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Highway Congestion Could More Than Double Without Change, Officials Say

Oct 18, 2006
Adjustments to the region's development patterns and transit plans can help the region avoid more than doubling traffic congestion by 2030, transportation officials said at a press conference today.

A report approved today by members of the Transportation Planning Board (TPB) shows that current projections for use of the region's highways and transit systems during the morning rush -- if left unchanged -- would more than double region wide by 2030. In some of the region's outers jurisdictions, such as Prince William County, morning congestion could increase by five-fold.

While the updated 2006 Constrained Long Range Plan (CLRP) highlights current plans for which funding is already available, a separate "what if" study makes suggestions for additional strategies and projects. The Regional Mobility and Accessibility Study brochure -- also released today -- shows how local governments can coordinate transportation plans with residential and business development to help decrease congestion and increase transit use, walking, and biking.

"The mobility study shows that we can make a positive impact on future conditions by locating housing and jobs closer together, approving development closer to transit stations, and expanding our network of public transit lines to support regional activity centers," said Michael Knapp, TPB Chair and Montgomery County Council Member. "The good news is that there are real actions we can take to make this situation better."

To help implement such projects, the TPB plans to approve a new technical assistance program at its meeting today. The Transportation/Land Use Connection (TLC) program will provide consultants and resources to local governments looking to take on new projects that would better coordinate growth patterns with roadways and transit systems. TLC is modeled after successful programs in other large metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, and would provide a clearinghouse of ideas and projects that have worked in other parts of the country. If successful, the TPB plans to pursue additional funding to expand the program after an initial pilot phase beginning in January.

During the next phase in the mobility study, the TPB will examine how future congestion would be influenced by an expanded network of express toll lanes supported by high-quality bus service and complementary land use patterns.

Transportation officials are also looking at shifts in transportation revenue sources. Findings in the CLRP show that state funding for transportation projects has gone down from 43 percent to 32 percent over a three-year period. At the same time, funding from toll revenues has increased from 1 percent to 7 percent, and local contributions have gone up from 11 percent to 17 percent.

"We're seeing some significant shifts in funding shares, and it's important that we take a good, hard look at the sources of transportation revenue in this region," said Catherine Hudgins, TPB Vice Chair and Fairfax County Supervisor. "By 2030, we expect to see 1.6 million more people traveling each day to an additional 1.2 million jobs. Current and future funding supplies will have a significant impact on how our communities are able to accommodate this large-scale growth."

"The long-range plan has a number of projects, such as the Intercounty Connector and HOT lanes on the Capital Beltway, that have received considerable attention" said Michelle Pourciau, TPB Vice Chair and District of Columbia Department of Transportation Director. "I am pleased to announce that some exciting new projects associated with the Anacostia Waterfront in the District of Columbia are being added to the region's plan this year."

For high resolution images and graphics, contact Heather Mueller at 202.962.3756. To download reports, visit the Regional Transportation website.

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