October 27, 2021
Hon. Phil Mendelson, Chair
Committee of the Whole of the
Council of the District of Columbia
Regarding: PR 24-359, Board of Directors of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Tracy Hadden Loh Appointment Resolution of 2021
Dear Chairman and members of the Committee:
Please accept these comments on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the leading non-profit organization in the D.C. region advocating for walkable, bikeable, inclusive, transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way for the DC region to grow and provide opportunities for all.
We wish to express our support for Tracy Hadden Loh, PhD, for WMATA Board. Dr. Loh is eminently qualified to represent both the interests of the District of Columbia residents, and the region as a whole. She brings years of experience and expertise in regional governance, land use, and transportation issues. Dr. Loh is a life-long and regular user of WMATA and other transit systems. This makes Dr. Loh an intellectual leader on transit and urban land use policy while also being grounded in practical experience as a transit rider and DC resident.
We ask the Committee to approve Dr. Loh’s appointment.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony.
For the limited scope hearing to analyze the proposed PUD under the updated Comprehensive Plan particularly with regard to the issues raised by the Remand Order.
October 15, 2021
Alexandria City Council
301 King Street, Room 2300
Alexandria, VA 22314
RE: Comments in support of the Alexandria Mobility Plan
Dear Mayor Wilson and Members of City Council:
Please accept these comments on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG) in support of the draft Alexandria Mobility Plan (AMP) with a few recommendations. CSG is the leading organization in the DC region advocating 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.
The overall draft AMP is very good and builds on and expands Alexandria’s existing transportation policies, setting a course for the city to continue moving towards a more equitable, sustainable, and livable city.
I appreciate the updated plans focus on peoples’ mobility to truly give everyone who lives, works, and visits Alexandria convenient options in how to travel. To realize this improved mobility and accessibility, the plan appropriately calls for continued work towards Vision Zero designing safer streets, reducing speeding, and completing missing pedestrian and bicycle connections; making transit easier to use and more reliable; utilizing technology to improve safe and efficient use of the street network; and proactively and equitably managing use of curb space for different needs, such as dining, bikeshare, loading/pick-up, parking, etc.
While the AMP touches on the notion of reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT), it should establish a specific target for per capita VMT reduction and call for specific actions to attain it. The targets should be based on the findings of the MWCOG’s Transportation Planning Board’s Climate Change Mitigation Study, which Alexandria’s Energy and Climate Change Action Plan should similarly support.
To help reduce VMT and expand transportation choices, I recommend that the AMP explicitly call for moving away from using a level of service modeling that focuses only on vehicle delay and identify better methodology that assesses level service for people walking, biking, and using transit too.
Ultimately the AMP goals will help improve safety and connectivity for people walking, biking, and using transit making it better for those already reliant on those modes but also making these sustainable transportation options a more convenient choice for others. This would serve to shift more people from single occupancy driving helping to alleviate congestion and still accommodating those that need to drive. Overall this plan would have a positive impact on climate and environmental impacts as well as mobility.
Thank you for your time and consideration of my feedback.
Northern Virginia Advocacy Manager
September 9, 2021
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
CONVEYED VIA EMAIL
Dear Members of the Board of Supervisors:
The Sierra Club Great Falls Group and Coalition for Smarter Growth are submitting these comments concerning Fairfax County’s candidate projects for the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority 6-year plan update. We appreciate Fairfax County’s increasing focus on concentrating new development in walkable, bike-able communities near transit. For these smart growth plans to succeed, the County must prioritize transit, pedestrian and bicycle improvements in its applications for transportation funds.
In Fairfax’s current 6-year Transportation Priorities Plan, more than 59% of the anticipated available funds ($1.8 billion) are for road widenings, interchanges, extensions and spot improvements. Only 27.6% ($837.2 million) is programmed for transit capital and operations, and 7.2% ($219.5 million) for bicycle and pedestrian improvements. (Source: Transportation Status Report, Feb. 2021, p. 13) Most of the bicycle and pedestrian improvements are being funded by local sources such as the Commercial and Industrial Tax and a transportation bond. While the county may be able to design and implement individual projects more quickly through using local funding sources, local funds alone are not enough to shift the county toward a cleaner and healthier transportation future within the next 10 years. Fairfax County has a long list of missing pedestrian and bike connections and should seek to fill these gaps in our active transportation network through all available funding sources.
The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority allocates $200 million a year in regional transportation funds, as well as more than $80 million in 30% local-share funds. Fairfax County was awarded more than $700 million in NVTA regional funds for the 2018-23 six-year plan and 2020-25 update, in addition to receiving more than $30 million annually in local-share funds. However, most of Fairfax County’s NVTA projects have been narrowly focused on expanding road capacity for private vehicles. Among Fairfax County’s eight submissions for the NVTA
2020-25 update, for example, seven were road projects, with only one transit project (Route 1 Bus Rapid Transit).
Fairfax County has many bicycle, pedestrian and transit projects that are in the current NVTA Transaction Plan, that need additional funding, and that could be implemented by the 2027 “out” year for the Six-Year Plan update. Moreover, each of these is a regional transportation solution, including Metrorail station access improvements. Fairfax County should make a priority of completing the plans and seeking construction funding to complete these projects within the next six years. These projects include:
- Herndon Metrorail Station Area access improvements: The Herndon Metrorail Station Access Management Study has identified numerous infrastructure improvements so that people can more easily walk, bicycle, and roll to the future Herndon Metrorail station. These include a pedestrian bridge over the Dulles Toll Road to Monroe Street; trail improvements and new trail links; and design improvements to make Herndon Parkway more pedestrian- and bike-friendly. These improvements should be funded and implemented as soon as possible to maximize the benefits of Metro and transit-oriented development.
- High-capacity transit on Annandale and Gallows Road from Annandale to Tysons: Compact, walkable, mixed-use development is emerging all along Gallows Road, especially at INOVA, Mosaic, Dunn Loring and Tysons. The county should accelerate plans to improve transit through priority bus lanes, improved bus stations and other enhancements that will make this area even more walkable and reduce congestion and pollution.
- Route 7 enhanced bus service from Baileys Crossroads to Tysons: Route 7 is the second-busiest bus corridor in northern Virginia. While the overall Route 7 Bus Rapid Transit project from Alexandria to Tysons is still being developed, the county should take steps now to better connect residents in Baileys Crossroads, Seven Corners and other areas to Tysons and other commercial centers in the corridor through enhanced bus service. Bus enhancements could include signal priority and enclosed stations with real-time schedule information, and ultimately transition to full Bus Rapid Transit on dedicated lanes with pre-boarding fare collection.
- Fairfax County express bus service, Herndon Metrorail station to Fort Belvoir: Fairfax County has developed plans for improving transportation on Fairfax County Parkway. These include bus service improvements such as queue jumps and the planned Route 496 bus from Herndon to Franconia Springfield. Fairfax County should expedite key transit improvements and seek regional funding to implement them in the near term. At the same time, any new travel lanes on the Fairfax County Parkway should be dedicated bus and HOV3 lanes.
- South County feeder bus service: Improve service levels on bus routes serving Richmond Highway, Kingstowne, and Springfield.
Thank you for considering our comments.
Susan Bonney, Chair Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director
Sierra Club Great Falls Group Coalition for Smarter Growth
Cc: Tom Biesiadny
July 20, 2021
Hon. Charles Allen
Chair, National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board
Re: TPB Vote on Capital Beltway/I-270 and the Long-Range Transportation Plan
Chair Allen and members of the TPB:
I will keep our comments short:
- Governor Hogan and MDOT have:
- Completely failed to objectively study alternatives to the toll lanes
- Put the P3 negotiations and contracts ahead of completion of the EIS, and biased the entire process for private toll lanes.
- Run a scorched-earth political campaign which demonstrates their bias.
- The toll lane deals for 495Next in Virginia and for Maryland not only lack the commitment to transit funding we need, the non-compete provisions appear to prevent future Metrorail at the American Legion Bridge and other transit investments.
- Climate change is an existential threat. Contrary to MDOT arguments, highway expansion increases driving and CO2 emissions. It is astounding to see massive highway expansion proposed while the Arctic and Antarctic melts, the West burns, Europe floods, and shellfish cooks on the beaches of Canada.
- The toll lanes would reinforce the East-West economic divide in our region condemning Prince George’s commuters to either paying very high tolls or sitting in the general-purpose lane traffic that the toll road companies depend on to generate their profits.
- A far better alternative is Maryland investment in transit-oriented development on the east side of the region, which would increase jobs, shorten commutes, even out the flows on the Beltway and Metrorail, and help address the E-W economic and racial divide.
Therefore, we urge you to stand by your vote to remove the toll lanes from the TPB’s long range plan and honestly to take the same step for the 495Next project – in order to force objective consideration of alternatives, the climate impacts, and the development of the most sustainable and effective alternative with the least impact on parks and communities.
We are running out of time on the climate and are failing to do what needs to be done to address the E-W economic and racial divide. We need your leadership.
We strongly support the direction of the Planning Department’s recommendations for more diverse housing typologies in Montgomery County, especially in places near transit, amenities, and jobs. Inequitable, unsustainable land use patterns are a systemic problem at the root of some of our most difficult social issues. Montgomery County should not be a place where your zip code can predict your future income, health, or other life outcomes.
Middle housing zoning reform will not change neighborhoods overnight or solve all our housing challenges. Rather, smart land use decisions will lay the foundation for a better, more just society where people can find a place to live that fits their needs, their income, and provides access to opportunities. It will help Montgomery County become a place where more people can choose to live car-lite or car-free and drive less; a place where more people can start a family or age-in-place.
We commend Montgomery County for its commitment to ending all traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Vision Zero is important for many reasons, chief among them to make our transportation system one where all users can safely move. We cannot create great places for people to live, work, and play in Montgomery County if people do not feel safe getting there. The county also faces other challenges, such as the county’s rapidly aging population who would like to age-in-place and combating climate change, of which Vision Zero is a critical component of the solution.