Jimmy and Becky Aligny's marriage on the net has already taken place, but
you can still catch a rerun, so I printed his notice below. Please get your submissions in
early if there is a time constraint involved. themail is published late on Wednesday and
Sunday evenings. I also break a rule in this issue by printing a multi-paragraph
submission explaining the purpose and use of the New Jersey barrier machine. If you send
me the article you wrote in the Washington Post, and give me permission to
reprint it in full, I might do it for you, too. Otherwise, brief and to the point is
always best. For me, too.
Rhoma Battle, President, Penn-Branch Citizens Civic Association, email@example.com
Here in the Penn-Branch area of southeast, we have recently stopped the
District government from consolidating and locating three welfare (income maintenance)
centers in our neighborhood shopping center. Our community vigorously opposed the project,
citing (among other things), that the presence of a mega welfare office in our
neighborhood would negatively effect the quality of life for residents one of one
of the few remaining black middle-class neighborhoods left in southeast. Of course our
position raised all sorts of class, race, and equity issues, but the bottom line for our
residents was the feeling that our community (and southeast in general), was already
supporting more than our fair share of human services (i.e. residential facilities, job
training centers, and drug/alcohol treatment homes), and that we needed to protect the
value of our homes and the quality of life that we have been able to maintain over the
Our recent battle with DHS points to a larger issue, particularly for
residents east of the river. As the District and federal governments (under new welfare
and housing reforms) begin to decentralize and disperse human services in the
neighborhoods (purportedly, to bring these services closer to the people that need them),
how do neighborhoods like ours weather the storm? Fortunately, we were able to draw upon
the resources of the business and government professionals that live here in order to
effectively beat back the human services onslaught that is underway here in southeast.
Other communities, I am afraid, have not, and will not be so fortunate. Our community (and
others like us), have to continually battle against the negative perceptions that prevail
about southeast Washington. DHS made a grave error in thinking that Penn-Branch residents
would accept a welfare office in the middle of their neighborhood. Our task now is to
continue our efforts to retain and attract higher-end businesses to our commercial
corridors, and to keep the residents who have chosen to stay, rather than move out to PG
County (sometimes referred to as Ward 9). This is the key to revitalizing and maintaining
our neighborhoods east of the river.
Free Ice Skating
Ed T. Barron, firstname.lastname@example.org
You don't have to go downtown for free ice skating. Just come on out to
the streets of AU Park. They are all covered with a half inch of frozen slush. As I took
my daily 2.7 mile constitutional early on Christmas morning I noted a disturbing contrast
between MD and D.C. All the mile of streets that I walked on through AU Park were covered
with frozen slush. There had been absolutely no efforts by the city to spread some salt to
make the roads safer to drive or walk on. As I crossed over Westmoreland Circle to walk
the back roads of Westmoreland Hills, it was like entering the city of Oz. All the back
streets had been salted and were now bare and dry.
It appears that the citizens of D.C. are second class and are not entitled
to the services equivalent to those provided to our nearby neighbors. This is not a nice
to have situation. This is a safety issue. People should be able to walk and or drive in
their neighborhoods without fear of slipping and sliding on ice covered roads. Let us hope
that the New Year will bring about a process that is more considerate of the safety and
welfare of the city' residents.
Although the city abdicates its responsibility for clearing their streets
of AU Park of ice and snow, that does not preclude homeowners (and renters) of homes in AU
Park from clearing the sidewalks in front of their homes. This is not only a courtesy, it
is a law. Although I have never heard or read of this law being enforced, it is still and
ordinance that should be followed. In New York, where there are a plethora of pedestrians,
the law is enforced and almost all the sidewalks are promptly cleared after a storm. Many
folks in AU Park walk to Janney school each day. Many more walk on the sidewalks to get to
the Tenleytown Metro Station or to the bus on Wisconsin. On the other side of AU Park we
have those who walk to the Spring Valley Shopping Center and to Super Fresh. Why risk a
lawsuit and injuring a pedestrian when with just a few minutes of shoveling you can make
things safer for those who would walk to these places rather than pollute the air with
more exhausts from their cars. And some folks in AU Park just don't drive. Mass Ave. is a
very heavily traveled pedestrian route for those going to the Spring Valley shopping
center. The commercial enterprises do a good job of clearing their walks. American
University is the one exception. The wide sidewalk in front of the AU Law School building
was notably unavailable due to the ice until it was finally melted by the sun's rays
yesterday. The number of homes where the sidewalks are cleared are almost negligible.
People clear the path from their front door, but stop there. Perhaps this is an issue that
should be addressed at the ANC meetings.
Mrs. Simpson's Demise (No, Not Nicole)
Phil Greene, email@example.com
Perhaps this is old news, but does anyone know the story behind the
abdication (sorry, couldn't resist) of the restaurant Mrs. Simpson's, which was located in
between the Zoo and Woodley Park on Connecticut? There is a sign on the door, posted by
disgruntled ex-employees, explaining that the joint closed without warning on November 20,
and suggested that the owners were on the lam, spending money that should go toward back
pay for said employees. There was also a legal notice, which I took as service of process
for a suit from the landlord for failure to pay rent. What gives? Does anyone know more?
I'd always thought of it as a nice restaurant, although a recent review I read spoke of
it's sharp decline in quality of late.
How to Get White House Tour Tickets
John-david W. Franklin, 215-849-0829, Fax: 215-849-0188, firstname.lastname@example.org
I've been a subscriber and avid fan for over a year....but, I need a small
favor; albeit, the late date and time of the year. I wanted to come to DC next week and am
finding it impossible to get White House tour tickets! Any way you could help me out, pull
some strings for a subscriber? Help will be generously remunerated....but all the same,
Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year from Philadelphia. Would greatly appreciate your
[Getting White House Tour tickets shouldn't require any influence, string
pulling, or remuneration. The easiest way to get them, without standing in the ticket line
at the White House Visitors' Center in the Commerce Building at 14th and Pennsylvania
Avenue, NW, is to go to your local Congressman's or Senators' offices. They all are given
a supply of them that they are happy to give to constituents. You can probably also get
them them through your Congressman's field office, if you want to be sure to have them
before you come to Washington. Anyone else have any suggestions? Gary Imhoff]
Help! I've been selected for a Grand Jury in DC! According to the folks at
the courthouse, I am required to serve (get this) every weekday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
for five weeks. Five weeks? Doesn't that seem excessive? Needless to say, my boss was not
thrilled. Anybody been through this ordeal? Got any advice?
New Jersey Barrier Machine
Andy Meadow, email@example.com
On the Roosevelt Bridge, the Jersey Barrier Machine is used after each
weekday morning rush hour (around 10 or 10:30 AM) to change the lane configuration from
three incoming and two outgoing into three outgoing and two incoming. The bridge is then
ready for evening rush hour. Sometime during the night or early morning the configuration
is switched back. Incidentally, over a year ago a new, enclosed machine that looks like a
formidable Winnebago replaced the previous open-to-the-elements machine. I have personally
seen both machines in action over the last six years.
Jersey Barrier Machine
Dana Cole, firstname.lastname@example.org
I used to commute to Tyson's Corner and have actually seen this machine in
motion. It is used to move the Jersey Barriers to add an east-bound lane over the bridge
in the morning, and to reverse the lane, adding a westbound land in the evening rush hour.
Inquiry about Machine on Roosevelt Bridge
Julie Makinen Bowles, email@example.com
Don't condemn the D.C. Government just yet. If you're talking about the
machine I think you're talking about, that's no idle piece of equipment. It is used to
adjust the median on the bridge so that in the morning, there are more lanes inbound than
outbound, and vice versa in the evenings. This is a great service for all commuters
(though not really DC residents, I guess). I refer you to a piece I wrote about this
phenomenon in the Washington Post in May, 1995. Here is the article: (Note: since
I wrote this piece, the old-timey pumpkin orange machine has been replaced with a newer,
high tech model.)
2 Men Toil Toward A Happy Median
Julie Makinen, Washington Post Staff Writer
It's 4 a.m. on a Monday on the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge, and
James R. Gray and Millegan Cobia are hard at work moving more than a million pounds of
Eight hours later, they'll move it all back.
It is the same routine day after day: back and forth, forth and back,
twice a day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year (holidays excluded).
Their work is repetitive, but it's nothing short of a godsend for the tens
of thousands of Virginians who commute on the bridge that carries Interstate 66 between
Arlington and the District.
Gray and Cobia are the median men the contractors in charge of
creating an additional lane for traffic by shifting the segmented concrete divider on the
bridge every weekday before dawn and again at midday.
It's a costly, awkward procedure originally conceived as a temporary way
to combat gridlock while the Whitehurst Freeway was under construction in 1991. But as the
Northern Virginia suburbs have continued to grow the bridge now carries 100,000
cars a day traffic engineers say moving about 1.5 million pounds of concrete twice
daily has become vital to the Washington commute. And as the city's aging bridges crumble
and major rehabilitation becomes necessary, shifting medians will be sprouting up on more
spans, traffic engineers predict.
Without it, they'd be stopped almost dead, said John Payne,
acting chief of traffic operations for the D.C. Department of Public Works, which oversees
the program and owns the machine that moves the median. It's worked really well
since we put it up there.
Although Gray and Cobia make it look simple, median-moving is anything
Sitting in separate cockpits on each end of the pumpkin-orange
Transfer/Transport Vehicle, as their concrete-moving contraption is officially
called, the two men must work together to pluck more than 1,000 concrete segments from the
road surface. The pieces, linked with metal pins into a jointed ribbon, are then snaked
through a conveyor of rollers on the underside of the machine and plunked down one lane
over. The process usually takes less than 20 minutes.
This thing is tricky, said Cobia, who went through more than a
week of hands-on driver's ed to learn how to run the vehicle, despite his
years in the construction business.
The caterpillar-like thing, as he calls it, doesn't drive like
a car, or even a bulldozer, for that matter. It's something altogether
different, he said.
Like most operators of rare vehicles, Gray and Cobia devote about 10
percent of their time to driving and 90 percent to maintenance, keeping the diesel-powered
median machine well lubed and often installing fresh rollers.
From time to time, they must replace concrete pieces that are damaged by
cars, and they're forever repainting the orange guide line down the center of the bridge
that keeps them from veering too far to the right or the left.
The machine itself is kept on the bridge at the end of the concrete
barriers. When Gray and Cobia are not working on the median project, they do other work
for their company, Facchina Construction Co., based in Maryland.
Unlike other, simpler means of creating extra lanes during rush hour, such
as using lighted directional arrows as is done along 16th Street NW, median-moving has its
advantages, Payne said.
The most obvious is safety: A solid barrier helps prevent head-on
collisions, particularly during that precarious time when the lanes switch direction. And
for workers, it's safer than methods such as placing traffic barrels in lanes by hand.
Median-moving does have its perils, the top three being cold weather,
small projectiles lobbed by inconsiderate motorists and airborne hubcaps.
Hubcaps come flying off every day, said Gray, standing near a
pile of twisted wire-spoked caps at the side of the road as he pointed to a bump in the
bridge that's notorious for springing them loose. In a few years, we could go into
the hubcap business.
The generally reliable machine has been stubborn to start on a few frigid
mornings, and a few years back, the concrete pieces actually froze to the deck of the
But most days, the $15,000-a-month project, which is funded by Virginia
and the federal government, runs without a hitch. Its success has led D.C. officials to
use median-movers on the current John Philip Sousa Bridge construction work, and when
repairs begin on the New York Avenue bridge, such a system likely will be used. Other
governments from New Zealand to New York have begun using median-movers as a permanent
means of improving traffic flow in congested areas.
It's a crazy-looking machine, and everybody likes to stare at
it, Gray admits. But it sure does work. Without it, these people would be
going nowhere fast.
A Little Guilty Pleasure
David Vyorst, firstname.lastname@example.org
Start 1999 with guilty gastronomical pleasure: The National Institute for
Jewish Leadership is proud to invite you to our first ever GUILT BRUNCH,
serving up lox, bagels, interesting people and sinful desserts! No need to feel guilty for
too long as all participants will receive free passes (good anytime for a single visit) to
the JCC's fabulous gym and many will gather Monday evening, January 11th to work off the
calories. Join us for a little wicked fun!
Sunday January 10, 1999, at 11 am - 2 pm, District of Columbia Jewish
Community Center, 16th and Q Streets, NW, $9 members/$12 non-members. Please RSVP
202-518-9400 ext. 362.
Marriage on the Internet
Jimmy Alignay, Jimmy@alignay.com
Local broadcaster and science teacher marry on the Internet and plan to
use technology in the classroom. All of you are invited to join us on our wedding day!!!
Dec 27, 1998, 5:00 pm EST. Live video Internet broadcast at: http://www.ourweddingday.org If you can't
make come back for the rebroadcast afterwards. Thanks for all your prayers and support!
Love, Jimmy and Becky. Sligo Adventist Church 7700 Carroll Avenue, Takoma Park, MD 20912.
In regards to Improv at 1140 Connecticut Ave. Generally Tuesday nights its
FREE with an Improv t-shirt ($12). I hope to perform, sometime in January! Watch for me in
Homicide, 2/5/99, I get shot!
CLASSIFIEDS SERVICES WANTED
ISO Driving School or Instructor
Stuart Weiser, email@example.com
My wife just got her Learner's Permit and is looking for a good driving
instructor or school. She has driven with a permit in the past, but has never had a
license nor has she driven in DC. Any recommendations?
CLASSIFIEDS VOLUNTEERS WANTED
Volunteers Needed for Anthony Williams Transition
Jeffrey Itell, Story@intr.net
I am looking several volunteers to help me finish a major communications
project for the Williams transition. The work consists of searching the Nexis database,
formatting text files (which can be done at home), and building simple web pages. Pick
one, pick them all. I'll be working with you on the project. This is an especially good
week for conducting the Nexis search. I have access to an account in Rosslyn and the
machine will be free most of the week. Days and evenings both work. Please contact me as
soon as possible by email or telephone, 202.244.4163.
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