The FBI and the General Services Administration (GSA) are searching for a site to house a new consolidated FBI headquarters. Though no sites in DC remain in consideration, there are a few who wonder why they don't just reuse the existing Hoover Building site on Pennsylvania Avenue.
One of the strong preferences in the GSA's site location criteria is for a 350 foot "security buffer zone" surrounding the new headquarters building. Though this is apparently not an outright requirement, the GSA and FBI have said that they strongly prefer sites that can offer such a buffer.
The image above shows what such a 350 foot buffer zone would look like around the existing Hoover Building footprint.
As you can see, this would seriously impact buildings on almost every block adjacent to the Hoover Building. It would affect the IRS headquarters, the Justice Department, and especially the historic Ford's Theater. It would also have a minor impact on the Navy Memorial.
From a transportation perspective, it would block E Street, 9th Street, and Pennsylvania Avenue, all major streets in the DC core.
A version of this post originally appeared in Just Down the Bay.
On Monday, we posted our sixteenth photo challenge to see how well you know Metro. I took photos of the five new Silver Line stations. Here are the answers. How well did you do?
We got 46 guesses on this post, and a whopping 43 of you got all five correct. Great work, everyone!
The first image is, of course, a view of the Wiehle station from the mezzanine above the tracks. While it has the same superstructure as Tysons Corner and Greensboro stations, this one is unique for being located in the median of the Dulles Toll Road.
The second image shows Tysons Corner station. While it has the same roof design as Greensboro and Wiehle, Tysons is distinctive because it's the only one of those stations that has anything below the platform.
From this view, the station itself could be either McLean or Spring Hill, since those stations are nearly identical. But the context, including the new residential tower to the left, narrows it down to Spring Hill station.
Image 4 is a picture from the platform at Greensboro. There's not much context in this photo. But since the 3 other Tysons stations are high above the streets, and Wiehle Avenue is in the middle of a freeway, this can only be Greensboro. The entrance structure and the pattern on the wall make it clear that it is one of the Silver Line stations.
The final image was intended to be a little trickier, but it didn't fool you. There's also not much context in this photo, but the windscreen around the exitfare machine makes it clear this is a Silver Line station. And there's a reflection in the screen of a baseball field, which neighbors McLean station.
Congratulations to the winners!
Next Monday, we'll have five more photos for you to identify. Thanks for playing!
Where today the parks around the Eastern Market Metro are mostly tired expanses of grass with a few trees, the parks soon could contain an expanded library, formal playground, cafe-style tree bosque and several stormwater management features. The roads and sidewalks around the square could also get a better layout.
The $45 million redesign has gone through years of planning and outreach. The project originally started as a Congressional earmark to Barracks Row Main Street, which funded the Capitol Hill Town Square study in 2008 that considered ways to redesign the intersection, including possibly rerouting Pennsylvania Avenue around a square similar to Stanton or Lincoln parks.
Any changes to Pennsylvania Avenue ran into fierce opposition from immediate neighbors. But the project team continued studying ways to redesign the parks and started a new round of public engagement in 2013, this time assuming Pennsylvania stayed where it is.
The most dramatic change would be on the southwest parcel with the Metro entrance. A new pavilion would lead to a massive below-ground expansion of the Southeast Library, across the street from the square. A long courtyard and a water feature would connect this pavilion with the Metro.
The parcel would also get a shaded tree bosque (an urban grove of shade trees similar to the one at New York's Lincoln Center) with a crushed gravel surface, movable furniture, and an open space along the "desire line" path where people most often walk between the Metro station and Barracks Row.
A straight pedestrian path along the South Carolina Avenue axis would divide the northeast section, the largest parcel. A fenced-in children's play area and an open lawn would flank it on the each side. The play areas include a landscape with "Anacostia Hills," a "Floodplain," a "Valley," and a "Ridge," and on that landscape, children will find a tree house, water pump, a pair of jungle gyms and a swing set.
The wide median of Pennsylvania Avenue would become a pair of bioswales surrounded by wrought iron fencing. The bioswales will absorb up to 70% of the stormwater runoff from the inside portion of Pennsylvania Avenue during most storms. Meanwhile, the fences prevent pedestrians from crossing in the middle of the block.
The smaller triangular parcels on the southeast and northwest sides would become green space with stormwater management gardens and trees surrounded by an outward facing bench. The southeast parcel would be further expanded by closing D Street in front of the Dunkin' Donuts and adding the land to the park.
Around the square, the plan would make changes to street directions and sidewalks to provide better flow and greater pedestrian safety. The segments of D Street along the northeast and southwest edges would reverse to carry traffic away from 8th Street instead of toward it. 8th Street would get a new left turn lane for those turning west onto D Street south of Pennsylvania.
To aid pedestrians, many intersections would get curb bump outs and pedestrian islands. The northbound bus stop on 8th would move south of Pennsylvania, while southbound buses would stop just across the street from that spot, closer to the Metro station.
Building the parks and plazas will cost an estimated $13,500,000, while the expanded and renovated library would cost $22,800,000. With DC management fees, a maintenance endowment and other costs, the project team estimates the whole project would need a budget of a little over $45,000,000.
The team is still accepting comments and will issue a final report in September. Barracks Row Main Street has some money to help pay for development, but from the (somewhat vague) statements from the project team, it appears they would be looking for city funding to help make the project a reality.
Photo by HettieLP on Flickr.Down to three for the FBI: The GSA narrowed the list of potential FBI sites to three: Greenbelt Metro, the Landover Mall, and Springfield, though Greenbelt still seems most likely. None are in DC; Mayor Gray called that news "kind of a win-win." (WBJ, DCist)
Gun ruling stayed: DC's ban on carrying handguns in public will remain for 90 days, after the District filed to stay a judge's ruling that the ban is unconstitutional. Tommy Wells' office created signs for businesses that don't want guns on their property. (City Paper, Post)
White Oak plan approved: The Montgomery County Council approved the plan for White Oak that clears the way for the "LifeSci Village" town center. The plan also calls for funding BRT on Route 29. (Post)
Silver Line anticipation: While the Silver Line is years away, Loudoun County got a new bus depot near where the Route 606 station will go. A video shows that the Silver Line's opening did not impact rush hour traffic on Monday. (BeyondDC, Post)
Projects that didn't make it: The Silver Line opened after decades of planning, but many other ideas never became reality, like a helicopter from Union Station to Dulles and BWI or a Ponte Vecchio-like bridge on the Southwest Waterfront. (Post)
Ducking debate: Muriel Bowser will not participate in debates until Sept. 18 when she will take part in an American University forum. Ward 4 ANC Commissioner Doug Sloan tried without success to reschedule a debate featuring Bowser. (City Paper)
Benches for Ballston: New benches are coming to Ballston, after the property manager modified planters near the Metro to prevent people from sitting on them. The company said people waiting for the bus were damaging plants. (ArlNow)
And...: Houston will use utility line corridors to create "bicycle interstates." (Streetsblog) ... When brownfield sites are cleaned up, housing values can rise dramatically. (CityLab) ... Michael Brown and Harry Thomas Jr. will end up in the same prison. (City Paper)
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Several years ago, as the Silver line was being planned, there was a debate about whether to build the line underground through Tysons Corner. Eventually, the elevated option was selected, but there's still a tunnel. Reader Dennis McGarry wants to know why.
The tunnel portal. Photo by Dan Malouff.Why is there a short tunnel on the Silver Line with no underground stops? Why not just build the entire track above ground? It seems like such a huge undertaking with little payback.There are two short tunnels in Tysons (one for each track). They run about 1700 feet between Tysons Corner station and Greensboro station. The reason they exist is to cut through the highest point in Fairfax County, at 520 feet above sea level.
The tracks through Tysons are already high above the streets, and the climb between McLean and Tysons Corner is noticeable, especially from the front of a westbound train. Because trains are limited in the grade they can ascend, crossing this hill with an elevated viaduct would make the stations at Tysons Corner and McLean obscenely high.
In addition to the engineering and aesthetic challenges that a super-high viaduct would have caused, trying to keep the line elevated would have probably been much more expensive. So it was probably cheaper for the contractor to build these short tunnels than it would have been to keep the line elevated over the hill.
As a result, riders at McLean get a soaring view of the Tysons skyline (and in fact, you can see Bethesda, too), but a few minutes later, they find themselves riding underground, ever so briefly.
Tysons now has four Metro stations, but workers trying to get from those stations to nearby offices often have no choice but to cross wide, high-speed roads without any crosswalks.
I saw several Tysons Corner workers walking across streets with up to 9 lanes of traffic in order to take the Silver Line this morning, due to the continued lack of crosswalks in Tysons. It's a matter of time before a Silver Line rider is struck by a car in Tysons Corner.
At the Tysons Corner station, the entrance north of Route 123 (the side with most of the offices) is on the west side of Tysons Blvd between 123 and Galleria Drive. There's no legal way to walk east on Galleria Drive, because there are no crosswalks on the south or east side of the intersection of Tysons Blvd and Galleria Drive.
Many Silver Line riders therefore walked across nine lanes of traffic on Tysons Boulevard.
My company's office is at 7900 Westpark Drive along with dozens of other tech companies. The main topic of conversation around the office this morning was the safest places to jaywalk to get to the Silver Line.
I've endured the lack of crosswalks in Tysons Corner for years as a pedestrian, but assumed that Fairfax County would add crosswalks before the Silver Line began operation. The county needs to create safe pedestrian pathways immediately, rather than waiting until someone gets hurt or killed.
Cover It Up: Decking over Madison’s John Nolen Drive would benefit the city but faces complex challenges
Madison’s downtown has seen a boom in residential and mixed-use development, and the city’s 2012 Downtown Plan aims to guide and balance density, vibrant and walkable streets and public spaces, and historic preservation. A number of persistent challenges remain, however, particularly the downtown’s thin connection to Lake Monona, transportation hotspots, and a need for more public parks.
DCPS and charters are sparring over joint planning, but the real question is how to preserve neighborhood schools
Photo of student biking to school from Shutterstock.DCPS wants the charter sector to engage in joint planning that would limit the number and location of charter schools. Charter advocates oppose the idea. Ultimately, the disagreement is not about planning, but about what kind of school system the District should have.
Where Colesville Road (US-29) passes through the Montgomery County neighborhood of Four Corners, it's a six-lane divided highway, but residents need to be able to cross the street on foot to access homes and businesses. Unfortunately, that can be very dangerous, as Greater Greater Washington contributor Joe Fox found out recently.
The crosswalk. All photos by the author.
Fox was crossing the road with his four-year-old daughter. Fox had just picked her up from daycare after a severe thunderstorm knocked out power. With a light rain falling, they approached this crosswalk, which has no traffic signal, to get to the bus stop on the other side of the road.
After waiting for several minutes and seeing no gap in traffic, Joe waved a book in the air to try to catch the attention of passing drivers. As one slowed to a stop, Joe stepped gingerly into the crosswalk, carrying his daughter tightly.
Fox wrote,A large SUV (a Yukon or Suburban) in the left lane had stopped, and a small SUV following it rear-ended it with enough force that it folded its hood, and pushed the larger SUV more than 50 feet straight ahead."
If I had been crossing either the middle or left lane (I would have, at a normal walking pace after the right lane car stopped, but I waited, seeing what might happen), one or both of us would have sustained very serious injuries.
Because I had my daughter still holding on, I could not cross (again) back to the northbound lanes to see if she (the driver) was okay. I did not see her emerge from her car for the several minutes I was there. All I could do was call the MCPD and ask them to help.This crosswalk gets frequent pedestrian traffic, as it is the only convenient way to walk between the neighborhoods of Indian Spring and North Hills of Sligo. To reach the closest signalized crossing, someone would have to walk a half mile out of the way.
The bus stop which Fox was trying to reach is served by six heavily-used bus routes which travel to and from the Silver Spring Metro. The crosswalk also connects residents with community facilities and parks such as the Silver Spring YMCA, Indian Spring Recreation Center, and the popular Sligo Creek Park.
The crosswalk is a few hundred yards south of the Beltway interchange, along a stretch of Colesville Road with 40 mph speed limits. Here is a video of one attempt to cross. Note how drivers in some lanes do not stop even once I am in the roadway.
Making it even more dangerous, the road crests a hill just south of the crosswalk. That means a driver headed north coming over the hill may not see a pedestrian with enough time to stop.
A HAWK signal would make this intersection safer
This would be a good location for a HAWK signal, which stops traffic when a pedestrian asks to cross. This can let pedestrians cross safely without affecting drivers as a regular signal would.
There are pedestrian-activated signals on nearby University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue, so there is ample precedent for one on a six-lane highway like Colesville Road.
Those signals are less-efficient "firehouse style" signals. The below video shows one in operation. Notice how a car runs the red light 10 seconds after it turns red, and just before a grandmother and her grandchildren cross the road.
If officials agree to use a HAWK signal here, as activists are requesting, this would be the first on a Maryland state-maintained road.*
Thanks to the efforts of Joe Fox and elected officials he reached out to, this dangerous crosswalk on Colesville Road may get fixed before anyone else is injured. According to local activist Jeffrey Thames, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA), which controls this road, is currently studying the idea of a pedestrian-activated signal at this location, and expects to propose a solution within 90 days.
* The original version of this post said that a HAWK would be the first in the state. There is a HAWK on Gude Drive in Rockville, for example, but this is a county road. The State Highway Administration (SHA) has not installed any HAWK signals to date.
not degrade, water resources.
New Jersey Future has released a new report highlighting the ways that water resources in the Pinelands have been affected by development; the pressures we can expect going forward; and what can be done by municipal, regional and state agencies to minimize their negative impacts.
Evidence shows that for more than three decades, the New Jersey Pinelands Commission has been tremendously successful at preserving land and steering development to designated growth areas. “But ensuring clean, plentiful water for future generations requires much more,” said Pete Kasabach, New Jersey Future’s executive director. “Since pollution comes from human activity, we must shape future growth to be “water-wise”– recharging groundwater, managing stormwater runoff, using native plantings and employing water conservation techniques.”
Among the report’s major findings:
- The study areas exhibit significant environmental impacts from development, but they vary by location. For example, in Medford and Evesham townships, every subwatershed is in violation of state standards for pH, due to widespread sprawl development. Little Egg Harbor and Tuckerton face the recent closure to shellfishing of 23.5 acres of Tuckerton Creek due to the presence of fecal coliform.
- New research methods provide an early warning signal for when the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer is being overdrawn, projecting when nearby wetlands will begin to dry up. These methods show that water availability is a major concern for aquatic ecosystems in Hammonton in particular, which also faces drinking-water limits that will impede future growth unless water conservation is extremely successful.
The report is being released in two parts. The first part, Effects of Land Development on Water Resources of the Pinelands Region, provides a comprehensive survey of water indicators in three diverse growth areas of the New Jersey Pinelands, examining water quantity, water quality, watershed integrity and the state of wastewater, stormwater and public drinking water supply systems. The analysis was prepared by a team led by Daniel Van Abs Ph.D., associate research professor in Rutgers’ School of Environmental & Biological Sciences and current chairman of the New Jersey Clean Water Council. The second part of the report, Growing Smart and Water Wise: Protecting Water Resources in the Growth Areas of the New Jersey Pinelands, summarizes the major findings in the Van Abs report and recommends specific actions that Pinelands municipalities, the Pinelands Commission and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection should take to protect and improve the region’s water resources. In addition to a host of best practices for municipalities, the report recommends updates to NJDEP and Pinelands Commission policies, including the following:
- Stronger protections against withdrawals that would deplete the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer
- An aggressive investigation of water supply alternatives to the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer
- Providing better planning and management tools, by updating the NJ Water Supply Plan and authorizing local adoption of stormwater utilities.
The report was funded by a grant from the William Penn Foundation, and is available as follows:
- Effects of Land Development on Water Resources of the Pinelands Region
- Growing Smart and Water Wise: Protecting Water Resources in the
Growth Areas of the New Jersey Pinelands
What Experts Say
“Water resources in these three areas of the Pinelands show significant environmental impacts from development, much of it from prior to the Pinelands Act or outside of the Pinelands area. Moving forward, recent research can be used to protect Pinelands ecosystems more effectively from excessive water withdrawals, so that the Pinelands environment can be sustainable despite future development.”
– Daniel Van Abs Ph.D., associate research professor in Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences; current chairman of the New Jersey Clean Water Council
“New Jersey residents count on the Pinelands Commission and NJDEP to keep Pinelands waters healthy. We look forward to working with those organizations to update their rules and programs.”
– Chris Sturm, New Jersey Future senior director of state policy
“We hope that municipalities take advantage of the report’s many practical suggestions and resources. Hammonton’s water conservation efforts, Medford Lakes’ stormwater management programs, and the inter-municipal collaboration taking place in Little Egg Harbor and Tuckerton offer great examples of the on-the-ground successes already happening.”
– Nick Dickerson, New Jersey Future policy and planning analyst
“An abundant supply of clean water and the infrastructure to get it where it is needed are the building blocks to any successful community. I’m proud that we have used the challenges we faced with water resources here in Hammonton as an opportunity to innovate in order to ensure our future prosperity. I hope that other towns can benefit from our experience.”
– Steve DiDonato, mayor, Town of Hammonton
“The Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan has been instrumental in protecting a priceless natural asset. But protecting the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer cannot just be measured by the number of acres of land preserved. It must also take into account the effects that our patterns of development are having. This report is a clear-eyed look at those effects in three important growth areas of the Pinelands.”
– Carleton Montgomery, executive director, Pinelands Preservation Alliance
Photo by BeyondDC on Flickr.The Silver Line's weekday debut: Over 24,000 passenger trips began or ended at the five new Silver Line stations on Monday and Wiehle-Reston East was the 12th busiest morning-commute station in the system. But it appears that many of those riders used to ride the Orange Line, with ridership at West Falls Church down 66%. (City Paper, Post)
Plenty of (car) parking: Fears that the Silver Line would cause a parking nightmare appear to be overblown, at least for now. Parking lots at stations didn't fill up, but bike racks did. Many people found bicycle routes to the stations, though Fairfax can do a lot more to make the area better for cycling. (Post, FABB)
Bus change woes: The Fairfax Connector changed nearly 40% of its service on Saturday. 16 new routes were added and others changed to accommodate new Silver Line connections. But many commuters struggled to adapt to the new routes. (Post)
McMillan will get tweaks, not more: The DC Zoning Commission still has a few concerns about the McMillan project, like height of one building and the amount of transit, but won't substantially cut back development as opponents wish. (WBJ)
St. Elizabeths needs direction: Five companies have expressed interest in developing St. Elizabeths East Campus, but it's not the expected, big development firms. Did mixed messages from the city hinder interest in the site? (City Paper)
New bill could help cyclists: A new bill from David Grosso would eliminate contributory negligence for automobile-bicycle crashes, meaning a cyclist could still collect damages even if he or she were a small amount at fault in a crash. (DCist)
Why so few black cyclists?: African-Americans are less likely to bike commute than other groups. This could be because of fears about driver hostility and a view of cycling as a sign of poverty. (Streetsblog)
Breakthrough for bikeshare: New York's REQX Ventures may acquire Alta Bicycle Share and expand Citibike (and raise membership prices). It could also break the logjam blocking expansion in Washington and elsewhere. (WSJ, Streetsblog)
Friendlier fed streets?: The Federal Highway Administration now supports an urban street design that features bike lanes, bus lanes, and narrower travel lanes. Could federal approval of these designs mean more city-friendly streets? (Streetsblog)
And...: Federal hiring is at its lowest level in ten years. (WBJ) ... DC's first food boat started serving boaters and kayakers this weekend. (PoPville) ... For now, the Silver Line makes a trip to Dulles Airport only a little more convenient. (UrbanTurf)
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Regular riders of Capital Bikeshare have cut down on their use of rail and bus transit, a new study shows. This is particularly strong for those in neighborhoods a short bike ride from downtown DC.
In these maps, each circle represents one zip code in which researchers Elliot Martin and Susan Shaheen surveyed CaBi users. The number shows how many responses they got in that zip code. Red is the percentage of those people who used that mode of transit less (rail for the map above, bus below). Green is for those who used it more, while yellow is those who didn't change.
It's not only transit which riders are using less. CaBi users also have cut down on car trips and probably even replaced some walk trips with bikeshare.
This isn't necessarily bad for transit. The places where this effect are strongest also happen to be the places where transit is most congested. On the busy Metro lines at rush hour, the trains are full into downtown DC; it's just as well if fewer people are hopping onto an already-packed train at, say, Foggy Bottom.
And many of the people who ride Bikeshare still use transit some of the time. They might still ride it in bad weather, but at other times avoid it at its most congested, or at times of poor service, like the very long waits on weekends during track work.
One potential danger, though, is that if there is lower demand for service on weekends (thanks to a bicycle alternative), that could make it less likely local jurisdictions want to pay for more frequent transit service at off times, even though not everyone can substitute a bikeshare trip for a transit trip.
Meanwhile, in Minneapolis (which has much less rail transit), the study found that many people increased their usage of rail, perhaps because the bikeshare system helps them access transit much more easily.
Eric Jaffe writes in Citylab,Overall, the maps suggest that bike-share, at least in Minneapolis and Washington, is making the entire multimodal transit network more efficient. For short trips in dense settings, bike-share just makes more sense than waiting for the subway—it's "substitutive of public transit," in the words of Martin and Shaheen. For longer trips from the outskirts, bike-share access might act as a nudge out of a car—it's "complementary to public transit."
Honestly, once I started bicycling (first with Capital Bikeshare, and then more and more with my own bike) I personally cut down significantly on using transit. But I live in a downtown-adjacent area where it's a fast bike ride to many destinations; for others, that's not the case, and transit is best for their trips. I also still ride transit some of the time.
Some people in the survey also increased their use of transit. The more transportation options people have, the more they can choose the one that best matches their needs. The road network is already quite comprehensive (though often crowded). We need to offer everyone high-quality transit and bicycling as alternatives so that they can use each when it's the best choice at that time.
It's time for the sixteenth installment of our weekly "whichWMATA" series! Below are photos of 5 stations in the Washington Metro system. Can you identify each from its picture?
Don't be discouraged if you find it a little hard at first. Reflect on your answers, and I'm sure you'll hit a home run.
We'll hide the comments so the early birds don't spoil the fun for the rest of you.
The answers will appear on Wednesday. Good luck!
The DC area has long faced an east-west divide, with more of the wealth going to the west side. Increasingly, investment is also heading to urban areas over suburban ones. For struggling suburban areas on the east side, the only answer is to take on more urban features.
All photos by the author unless noted.
One of those places is White Oak in eastern Montgomery County, where the County Council will vote tomorrow on a plan to create a new town center. Local residents are eager to have more jobs and amenities close to home, but civic and environmental groups want to limit the amount of density in White Oak because it's several miles from a Metro station and roads are already congested.
But the kind of compact, dense development proposed for White Oak could allow residents to access jobs, shops, or other amenities by walking, biking, or simply driving a shorter distance than they would otherwise. It would generate less traffic than the alternative: more of the sprawling, car-oriented development that's currently allowed in White Oak, plus additional sprawl farther out.
Residents say it's East County's turn
East County has experienced little of the prosperity that more affluent parts of Montgomery County take for granted. One reason is the county's traffic tests, which prohibit development when roads reach a certain level of congestion until more roads are built. This standard led to a 20-year development moratorium in East County that ended in 2004.
Development simply moved to the western, more affluent side of Montgomery County or farther out to Howard County while East County roads remained congested. Today, White Oak consists largely of aging strip malls, office parks, and industrial brownfields surrounding the Food and Drug Administration's new headquarters near New Hampshire Avenue and Route 29, which will eventually hold 9,000 workers.
The White Oak Science Gateway plan, which councilmembers will vote on tomorrow, would allow them to transform into urban, mixed-use neighborhoods with up to 8,500 new homes and 40,000 new jobs. Much of this development would occur at LifeSci Village, a concrete recycling plant that the county and developer Percontee want to turn into a research and technology center.
Local residents say it's their turn, speaking out in favor of the plan at two public hearings. At a public forum last fall, community members called the White Oak plan their highest priority for economic development.
Traffic tests won't solve traffic
But the Science Gateway plan would still fail the traffic tests. County Executive Ike Leggett and some councilmembers have recommended excluding Route 29 from traffic counts, arguing that it's a regional highway that would be congested no matter what.
As a result, some civic associations and environmental groups around the county have criticized the plan, arguing that urban development shouldn't be allowed away from a Metro station. They say Montgomery County should follow its own rules and stick to the traffic tests.
But the traffic tests can't really fix congestion if their required solution is always to build more roads, which is proven to cause more traffic. And East County residents know that they haven't solved congestion, since they have to travel longer distances for work, shopping, or other things they can't find closer to home.
That's not to say that White Oak doesn't need better transportation. Councilmember George Leventhal has asked Leggett to put together a financing plan for Bus Rapid Transit within two years, so the county can figure out how to fund and build it as development moves forward.
East County's future depends on having a town center
More development doesn't have to mean more driving. Montgomery County added 100,000 residents over the past decade, but the rate of driving actually stayed the same. That's because as the county grows around Metro stations, more people can get around without a car. But even in town centers away from Metro, like what's proposed at White Oak, people would have more transportation options than they do otherwise, whether that means walking, biking, taking the bus, or even driving a shorter distance.
We know that people increasingly want to live in compact, walkable neighborhoods. We've seen businesses gravitate to more urban locations in the region, like Choice Hotels, which moved from an office park near White Oak to Rockville Town Center.
For decades, there's been a growing divide between the east and west sides of Montgomery County. East County increasingly lags the rest of the county when it comes to new town centers like White Flint, Crown in Gaithersburg, and even Germantown. If we're going to close the east-west gap in Montgomery County, White Oak can't stay a land of office parks forever.
Metro's new Silver Line is officially open and carrying passengers. Enjoy this photo tour of the new line and opening day festivities.
Metro's star-studded ribbon-cutting ceremony featured US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, and seemingly every other dignitary in Northern Virginia.
Once the gates at Wiehle station opened, riders rushed in to catch the first train. Cheers erupted as the "doors closing" chime sounded for the first time, and the train sped forward.
The first train took off from Wiehle-Reston East station shortly after noon, and moved east through Tysons on its way to Largo. GGW's troop of partiers exited at East Falls Church to double back and tour each of the five new Silver Line stations individually.
The ride between East Falls Church and McLean station offers a champion view of the Tysons skyline, and McLean station itself.
Metro's tracks swoop gracefully into McLean station.
The station is elevated over Capital One Drive, and features an angular starburst-shaped platform canopy. The mezzanine is one level below the tracks. The sidewalk is one level below that.
Construction transforms the landscape outside the station, except a lone ball field.
Looking west, the growing skyline around the Tysons Corner station looms.
Tysons Corner station
Tysons Corner station is situated between Tysons' two gargantuan shopping malls and its tallest buildings (so far). The platform canopy is a futuristic gambrel-like shape.
Tysons Corner station uses the gambrel roof instead of the starburst because the mezzanine is above the tracks, rather than below. That same pattern repeats at other stations along the line. Mezzanine below tracks gets a starburst, while mezzanine above gets a gambrel.
The mezzanine commands an impressive east-facing view.
On the north side, Tysons Boulevard runs perpendicularly under the station. It's so similar to how Colesville Road runs under Silver Spring that it's easy to imagine Tysons Corner one day being just as urban.
On the south side, Chain Bridge Road is a highway that most people will use a bridge to cross.
At sidewalk level below the station, it's reminiscent of Silver Spring.
The south facade includes a prominent public art piece.
Just past Tysons Corner station the Silver Line enters a brief subway tunnel, to pass under the crest of a hill.
The next station west is Greensboro, which also uses the gambrel-like roof.
High walls block out noise from car traffic on Leesburg Pike, to either side of the station.
Like all new Silver Line stations, Greensboro sports updated WMATA branding: More colorful signage and silver fixtures, rather than Metro's original 1970s-era brown.
Looking west, there's a great view of Leesburg Pike and the next station, Spring Hill.
Spring Hill station
Spring Hill uses the starburst roof, like McLean.
Spring Hill is the final station in Tysons. From there, it's a five-mile ride through the Fairfax County suburbs to Wiehle-Reston East.
Wiehle-Reston East station
The terminal station feels like a nicer-looking twin of Vienna, set in the median of the Dulles Access Road instead of I-66.
The gambrel-style roof looks great here.
One key difference from Vienna is that Wiehle's commodious mezzanine includes publicly-accessible restrooms. All five new Silver Line stations have them.
South of the station, a pedestrian bridge crosses the Dulles Toll Road and lands in an unassuming bus depot, with office building parking lots beyond.
North of the station, impressive transit-oriented development is already sprouting.
On the north side, the station entrance is set in a plaza atop the roof of a parking garage. The ground floor of the garage is Wiehle's main bus depot, taxi stand, and bike parking room. To access the garage, go through the glass house.
Beyond Wiehle, the Silver Line will eventually extend to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County, but for now it's just a bit of train parking and construction staging. For a tour of the six stations that will make up Silver Line Phase II, check back in 2018.
Photo by BeyondDC on Flickr."The work of generations": The Silver Line began operation on Saturday, carrying passengers from Reston to Largo. The line will shorten travel for many while enabling transit-oriented development in Northern Virginia. Did you ride it? (Post)
All you need to know: Another guide to the Silver Line details how to get to the new stations and what buses may help Blue Line riders. (WTOP)
What next?: Will the Silver Line finally bring residents to Tysons and catalyze for new jobs? The line could also be a boon to bars and Google Bus-like employee shuttles as car-less visitors and employees arrive in droves. (Post, WAMU, WTOP)
Black homeowners fall behind: Despite stricter enforcement of discrimination laws, African-Americans are more likely to lose their homes. The Great Recession, foreclosure crisis, and predatory lending have reversed gains since the 1970's. (CityLab)
Two legs good, four legs better: In Fort Worth, multi-modalism also includes horses. Riders have the same rights as cyclists, but are also stereotyped as lawless. Could other cities also someday see a return of horseback riding? (WSJ, Dave G)
Catania opposes stadium deal: DC mayoral candidate David Catania spoke against the land swap that underlies the potential DC United stadium as undervaluing city property. With Bowser also skeptical, will the project move forward? (WAMU)
Katrina still stymies transit: It's been nearly a decade since Hurricane Katrina, but transit service has yet to recover. High operating costs and low revenue are helping prevent expansion. (Human Transit)
And...: Follow a New York Citibike over a day, as it carries 17 riders across the city. (The Guardian) ... A photographer asks Washington-area prisoners: "If you could have a window in your cell, what place from your past would it look out to?" (NYT, Sam Feldman) ... Which DC building most symbolizes the city's revitalization? (PoPville)
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