Category Archives: The District

Washington, D.C. as it is known by its inhabitants.

mrplow

Snow plowing information for Virginia, D.C. and Maryland

Once again, we’re getting snowed on again (3¼ inches by 9 a.m. in Alexandria) and everything is closed. After my brother linked to the real-time VDOT snow plow map, I thought I’d compile a list.

COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

VODTplows.org – pretty good tracker of plows working on Virginia Department of Transportation routes.

Alexandria Snow Removal Priorities and Snow Plow Zones (PDF) – What the city I live in is doing.

Arlington County Snow Alert and Primary & Secondary Snow Removal Map (PDF)

Town of Vienna and primary & secondary street list

City of Falls Church
Snow Emergency Routes (PDF)

Town of Herndon

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Snow Response Reporting System

STATE OF MARYLAND

Snow Emergency Plans

THE PAYOFF

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Nats: The Curly W used to be on road signs, why it isn’t anymore

Photo used with permission of Flickr user SteelYankee
A few weeks ago, DC Sports Bog (The Post) answered a reader question about why the Washington Nationals “curly W” logo was removed from signs along Interstate 395 (Southwest Freeway) for Nationals Park: What happened to the Curly W on D.C. freeway signs?. Presumably, the curly W’s will are have already been removed from other roads like I-695 (Southeast Freeway) and I-295 (Anacostia Freeway).

Something similar happened in 2010 when the Maryland State Highway Administration removed curly W logos from big green signs too. Frankly, I was surprised they were there in the first place. I inquired with the SHA back then and was told they violated the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) standards. A follow-up email was never answered by SHA and I never got back to writing about those signs, though I did note that both the Washington Redskins & FedEx Field (located at EXIT 16 of I-95/495 Capital Beltway) and the Baltimore Orioles, Baltimore Ravens and M&T Bank Stadium logos were still posted. One wonders why just one team was removed, but I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

In the DCRoads.net Facebook group, Mike Tantillo, a member of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Device gave some me more background the rationale:

In no other city are the sports team logos placed on the signs. And a symbol is technically defined as a pictogram, which the official definition states is a symbol that represents a government agency or other public sector institution. The public sector bit was inserted into the MUTCD for the specific purpose of preventing entities like sports teams and shopping malls from putting their symbols up on primary guide signs (they would be allowed on the “attractions” category of Specific Service/logo signs…along with gas, food, lodging, etc.).

So naturally after arguing the point about public sector vs. private sector in front of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, FHWA was none-too-amused when these logos showed up on the signs right next to their headquarters. So FHWA challenged DDOT and Maryland SHA on the use of the logos, saying that these did not represent pictograms and would therefore have to become “experimental” and go through human factors testing, just like any other experimental traffic control device.

So they did the human factors testing, and they had to prove that the curly W’s actually enhanced drivers’ ability to find Nats Park, without being a distraction…which is the same standard given to an experiment of any other traffic control device. As part of the experiment, DDOT and Maryland SHA had to agree that they would hold funds in reserve to abort the experiment if there were safety concerns or the results were not positive. In this case, the results were inconclusive and showed a distraction, therefore the experimental signs were removed according to the agreement that DDOT and SHA had with Federal Highway Administration.

In order for a symbol to be effective, it has to be simple, easily recognizable, and its meaning needs to be easily understood by all drivers, even those who have not been “taught” in advance what it means. I think DDOT would have had more successful experiment if they had placed a sign saying “Nationals Park, follow ‘W’ “, and then just used the W like a trailblazer. In this circumstance, you’ve taught the unfamiliar non-local driver (remember, that is who we design signs for) what the ‘W’ means in terms of the traffic/road sign context. However part of me thinks that DDOT didn’t originally intend for the W’s to be part of a navigational exercise and thought they could just slap them on as taxpayer-funded advertising for a private enterprise. And lots of it, seeing as these were on primary guide signs, so they were repeated multiple times in a sequence.

I don’t find fault with the decision to remove the curly W, though I would have thought it was a much more useful than their tests showed. That’s why I’m the road geek highway enthusiast and the transportation professionals make the decisions. Note, this line of thinking is not at all applicable to things like analysis of sports or other things of great import.

Having commercial logos on official signs is certainly problematic so that’s reason enough for me, even as a Nats fan. The publicly financed stadium is more than enough. I certainly hope that Maryland has removed those other team logos as they did, so swiftly, with the curly W.

I wonder if the DC United logos have been removed as well.

By the way, it isn’t unheard of for mass transit systems to use team logos in their stations — I remember seeing an Expos sign in the Pie-IX Metro when I visited Montreal in September 2004. I think the Addison stop on Chicago’s L has Cubs logos too. The Nats wanted WMATA to add the curly W to the Metro map and signage (JDLand), but the transit agency declined. By the way, if you are wanting a transit system to add your logo, you may want to think about putting down a deposit to keep the system running.

Lastly, the conversation that came with posting the DC Sports Bog story made me realize that one of my favorite posts, comparing the Nats cap to other post-expansion caps, was lost in a migration. I’ve put it up again. Yay.

Opening Day is 43 days away

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50 years ago tonight, The Beatles played their first U.S. concert in D.C.

Fifty years ago tonight, the Beatles played their first public concert in the United States in the District, the day after an eight inch snowstorm no less. The lads had a snowball fight that afternoon before the show at Washington Colosseum — if you’ve ever taken a train north out of Union Station, you’ve passed it. I think it’s a parking garage now and under disrepair in general.

There is quite a bit of coverage about the anniversary, so I won’t spend much time writing about a concert that happened before I was born. I will say that I need to get the photo above (or one like it) and put it up some day.

DOCUMENTARY ON THE CONCERT

HOW THE CONCERT SOUNDED
lots of screaming girls, some music

1983 DC101 INTERVIEW
WWDC DJ Carroll James interviewed by WWDC/DC101′s Young Dave Brown and Ernie Kaye on December 17, 1983. YDB!

MORE COVERAGE

Beatles Fans Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Historic D.C. ConcertWAMU 88.5 – American University Radio

Photos of The Beatles in Washington, D.C.Ghosts of DC

The Beatles' First Concert in the U.S. (1964)Ghosts of DC

50th anniversary concert reenacts Beatles’ first U.S. show at the Washington ColiseumThe Post

The Beatles would play D.C. again in November of that year (more video or at least still photos with the music over them) and D.C. Stadium in 1966 on their last tour (Ghosts of DC).

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@Metro_Nomad’s valiant effort to visit every Metro station falls five short

Looking out of a Metro rear car
On Saturday, Steve Ander @Metro_Nomad , a Northern Virginia resident, set out to visit every station on the Metro system, defined as such:

The carefully crafted itinerary will keep him riding until he has stopped — and exited for a photo — at each of the 86 stations in the system.

WTOP live-blogged, from which the quote above came from, the whole journey.

Metro_Nomad was unsuccessful by a mere five stations:

That’s quite a journey nonetheless. The current Metro rail system is over 103 miles long with 86 stations. It can probably be done with a little luck and on a Friday when the system is open from 5 a.m. until 2 a.m. the next morning. That is until the Silver Line opens. We hope.

I like living in an area where the subway system is too big to clinch in day.

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Places I went in 2013

Standard rules apply — I spent the night, ate a meal at a local establishment or went on an adventure in that location:

Alexandria, Va.
Arlington, Va.
Ashburn, Va.
Burke, Va.
Centreville, Va.
Chantilly, Va.
Clifton, Va.
Fairfax, Va.
Falls Church, Va.
Great Falls, Va.
Mount Vernon, Va.
Mclean, Va.
Purcellville, Va.
Shenandoah National Park, Va.
Sterling, Va.
Vienna, Va.
Nassau, Bahamas
Freeport, Bahamas
Washington, D.C.
Newark, Del.
Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Port Canaveral, Fla.
Baltimore, Md.
Colesville, Md.
Comus, Md.
Perryville, Md.
Poolesville, Md.
Avalon, N.J.
Stone Harbor, N.J.
Dillsburg, Pa.
Harrisburg, Pa.
Hershey, Pa.
Mercersburg, Pa.
Oakdale, Pa.
Pittsburgh, Pa.
Reedsville, Pa.
Robinson, Pa.
Davis, W.Va.

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Christmas model train displays around D.C.

Christmastime means toy trains and every year, I try to take my son to some of the following model railroad displays around greater Washington, D.C.

U.S. BOTANIC GARDEN
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One of the most elaborate annual model railroad displays anywhere can be found at the United States Botanic Garden:

“It wouldn’t be the winter holiday season without the fantasy train display in the East Gallery, which chugs along more than 800 feet of track through imaginative structures created with plant materials. Explore the “World’s Fair” and see many familiar creations that resulted from a long history of public exhibitions.”


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Metro: Federal Center SW

UNION STATION
Norwegian Embassy train display
It sounds as though the Norwegian Embassy train is back:

“However, after much work and renovation ou rHoliday Train will once again be on view in the Main Hall. The train features 3 G-Scale LGB Steam Locomotives running on 200 feet of track. The train is to scale at 1:22 the size of an actual train. A mountain landscape with 40 new structures, 25 trucks and vintage cars, 100 trees along with people, dogs and cats make for a realistic setting. This year’s festive setting will be open from 10am-7pm daily for our guests to enjoy. Happy Holidays”

Of course a trip to Union Station is usually worth it in its own right, even more so around the holidays.


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Metro: Union Station

OLD VIENNA TRAIN STATION
Northern Virginia Model Railroaders at old Vienna W&OD train station
The Northern Virginia Model Railroaders have a large layout at the old Vienna W&OD train station that gets displayed throughout the year on a limited basis:
“Open House visitors include people of all ages who enjoy watching railroad activities that realistically depict an actual railroad that existed in North Carolina in the 1950′s. That railroad was called the Western North Carolina (WNC) and every hill, town, building, locomotive, rail car, and industry on our layout is modeled after those places and things as they looked in that era. Well, almost everything; we must admit that to satisfy popular demand, an occasional sighting can be made of Thomas the Tank Engine and a few of his friends chugging around among the bigger steam and diesel locomotives.”

The Vienna train station is only open on December 2 (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.) and December 15 (1 p.m. to 5 p.m.)


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OTHER TRAIN DISPLAYS
There are even more model train displays, often part of a larger holiday celebration, such as the National Zoo’s Zoo Lights and the National Trolley Museum. A thorough list of model railroading in the greater D.C. area and beyond can be found at Grandpa’s Holiday Train Garden Page for 2013 by the The Washington, Virginia & Maryland Garden Railway Society. On the weekend of December 7-8, they will host Fairfax Station Railroad Museum 24th Annual Model Train Display, an “all scales” display at Fairfax Station Railroad Museum.


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Verizon Center now serves DC Brau & Port City beers


Good news for local beer lovers, Verizon Center, home of the Washington Capitals, Wizards and Mystics now serves two local brews, Port City and DC Brau. They haven’t even put out press releases yet. It looks like Port City’s Downright Pilsner and DC Brau’s Citizen (Beglian Style Pale Ale) and Corruption (IPA) are what’s currently available.

I’ve heard the taps as being located behind section 114 or 115. It’s somewhere over there. I have to go see it for myself. This team with “no weaknesses” is 1-3 after last night’s 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, so the secondary market should be getting pretty cheap.

Thanks to Frank Chang (@chanuck) for answering some of my questions and Jeff Lucas @jephilip for allowing use of the top photo.

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Some details on why Nats postponement took so long

Washington Nationals postpone game after hours of uncertaintyThe Post
More details about the Washington Nationals decision to postpone last night’s game against the Atlanta Braves after the shooting at the Navy Yard yesterday.

District Mayor Vincent C. Gray said in a phone interview that he wasn’t involved with every detail of the postponement, but that he wished the decision had been made earlier. He said he feared letting thousands of people near the area of an ongoing investigation.

Paul A. Quander Jr., deputy mayor for public safety and justice, said he first spoke with the Nationals at 1 p.m., and that the team initially wanted to play the game. Police were confident they could clear South Capitol Street and parts of M Street SE in time to accommodate stadium traffic. “We were going to make it work,” he said.

But as the search for people of interest in the shooting continued, and Lanier warned people to stay away from the Navy Yard area, the Nationals contacted city officials about a possible postponement, Quander said. He said the Nationals informed him they would need the approval of Major League Baseball.

“It was a fluid situation,” he said. “But I think they made the right call.”

To me and seemingly every Nats fan I follow on twitter, postponing the game was the obvious call before 1 p.m. While it police may have been confident they could get M Street cleared before the game, was that the best use of District resources at the time? Additionally, with one of the parking areas being used as a gathering place for families, it seemed to me the Nats should have erred on the side of caution and of consideration for the families waiting in the parking area. Why potentially make it harder for them to arrive and depart?

Another factor to consider, the players on either team were not interested in playing the game last night.

Lastly, there are policies and procedures that need to be re-evaluated by both the District, the team and Major League Baseball. Since Nationals Park is owned by the District, though operated by the franchise, it should have the authority to shut down a game. The Nats should also be able to postpone a game due to unforeseen events and not have to get the backing of MLB or more likely, some old man in Milwaukee.

PREVIOUSLY

UPDATE: Postponed, finally – EARLIER: Nats should just postpone tonight’s game

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