Metro's revised SafeTrack plan is out, and riders along the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines will be suffering much earlier than in the original plan. That may be necessary maintenance, but it'll mean local officials have to move fast to find alternative ways to get people east and west.
The first "surge" is single-tracking from Ballston to East Falls Church from June 4-13. That single-tracking includes rush hours and every other time. There will be fewer trains at rush hour everywhere along the Orange and Silver west of there and the Orange Line east all the way to New Carrollton.
Then, the really big challenge hits June 18, when Metro will shut down the line from Eastern Market to Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road for 16 days, June 18-July 3. This will also mean no trains from Arlington Cemetery to Rosslyn. That means no trains on these areas for over two weeks.
And this won't just affect people traveling on the east side of the region. There will be 54% fewer trains from Eastern Market to Rosslyn during rush hours and 40-43% fewer on the Orange and Silver lines in Virginia.
In July, Yellow/Blue riders are affected, followed by more single-tracking on Orange/Silver, and then a big Red Line single-tracking in August.
We'll need bus/HOV lanes and staging parking lots
Last week, we talked about 8 big ideas to help. Based on your feedback, we want to prioritize dedicated express lanes for bus and carpoolers along main arterial roads, including the bridges into DC.
In addition, the DOTs should find lots that can serve as park-and-rides and slugging staging areas. People could park in these zones and form ad-hoc carpools (called "slugging"), or ride special shuttle buses using the 42 extra buses Metro has available for the surges.
Workers, employers, retailers, and everyone else will have to step up too, to share rides and adjust work hours to keep people getting where they need to go. Still, many people don't have that option and need a way to travel east and west without spending hours in traffic. The only way we are going to encourage and move enough people by carpool and bus is if we offer a speedy and reliable trip with dedicated express lanes.
We don't have all the answers. The local DOTs have the experts who need to figure out the specifics. Or maybe they have variations on this plan that would work better. But while asking people nicely to please telework or carpool is part of the answer, it's not enough on its own. Some priority for carpoolers and buses is necessary.
There's not a lot of time. But the SafeTrack "surges" won't be permanent. It's not unreasonable to try some meaningful policies in late June to try to keep people moving.
Let’s all roll up our sleeves and take on this challenge. We can do it!
Ask your local DOTs to get this figured out right now
Please ask your local transportation officials to step up. We've suggested some recommendations in the form, but you can customize it as much as you'd like. Our system will automatically send your letter to the right officials based on the jurisdiction you enter, and will sign the letter with your first and last name.
In Twinbrook, Rockville Pike could become a 252-foot-wide mega boulevard with 12 car lanes, 4 bike lanes, 2 bus lanes, and large medians. But in designing a street with more than ample room for cars, bikes, and buses, planners abandon any hope the street will be walkable.
Tell the Rockville Mayor and City Council that 252' is simply too wide. Ask them to narrow the plan for Rockville Pike.
Last year, Rockville's Planning Commission proposed the 252-foot plan, and the City Council endorsed it. But the Council has taken up the plan again, and there's still time before August to get it right.
Rockville wants to make the Pike a more urban main street, so planners there are drawing up a redevelopment plan. It's a laudable goal, and it's not easy on a high-traffic state highway like Rockville Pike.
But at 252 feet wide, the new Rockville Pike will be a barrier to pedestrians and to a unified transit-oriented community on both sides of the Pike.
In contrast, Montgomery County’s White Flint plan calls for a 216 foot wide boulevard, with 162 feet for cars, buses and bikes and 27 foot wide sidewalks on each side.
One way to narrow the street is to remove the access roads, because Rockville’s proposed street grid will provide the circulation and access you need.
Transit oriented development doesn't work unless it's walkable.
Use our take-action tool below to ask the Rockville City Council to reconsider the Planning Commission’s proposal and to align the Pike to Montgomery County’s design.. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
Should driving fast a priority on main streets where people are shopping or dining at an outdoor café? Or in neighborhoods where children might be biking or walking? Of course not.
But a proposed US Department of Transportation (USDOT) rule would do just that in our communities.
This USDOT draft rule (more info at T4America) would deem a road congested if vehicles are moving at a slow speed, compared to an open road at 3 am! It would make driving fast and moving trucks the ultimate goals of our transportation system, overriding all other transportation modes and needs.
In turn, this would:
- penalize communities where people live close to work, or travel shorter distances at slower speeds.
- penalize and divert funding from places where people are opting out of congestion entirely by living in a transit-oriented neighborhood, taking transit, telecommuting, walking or biking.
- make it more dangerous for people walking and biking, including on roads running past our schools, through our towns and in the transit-oriented neighborhoods we are working so hard to create.
If this rule stands as written, we expect it to endanger efforts to increase investment in much-needed transit and in safer streets in our communities.
Use our take-action tool below stand with us and other people across America and ask USDOT to change the rule. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
Badly-needed school funding, or an unneeded new highway in walkable White Flint: which should Montgomery County fund?
Tell councilmembers to properly fund our school and transit needs, not the Montrose Parkway East extension.
What's a better use for this $140 million ($90 million in this six-year capital improvement program)? Properly funding new school construction and bus rapid transit.
We don’t want a new Montrose Parkway East undermining a walkable, transit-friendly White Flint. What we do want are top quality schools for our children and modern transit to attract and retain top employers, like Marriott, and the revenue they generate.
In tough fiscal times, we should put our tax dollars where they can do the most good: schools and transit, not the Montrose Parkway East extension.
This past January, Coalition for Smarter Growth supporters like you spoke up when County Executive Leggett’s budget contained over $300 million dollars for new roads and nothing for bus rapid transit or near term bus improvements. The County Executive heard you and committed funds to both. We know the power our community has when we speak up.
Use our take-action tool below to tell the County Council and County Executive to fund schools and transit, not the Montrose Parkway East extension. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
Once built, Prince George’s new Regional Medical Center will anchor a vibrant, mixed-use downtown Largo. Officials are committed to their decision to bring it to Largo Metro station. But building a new hospital is complicated. A new multi-year funding plan will make it much easier.
That’s why the Maryland General Assembly just passed a bill clarifying the mutual obligations of the county and state partners to provide the necessary funding for this $650 million game-changing project. Now, the bill is headed to Governor Hogan’s desk.
Most Prince Georgians know what a game-changer the new Regional Medical Center will be for the county. It will be a leading healthcare facility in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical System. And from a smart growth perspective, the new teaching hospital’s location at Largo Metro station also will anchor a new Downtown Largo, sparking economic development in a walkable, transit-accessible location.
Progress on the Medical Center has been frustratingly slow. This bill helps push the effort forward by providing clarity of funding.
Use our take-action tool below to ask Governor Hogan to sign the bill and assure that the Regional Medical Center becomes a reality.. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
A mix of old and new commercial strip development, Richmond Highway (US Route 1) has a long way to go to become a great modern urban boulevard, friendly to all people -- whether they're walking, taking transit, driving, or bicycling.
The transformation has been painfully slow. We need your help.
Tell Fairfax County Supervisors Jeff McKay and Dan Storck that you support making Richmond Highway a great modern urban boulevard. Even if you don’t live in their districts, tell these supervisors you care about this historic part of Fairfax.
So far, the county’s “Embark Richmond Highway” planning effort has been limited to an advisory group, with limited broader public input. As public engagement ramps up, here's how we want to see the plan move forward:
- Fund and build modern bus rapid transit (BRT) with dedicated lanes;
- Create pedestrian and bike-friendly street networks;
- Preserve existing affordable housing and expand opportunities to build new affordable housing;
- Shift to mixed-use development with good urban design – buildings built to the sidewalk, active ground floor uses, and great public plazas and town greens;
- Modernize stormwater management and restore streams; and
- Expand and interconnect parks and recreation areas.
Use our take-action tool below to tell the supervisors you want Richmond Highway to be a great modern urban boulevard. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
In Van Ness, a Chick-fil-A has plans to put a drive-thru store on Connecticut Avenue. But a busy drive-thru just isn’t compatible with the neighborhood’s progress toward being a more walkable place.
Chick-fil-A plans to take over the Burger King property at 4422 Connecticut Avenue NW, just north of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) campus and Van Ness Metro station.
Today, the Burger King operates a lightly-used drive-thru. Chick-fil-A estimates that their drive-thru will see three times as much traffic as Burger King does today -- more than 90 vehicles/hour Saturdays at midday.
Most of those 90+ vehicles will be crossing the sidewalk twice (entering and exiting the drive-thru). If Chick-fil-A can keep the line moving, that means a vehicle will be traversing the Connecticut Avenue sidewalk roughly three times per minute, roughly tripling the odds of pedestrian/motorist conflict.
At a time when DC has adopted a Vision Zero program, and Van Ness has made significant progress toward becoming a more walkable, pedestrian-friendly place, a high-volume drive-thru just isn’t the right fit.
The Chick-fil-A also has plans for sidewalk café seating on-site, where now there’s unappealing empty concrete. That’s exactly the kind of improvements we do want to see in Van Ness. But the drive-thru is a step in the wrong direction, and Chick-fil-A’s other drive-thru-less stores in the region have shown they can thrive without one.
Do you agree? The DDOT public space committee will soon hear Chick-fil-A’s application for a public space permit, necessary to renovate the driveway to fulfill the drive-thru plans. Send DDOT an email asking them to say no the the permit.
Use our take-action tool below to let DDOT public space committee members know you oppose this high-volume drive-thru. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
We’ve made real progress on keeping better buses in the Montgomery County budget this year. We’ve pushed (and won!) enough funds to keep planning for BRT and improve existing bus service in the meantime.
But 2016 is a tough fiscal season. Some priorities are likely to get cut from the budget. After our hard-won gains, don’t let it be transit. Help keep up the pressure for better bus service during budget season. Email the County Council now, and tell them to ensure that transit remains a priority in the budget.
We’ve made a lot of progress these last few months. At first, the transportation budget left out next steps for bus rapid transit (BRT). But pressure from transit advocates like you and me helped push County Executive Leggett to announce plans for BRT on US29, continue studies for BRT on MD355, and introduce express bus from Lakeforest Mall to Medical Center Metro station.
Funding near-term bus improvements on Veirs Mill Rd. and maintaining support for BRT are critical to Montgomery County’s future. Investments in transit are one of the surest ways to boost wages, entice businesses, and bring money into Montgomery County coffers.
Now, we need to keep up momentum for better bus service as the County Council debates changes to the County Executive’s budget.
Use our take-action tool below to let Montgomery County officials know you support increased bus service and plans for BRT. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
Last year, Governor Hogan threatened to cancel the Purple Line, and DID cancel the Baltimore Red Line – even though both transit projects had huge potential to bring economic revitalization to neighborhoods that need it. Together, we saved the Purple Line. But other Prince George's investments including transit projects, Metro funding, and road investments, are still at risk because of the state's closed door decision-making process.
A new bill in the Maryland General Assembly would help fix that. Under the bill, Governors of either party could no longer arbitrarily kill or approve a transportation project. The bill needs your support. Speak up in favor of it now!
The Open Transportation Decision Investment Act (SB908/HB1013) could go a long way toward ensuring Maryland is putting its transportation dollars toward the right projects. Governor Hogan has said he won’t support this idea, so for it to become law, it will need a veto-proof majority in Annapolis. Please, send an email to your state representatives now, asking for their support.
The Open Transportation Decision Investment Act would set up a scoring system for transportation projects. Transportation projects would be evaluated on measures like environmental stewardship, community vitality, economic prosperity, and equitable access to transportation. If a Governor decided to fund a project that ranked low over one that ranked high, he or she would have to provide an official explanation.
These are the kind of criteria that will make a big difference for Prince George’s – especially for supporting the well-planned development around our existing Metro stations that will make for a much more walkable and vibrant Prince George’s.
Use our take-action tool below to tell Annapolis to support better trasnportation choices for our community. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
Soon, the DC Zoning Commission will act to make inclusionary zoning (an important affordable housing program) serve lower-income households.
Can you email the Zoning Commission and Mayor Bowser and tell them you support changes to inclusionary zoning (IZ) to make it truly affordable? Your support will help make sure we get the changes we need to make this program help more DC residents.
IZ mandates that 8-10% of the units in new DC apartments and condos be priced and set aside for low-income households. But today, the prices for affordable IZ homes are too high. Too many residents the program was meant to help haven’t benefited because IZ units are still too expensive for them.
To fix this, we're pushing the Zoning Commission to lower the income targeting for IZ rental units from 80% of our region's median family income 60% of median family income. On March 3, the Zoning Commission will consider proposals to change IZ.
This hearing has been delayed several times, and we've emailed you about this issue before. We need to send a message that improving IZ is an urgent and important part of creating a more affordable DC: one of Mayor Bowser’s top priorities.
Please, help us impress on the Zoning Commission and on Mayor Bowser how important it is to have affordable housing for working class and low-income DC residents.
Use our take-action tool below to send your comments to the DC Zoning Commission and Mayor Bowser. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
We're at a critical point for Montgomery’s transit future. You can help.
On January 15, officials released plans for how the county will fund transportation improvements over the next six years. Enough money to keep bus rapid transit (BRT) moving forward or making current bus service better is missing, but there is $300 million for building new roads.
At issue? The six-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The CIP is the driving force for new county spending on all transportation improvements. So it’s a big deal that this first version of the CIP has $300 million in funding for roads, but no next steps for BRT or WMATA’s Metrobus express program, called the Priority Corridor Network. Unless you help win changes to the CIP, Montgomery County residents could see a lot of new roads, but little improvement in existing bus service or progress toward the BRT network. We badly need both to complement Metro and the Purple Line.
The good news is we’ve got four months to change all that. Your voice will help.
Starting now, the Montgomery County Council and the County Executive will begin amending and tweaking the CIP. This is our chance to win funds for BRT and better bus service. We're asking officials to put money into the CIP for the engineering and design studies for the three BRT priority corridors (Veirs Mill, US29, MD355). We also want funding for WMATA’s Metrobus express program, called the Priority Corridor Network.
Why? WMATA Priority Corridor Network will improve commutes for thousands of Montgomery County riders – moving buses faster and more reliably, and drawing more riders. Demonstrating the benefits of faster, more reliable service, the express buses will illustrate the value of taking the next step to full-scale bus rapid transit.
Montgomery County is currently doing studies for the first BRT routes: the first step to making them a reality. But funding for the studies is set to run out roughly in the next year, and without the studies, planning for BRT can't continue.
We need money in the CIP for BRT and WMATA's Priority Corridor Network to get bus riders the service they need and keep up the momentum for BRT. Will you add your voice to the public chorus asking for money in the budget for better bus service?
Use our take-action tool below to send your comments to the County Executive and County Council. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
Done right, the planned redevelopment of the McMillan Sand Filtration Plant will create the city’s largest new park and foster a vibrant, walkable neighborhood. The planned transformation will sensibly complement the surrounding neighborhoods of Bloomingdale and Stronghold and bring the isolated Washington Hospital Center campus back into the city’s fabric.
While the extensive planning process has built broad community support, the future of the former sand filtration site is still contested.
Some who are opposing the transformation of this long off-limits city-owned parcel have mischaracterized the plans and are urging the D.C. government to halt progress despite the many proposed public benefits.
We need you to step up and show that many fair-minded D.C. residents believe moving McMillan forward in a responsible way is the right thing to do. It will add greater vibrancy to our community, contributing a grand new park (over 6 acres), restoration of historic buildings and landscaping, along with a compatible mix of housing, offices, and retail. It will also create much-needed affordable homes, though the number has diminished as the proposed park has expanded in size.
Please send an email to the office of the D.C. Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, expressing your support for a new McMillan right now!
The D.C. Zoning code shapes the form of our city and influences how walkable, inclusive and transit-oriented it is. Yet the code hasn’t been comprehensively updated since 1958! Priorities have changed a lot since 1958 – and that’s why it’s so important to get involved in this effort to create the framework to help us ensure the gains we’ve made in recent years continue far into the future.
Do you agree? Join with us and sign the petition below: