“To stay ahead the Washington area must think regionally.” That was the headline of a recent piece by Lisa Rother in the Washington Business Journal on the region’s future. As the headline indicates the piece is a call for unity which is necessary in a region composed of two states the District and 21 local governments.
Consider Metro. What if had been decided that Metro would operate only within the city limits as does the New York City Subway? The region’s already infamous traffic congestion would be unthinkable. Or consider a more recent example highlighted by Rother: Capital Bikeshare. The District and Arlington County had both expressed interest in starting a bike-share service so instead of having different possibly non-interchangeable systems the neighboring jurisdictions decided to partner creating the basis of a regional system that many other jurisdictions in the area are interested in joining.
In Rother’s piece (which is available in full only to WBJ subscribers) she points out that the Metro Washington has fared relatively well during the recession leading the nation in job growth in fact. However past success is no reason for present or future complacency. Much of the reason for this region’s stability and growth has been the presence of the federal government the same federal government that is now embroiled in a major fight about potentially major cuts to government spending.
Region Forward with its goals and targets aimed at making metro Washington more accessible sustainable prosperous and livable is praised by Rother as “A first step toward a stronger regional planning vision…that will help focus future development into ‘complete communities’ – mixed-use compact and walkable centers of activity.” Agreed to by all 21 local governments in the area Region Forward is a catalyst against complacency.
As Rother correctly points out “The real competition should not be between Fairfax and Montgomery counties or between Arlington and D.C. but rather this region must compete with other great regions like London Chicago New York and the San Francisco Bay Area.”