Tag Archives: planning

Economy, Land Use

Activity Centers are Home to Most New Offices

Who does not like a shorter commute? Communities throughout Metropolitan Washington have worked diligently to create a network of Activity Centers that dexterously increase livability –including less time spent on congested roads and packed Metro cars- while enabling our economy to grow. Activity Centers are places that concentrate jobs, housing, retail, and amenities. This approach […]

Economy, Housing, Land Use

Activity Centers: Economic Engines and Livable Places

“For many people, this is a neighborhood where you can live, you can work, you can shop, you can have lots of cultural and recreational choices, all in the same place,” explains Harriet Tregoning, Director of the District of Columbia Office of Planning,  in describing NoMA in a new video from COG and Mobility Lab. […]

Coalition Work, Economy, Housing, Land Use, Report

Place + Opportunity: Strategies for Creating Great Communities and a Stronger Region

Today, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Board of Directors approved Place + Opportunity, a report that presents a regional framework to understand common challenges and opportunities among Activity Centers in our region. Examining a cross section of the region’s 141 Activity Centers, the Place + Opportunity Project Team conducted detailed analysis of each […]

Economy, Housing

New Growth Forecast Approved

Last month, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments approved an update to the Cooperative Forecast of employment, households, and population. The forecast is primarily used for transportation modeling where it determines how many people are likely to live in each part of the region and where they are likely to travel. This tool also lends […]

Economy, Land Use, Transportation

Karen Young: COG is Moving the Region Forward

The op-ed by Karen Young is reprinted from the May 3, 2013 issue of the Washington Business Journal.    Contrary to John Slidell’s April 12 Guest Comment claiming that “there is almost no one in this region who wakes up every day thinking about what the region needs to prosper in the future,” I know scores […]

Land Use

Bracket Challenge: Building Complete Communities in Metro Washington

Should a county put in a new Metrorail station or build a streetcar? Should a city allow for taller buildings in certain areas or implement a form-based code? Should a town promote affordable housing to buy, to rent, or both? These are some of the investment choices that Region Forward Coalition members debated during their […]

Coalition Work

Activity Centers Strategic Development Plan

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Reconnecting America, RCLCO, Urban Imprint, and Mobility Lab are making significant progress toward completing the region’s first Strategic Development Plan for Activity Centers (see the slideshow below and this blog post to learn more). This plan will help leaders in government, transportation, philanthropy, and real estate development work together to fulfill each […]

Land Use

Frederick County’s Activity Centers in the Spotlight

A recent article in the Frederick News Post highlights the County’s Activity Centers and discusses in great detail how concentrating growth and development in these mixed-use places will benefit Frederick’s economy, improve the County’s quality of life, and preserve its agriculture, all while accommodating more residents. With its population of 233,000 expected to grow to […]

Transportation

Updates to Region’s Long-Range Transportation Plan Reflect Public Input

The annual process of updating the region’s constrained long-range transportation plan, or CLRP, started last October when the Transportation Planning Board called on state, local, and regional transportation agencies to submit their proposed additions and changes. Now, following a period of public comment on the package of 21 proposals that were submitted by the Virginia and District of Columbia […]

Climate & Energy

Regional Investment in Energy Efficiency: Good for the Economy and the Environment

Nicole Steele, Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy & Julia Allman, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments It’s long been said that the cleanest, cheapest energy is the energy you don’t use. And consuming less energy doesn’t mean sacrificing comfort or holding back economic growth. On the contrary, when we improve our energy productivity we […]

Land Use

With the Region Nearing 7 Million People in 2040, Land Use & Transportation Coordination Matters More Than Ever

New forecasts released yesterday show metropolitan Washington’s population growing by more than 30% over the next few decades, reaching nearly seven million by 2040. How we handle that growth – at 1.6 million additional people, it’s like adding the city of Philadelphia to our region – is going to be critical in determining whether metropolitan […]

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

Alice Rivlin discusses “fiscal cliff” & metro Washington’s long-term economic outlook

Alice Rivlin, a senior economist at the Brookings Institution and an expert on the federal budget, said she believes the President and Congress will reach an agreement to avoid the mandatory tax and spending cuts known as the Fiscal Cliff. Speaking recently at COG’s Annual Meeting, Rivlin called the budgetary predicament a major but also “artificial, elementary” problem about which we should all be outraged.

Rivlin outlined her solution for averting the cliff and improving the country’s long-term fiscal situation, which includes raising taxes and broadening the tax base by eliminating many deductions. As for spending cuts, which Rivlin noted are “even harder” to deal with than the tax issues, she suggested focusing on reducing the exponential growth in health care spending by changing incentives and reducing benefits for higher-income individuals.

Rivlin closed on positive note, applauding the work of COG and other organizations in helping prepare for change. “This region is a great place to be and we’re not going to be derailed!” said Rivlin. “Whatever happens on the fiscal cliff, we should all be very glad that we live here” given that metro Washington’s economy has shown itself quick to adapt and, as the nation’s most-educated region, is poised for success in the knowledge economy.

Rivlin also noted that the region’s recent long-term planning efforts have put metropolitan Washington in a great position to continue to thrive. “COG’s major planning efforts, including Region Forward and Economy Forward, represent serious forward thinking and will pay off,” said Rivlin. “They’re helping make metropolitan Washington a model region for the nation.”

To further help the region prepare, COG recently launched the Metropolitan Washington Fiscal Cliff web site which includes news, resources, and analysis on the regional impact of major changes in federal spending. At the site you can also read more about Rivlin’s speech and recommendations.

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.

Program offers citizens a chance to get involved in transportation planning

A group of current or emerging citizen leaders and other interested individuals from around the Washington region gathered recently to learn about how transportation decisions are made in the region and how to become more involved in the decision-making process.

The 19 individuals, each of whom has been recognized as a force of change in his or her respective community, met on Thursday, November 29, and Saturday, December 1, for the Transportation Planning Board’s Community Leadership Institute, or CLI, normally held in the spring and fall each year.

The first CLI took place in 2006 after TPB staff conceived it as a way to help citizen leaders connect the interests of the local communities and organizations they serve with the broader challenges facing the entire metropolitan area.

Since then, the TPB has hosted ten CLIs. At the most recent one, Todd Turner, who attended a 2008 CLI and now serves as the Chair of the TPB, welcomed participants and encouraged them to get more involved in regional decision-making.

A diverse agenda of educational presentations, experiential group learning, and interactive discussions has always been central to the CLI curriculum.

Key presentations provide participants with information about the TPB and its partners, including state and local departments of transportation and elected officials, and help explain the many different processes — at the regional, state, and local levels — for developing and advancing individual transportation projects.

Presentations also describe some of the key transportation challenges facing the region, especially worsening roadway congestion, inefficient land-use and development patterns, and severe funding shortfalls.

One of the main interactive group activities at the most recent session emphasized the crucial link between transportation and land-use and highlighted the challenge of accommodating future growth in the region.

In the first part of the exercise, groups each proposed on a map where to concentrate the growth of nearly 700,000 new households and more than 1.3 million new jobs that is forecast to occur through 2040 and what transportation improvements need to be made to accommodate the new growth.

Groups also had to confront the region’s funding challenges in the second part of the activity by adding up the costs of their proposed improvements and identifying sources of new funding to pay for them.

One of the other main activities in the curriculum called on participants to assume the roles of different neighborhood-level interest groups in tackling a fictitious local transportation issue. The activity underscored the obstacles and opportunities that exist in trying to build consensus among people who have differing opinions and perspectives.

Peter Shapiro, who served on the Prince George’s County Council from 1998 to 2004 and as Chair of the TPB in 2003, facilitated the workshop.

On Wednesday, Dec. 19, during its next regularly-scheduled meeting, the TPB will hold a brief ceremony to honor the 19 “graduates” of this fall’s CLI session.

The date of the next Community Leadership Institute has yet to be set, but once it is, the TPB and its staff will begin to recruit individuals who are interested in attending and invite them to submit a formal application.

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.