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Author Topic: USDOT office / other DC sites  (Read 6267 times)

rschen7754

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USDOT office / other DC sites
« on: March 26, 2012, 01:04:02 PM »

I'm visiting DC in a few days... but I won't have a car, and will be on foot and using the Metro. Is the USDOT office worth going to? Also, are there any other interesting places I can get to on foot? I've been to the typical memorials / White House / Capitol / Smithsonians several years ago.
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1995hoo

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Re: USDOT office / other DC sites
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2012, 01:39:03 PM »

The DOT offices aren't worth a trip on their own since you generally can't go inside anyway unless you have an appointment with someone. But if you're here on a day when the Nationals are playing, or if you decide to go take the ballpark tour, then you could always look at DOT headquarters afterwards since it's close by.

When you say "interesting places," do you mean road- or transportation-related things to see or just interesting things in general? I think the Newseum (6th & Pennsylvania NW) is interesting and worth a visit, and from a tourism standpoint you'd be getting one of the best views of the Capitol in the city (other than going up to the top of the Old Post Office tower) when you go out onto the rooftop terrace. The Newseum is a museum about the news. There is a fee to get in, I think around $20 (we had a coupon when we went last month and so I don't recall the full price). If you were last here several years ago, you likely didn't visit it because it only moved downtown fairly recently from its old location in Virginia.
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Beltway

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Re: USDOT office / other DC sites
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2012, 01:56:24 PM »

USDOT has a large library that has many very interesting books, studies and brochures, and it is open to the public.  Well worth the trip.
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1995hoo

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Re: USDOT office / other DC sites
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2012, 01:59:00 PM »

USDOT has a large library that has many very interesting books, studies and brochures, and it is open to the public.  Well worth the trip.


Wow, I did not know that. Most federal office buildings don't let the public inside. You've given me something new to go check out sometime. I've been into the new DOT buildings for a job interview awhile back and the architecture was more interesting than the old headquarters, but that's about it. Thanks for correcting me.
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"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
—Olaf Kolzig, as quoted in the Washington Times on March 28, 2003,
commenting on the Capitals clinching a playoff spot.

"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"—Kolzig, to the same reporter a few seconds later.

rschen7754

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Re: USDOT office / other DC sites
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2012, 04:56:52 PM »

When you say "interesting places," do you mean road- or transportation-related things to see or just interesting things in general?

Primarily road-related things (can you walk to get good pictures of I-695 or US 50 for example?)
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Re: USDOT office / other DC sites
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2012, 05:02:29 PM »

You can walk over the Roosevelt Bridge and see a DC-US 50.
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1995hoo

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Re: USDOT office / other DC sites
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2012, 05:46:09 PM »

When you say "interesting places," do you mean road- or transportation-related things to see or just interesting things in general?

Primarily road-related things (can you walk to get good pictures of I-695 or US 50 for example?)

If you want an I-695 shield, probably the best chance (and I emphasize "chance") might be to take the Metrorail Green Line to the Anacostia stop, then take the exit located closer to the rear of the train, go up to the top of the parking garage, and point your camera at the overhead signs on the highway (I do not say BGSs because as of a few weeks ago at least one of them was orange). You'd need a zoom lens to make it work. All the I-695 signs I know of, which is not many, are in a work zone on some fairly high-speed roads with no good pedestrian access. I-695 itself extends further than that but doesn't have the number posted. Also, note that a couple of the neighborhoods I-695 runs through can be a bit rough.

For a trivia point, insofar as I know there is still a sign for I-95 and I-295 to Virginia and Maryland located underneath the L'Enfant Promenade on D Street SW. The sign most likely predates the renumbering of I-95 to I-395. Down the street from there where D Street passes over the 9th Street Tunnel on the north side of the street you can find a weird "Do Not Enter" sign that is shaped like a stop sign.

Part of what makes your query tricky is that you specified places you can get to on foot. The pedestrian/bike path over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge is a nice walk or ride, but getting to it without a car or bike is a bit of a hassle. It's a long way from the nearest Metro station, and the trip BACK would seem even longer. To me, as a long-time resident of Northern Virginia, the most interesting road-related thing going on right now is the widening of the Beltway in Virginia to add high-occupancy/toll lanes, but obviously you can't easily view much of that without a car either. There's a pedestrian overpass on the W&OD Trail just north of the I-66/Beltway interchange, but it's a long walk from the closest two Metro stations. Of course, it also helps that I've seen the renderings for what they're doing and that I drive on that road at least once a week—I'm sure watching the project evolve is an important part of why I find it interesting.

I suppose one bit of DC road arcana that you could do would be to walk the notorious closed portion of Klingle Road. You'd need to take the Metrorail Red Line to Cleveland Park, then walk down Porter Street to the interchange there. Look for the fenced-off road with the "Do Not Enter" sign. Go over to that fence and slip through the gate or walk around it. Klingle Road was a public road for many years that was closed due to storm-induced erosion damage in 1991 and it's never been reopened as local residents and city officials have fought for some 20 years about whether it should be rebuilt as a road or turned into a biking/walking trail. (Lawsuits continue.) The road runs through the woods, under Connecticut Avenue, and up a hill; the other end of the closed part is blocked with jersey barriers. If you look at a map of DC you can probably figure out where the closed segment is by noting the two unconnected pieces of Klingle Road and tracing the route through the park between them. NOTE, this is not a walk you do in bad weather or at night. Don't even consider going down there at night. The pavement is uneven and broken up and there are no streetlights; there are also occasional rumors of drug activity and the like because it's so isolated, so I could understand not going at all. There is a sign saying pedestrians are prohibited, but plenty of people ignore it. Obviously, you go at your own risk.



« Last Edit: March 26, 2012, 05:51:51 PM by 1995hoo »
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"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
—Olaf Kolzig, as quoted in the Washington Times on March 28, 2003,
commenting on the Capitals clinching a playoff spot.

"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"—Kolzig, to the same reporter a few seconds later.

Beltway

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Re: USDOT office / other DC sites
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2012, 06:34:47 PM »

USDOT has a large library that has many very interesting books, studies and brochures, and it is open to the public.  Well worth the trip.


Wow, I did not know that. Most federal office buildings don't let the public inside. You've given me something new to go check out sometime. I've been into the new DOT buildings for a job interview awhile back and the architecture was more interesting than the old headquarters, but that's about it. Thanks for correcting me.

Well, it has been over 20 years since I went there ... but I would think that it would still be open to the public.
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Scott M. Savage
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J N Winkler

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Re: USDOT office / other DC sites
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2012, 07:11:06 PM »

These days it has gotten so bad I don't even want to try to post, on a public forum, a list of state DOT headquarters offices which don't have some form of door control.

It doesn't surprise me that USDOT HQ in Washington has it.  I have visited the Nuevos Ministerios in Madrid and it has it (I show my passport when I want to be admitted to visit the Centro de Documentación or to see the proyectos de construcción on the seventh floor).  I have visited Great Minster House in London and I was able to get past the turnstiles only because I had an appointment inside.  At the Hôtel Roquelaure in Paris, which I have not actually tried to visit, there is a gendarme stationed at the main gate and I don't think you can even get into the car park without explaining your business to him.  I have actually been inside the German federal transport ministry building (on Invalidenstrasse in Berlin), but that was during a Tag der offenen Tür in late August when they admit the public to a dog-and-pony show in the reception rooms on the ground floor.

Door control policies tend to have carve-outs for library visits and the like, and typically these do not require advance notice, but the amount of control that is applied varies.  At the Nuevos Ministerios your identification is examined and you are issued with a visitor sticker, but no-one is assigned to watch you while you are inside the building.  At Caltrans HQ you have to state your business at the front desk and you must wait while a Caltrans staffer comes down to accompany you as you go within the building.  You get a visitor badge but that staffer is responsible for your movements in the building, so you are expected to announce bathroom visits in advance and that sort of thing.
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rschen7754

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Re: USDOT office / other DC sites
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2012, 07:20:24 PM »

I did a bit of research, and apparently you can go into the library part: http://ntl.bts.gov/visit_ntl.html
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Re: USDOT office / other DC sites
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2012, 08:53:40 PM »

Bring a bike helmet and get either the 24-hour or 3-day (depending on how long you're here) membership to Capital Bikeshare.  It'll be the easiest way to get around the middle of town, and you can also use it to reach areas not easily accessible by Metro.
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hbelkins

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Re: USDOT office / other DC sites
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2012, 09:38:22 PM »

These days it has gotten so bad I don't even want to try to post, on a public forum, a list of state DOT headquarters offices which don't have some form of door control.

KYTC instituted it last year because of problems with troublemakers at the "one-stop shop" vehicle titling and licensing facility inside the building.

Anyone coming through the front door must empty their pockets and pass through a metal detector. Elevators and doors work with swipe badges only so an escort is required. There is a cafeteria on the first floor that gets some business from the next-door Capital Plaza Tower, which houses several state offices (including the Department of Education, where my brother works). The doors were previously open to the public at street level. I think so many people complained about having to come through the front door and empty their pockets in order to eat lunch that they may have installed a badge scanner that is compatible with access badges from the other building. I know my brother always comes in the side door whenever he meets me for lunch when I am in Frankfort, so i will have to ask him if the door is open or if he swipes his work badge.

I need to ask about the weapons policy. My brother has a concealed carry permit and is usually packing heat.
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Re: USDOT office / other DC sites
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2012, 09:48:10 PM »

Check out www.alpsroads.net/roads/dc for some ideas - most everything in the city is walkable. I've spent time around the Mall, heading across a few of the bridges (all worthwhile) and around the Lincoln Monument, along the I-66 stub and above the K St. Expwy, under the Whitehurst, etc. etc. Any of the old DC-US shields should be fairly easy to get to, especially the 50 on the north side of the mall and the 1 NB from there. There are a bunch of erroneous 29s in Dupont Circle, plus the circle itself is neat. You can definitely explore the I-295/695 stub on foot, since there's just about no traffic out that way. Also be on the lookout near I-395 for a bunch of old district-named shields, some of which have the 395 over the original 95, and at least one or two for 295. Crossing I-395, you can see closed-off lanes that would have been for I-95 through traffic. What you can't see on foot is pretty minimal - most freeway signage, for example, or the I-395 tunnels.

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Re: USDOT office / other DC sites
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2012, 09:53:16 PM »

I need to ask about the weapons policy. My brother has a concealed carry permit and is usually packing heat.

That would not be advisable in the District of Columbia (since that was the original subject of this thread), even though the U.S. Supreme Court recently struck-down the most-restrictive D.C. gun laws.

Also, a fair amount of the city (including the National Mall and some streets where it is not so obvious) are under jurisdiction of the National Park Service, which imposes additional restrictions on possession of firearms.
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Re: USDOT office / other DC sites
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2012, 10:34:25 PM »

I need to ask about the weapons policy. My brother has a concealed carry permit and is usually packing heat.

That would not be advisable in the District of Columbia (since that was the original subject of this thread), even though the U.S. Supreme Court recently struck-down the most-restrictive D.C. gun laws.

Also, a fair amount of the city (including the National Mall and some streets where it is not so obvious) are under jurisdiction of the National Park Service, which imposes additional restrictions on possession of firearms.

Most definitely, D.C. does not have reciprocity with any state with regard to a citizen's concealed handgun license.
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Scott M. Savage
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rschen7754

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Re: USDOT office / other DC sites
« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2012, 01:25:22 AM »

That, and it would be extremely stupid to carry a weapon anywhere near Capitol Mall, regardless of whether it is technically legal or not. There's cops all over the place who might question you for getting too close to the wrong building.
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rschen7754

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Re: USDOT office / other DC sites
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2012, 01:31:41 AM »

I went to the library today... they checked my ID, had me go through security, gave me a badge, and escorted me to the library. I would recommend not bringing a laptop if you can... they had me sign it out to make sure I was taking the right one. (Though the paperwork for that wasn't too awful).

I only had about 30 minutes (I wouldn't recommend going unless you have a good block of time, to make it worth the red tape). Most of the road-related stuff that I found was in the back right corner. I picked out a few random books (I work on the road articles on Wikipedia) and took a few notes. My guess is that a lot of the stuff is on the Internet (maybe not some of the older books though, I suppose) but at the library it's all there, in hard copy. I found a lot of NJTP year-end progress reports, various toll road financial statements, a book on CA highways in 1920, and a book on MD highways.

Should I come back to the area in the future, I'd definitely visit again, given more time, and with a paper notebook instead of a laptop.

And besides, now I can say I've been inside USDOT headquarters!
« Last Edit: March 29, 2012, 01:33:34 AM by rschen7754 »
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J N Winkler

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Re: USDOT office / other DC sites
« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2012, 03:34:21 AM »

Another good alternative to a laptop is a digital camera, which can be used for document photography.  (A fairly high-end point-and-shoot with LCD screen mounted on a paddle, a program mode with selectable ISO and white balance, and a fast shutter cycle is best for this purpose.)  With specialist libraries like the USDOT library and state DOT libraries, access is uncertain enough that it makes sense to exhaust all other conveniently accessible sources (such as public or university libraries) first.
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