Moving an Age-Friendly DC: Transportation for All Ages encourages local decision-makers and advocates to respond to the needs of an increasing population of older adults by focusing on age-friendly transportation options. Following national best practices in three areas – the pedestrian environment, fixed-route public transit, and alternative specialized transportation – CSG assessed the District’s progress towards becoming an age-friendly city.
The Virginia Department of Transportation’s (“VDOT”) own traffic modeling data reveal that the proposed Bi-County Parkway (“BCP”) would worsen, not relieve, traffic congestion. The same model shows that the comprehensive alternative offered by our coalition (termed the “Substitute Vision” by VDOT) will better address congestion in the study area, and better serve the dominant need for east-west traffic capacity—now and in the future.
Earlier this week, the Coalition for Smarter Growth issued a report on the Washington, D.C. region’s public transportation, including a set of nine principles to guide long-term regional planning for the next generation of transit. The Coalition for Smarter Growth, a non-profit, works to promote smart growth in the Washington, D.C. region.
For those living or working in Washington, D.C., Maryland or Virginia who ever tried to travel to one of the three major area airports, work, or activities and errands without driving a car, they know that Metro serves as a backbone of our regional public transportation network, and they understand that this network includes numerous transit entities that cross local jurisdictional lines.
Relying in part on 2012 and 2013 reports on next-generation transit goals issued by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, respectively, the March 4, 2013 Coalition for Smarter Growth’s primer summarizes plans to grow the Metro system and to expand public transportation.
The report discusses six ongoing transit initiatives: Metrorail’s 23-mile Silver Line extension in Virginia; a new eight-line light-rail and streetcar network throughout D.C.; Metrorail’s Purple Line cross-county connection in Maryland; a new 5-mile streetcar service along a mixed-use corridor in Arlington and Fairfax Virginia; three rapid bus transportation corridors in Alexandria and Arlington, Virginia; and a 160-mile rapid bus transportation system in Montgomery County, Maryland.
The report, “Thinking Big Planning Smart,” states that its purpose “is to get you involved in creating a vision and plan for the new public transportation investments we need to link together our region’s ever-growing number of livable, walkable centers and neighborhoods.” The Coalition offers the 35-page report as a primer on the next generation of transit and a resource on already-planned regional transit proposals in progress.
Photo courtesy of Doug Canter.
We don’t need a ranking to know our traffic is bad. What the headlines miss is the crucial role our Metro and our other transit investments have played in preventing gridlock, in offering us an effective alternative to sitting in traffic, and in fueling an economic boom that has revitalized our city and transit-oriented suburbs. “Fifty years ago, visionary leaders conceived, planned and built Metro, and reshaped the Washington, D.C. region. The first order of business is to complete the reinvestment and full rehabilitation of this system that is so critical for our regional economy. We are also calling today for a new vision for a new generation — for a Next Generation of Transit investments and the leadership to make it happen,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “We believe our region’s leadership is ready for the challenge.”
Thinking Big Planning Smart presents a broad synopsis of major ongoing and planned transit projects in the region to serve as a starting point for what we hope will be a constructive dialogue and strategic planning process by planners, policy makers, developers, smart growth advocates and the public. With D.C. studying and implementing streetcars, Montgomery County pursuing the Purple Line and BRT, Arlington streetcars and Alexandria BRT, and Fairfax new transit corridors, it’s an exciting time.
This report highlights how important urban design, community connections, and transit access could ultimately be to the long-term success of a new Regional Medical Center in Prince George’s County. The hospital design examples are from leading national and international architectural firms, including AECOM, Cannon Designs, ZGF, and Smithgroup JJR.
The report chronicles how the District of Columbia has used the redevelopment of public land to provide affordable housing and other benefits.
Highlighting the significant accomplishments the District has made in creating affordable housing and integrating it into larger mixed-use development, the report also details areas needing improvement. Most importantly, the assessment points to recent reduced expectations in the level of affordability in future projects. The report calls for the District to recommit to making the most of affordable housing opportunities in public land redevelopment deals, as the District seeks to build a more inclusive city as housing prices rise and more affluent residents move in.
Public land development has traditionally been viewed as a catalyst for revitalization and private investment in distressed neighborhoods. However, given D.C.‟s strengthening real estate market, public land can play an important role in providing the diversity of housing the city needs, especially in areas with high and rising values. Public land redevelopment can also meet other community needs for services and amenities for a thriving city. Effective public-private development can provide updated public facilities such as libraries and schools, affordable housing, and enhanced community amenities, along with cost savings and other efficiencies.
One of Mayor Vincent Gray’s stated priorities is to increase the supply of workforce housing, a component along the continuum of affordable housing needs. This is a laudable goal — seeking to make Washington, D.C. a place where residents can afford to live close to where they work. However, if D.C. officials use regional incomes to define “workforce housing,” it could result in policies that would fail to reach most of D.C.’s low- and moderate-income working households who have a difficult time finding an affordable place to live in D.C.’s expensive housing market.