Washington, D.C. – At its July meeting, the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board discussed a draft report on a new initiative to address major transportation challenges with regional strategies that will have strong public support.
The report, the Regional Transportation Priorities Plan, is based on extensive public input conducted in 2012 that culminated in an in-depth, online survey of over 600 area residents earlier this year. According to the survey, transit crowding, roadway congestion, and Metro and highway maintenance are the region’s most critical transportation challenges.
For example, transit crowding was identified by 87.7 percent of survey participants as significant or very significant. It was rated as the top challenge among respondents in all geographical areas, including the regional core, inner suburbs, and outer suburbs.
When participants were asked how to address these challenges, they selected strategies related to:
- Metro maintenance (91.4 percent support)
- roadway maintenance (89.7 percent support)
- alleviating roadway bottlenecks (85.6 percent support)
- and improving transit access (81.4 percent support)
When asked how to fund these strategies, the survey found that 60 percent of participants supported identifying an additional dedicated funding source for Metro maintenance. Support for additional funding for highway maintenance was substantially less at 44 percent.
The survey also asked people about three long-term strategies to address transportation challenges and accommodate future population and job growth. One strategy examined the construction of express toll lanes that would give drivers the option to avoid highway congestion, similar to the I-495 Express Lanes. In this strategy, a new bus rapid transit (BRT) network would also operate on these toll lanes.
The second long-term strategy called for more concentrated growth in the region’s Activity Centers with additional transit capacity. By building more housing and jobs near transit, more people would use the transit system and have options to walk or bicycle to nearby destinations. The final strategy combined the toll lanes and BRT with the more concentrated growth around Activity Centers.
Of the three long-term strategies, the one that combined the two strategies was the most popular garnering the support of 72.4 percent of participants. This was followed closely by support (70.4 percent of participants) for the concentrated development and transit strategy.
The survey also measured area residents’ confidence in their transportation agencies (44.5 percent said the agencies will make good use of the resources available to them), the value of public information campaigns related to transportation planning (75 percent said they were important), and opinions on opposition to development (63.6 percent said current residents and businesses would be an obstacle to increasing development around transit stations).
The survey included a representative sample of people from the entire metropolitan region and who use a variety of commuting methods—such as driving, transit, and bicycling.
Following the meeting, staff will update the plan and then make a new draft available for public comment on July 24.