its new 7000-series railcars from the Silver, Orange, and Blue lines—the first lines affected by SafeTrack—after two incidents where the trains stopped after losing touch with the third rail. (WAMU)

Inherent vices: These infographics explain how some of the design choices Metrorail planners made, like where they put crossover tracks and how they built underground stations, contribute to the maintenance problems the system faces today. (Post)

Too much FBI parking: As of now, the General Services Administration says the future FBI building must have a huge amount of parking, and that being near Metro isn't a priority. Some officials are pushing to change that. (Post)

Long goodbye for DC General: DC's Department of General Services announced that the DC Council's new homeless shelter plan will push the closing of DC General until 2019. It's possible that the aging shelter will be closed in stages. (DCist)

House flipping not flopping: In the first quarter of the year, the DC area continued to beat the national averages for profits from house flipping. Properties in the District offered the greatest return on investment. (WBJ)

And...: Venture-capital investment and big money from startups are increasingly flowing toward dense, walkable urban neighborhoods. (CityLab)... Norway is on the verge of banning the sale of all petrol-powered cars by 2025. (Independent)... In India, a lack of "good samaritan laws" make it less likely that people help one another after a traffic crash. (BBC)

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