Category Archives: Washington

U.S. transit agencies bolster security in wake of Paris attacks

Following last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris that left 129 dead and hundreds of others wounded, U.S. transit agencies have stepped up security measures.

Among agencies that announced tighter security yesterday is the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), which has upped the number of patrols, K9 sweeps and random bag checks and screenings for explosives across its system.

WMATA announced its beefed-up security actions following news yesterday of a video from the terrorist group the Islamic State warning of similar attacks on Washington, D.C. The group claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris.

The additional patrols began Friday evening and will continue for an unspecified period of time, WMATA officials said in a press release. At the same time, the agency’s police department has more than 20 K9 teams performing security sweeps in and around rail stations and other critical infrastructure.

Additionally, WMATA’s police force and local and federal law enforcement partners have implemented several other countermeasures that “are not visible to the traveling public,” agency officials said.

At a news conference yesterday, WMATA’s Police Chief Ron Pavlik said that the agency also would increase monitoring of its closed-circuit security footage.

“In light of the events in Paris you can never be too careful,” Pavlik said, according to The Washington Post. “Although there’s no credible threat here [in] the United States, we can’t turn a blind eye to the events that occurred in Paris.”

For its part, Amtrak is deploying extra K9 units, uniformed personnel and long guns, according to the paper.

Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo late last week directed state agencies, including the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), to be on a heightened state of alert.

Additional personnel at these agencies have been deployed at high-density areas and large public gatherings, Cuomo’s staffers said in a press release.

PANYNJ police have also increased security at bridges, tunnels, rail, the World Trade Center and elsewhere.

How did one get to the Pentagon in 1944?

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Recently, an author writing a book asked us how his “character” would have gone by train from Chicago to the Pentagon in 1944.The Pennsylvania Railroad (and all other railroads entering Washington DC) used Union Station. The formerly huge rail yard near the Pentagon, “Pot Yard”, was freight-only.

We took a look at DC Transit map and nothing shows as going across to the Pentagon. 1958 and 1944 are identical. This was the main trolley provider in DC. I confirmed this with .

Took a look at another map.

and found an interurban line that crosses the river at Arlington Junction and connects with DC Transit. So their MIGHT have been a rail route. But these interurbans were “on their knees” after the Depression and could not gear up to adequately serve the Pentagon. More discussion on topic:

I’m guessing the Army (did they control the Pentagon before there was a…

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Federal highway agency OKs construction alternative for CSX tunnel project in D.C.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHW) has approved a preferred construction alternative for CSX Corp.’s Virginia Avenue Tunnel project in Washington, D.C., enabling the Class I to complete design work and initiate the construction permitting process.

The decision marks the completion of an extensive environmental review conducted jointly with the District of Columbia Department of Transportation that incorporated three years of input from residents, businesses and government agencies in the southeast D.C. neighborhood around the tunnel, CSX officials said in a press release. The FHW approved temporary closure of Interstate 695 ramps located at 6th and 8th streets, and the occupancy of a portion of the 11th Street bridge right of way along the interstate.

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A Fascinating US Senator: Patrick Leahy

Most US Senators have a lot going for them. Not just officially, but in their personal interests. One of them is Patrick Leahy. Officially, he is the third in the pecking order if something bad ever happened to the President (Vice President, Speaker of the House, then Senator Leahy).

Over the course of a nearly 40-year career in the Senate, Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has toured the world, dined with presidents and brokered legislative deals – all while snapping photographs every step of the way.

Born blind in one eye, Leahy has used his front row seat to history to capture some of the most unique photographs of politicians and world leaders. Leahy gave “The Fine Print” a tour of some of his photos on display at Georgetown University Law Center at an exhibit curated by the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center.

During President Ronald Reagan’s second presidential inauguration, Leahy captured what turned out to be one of Reagan’s favorite photographs.

“President Reagan saw it. And he and Mrs. Reagan liked it the best of all the pictures they’d seen,” Leahy said. “They said we ought to invite this photographer in and thank him. They said what a coincidence it says photoed by Patrick Leahy. And somebody said Ah Mr. President, that’s Senator Leahy.”

“He invites me down, he hands me the photograph back,” Leahy said. “He wrote on it, ‘Pat can’t believe my favorite photograph was taken by a Democrat, but I really appreciate it. Ron.’”

In addition to photography, Leahy has used his creative side on the big screen, making cameos in four Batman movies. Leahy, who donates all of the proceeds he receives from the movies to the Vermont library where he checked out his first book, said his obsession with Batman began when he was reading as a young boy.

Leahy captured a rare photograph of then-Sen. Barack Obama as he spoke in a private room to his Democratic colleagues shortly after he was sworn into office.

“I was born blind in one eye and I learned to read when I was 4 years old,” Leahy said. “I got fascinated with Batman. I tend to remember everything I’ve ever read. And I can quote Batman comic books of 40 to 50 years ago.”

Patrick Leahy was elected to the United States Senate in 1974 and remains the only Democrat elected to this office from Vermont.  At 34, he was the youngest U.S. Senator ever to be elected from the Green Mountain State.

Leahy was born in Montpelier and grew up across from the Statehouse.  A graduate of Saint Michael’s College in Colchester (1961), he received his Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center (1964).  He served for eight years as State’s Attorney in Chittenden County where he gained a national reputation for his law enforcement activities and was selected as one of three outstanding prosecutors in the United States in 1974.

Leahy is the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He is the senior-most member of the Appropriations Committee and of the Agriculture Committee. Leahy is the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State Department, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. He ranks first in seniority in the Senate and is the President Pro Tempore.

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Silver Line Beats Projections: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

Less than two months after opening, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) new Silver Line has reached 60 percent of its projected ridership for the end of the first full year of service, agency officials announced.
As of last week, an average of 15,000 riders were entering the system at the five new Silver Line stations on weekdays for a combined 30,000 trips to or from the new stations, according to a WMATA press release. In the planning process, Silver Line ridership was projected to reach 25,000 boardings at the five new stations after a year of service.

Silver Line service began July 26 between Wiehle-Reston East Station in Fairfax County, Va., and Largo Town Center in Prince George’s County, Md. The new rail line represented the largest expansion of Metrorail since 1991.

Agency officials estimate the line is adding about 6,000 new riders — making about 12,000 trips — to the Metrorail system each weekday. The balance, approximately 9,000 riders, are primarily former Orange Line riders who have switched to the Silver Line, WMATA officials said.

Wiehle-Reston East remains the Silver Line’s most popular, having already surpassed first-year ridership projections with 8,400 boardings, or 16,800 weekday entries and exits. Wiehle-Reston East’s commute makes up about half the line’s ridership.

Tysons Corner Station is one of the few stations on the Metrorail system where ridership has been higher on Saturday than regular weekdays.

“In addition to being a great way to travel in Virginia and D.C., we are pleased to see the Silver Line is also connecting the region more broadly,” said WMATA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Richard Sarles. “On weekday mornings, nearly 10 percent of riders entering at the five new Silver Line stations are bound for stations in Maryland, and 17 percent of the riders exiting at the five new Virginia stations start their trips in Maryland.”

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