Sunday, January 08, 2006

traffic cams and out-of-control underground construction

Like many cities, DC has lots of traffic cameras with internet feeds (traffic cams). The Washington Post Traffic Video Center provides access to them. In fact there are about 300 traffic cams in the Washington area.

Here are two static images lifted from the site.

This shows an intersection that I pass through twice a day. In the morning, I'm out of sight off to the left. In the afternoon I pass by in the direction the one-way arrows are pointing (the ones under the no-left-turn signs). This is the junction of New York and New Jersey Avenues. It's a busy intersection. I generally have to stop and wait at this light and that makes the location a particularly familiar one.

This shows the front of LC's Madison Building, where I work. The bright lights upper-left are part of the very extensive post-9/11 Capitol Police security operation. The camera is mounted midway between the adjacent corners of the three LC buildings. It faces west, so you can see the front of the Madison Building and part of the Cannon House Office Building.

This map may help you visualize the location of the camera. Click to enlarge.

The map reminds me of the humongous construction project that's been going on for the past few years in this area. There was a feature article about it in last Saturday's paper:

Visitor Center Inches Along
Costs Keep Rising, Deadlines Are Pushed Back, Yet Some See Progress
By Petula Dvorak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 7, 2006; Page B01

The project is plagued by delays, a ballooning budget and growing scope. [It] began as a $71 million anteroom and rest stop for visitors. It has turned into an approximately $550 million extension of the U.S. Capitol that looks like an underground football stadium.

The center will include an expansive dining area, dozens of restrooms, two gift shops, two 250-seat movie theaters and a high-tech, interactive museum.

[Add-ons include a] secret network of tunnels and passageways more than 50 feet below ground to hold 15,000 gallons of water for use in decontaminating people, if necessary.

[More add-ons appeared as] some in Congress said it would be a good time to expand the office space for members.

The space that resulted from all the add-ons is almost large enough to move the entire Congress and its operations underground. There is a $37 million tunnel to the Library of Congress and a 1,000-foot, two-lane truck tunnel for service deliveries, which is at least five months behind schedule. Another $1 million was added for a rush job on the pave stones for last year's inauguration, so that President Bush could review the troops on the East Front of the Capitol, Fontana said.
Note the $37 million tunnel to LC. Top management at the Library have been making plans to wow the hoards of tourists that are expected to plunge through it. A major undertaking to say the least.

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