The Transportation Planning Board Chairman's op-ed in the Washington Business Journal highlights the region's coordinated approach to transportation planning and the recently approved TPB Priorities Plan that includes strategies related to roads, mass transit, bicycling, and walking. He also appeared with Commuter Connections Director Nicholas Ramfos on NewsTalk on News Channel 8 to encourage residents to register for the region’s Bike to Work Day on May 16.
College Park City Councilman, Patrick Wojahn and Commuter Connections Director, Nicholas Ramfos, on News8 With Bruce DePuyt
The op-ed below, by Patrick Wojahn appears in the April 4, 2014 issue of the Washington Business Journal.
Patrick Wojahn: When it comes to regional transportation, there is no either/or
Few would disagree with the premise that human progress of all sorts can be slow and frustrating. Too often, proponents of competing solutions to problems become obsessed with old arguments and miss changes already underway.
Transportation planning and the implementation of those plans in metropolitan Washington is a clear example of that tendency. As a result, I believe the old battle that pits the advocates of highway construction against supporters of public transit can and should be left behind on the pile of outgrown 20th century disputes.
In a recent paper, John McClain, a transportation policy expert, said he believes the region missed major opportunities years ago by neglecting to build some of the highways proposed then, prompting a rebuke from Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, which prompted a rebuke from Jim Corcoran, president of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce.
Time out. Metropolitan Washington has grown rapidly over the last 30 years even though neither the public nor elected officials have consistently cast their lot with either camp. There is no “either/or.” The region needs to move forward with a broad mix of strategies to address our transportation challenges.
The region boasts a world-class transit system responsible for supporting economic opportunity and quality of life unparalleled in most other American cities. At the same time, critical roadway projects like the Woodrow Wilson Bridge replacement and innovative highway tolling approaches in Maryland and Virginia are also making significant contributions to our shared success. Growing interest in walking and bicycling and new transit options like streetcars and high-frequency bus service are helping to make greater transportation choice available to more people every day.
Last January, the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board passed the Regional Transportation Priorities Plan, outlining a balanced approach rooted in three basic, commonsense strategies. It says our first priority must be maintaining the region’s existing system of roadways and transit. The second strategy must be strengthening public confidence in transportation agencies and ensuring fairness and equity. Finally, we must find more efficient ways to move people and goods by focusing on a wider variety of travel modes and concentrating growth in mixed-use “activity centers.”
Each of the strategies assumes the use of roads, mass transit, bicycling and walking. And the board is encouraging local governments to consider broader regional needs as they develop their own improvements.
I believe we now have a smarter, more coordinated approach to transportation planning that should speed up our work to maintain and build our transportation infrastructure. Let’s agree to get to work.