Executive Director’s Note
We believe it’s important for you to receive regular reports on our progress and we’re happy to report great success in the first half of 2014!
In just a few short months we’ve been able to:
- Kick-start new funding for Metro to handle ridership growth
- Stop or delay sprawl-creating highway projects in Maryland and Virginia
- Mobilize 1000 people for dedicated rush-hour bus lanes on DC’s busy 16th Street bus corridor
- Champion smart transportation investments in Montgomery, Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. I look forward to reporting back to you at the end of the year when I expect to be able to share more stories of success!
Jump to: A stronger Metro | Better bus service | Advancing smart growth in Arlington | A more inclusive DC | Transportation reform in Virginia | Smarter Growth in Prince George’s County | Sustainable transportation in Alexandria | Transit for Rt. 1 in Fairfax | Choosing transit over sprawl in Montgomery | Walking tours
A stronger Metro
[pretty][/pretty]This spring we mobilized our members to send 771 emails to elected officials in support of WMATA’s Momentum. Momentum is WMATA’s long range strategic plan to expand Metrorail and Metrobus capacity to handle our region’s projected population growth. It will mean more eight car trains, improved stations, fewer delays, and much better bus service on key routes throughout the region.
Our efforts paid off when DC, Maryland, and Virginia agreed to a down payment of $25 million each for Momentum this first year. But we’ll need your help this fall as the jurisdictions consider a longer-range and much more substantial funding agreement. [clear][/box]
Better bus service: the 16th Street bus lanes
[pretty][/pretty]We’ve spearheaded a push for dedicated rush-hour bus lanes on 16th Street NW. After talking with commuters up and down the corridor, we secured broad, diverse support with over 1000 petition signatures. Our April forum with national experts showed how the lanes would ease congestion and chronic overcrowding on the region’s busiest bus corridor.
Our campaign prompted DC Councilmember Mary Cheh and two Mayoral candidates to urge DDOT to speed up their analysis –a necessary step to implementing the bus lanes. Good news followed: DDOT will fund the study and hire consultants in late 2014. We’ll stay on top of the study and keep rallying support for better, faster bus service in the corridor.[clear][/box]
Advancing smart growth in Arlington
[pretty][/pretty]Arlington County has a strong track record on smart growth and deserves our support. Amid the Columbia Pike Streetcar debate, we celebrated the Columbia Pike plan by honoring Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada with our annual Livable Communities Leadership award.
As chair in 2013, he spearheaded the passage of the groundbreaking plan, which links redevelopment with provisions for over 6,000 units of affordable housing and the streetcar necessary to handle the growth in the corridor – a transit and housing win-win for Arlington residents. [clear][/box]
A more inclusive DC
[pretty][/pretty]Ward Five Councilmember Kenyon McDuffie championed one of our central policy ideas by introducing a bill mandating that all development deals on city owned land include a significant requirement for affordable housing. His bill calls for 30 percent of units to be affordable on parcels near good transit service, and closely resembles the policy we called for in our “Public Land for Public Good” report of 2012. We are tracking the bill’s progress and anticipate a vote this fall.[clear][/box]
Transportation reform in Virginia
We successfully fought for more balanced criteria in the state transportation priorities bill (HB2), which was signed into law in April. This victory mandates that project prioritization be judged by criteria including environmental impact, safety, and accessibility rather than only highway-orientated congestion metrics. In a great sign of better transportation priorities, Governor McAuliffe halted two wasteful highway projects: the proposed new 460 going east from Hampton Roads, and the Charlottesville Bypass.
However, under pressure from Dulles Airport boosters, the Governor indicated he thought the Outer Beltway (Bi-County Parkway) would score well as a priority. We continue to gather support from Virginians asking the Governor to allow for the new criteria and all the facts to judge the worth of what we consider a sprawl-inducing highway proposal.[clear][/box]
Smarter growth in Prince George’s County
[pretty][/pretty]County leaders announced a new targeted strategy this spring to spur well-designed transit-oriented development at five key Metro stations – Branch Avenue, Largo Town Center, New Carrollton, Prince George’s Plaza, and Suitland. This is a big step forward for the county and one that we have been advocating for over the last several years. When combined with the smart decision to place the new regional hospital at the Largo Town Center Metro station, it’s clear that our advocacy and education efforts are paying off.
Unfortunately, the county followed two forward steps with one backward step by approving a long-range plan that still calls for wasteful sprawl development far beyond the Beltway. But overall, we’re encouraged by the results of our Prince George’s work and expect great things in the county in the next few years. [clear][/box]
Sustainable transportation in Alexandria
Working with local partners and regional allies like the Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA), we played a strong role backing new bike lanes on King Street west of Old Town. After a sometimes sharp public debate over several months, the City Council voted unanimously for the bike lanes this spring. This was a big step forward for increasing the walkability and sustainability in Alexandria, since King Street is a key connecting route to the Metro and Old Town. The city is beginning an update to its Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan and the Coalition for Smarter Growth will continue working closely with community members to advance a successful plan.[clear][/box]
Transit for Route 1 in Fairfax
Our coalition of conservation, affordable housing, transit, smart growth and bike/ped advocates stayed engaged in the Route 1 transit study, highlighting the need for an integrated solution linking new transit with land use, affordable housing, bicycle/pedestrian facilities, and stormwater management upgrades. As a result, Metro, bus rapid transit and light rail are being advanced along with concepts for transit-oriented development. However, we will need to continue our involvement because the studied speed for Route 1 remains too high at 45 mph and affordable housing funding and policies in Fairfax are not adequate to the task of preserving affordable housing in the corridor.[clear][/box]
Choosing transit over sprawl highways in Montgomery
We successfully steered the county’s transportation priorities away from several large, unneeded highway interchange projects and helped place Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Metro funding, and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects at the top of the priority list.
We succeeded in blocking county funding for the destructive M-83 highway project, while continuing to build support for BRT – hosting educational open houses, presentations to community groups, and tabling at festivals around the county.
We also pulled together a coalition of groups to host a candidate’s forum on transportation issues that attracted over 100 attendees and 16 Council candidates to discuss transportation priorities.[clear][/box]
The spring edition of our signature Walking Tours series was a great success. Hundreds of Coalition for Smarter Growth supporters joined us to get the inside scoop on development, transit, and planning in some of our region’s most significant old and new walkable neighborhoods. We explored Shaw and H Street NE in DC, East Falls Church and Pentagon City in Arlington, and Twinbrook in Montgomery County.[clear][/box]