Coalition for Smarter Growth, Piedmont Environmental Council, Sierra Club – Virginia Chapter
For Immediate Release:
August 31, 2016
Stewart Schwartz, CSG, 703-599-6437 (cell)
Chris Miller, PEC, 540-347-2334
Douglas Stewart, SC, 703-407-2790 (cell)
Statement Regarding NOVAChamber Summit: Competitive Future for Northern Virginia and DC Region is Transit-Oriented Development
Tysons Corner: Today, the chambers of commerce of Northern Virginia held a business summit with the leading elected officials of Northern Virginia’s five largest jurisdictions to discuss a variety of issues including Metro funding, economic competitiveness, workforce development, and an upper Potomac Bridge crossing. While the chambers have been big boosters of an upriver bridge, smart growth and conservation groups have long made the case that transit and transit-oriented development (TOD) are the most effective and competitive way to grow.
“We were encouraged that the elected leaders on the panel at today’s summit emphasized the importance of Metro and TOD, along with workforce development, and didn’t indicate that an upriver bridge is a priority,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “Recent experience demonstrates that the most effective way for Northern Virginia and the region to grow and maximize economic competitiveness is through transit and transit-oriented development (TOD), not by diverting billions of dollars to an outer beltway with upper Potomac bridge. Profound and lasting market shifts have demonstrated the demand for TOD and its benefits. Our transportation investments must be focused on supporting Metro, new transit, and TOD.”
Companies are leaving office parks in favor of urban centers with transit. The CEO of Marriott has said his company will move from their office park to a Metro station. Over 84% of new office development in the pipeline has been within ¼ mile walk of Metro. Millenials and downsizing empty nesters are flocking to walkable urban places with DC gaining about 100,000 people in the past 12 years.
“Recent business summits in Loudoun have trumpeted the need for mixed-use, walkable, transit-oriented development. Loudoun’s competitiveness, like that of Fairfax and the inner suburbs, depends on creating the places the next generation workforce wants to be. That includes not only walkable urban places with transit but also parks and outdoor recreation including nearby rural areas. This should be Loudoun’s focus,” said Chris Miller, President of the Piedmont Environmental Council.
“An upper Potomac bridge would harm the Montgomery Agricultural Reserve, Seneca Creek, and Potomac River. It would fuel more auto-dependent development, more driving, more air pollution and higher greenhouse gas emissions,” said Kelsey Crane, Northern Virginia Organizer for the Sierra Club – Virginia Chapter. “Past studies have shown that the overwhelming travel demand is in the American Legion Bridge corridor, which needs transit connections between the Silver Line and Red Line and associated job centers. Chairman Bulova emphasized today the importance of addressing this corridor.”
“TOD generates far more tax revenue per acre and will fuel the economic engine of Northern Virginia. In contrast, an outer beltway with upper Potomac bridge will fuel further decentralization, traffic and inefficiencies in infrastructure. So we urge the chambers to support a sustainable, competitive transit-oriented future, not a 1950’s approach to transportation, and we welcome the opportunity to campaign with them for the transit funding we need,” said Schwartz.
Finally, the groups expressed disappointment that the event did not include discussion of the importance of providing more housing close to jobs and transit for all levels of the workforce. “We are facing an affordability crisis, and need more multifamily and attached housing in walkable neighborhoods close to jobs and transit. Fairfax’s push for mixed-use redevelopment in its older commercial corridors is an example of what must be done, but the region needs to speed the process of providing more homes close to jobs and transit,” concluded Schwartz.
About the Coalition for Smarter Growth
The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Its mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish. Learn more at smartergrowth.net.
About the Piedmont Environmental Council
The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) was founded in 1972 to promote and protect the Virginia Piedmont’s rural economy, natural resources, history and beauty. Headquartered in Warrenton, VA, we have offices throughout a nine county Piedmont region that includes Albemarle, Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Greene, Loudoun, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock counties. Learn more at pecva.org.
About the Sierra Club – Virginia Chapter
The Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club is 15,000 members strong. We are your friends and neighbors working to build healthy, livable communities, and to conserve and restore our natural environment. Every day, dozens of volunteers are taking action with the Sierra Club in Virginia. Learn more at sierraclub.com/Virginia/about.