“It was a historic vote today,” said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “As they said in the movie, failure is not an option. We have just eight years to slash our emissions to avoid truly runaway climate change.”
We won a historic vote at the regional Transportation Planning Board (TPB), which set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our regional transportation network by 50% below 2005 levels by 2030 – just 8 years from now.
Our primary comments are contained in the joint letter with over 30 other organizations from
across TPB’s region.
Yet the TPB board members made no substantive changes, and the
Despite a new climate action plan by TPB’s parent agency the Council of Governments, this Visualize 2045 makes no real changes and fails to reduce emissions any more than the last one.
Transportation is the #1 source of our regional greenhouse gas emissions, and we have just 8 years to slash those emissions. Yet, our local and state elected officials who sit on the regional Transportation Planning Board (TPB), are not taking the urgent – and feasible – steps necessary to reduce emissions from our region’s transportation system. They need to hear from you!
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.
- Scientific survey of over 2,400 regional residents conducted by TPB that was representative of urban, inner suburban and outer suburban jurisdictions.
- Shows that the region’s residents generally demand more walkable, bikeable and transit-friendly communities and climate action, and prioritize this much more than expanding roads and parking
- Climate Action
- 84% of the region’s residents want elected officials to consider the impacts of climate change when planning transportation.
- For residents under 30 years of age, those most impacted by our long-range planning decisions and by climate change, that percentage rises to 92%.
- Overwhelming majorities of suburban as well as urban residents across the region’s jurisdictions agreed.
- Even in outer suburban jurisdictions, between 72 and 78% of residents wanted climate change considered in transportation planning.
- These percentages are much higher than those expressing congestion to be a significant concern that impacts their lives a lot (44%).
- Support for expanded pedestrian zones, bike lanes, and bus lanes
- Three quarters of survey respondents said they support post-pandemic use of street space for expanded pedestrian access and restaurant seating.
- Strong majorities also support bike lanes (63%) and bus lanes (71%), and a narrow majority (54%) support dedicated bus lanes even in situations that involve removal of on-street parking.
- It’s not only city residents who want dedicated bus lanes, either: the majority of survey respondents live in suburban areas, with a plurality from outer suburbs.
- “What transportation investments should we make today that future generations will thank us for tomorrow?” – only a small minority (134 out of 637) called for more or wider roads:
- 259 responses called for improving transit, walking and biking
- 172 responses called for clean transportation investments
- 134 responses called for more roads and more/wider car lanes
- 72 responses called for improving the condition of existing bridges and roads
- Dissatisfaction with region’s transportation system is by far the highest in the car-dependent outer suburbs
COALITION FOR SMARTER GROWTH
For Immediate Release
July 21, 2021
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).