When it adopted the Regional Transportation Priorities Plan in January, the Transportation Planning Board highlighted a number of key strategies and priorities for achieving the region's long-term transportation goals. Throughout 2014, the TPB and its partner agencies worked to implement those strategies and priorities in notable ways, as told through the digital pages of this publication over the past twelve months.
One of the biggest regional achievements featured this year in TPB Weekly Report was the opening of two major new transit lines, both in Northern Virginia. One was the first phase of Metro's new Silver Line, which opened for service in July, connecting the existing Orange Line to Tysons Corner. In its first week, the Silver Line carried nearly 220,000 people to or from one of its five new stations.
The other major transit addition was Metroway, the region's first bus rapid transit (BRT) line, a portion of which was built with a federal TIGER grant awarded to the TPB in early 2010. Metroway uses dedicated lanes and other treatments for part of its route to provide passengers with a faster, more convenient transit option between several Activity Centers in the busy Route 1 corridor in Alexandria and Arlington.
Both of these new transit lines have expanded travel options for area residents, which the Priorities Plan specifically calls for, noting that expanding options "makes it easier for people to find the travel mode that works best for them in meeting their daily needs."
Another significant milestone featured here was the development and adoption by the TPB of a major four-year update of the region's Constrained Long-Range Transportation Plan (CLRP). The plan update added ten major new projects or changes to existing projects, including new streetcar lines in the District of Columbia, revised plans for service and infrastructure improvements for MARC and VRE commuter rail, and a handful of road-widening projects in Virginia.
As part of the update, the TPB carried out several detailed analyses showing progress in achieving regional goals. Among them was the CLRP Performance Analysis, which continued to show anticipated shifts away from single-driver trips in coming decades. The forecasts in the analysis anticipate nearly one million new daily trips by bicycle or on foot by 2040 compared to today, a 50% increase, and a decline in average total daily driving per person.
The Performance Analysis also showed that three-quarters of all new job growth and more than half of all new population growth in coming decades is anticipated to occur in Activity Centers, areas where the Priorities Plan says travel by modes other than car will be easier.
One other notable development in this year's CLRP update, included as part of the Financial Analysis required during every four-year update, was a commitment by all three state-level jurisdictions in the region to fund full maintenance and state-of-good-repair needs for Metro through 2040.
Previously, no such commitment existed, leaving uncertain whether adequate funding would be available to keep the transit system safe and in good working order. New state revenues in Maryland and Virginia were partly responsible for making the commitment possible.
The Priorities Plan called for ensuring proper maintenance of the existing transportation system before any major new system expansions or other improvements.
Finally, a number of ongoing work activities at the TPB, many in partnership with area transportation agencies, made news as they continued to advance regional goals and support transportation decision-making.
In July, the TPB's Commuter Connections program celebrated 40 years of helping area commuters find alternatives to driving alone to work. That same month, the TPB approved funding for nine more local planning studies or design projects under its popular Transportation/Land-Use Connections (TLC) Program.
New TPB studies using "Big Data" helped planners and engineers better understand traffic congestion on area roadways. Extensive surveying and analysis shed light on how people use the region's three airports. And regular events like the Community Leadership Institute, Bike to Work Day, Car Free Day, and the Street Smart bicycle and pedestrian safety campaign continued to raise public awareness of key regional transportation issues.
Find all past issues of TPB Weekly Report in the online archive.