Outbound Express Bus Service

Metro Considers D.C. to Tysons Link

There are thousands of jobs going unfilled in the Dulles corridor and Tysons Corner area.

There are thousands of people looking for jobs in Washington's inner city.

The equation--and the solution--may seem simple: Get the workers to where they're needed.

But it's not that easy. Many city residents say the trek to outlying suburbs is an all-but-impossible journey for those who don't have cars. To reach his job at a Tysons hotel, Darrick Mitchell had to take a bus, two subway trains and another bus, a two-hour, $5 odyssey from city center to suburban sprawl.

"It was quite a hassle," the 26-year-old D.C. resident said. "Any improvement in transportation would be a plus."

An improvement might be on the way. Metro is considering starting express bus service from Union Station to the Dulles area. Buses could be up and running by July 1 if all goes well.

"For too long, we've been extraordinarily passive in the ways we meet needs of citizens," said David Catania (R-At Large), a D.C. Council member who also represents the District on Metro's board of directors. "In the midst of a booming economy, there's no reason to have over 15,000 unemployed citizens."

Beltway Bridgework to Begin

Two-Year Project Scheduled in Md.

We don't mean to imply that people who drive to work have it easy. In fact, many Capital Beltway crawlers soon will face even more delays, as Maryland begins a two-year project to rebuild the segment between Colesville Road and Georgia Avenue.

Four aging bridges along the loop's busiest stretch need to be replaced and redecked. The work is scheduled to begin in February, but the slowdowns aren't expected until April.

"Oh my, what a pain in the neck," said Soila Aranda-Reyes, 31, who commutes from Silver Spring to Potomac. "The traffic is going to be terrible. It's going to be very tough to get to work."

Valerie Burnette Edgar, a spokeswoman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, agrees. "The work zone will be a challenge for commuters," she said. "We find that no matter what we're doing, even if we're not doing any work [at that moment], they slow down. And if a car breaks down, that would virtually bring it to a halt during rush hour."

Md. Property Assessments Rise

Montgomery, 6.4%; Pr. George's, 1.9%

Now that holiday greetings are pretty much passed, hundreds of thousands of Maryland residents are getting something else in their mailbox: their once-every-three-years property assessments.

And the new numbers show that real estate values are continuing their steady rise from the deep recession of much of the 1990s. In the past three years, commercial and residential property values statewide rose an average of 5.7 percent, the largest increase since 1992.

In Washington's Maryland suburbs, assessments for Montgomery County neighborhoods climbed an average of 6.4 percent during the three-year period. But in Prince George's County, values rose only 1.9 percent, the smallest increase in the state.

Howard County posted an average increase of 6.6 percent and Anne Arundel rose 8.7 percent for the three-year period. Charles, Calvert and St. Mary's counties posted smaller gains.

Across the Region

Pleas, Killings, Youth Center Brawl

* A veteran state lawmaker from Baltimore and Maryland's top-grossing lobbyist pleaded not guilty to charges that they tried to defraud paint companies and asbestos manufacturers of more than $400,000 in lobbying fees. Del. Tony E. Fulton (D) and Gerard E. Evans each face 11 counts on federal mail and wire fraud charges. The trial is scheduled for March.

* Two teenage girls were gunned down in Southeast Washington, raising to six the number of teens killed in the 6th Police District in two months. D.C. police say victims are getting younger. "These are not young adults, they are kids. Kids," said Cmdr. Rodney Monroe. Meanwhile, the investigators on the double slaying were pulled off the case because of allegedly slipshod work.

* More than two dozen teenage inmates barricaded themselves into part of a youth detention center in Rockville and got into brawls that injured seven juveniles and a counselor. Police persuaded the youths to open the door after about three hours, and now nine teens are facing charges.

* Power to the people? District Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) is considering selling several key D.C. government buildings, including the building that houses police headquarters and the temporary city hall. The idea would be to get agencies closer to the people they represent and to spur economic development. The plan would have to be approved by the City Council.

* Lawyer and Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos can count this "inning" in the win column. Maryland is to get billions of dollars in the national tobacco settlement, and Angelos--who represented the state in its lawsuit against cigarette makers--signed a contract saying he would get 25 percent of any settlement. But state officials wanted Angelos to seek his fees from a national arbitration panel instead. The judge said that wouldn't be fair and ordered the state to hold 25 percent of its settlement cash in escrow until the dispute is resolved.

-- Erica Johnston

Redskins Coach Keeps His Job

Owner Snyder Makes Decision After Team Wins NFC East Title

Norv Turner had a job to do, and he did it. So, says Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder, the coach won the right to lead the team for a seventh season.

Snyder had made it clear after buying the franchise that Turner would be looking for a job unless the Skins broke their six-year postseason drought. And the 35-year-old marketing executive wasted no time in establishing that he wasn't just the money man; he would carp and counsel players and coaches alike toward victory. So Turner had ample cause to worry about his pension plan.

But after the squad clinched the National Football Conference Eastern Division championship with an overtime victory in San Francisco, the coach got Snyder's official seal of approval.

"Norv handled a very difficult time quite well," he said. "The adjustment to me and my style--it's a full-court-press style--it's an adjustment for everyone around here, and I think they handled it very well."

All the same, Snyder noted that the coach now has other hurdles to clear.

"We had a goal, and we achieved the goal," Snyder said. "That's the first goal. There are many more. We have to play hard and play like Eastern Division champions. We have the potential to be very special, beginning this year."

Washington's Outflow Slows

Last Year's Population Decrease is Smallest in 10 Years

After decades in which disenchanted Washingtonians voted with their feet, beating a path to the suburbs, the city seems to have almost staunched the outward flow.

The U.S. Census Bureau says the District had 519,000 residents and a net loss of 2,400 people last year, the smallest decrease in more than 10 years. Fewer people are leaving and more outsiders are coming in.

Jeffrey R. Henig, director of George Washington University's Center for Washington Area Studies, noted that the city "has a lot going for it," including a new mayor, a hot housing market--and suburban traffic snarls that have many commuters yearning for a simpler life inside the Beltway.

Still, Henig is cautious. "I'd hesitate before I'd put my chips down on 'It's a new day,' " he said. If trends continue, Washington could wind up in the win column, population-wise, in five years, he said.

But even if that happens, the city has a long way to go before it matches its population peak of 50 years ago. In 1950, just before the biggest exodus to the 'burbs began, more than 800,000 people called the District home. In the past decade alone, Washington has lost almost 88,000 residents--a 14.5 percent decline.

CAPTION: D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams has proposed selling several key city government buildings.

CAPTION: Owner Daniel M. Snyder: "We had a goal, and we achieved the goal."

CAPTION: Redskins Coach Norv Turner will lead the team for the seventh season.