I mean, can anyone definitively say the gunfight at the OK Corral wasn't to settle a zoning dispute over pop-up condos?
Here are our favorite new images from the Greater and Lesser Washington Flickr pool, showcasing the best and worst of the Washington region.
March to Justice. Photo by Joe Newman.
Ballston's "Blue Goose." Photo by John Sonderman.
Got a picture that depicts the best or worst of the Washington region? Make sure to join our Flickr pool and submit your own photos!
Transit succeeds when stations are within walking distance of living spaces and jobs. Using recently-released walk shed data from PlanItMetro, we developed an interactive visualization that shows which Metro lines and stations are most accessible by foot.
Each dot on the charts represents one Metro station, and you can view different variables using the "line" and "indicator" toggles at the top.
At first glance, these charts confirm conventional Metro wisdom: stations in DC's dense northwest neighborhoods have the most households in walking distance, and downtown is a walkable job center.
But there are other interesting patterns to uncover here, too. For instance, we see that stations with multiple entrances tend to have larger walk sheds. It's also clear that Tysons has a long way to go in its transformation.
What else do you notice in these graphs?
The District has thousands of manhole covers, and a lot of them offer a glimpse into the city's history. This one, for example, is from a 19th Century streetcar company that hasn't existed in over 100 years.
An extant manhole cover from the Anacostia & Potomac River Railroad. Photo by the author.
The "A&P RR" refers to the Anacostia and Potomac River Railroad, which was the fourth streetcar company to begin operation in DC. A&P ran from 1876 until 1912, when the Washington Railway and Electric Company bought it.
The manhole was almost surely for below-the-street electrical power access. A&P was the last company to switch from horse-cars to electric power, making the switch in 1900, so we can reasonably assume this cover to be from between 1900 and 1912.
This cover is on 11th Street SE, between Pennsylvania Avenue and Lincoln Park. I've seen three covers like it in the area, and another on Maryland Avenue NE, just east of 14th Street by the Checkers. Those are the only ones I know about. These locations are a bit surprising since the A&P didn't run on these streets, nor did any other streetcar. The A&P did run in 11th Street SE, but only south of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Know of any interesting manhole covers in the DC area? Mention them in the comments!
Photo by Kevin Harber on Flickr.Safety strides: Metro will institute four safety measures after January's smoke incident: fix all tunnel light fixtures, clear tunnels of debris, create an audit system for testing ventilation systems, and review underground alarm protocols. (DCist)
New addition: Governor Hogan has appointed Keturah Harley to the WMATA Board. Hurley served as general counsel for the DC Public Employee Relations Board and will bring labor expertise to the Board. (Post)
Red light, green light: DDOT will begin a month-long campaign to reprogram traffic signals at 650 intersections downtown. DDOT wants to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety but does not include plans for bus signal prioritization. (Post)
Evict-ory for tenants: Residents won't need to pay $250 million to avoid eviction from a Chinatown building. The owner was required to give tenants a chance to buy the property but a judge ruled that the owner's selling price was too high. (City Paper)
Balancing act: Two bills before the DC Council offer differing views on the role of the newly elected attorney general. Attorney General Karl Racine wants a voice on legislation and contracts, while Mayor Bowser wants to curb the office's power. (WAMU)
Education budget in limbo: Education Committee Chairman David Grosso said he will not support the current capital budget at a Committee hearing to debate Mayor Bowser's budget that delays funding for nearly 20 school renovations. (Post)
Reset: Montgomery County wants to move away from traffic efficiency standards that lead to wider roads. County Councilmember Roger Berliner wants planners to focus on lowering commute times and getting people to live closer to work. (BethesdaNow)
Funding mass transit: Only 20% of the highway trust fund goes to mass transit, even as ridership is growing nationwide. With newer members of Congress who do not support transit funding, the fight to maintain funding is getting more difficult. (CityLab)
And...: The West Heating Plant in Georgetown was not designated as a historic landmark. (UrbanTurf) ... Montgomery County is planning a bicycle network around the Corridor Cities Transitway. (TheWashCycle) ... The International Spy Museum unveiled designs for a new building in L'Enfant Plaza. (WBJ)
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Our Executive Director Steve Hiniker was awarded the WURTA 2015 Transit Advocate of the Year! "As a community leader and Executive Director of 1000 Friends you have demonstrated great leadership and applied your skills to the research and opinions so necessary in the education of elected officials and the citizens of Wisconsin. We thank you sincerely!”
On Tuesday, we posted our forty-eighth photo challenge to see how well you know Metro. I took five photos in the Metro system. Here are the answers. How well did you do?
This week, we got 16 guesses. Six of you got all five correct. Great work, Peter K, JamesDCane, William M, Frank IBC, FN, and Mr. Johnson!
Image 1: Glenmont
The first image shows the eastern entrance to Glenmont station. Structurally, this is a unique escalator covering. But it's also distinctive because of the artwork Swallows and Stars tiled along the canopy supports.
Today, escalator canopies are commonplace on Metro because WMATA wants to protect the moving stairs from the elements. But before the agency started putting in the standardized glassy canopy, like the one at Virginia Square featured in week 40, they built unique canopies at new stations.
When Glenmont opened in 1998, it was among the first to get a canopy like this. Columbia Heights and Georgia Avenue followed in 1999. Congress Heights included an entrance pavilion similar to the Mid City stations two years later when it opened. Fourteen of you recognized Glenmont.
Image 2: Franconia-Springfield
The second image shows the roof of Franconia-Springfield. The structure, especially the width of the roof, should have told you this was a high peak station. But which of the four could it be?
The main clue was the vantage point. The photo is from the VRE overpass, which is higher than the roof of the station. Southern Avenue and Suitland both have overpasses leading to the station, but their escalator configuration doesn't allow this view. Six of you guessed correctly.
Image 3: East Falls Church
This picture shows the roof of East Falls Church looking up through a "hole" in the platform from the mezzanine. The roof type is general peak, and the perspective means the station's mezzanine is below the tracks. That eliminates six of the eleven stations of this type. Of the remaining five, only East Falls Church fits the bill.
The crossbars below the glass are closely spaced, which is only the case at East Falls Church, Dunn Loring, and Vienna. And as noted above, you can discount Dunn Loring and Vienna. The other clue is the railing visible at the bottom center of the photo. That's present only at East Falls Church, and you could (barely) see it in week 46. Eight of you got this one.
Image 4: Naylor Road
The fourth image shows the newest general peak station in the system, Naylor Road. This station is a bit different from the other stations because it has an extremely shallow glass peak.
Note how in the images above (East Falls Church) and below (Addison Road), the peak is angled at roughly 45 degrees, with a right angle at the apex. Compare that to Naylor Road, where the slope is probably closer to 20 degrees above horizontal and the apex is a very obtuse angle. Seven of you guessed correctly here.
Image 5: Addison Road
The final image shows the canopy at Addison Road. Like the last two images, it has a general peak roof. But Addison Road has a unique variant of the canopy. This is the oldest general peak station in the system, opening in 1980. All of the other general peak stations, except for East Falls Church and Dunn Loring, have two columns supporting the canopy on either side of the peak (see image 4).
Addison Road has a single row of columns centered under the peak. This unique element is the only real clue to solving the final image. And eight of you were able to solve the puzzle.
Thanks to everyone for playing! Great work. Stay tuned. We'll have five more images for you next week.
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.
Photo from FCDOT.
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.
In some parts of DC, it's getting harder to snare a seat at your neighborhood preschool. The map below shows how the number of preschool applicants at many DC Public Schools has been increasing in recent years.
DC residents are guaranteed a slot at their neighborhood DC Public School beginning in kindergarten, but only a few schools guarantee admission to preschool. All DCPS elementary schools offer preschool for four-year-olds, and most also offer it for three-year-olds.
Eventually, DCPS plans to guarantee preschool slots for neighborhood children at all its high-poverty schools, but for this coming school year that policy is in place at only five schools. Generally, families need to apply for preschool slots through the school lottery.
The graphic above, published on District, Measured, shows that most DCPS preschool programs have recently gotten more popular. The green circles on the map indicate schools that saw an increase in the number of preschool applications from in-boundary families, while the red ones indicate schools where such applications decreased. DC's Office of Revenue Analysis produces the District, Measured blog.
After the first round of this year's school lottery, almost 7,000 students found themselves on waitlists for at least one DCPS school. Many of those are students in kindergarten or above, applying for slots at schools other than the neighborhood one they have a right to attend.
But those waitlists are including more and more families who weren't able to get preschool spots at their neighborhood schools. The graphic below shows which schools have the most in-boundary families on their preschool waitlists. The larger and darker the circle, the longer the waitlist.
Preschool waitlists for in-boundary families aren't a new phenomenon. In fact, 14 schools have waitlisted in-boundary preschool applicants during each of the past three years. But this year, as the table below shows, 11 more DCPS schools joined their ranks.
Have you been waitlisted for your neighborhood DCPS preschool program? Let us know in the comments.
Cross-posted at DC Eduphile.
The City of Alexandria might not follow through on plans to add 16 new Capital Bikeshare stations throughout the city this year. But if it does, city staff have identified the general areas the new stations are likely to go.
City staff presented the expansion information at the Alexandria's transportation commission's December. (The overlay map above reflects a slightly updated set of locations I received after reaching out to the city this week.)
The locations are based on the city's public crowdsourcing maps, connectivity to transit, proximity to mixed-use activity centers, and whether the location was within .25 mile of an existing station.
Technical considerations like direct sunlight to power the stations, adequate space, flat ground, and utility clearances will be important in choosing the exact site for each station.
The new stations would be primarily to the east, in Old Town, Del Ray, Potomac Yard, and surrounding areas. But three new stations would add to the cluster in Fairlington, and Eisenhower East will recieve a new station as well. Though there's definitely a demand for stations in West End, activity centers, density, and a lack of nearby stations could make it harder for stations in those areas to be successful.
What else do you notice about the locations?
Photo by Timothy Valentine on Flickr.Gaining momentum: With election day a week away, the race to fill Ward 8's DC Council seat heats up. Here are the 11 candidates are vying for the spot formerly held by Mayor Barry. (City Paper)
Bike on: Arlington County will maintain funding for bike projects. The County Manager had proposed cutting funding for cycling and pedestrian programs, but the Council Board adopted a measure on Tuesday to keep the programs fully funded. (WABA)
Congressional meddling: A House Committee voted to overturn a DC law for the first time in 23 years, but it still needs House, Senate, and Presidential approval. The law protects women from workplace discrimination based on their reproductive decisions. (Post)
Slowing down: Revenue from DC speed cameras dropped 55% from last year. But it's not clear if people are actually speeding less or just slowing down around the known camera locations. (Post)
Around the corner: 93% of new office developments are within a half-mile walk of a Metro station. Metro anticipates that these developments will play a role in increased ridership in upcoming years. (PlanItMetro)
Curbing homelessness: Arlington County's homeless population is down 18% from last year and a new shelter with 50 permanent beds, originally scheduled to open last fall, will open in June. (ArlNow)
Trailblazing: DDOT wants public feedback about which bike routes could benefit from added signage. DDOT has posted signs for some of the District's longer routes, but is hoping to expand signs to other routes. (D.C. Bicycle Advisory Council)
The many hats of Jim Graham: After four terms as a DC Councilmember, Jim Graham recently retired from politics. But now he's embarked on a new career as a promoter and recruiter for a District strip club. (Post)
Sustainable Seattle: Seattle is an urban planner's dream, but it's quickly becoming unaffordable. At this year's National Planning Conference in Seattle, planners focused on how to move cities forward while maintaining affordability. (CityLab)
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The first Earth Day in 1970 led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts. Forty-five years later, the Clean Water Act is finally being enforced in New Jersey.
On March 12, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued final permits to the 25 cities and utilities that operate combined-sewer systems (CSSs), a first step to updating decrepit infrastructure, minimizing flooding and keeping raw sewage from reaching public waterways. The new permits require affected towns and sewer treatment authorities to create and adopt plans to address the problems triggered by what are known as combined sewer overflows (CSOs). These overflows occur when a system that handles both stormwater and sewage is overwhelmed by rain or snowmelt, causing untreated sewage to be discharged into local waterways, and sometimes into streets and basements.
Through the Urban Water Solutions Initiative, a number of thought leaders and decision makers throughout the state are working to facilitate best-practice solutions for New Jersey’s aging water infrastructure and combined sewer overflows that spur city revitalization. The group’s programmatic objectives and recommendations for state and federal action and are outlined in its 2015 Objectives.
This year, on Earth Day – a day usually dedicated to concern for the natural environment – the Urban Water Solutions Initiative took to social media to raise awareness of the impact our antiquated infrastructure has on our cities as well as our waterways. Using the hashtags #UnderTheEarthDay and #NJWater, people and organizations shared photos and tidbits about New Jersey’s urban water infrastructure issues, as well as solutions such as green infrastructure, green roofs and more!
See below for the posts and photos. Continue the conversation with us by posting to Twitter or Instagram using #NJwater!
In recent years, a number of people riding bikes on the Metropolitan Branch Trail have been robbed or assaulted. But the trail is still a generally safe and, compared to city streets, comfortably pleasant place to ride.
Recently, a neighbor of mine was riding on the MBT when they saw some young people in ski masks. This understandably prompted fear that they were about to get mugged, so they turned around and got off the trail as quickly as possible, warning other cyclists about the potential danger ahead. My neighbor later emailed our list serve vowing never to ride the trail alone again. Others replied with claims that the MBT is "not safe and never will be."
I use the MBT at least five days a week, during both morning and evening rush hours. I use it on the sunny days when the MBT is full of people and I use it on the cold, rainy days when I often only see one or two other people on the trail. I also use it at night if I am coming home from a friend's house or bar.
Sometimes I'm lucky enough to ride with one or two other people, but I usually ride alone.
I don't want to downplay someone's fear or dismiss their feelings. But I do want to counter the idea that a robbery (or even a handful of robberies) means that the MBT is unsafe.
To me, city streets feel far more dangerous than the MBT
I feel unsafe while riding on Michigan Avenue during rush hour, especially with the potholes that sometimes mean I have to swerve at the last second not to hit a six-inch bump. I'm afraid that I will get hit by a busy driver who is texting or talking on their phone as they come around the turn near South Dakota Avenue.
I feel unsafe crossing the Franklin Avenue bridge, where drivers seem convinced that they fit in the lane with me. They probably don't know that the right half of the lane is filled with broken glass and grates that could easily catch a bike tire. I feel afraid that I will get side-swiped by someone who sees me too late and instead of slowing down, decides to change lanes and doesn't make it all the way over before hitting me.
The end of my commute means getting off the trail and riding on Florida Avenue for one block before I turn onto P Street NE. That block is the scariest part of my commute. I have to take one hand off my handlebars to signal my intention to turn left, which means I have half as much control over my bike. I hear cars whizzing up behind me, and I pray that the car coming up behind me is in the right lane rather than mine.
I see the MBT as a safe haven
To me, the MBT is a sanctuary. For 15 minutes, I can stop being afraid of a car hitting me. When it's snowy or a little bit icy, I can ride my bike anyway because if I wipe out, I'll get scraped up but I won't get run over by a car passing me by at 30 mph.
This is what I tell my friends who are afraid to ride on the MBT: I feel a much more real and present danger of getting hit by a car when I ride on the streets than I do of getting mugged by some punk kid on the trail.
According to Lauren Cardoni, an associate at Nelson\Nygaard, 37 reported crimes happened within 100 feet of the trail in 2014; in 2013 there were 26. The stretch of Rhode Island Avenue between 7th Street NW and 2nd NE, by comparison, had 301 reported crimes in 2014 and 244 in 2013.
While Cardoni noted that the crime locations in this data aren't completely precise, just looking at them as approximations gives some valuable perspective.
Yes, I keep my eyes open when I'm riding the MBT. Yes, I am ready to turn around if I see a group of kids split up on either side of the trail. I am aware of the dangers, I am on the lookout, and I am ready to call the police if I feel unsafe.
But to me, getting hit by a car is a lot scarier than getting mugged.
The NoMa Business Improvement District is currently running a survey on MBT safety, and they're hosting a workshop on the trail tomorrow, from 5-8 pm. Note that the workshop was previously scheduled for today, but it's been moved because of a forecasted thunderstorm.
Earth Day always represents a special time for Americans to come together and to celebrate the beauty of our rivers, parks and other natural resources that enrich our lives and enhance our communities. And it’s also a moment for all of us to recommit ourselves to fulfilling a sacred responsibility: preserving our planet for future generations.
HUD is committed to doing our part by helping build strong and sustainable communities that provide opportunity for all. This means working with local leaders to address climate change, to build a more resilient future, and to bolster the clean energy economy to generate cost savings and job opportunities for American families.
We’re doing this in a number of ways. For example, we’re enhancing the energy efficiency of multifamily buildings. About a quarter of U.S. households live in multifamily housing units, and nearly 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S come from energy use in these buildings. Improving their energy efficiency by 20 percent would save nearly $7 billion in energy costs each year and cut 350 million tons of carbon pollution in a decade.
That’s why HUD joined the Better Buildings Challenge, which is a voluntary leadership initiative that asks building owners, developers, and managers to reduce the energy used across their building portfolios by 20 percent or more by 2020. In a short period, we’ve already achieved remarkable results. Since 2013, 87 Multifamily Partners have joined the Challenge, representing nearly 400 million square feet of affordable housing and over 390,000 households.
To complement this work, HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development is helping grantees incorporate renewable energy into their affordable housing development and community development programs. This work is already making a difference on the ground.
For instance, the City of Los Angeles utilized HOME funds to build the LEED Platinum New Genesis Apartments, a six-story new construction project which will provide 106 affordable apartment units in Downtown. Most of these units have Section 8 Project-Based Voucher subsidies, and are reserved for chronically homeless, homeless, and low-income individuals with special needs, giving them all a chance to enhance both their health outcomes and expand their opportunities.
HUD has also been supportive of innovative approaches that begin with our state and local partners. Just two weeks ago, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and I announced the launch of the largest energy savings program for any public housing authority in the nation. This effort will be done through an Energy Performance Contract, which is estimated to generate at least $100 million in energy efficiency upgrades across nearly 300 New York City Housing Authority developments. These efforts will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and generate tens of millions of dollars in cost savings, as well as create good paying jobs.
I am also proud of our efforts to help facilitate and expand the financing for energy efficiency and solar energy in multifamily housing. Earlier this year, California Governor Jerry Brown, the MacArthur Foundation and I announced the launch of a Property-Assessed Clean Energy Financing pilot program for multifamily housing in California. It allows multifamily building owners and developers to gain access to capital to accelerate renewable energy and efficiency retrofits for energy and water. This will make existing multifamily housing more affordable to renters with low incomes and save money for consumers and taxpayers.
With all of this work, HUD is firmly focused on achieving results that will benefit people, the planet and save taxpayer money. We’re proud to work with a wide variety of partners to be good stewards, to meet the challenges of our time, and to help protect the environment. And we look forward to building on this progress by creating a healthy and sustainable future where opportunity is within reach of all Americans.
Happy Earth Day.