Category Archives: Washington DC

Enthusiasm for ‘maglev’ train between D.C., Baltimore mounts — as does opposition

Washington Post

Opponents of a proposal to build a high-speed train line that could make the trip between Washington and Baltimore in 15 minutes are asking state and federal officials to kill the project.

Northeast Maglev, the Washington-based company behind the project, says the 40-mile “superconducting magnetic levitation train system,” commonly called a maglev, would be the first leg of a line between Washington and New York — a trip that could be done in an hour.

Proponents say the project would ease travel in the congested Interstate 95 corridor, but many residents are concerned about the environmental impact and the homes that would be taken to make way for the line.

And, with limited public funding available for transportation projects, opponents say, any taxpayer money that would be used for the maglev would be better spent improving the existing rail infrastructure.

“We don’t believe it is economically viable. We don’t see the ridership. We don’t see the revenue,” said Dennis Brady, a Bowie resident who has organized a grass-roots group against the project.


Washington, The Nations Capitol: Updates 2017

We have a BIG WebSite already for Washington DC. Lots of things happening like METRO to Dulles Airport.

Metro to Dulles Airport

Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) is located in Chantilly, Virginia, on 12,000 acres of land in the suburbs of downtown Washington, DC. The Main Terminal opened in 1962 and was designed by architect Eero Saarinen. Dulles is a major hub for domestic and international air travel with a mixture of legacy and low fare carriers that provide air service throughout the world. Flights operate from midfield concourses A, B, C and D and from Z-gates connected to the Main Terminal. The Airport has invested in its infrastructure through a major capital program, which included two parking garages, a new airport traffic control tower, expanded B-gates, a new fourth runway, an AeroTrain people mover system and an expanded International Arrivals Building. The airport is connected to the region’s highway system via an Authority-operated, 16-mile Airport Access Highway dedicated to airport users. A 23-mile expansion of the region’s Metrorail system that includes a station at Dulles is under construction.

Dulles has significant capacity for future growth. With minor expansion, the current facilities could accommodate 45 million annual passengers (22.5 million enplanements). With all future facilities in the master plan constructed, the airport could accommodate 70 million annual passengers (35 million enplanements) operating out of 250 airline gates. The current four-runway configuration has a capacity of up to 600,000 aircraft operations per year. With a future fifth runway constructed, the airfield capacity could increase to 1 million aircraft operations per year.

The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project is a 23-mile extension of Washington’s existing Metrorail System. It is being built in two phases by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA).

Phase 1 of the new line opened on July 26, 2014, connecting East Falls Church with Tysons Corner and Reston, Virginia’s largest employment centers, with downtown Washington and Largo, Maryland. Known as the Silver Line, the extension is operated by the Metropolitan Washington Area Transit Authority (WMATA).

Preliminary construction for Phase 2 began in 2014. It will run from the eastern edge of Reston west to Washington Dulles International Airport and to Ashburn in eastern Loudoun County.

When both phases are complete, the line will provide a one-seat, no transfer ride from Dulles to downtown Washington creating long-sought after connectivity between the burgeoning Dulles corridor and the nation’s capital. The extension includes 11 new stations.

Phase 1

Phase 1 includes five stations along 11.7 miles. Four are in Tysons Corner and the fifth, which serves as the temporary terminus, is on the eastern edge of Reston.

McLean Station is on the northwest side of Route 123 at Scotts Crossing/Colshire Drive (aerial).
Tysons Corner Station is on the north side of Route 123 at Tysons Boulevard (aerial).
Greensboro Station is in the median of Route 7, just west of the Route 123 overpass (half below ground, half at grade).
Spring Hill Station is in the median of Route 7 at Spring Hill Road (aerial).
Wiehle-Reston East Station is in the median of the Dulles Toll Road/Dulles Airport Access Highway just west of the Wiehle Avenue overpass (at grade).
Phase 1 Contractor

In March 2008, MWAA and Dulles Transit Partners signed a $1.6 billion fixed-price construction contract to build Phase 1, keeping the anticipated costs of the project to $2.6 billion.

Phase 2

Phase 2 will include six stations along 11.4 miles from the Wiehle-Reston East Station to Ashburn. Locations are:

Reston Town Center Station is in the median of the Dulles Toll Road/Dulles Airport Access Highway just west of the Reston Parkway overpass (at grade).
Herndon Station is in the median of the Dulles Toll Road/Dulles Airport Access Highway near the existing Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride lot (at grade).
Innovation Station is in the median of the Dulles Toll Road/ Dulles Airport Access Highway east of Route 28 near the Center for Innovative Technology (at grade).
Dulles Airport Station is along Saarinen Circle across from the terminal (aerial).
Route 606 Station* is along Route 606 on the west side of Dulles Airport in the median of the Dulles Greenway (at grade).
Route 772 Station* is in the median of the Dulles Greenway at Route 772/Ashburn Village Boulevard (at grade).
*Temporary construction station names, final station names to be determined.

Phase 2 Contractors

On May 14, 2013, the Airports Authority awarded a design-built contract for the major portion of Phase 2 to Capital Rail Constructors, a joint venture of Clark Construction Group and Kiewit Infrastructure South. A notice to proceed was issued on July 9, 2013. The contract includes systems, tracks, and stations.

On August 4, 2014, the Airports Authority awarded a $253 million design-build contract to Hensel Phelps Construction Company for the rail yard and maintenance facility which is being built on Dulles Airport property as part of Phase 2. Construction will begin in 2015.

Construction of Phase 2 will take five years. A completion date has not been set.


Most of the rail extension is in the median of the Dulles International Airport Access Highway and Dulles Toll Road, but the Silver Line alignment also serves Tysons Corner and Dulles Airport. The rail line leaves the Dulles Connector Road and travels along the northwest side of Route 123, through a tunnel at the intersection of Routes 7 and 123 and then westward in the median of Route 7 before rejoining the median of the Dulles Toll Road/Dulles Airport Access Highway.

The extension includes 11 Metrorail stations, a new rail yard on Dulles Airport property and improvements to an existing rail yard at the West Falls Church Station. This alignment was selected because it offers the highest ridership potential with the fewest impacts on residential areas and the natural environment.

FRA Clears Hurdle for High-Speed Rail: DC to Richmond

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has announced the completion of the Tier II Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the 123-mile section of the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor from Washington, D.C., to south of Richmond, VA.

This action moves the project one step closer to the construction phase of the Southeast Corridor, which will improve freight and rail traffic south of the nation’s capital.

The Preferred Alternative in the DEIS prepared by the FRA with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (Virginia DRPT) will:

Reduce passenger and freight congestion and improve on-time performance
Accommodate planned and funded Virginia Rail Express (VRE) growth of four new round-trip trains
Accommodate forecasted CSX freight growth through 2045 (doubling from approximately 21 trains in 2015 to 42 in 2045)
Increase maximum train speeds from 69 mph to 79 mph between D.C. and Fredericksburg and to 90 mph between Fredericksburg and Richmond
Add nine new round-trip trains from D.C. to Richmond, with four continuing east to Hampton Roads and four south to Raleigh.

“Moving people and goods as quickly and as safely as possible is an important cornerstone of the Federal Rail Administration’s mission,” said FRA Deputy Administrator Heath Hall.

“As this project moves forward, it’s critical that we receive feedback from potential passengers and the public at large.”

FRA and Virginia DRPT will accept public comments on the DEIS for 60 days beginning on September 8, 2017.

Based on public comments on the DEIS and the Preferred Alternative, DRPT and FRA will prepare a Final EIS (FEIS), which will list environmental commitments to mitigate unavoidable impacts.

The total cost of the project is approximately $5 billion, which is estimated in 2025 dollars to reflect the first year of service; however, no funding commitments have been made for construction.


Virginia Railway Express Plans Expansion, But is Hyperloop the Future?

Science fiction seems to be inching closer to reality (at hyper speed, no less) in the form of Elon Musk’s Hyperloop concept.

Hyperloop One, among numerous teams vying to be first to develop the technology, successfully sent its magnetically levitating XP-1 test pod zooming at nearly 200 mph through a 1,640-foot concrete vacuum tube at its Nevada desert test site on July 29. It was the second such test run, following the first one in May, and was a headline-grabber last week.

In Virginia, weekend traffic on Interstate 95 can certainly be as bad as it is on weekdays, especially during the summer.

Would running Virginia Railway Express trains during the weekend help unclog the interstate?

VRE thinks so, and the commuter rail service has an eye on providing weekend service, per its 2040 Long-Range Plan.

Hey, that is 23 years from now!

The plan, approved by VRE’s Operations Board in 2014, says weekend service could average 6,000 passenger trips “on a typical weekend day.”

That could take a lot of cars off the interstate.

It appears that any such expansion will rely on two major projects.

One is the Long Bridge project. The proposal calls for widening the bridge that spans the Potomac River, the only such railroad bridge connecting Virginia to Washington.

The other shoe that would have to drop would be the addition of a third track. It seems the fate of that addition relies on the D.C.-to-Richmond High Speed Rail Line proposal.

Both of those projects are winding through the tortuously long planning and approval process. The Federal Railroad Administration is expected to make a final decision in 2019.

In the meantime, maybe the Hyperloop will become a reality and someone will convince Musk to dig a tunnel from Fredericksburg to D.C. so we can stop fooling around and enjoy an easy trip to the capital and back.Both of those projects are winding through the tortuously long planning and approval process. The Federal Railroad Administration is expected to make a final decision in 2019.

In the meantime, maybe the Hyperloop will become a reality and someone will convince Musk to dig a tunnel from Fredericksburg to D.C. so we can stop fooling around and enjoy an easy trip to the capital and back.

Call it Metro schadenfreude: As New York’s subway woes worsen, Washingtonians offer sympathy


Transit advocates hold a rush-hour rally outside New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office in June to protest train delays and MTA shutdowns. Now that New York’s subway system is having major problems, commuters in Washington feel their pain after experiencing SafeTrack. (Kathy Willens/AP)

When Washington Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans arrived at the panel’s general meeting last month, he carried a copy of the New York Post featuring a characteristically provocative front page recounting the latest troubles of that city’s subway.

“For F’s sake,” read the headline, with a clever insertion of the orange symbol for New York’s “F” train. “Fix the subways!”

Evans used the headline as an opportunity for reflection on his own troubled transit system.

“Not that misery loves company . . . but I think this is another indicator that every one of the six subway systems throughout America is struggling with the same issues,” Evans said. “We’re not alone in this.”

Evans, it seems, is suffering from the affliction affecting many in the region: an acute case of subway schadenfreude — a slightly perverse sense of satisfaction in watching the failures of the nation’s premiere transit agency.

A look at the recent state of affairs at New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will probably ring familiar to D.C.-area commuters. In the last several months, chronic breakdowns and track problems have caused rush-hour meltdowns and lengthy, widespread delays. Late last year, protections for workers became a major cause for concern after one longtime employee was struck and killed by a passing train in a tunnel.

Two weeks ago, a derailment in Upper Manhattan may have been caused by equipment left on the tracks, resulting in at least 30 injuries. And soon thereafter, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) declared that the MTA was in a state of emergency and pledged an additional $1 billion to the MTA’s capital budget to expedite improvements.

Suddenly, Metro isn’t looking so bad, right?

“Some of these stories about what’s going on in New York — you could take out the proper nouns and insert ‘Washington’ and they’d make sense,” said Zachary M. Schrag, a historian at George Mason University and author of the seminal Metro tome, “The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro.” “So I guess that’s somewhat of a consolation.”

POTUS: Lincoln and NY Central Trains

So what does Abraham Lincoln have to do with the New York Central Railroad?

The plaque at the top tells it all. He rode the NY Central to his inauguration and again to his buriel.

Plaque in honor of President Lincoln at 414 W. 30th Street in NY City

It is at the site of the Hudson River Railroad’s New York City passenger station. Lincoln arrived here February 19, 1861 on his route to be inaugurated in Washington DC as President of the United States. After his assination Lincoln’s body went through here April 25, 1865. The Hudson River Railroad became part of the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad and moved it’s main station to what became Grand Central Terminal. The old Hudson River Railroad line in the city became the West Side Freight Line.

Read more about Lincoln

Read more about the NY Central Railroad

Pennsylvania RR Procedures: 1939 ROYAL TOUR

Schedule: Train from Red Bank, NJ to New York Penn Station. Royal Party boards US Navy Destroyer. Staff boards US Coast Guard Cutters.

Schedule: Train from New York Penn Station, passed to New Haven Railroad (SS-4). Proceeds to New Rochelle Yard. Reverses, changes power and goes To Mott Haven (SS-MO). Train delivered to New York Central RR. Power and crew change. Trains to Poughkeepsie (no power change at Harmon… NY Central “Hudson” all the way. Royal party entrains at Hyde Park. Train delivered to Delaware & Hudson at Rennselaer. Engine and crew change. NY Central pilot to Troy. Train crosses Green Island Bridge. Goes through Cohoes, Ballston Spa and Saratoga.

Schedule: Water and inspection stop at Whitehall. At Rouses Point, newspapermen, etc. detrain at Rouses Point. Train handed over to D&H subsidiary Napier Junction Ry. At Delson, train delivered to Canadian Pacific Ry.

Sleeping car service, dining car service, ticketing arrangements.

Parking and sanitary charges at Washington Terminal, Poughkeepsie. Equipment charachteristics.

Equipment characteristics continued

Electric lights, heating, air conditioning, water and icing

Pintsch gas, coal and charcoal, floodlighting and auxiliary generators

Gasoline: Drained at Red Bank and refilled at Poughkeepsie (not allowed in NY City tunnels). Telephone: Bell Telephone coordinated by Bell Telephone representative aboard royal train.

Spare parts, hopper shutes, first aid kits, mechanical and electronical supervisors on board. Police protection.

Baggage Masters assignments, CNR and CPR employees on board. Pennsylvania RR management assignments. Position of rear brakemen. Daily newspapers.

Pennsylvania RR officials copied

See more stories about the 1939 Royal Tour

FTA lays out plan for improving WMATA’s track problems

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) yesterday issued a safety directive requiring the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to complete 12 actions to correct track integrity deficiencies in its rail system.

The directive calls for WMATA to develop corrective action plans to address findings in an FTA report that resulted from its investigation of WMATA’s track this spring, FTA officials said in a press release.

The report addresses WMATA’s “systemic” deficiencies in track inspection resources and training, its track inspection manual, track quality oversight and supervision, and track construction and maintenance.

The FTA noted that WMATA track inspectors have inadequate training and that the transit agency doesn’t allow enough time for track inspection. The agency also lacks a clear process for track inspectors and supervisors to impose and remove speed restrictions, FTA officials said.

Additionally, WMATA’s inspection and maintenance activity doesn’t adequately address the tunnel drainage system where water can corrode track infrastructure, according to the FTA.

The FTA directed WMATA to develop additional track inspection training and certification requirements, expand use of a track inspection vehicle, and develop a formal procedure and protocol to ensure maintenance managers and track inspectors share information.

“While WMATA has taken a number of critical steps to address safety deficiencies, it must improve its track safety protocols and training programs,” said FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers. “In addition, greater coordination is needed between WMATA track and maintenance personnel to prioritize work and adhere to established standards, including conditions that warrant speed restrictions or single tracking.”

To enforce the safety directive, the FTA has the ability to withhold federal financial assistance from WMATA and direct the agency to use federal financial assistance to correct safety deficiencies. The FTA also could shut down sections of WMATA’s rail system.

Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) last week released the results of its investigation into WMATA’s July 29 derailment near the East Falls Church Station in Arlington, Va.

Although the NTSB didn’t provide a probable cause, the board noted that the distance between the rails on that section of track was 59 inches. WMATA standards require that tracks with a gauge greater than 57-and-a-quarter inches be removed from service, NTSB officials said in a press release.

NTSB investigators also identified a severe tie condition in the accident area and found that there were more than 30 feet of track with no effective crossties. WMATA’s standards require that there be no more than 10 feet between nondefective ties, according to the NTSB.

The board’s briefing to congressional staff on the incident marks its final update on its investigation into the derailment.

Also last week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx noted progress in efforts by Virginia, Maryland and District of Columbia officials to establish an independent oversight agency for WMATA.

In a letter to the leaders of the three jurisdictions, Foxx said that each has drafted new legislation that would meet the legal requirements for a new state safety oversight agency.

Foxx also reiterated that the February 2017 deadline to create such an agency will remain in place.

“The progress that the three jurisdictions have made to date clearly demonstrates that you are capable of meeting the deadline with continued focus,” Foxx wrote.

How Did One Get To The Pentagon? The Definitive Answer

One of our most popular blogs is “HOW DID ONE GET TO THE PENTAGON IN 1944?

I finally got the “real scoop” from Marie Early:

“I am 93 years old and went to work for the War Dept in Washington DC in June of 1941 five months before the start of WW II. I was 18 years old and had just graduated from high school. I was hired based on my civil service exam from Montana and I traveled across country by train to my first paying job. I was working in one of the first War Department offices that moved into the Pentagon after it was completed in 1943. I lived in NW Washington, D.C. and took the city bus to work every day via Pennsylvania Avenue to 14th Street across the Potomac on the 14th Street bridge. The road went under the Pentagon to the bus stop under the building where everyone got off.”

Guess I depended too muuch on rail and trolley experts.


Our featured image shows bus driver training

The company history does jive:
In 1933, all streetcars were brought under one company, Capital Transit. The streetcars began to scale back with the rising popularity of the automobile and pressure to switch to buses. After a strike in 1955, the company changed ownership and became DC Transit, with explicit instructions to switch to buses. The system was dismantled in the early 1960s and the last streetcar ran on January 28, 1962.

WMATA’s rail operations control center to be staffed by fire officer at all hours

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) next month will begin stationing a uniformed fire officer at its rail operations control center at all hours, agency officials announced yesterday.

Currently, fire liaisons are on duty at the center for a total of 80 hours a week Monday through Friday and during special events. The expansion calls for staffing the center 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help coordinate emergency communication between WMATA and first responders.

The expansion is the result of a new memorandum of understanding between the agency and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, WMATA officials said in a press release.

WMATA created the fire and rescue liaison position in July 2015.

In addition to coordinating emergency response, the fire liaisons will help develop policy recommendations and provide supplemental emergency training for rail controllers, agency officials said.

“Extending the hours of the fire/rescue liaison position at the Rail Operations Control Center ensures that first responders have ‘eyes and ears’ on Metrorail operations throughout the entire service day,” said WMATA’s Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik.

Since WMATA created the position, coordination between the agency and the region’s emergency responders has improved dramatically, said Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor in the release.

The new position was one of several additional safety initiatives aimed at improving emergency response. Following the January 2015 fatal smoke incident outside WMATA’s L’Enfant Plaza Station, the agency increased training, emergency drills and enhanced radio testing protocols to provide a real-time outage map for controllers and first responders.

Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board today is scheduled to release a report on the probable causes of last year’s fatal smoke incident. The federal agency’s report is said to criticize both WMATA and D.C.’s overall emergency response system, according to the Washington Post.

Just yesterday:

CSX train derails in Northeast Washington D.C., possible hazardous leak