A long-term vision for the future of Prince George's County, spelled out by county planners in 2002, calls for nodes of concentrated residential and commercial development connected by high-quality, high-frequency transit service -- expanded Metrorail or new light rail or bus rapid transit.
A 2012 Transportation Planning Board study has moved the county a step closer to realizing its long-term goals by developing a framework for identifying travel corridors where expanded transit service would make the most sense -- in accommodating existing demand, connecting to existing or planned transit services elsewhere in the county or in neighboring jurisdictions, and in supporting the residential and commercial development patterns outlined in the County's long-term vision.
To develop that framework, the TPB hired a consultant team under itsTransportation/Land-Use Connections program, or TLC, to examine how the county was expected to grow over time, where development was likely to occur, and how expanded transit service in the right places could encourage and support the kind of compact, focused development nodes the County envisioned.
At the beginning of the study, the consultant team brought together representatives from more than a dozen transportation agencies in the region to discuss transit expansions that were already being planned either in the county or in neighboring jurisdictions -- like Montgomery County's planned bus rapid transit system and the planned streetcar network in the District of Columbia.
Working closely with county planners, the consultant team developed 18 specific criteria related to existing demands, forecast future conditions, and long-term objectives to rank nearly 30 potential corridors according to how well high-quality transit in those corridors would help meet demand and support the County's goals.
At the top of the list was the Bladensburg-Takoma-Langley Park corridor, generally along East-West Highway and providing connections to the future Purple Line and the District's future streetcar route along Rhode Island Avenue NE.
A corridor connecting National Harbor to either the southern end of Metrorail's Green Line or to the southern end of the District's planned streetcar route on MLK Jr. Ave SE was the second-highest ranked corridor. The University Boulevard and Adelphi Road corridor was ranked third-highest.
Since the study was completed, the County has identified funding to conduct more detailed analysis of the highest-ranked corridors -- the next step toward achieving the longer-term goal of bringing transit to those areas. Staff from the departments of planning and public works and transportation are engaging the County Executive's office, the Planning Board, and the County Council in a discussion about the study's findings and hope to use the recommendations in upcoming updates to the countywide general plan and local master plans.
The TPB's Transportation/Land-Use Connections program, under which the transitway study was funded, provides technical assistance to local jurisdictions to help identify transportation and land-use improvements that can make the local transportation system and development patterns support one another more effectively. The transitway study in Prince George's County is a prime example of the kind of coordinated, integrated approach to transportation and land-use planning that the TLC program was designed to encourage.
Applications for the next round of annual funding under TLC are due on Wednesday, May 15. The TPB is expected to approve projects for 2014 at its meeting on July 17.