» Montgomery County officials propose a 160-mile “RTV” system that they hope will revolutionize transportation patterns in the area.
Montgomery County, Maryland is one of the core counties of one of the nation’s most appealing metropolitan regions — the nation’s capital. Yet much of the county is relatively built out — mature, one might describe it — making the construction of any significant new transportation capacity, especially in terms of roadways, very difficult, if not impossible. The Intercounty Connector that opened last year is likely to be the last major road built in the area. But the demand for movement will continue to increase.
This is the challenge that has motivated the county’s Transit Task Force, appointed last year by County Executive Isiah Leggett. Earlier this month, the group released its proposal for a network of 160 miles of new bus rapid transit lines crisscrossing the county. The roughly $2 billion plan would
Continue reading Major Ambitions for Improved Transit in the Inner Suburbs North of Washington »
» For Washington Dulles Airport, raising the unthinkable on a new rail link.
Yesterday, Robert Brown, a member of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), suggested rethinking his agency’s planned Metro rail extension out to Dulles Airport, the Washington region’s prime international gateway. Instead of the bringing this $2.8 billion rail link — frequently referred to as the Silver Line — directly to the airport, Brown noted that replacing the final 1.5-mile connection with a people mover would save $70 million thanks to a more limited right-of-way and the construction of one less Metro station.
The Silver Line is an extension of the Washington Metro’s Orange Line and will eventually reach Loudoun County. The first segment of the project, to Tyson’s Corner and Wiehle Avenue, is planned to open for service next year.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the idea was perceived as heresy, both by local commenters and board members. Mame
Continue reading Does an Airport Line Have to Reach the Airport? »
» An investment of billions of dollars in a new rail line should be backed by a guarantee of minimum operations standards.
In a hearing in front of the Senate Banking Committee yesterday, Federal Transit Administration head Peter Rogoff spelled out his agency’s priorities: Maintaining and renovating the nation’s existing public transportation networks, and providing temporary federal assistance for bus and rail operations.
Keeping transit running should be one of the nation’s top priorities, but the FTA has had to mostly stand by in recent years as region after region has experienced cuts in the services provided by local transit systems. This coming in the midst of a recession and mounting gas prices, each of which make a larger percentage of the population in need of non-automobile-based travel options. Thus the interest of Mr. Rogoff and the Obama Administration in general in providing aid to local agencies may come as a relief
Continue reading Finding the Means to Keep Transit Running »
» Census data point to uneven outcomes when it comes to orienting land use changes around transit.
For a brief period in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it looked like U.S. cities were back in the subway-building business. The federal government approved billions of dollars in aid for the construction of new networks in San Francisco, Atlanta, and — most significantly — Washington. In the nation’s capital, a world-class system was constructed, radically redefining the city’s landscape and offering its residents a fundamentally new and modern way to get around.
This week, Metro celebrates the 35th anniversary of the opening of its first line, whose construction first began in late 1969. How effective has the system been in re-orienting development patterns?
In many ways, Metro has proven to be an essential element of the region’s mobility system. Ridership, depending on who is counting and how they are doing it,
Continue reading Washington Celebrates Metro’s 35th Anniversary. Is it Defining the Region’s Growth? »
» Debating growth limits in a downtown? Consider transportation.
Washington, D.C. is a lucky city: Its downtown has been filled up with new construction over the past few decades to such an extent that it has virtually no space for new office buildings. Some, like Matt Yglesias, have suggested that one way to resolve this problem would be to increase densities by ridding the city of its height limit, which in essence makes it impossible to build structures in the city that are over about 10 stories. Lydia Depillis, another local commenter, has argued that the municipality still has plenty of developable sites which, though they may not be directly downtown, still offer opportunities for more office space.
What would be the manifestations of these different approaches? How can we weigh the advantages and disadvantages of upzoning the center city for more office space? Is our goal to produce
Continue reading Expanding Downtown »