Nats ballpark (yawn)

I have not been paying very much attention to the continuing saga of the Nats ballpark this week, it is getting very old and not much is really happening or will be for sometime. Anyhow, here are a few articles from the past few days:

D.C. Metro Fund Weighed To Boost Navy Yard Stop
Land Sale Possible To Fund Stadium
City official: Lease still weeks away

There may not be a vote until February. Ugh.

Oh yeah, the Nats picked up a pitcher (ESPN.com), Ramon Ortiz too.

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Powell on "This Week" talks Nats

Powell Gives Thoughts On Stadium DealWRC-TV
Former Secretary Of State Colin Powell was on This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. The two talked about a bunch of unimportant things for a while and then the topic of the Nats came up. The transcript follows:

Buying the Nationals?

Stephanopoulos: You mentioned Washington, D.C. You want to be owner of the Washington, D.C., baseball team, the Nationals.

Powell: Well, I’m on a club that is trying to purchase the Washington Nationals from Major League Baseball, yes.

Stephanopoulos: Think you’re going to get it?

Powell: I certainly hope so. The first thing we have to get is the stadium issue resolved. And the city council has now put that off until early next year.

And I hope the city council will find a way to support the stadium deal. That will work itself out one way or the other. And I think, after that, Major League Baseball will announce who they wish to see own the team.

And I’m fairly confident in the group I’m with, led by Fred Malek, a longtime Washington resident. And there are a lot of us on that club who have roots in this community.

And I think we can do, perhaps, a better job than any other group to represent the interests of the community and to make sure that the Washington Nationals reach out to the community, bring baseball back into the inner city, get more young African-American kids and other minority kids interested in baseball.

Stephanopoulos: Frank Robinson talked about that all the time.

Powell: Yes. And we can can do it. I think our club is perhaps better positioned for doing that.

But, George, you’re giving me a golden opportunity to talk about my club and my company, but there are seven other competitors as well. They’re not as good as us, of course.

Stephanopoulos: Well, it sounds like you think you’re going to get it, then.

You can read the whole transcript here from This Week here: Powell on Iraq, Domestic Spying and Baseball

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Nats: while we were out

In D.C. Drama Over Baseball, It’s Hard to Tell Who’s on FirstThe Post
Remember that gigantic sucking sound last week? It was the leadership vacuum in the District and whenever there is a giant sucking sound in D.C. you know that Marion Barry (file photo) is not far behind.

Oh and just a reminder, Carol Schwartz (R, at-large) wanted everyone to know that she had nothing to do with Barry’s plan.


Nats Bring Back Stanton, Look to Add StartersThe Post
Reliever Mike Stanton, who was traded for a couple of BoSox minor leaguers the last week of the season has resigned with the Nationals. That might have been the best trade Jim Bowden made all year.

More from The Wash. Times: Nationals bring back Stanton

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Spanky, Curley asked JoePa to quit last year

Penn State’s Paterno proves his way worksPost-Gazette
A great article about Joe Paterno’s return to glory. We learn that on the day after Penn State’s final 2004 game Graham Spanier, university president, Tim Curley, athletic director, and two others came to his house to ask him to step down; Paterno was not having any of that talk. He convinced them to “get off my backside” by telling them he was 2 or 3 playmakers away from a really good season. He was right — again.

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MLB is being dumb and greedy again

Nats Bidders Told Not to Offer FundsThe Post
After two prospective groups (Ledecky and Haney) tried to assure D.C. that they would pay for cost overruns, MLB e-mailed the prospective groups with instructions to refrain from offering to pitch in.

So, when it comes down to it the District wants Nats owners to take over cost overruns, some prospective owners are willing to agree, and well, fans just want to know that their ball team is going to be around. Can there be any wonder why Bud Selig’s MLB bio comes up in Google when you type “national disgrace?” Back down Bud, the prospective owners know what a good deal it is for them even if they have to spend money for overruns.


Nationals getting a raw dealMSNBC
Some national attention on the Nats plight. My question is where are all of those national columnists who wrote so lovingly of the Nats (Charles Krauthammer, David Brooks, I am looking at you) during the season now? We need you guys smack MLB upside the head in print that the nation reads.

Ballpark impasse affects projectsThe Wash. Times
The delays don’t just bug Nats fans. Without the ballpark, the community benefit fund created under the stadium legislation is in jeopardy. The fund includes up to $125 million for school construction and modernization, $45 million for improving public libraries, $10 million for plans to build a new hospital and $2 million for supplies at McKinley Technology High School in Northeast.

C’mon Selig, think of the children, won’t you please think of the children?!


Hernandez to meet with congressmanThe Wash. Times
¡LIVAN! wants to field a World Baseball Classic team with Cuban defectors and met with Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R) of Florida to discuss plans.

DICK HELLERIf it’s Soriano’s way or nothing, sayonaraThe Wash. Times
Soriano is making Jose Guillen look like a model team player.

Short headed to JapanThe Wash. Times
We already know this is going to happen; The Wash. Times is finally reporting on it.
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Q & A with Steve Anderson of dcroads.net

Long Island native Steve Anderson has been running a site about New York area highways for almost nine years. His thorough research has set the standard among “road geek” sites and made him a media go-to guy when it comes to highways.

In the early part of the century, Anderson expanded extended his reach to Philadelphia and Boston. Now, he is heading south down I-95 with dcroads.net, completing his coverage of highways in the northeastern megalopolis.

dcroads.net is still under construction, but is scheduled to formally debut on New Year’s Day 2006.

Q: What initially motivated you to get started on NYC roads?

A: In September 1996, I began my first web page on Geocities, which you could call an early blog-type site. At this time, I came across David Steinberg’s Interstate highway site (at ihoz.com). I wrote an entry in his guestbook, confessing that I was a bit of a “road geek” (arguably the first documented use of that word). When I saw Scott Oglesby’s site (kurumi.com) on three-digit Interstate highways and Connecticut roads, the writing was on the wall: I had to follow up with my own site.

Although I do not work in the field, I’ve always considered myself an expert in the area of highways, bridges, and tunnels. My interest began at a young age, and I must say I was privileged to have grown up on Long Island, where many of the works of master planner Robert Moses — notably the state parks and the parkways leading to them — were built. When I was ten years old, about a year and a half before he died, I received an 8″x10″ autographed photo from Moses. When he finally passed away in 1981 at the age of 92, I saved every newspaper clipping from the New York Times and Newsday.

I launched my New York-area web site on a free site on June 1, 1997. As both traffic and content grew phenomenally — at one point, I had my content on several different free web sitse — I moved the site to its own unified domain — nycroads.com — in March 1999. Philadelphia (phillyroads.com) was launched in 2000, and Boston (bostonroads.com) followed in 2001.

Q: You are now adding a D.C. area highways site; given the number of sites already dedicated to D.C. area roads, what will make your site notable?

A: What I want to achieve with dcroads.net is providing a seamless research site for highways, bridges, and tunnels from Boston to Washington. I think the emphasis on history — particularly individual histories of unbuilt roads and bridges — has been the strong suit of nycroads.com, phillyroads.com, and bostonroads.com, and I think this will be the case for dcroads.net. Like other metropolitan areas in the Northeast, the DC area has plenty of highways (both built and unbuilt) that have picqued my interest.

Q. How long has dcroads.net been in the works?

A: Active research on dcroads.net began in July 2004. Because of personal obligations, I have not been able to come out with the site sooner. Even at launch time, I will have only a few pages completed, but many more will come during 2006.

Q. What kind of sources do you use for your highway profiles?

A: I use primarily a mix of historical planning reports and old newspaper clippings. Occasionally, engineers and planners who have worked on projects, as well as the journalists who covered them, will submit information and photos to me.

Q. How much time have you spent driving around the D.C. region?

A: I have been driving around the Washington-Baltimore-Annapolis area since 1988. Two of my brothers have lived in the DC area over the years, so I have done lots of driving. Needless to say, there have been quite a few changes since I started driving in the area.

Q: You are including Baltimore as part of dcroads.net. Will you include other parts of Maryland like the Eastern Shore, or parts of Virginia like Richmond and Hampton Roads?

A: I may cover a couple of highways on the Eastern Shore like the Ocean City Expressway (MD 90), but there isn’t much to cover there.

However, I do not plan to venture further south of Northern Virginia at the present time as I admit my knowledge base in the southern part of the state is not as strong as in the DC area. But never say never…

Q. Is there a “master builder” of Washington area infrastructure comparable with New York’s Robert Moses?

A: In the cities I cover, there is no single “master planner” who comes close to Robert Moses. I think the closest larger-than-life figure would be William Callahan, who oversaw the early development of Boston’s expressway system, but even his power was limited compared to that of Moses.

Q. Did Moses play any role in D.C. highways?

A: Not in DC, but in Baltimore Moses played a significant role in the early development of that city’s expressway system. In 1944, Moses spearheaded plans for the highway network in Baltimore.

Q. On you current sites you sometimes make suggestions for improving highways or bridges. Will you be recommending a solution for the I-66 inside-the-Beltway?

A: I think it could be done, but the HOV restrictions would need to be maintained. This siutation is similar to I-476 in Pennsylvania which is now completely congested. Both roads were on the planning maps for a long-time and ultimately built to half their initial capacity. Transportation officials up there are trying to widen it too.

Keep in mind that the interstates were designed to handle traffic loads 20-25 years in the future. It has been twenty-five years and I-66 has met it’s design limits.

I would be open to HO/T if studies showed construction would support it. With an HO/T situation it could finance the construction since in theory you would have a dedicated funding source.

I’ll have to study this more in depth, but I’d like to see a tolled or HO/T (tolled for single occupancy, no toll for HOV) I-66 tunnel underneath DC from its current end east to US 50/New York Avenue. However, as much as I would like to see an extended I-66 through DC into Maryland, I think the opportunity for building urban highways may have passed, especially with the added complication of building underneath Metro lines in addition to utility and sewer lines.

Q. Another hot button issue is the Whitehurst Freeway in Georgetown. What suggestions do you have for that road?

A: I think it should be kept as is. Tearing down the Whitehurst Freeway would make conditions along an already congested M Street even worse. I’ve even seen a recommendation that M Street be widened. You would destroy retail down that stretch during and after construction.

Q. In the 1970s, D.C. traded in most of their highway funds for mass-transit. What is your take on that decision?

A: I agree with that decision. Some of the planned freeways were not needed in my opinion, and the trade-in has reaped some wonderful dividends for the DC metro area, both in terms of transporting people and promoting economic development. Because of its city’s density, Metro has been one of the few mass transit success stories.

Q. Would you like to see some of the highways which were cancelled looked at again?

A: In addition to an extended I-66 that I mentioned earlier, I would like to see I-395 extended north from its current terminus to meet the current I-95/I-495 interchange near College Park. Much of that highway could be built along the existing PEPCO right-of-way, thereby minimizing disruption.

Q. How does the condition of D.C. area highways compare with other eastern cities?

I think they probably about as congested as they are anywhere else in the Northeast. However, I think the highways in Maryland and Virginia are better maintained than those further north, if only because of the milder winters in the area.

Q. What is your favorite D.C. area road?

A: The Capital Beltway (I-495/I-95). It’s the one I’m most familiar with.

Q. Least favorite?

A: The northerly (DC 295) stretch of the Anacostia Freeway. It’s about as unsightly as the Cross Bronx Expressway (I-95).

Q. Does new highway capacity induce demand?

A: That point can be argued; however, I have found that demand often is induced even without the presence of highways, particularly here in the Northeast where land is scarce.

Q. What are your thoughts on toll roads being leased?

A: I think this phenomenon likely will expand. It’s a common occurence overseas, and here in North America, a Spanish company (Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte) operates the Chicago Skyway and Highway 407 (in the northern suburbs of Toronto).

Q. How about High Occupancy Toll lanes?

A: The toll aspect of HO/T lanes could expedite construction of a needed project that could take a decade or more to build, so I’m open to the concept.

Q. Are the sites simply a personal project or have you turned them into a company?

A: When I started the road sites back in 1997, I did it just for the love of highways, bridges, and tunnels without any idea of how big the sites would become. This endeavor only recently become a small company.

Q. You have advertising on the sites, are they profitable?

I only took on advertising in 2002 following the sustained spike in traffic following 9/11 (I had over 400,000 visitors on nycroads.com on that day alone!). The advertising helps pay for server space, bandwidth, and all other things associated with the sites. I maintain strict quality control on the advertisers who show ads on my sites, and do not allow ads that an average visitor would find objectionable.

Full disclosure: I have contributed to nycroads.com and phillyroads.com.

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Happy Winter Solstice

At 1:35 p.m. winter officially begins with the solstice. From now on, the days will be getting longer and the nights shorter. Hoo-ray right? Well, not for some people.

Despite war in Iraq, transit strikes in New York, and ballpark problems at home, some people cannot make peace with the solistice. They have even decleared war on the winter solstice. Don’t these fools know that it is the reason for the season?

Have a Holly, Jolly Holiday

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Wasn’t this thing suppossed to have been settled last Dec. 21

Barry Acted to Block StadiumThe Post
Marion Barry (D, Ward-8) is making his presence known again and no good can come from that, can it? This article details how he tried to create a deal with prospective owner Jonathan Ledecky on cost overruns. Barry was rallying support on the council for this move, but one of Mayor Anthony Williams aides tipped off MLB, who of course were not in favor Barry’s plan to “dictate terms.” It would all be so facinating if I did not have a horse in this race. Oh and Linda Cropp is pushing the RFK site again, which would be pennywise and pound-foolish.

Someone is going to get a great book out of this ordeal.

More from The Wall Street Journal: Nationals Pass Time Waiting for a Deal To Build a Ballpark & Baseball blues


Stadium Arbitration Could Take MonthsThe Post
If MLB does take D.C. to arbitration it would not be settled easily. I have heard that MLB has the upper hand if it goes that far, but I have also heard the inverse. Let’s hope something gets worked out before it reaches that point. MLB has really overplayed their hand.

D.C. stadium vote delayed until next yearThe Wash. Times
There is no chance that the council will vote on the lease before the Dec. 31 deadline.

THOMAS BOSWELLBaseball, D.C. Are in a League Of Their OwnThe Post
Boswell calls the plight of D.C. and MLB poetic justice (which is pretty much is) while suggesting that they both back down and reach a compromise. If it only it were that easy.

Yuda’s Gameday has my feelings on that matter summed up pefectly.


In Baseball Melodrama, No Shortage of CriticsThe Post
What the peopel are saying.

Nats’ Soriano: A one-year wonder?The Wash. Times
Actual baseball, not politics, talk. Once again, let’s think about how this is another fantastic deal by Jim Bowden.

‘Damn Yankees,’ Batting Solidly in the Mid-FiftiesThe Post
I was debating whether to see “Damn Yankees” in light of all the ballpark melodrama. I think I will.

JIM WILLIAMSON MEDIA: Nats hot stove stays warmThe Wash. Examiner
The ever reliable Williams (8-5!) says a Jose Vidro-Kerry Woods trade might be in the works. Don’t count on it, but if it could happen, I’d say go for for it.
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