Tag Archives: region forward

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. […]


Building Consensus and Moving Forward on the Regional Transportation Priorities

In recent weeks, dozens of Transportation Planning Board stakeholders have convened to work toward building consensus on the Regional Transportation Priorities Plan, a major TPB effort to identify the region’s top transportation priorities. Until recently, that effort had been led by Ron Kirby, the TPB’s director of transportation planning, who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on […]

Coalition Work, Economy, Land Use, Transportation

COG Convenes the Region to Focus on Transportation Priorities, Activity Centers, Part 2

As promised in an earlier Yardstick post, here are the results from our September 27th event, Economy Forward: Help Shape the Future of the Region. America Speaks, an organization which captures opinion data with live electronic polling, helped facilitate the gathering and recorded these instant survey results. From the questions posited to the audience of […]

Coalition Work, Land Use, Transportation

Q&A: Mary Hynes, Arlington County Board Member

Mary Hynes was first elected to the County Board in 2007. Prior to that, she served for 12 years as an Arlington School Board member. Hynes is also an active leader at the regional level. She is the Chair of the Council of Governments’ Region Forward Coalition, the public-private group leading the effort to implement […]

Coalition Work, Land Use, Transportation

COG Convenes the Region to Focus on Transportation Priorities, Activity Centers, Part 1

On September 27, many of metropolitan Washington’s elected officials, business leaders and regional planners got together for a frank conversation about the future of the region’s economy. The full-day dialogue – called “Economy Forward: Shaping the Future of the Region” – was helped by the use of computers and voting key pads to guide the […]


Homelessness Drops 4 Percent in Metropolitan Washington since 2009, but Challenges Remain

A new report shows that although homelessness is continuing to decline in the region, it remains a major problem and two key obstacles – sequestration and a lack of affordable housing – could impede local jurisdictions’ goals to end homelessness within a decade. The report, Homelessness in Metropolitan Washington, which was released by the Council […]

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 […]

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 […]


Alternatives to drive-alone commuting to see higher % increase in number of trips, commute share

Between now and 2040, the share of people in metropolitan Washington who drive alone to and from work each day is expected to fall while the share of people who choose to carpool, bicycle, or walk to work will increase, according to the results of the Transportation Planning Board’s latest travel forecasts. The share of people who take transit is expected to remain roughly the same.

In all, the TPB’s travel models predict more than a million more daily commute trips by 2040 based on anticipated growth between now and then. Projections from the Council of Governments say the region’s population will grow by 24% — to more than 6.4 million people — and that employment will grow by 36% — to almost 4.4 million jobs.

Most of the new commute trips that are expected — about 450,000 — will be made by solo drivers, according to the forecasts. Carpool trips will increase by about 240,000 per day, as will those by transit. Almost 80,000 of the new trips will be made by bicycle or on foot.

Today, 61% of all commute trips in the region are made by solo drivers. By 2040, that number is expected to fall to 57%.

The share of trips by carpool, on the other hand, will increase from 11% to 14%, while the share of trips by bicycle or on foot will increase from 4% to 5%. About 28% of trips to and from work in 2040 will be by transit, the same as today.

These shifts, although they appear to be slight, are an important reflection of emerging trends in how people are likely to choose how to get around the region in the future.

The TPB’s travel forecasting models take into account a wide range of assumptions about the relative availability and attractiveness of various travel options in predicting what modes people will choose.

Among other things, the models take into account trip costs and travel time, which include things like transit fares, fuel prieces, parking costs, and tolls, as well as time spent not only traveling but also parking one’s car, waiting for buses or trains, transferring between lines, or walking to one’s final destination.

Over the next thirty years, the relative availability and attractiveness of different travel modes are expected to change, and those changes are expected to vary throughout the region.

The TPB’s forecasts show that in the regional core, for example, which includes the District of Columbia, Arlington County, and the City of Alexandria, the share of people taking transit to and from work is expected to decrease slightly, from 58% to 56%. Meanwhile, the share of people bicycling or walking to work is forecast to rise from 13% to 15%. More housing planned within walking distance of job centers and improvements to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure are expected to drive such shifts.

In the region’s inner suburban jurisdictions — Fairfax, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties — more than 400,000 more commute trips are expected by 2040, compared to today. The share of trips by solo drivers will fall from 63% to 61%, while small increases in the share of trips by transit, bicycling, and walking are expected. The travel models predict that the opening of the Silver Line in Virginia and the Purple Line in Maryland, along with the new mixed-use development they are likely to spur, will contribute to such shifts.

Farther out, in Frederick, Charles, Prince William, and Loudoun counties, new transit options like the Silver Line, increasing highway congestion, and new high-occupancy toll lanes are expected to encourage a greater share of people to commute by transit, carpooling, and bicycling and walking. The share of commute trips made by solo drivers is forecast to fall from 79% to 70% in these areas over the next 30 years, while the share of trips by carpool will increase from 15% to 20% and the share of trips by transit will increase from 5% to 9%.

As the region continues to grow, and as its transportation system continues to evolve, the modes of travel people choose to get to and from work will change based on the relative availability and attractiveness of various options. Planners and decision-makers can encourage further shifts by taking steps to make desired modes more available and more attractive to potential travelers.

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 Facebookand Twitter.

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


Report highlights region’s agriculture and challenges for the future

Known as home to the federal government, major defense contractors, biotech firms, and universities, it may come as a surprise that agriculture also plays a major role in metropolitan Washington’s land use and economy.

About 28% of the region’s land area is dedicated to agriculture and the industry contributes approximately $1 billion to the metropolitan Washington economy every year. Agricultural production is also quite varied, ranging from tomatoes and potatoes to beef and beans.

Despite its size and diversity, however, the region’s agriculture is not meeting local food demands. And with more than a million people expected to move to this already rapidly-growing region in the next few decades, the situation is likely only going to get worse without significant policy changes. That’s the message behind a new Council of Governments report, What Our Region Grows.

The report, still in draft form, highlights the region’s current agricultural production as well as the gaps between current production and what’s needed to meet local demand. We’ll cover the report in more detail once it’s finalized, but the draft version – complete with charts and graphs – makes for interesting reading during the holidays.

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.

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.