TPB Board Comment, April 2024 Meeting

Hon. Christina Henderson, TPB Chair
National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board

Re: Public comments point out yet again that Visualize 2050 needs major fixes

Dear Chair Henderson and TPB Board members, 

Today you will be briefed on the Visualize 2050 public comments received last month. The feedback form results show overwhelming disappointment with the Visualize 2050 process, its many road widening projects, and voice support for a plan that instead strives to achieve our climate and other goals for walkable, transit-friendly affordable communities.

We ask the board to consider the public comments, and to fulfill your 2021 commitment to a Visualize 2050 process that is accountable to the region’s climate change goals and TPB policies.  

As we commented last month, the process to date does not comply with this board’s 2021 resolution R19-2021: 

  • Instead of considering multiple build scenarios, we get a check-the-box evaluation with results that bear no resemblance to the region’s adopted priorities. 
  • Instead of zero-based budgeting for most projects, staff exempted 4 out of 5 projects.
  • Instead of considering greenhouse gas emissions, the project submissions lack required information and often make erroneous claims.

Specifically, on climate change and the environment:

  • The draft project list would continue paving over our region, adding about 750 new lane miles of highways and arterials.
  • Nearly half of the road widening projects claim they will slash climate pollution, despite evidence they make it worse.
  • Projects lack the required explanation of how they will help the region meet its 2030 climate target.
  • It is even claimed that projects to be built long after 2030 will help reduce climate emissions by 2030. 
  • TPB gives one-third of the road widening projects a positive checkmark for “Environmental Protection” despite being inconsistent with TPB’s environmental protection policy.

We appreciate the new public involvement process that TPB added in 2023, the local public involvement that jurisdictions like Fairfax County conducted, and the changes that several jurisdictions made to their project submissions. But it doesn’t move the needle as we approach 2030.

This board must make further fixes to fulfill its resolution to craft a better plan that will help this region meet its climate, equity, safety and other commitments. 

Bill Pugh, AICP CTP
Senior Policy Fellow