“This is an event for boosters,” said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, referring to Thursday’s event. “Nobody’s asking the hard questions — like, ‘Did they overestimate demand and take on too much debt?’ ”
The designation means that bike lanes, paths, sidewalks, crosswalks and other traffic control devices must be taken into account during any planning or construction of roads or intersections. Since many of Montgomery County’s major roads are state roads, the SHA’s participation is crucial to the effort.
When I last testified before you in February, I outlined how essential Metro has been to the success of our region and stressed that we need the leadership and commitment of all area officials to the system’s success, and a similar commitment from staff to improving system communications, safety, incident response and customer service.
In announcing the forum, the Coalition for Smarter Growth named some of the popular topics in Fairfax County: How will homes and neighborhoods be affected? Will there be enhanced opportunities for walking and biking? What transit alternatives are being developed? How will the project affect parks, streams and natural habitats? What are the likely effects on everyone during the construction period?
“Even more telling is that in the draft EER (Environmental Effects Report), you can see that with alternative 9, the same intersections in the southern (already built) portion of Midcounty Highway continue to fail. If you open up a new stretch of road that will attract more commuters heading north to south to the same failing intersections, what do you think is going to happen?” Blynn said.
“On the one hand, it makes perfect sense to have an at-large, directly elected mayor,” says Schwartz, who lives in Richmond and is a board member of the Partnership for Smarter Growth here. “But the separation between the executive and legislative branch seems to create inefficiencies, and it can create a system where the executive branch is not as willing to share all the information it should with the legislative branch. “It puts staff in a difficult position because they’re hired and fired by the executive and yet they’re asked to be completely forthcoming by the legislative body.”
In my Sunday column, a letter-writer suggested that one alternative to putting HOT lanes on Interstate 66 would be to double deck the highway, thus expanding its capacity. Readers responded with their own proposals for improving travel on one of the region’s most congested highways. While most travelers dismissed the idea of double decking as too expensive and way too ugly, many many do like the idea of expanding capacity by expanding the pavement.
Meeting the surging demand for walkable urbanism is one of the great challenges facing Henrico today. Most of the county’s development took the form of post-World War II suburbia – low-density subdivisions and shopping centers knitted together by connector roads and arterials. By design, no one walked anywhere; everyone drove. But it’s not clear that the development formula that worked for Henrico in the 20th century will continue working in the 21st century.
nclusionary Zoning battled a lot of developments that were grandfathered in before the law went into effect, said Cheryl Cort, policy director for the Coalition for Smarter Growth. And much of the program’s focus has been on rentals, as it will remain until the building market falls under these new regulations. So far, they have 48 units rented under Inclusionary Zoning rules — or a dismal eight rentals a year.
As with any major transportation project, the Midcounty Highway extension is controversial. Some residents and smart-growth advocates say the road-building money would be better spent on a bus rapid transit system to reduce traffic by allowing people to forego driving. Other critics said it would cause too much environmental damage and run too close to neighborhoods.