More details on Dulles Corridor Metro

Dulles Rail Gets Federal ApprovalThe Post
As expected (since this morning at least), USDOT announced today that it is now supporting the proposal to build the Silver Line along the Dulles Corridor.

In a letter to Kaine and in a 10 a.m. conference call with the governor and Virginia congressional leaders, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said the $5 billion project had finally met the Federal Transit Administration’s standards for cost efficiency, construction and expected ridership. The project will now move into the final design phase, a major step toward receiving $900 million in federal funding.

“As a result of the collaboration between federal and state officials, the project sponsor and other project stakeholders, the financial stability and oversight of the project has improved,” Peters wrote to Kaine in a letter obtained by The Washington Post. “Cost reductions have been verified and mechanisms have been established to enhance inter-organizational cooperation, technical capacity and project management.”

Good news, but this isn’t fait accompli just yet:

Still, Peters went on, “much work remains” to make the project right. Today’s approval comes with conditions that must be met if the project is to receive federal funding. Without that money, state and local officials have said that the project would die, ending the possibility of a long-sought rail connection between the nation’s capital and its major international airport. Supporters say the line would ease congestion through Virginia’s biggest jobs corridor and keep the economy humming with the transformation of suburban Tysons Corner into a thriving downtown.

Among the conditions, Peters said in her letter, is a sweeping demand that Virginia and the Metro system guarantee the capital investment necessary to maintain and operate Metro. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority recently identified $489 million in “urgent unfunded capital needs,” Peters said.

Virginia better not drop the ball on this one.

There is a chat about the decision going on right now on washingtonpost.com.

EARLIER: Silver line back on track?!

UPDATE 6:30 a.m. Thursday: I will be posting more about this topic after 12 p.m. today, so check back later.

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Two Nats chats and a 4:35 p.m. first pitch

Live chat with Mark Zuckerman: April 30, 2008The Wash. Times
“Slight change to Wednesday’s live chat; Mark Zuckerman will be here for a 12:30 start rather than 1 p.m. So, mark your virtual calendars, and we’ll see you on Wednesday at 12:30.

If you already have a question ready, send it to natsmailbag@washingtontimes.com or click the link above so it will be waiting for Mark when he’s ready to chat.”

Washington NationalsThe Post
“Washington Post writer Barry Svrluga will be online Wednesday, April 30 at 3 p.m. ET to take your questions and comments about the Washington Nationals.”

Don’t forget, the first pitch is at 4:35 p.m. If you live or work in the District, you are probably aware of this fact and are not really excited about tonight’s commute. This is the only day game during the week of the 2008 season, so the likely headaches will only happen once. I wish I wasn’t so busy, otherwise I’d be there. Hopefully, there will be regular 1:05 p.m. weekday games next summer.

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Zimmerman, Nats beat Atlanta, but Cordero is hurt

WASHINGTON 6 Atlanta 3 Boxscore (CBS Sports)

For a Night, Nationals See Vintage ZimmermanThe Post
Nationals win but likely lose CorderoThe Wash. Times
Zimmerman’s bat shows upThe Free Lance-Star
Nationals beat Glavine, hand Braves 3rd staight lossAJC
3B Ryan Zimmerman went 3 for 4 with a one-run homer into the Red Porch in the 3rd and the game winning two-run double in 7th off of Blaine Boyer. 1B Nick Johnson also homered in the 3rd off of Tom Glavine whose six innings of work yielded a no decision. Tim Redding, who also pitched six innings and gave up two runs, did not get the decision either. Saul Rivera (2-1) picked up the win for his one inning of work in the seventh.

Chad Cordero came in the ninth to mop up, but had to leave with a strained shoulder. He will probably have to go on the DL for at least 15 days.

Larkin comes to encourage hitters, coachThe Wash. Times
Larkin: Hitting woes are fixableThe Free Lance-Star
Larkin lends a helping hand to Natsnationals.com
Assistant to the GM and former Red (redundant) Barry Larkin is spending a couple of days in Washington to talk to the Nationals about hitting. He then heads off to China (mentioned in the next article down) to work with that country’s Olympic baseball team.

Hill ‘Babying’ Forearm Pain Between StartsThe Post
RHP Shawn Hill still has forearm pain, but will try to pitch through it again tonight. He doesn’t throw off of the mound between starts or play long toss. He has not exceeded five innings pitched in either of his 2008 starts.

Nationals release reliever Kingnationals.com
LOOGY Ray King has become a free agent rather than report to AAA-Columbus.

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Silver line back on track?!

Dulles Rail Set to Get Federal ApprovalThe Post
Apparently, Virginia and the U.S. Department of Transportation has found a way to make the Dulles Corridor Metro project, tentatively called the Silver Line, meet the “Federal Transit Administration’s standards for cost efficiency, construction and expected ridership.” It appears U.S. DOT secretary Mary Peters overruled FTA. Good job, Peters that was the correct decision.

This is excellent news, I am glad that we can finally get started on a project that is long overdue.

Now, we get to see the tunnel vs. elevated argument start up again. I would love to see it underground, but I don’t see that happening at this point.

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Four captains? Five captains? Scirrotto?

Nittany Lions Announce Captains for 2008 SeasonIntercollegiate Athletics

Defensive end Josh Gaines (Ft. Wayne, Ind.) and safety Anthony Scirrotto (West Deptford, N.J.) were named the defensive captains. Center A.Q. Shipley (Coraopolis) and wide receiver Derrick Williams (Greenbelt, Md.) were named the offensive captains.

In addition, linebacker Sean Lee (Pittsburgh) will serve as an honorary captain in 2008. Lee suffered a serious knee injury earlier this month that will likely keep him off the field this season, but he is planning to return for the 2009 season as a fifth-year senior.

Do they really need four captains? Remember when it was just two and occasionally a special teamer like Maurice Daniels? Also, Scirrotto has no business being captain after the happenings of early April 1, 2007.

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Expand the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel? Duh.

Transportation head calls for study of a wider Hampton tubeThe Virginia-Pilot
It is self evident that the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel (I-64/US 60) is insufficient at four lanes wide. While a second crossing, the Monitor-Merrimac Bridge Tunnel (I-664) opened in the early 1990s to provide relief, it is out of the way for drivers headed to Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Now, VDOT is acknowledging that building an additional tube is worth studying. People who live by the existing HRBT are not excited about it, but don’t move next an interstate highway unless your are willing to see your property become eminent domain.

I head down that way about once year to visit my cousin and his family. I probably split my trips about 50-50 between the two tunnels. I would like to see a new Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel tube(s) funded, but only after the Silver Line.

H/T: Homer says he’ll request study on building wider tunnel WTOPWTOP

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Free Cone Day!

Today is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s. It will probably be the only day that I have any of their tasty, but otherwise overpriced ice cream.

I have one piece of advise — don’t go through the line too many times. I knew somebody in college who once had so much ice cream that she got hysterical from all the sugar.

BeltwayLand Locations

All locations

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Weekly series with Braves begins tonight

The Braves return to Washington for the third time of the month. Yes, the first trip was a one-off, but seriously, I’m getting tired of seeing the Nats play Atlanta. They have faced each at least once a week during the season so far. Thankfully, that is ending after this week.

A Slow Start Right Off the BatThe Post
A look at the struggles at the plate that Ryan Zimmerman is haivng. It has been all downhill since the Phillies series. What is clear, three springs into Zimmerman’s career is that he is a slow starter:

Zimmerman’s primary problem this April is that he is chasing too many pitches out of the strike zone. But he also is learning the difference between a strike that’s worth swinging at and one to lay off. Because he does not swing and miss frequently, a cut at a strike that he can’t really drive often results in an out rather than another chance. This spring, that has often resulted in fly balls to right field rather than drives to the gaps.

“Obviously, they’re not pitching him easy, and he’s just falling into the pitching plan,” Acta said.

There is also the expectation that he can/should carry the team and Zimmerman is not there yet. He also does not have a lot of protection in the line up-now.

Quiet bat troubles Nats’ top sluggerThe Free Lance-Star
More on Zimmerman including his “detachment” from the job after games.

Nieves is fighting to stay in majorsThe Wash. Times
In all of the Will Nieves stories of late, I don’t think a single one has called him “scrappy.” I appreciate the restraint of the beat writers on this one.

Glavine ‘concerned’ about being rustyAJC
Tom Glavine is scheduled to make his first start since he injured his hamstring in the first inning here on April 13. He will face Tim Redding, who has won three of five decisions.

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