Tag: TPB

TESTIMONY re: TPB Climate and Transportation Study Findings 

TESTIMONY re: TPB Climate and Transportation Study Findings 

The findings from your climate and transportation study are clear: The region can achieve necessary levels of greenhouse gas reductions under its adopted 2030 climate plan, We cannot depend solely on electric vehicle adoption and a cleaner grid, the region must reduce per capita vehicle miles traveled by 15 to 20% by 2030.

RELEASE: Transportation Planning Board Re-Vote on Governor Hogan’s Toll Lanes

COALITION FOR SMARTER GROWTH

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

July 21, 2021

Contact

Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director, 703-599-6437

Transportation Planning Board Re-Vote on Governor Hogan’s Toll Lanes

Governor Hogan’s strong-arming further exposes biases and flaws in Beltway/270 study, and the distortions of the P3 approach

Today, the regional Transportation Planning Board voted to reinstate the Beltway/I-270 toll lanes project in the long-range transportation plan for air quality modeling. The revote followed a massive political campaign by Governor Hogan, including threats to cut projects, removals of toll road opponents and appointments of supporters, and weak promises of additional investment in transit.

“Rather than establishing the merits of his toll lanes project, Governor Hogan has reinforced the serious bias and flaws in his approach to the Capital Beltway and I-270,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “He started with the conclusion that he wanted private toll lanes and has failed to analyze comprehensive alternatives.”

“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,” said Schwartz.

“The P3 process in Virginia and Maryland is resulting in undue influence by multinational corporations, prejudging and biasing the outcome of environmental and alternatives studies,” said Schwartz. “The premature approval of 495Next in Virginia created a threat of a bottleneck at the American Legion Bridge, which has become a way to force concerned Virginia and Maryland jurisdictions to support the further extension of the toll lanes into Maryland.”

“Not only are we not getting objective evaluation of alternatives, these projects also fail to adequately fund good, effective transit, and include non-compete clauses that potentially block important transit investments such as future Metrorail or light rail at the American Legion Bridge.”

“It is astounding to see our local and state leaders pressing forward with massive highway expansion in the face of the existential threat of climate change. In the past weeks, we have heard more about the melting of ice sheets in the Arctic, Greenland, and Antarctica, massive fires in the Western US, deadly flooding in Europe, the US and China, and shellfish cooking on the beaches of Canada amid record heat waves,” said Schwartz. “As this vote took place today, the DC region has a Code Orange, unhealthy air due to particulate pollution from the haze from massive Western wildfires.”

“Going forward, we are urging the Maryland Board of Public Works to delay action on contracts until completion of the environmental impact studies and the addition of a TOD/transit/demand management alternative,” concluded Schwartz.

Our thanks to the following elected officials and their jurisdictions who stood up for fighting climate change, and for transit and sustainable, equitable communities: Mayor Patrick Wojahn (College Park), Mayor Emmett Jordan (Greenbelt), County Executive Marc Elrich ( Montgomery County), Mayor Bridget Newton (Rockville), Councilmember Kacy Kostiuk (Takoma Park), Mayor Pro Tem Adrian Boafo (Bowie), Delegate Marc Korman (MD House), and Councilmembers Brooke Pinto, Charles Allen, and Christina Henderson (DC).

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CSG Testimony: TPB Vote on Capital Beltway/I-270 & Long-Range Transportation Plan

CSG Testimony: TPB Vote on Capital Beltway/I-270 & Long-Range Transportation Plan

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Thank you,

Stewart Schwartz
Executive Director

RELEASE CORRECTED: Removal of 495/270 Toll Lanes from Regional Plan

RELEASE CORRECTED: Removal of 495/270 Toll Lanes from Regional Plan

PRESS RELEASE – CORRECTED (to identify the correct motion maker)

For Immediate Release
June 16, 2021

Contact:
Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director, 703-599-6437

Concern about Climate Change Leads to Historic Vote at the Region’s Transportation Planning Board

Vote removes 495/270 toll lanes from the long-range plan, requires next plan to meet climate goals

Today, in the latest of several significant debates at the Transportation Planning Board, the regional body of local and state officials charged with creating a regional long-range transportation plan Visualize 2045, the body voted to remove the I-495/I-270 toll lanes from the draft plan and to require the development of a climate-friendly plan by 2024.

Gary Ehrenrich, representing Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich made the motion to remove the I-495/I-270 toll lane project from the plan and it passed 16 to 12 with 6 abstentions. Mayor Bridget Newton of Rockville and other Maryland leaders spoke firmly about the reasons for removing the project, with the vote attracting near universal support from local Maryland jurisdictions as well as support from DC and some Virginia jurisdictions. This was followed by a vote on the draft 2022 long-range transportation plan – now minus the toll lane project, and with provisions advanced by Montgomery County Councilmember Evan Glass to commit the TPB to create a new plan by 2024 that significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The TPB voted 26 to 4 with 4 abstentions on the measure.

“The unifying theme in today’s vote was the overwhelming concern of elected officials about climate change. It motivated the vote to remove the toll lane project and to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our region’s transportation sector,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

A number of outer Virginia jurisdictions thought it was too late to change the current draft plan which will move forward into air quality modeling and adoption in the spring of 2022, but they ultimately also joined Maryland and DC in voting to begin work to adopt another more climate-friendly plan by 2024. “We wish the TPB would have acted this cycle to fundamentally reform the current plan because we have no time to waste,” said Schwartz. “Nevertheless, they made an important commitment today to adopt a more climate-friendly plan by 2024.”

  • The scientific consensus is that we must slash our emissions by 2030. The Biden Administration and our regional Council of Governments have each set a goal of cutting CO2 emissions 50% below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • Transportation is this region’s and the nation’s largest source of CO2 emissions.
  • Recent studies show that electric vehicles will not be enough, therefore the region will need to use transit-oriented development, transit, and demand reduction solutions to reduce vehicle miles traveled and associated emissions.
  • The Council of Governments’ recent Voices of the Region Survey found that 84% of the region’s residents want elected officials to prioritize climate change in transportation plans.
  • Public comment on Visualize 2045 has overwhelmingly supported a plan that addresses climate change.

“Removal of the I-495/I270 project from the draft plan means it will not be included in the federally mandated air quality conformity modeling, a huge roadblock for the controversial project,” said Schwartz. “I believe the many flaws in the Hogan Administration’s approach to the project including failure to analyze more sustainable and less destructive alternatives, failure to hear the public outcry or account for the strong opposition of nearly every local jurisdiction, and rush to commit the state to a long-term contract before finishing all of the environmental impact studies, contributed to the resounding rejection of the project today at the TPB.”

“There may also be implications for Virginia’s 495Next HOT lane extension contract with Transurban but that would have to be confirmed with VDOT,” said Schwartz. “Many of us had urged Virginia not to rush into that deal because of the controversy in Maryland and the similar failure in Virginia to consider alternative approaches. We want to see solutions for the American Legion Bridge and 495, and the best solutions lie in addressing the east-west jobs/housing imbalance, focusing jobs and housing near transit, and in the growth in telecommuting.”

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Testimony: TPB Draft CLRP and Resolution by TPB Board Member Evan Glass

Testimony: TPB Draft CLRP and Resolution by TPB Board Member Evan Glass

June 15, 2021 

Hon. Charles Allen 
Chair, National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board 

Re: TPB Draft CLRP and Resolution by TPB Board Member Evan Glass 

Chair Allen and members of the TPB: 

We hope you all agree that climate change is an existential threat. You also know that transportation is our number one source of emissions and that electrical vehicles will not be enough to get us to the COG and national goals of a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030. The last CLRP (2018) is only estimated to reduce CO2 by 23%  by 2045, 

In the COG scientific and statistically significant Voices of the Region Survey, 84% of the region’s residents  indicated they want elected officials to prioritize climate change in transportation plans. Public comment on  Visualize 2045 has overwhelmingly supported a plan that addresses climate change. 

Therefore, we urge you to address the issues raised in Councilmember Glass’ resolution and by many other  members of the TPB seeking a CLRP that more effectively addresses climate change. At a minimum, we urge you in  adopting the draft CLRP for air conformity modeling, to concurrently commit to the TPB to adopting a new CLRP by  2024 that meets COG’s climate goals. This includes conducting a rigorous initial climate strategy analysis this year  (not just an academic exercise) and beginning immediately in 2022, developing the next CLRP by 2024. 

We are running out of time. We need your leadership. 

Thank you. 

Stewart Schwartz
Executive Director

Bill Pugh 
Senior Policy Fellow

Testimony to TPB re Climate & Visualize 2045

May 19, 2021 

Dear Chair Allen and TPB Board members: 

You have the opportunity to create a better Visualize 2045, not next time, but now. The region’s  residents and future generations are counting on you, and climate science says that we can’t delay  anymore. At last week’s COG Board meeting, TPB Director Kanti Srikanth said in regard to climate  change and Visualize 2045 that “Every option needs to be pursued as expeditiously as possible to  attain our 2030 goal.” We agree.  

193 of the 199 public comments submitted to TPB ask for sustainable and equitable transportation  investments that prioritize non-auto modes, including land use and demand management strategies.  This is consistent with the COG Voices of the Region survey. 

Please note these two key findings in today’s presentation on TPB’s Climate Change Study Phase 1  Report: 

“At the regional and local levels, the studies show that land use policies that bring housing  and jobs closer together and closer to transit reduce both GHG emissions and vehicle travel.  Travel demand policies such as teleworking are also effective at reducing GHG emissions and  vehicle travel and are also cost-effective.” and that “In contrast to most of the vehicle-related  strategies, many of these policy actions can be implemented in a shorter timeframe  contributing to critical near-term GHG reductions.”  

– The memo notes the promise of the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), and we agree.  However, the TCI Program will only reduce on-road emissions by 7% by 2032. TCI clearly states  that substantial reductions depend on jurisdictions, including MPO’s like TPB, adopting  “complementary policies.”  

Given Director Srikanth’s statement that every option needs to be expeditiously pursued, we are  stunned by the staff response to the public comments — that the proposed project list with $40 billion in  highway and road expansion projects is generally consistent with and advances TPB’s climate and equity  goals, and that it is not as relevant to regional climate efforts. 

That is simply not possible. Road expansion fuels more driving and spread out development and diverts  billions of dollars from investing in transit and TOD to reduce emissions and address the region’s racial  and economic inequity. 

TPB’s own studies show we can avoid much proposed highway expansion if the region adopts effective  travel and greenhouse gas reduction strategies, which are travel demand and land use policies that  focus jobs and housing in walkable areas near transit, and expanding transit investments. 

Thank you. 

Stewart Schwartz Bill Pugh 

Executive Director Senior Policy Fellow

CSG Testimony Re: Visualize 2045 Climate Commitments

April 21, 2021 

Hon. Charles Allen 

Chair, National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board 

Re: Call for a climate-friendly Visualize 2045 update 

Chair Allen and Board members: 

Tomorrow is the 51st anniversary of Earth Day, and 2030 is just 9 years away. By which time we  must slash greenhouse gas emissions by 50%. Transportation is our largest emitter and electric vehicles will not be enough. We must reduce VMT by 15 to 25%, and increase non-auto mode  share by 15 to 20%. 

You voted 22 to 0 with 8 abstentions (VDOT changed from No to Abstain) to require that  members “prioritize investments on projects, programs, and policies to reduce greenhouse gas  emissions, prioritize the aspirational strategies, and achieve COG’s land use and equity goals.” 

But in response, your DOT staffs are arguing their road projects reduce VMT and emissions, and without showing how. Building new highways and widening highways and arterials does not reduce VMT or GHG emissions. Nor do HOT lanes. This is because induced demand is a proven  fact. New capacity fills up in just a few years with more vehicle trips and VMT, and sparks more  auto-dependent sprawl. Not to mention the impact of highways in loss of thousands of acres of  forests, more impervious surface and stormwater, and the negative health and equity issues. 

You are the leaders who can and must break us out of business-as-usual and craft a plan that  focuses on TOD and proximity, correcting the E-W jobs divide, transit-first, and local connected  street grids with safe bike/ped networks. 

The DC region can and must be a leader in smart growth and sustainable transportation — starting with a new climate-friendly CLRP. 

Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director

Bill Pugh, Senior Policy Fellow

Coalition for Smarter Growth President “tired of the Arlington bashing,” says proponents of widening I-66 “apparently don’t believe in the science of induced traffic”

Check out the video of Stewart Schwartz of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, speaking in Alexandria at the December 9 meeting of the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB), and the partial transcript below. Schwartz does a great job, in a short amount of time, of explaining why we need smart growth solutions in the I-66 corridor, and throughout Northern Virginia, NOT more roads and more roads-inducing sprawl development.

The CTB meeting at which Stewart Schwartz spoke covered a number of transportation-related topics, including this mouthful: “Authorization to Impose Tolls on I-66 Inside the Beltway, Advancement/Allocation of Toll Facilities Revolving Account Funds, and Approval of a Memorandum of Agreement with the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission Relating to the Transform66: Inside the Beltway Project.” What on earth is that? Well, if you followed the closing weeks of the 2016 Virginia General Assembly elections, or if you simply turned on your TV in those closing weeks, you’re almost certainly aware that the issue of I-66 tolling came up, over and over again, in the most demagogic and misleading fashion. I’d note that, in the end, despite Republicans spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on these ads, none of the candidates they attacked (Jennifer Boysko, Kathleen Murphy, etc.) lost. In fact, it’s arguable that the ads backfired, if anything, as candidates like Kathy Smith won by far larger margins than had been expected. So, not sure about the political potency of this line of attack, but it certainly didn’t work in 2015.

Anyway, the bottom line is that the McAuliffe administration is generally on the right course with regard to addressing traffic congestion on I-66 inside and outside the Beltway. As the Coalition for Smarter Growth and many others understand, the LAST thing we should want is pouring more pavement, for a wide variety of reasons, including: a) increasing road capacity simply encourages more sprawl and more traffic (“induced demand”); b) locking in, and even adding to, fossil-fuel-powered transportation infrastructure is the 180-degree wrong way to go, at a time when we need to be rapidly phasing out greenhouse gas emissions if we want to avoid frying our planet; c) building new roads is a ridiculously expensive proposition, and for no good reason (see points “a”and “b”), other than to line the pocket of the road-building folks.

As for the McAuliffe administration’s plan for the I-66 corridor, what it does is basically harness Free Market Economics 101 to address/ameliorate a problem in a cost-effective, market-oriented fashion. Why Republicans of all people would oppose this is kind of mind boggling, until you consider that they also have flip-flopped and now oppose other conservative ideas, such as the “individual mandate,” “cap-and-trade,” etc.

The bottom line, with regard to widening I-66 inside the Beltway, is that Arlington County is absolutely correct: this should be a last-ditch option, after all other options have been tried and ONLY if those other options fail. Frankly, widening I-66 is just as misguided and short-sighted as building new fossil-fuel-fired infrastructure, before we’ve maxed out on energy efficiency. Not smart at all.

With that, here are Stewart Schwartz’s comments at the Dec. 9 meeting of the CTB. Enjoy.

Regarding the previous speakers, they apparently don’t believe in the science of induced traffic, that it is a very real problem. They apparently think we can widen Constitution Avenue in DC. There is no place for these cars to go. If you build it, they WILL come on a wider road. That’s why your combined transportation demand management, transit, HOV solution is the best solution for that corridor.

And I get a little tired of the Arlington bashing. Arlington has probably done more to relieve traffic congestion in Northern Virginia than any other jurisdiction…Their transit-oriented development has sited millions of square feet of development, tens of thousands of housing units, in locations where their vehicle trips and vehicle miles traveled are lower than anywhere else in Northern Virginia. And they have, in the process, maximized transit, walking and biking. That IS a regional transit-oriented development…not what I’m hearing, which is a 1950s, can-we-please-build-rings-of-outer-beltways-and-widen-every-road.

We have to change our land use to do so in a more sustainable way…We DO care about the regional economy, we DO care about being competitive. That means we should maximize great placemaking and transit-oriented development to attract these companies, to retain the Millenials and the next-generation creative employees. And we should do our transportation smart, in a demand-management way like we’re talking about…

Testimony to the TPB re Climate Change and the CLRP Update

Over the past three years and particularly since last summer, the TPB has asked the staff to review CLRP updates for conformance with the goals of Region Forward, the COG Climate Report, Access for All, and the Regional Transportation Priorities Plan. The COG staff, elected officials and a wide range of stakeholders have committed significant time and resources into developing these plans and associated goals.

The Constrained Long Range Plan update must address regional climate change goals

The undersigned organizations call on the National Capital Transportation Planning Board (TPB) to commit to full disclosure of the forecasted climate change impact of the 2014 Constrained Long Range Plan (CLRP), and to take action to align the CLRP with the region’s climate change goals. One of the most important national and
multi-national public policy issues of our time, climate change must be tackled by every city, county, region, state, and nation. Given that our region has already adopted important goals, it is past time to begin implementing them.