RELEASE: Visualize 2050 public comments (Dec 2023)

December 20, 2023

Bill Pugh, CSG, 202-821-3226

Overwhelming public response to COG asks for more walking, biking and transit investment and less highway expansion

Further indication that Metro funding and addressing climate change should be regional priorities

Yesterday, the Council of Governments (COG) released its recommendations for addressing Metro funding, and today at noon the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) at COG will meet to receive and discuss a summary of nearly 1,000 comments submitted by the public for its upcoming Visualize 2050 long-range transportation plan.

“According to the TPB staff summary, the ‘overarching themes’ of the almost 1,000 comments submitted by the public on proposed regional transportation projects were ‘strong positive sentiment’ toward rail, bus, walking and biking projects and ‘strong negative sentiment towards roadway widening and expansion projects.’ We’ve seen this pattern over the years on various TPB plans, with the public repeatedly calling for a shift in spending priorities to emphasize walking, biking, transit and investments to meet safety and climate goals,” said Bill Pugh, AICP, Senior Policy Fellow for CSG. 

“The overwhelming support expressed to TPB for transit over highways is further indication that COG/TPB and its member jurisdictions should prioritize fully funding Metro now and in the long term. Yet, yesterday COG released a report on Metro that supported only partially closing Metro’s funding gap with additional investment by the jurisdictions, and would require shifting capital funds to operations (hurting the preventative maintenance program), along with service cuts and fare increases,” said Stewart Schwartz, CSG Executive Director. 

“The TPB staff’s initial financial analysis for Visualize 2050 showed that there will be $76 billion in net new transportation funding over the 25-year life of the plan, which is more than enough to cover Metro’s capital and operating budgets while also funding the WMATA Better Bus initiative,” said Schwartz. CSG and other groups last week released a call to fund Metro along with a Statement of Principles now endorsed by 18 groups.

“Public comments to TPB for their long-range plan also include numerous references to the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation,” said Pugh.

Since a historic vote by the TPB in June 2022, local jurisdictions have been required to show how their project submissions will help reduce car and truck greenhouse gas emissions 50% by the year 2030, relative to 2005 levels, as well as meet other regional goals.

“TPB’s own Climate Change Mitigation Study of 2021 showed that the agency’s existing long-range transportation plans would prevent the region from meeting its greenhouse gas reduction targets, even with electric vehicles on the road. This is because the plans fail to meaningfully provide safe and convenient alternatives to driving in many parts of the region,” said Pugh.

“In addition, the last plan Visualize 2045 included 900 new miles of lanes and proposed spending over $28 billion for expanding roads versus only $14.6 billion for expanding our transit, pedestrian and bicycle networks,” said Pugh.

“Clearly, the National Capital Region can and must shift its transportation project spending to more sustainable and equitable investments like Metro, local transit, walking, biking and transit-oriented communities to help humanity avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” said Schwartz.

“Last year 48 regional organizations asked TPB to make changes to its long-range plan Visualize 2045 for this and other reasons. We hope that the TPB members will take serious action this time to slash expansion of highways and arterial roads, and shift spending to transit, walking, and biking networks to support sustainable, transit-oriented communities. And this also means fully funding Metro’s operating gap without hurting frequency and service quality or cannibalizing maintenance,” concluded Schwartz.

“The public’s call for safer streets for people walking, biking and trying to get to transit is also timely. Today TPB will set new targets for road safety, following data for 2022 that showed continued increases in fatalities on the region’s roads, with deaths and serious injuries of pedestrians and bicyclists increasing 23% the previous year and 15% over five years,” said Pugh. 


The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Our mission is to advocate for walkable, bikeable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way for the Washington, DC region to grow and provide opportunities for all. 

Photo: ameschen