Transit Tuesdays: All D.C. roads, bike lanes, and bus routes lead to Walmart
- The store proposed at Georgia Ave and Missouri. (Photo: Wal-Mart)
Welcome back from Thanksgiving, D.C. The last week has been a news abyss as countless reporters voyaged home for the holidays but one monumental bit of news rippled through the media last week before droves of people left — we will officially become the District of Walmart, with six stores on their way to our fair capital city. Walmart has eyed the District cautiously for years and now presents incentives, crafted to woo our residents here.
Walmart even offers a special D.C.-centric website (on a Walmart domain created and registered back on March 17, 2010 from Bentonville, Arkansas), designed to show the value the huge store can offer us, complete with quotes from a Washington Post editorial splashed across the blue background. "The decision by Walmart to open six stores in the District over five to seven years is estimated to bring 1,800 new jobs to the city, create some 600 construction jobs and generate an estimated $15 million in tax revenue," the November 23 Post editorial declares. "Equally important is the fact that long-underserved neighborhoods will have convenient access to affordable groceries and other goods." The newspaper describes the new stores as a win and judges the incentives, reached between the mega-retailer and D.C. Mayor Vince Gray in what the mayor has called a Community Benefits Agreement, as icing on the cake.
What's most fascinating to me is how the new Walmart stores will impact D.C. transportation. When describing Columbia Heights now, people are practically obligated to talk about the Target. These big-box stores become hubs and can change a community, for better and for worse and in complicated ways that defy easy categorization. As part of its "icing," Walmart has, however, said that it will "implement a series of transportation demand management measures" that strike me as very 21st century and very relevant to how the District is growing. Walmart uses the phrase "safe and efficient multi-modal transportation" and says it will offer around $2 million that may go toward such measures as Capital Bikeshare stations, electric-car charging stations, SmarTrip kiosks, bike racks, and collaboration with WMATA on bus routes.
Not everyone is thrilled, of course, as we saw on yesterday's NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt, but the retail giant is a beast, and with its initiatives come force. Our D.C. government had pushed specifically for the $2 million for transportation measures and the millions for charity, according to Marina Streznewski of the D.C. Jobs Council on NewsTalk. I'm reminded of when Walmart began using the technology of bar codes and created a universal standard by sheer force of the company's size, as it's now attempting with RFID tags. Where were bar codes before Wal-Mart? For Walmart to invest in these transit innovations is a wise and smart move. I'm curious to see the degree to which the investment — and the stores themselves — will influence transportation in the District over the years and whether these promises will be honored ... and perhaps even bring real change to how business and transit work together.
Elsewhere in the realms of transportation, urbanism, and real estate...
WMATA map master moves to Union Station: Our central D.C. transit hub is a baffling maze but never fear. "The Union Station Redevelopment Corporation has hired Lance Wyman, who's also working on a new Metro map, to design a more cohesive wayfinding system for the complex," reports Lydia DePillis.
Broad Branch Road will close for five weeks, starting yesterday: All for repairs, DCist says, thanks to a large sink hole.
The package you don't want: Via the Wash Cycle, a FedEx truck hit four cyclists last Friday.
Should a driver pay $150 for stopping in the crosswalk? Naturally no driver should intrude on pedestrian space, and while drivers should potentially pay a penalty for stopping in the crosswalk, $150 seems a little high. Red-light cameras have registered this crosswalk offense as running a red light. To give such a fine for the crosswalk offense seems unnecessarily punishing. I talked to one woman who has struggled with one such $150 ticket for most of the past year.
Alert the e-alert manager: Unsuck D.C. Metro questions whether Metro's alert system is all that useful or even functional, which strikes me as especially relevant now after all the natural disasters and a high-profile suicide case that affected the system this season. "My question is, Metro, when, if ever, are you going to get your act together?" an anonymous rider asks. "I signed up for these updates so that I can call my office and let them know when I'll be late, but since I almost NEVER get them, I'm always late, and don't call ahead."
LivingSocial's new office is on the way: Prince of Petworth gives us a glimpse of what's happening around 7th and New York.
What can we videotape and photograph from our public spaces? Freelancer Alan Henney asks the question in a video and a November 25 e-mail to D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier. "This is a chronic problem faced by news photographers in the District," Henney writes. "The lack of a clear policy hampers news gathering efforts in the city. Many of my news colleagues simply choose not to report such incidents because their news organizations are concerned it might strain their relations with MPD." Mike DeBonis explored similar questions about the laws affecting photojournalism this week.
As the Watergate Safeway dies, so goes "the city within a city": That's what the Post argues, anyway, in speaking of the complex's "slow decline." I worked in the Watergate for a year not too long ago, and I don't quite buy the narrative of decay here. There's still a healthy amount of foot traffic in and around the Watergate, and with both a Trader Joe's and a new Whole Foods like 10 minutes walking distance away, no wonder this Safeway is closing.
Five bikeshare stations are coming to the Mall: NPS now seeks comment and has a map of potential locations.
Hooray for pretty transit: Union Station may be confusing but at least it's nice to look at? Atlantic Cities declares it's one of the world's most beautiful train stations in a slideshow that will have every transit enthusiast clicking through. "Built in the Beaux-Arts style in the early 20th century, this grand train station was modeled after the Arch of Constantine and the Baths of Caracalla and Diocletian in Rome and finished with white granite and solid mahogany woodwork." Nice!
Read more daily transportation news at TBD On Foot.
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