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    Answers About Population, Parking Meters and More

    Updated Thursday, May 6, 1999

    Welcome to's Metro Facts Machine, a human search engine delivering the information you want about the capital region.

    • Have a question about something in the news?
    • Need more facts on Virginia's car-tax law?
    • Looking for test data on Maryland or D.C. schools?

    Just ask us at

    The Metro Facts Machine will send you a personal reply and will post some responses here.

    Q: How many people live in Arlington County? Connie B.

    A: As of Jan. 1, 1998, an estimated 187,100 people lived in Arlington, according to county planners. That's up 9 percent from 1990 Census figures. More demographics are available on the county's Web site.

    Q: Who is installing the new parking meters going up all over D.C.? What are the details of the contract and who collects the money? Lawrence R.

    A: Last year, the District inked a $24 million, seven-year contract with Lockheed Martin IMS, a subsidiary of the aerospace company, to install and maintain 15,000 new meters. That takes the repair burden off of D.C. Public Works, which collects the money but said it lacked the personnel to fix the thousands of broken or vandalized meters. The Post detailed the meter saga in January.

    Q: What do the colors, stars and stripes in the D.C. flag represent?Sandra S.

    A: The red-and-white flag, approved by Congress on Oct. 15, 1938, was patterned after George Washington's coat of arms, which has the three-star, two-bar motif on its shield. This topic popped up in a D.C. trivia quiz designed by

    Q: Do you have any information on the new tax law in Maryland regarding homeowners? – David C.

    A: Sounds like you're referring to the almost unnoticed law that cuts closing costs and will generate rebates for homeowners who pay property tax through escrow accounts. A Post story last month explained why nearly 1 million homeowners should expect a check in the mail.

    Q: Which were the first Metrorail stations that opened? When did they open? Michael C.

    A: On March 27, 1976, Metrorail opened its first stations along 4.2 miles of the Red Line between Rhode Island Avenue and Farragut North. More than 51,000 people rode for free that day. It was more than six years after construction began on the system. Metro's Web site includes a history of the rail system.

    Q: Why is it that when you go somewhere like the D.C. Bureau of Adjudication the service is sooo bad?Nichole A.

    A: A question for the ages! And one the new District government has pledged to address. Why not take it to the source?

    Send your questions.

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