On March 19, the Transportation Planning Board will apply for $20 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation to make a number of high-impact bicycle and pedestrian access improvements around 16 Metrorail and commuter rail stations in the Washington region.
The proposed projects--which would be funded under USDOT's FY 2012 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program, or TIGER--seek to make it easier for people to access rail stations using non-motorized transportation modes and to support high-density, mixed-use development in underutilized station areas.
Depending on where it occurs, such development can help to improve the efficiency of the region's existing transit infrastructure by distributing demand more evenly throughout the system.
Targeting underutilized stations, especially those outside the regional core, can help to fill empty seats on trains operating in reverse-commute directions. Supporting balanced housing and job growth near existing stations can also provide opportunities to "sell the same seat twice"--first to workers commuting to a mixed-use housing and jobs center, and second to people living in the center and boarding the train to commute further along the line.
A 2010 study by the TPB showed that concentrating 35% of the job growth and 55% of the housing growth expected in the region between 2015 and 2030 in areas near transit stations could boost transit ridership by more than 10% compared to current projections, and increase bicycle and pedestrian trips by more than 15%. This would distribute travel demand more evenly across travel modes, further improving the efficiency of the region's existing infrastructure.
The seven projects included in the TPB's 2012 application for TIGER funding address a range of transit stations throughout metropolitan Washington.
In Prince George's County, Maryland, sidewalk and crossing improvements to complete, expand, and enhance fragmented pedestrian and bicycle facilities near the New Carrollton Metrorail station would provide the infrastructure necessary to support large-scale transit-oriented development envisioned by the County and the State. High-density, mixed-use development at this eastern terminus of Metrorail's Orange Line would encourage transit use in the outbound, reverse-commute direction, and it would take advantage of multimodal connections to MARC commuter rail, Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, and numerous local Metrobus routes.
Also in Prince George's County, new sidewalks near the West Hyattsville Metrorail station would provide additional pedestrian and bicycle connectivity to surrounding neighborhoods, increasing mobility for underserved residents living around the station.
In Montgomery County, a proposed pedestrian tunnel under Georgia Avenue near the Forest Glen Metrorail station would make it easier for neighborhood residents as well as employees and visitors of nearby Holy Cross Hospital to cross this major north-south route, which carries upwards of 80,000 vehicles per day.
Near the Fort Totten Metrorail station in the District of Columbia, bicycle and pedestrian improvements would support efficient multimodal traffic circulation in an area where numerous major real estate developments are in various stages of planning and construction.
And in Virginia, projects include installation of bike lockers at eight Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter rail stations in Fairfax and Prince William Counties and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park, as well as a separated two-way bicycle track, wider sidewalks, and accommodations for a future streetcar route along Army-Navy Drive in Arlington. Proposed pedestrian and bicycle improvements near the Rosslyn Metrorail station would improve access to two of the region's most heavily used bike trails.
All together, the projects in the TPB's 2012 TIGER application seek to make strategic investments around 16 of the region's 86 Metrorail and 52 commuter rail stations. Advancing these projects is one of the ways the TPB is working to improve access to and support development around the region's existing transit infrastructure.