As someone who lives in Loudoun or Prince William counties, you're likely still stuck in traffic – whether on your daily commute or just trying to run errands. Two things would make it even worse: more poorly planned development and the Outer Beltway. Nonetheless, powerful groups continue to lobby for both.
Prince William and Loudoun residents have fought hard over the years to protect the Rural Crescent in Prince William and the Rural and Transition Areas in Loudoun – preserving scenic landscapes that enhance quality of life and reduce the growth in traffic.
Yet, powerful groups continue to lobby for the Bi-County Parkway (part of the Outer Beltway/Western Bypass) to open these areas to development. They also seek this highway and Potomac Bridges over to Montgomery County, MD, to support a massive expansion of cargo shipping at Dulles Airport – meaning more traffic on Route 234, Route 28, Route 50, and Route 7.
Over the years, the Coalition for Smarter Growth has assisted local residents in challenging the Outer Beltway and promoting a better way to grow. With local residents and partner groups we’ve offered alternatives to the Bi-County Parkway and a better approach to land use and transportation in Loudoun, and responded to boosters of upper Potomac Bridges.
Winning a better way to grow in Prince William and Loudoun depends on elected officials hearing from you. So we hope you'll take a moment to let your elected officials know about your concerns and your vision for your community. Please email today.
We’ve crafted a template letter, but please feel free to edit it to reflect your concerns and recommendations -- personalized letters carry far more weight with officials!
If you send a letter today to your current elected official, but a new official will be taking that seat in January, we will save your email and deliver it in a batch to that new elected official. We do not have official contact information for the new officials at this time.
Today, Metro's board officially confirms Paul Wiedefeld as WMATA's next General Manager.
The failure to hire a permanent General Manager (GM) until now has certainly not helped WMATA address its many problems. So today is a big day and we welcome Paul.
Metro is the most important piece of our transportation infrastructure. Failure is not an option. Therefore, our entire region is counting on the new GM, the WMATA Board, and on our elected officials to work together to fix Metro.
There’s a lot to fix, but we see three steps to helping riders regain confidence in Metro.
Communication. A little communication can go a long way. Riders should always know what’s going on, whether it's unexpected delays or planned track work. Making sure all customers know what’s going on, how long it will last, and why – especially in the case of planned track work – will go miles toward rebuilding faith in Metro.
Reliability. One of the biggest complaints riders have right now is that wait times vary wildly depending on the day and circumstance. WMATA needs to restore basic predictability to the system. Even if headways aren’t as short as we'd like them to be, riders must have a reasonable understanding of how long their trip will take.
Funding. Without more funding, Metro can’t get to where we need it to be. That’s a simple fact. A top priority for our new GM has to be making the case for Metro’s needs to the public and the local and state elected officials who control the purse strings. In turn, our elected officials must commit to providing the mix of local, state, and federal funding needed to restore the system and then to provide eight-car trains and other capacity improvements.
Doing our part to make sure Metro gets on the right track is going to be the Coalition for Smarter Growth’s number one priority in 2016. We simply can’t be a sustainable region and create more walkable and inclusive communities without a strong and thriving Metro. We hope you will join us throughout the year ahead in pressing officials for the fixes we need.
Do you agree? Please send a quick note to the new General Manager, Paul Wiedefeld, welcoming him and asking him and the Board to focus on these three fixes as well as restoring a strong safety culture. We'll also send copies of your note to your other elected officials.
If you have a moment, please put our suggested text into your own words. Individual letters mean much more to officials than form letters!
Wow! As Montgomery moves forwards with plans for bus rapid transit (BRT), we're seeing a groundswell of support demanding this better transit service across the county.
This fall, our volunteers, staff, and partners spent hundreds of hours at bus stops from Germantown to Silver Spring, collecting signatures and talking to people about the BRT plan. What do we keep hearing? Unreliable, infrequent buses just won't cut it anymore. The time to act is now.
Over 1000 bus riders have signed our petition pushing to implement the county's BRT master plan. Add your voice to the roar now!
DC’s parking policies are broken and outdated, which means more traffic, less support for transit and transit-oriented development, and a worse quality of life for all of us. And that’s only going to get worse as our city grows in the coming decades.
A new trial program called “performance parking” is launching next year in Chinatown-Penn Quarter, and could help to change this. Unfortunately, critics of progressive parking policies are trying to blow up this important solution.
The basic idea is that DDOT will periodically adjust meter prices in Chinatown-Penn Quarter, based on how many people want to park at a given time on a given block. So during the busiest time, you might pay more for parking on a highly sought-after block. Or you could choose to park a little farther away for less money. And during quieter times, you might pay less across the board.
Either way, you’ll find it much easier to find a space to park – the idea is to set prices so that there are always one or two spots available on a given block. This will reduce the traffic congestion that drivers create circling the block looking for a space that will probably not be there. Meanwhile, at the busiest times of day transit and other modes of transportation will start to look better for some trips – helping relieve our overwhelmed city streets from terrible traffic and its accompanying problems.
This idea has debuted successfully in San Francisco and other cities. We think it’s worth taking a serious look at DC. Why do we think this idea makes sense for DC?
- Any additional parking revenues raised in the District go toward WMATA (Metro) funding, something we need more of!
- There's a good chance parking costs will go down in many places as part of the program, as they did in San Francisco.
- The program will make finding a place to park on the street -- especially for short-term retail and restaurant visits -- much more likely, giving visitors and businesses more predictability.
- Reducing the number of cars circling for parking means less congestion, safer streets, and more reliability for buses.
Critics of progressive reform are cynically claiming it’s just a plot to line city coffers with more fees. But the plan may well slightly REDUCE parking revenues for DC. Furthermore, parking revenues are already dedicated by law to Metro’s operating budget.
We think it’s very important to start to work to fix a broken system. This test could show us a way to move forward so we support DC’s efforts here wholeheartedly.
If you agree, please use our template below to customize and send an email to the DC Council letting them know!
Alexandria is in the midst of updating its 2008 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. We expect a final draft of the plan for public comment, by the end of this year. But the sooner we give city staff feedback, the better!
We encourage you to read the full draft strategies, and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee’s excellent comments. But here are three areas of concern we've identified in the drafts, and why they're important.
Strengthen Vision Zero language to focus on fatalities and injuries, and include a timeframe.
The draft calls only for eliminating pedestrian and cyclist "fatalities citywide," by developing a Vision Zero program. However, Vision Zero should address fatalities and injuries; and there should be a set timeframe for developing the program.
Remove language that prioritizes cars and parking from the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.
The current draft update includes statements about prioritizing through car travel and parking, such as, "The City's objective is to implement projects without impacting parking," and "No removal of parking or travel lanes is anticipated." This is at odds with adopted city policy committing to “Complete Streets” that are safe for all users. The determination for how to best balance competing demands should be made when analyzing particular bicycle or pedestrian needs, and not prejudged in the master plan for bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
Provide more transparency on how "Top Projects" are selected, and make it clear other projects aren't excluded.
The draft plan update centers on lists of "top 10" bicycle and "top 10" pedestrian projects. This is good, but incomplete. We worry that if only the "top 10" lists are included in the final update, projects that are important to complete streets that can be easily completed in the future may be passed over because they're not on the list. The final update should mention complete streets projects outside of the list. It should also explain the process for choosing the top 10 projects, the selection criteria, etc.
Use our template below to send your own comments, concerns and feedback to city staff. Your letter will be delivered via email to the staff planner on the project.
If you've used transit on Route 7 like we have, you know it’s heavily used by thousands of people connecting to jobs, schools, shopping and entertainment. Imagine faster service, and even the possibility of zipping along in a dedicated transit lane.
That’s the future we would like to see, and it’s one of the options under study in Envision Route 7, a study of transit between Tysons and Alexandria. The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, responsible for the plan, will release cost and ridership projections this fall.
Here are the five transit mode and service alternatives on the table. (Check them out on this interactive map.)
- Bus rapid transit, light rail transit, or enhanced bus service (the corridor is currently served by the 28x and 28a)
- Depending on whether it's bus or light rail, a route from Tysons to either King Street or Van Dorn Metro stations, likely via East Falls Church Metro, and connecting City of Falls Church, Seven Corners, Bailey’s Crossroads, the Mark Center, etc.
- New transit operating in dedicated lanes to the greatest extent possible
- Off-board fare collection, all-door-boarding, and frequent service (every 10 minutes at peak, 15 minutes at off-peak), 18-22 hours per day!
What are the challenges?
- In some places the corridor is narrow and may not allow for dedicated lanes, but if only in short stretches, this should not significantly undermine service.
- Many places still lack the safe walking and bicycling connections that are essential for reaching the stations and stops, and we must make sure to include these connections in the planning and investment.
With Metro's ongoing troubles and Arlington's cancellation of its streetcar, it's easy to get discouraged about the future of transit in Northern Virginia. But that's why it's more important than ever to push back, and speak up that good transit is something you value.
Modern transit is critical for moving more people and keeping our traffic manageable. It connects people to jobs and services, reduces air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and makes it possible to create more sustainable communities.
Please use our template below to customize a message in favor of Route 7 transit to your local officials. Any letter is better than none, but customized letters in your own words (and with your own subject line) carry extra weight with decision-makers!
Tomorrow, the Prince George's County Council will consider a bill that sets urban street design standards for more walkable, business-friendly streets. This is the first step to becoming a law.
For too long, we’ve let our streets be designed like rural highways – even when they are surrounding our Metro stations and busy historic town commercial districts.
If it's approved, the new bill would set separate street design guidelines for the county's urban and town centers, including all 15 Metro stations, and other areas where the county is seeking to guide growth and foster a more walkable, mixed use environment.
The urban street design standards set narrower travel lanes and design speeds so that motorists can travel at safe, moderate speeds in mixed-use urban environments and residential neighborhoods where they are sharing the streets with people who are walking, bicycling, and driving.
Such urban street design standards are common in thriving, walkable communities across the country and they can work right here in Prince George’s County.
Wide, high-speed roads with narrow sidewalks, sweeping turns, and no on-street parking are not only bad for people trying to walk to stores, schools, or transit, they're also bad for business. Rural road designs are the opposite of good transit-oriented development (TOD).
So tell the Prince George’s County Council and County Executive Baker that you support better street designs for urban places.
After years of study, DC officials just proposed some major upgrades – including dedicated bus lanes – for the 16th St NW corridor. But to see those upgrades happen, we need to make our voices heard to show DC officials that residents actually support bold solutions for better bus service.
Improving 16th Street bus service – one of the region’s busiest routes – has been under study for some time. Half of all travelers on 16th Street during rush hour ride the bus, yet buses are constantly overcrowded, delayed, and bunched together, making for an unpredictable and often-delayed ride.
The Coalition for Smarter Growth and other community members have pushed to implement a dedicated rush hour bus lane for the last several years.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) launched an extensive study and outreach process around the issue early in 2015. The idea was to dig deep to gather data and analyze potential solutions. and to talk directly with engaged community members to better understand their transportation needs.
Last week, we passed a major milestone: DDOT released three draft proposals for dramatically improving bus service on 16th Street. The primary highlight of each alternative is:
Alternative A: Would add off-board fare collection and queue jumping bus lanes at busy intersections like 16th and U NW
Alternative B: Would create all day dedicated bus lanes in both directions between Arkansas Ave and H Street NW from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Alternative C: Would create a dedicated rush hour bus lane in the peak direction from 7 to 10 a.m. (southbound) and 4:00 to 7:30 p.m. (northbound)
If these proposals sound like a great way to improve our bus service, please let DC know! >>
What happens now?
DDOT is planning to computer model the potential effect of each alternative on people taking transit, driving, and walking along the corridor.
After evaluating that data, DDOT will choose a “preferred alternative” based on what works the best for overall mobility in the corridor – which could include a hybrid of options from each proposal – and present that option to the public. DDOT staff will gather feedback and then – likely in early 2016 – make a final recommendation.
But before we get to that point, DDOT will be soliciting comments on the three draft proposals and gauging public reaction.
This is where you come in. If you like what you see in the proposals, it’s very important to deliver a pro-transit message to DDOT over the next few weeks. If DDOT only hears from residents who don’t normally use transit, it may look like there is not enough support for bold and needed steps like dedicated lanes for buses along 16th Street – no matter what the data says.
We think it’s critical that DDOT look more closely at all of these alternatives. We want to choose the best option to move the most people through the 16th Street corridor in the most efficient way.
Modeling may show that dedicated bus lanes will transform transportation for DC residents or that off board fare collection is the best way to improve bus service on 16th Street, or it’s a combination of these and other interventions that will make the critical difference for travelers in the corridor.
We’ll support the best choice for transit – but to ensure it’s implemented we need to show the broad popularity of bold transit improvements.
We’ll keep you posted on developments over the next few months. In the meantime, please feel free to contact us with any and all questions.
Use our take-action tool below to send your comments about the 16th St bus alternatives to DDOT. We'll collect them and present them to DDOT en masse. It's really important to send them comments in your own words, so we've given you bullet points to get you started, but please take a few moments to customize your message!
BRT in Eugene, Oregon.
County Executive Ike Leggett’s Transit Task Force has released a blueprint for how to fund and build the Montgomery County bus rapid transit (BRT) network.
We think the Task Force draft report is a great starting point for the hard work of moving BRT forward -- proposing funding options and a new structure to build and operate the system.
The Montgomery County Council has much to evaluate in the report, but for us, there's a bottom line: we need our elected officials to make this new transit happen.
We think BRT is an important part of Montgomery’s future in order to:
- Attract and retain the next generation workforce
- Provide affordable transportation options for people of all incomes
- Manage congestion
- Create a reliable intra-county bus rapid transit system
- Retain and attract thriving businesses
- Fight climate change through reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
But as always with a proposal of this size, implementation is always the hardest part. The Transit Task Force report makes a strong case for the value of this transit investment, and recommends various options for sharing and spreading the cost of funding the system through increments of countywide property tax, excise tax and sales tax.
It also recommends creating an independent transit authority (ITA) to design, construct, and operate the proposed system. The elected county Council would have specific oversight authority over the ITA and its finances.
The Task Force thinks we need an ITA to:
- Ensure a singular focus on design, construction and operation of the system.
- Receive dedicated revenues that allow for selling bonds for capital construction costs.
- Construct BRT faster, saving money given that construction costs rise over time.
We think the county Council should look closely at the role an ITA can play in building the BRT system. We need to make investments for our future, and we need an effective means to fund and build modern transit. The TTF report is a great starting point on how to move forward with making BRT a reality.
Please remind the Council and the County Executive of the strong support for transit in our forward-looking county -- send an email today to support the BRT system.
In early September, we updated you on plans for I-66 outside the Beltway. But plans for I-66 inside the Beltway -- a combination of HOT lanes, HOV lanes, and transit -- will impact Fairfax commuters, too.
Some people are unhappy with the HOT/HOV/transit plan and argue we should just widen I-66 all the way to the Roosevelt Bridge.
But widening isn't easy or likely to provide real relief. We think Fairfax residents should speak up to elected officials against widening, in favor of the HOT/HOV/transit plan.
VDOT's existing plan for HOT lanes, which can be implemented quickly, will improve driving condition, and create more funding for other solutions like transit, helping more people move through the corridor during rush hour. It's the more effective and sustainable thing to do.
In contrast, widening would take years of study, cost hundreds of millions of tax dollars, harm homes and neighborhoods, tie commuters up in years of construction, and ensure continued gridlock:
- There's very limited right-of-way after passing Ballston, making community impacts, costs, and construction impact on traffic much higher.
- Then cars have nowhere to go after they leave the highway -- we can't widen historic Constitution Avenue and the connecting local streets in Arlington to fit more cars.
- And you can be certain more cars would come when widening temporarily frees up road space, only to see a return of gridlock.
Here's the proposal for I-66 inside the Beltway, and why we think it's the right one:
- The estimated cost of the toll infrastructure is $40 million and could be implemented relatively quickly compared to a costly, disruptive widening project.
- VDOT will ensure a minimum speed of 45 mph and will try to maintain up to 55 mph.
- High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes will operate in both directions, but only be in effect during peak hours (am/pm). Carpools will not pay tolls. HOV2 will convert to HOV3 when the HOT lanes with HOV3 are opened outside the Beltway
- Unlike other northern Virginia HOT lane projects, HOT lanes on I-66 inside-the-Beltway will be publicly owned. So, instead of net toll revenues going to private profits, they'll fund transit to move more people more quickly, further reducing congestion
- Transit investments from the toll revenues could include Metro railcars for 8-car trains, and buses on I-66, Route 50, and Route 29
- Investments could also be made in pedestrian and bicycle connections to transit stations and bus routes
- Road widening from the Beltway to Ballston, but not beyond, could be considered in the future, but not before determining whether the HOT, HOV, and transit packages have done the trick.
Here are more reasons we like the deal:
- Those whose schedule or job doesn't fit a carpool will now have the option to use I-66 during the rush hours.
- While some have worried the tolls might divert cars to other corridors, the option to pay a toll for a faster single-occupant trip on I-66 could instead shift cars back to I-66 (i.e. those who use parallel roads during rush hour today because I-66 is both congested and currently limited to carpoolers in at least one direction).
- While the estimated $7 to $9 peak of the peak toll might seem high, it's similar to the cost of parking and taking Metro in the corridor.
We believe the proposed package for I-66 inside the Beltway is the best option for Fairfax commuters trying to reach DC or the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor in Arlington.
We think this package of solutions makes sense, and encourage you to voice your support to the Fairfax County Board and your state legislators today, using our take-action tool below.
Good news – We are promised that the terrific mixed income project at 965 Florida Ave. NW by the U Street Metro station is going to move forward this month! The last time we contacted you, we asked you to urge the DC Council not to delay a deal for a mixed income development by the U Street Metro station. Happily, the DC Council Chairman, Phil Mendelson, says the Council will vot (we expect them to vote "yes") on September 22. The agreement for the city property will ensure that District residents benefit from this large new apartment building with 30% of its units affordable to deeply affordable levels.
This housing agreement is the first one to implement the new law passed last spring that required all city property deals like this one increase our supply of affordable housing. The law specifies that if the city sells land, it must set aside at least 30% of the new units for new housing at very affordable levels.
We are thrilled that the promise of this new affordable housing law is about to become a reality at 965 Florida Ave. NW -- a short walk to the U Street Metro station.
Take a moment to use our template below to thank the DC Council for its support for affordable housing at this important location, and to urge them to continue to implement the city’s new affordable housing law for District-owned land.
Why are we so excited about this project? It’s a mixed-use, mixed-income development for our city! It not only includes 106 affordable homes, it also helps reconnect the street grid, and provides support for a number of job training and local business assistance programs. It will also bring a new full service grocery store to the site. This is a great deal for the city and a great location for more affordable housing!
What are all the benefits from this great project?
- 106 affordable homes, or 30% of the 352 apartments will be permanently affordable at deeply affordable levels, serving households earning below 50% area median income (AMI) and 30% AMI (for example, a two bedroom apartment affordable to a family earning 30% AMI would rent for $722 rather than the market price of more than $3,000)
- 2 new streets connections that extend 9th Street NW & link to Bryant Street NW
- Community Grants Program to support local non-profit organizations to provide employment training and skill development for DC residents
- Local Retailers Assistance program to provide discounted rents for nearby small businesses
- 10% of the parcel will be open space.
DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson has assured supporters of this great project that it will move forward at the next opportunity on September 22. Let’s be sure that the DC Council Chairman, Council and Mayor Bowser know that we are with them and are thrilled that they are acting to build more affordable housing at this U Street Metro station site. After final approval at the Council by October 1, the developer then must take the proposal through the review process at the Zoning Commission.
Use our template below to let the Council and Mayor know that you support building more than 100 affordable homes close to the U Street Metro station. Let them know that you think this is exactly the kind of mixed-use, mixed-income project the city should be building with its surplus property.
For years, Arlingtonians have had to fight back against campaigns to widen I-66, because the widening would impact homes, neighborhoods, parks, and the county's very successful commuter and recreational bike trail.
Finally, there's a better approach on the table. We think it's a good deal for Arlington. One the county should take.
The Arlington Transportation Commission, made up of citizen volunteers, and the Arlington County Board, will be reviewing and voting on a HOV-HOT-transit proposal for I-66, and it's not too soon to share your thoughts.
Here's the proposal for I-66 inside the Beltway, and why we think it's the right one:
- High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes will operate in both directions, but only be in effect during peak hours (am/pm). Carpools will not pay tolls. HOV2 will convert to HOV3 when the HOT lanes are opened outside the Beltway
- Unlike other northern Virginia HOT lane projects, HOT lanes on I-66 inside the will be publicly owned. So, instead of net toll revenues going to private profits, they'll fund transit to move more people more quickly, further reducing congestion
- Transit investments from the toll revenues could include Metro railcars for 8-car trains, and buses on I-66, Route 50, and Route 29
- Investments could also be made in pedestrian and bicycle connections to transit stations and work destinations
- Road widening from the Beltway to Ballston, but not beyond, could be considered in the future, but not before determining whether the HOT, HOV, and transit package have done the trick.
We think this package of solutions makes sense, and encourage you to voice your support to the Arlington County Board.
Here are more reasons we like the deal:
- The package of HOT, HOV, and transit is faster and cheaper to implement than widening
- Unlike widening, HOT, HOV, and transit will not impact homes, neighborhoods, parks, and the bike trail.
- While widening would simply attract more cars -- in turn crowding connecting streets from Constitution Avenue out to the Beltway -- this package would provide funding to expand and encourage more transit use and carpooling
- Finally, some have worried the tolls might divert cars to other corridors, but the option to pay a toll for a faster single-occupant trip on I-66 could instead shift cars back to I-66 (i.e. those who use parallel roads during rush hour today because I-66 is both congested and currently limited to carpoolers in at least one direction).
We believe the proposed package for I-66 inside-the-Beltway is the best option for Arlington. If you agree, please enter your zipcode, then customize our template to send a note to the County Board today.
Fairfax County residents bear much of the burden of traffic on I-66 -- in congestion, air pollution, and the highway's effect on surrounding neighborhoods. So it's critical to weigh in now with the Fairfax Board of Supervisors with what you'd like to see for I-66.
To fix it, the Virginia Dept. of Transportation (VDOT) wants to construct 25 miles of HOT (high-occupancy toll) lanes on I-66 from the Beltway to Haymarket. The lanes could be privately controlled like those on 495 and 95, and the new ramps and bridges will require taking homes, yards, and parks.
Real, lasting solutions for I-66 begin with better land use, like linking new development to frequent transit and reducing the sprawl in rural areas. On the transportation side, express commuter buses on dedicated lanes and future Metrorail will move far more people per hour, while improving air quality and minimizing impacts on neighborhoods. We see this as the best approach, and hope you will support it in your emails to the Fairfax Board.
Here's what we want
But so far, VDOT isn't supporting this smart growth and transit-first approach, so we must also try to shape the HOT lanes proposal to achieve the most public good. Fairfax should continue to press VDOT to:
- Launch the promised express bus services along I-66 HOT lanes at the opening
- Provide substantial funds for transit, bike, and pedestrian projects from the toll revenue
- Fix the Route 28/I-66 interchange and Braddock Road intersection on Route 28 to address the major problem areas to the west,
- Fund expansion of VRE commuter rail to provide long-distance commuters an alternative to I-66
- Reserve right-of-way for future extension of Metrorail
- Improve bike and pedestrian commuter routes including access to new I-66 transit
- Make sure homes, parks, schools, streams, and historic resources are minimally impacted
- Extend the project only to Route 50 in Fair Oaks to save funding for transit investments, and because the most significant traffic is within Fairfax from Route 50 east to the Beltway.
Should the HOT lanes be public or private?
We believe that VDOT should pursue public ownership of the HOT lanes to ensure we control the revenues and can invest in transit in the corridor including Metro 8-car trains, express bus, VRE, and future Metrorail extension.
What's wrong with private toll roads?
- Funding for transit was dropped out of the 495 and 95 deals, meaning the private companies collect large profits while the public must find the funds to add transit.
- The agreements have required the public to pay fees to the private company if too many carpoolers use the lanes.
- The companies press for non-compete clauses that could prohibit the public from adding new transit, including Metrorail, or require the public pay a fee to the company if we do.
Fairfax residents, the Fairfax Board needs to hear from you about I-66. Please enter your zipcode, then customize our template to send a note today to press for transit-first solutions and a good deal for taxpayers.
Prince George's Plaza, like so many of Prince George's 15 Metro stations, has the potential to be a vibrant place that attracts people walking, bicycling, and riding transit, as well as driving.
One thing holding it back? East-West Highway, which looks and feels more like a high-speed rural highway route than a mixed-use urban boulevard.
More and more places around the country are updating local street design standards to ensure that they are building vibrant places that attract people walking, biking, riding transit, and driving. Great mixed-use streets are a fundamental part of supporting economic development.
Right now, county and state transportation officials are deciding how to change key roadways in response to development coming to many Metro stations. Plans are moving forward for more housing, stores, and offices at the Prince George’s Plaza, New Carrollton, Largo Town Center, and Capitol Heights Metro stations.
But will they allow the streets surrounding these Metro stations to be designed to encourage more people to walk, bike, and ride transit? Or will they stick to their old rules that were really intended for rural places where driving is the only option?
Designing streets as mixed use, multimodal places where they serve Metro stations and downtown commercial districts isn’t new or untested. The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) has published a guide book on urban street designs that shows how cities all across of the country are updating urban street design standards that support local economic development goals.
Use our tool below to ask your state and county officials to join the movement to support transit-oriented development with updated street designs. We've drafted example text, but customizing your email will always let officials know you care more deeply about the issue!
We want to show that there is real support for a SE Boulevard that helps us provide more housing, more green space, a new vibrant, urban place, and reconnects Hill East to the Anacostia.
With demand being what it is today, we have an opportunity that may not always be there to create more great urban spaces and affordable transit-oriented homes in every corner of DC. SE Boulevard is one of those very promising opportunities, and we believe it’s imperative that we move the process forward.
DDOT will be completing a feasibility study this fall and – assuming that there aren’t any serious problems identified – the next step would be an Environmental Assessment to really drill down on a plan that could work for both the existing neighborhood and future residents. But it will take your voice to help us get to the next stage.
If you’d like some more background to SE Boulevard, you can check out the following:
- DC Office of Planning’s SE Boulevard Planning Study
- ANC Commissioner Brian Flahaven’s status report on the project from last summer
Please take a moment to use our tool below to send an email to the Bowser administration and District Department of Transportation (DDOT) expressing your support. We have some suggested text, but, as always, the most effective letter will be in your own voice.
Do we really want a new grade-seperated highway funnelling auto traffic into the newly walkable, transit-oriented White Flint neighborhood we've worked so hard to achieve?
No? We didn't think so either. But that's exactly what transportation engineers are planning with their proposed extension of the Montrose Parkway eastward from Route 355 to Viers Mill Road.
Even though traffic there has decreased 32% since 2002, engineers claim that traffic will double by 2020, just six years from now.
They also claim the highway is needed to "reduce congestion," "facilitate vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle access to existing and planned developments and transit stations," and "improve safety/reduce accidents."
But really, its large scale would more likely attract more driving, and make conditions more dangerous and hostile for pedestrians and cyclists. It would create a physical barrier in the heart Montgomery County's newest walkable, transit-oriented place.
At a time when Montgomery County has committed to a more sustainable, pedestrian-friendly and transit-oriented future, and transit ridership has been booming -- increasing by 42% in recent years, should we really be wasting money on this counterproductive highway project? Or should we spend those precious dollars on the county's planned bus rapid transit system and the local street networks that create more livable, walkable and bicycling-friendly communities?
For more information, see our blog post at Greater Greater Washington.
Montgomery County Department of Transportation's public comment period for the project ends Thursday. Use our take-action tool below to customize and send your own comments about the project to decision makers. Thank you!
TELL THE FAIRFAX BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: YES TO REVITALIZING SEVEN CORNERS – AND PRESERVING AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Once-new and booming parts of Fairfax like Seven Corners are showing their age. If we don’t encourage new investment in these older areas, companies, young people, and the middle class will go elsewhere. The county has worked with community members since 2012 on a plan for revitalizing Seven Corners that will create a great place where people will really want to be – instead of just going through.
This plan could be a real win for Fairfax. But we also need to make sure we don’t displace current residents and preserve existing affordable housing. To truly be a win for Fairfax we need to strengthen the plan’s affordable housing components.
Here are the 5 reasons why we think the plan could be such a win for Fairfax County:
- The proposed street network and solution for the Seven Corners interchange is excellent and will reduce traffic congestion.
- The Route 7 transitway, new transit center, three new protected bicycle corridors, and streets designed to be safer for people walking and biking will offer many new options for residents to get where they need to go.
- The plan includes new parks, public plazas, a new community center, playing field, and provisions for a new elementary school and expanded middle and high schools.
- The plan calls for 1-for-1 replacement of affordable housing where it exists today, 15% of new units in another area and 12% in the remaining areas.
- By creating new homes here in Fairfax instead of much further away from the region’s core, we will be doing our part to fight climate change locally with more sustainable housing and transportation patterns.
But to make this plan truly a win for Fairfax residents, there are 2 key items to strengthen:
- The plan should provide the affordable units for lower income levels than currently proposed, otherwise we run the risk of displacement of existing residents. It’s very important to make sure we’re not losing residents with incomes lower than 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) who rely on the current supply of affordable garden apartments and other units in the area. See this recent letter by our partners at the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance for further explanation. The plan must be amended to set specific goals for providing more housing for those making 60% or less of AMI ($65,520 for a family of four) and should identify specific tools to do so including county funding, transfer of development rights, and tax increment financing.
- While redevelopment will improve stormwater control, the plan should require additional measures to reduce stormwater runoff and help achieve this by designing green, low-impact controls into streets and parks.
The Board of Supervisors needs to hear from you as a Fairfax resident who supports a vibrant future for the county! Please enter your zipcode, then customize the template below to send an email to support the plan and insist on stronger commitments to affordable housing. >>
Your hard work paid off!—In partnership with our fellow advocacy groups, local elected leaders, the business community, and grassroots supporters like you, we made a strong case for why the Purple Line is such a crucial investment for Maryland’s future.
We are concerned that the state has slashed its share of the cost. Moreover, measures designed to lower the price could ultimately cost Marylanders more in reduced service and expensive future fixes.
We're also very disappointed that the administration wants to cancel Baltimore's Red Line in favor of costly road expansion projects. We will be working with allies throughout Maryland to determine the right way to move forward for better transit for Baltimore-region residents.
But after decades of planning, moving the Purple Line across the finish line is an enormous victory, and we will continue working to make sure it provides the highest quality service possible.
Let’s make sure the Governor knows he made the right choice – please send him an email now! Personalized messages get more attention, so please consider taking a moment to customize our template.
When built, Montgomery County's plans for a high-quality bus rapid transit (BRT) network will complement today's Metro and RideOn service, and make a real difference on the county's roads. Your support has gotten BRT plans officially on the books. But to take BRT from plans to reality in the next five years, we need your help!
Right now, the county has no way to fund the BRT plan. County Executive Leggett has convened a Transit Task Force of public officials, business leaders, and residents to recommend a funding and implementation plan by September 30th. They held their first public forum last week to solicit input, and a September public forum is in the works.
With a tight county budget, the Task Force will be looking at many combinations of possible revenue sources. You can weigh in now on what you'd like them to consider, and to voice your support for implementing BRT within the next five years.
At the Coalition for Smarter Growth, we support a plan from the Task Force that:
- Has the system's first routes up and running in 4-5 years
- Shares the financing burden fairly, and doesn’t overburden any one group
- Is specific about the expected total cost and cost to individual residents and businesses
- Achieves appropriate oversight by elected officials while ensuring effective implementation.
Please take a moment to send your own customized feedback to the Transit Task Force by using our template below. Thanks!
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) wants to move ahead with a $2-3 billion plan to expand I-66 from the Beltway to Haymarket. Before adding more highway lanes, VDOT and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) should fully evaluate less expensive, less damaging, and better solutions.
Any effective long-term solution must include a focus on building more walkable and bikeable communities near transit. A transit-first approach could better address the transportation needs of I-66 while creating quality communities and reducing impacts on neighborhoods and our streams, air and climate.
Both toll lanes and general purpose lane widening spur the phenomenon of induced traffic -- if you build it, they will come. More lanes mean more development farther and farther out.
While the I-66 plans include new bus service and the possibility of a multi-use trail, these plans take a back seat to the highway widening. Instead, transit should come first, and be combined with enhanced biking and walking connections and fixing bottlenecks like the Route 28 interchange before adding new lanes.
Use the template below to tell VDOT and our elected officials to go back to the drawing board and evaluate other alternatives for I-66. Act today! The comment deadline is Thursday June 18.
Personalize and send your message
Personalized emails mean more, so if you have time please take a moment to put our template text into your own words. Your email will be sent to VDOT, Governor McAuliffe, your Virginia state senators and delegates, and your local Board of Supervisors based on the zipcode you enter. Thank you!
The Virginia Department of Transportation has big plans for expanding I-66 (including toll lanes) outside of the Beltway to Haymarket -- but its Arlington and Fairfax communities that bear the brunt of the impacts from I-66. That's why it's important to weigh in.
We agree that addressing the I-66 corridor should be a top priority, but how we fix it matters. The problem with the current proposal for toll lanes is the cost and the community impacts of the massive ramps and interchanges. Both toll lanes and general purpose lane widening spur the phenomenon of induced traffic -- if you build it they will come. More lanes mean more development farther and farther out, and more cars driving through Fairfax and Arlington.
That's why we have repeatedly pressed for a "Transit and Land Use First" alternative:
- Congestion will always be present, so offer fast express bus service on a dedicated lane, which will help many commuters make the shift to transit, moving far more people through the corridor.
- Continue to transform commercial land at Metro stations with mixed-use, walkable development to absorb population growth while reducing the amount of driving.
- Protect farms and forests in Prince William and beyond, reducing long-distance commuting, while focusing development in walkable, transit-accessible towns and villages.
- Improve transit, pedestrian and bicycle connections within Fairfax to Metro stations, work, schools, shopping, and parks.
- Level the playing field for transit by making the federal transit benefit equal to the driving/parking benefit; and expand employer programs for transit, walk, and bike commuting.
So, please send an email to local officials today, and ask for a "Transit and Land Use First" alternative. >>
Tell county officials big roads don’t allow walkable, transit-oriented development
The new Regional Medical Center can be a game changer for Prince George’s and spark a walkable new downtown for the county at the Largo Town Center Metro station.
But if that’s going to happen, we’ve got to get the details right. You can help! In June, the Prince George’s Planning Board will consider plans for the Regional Medical Center, a $650 million, 231-bed hospital adjacent to the Largo Town Center Metro station.
With a projected 2,000 workers coming to the site daily, a well-designed new hospital can spur economic development around the Largo Town Center Metro station and create a new walkable downtown area for Prince George’s. The county and state made the right decision when it decided to locate the new medical center next to a Metro station.
Though detailed drawings are not online, some of the images are available here.
How do we make sure the project succeeds?
The hospital site plan drawings show a wide, high speed road separating the hospital from a redeveloped Boulevard at Capital Centre. We think the road is excessively wide for the traffic using it. The overdesigned road creates a barrier to an inviting, mixed-use, walkable environment.
A more appropriate street design for transit-oriented development would offer a moderate scaled street that knits together the area. This new road, along with all the new streets can be designed to allow not only vehicle access, but also help people to walk comfortably, and cross the street to patronize nearby businesses, or walk to and from Metro. If the hospital is an isolated enclave, it will do little to catalyze economic development in the area and miss the opportunity to use the site’s great transit access and mixed use environment.
It’s time to let your voice be heard. Let’s get the details right before it’s too late!
Use our template below to tell County Executive Rushern Baker and Elizabeth Hewlett, the chair of the Prince George’s Planning Board, that we need a truly walkable, transit-oriented hospital and Largo Metro station area.
Governor Hogan is expected to make his decision about the future of the Purple Line light rail project any day. Now is the time to flood his office with letters to make sure he knows the depth of public support for the project.
A few days ago, Montgomery and Prince George’s released an updated economic study that forecasts 27,000 new permanent jobs in the corridor and a per-capita income jump of over $1,400, thanks to the connectivity and accessibility improvements that the Purple Line will bring.
With Hogan’s commitment to making Maryland “open for business”, how can he reasonably ignore the Purple Line’s great potential to link key job centers like Bethesda, Silver Spring, and the University of Maryland?
There’s also plenty of reason to believe that the Purple Line will be even more successful than the FTA-approved ridership forecasts suggest. Many recent light rail projects have far exceeded their forecasts:
Send a letter now to Governor Hogan to let him know why building the Purple Line is so important.
Should we really be cutting our budget for safer streets in Alexandria by 29% next year?
Alexandria is facing a tough budget year. But it doesn't make sense to cut Alexandria's Complete Streets program for safer walking and bicycling conditions by 29% from $900,000 to $641,000.
Separately, the city is increasing the budget for street reconstruction and resurfacing from $3.975 million to $5.6 million. This is good, but to make walking and bicycling in Alexandria safer, we also need to fund sidewalk improvements, curb extensions, traffic calming, pedestrian signals, and other safety improvements.
Tell the Mayor and City Council to restore $259,000 to the Complete Streets budget to keep the current funding level.