The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board held a sparsely-attended long-range transportation planning forum for the region in Leesburg on May 16.
The plan, called Visualize 2045, will focus on regionally significant road and transit projects, but will also highlight bicycle and pedestrian projects and key land-use issues facing the region. It will take a multimodal approach rather than relying on any one mode of travel to accommodate the region’s growth.
Visualize 2045 is a federally-required long-range transportation plan for the national capital region. It will identify all the regionally-significant transportation investments planned through 2045, plus some that have not yet been funded.
The Leesburg crowd at the hearing included several people living along the Rt. 15 corridor. They told staff from the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments they felt they had few options for travel. And when the results of a live poll showed many people in the audience worked from home, Council of Governments Principal Transportation Planner John Swanson commented it was “an audience of telecommuters.”
One attendee remarked that in fact they were farmers.
Others also commented on the proliferation of tolls roads—and their increasing prices—in the region.
“These toll roads are classist,” said one. “If you don’t have credit cards or a pass, you’re stuck paying with your time.” Sheryl Williams, Executive Director of Morven Park, said a tolls road “doesn’t impact traffic, it just collects a tax.”
And planning board staff brought up the idea of bus rapid transit as a plausible substitute to rail, particularly for more spread-out areas like Loudoun. The idea has already taken hold in smaller, denser jurisdictions like Arlington.
“One of the reasons this is on the table now is this nation seems to be unwilling to pay for infrastructure,” Swanson said.
And Loudouners brought up the idea of bridges across the Potomac River—and the political realities in the way.
Ater the meeting, Swanson said “we have not really had such explicit discussion about Potomac River crossings in the other sessions. That’s not surprising that we would get that here, though.”
But by and large, he said, there are more commonalities across the region than differences.
“These are ideas that really make sense to everybody, because to a large degree they make economic sense,” Swanson said.
The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board is housed at and staffed by the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments. For more information about Visualize 2045, go to visualize2045.org.