Tag Archives: maryland

Land Use, Transportation

Stat of the Week: 80,686,000 sq ft

If you’ve seen the skyline of the new Metro tracks along the Silver Line in Northern Virginia, the cranes over the 14th Street Corridor in the District of Columbia, or heard of the new development going on at Largo Town Center in Prince George’s County Maryland, you know that new office space is coming to […]


Stat of the Week: 134 Clinics

At last week’s Board of Director’s meeting, the Council of Governments unveiled its Regional Mental Health and Substance Abuse Resource Directory, a guide to providers of mental health services in the Washington Region. At 134 different resource centers, from Prince William County to Prince George’s County and from Charles to Frederick, our region has options for those […]

Climate & Energy, Energy, Environment

Stat of the Week: 177 Million Square Feet

With 177 million gross square feet of LEED certified buildings spread across three states and over 700 buildings, metropolitan Washington is easily very green.  The District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia are in the US Green Building Council’s top 10 states for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification per capita and added over […]


Maryland and Virginia Using New Transportation Revenues to Accelerate Projects

Earlier this year, the state legislatures in Maryland and Virginia each approved measures that would raise upwards of $800 million a year in new revenue for transportation, the first statutory increases in two decades or more. Now, just weeks after starting to collect the new revenue — at the gas pump, from fuel wholesalers, or […]

Land Use, Transportation

Congresswoman Edwards Stresses Development around Metro Stations

Calling attention to the Council of Governments’ work to address regional transportation coordination Congresswoman Donna Edward (D-MD 4th District) addressed the COG Board today, highlighting the critical need to, “have a lot of cooperation across jurisdictional lines.”  Representative Edwards, who lives in Prince George’s County captured the complex issues affecting the densely populated Washington Metro […]


TPB Helps Prince George’s County Identify Corridors for Future Transit Expansions

A long-term vision for the future of Prince George’s County, spelled out by county planners in 2002, calls for nodes of concentrated residential and commercial development connected by high-quality, high-frequency transit service — expanded Metrorail or new light rail or bus rapid transit. A 2012 Transportation Planning Board study has moved the county a step closer […]


Maryland Passes Landmark Forest Legislation

Steven Koehn, Director/State Forester at Maryland DNR Forest Service, Co-Chair American Forest Foundation (AFF) Woodlands Operating Committee and member, AFF Board of Trustees Maryland’s General Assembly recently passed the Forest Preservation Act of 2013, which now awaits the Governor’s signature. As a result of former iterations of this bill, the Department of Natural Resources and […]


Surveys Show Transportation Behavior Varies Widely Across Region

The results of a series of in-depth travel surveys released by the Transportation Planning Board in March highlight key differences in how people live and travel in higher-density areas with greater proximity to transit compared to those with lower densities and fewer travel options. Of the seven surveyed areas, the three with the highest population densities were […]


Region’s Transportation Planning Board Urges State Leaders to Increase Transportation Funding

Note: We discussed the TPB’s action supporting increased transportation investment in metropolitan Washington in December – the post below provides a more in-depth analysis of the letter and the proposed solutions. In a December letter to state leaders, the Transportation Planning Board (TPB) urged immediate action to increase funding for transportation in the Washington region, citing […]

Land Use

Activity Centers: Where Metropolitan Washington is Growing

Regional leaders voted today to approve an updated set of Activity Centers for metropolitan Washington.* These 139 Centers include existing urban centers, traditional towns, transit hubs, as well as areas expecting future growth.

Scroll below the text to see an ABC 7 video clip and additional media coverage of the decision.

For example, Georgetown is a vibrant, walkable place already built-out with a strong mix of housing and businesses. Activity Centers also include locations as diverse as NoMa, Clarendon, downtown Frederick, and Silver Spring where major growth is expected to occur over the next several decades and where investments should be prioritized.

While the Centers vary in scale and type, the basic concept behind them is the same: concentrate development in areas that will have the planning and infrastructure in place to support it. By focusing growth in Activity Centers, the region will improve connections between housing and jobs, reduce environmental impact, and make a better use of limited funds.

The Centers will also promote development around area transit such as Silver Line Metro stations in Northern Virginia and Green Line Metro stations in Prince George’s County, Maryland. About two-thirds of Centers are or will be served by the region’s existing or future rail transit network.

The goal for this latest update was to make the Centers more broadly useful. To do so, more targeted and specific criteria were used to designate than in 2007, the last time the Council of Governments approved a set of Activity Centers. The criteria are primarily based on Region Forward, COG’s vision for a more accessible, sustainable, livable, and prosperous metropolitan Washington.

The Council of Governments views Activity Centers as the next generation of metropolitan Washington’s growth and development. The office park model of development, based on low-density sprawl, is obsolete. That is why leaders in the region are working to focus future growth – which is estimated to bring over a million more people to the region in the next few decades – in mixed-use Activity Centers.

The Activity Centers map update is a necessary step in the development of an upcoming Strategic Investment Plan currently underway by COG’s Region Forward Coalition. By pointing out the specific elements (i.e., sidewalks, ground-level retail, fresh food, parks) that each Center is lacking or could improve upon, the Investment Plan will help local governments determine how best to use limited resources.

The Activity Centers Strategic Investment Plan will be released later this year and is a key component of Economy Forward, COG’s plan to prepare metropolitan Washington for a future with reduced federal spending and employment.

*Post updated to reflect the Council’s vote to approve the Activity Centers and to include additional information.

ABC 7: ‘NOMA,’ Clarendon, Silver Spring to see huge growth, study says

DCist: Regional Group Outlines 139 Activity Centers Where Growth is Expected in Future

WTOP: Planners ID neighborhoods for targeted development

WAMU: Planners: Regional Job Growth Should Focus on Activity Centers


Local leaders call for end to region’s transportation funding deficit

At their December meeting, members of the Transportation Planning Board (TPB) called on state leaders to step up to the plate and end the ongoing transportation funding deficit in metropolitan Washington.

“Our local governments have done their share,” said Kerry Donley, TPB Member and Alexandria Vice Mayor. “It’s time for the states to do so as well.”

At the meeting, TPB members approved a letter to the legislatures and chief executives of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia in support of increased funding for transportation.

The letter outlines several options that have been employed in other parts of the country to raise revenue for transportation. Potential solutions include fuel tax increases, additional toll roads, sales taxes, and local option taxes, among others.

“It’s refreshing to see specific proposals included in this letter,” said Donley. “So often you hear groups offering general calls for more transportation funding, but they don’t do the hard part of pointing out what the options are.”

Donley recently appeared alongside TPB Chair Todd Turner on NewsTalk with Bruce Depuyt to discuss the TPB’s action and the need for increased transportation funding. View clips of their appearance below.

TPB analysis shows that one of the most pressing long-term challenges for transportation in metropolitan Washington is the need for additional revenues, both to ensure the region’s existing highway and transit networks are adequately maintained and to fund increases in capacity to support future population and employment growth.

Metropolitan Washington is projected to add over 1.3 million new residents and 1.1 million new jobs by 2040. The region’s already crowded Metrorail cars, buses, and highways will not stand up to the challenge presented by this growth.

Traffic and transit congestion to worsen without changes in funding, policy

As we noted last week, new TPB analysis shows that metro Washington’s already major traffic and transit congestion will continue to worsen without greater investment in transportation infrastructure and changes in land use policy throughout the region. The following post provides greater detail about the findings.

Travelers in metro Washington will face considerably more roadway and transit congestion in coming decades if current planning and funding trajectories are allowed to continue.

That’s the main finding of a recent Transportation Planning Board analysis of how well the projects and programs in the region’s long-range transportation plan will meet the increased demands brought on by anticipated population and job growth over the next three decades.

The plan, formally called the Constrained Long-Range Transportation Plan, or CLRP, includes all of the regionally-significant transportation projects and programs that the states and local jurisdictions in the region expect to build or implement between now and 2040.

Currently the plan includes almost $223 billion in anticipated spending, 70% of it needed for maintaining and operating the existing system of roads, transit, and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Only $67 billion, or 30%, is slated to be spent on expanding the system, whether by building or widening roads, constructing new transit lines, or purchasing railcars and buses to provide additional capacity.

The TPB’s recent CLRP analysis showed that the expansion that is planned will hardly keep pace with forecast demand.

By 2040, the region’s population is expected to increase 24% — an additional 1.3 million people — while the number of jobs is forecast to swell by 37%. The TPB’s travel models predict that such growth will lead to increases in total driving — measured in vehicle-miles of travel, or VMT — of 25%. Vehicle work trips are expected to increase by 27%, while transit work trips are expected to increase by 28%.

Meanwhile, the CLRP only includes a 7% increase in new lane-miles of roadway and specifically points out that Metrorail lacks the funding needed to run all eight-car trains during peak hours, a key to increasing the capacity of the Metrorail system.

Together these pressures will result in a 78% increase in the number of lane-miles of congested roadway during the morning peak hour, according to the analysis. And four of Metrorail’s five lines to and through the regional core will be “congested” or “severely congested” during the morning peak, compared to just one today.

Predictions like these help illustrate the impacts that current planning and funding decisions will have on the transportation system and its ability to meet the region’s needs. The TPB performs such analyses to help planners and decision-makers evaluate the effectiveness of current plans and to gauge the relative impacts of alternative growth or transportation investment scenarios.

One alternative growth scenario that the TPB studied in 2010 assumed that half of housing and job growth in the region between 2015 and 2030 would be located in mixed-use development near transit stations. The TPB’s travel models showed an 11% increase in transit ridership and a 17% increase in trips made by bicycle or on foot compared to the trajectory outlined in the then-current CLRP.

The analysis of that scenario showed that shifting anticipated growth patterns and land-use can have a significant impact on transportation outcomes. Analyses of this and other strategies will help planners and decision-makers identify those approaches that offer the greatest potential to address the transportation challenges the region faces.

The TPB’s recent analysis of the long-range transportation plan for the region paints a bleak picture of the future. And changing that future will not be easy, especially as transportation revenues continue to decline and the expense of maintaining aging infrastructure continues to rise. The analysis tools the TPB uses can assist decision-makers in their efforts to find the transportation and land-use strategies that have the best chance of improving our transportation future.

The TPB Weekly Report is a regular feature on The Yardstick and is designed to provide brief, timely summaries of recent research, analysis, outreach, and planning by the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB). Follow the TPB on Facebook and Twitter.

Congestion to worsen further without investment in transportation network and changes in land use

Metro Washington’s already notorious traffic congestion is set to get even worse in the coming decades according to new analysis by the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB).

The analysis indicates that the region will continue to experience worsening congestion for both highways and transit in the region without additional funding for transportation and changes to land use patterns.

Several media outlets reported on the analysis, including:

NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt: Ron Kirby, COG’s Transportation Planning Director, and Todd Turner, Transportation Planning Board Chair, discuss the findings of the new analysis:

WAMU: “D.C. Area’s Transportation Future: Crowding, Crowding And More Crowding Council of governments releases 30-year transportation forecast”

The Washington Examiner: “Traffic woes likely to persist for decades, officials say”

WTOP: “More people and limited commuting options mean greater congestion”

ABC 7: “Washington metro area traffic to worsen in next 30 years, study says” (video below)

To view/download a presentation providing an overview of the analysis, click here.

New Tools Would Help Visitors Find Alternative Ways to Access National Park Sites in Metro Washington

A new website and smartphone application to help visitors of the federally-owned cultural, historic, and recreational attractions in the Washington region find ways other than by car to get to those sites could become a reality if the Transportation Planning Board and the National Park Service receive a federal grant for which they jointly applied earlier this year.

The $410,000 grant would be funded under the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in the Parks Program, which the Federal Transit Administration has used since 2006 to support efforts to reduce congestion and crowding in and around national parks and other federal lands. This is the last year that funding will be available under the program since it was not included in the recent Congressional transportation reauthorization known as MAP-21.

In the past, Transit in the Parks has primarily funded planning for or construction of capital projects like shuttle buses, rail connections, and bicycle trails. The TPB proposal aims to promote alternatives and ease crowding by providing more complete and up-to-date information about options that are available in the region, including transit, bicycling, pedestrian, and ridesharing opportunities.

Currently that information is scattered across many different websites and other sources. Partly that’s because the region is home to more National Park Service sites — including the monuments and memorials on the National Mall and the Civil War battlefields in Virginia and Maryland, among others — than any other metropolitan area in the country. It’s also because several different jurisdictions and agencies are responsible for providing the array of transportation options that are available to visitors at those different sites.

The new web-based tools, which would be developed and maintained by Commuter Connections, the TPB program that promotes alternative modes to the region’s commuters, would bring all of that information together into a single, integrated source and include an interactive mapping feature for finding customized routes and available options.

In addition to helping visitors to the region, the new web-based tools would also provide information to low-income residents who do not own a car and who may feel unable to take advantage of nearby cultural, historic, and recreational opportunities. According to the grant applicants, avid cyclists and other users of “active transportation” modes would also benefit from the tools.

Growing numbers of visitors to the region, from around 16 million last year, and an increasing local population will only add more demand and more pressure in the future to sites that are already becoming crowded.

An expanding network of shared-use bicycle and pedestrian trails linking several other parks and sites in the area, as well as new and changing bus routes and opportunities for ridesharing, especially to major events, means that park visitors will have more and more options for reaching their destination.

Recently, the Capital Bikeshare program — a joint venture of the District of Columbia, Arlington County, and the City of Alexandria to provide short-term bicycle rentals within the three jurisdictions — expanded to include docking stations at several of the monuments and memorials on the National Mall. Additional expansion is expected to occur.

If the new web-based tools proposed by the Transportation Planning Board and the National Park Service are developed, it will be easier for visitors to the federally-owned parks and sites in the region to find the most up-to-date information on ways other than by car to access those attractions. This could ease crowding and provide new opportunities for visitors and current residents to take greater advantage of the region’s cultural, historic, and recreational assets.

The TPB Weekly Report is a regular feature on The Yardstick and is designed to provide brief, timely summaries of recent research, analysis, outreach, and planning by the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB). Follow the TPB on Facebook and Twitter.

New Regional Leadership: Chuck Bean to head the Council of Governments

The Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) has named Chuck Bean, currently president of the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington, as its executive director. Board members praised Bean’s long record of building regional partnerships, his intense focus on preparedness, and his role as a successful problem-solver. He will succeed David Robertson, who is stepping down from the post after 10 years.

Bean has said he will concentrate sharply on COG’s signature initiative Region Forward, and its new Economy Forward program. It should be noted that Bean has been involved in Region Forward from the beginning. He was a member of the Greater Washington 2050 Coalition, which developed the regional vision plan.

COG Chairman Frank Principi and incoming Executive Director, Chuck Bean

For more on Chuck Bean, check out COG’s press release.