TAKE ACTION: Tell VDOT to prioritize walkable, transit-friendly communities in its climate strategy

A handy guide to filling out VA Department of Transportation’s survey

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is receiving millions of dollars per year from the federal government to reduce the climate impacts of Virginia’s transportation sector – its biggest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Under the program, VDOT must develop a Carbon Reduction Strategy by November. 

Your feedback is critical to ensure that VDOT prioritizes fostering walkable, transit-friendly communities connected by clean, convenient intercity rail and bus systems rather than continuing to pave over Virginia and making communities more car-dependent and less safe to walk and bike.  

While there is no deadline indicated, please fill out VDOT’s climate strategy survey form by August 31 to ensure that VDOT receives your feedback soon enough to shape its plan.

See below for background and talking points you can use. Adapt these points in your own words based on your personal experience and community. 

Fill out the survey!

CSG’s recommendations for responses to VDOT’s Survey Questions

Does your locality or metropolitan planning organization have planning documents, goals, or policies related to the reduction of transportation emissions? 


Please identify and briefly summarize the planning documents, goals, or policies related to the reduction of transportation emissions.

Please identify and briefly summarize the planning documents, goals, or policies related to the reduction of transportation emissions.

Northern VA localities and its metropolitan planning organization have adopted goals and policies to reduce transportation emissions and vehicle miles traveled. Important ones to cite: 

  • The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board adopted a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks by 50% relative to 2005 levels by the year 2030. 
  • Fairfax County, Arlington County, City of Alexandria, and Loudoun County all have adopted climate action plans (some called energy and/or sustainability plans) with goals to reduce vehicle miles traveled and shift more travel to non-auto modes to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Prince William and Falls Church have draft policies to do this.

Which of the following Carbon Reduction Program-eligible activities are of interest to you or applicable to your locality/MPO/organization? Select all that apply.

From the list of options provided by VDOT, we recommend selecting: Congestion Pricing, Bus Rapid Transit, Sidewalks and Crosswalks, Bike Lanes and Trails. VDOT has traditionally underinvested in these more sustainable modes. While electric vehicles and charging infrastructure are critical to meeting our adopted climate goals, Virginia, many localities and the private sector are already making large investments in these through other programs. Given the Carbon Reduction Program’s limited funding, it should be focused on strategies that fundamentally change Virginia’s transportation system to meet both our climate goals and  other important goals. This means making our transportation system less car dependent, more sustainable, affordable, and safer, with more travel options and supported by land use policies that focus development in existing towns, cities and accessible suburbs, enabling Virginians to meet their daily needs with shorter trips. 

Please identify any additional activities that should be considered as part of VDOT’s efforts to reduce transportation emissions through the Carbon Reduction Program.

VDOT should also prioritize strategies for shifting transportation demand to nonpeak hours or other transportation modes like transit, increasing vehicle occupancy rates, or otherwise reducing demand for roads. They can do so by using variable electronic toll collection for existing lanes (not adding HOT lanes), and supporting travel demand management strategies like parking pricing, telecommuting, and transit benefits.

The Carbon Reduction Program is covered under the federal Justice40 initiative, which requires a portion of program benefits to flow to disadvantaged communities. What input can you offer that would support VDOT’s effort to direct benefits from the Carbon Reduction Program to disadvantaged communities?

Strategies should include funding non-auto modes that are relied upon more heavily by disadvantaged communities – transit, walking, biking, shared vehicles. Electric vehicle infrastructure and programs addressing trucking fleets and freight equipment should be focused in disadvantaged communities impacted by freight and vehicle pollution.

Please provide any additional questions or feedback related to VDOT’s implementation of the Carbon Reduction Program.

VDOT’s Carbon Reduction Strategy must:

  • Set targets for reducing per capita passenger vehicle miles traveled 20% by 2030 and 30% by 2045. Multiple transportation-climate studies show that states and regions need to reduce vehicle miles traveled at this scale in addition to achieving a rapid transition to electric vehicles to meet our climate goals. 
  • Ensure that use of Carbon Reduction Program funding used for transit, biking and walking programs do not reduce other VDOT program investments in these needs.
  • VDOT and other state departments of transportation need to shift other flexible funding provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law away from highway capacity expansion to transit, rail, walking, biking, travel demand management, and fixing existing road and rail infrastructure to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Fully account for induced demand from highway and arterial widening projects, recognizing that widening usually induces more driving and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Account for the role of “transportation-efficient land use” – mixed-use, walkable, transit-accessible communities for reducing vehicle trips, vehicle miles traveled, and greenhouse gas emissions, and include working with local governments on these communities as an alternative to highway and arterial road expansion.
  • Recognize the full environmental costs of cars, trucks and expanded road infrastructure in greenhouse gas, ozone, and particulate emissions, as well as stormwater runoff, lost tree canopy, heat, loss of farmland and natural habitat, and recognize the co-benefits, in safety, health, affordability, equity, sustainability, of mode shift, travel demand and land use strategies.

Take the Survey

For more background information: