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12 March 2013


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Abu Sinan

I have been in Alexandria a year now. Previously I lived out in Chantilly and faced a 1 to 1.5 hour drive each way. I would be more than happy to move back out to the suburbs again if there was practical public transport option.

We sit here in the great country in the world, in it's capital, and we probably have the worst public transport system of any capital city in the western world.


What ever happened to the idea of moving some of the government offices out of metropolitan D.C.? Surely a number of those jobs don't require location in the Capital itself?


Col. Lang, isn't public transport "Socialism"?



If this be socialism let us make the most of it. Infrastructure projects are one of the valid functions of the federal government IMO. You must have me confused with someone else. pl

The Twisted Genius

I took the VRE train from Quantico to Alexandria for a number of years. It changed my commute from a nightmare crapshoot on I-95 (aptly named the Purple Heart Highway) to a restful ride along the banks of the Potomac with fellow travelers that formed a happy, friendly and interesting community. I looked forward to the several times a year when my commute coincided with the sunrise over the Potomac... absolutely beautiful. IMHO, public money invested in trains, streetcars and similar forms of public transportation is money well spent.

I recently heard about a study stating that it would take something like 36 lanes on I-66 to prevent gridlock in the future. I-95 is much worse.

Five years in Germany showed me what a joy a well developed rail system can be. I don't know if we can equal that given our settlement patterns, but moving in that direction would be a great idea.

Edward Amame

The...federal government need to act on this proposal While the "big Democratic Party dominated lands of wonderfulness" like my own NY may heartily approve of public transportation, the smaller states in real America, maybe not so much. So good luck with that.


Edward Amame

It seems you have never lived in the washington metro area. The apparatus of the Congress will press hard for this plan because so many staffers, members, lobbyists, etc live in northern Virginia. There will also be lot of state money in this. pl



There are already many government offcies and contractors in N. Virginia. pl


Concur, but the Metro will then have to lay on more trains for the Blue line. Several months ago, they cut down the number of Blue trains to allow more Orange line trains to go through Roslyn. At times now - during rush hour- you will see 4 Yellow line trains in a row before a Blue line train.

Lived in Vienna and Moscow- both excellent public transportation and metro systems. The DC-Northern VA- MD system is 3rd world in comparison. Disgraceful for our capital area.

Abu Sinan

There are a lot of government offices over all Northern Virginia, but it doesnt help. When I first got here we were in Crystal City, now we are in Alexandria next to Old Town.

Roads, or more of them isnt the answer. Spreading out offices across Northern Virginia will not help either. We need large amounts of efficient and affordable mass transit. When I lived in Chantilly I took mass transit for awhile. I tried the VRE, but it was a 20 minute drive there at 6am in the morning and then 45 minutes or so on the VRE. Taking a bus to the metro and then the metro was a good 1 1/2 hour trip each way.

Northern Virginia is bedroom community and very spread out. If you live more than 15 miles outside of DC your ability to readily access public transport is limited or non existant. Some of the fastest growing communities are in places like loudoun county that have really no public transport option for DC or locations just across the river.

I believe if there were a lot more viable options not only would it dramatically cut down travel times and traffic congestion, it would also help lower the property prices in the areas cloest DC which are now an absolute premium for those who have the money and dont want the commute. Cut the time it takes to get to DC, make it more available, and people wont be as willing to pay the prices for houses and apartments close into the city.

You can easily spend $2,500 for an apartment close to the Pentagon, on the Virginia side, that is VERY small. Pentagon Row, you can spend up to $6,000 a month on a 3 bedroom apartment.


abu sinan

"it would also help lower the property prices in the areas closest DC" So, i should be against this? pl

Clifford Kiracofe

Both fine ideas. We used to have a lot of rail in Virginia back when.

Gov. James Madison was active in "public improvements" an old word for public infrastructure.

Public infrastructure projects have been core values in the US since the 18th century: roads, canals, railroads, ports, and the like.

George Washington himself surveyed and promoted the Kanawa Canal project.

In the 19th century, public infrastructure was a key plank of the old Whig Party...and so on.

Our national infrastructure is disintegrating and instead of spending trillions for unnecessary wars it is certainly time to spend some public money on public infrastructure or "Improvements."

Right-wing nutcases who decry public infrastructure are infantile...and disconnected from the history and culture of their own country.



I am reminded that Claudius Crozet was hired as commonwealth engineer to do infrastructure. He designed VMI as well. pl


The socialism line was not so much directed at you I guess. I had it at my fingertips as well, but walrus beat me to it.

He probably meant that as a pun on the US right wing standard line (at least I understand it that way, and would have made the point that way), that sees complete privatisation as the remedy of choice for everything, and wants the government out of about anything that can or could also be handled for profit by the private sector. One hears that nonsense a about as soon as one turns on FOX or the like.

Public transport is very sensible for metropolitan areas and neighbouring centres. By all means, go for it. Never mind the howling from the right; it can be safely ignored on such issues.


I do my daily commute to work on public transport, tram mostly, right across town. I love it. I can get about anywhere in town reasonably fast on public transport. The network is quite well developed.

My morningly commute is indeed restful, when I get a seat, which is the case most of the time. Gives me 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to read. Nice.

scott s.

Well, I guess Metro is the great gift from the taxpayers of America to the fed workers of NoVa. You're welcome. BTW how is the light rail in the District doing these days?



I try to believe that I am whatever Madison was. I would not aspire to what Jefferson was. pl

William R. Cumming

Time for the Satellite City concept for DC. Perhaps Richmond, VA.,Hagerstown and Frederick, MD. and Baltimore? HIGH SPEED RAIL!

And move the Pentagon to Ft. Riley?


I like Madison's quote "Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives".

When I read of madness like Texas school curricula, or the 'let's privatise everything' mantra, I can't but lament that the wisdom of his dictum has been discarded long ago among so called "movement conservatives", IMO very much to the detriment of the body politic.

Clifford Kiracofe

Yes indeed and his legacy lives on in a number of places to include VDOT, a "state" agency, which gives us some of the best roads in the country.

Crozet, Virginia is named for him and is the site of an impressive railroad tunnel he engineered. He did railroads, canals, bridges, turnpikes and other such infrastructure.

A new proposal for a "rails to trails" project by Nelson County would feature his tunnel near Crozet as an historic site.

It is interesting how Crozet was associated with the Ecole Polytechnique established by Gaspard Monge. We still have exchanges and visits of students with them annually and some VMI professors have taught there.

I would note that we are also seeing a developing interest in some of the cadets to take a rigorous semester at St. Cyr.

The ethos of civil engineering and "public improvements"/infrastructure is alive and well at VMI continuing the Crozet legacy.


Here is the website for the American Society of Civil Engineers, "Report Card" section which documents the disintegration of American infrastructure and offers solutions:

I believe two infantile governors, Wisconsin and New Jersey, in the US rejected railroad infrastructure/mass transit proposals, so the un-American nut case mondo bizarro ideology does impact on citizens's lives in significant ways.

Clifford Kiracofe

Yes, Germany certainly has a nice system.

The Chinese railroad infrastructure development is stunning. The long distance high speed trains are really something and their metro in Beijing is great.

Abu Sinan


As a homeowner, maybe, but I wouldnt hold your breath. The type of expansion of public transport needed to have any real impact on housing is not going to happen.

Clifford Kiracofe


The so-called "movement conservatives" after WWII but had roots in some right wing orgs of the 1930s such as the American Liberty League which was in turn linked to European fascism, or we can say the European Conservative Movement of the 1920s and 30s and 40s.


The US movement conservatives penetrated the Republican Party in the Goldwater era, though in some ways he himself disavowed them.

Their economic theories are a mish-mash of Ayn Rand, the Austrian School, and assorted oddities none of which have roots in American culture. Just the sort of mish-mash the recent Republican VP candidate and many of his colleagues espouse.

It is elementary that the native American Henry Charles Carey, for example, was the leading economic influence on the Republican Party in the 19th century and also influenced some sensible Democrats as well.

Friedrich List, a leading German economist of the 19th century, spent time in the US and learned many things, to include the value of infrastructure.

And of course we can recall the great Minister of Finance Jean-Baptiste Colbert of 17th century France. He advanced many infrastructure projects to included canals.


Senator Byrd moved parts of the Treasury to Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Any number of agencies could also move out of town and take a load off the traffic.

After spending 30-odd years commuting in from nearby Franconia, I couldn't wait to move out. It must be maddening to be 20+miles out.


The problem with extending the Orange and Yellow/blue lines out even further is one of capacity. Metro screwed themselves when it was originally conceived as a medium capacity system. All the lines have two tracks, no express through tracks. The tunnels and right of ways can't add any more tracks. The trains are already packed on the Orange line going into DC from Vienna in the morning. By the time the train gets to West Falls Church there are no seats and it's sardine can by the time it gets to Arlington County. I don't even want to think about what the trains look like once the Silver Line trains start sharing the same tracks. Putting the stations further out will exacerbate the overcapacity even more. If metro wants to go further out, they will need to address the overcapacity issue. They can't add any more trains as it's at maximum capacity at rush hour already.

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