TPB News

Transportation Improvement Program Lays Out Six-Year, $16 Billion Spending Plan for Region

Jun 25, 2012

Nearly $16 billion in combined federal, state, local, and private dollars is anticipated to be spent on transportation projects in the Washington region over the next six years, according to the Transportation Planning Board, which on June 14 released for public comment a draft of the latest update to the region's six-year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

Unlike the Constrained Long-Range Plan (CLRP), which identifies all regionally significant capital improvements and spending on operations and maintenance of the transportation system that are expected through 2040, the TIP is a short-term schedule of spending on specific capital improvement projects that are in various stages of planning and construction. Under federal law, the TPB updates the TIP every two years to reflect the latest decisions by state, local, and regional agencies on anticipated spending over the next six years.

The draft FY2013-2018 TIP contains 355 specific roadway, transit, or bicycle and pedestrian projects. Some projects, like the new 23-mile Metrorail extension from Fairfax County to Dulles Airport, are already under construction. Major upgrades to the 11th Street Bridge in Southeast Washington connecting the Anacostia and Southeast Freeways are also currently underway.

Other projects in the TIP are ready for construction, although ground has not yet been broken. One such project is the High-Occupancy/Toll (HOT) lane project on I-95 in Virginia, which in some areas will convert existing High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to HOT lanes and in others will construct brand-new lanes to operate as HOT lanes.

Several projects in the FY2013-2018 TIP have gained increased visibility and momentum in recent years, but are still in the early stages of development. For instance, the Purple Line in Maryland, which will be a 16-mile circumferential light rail line connecting four existing, radial Metrorail lines in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties, is not anticipated to be open until 2020. However, the TIP includes $100 million for preliminary engineering and acquisition of needed right-of-way over the next six years, marking significant and necessary milestones in the completion of the project.

Funding for the projects in the TIP comes from a variety of sources. Of the $15.77 billion in improvements included in the FY2013-2018 TIP, state and local governments in the region will provide nearly half the overall amount, followed by the federal government, at nearly 40%, and the private sector, at 9%.

As the availability of funding from federal, state, and local sources continues to decline, the private sector is becoming an important provider of resources to meet the region's ever-growing transportation needs. For instance, another HOT lane project in the region -- on I-495 in Virginia, which will widen the Capital Beltway to 12 lanes and include four HOT lanes between VA 193 and the I-95/I-395 interchange in Springfield -- is being funded by a combination of private activity bonds, state and federal dollars, and private equity. The Metrorail extension to Dulles Airport is being supported in large part by the private sector through self-taxing development districts in the corridor where developers and businesses are likely to benefit from increased property values and economic activity because of access to the new transit line.

The projects in the TIP also span a range of transportation modes, but the TIP categorizes the projects broadly. According to a breakdown of project types in the TIP, bicycle and pedestrian projects make up only 2% of the total spending anticipated through FY2018. One of these projects is the extension of the Metropolitan Branch Trail northward from its existing terminus in the District of Columbia to Montgomery County. However, because many projects include accommodations for a variety of modes, several other bicycle and pedestrian initiatives in the TIP are not explicitly identified as such. The Kenilworth Avenue Corridor project in Prince George's County, for example, is primarily a road improvement project but also includes numerous bicycle and pedestrian improvements.

Drafts of the latest updates to the region's Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and Constrained Long-Range Plan (CLRP) were released for public comment by the TPB on June 14. At its regular meeting on July 18, the TPB is scheduled to review both drafts and consider them for final adoption. Together, the documents paint a picture of what the region's roads, transit, and bicycle and pedestrian facilities will look like 30 years from now, and the steps the region is taking over the next six years to make that future a reality.

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