The Yardstick has covered a very diverse range of topics over the past few weeks, from bringing BRT to metro Washington to reducing child poverty to making the region’s economy more competitive and resilient. In case you’ve missed any of them, here’s your chance to get caught up:
The next generation of metro Washington’s growth and development: The office park model of development, based on low-density sprawl, is obsolete. That’s why leaders in the region are working to focus future growth – which is estimated to bring 1.6 million more people to the region in the next few decades – in urban, mixed-use Activity Centers. The evolution of Crystal City from a primarily industrial landscape in the 1960s into a major commercial center today is an illustrative example of the process of building successful urban centers.
Making the region’s roadways and walkways safe for all users: While motorist fatalities in the region declined by nearly 30 percent from 2006-2010, pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities remained essentially flat. The result is that pedestrians and bicyclists now account for 30 percent of the region’s traffic fatalities. That’s unacceptable, especially as the region aims to increase its share of walking and biking. Jeff Dunckel, Pedestrian Safety Coordinator for Montgomery County and George Branyan, Pedestrian Program Coordinator for D.C. site down for a video chat to discuss pedestrian safety issues.
Bringing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to metro Washington: The region’s first BRT line could be operating in Northern Virginia by early 2014 thanks in part to a federal TIGER grant received by the TPB two years ago. The line will run approximately five miles along the Route 1 corridor between the Pentagon City and Braddock Road Metro stations, connecting growing housing and job centers to the existing transit system. Several bus routes serve the corridor already, but local planners say significant high-density development that is either underway or expected in the next few years will increase the demand for new and better service.
Moving the region’s Economy Forward: The idea that metro Washington should diversify its economy is not new, though the urgency behind the notion is at an all time high. Nearly half a million jobs are threatened by sequestration, while a combination of the country’s “fiscal cliff” and ongoing political gridlock jeopardize future growth. Metro Washington ranked 13th out of 15 major metro areas last year in terms of job growth.
And even if Congress does manage to prevent sequestration, the current economic and political environment means that federal spending and employment is not likely to reach its recent levels in the near future. That’s why COG decided to make improving regional economic growth and competitiveness its key focus for 2012. Economy Forward, COG’s plan to prepare for reduced federal spending will develop sustainable transportation funding solutions, prioritize growth in Activity Centers, re-brand the region, improve workforce development, and establish a regional liaison with the White House.
Even in wealthy metro Washington, child poverty is on the rise and it’s an obstacle to progress: This region is one of the most affluent communities in the world, yet, families and children are living in poverty as profound as in some developing countries. And despite the best efforts of many people over the years, things aren’t getting better, they are getting worse. A new report, Capital Kids: Shared Responsibility, Shared Future, paints a statistical portrait of our children and youth – including how their opportunities differ by where they live. There is a large and growing gap in this region between those who have the opportunities and resources to live a productive life and those who don’t.
Telework continues to gain popularity in metro Washington as technology advances and employers grant more flexibility: More than 600,000 people in the region telework “at least occasionally” and another 500,000 say they “could and would” work remotely if given the opportunity, according to the results of a TPB survey of commuters’ travel patterns. That’s nearly half of the region’s 2010 workforce of around 2.4 million people.