REDUCE SPEED: These neon signs used to be all over the New Jersey Turnpike. Photo by Ian Ligget.

REDUCE SPEED: Vintage neon NJ Turnpike sign for sale on ebay

Can somebody please buy, ship and store this outstanding New Jersey Turnpike neon sign for me? It’s only $2,000! You can drop it off with me when I get a house. A really big one, apparently.

In 2013, I mentioned the coming end of NJ Turnpike exceptionalism when it comes to signs. The Turnpike Authority has begun modernizing (note: I did not say “upgrade”) highway signs to comply with the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Though not necessarily directly related, the neon “REDUCE SPEED” signs that have been on the Turnpike since time immemorial are being removed in favor of modern LED signs.

I have been wondering what will happen to all of these classic neon signs. I hope that some are saved for museums. Maybe I’ll tweet at them to buy this one, though on second thought the Turnpike ought to donate one. There probably ought to be one or two at a service plaza on the Turnpike itself.

The sign itself probably weighs at least a ton and it has to be picked up. This isn’t a really good time for me to do that logistically or financially. So, a little help?

Failing the acquisition of this neon sign, I’d be okay with a Turnpike trailblazer. A Garden State Parkway, Capital Beltway and even a Pennsylvania Turnpike sign while you are at it.

Photos © Ian Ligget

h/t Steve Anderson

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I-95: Chesapeake House reopened

Chesapeake House the second service area, err travel plaza on Interstate 95 (John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway) north, reopened last Tuesday. Both the renovation and reopening seems to be lacking in the fanfare of Maryland House, but it’s good news for I-95 travelers.

In my experience Chesapeake House, originally opened in 1972, is less crowded than Maryland House, so I have preferred stopping there over the years. The last several years have seen three completely rebuilt service areas along a 40 mile stretch of I-95 between Baltimore and Wilmington. The Delaware Service Plaza was rebuilt in 2008.

Maryland Transportation Authority sealService areas are lasting vestige of the pre-interstate toll roads area. In order to promote commerce along interstate corridors, service areas are banned and have been since the early 1960s. Some interstates were assigned to existing turnpikes like parts of the New Jersey Turnpike and the service areas were grandfathered in.

Unfortunately, an opportunity was missed during the reconstruction of these service areas — flyover ramps from the right side. It would have been eight overall (2 off, 2 on in each direction) but for whatever reason, the Maryland Transportation Authority did not choose to go n that direction. Safety and traffic flow are better when exits and entrances are from the right side.

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Port City Brewing Co. cycling jersey and Derecho Common

Summer BeltwayLand and beyond beer update

It’s Craft Beer Month in Virginia. D.C Craft Beer week starts on August 17 (The Post) and the CityPaper has the Beer Issue out. Follow @dcbeerweek for more or visit dcbeerweek.net

Remember two years ago when a massive storm that crossed half the continent knocked power out for many of us for several days? Port City responded to the lack of electricity by hastily putting together Derecho Common. Thankfully, Alexandria hasn’t had any extensive power outages since then, but they have made Derecho Common a summer tradition. It turns out they’ll give you taste if you buy one of their cycling jerseys too. That is, if is still available. I have had a couple of Derechos and I’m saving at least two for when a friend returns from overseas. Well, maybe.

MEANWHILE, IN THE DISTRICT

District breweries are now allowed to sell pints thanks to a new law. That’s already legal in Virginia and even the nanny-state of Maryland. Not that Virginia is perfect as we’ll see later.

SPEAKING OF BUYING PINTS AT BREWERIES

The industry’s growth was strengthened by state legislation in 2012, when the state changed a provision governing on-site consumption at brewery tasting rooms, allowing the sale of pints of beer rather than just tasting samples.

That legislation, which D.C. just caught up on, has seen significant impacts across Virginia in Loudoun County in particular:

Since the law was revised, the craft beer industry in Virginia has seen 75 percent growth in the number of breweries, driving a statewide economic impact of $623 million, according to Virginia Craft Brewers Guild, a group composed of small, independent breweries in the commonwealth.

The whole story: ‘A rising tide’ of craft breweries in Loudoun and beyondThe Post

Bill Butcher of Port City is quoted in the Virginia Business cover story, The business of beer which also details what 2012 SB 604 has done for beer in the Commonwealth.

A few more details: Virginia’s local craft beer industry on the rise (The Daily Press, Newport News)

This growth can’t be sustainable, but it’ll be fun when it’s going on and hopefully, the good beers will survive through consolidation.

For what it’s worth, I do a fair share of “tourism” in Loudoun County for outdoor activities. It’s beautiful country, once you get past the Sterling/Ashburn sprawl.

Further out, Devil’s Backbone is hosting the 2014 Virginia Craft Brewers Cup on August 23 too.

The last time I was in Vienna, I bought the last six pack of Vienna Lager to leave in my mom’s fridge for future visits.

2 YEARS, 3 STARS

Saturday was the second anniversary party of 3 stars brewing.

ATLAS

During a recent trip to Nationals Park, I finally got to try some Atlas Brew Works beers. Their anniversary is coming up on September 6, by the way. The first was their common which I liked more than their 1500 South Capitol Street lager, specifically brewed for Nationals Park. It’s good to knock off a few more beers and hopefully, I’ll get to visit their brewery sometime soon.

ANOTHER NATIONALS PARK BEER RANKING

The Post rated The Best Beer in Baseball this past week. Nationals Park came in 13th overall (21st locality | 8th quality | 8th uniqueness). This took into consideration more than local beers though, unlike the report mentioned in a previous BeltwayLand Brewing update.

OLD BUST HEAD

Fauquier County, best known as the first to close their school system during snow storms, is also home to gentleman hops grower, @thefolkist and now Old Bust Head Brew, on Vint Hill which is sort of an in-joke.

WESTOVER BEER GARDEN EXPANDING

I normally just focus on packaging breweries, but I like Westover Beer Garden, so I’ll mention their upcoming Clarendon location (ARLnow.com).

ALEX, YOU BETTER BE DRINKING YOUR WATER

Far away from here both in distance and time is the fall of Stroh’s (Forbes) or as I know it, “the beer a friend’s dad used to drink when he was driving us to the pool.” Ah, the 1980s, such a more innocent time. Aside from being a textbook example of an “old dad beer” Stroh’s is a microcosm of Detroit in general, right? h/t Vince Guerrieri

HOPPILY EVER AFTER

Lastly, congrats to Maryland homebrewer The Ombudsman.

Also, if you plan on serving homebrewed (especially if it’s out of state) beer at a Virginia wedding, don’t bother mentioning it to the ABC if you have to apply for a liquor license. A groomsman had to pass out bottles the morning after since we couldn’t have it at the reception.

Oh and we look forward to a “new home” themed beer too.

NEXT TIME

Stay tuned for the next update for Oktoberfest (TOO SOON) — are you seeing an Oktoberfest beers yet? Let me know when you do.

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dc-traffic-light

An explanation of the D.C. traffic signal system

The Post has a good video explaining the Washington, D.C. traffic signal system. It can be adjusted in real time as needed, for events like Washington Nationals games.

By the way, the photo above is the most popular on my flickr stream with over 11,000 views. Here’s an old-school “art deco” style Crouse-Hinds signal:

These were ubiquitous for decades, but the one pictured was removed around 2005, along with all the other survivors.

UPDATED

I found out after the fact that this was posted on the 100th anniversary of the first traffic signal.

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flickr photo by above Joshua Bousel used under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license

Nats apparently win arbitration with MASN, Angelos, Orioles

Major League Baseball Embroiled in Explosive Legal War Over TV Deals (Exclusive)The Hollywood Reporter
Over MLB Commissioner Bud Selig’s stern warning, the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles hurl accusations at each other and have stepped into open court spilling secrets.

Break out the popcorn! The corrupt bargain that gave Peter Angelos and the Baltimore Orioles the Washington Nationals television rights may be unraveling.

What’s been kept under wraps until now is that on June 30, the MLB committee adjudicating the dispute issued its decision, which favored the Nationals. That prompted attorneys to swing into high gear and Commissioner Selig to attempt to get out in front of the situation.

“I am deeply saddened by the fact that you have not been able to resolve amicably the pending broadcast rights dispute,” wrote Selig in a letter to Angelos and Nationals owner Ted Lerner, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

Selig doesn’t think either side is working in the best interest of the game, but c’mon Bud, if the Nats won they are entitled to the spoils of victory, so there is this:

I want there to be no doubt that, if any party initiates any lawsuit, or fails to act in strict compliance with the procedures set forth in the Agreement concerning the [Revenue Sharing
Definitions Committee of Major League Baseball]‘s decision, I will not hesitate to impose the strongest sanctions available to me under the Major League Constitution.”

The Nats can’t initiate a lawsuit to rightfully claim what is theirs?

On July 1, Stephen Neuwirth, an attorney at Quinn Emanuel representing the Nationals, responded by telling MASN that thanks to the decision, the club was owed an additional $10 million for rights-fee payments due on April 1 and June 1 and warning of an impending deadline of default.

Two days later, Neuwirth provided formal notice of defaults and warned MASN to cure the defaults lest the team “seek all appropriate remedies for nonpayment, including (without limitation) termination of MASN’s license to telecast Nationals games.”

His threats didn’t achieve the desired result, so on July 7, the Nationals petitioned the MLB Commissioner’s Office to confirm and enforce the June 30 decision.

I am uncharacteristically happy about this news, I’m so used to it being bad for the Nats. However, it could still blow up because Selig’s track record is coddling Angelos and to a lesser extent the Orioles.

What would victory mean for Nats fans?

  • Switching to a new channel (which if it’s completely new, could mean higher fees and/or service interruption)
  • The satisfaction over beating Angelos & Orioles (though Angelos won the moment his channel aired a Nats game)
  • More team revenue so good players are easier to retain and obtain

The funny thing is, the impact on the Orioles is probably minor, since Angelos clearly isn’t investing the MASN money in the team.

Like I said in February, Ted Leonsis must be watching with great interest — he could be the biggest winner out of all.

I’ll may add to this as more comes out.

Angelos got control of the Nats TV rights, got his own network with two teams, but is getting burned because cable television rights have skyrocketed. His deal turned out to be a bad one which is a little bit of karma. He wanted to intrefere in the affairs of another team and it might burn him. It’d serve him right.

MSM STUFF

Nationals-Orioles MASN dispute goes public - WTOP

In debate over MASN rights, MLB rules for Washington Nationals, but fight continuesThe Post

flickr photo by above Joshua Bousel used under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license

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Whiele-Ave-Silver-Line-Station

Generations in the making, the first phase of Metro’s Silver Line is open

Saturday afternoon was a big day for transportation in Northern Virginia and greater Washington, D.C. – the first phase of the Silver Line opened between Whiele Ave-Reston and East Falls Church. Five new stations, including four in Tysons, one of the largest office districts in the U.S., are now in service providing greater connectivity for the entire Washington, D.C. region.

My family and I rode the first train to Whiele Ave-Reston from Courthouse station in Arlington. We were in the front car which was a little more than half full. Several people were in the very front with their cameras. Other riders took the train only as far as some of the Tysons stops, particularly the Tysons Corner stop which serves the two malls. When the train left the Orange Line tracks for the new Silver Line tracks, there was mild applause.

I jumped out at each of the stops to take a few photos, but with the whole family along, including our 1-month old son taking his first Metro ride, I did not explore. It was interesting to get a new perspective on the familiar Tysons area from the elevated tracks. The best view of the Tysons skyline is on the big curve from the media of the Dulles Access Road to VA 123.

At the Whiele Ave-Reston East terminus, there was a celebration hosted by Comstock. VIPs got to go indoors, while the public was entertained by a DJ playing a bunch of music that came out when I was in middle school. We had a quick picnic there anyway, before returning to the platform to take the Silver Line back to Courthouse.

[flickr : Silver Line Opening Day/slideshow]

The ride was smooth, though not as fast as I would have thought, particularly on the return trip.


Rail to Tysons (and eventually Dulles Airport) was something I wondered if would ever happen. Like baseball in D.C., it made a lot of sense, but there were obstacles to getting there. Increased Metro service is a bigger deal than baseball, but the absence of both for most of my life was frustrating.

George Mason University history professor Zachary Schrag (Q & A: The Great Society Subway) made the case in his outstanding book, The Great Society Subway, that Metro should have been built to Tysons rather than Vienna all along. Instead, the Orange Line was built through the median of Interstate 66 all the way past the Nutley Street interchange. Though recent development, mostly in the form of low-rise apartments has come to the Orange Line corridor outside the Capital Beltway, the primary role of that Metro Line is as suburb to city, commuter rail, rather than an intraurban subway. Ultimately, the Silver Line will do the same though. The increasingly urbanized Tysons Corner and its four stations will be the only ones, with the exception of the Dulles Airport station, that are not within the median of the Dulles Toll Road. The commuter rail/subway hybrid has always been a compromise to maximize the constituency (and funding partners) of Metro.


Getting this far with the Silver Line has been messy and expensive. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority struck a deal with the Commonwealth of Virginia and the federal government to build the Silver Line in exchange for taking over the Dulles Toll Road. Much of the funding (too much), is coming out of automobile tolls. Some subsidy from motorists is appropriate, but perhaps a comparatively token fee, such as a $1 a ticket, passed along to Dulles Airport flyers would have been more helpful. The partnership between two public authorities MWAA and Washignton Metropolitan Transit Authority isn’t ideal and this will never be a great deal, but as the saying goes, at least it got built.

The Silver Line has also created a squeeze at the Rosslyn tunnel which has cut into Blue Line service. I ride the Blue Line several times a week, but I have found it to be manageable, albiet more crowded. Come September, it could get very crowded. Optimization of the Rosslyn tunnels is an urgent need and long-term, more tubes under the Potomac is also needed. That will be another 15-25 years, I’m afraid.


Building the Tysons portion above ground rather than below it is a flawed decision, but at a certain point, the attitude of “at least it got built” wins out again. I don’t mind the views, but this was pennywise and pound-foolish. Will it hold back Tysons development? Probably not, Chicago seems to do fine with elevated trains and locally, Silver Spring and Alexandria have strong transit oriented development near above ground Metro lines.

If the Silver Line is to succeed, it will be in spite of its builder, not because of it.

I believe that the Silver Line will ultimately be successful and vital to region, but it, like much of the area’s transportation and development isn’t a home run.

FURTHER READING

Post coverage of the Silver Line

WAMU’s coverage

Wizards: It turns out I’m a tattoo designer

Way back in 2011 when it the Washington Wizards finally returned to the franchise (and DC sports) colors of red, white and blue, I came up with a uniform and logo concept for the Wiz.

The logo wasn’t that far off from what the Wiz went with in the rebrand.

On Friday, @dcsportsbog retweeted a tattoo pick and it looked very familiar:

This isn’t the first time an idea of mine has been used by someone else — Mr. Walkoff, the nickname I came up with for Ryan Zimmerman, became a t-shirt for sale by other bloggers and then the Washington Nationals (sadly, I didn’t get to the ballpark in time during the giveaway, though Adam Dunn provided a walk-up of his own in his penultimate Nats game). This mover though, shows more commitment than anybody else to date.

It had not occurred to me that I might be a tattoo designer, however inadvertent. I guess I have a new skill to add to my LinkedIn profile. I’m flattered.

Oh and since we’re on the topic of D.C. basketball, here’s a little something I found in my old stuff in my mom’s basement the other day:

old Washington Bullets trucker hat

I probably bought it around 1992 at the Capital Centre, perhaps when I saw my only Bullets game (floor seats, under the basket no less) against the Portland Trailblazers.

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Just one Nats-Brewers question with @LeavittDC

I’m really busy and haven’t gotten to offer many All-Star break #halftakes on the Washington Nationals. Wisconsin expatriate @LeavittDC isn’t even in the country right now, so he’s spending even less time focusing on the Nats or the Milwaukee Brewers. I still needed to get one burning question in with the DC series starting this evening.

WFY: Is having to cold call people and apologize for using PEDs is a bigger deterrent than suspension, fines and loss of reputation?

@LeavittDC: I’d make a lot of unpleasant phone calls for $105 million. He’s handled things very well, though. I suspect the phone call that was even more awkward — although, again, he can cry into his pile of money — was the one from Aaron Rodgers announcing that their friendship and business partnership was over. I don’t know how dear the 8-Twelve MVP Bar & Grill was to Ryan, but that public divorce had to have been awkward. Back to your question, it’s not a deterrent, clearly, but if players knew they are risking not only their professional reputation but personal friendships… crap, I can’t finish that sentence. They’d cheat anyway.

* * *

We’ll try to do better next season, but let’s not forget the most important thing:

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It’s 196 days until the Capitals host the Winter Classic and no venue has been selected

Earlier this week Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis was arguing why D.C. should host the 2024 Summer Olympics1 (DC Sports Bog, The Post). I’m more interested in D.C. hosting the Winter Classic; the Caps are the scheduled home team. My preferred option is Nationals Park which is a mere mile from the U.S. Capitol. Seems obvious, but the NHL and Leonsis choose not to make the selection (or any other) concurrent with the 2015 Winter Classic announcement. I’ve said that was bad policy and now, barely 6 months out, the lack of a venue is mysterious, even more so given that Leonsis included Baltimore in a list of possibilities. That’d hardly be the kind of authentic D.C. experience he boasted about during the Wizards run through the NBA Playoffs earlier this spring.

So instead of worry about the Olympics and all that comes with it (debt) Leonsis needs to settle on a D.C. (or even Landover – FedEx Field) location for the Winter Classic.

In other Caps news, I like the Barry Trotz hire as head coach, but am wary of GM Brian MacLellan who was promoted from within. Hopefully, these two will stop looking for a free agent goalie in the hope it might find one that gets hot and instead address the need for a second line center and solid defensemen.

1Which coincidentally would be held 3 years before the agreement with the District on the Verizon Center would expire…

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William F. Yurasko's blog v.15 – Nats, Redskins, Capitals, D.C. life, transportation, not so much Penn State anymore,