Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Trial balloons in the Washington Post and Dulles Airport as an aerotropolis

The first place I saw the concept of a casino at National Harbor in Prince George's County being publicly outlined was in a column by Robert McCartney of the Washington Post  in a January 2012 column, "Make picks in these '12 predictions."

At that time, Prince George's County residents had already voted to not allow casinos in the county.  By November, a state-wide referendum was passed that expanded casino gambling beyond slots and adding PG County as a place for a casino to locate.

Last week, Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney wrote a column suggested the roadway network in the metropolitan area could be expanded as a way to reduce congestion, if done intelligently.  One of the projects he mentioned is the proposed Bi-County Parkway, which would mostly enable new development, even though his column was about congestion reduction.

I wrote about the general thrust of his column here, "Weak discourse on "congestion" by Washington Post columnist."

But then on Sunday, there is a big piece in the Post about how the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has big big plans to enable development on land that they own on and around the Dulles Airport, to generate revenue.  See  "Could the Bi-County Parkway revive Dulles International Airport?"  From the article:

Dulles International Airport has seen a tough few years. Fewer passengers are flying into and out of the airport’s iconic terminal. Less cargo is moving across its tarmac. And with the global economy still sputtering, there’s no telling when the airport’s fortunes will turn around.

A solution, some Virginia officials say, is the long-debated Bi-County Parkway, a proposed road between Prince William and Loudoun counties that could serve as a new conduit for people and cargo passing through Dulles. Proponents say it would spur business development by offering a vital north-south link to the airport, giving businesses easy access to an international gateway.

With thousand of acres of undeveloped land and a Metrorail connection that the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority aims to open in 2018, authority officials hope to build new facilities — perhaps offices and another hotel — on airport property to generate additional revenue. On the land around the airport’s runways, MWAA officials say new buildings to house cargo, including units that could store flowers, pharmaceuticals and other perishables, could boost the airport’s bottom line. They point to a soon-to-be built United Airlines maintenance hangar as an example of the airport’s potential to bring in more jobs and tax revenue.

Again, it's as if the column last week was a trial balloon.

I can't knock the MWAA or Prince William and Loudoun Counties for wanting more development, because ultimately that's what generates revenues for their respective entities.  Dulles Airport's passenger and cargo traffic has been dropping, and they want to boost it.

But it doesn't bode well for "smart growth."  Or maybe it does, just on a relative, not an absolute basis.

Also see:

- "More on transportation to the DC area airports"
- "Aerotropoli and rethinking the scale of mobility networks in the context of a global economy"
- "Aerotropoli"

Graphic from Washington Post on passenger and cargo volume and the proposed route of the Bi-County Parkway.

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At 11:54 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

It is certainly true, that dulles is (or was) they one of physically largest airports in the US. Plenty of room for expansion.

It is also far too true we have far too much passenger capacity on the east coast and it would make sense to cut back on hubbing. (The new USAIR-AA combo at DCA might change that locally).

And it makes very little sense to increase cargo capacity at Dulles. Way too expensive an area, terrible highways. The idea that it will be a straight shot from dulles to Norfolk?

At 1:33 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I agree, but this isn't about planning for the East Coast in a rigorous way, it's about MWAA getting more money out of Dulles.

That Puget Sound regional airport planning document that I mentioned in the other entry is relevant.

Obviously, BWI works better for freight. It has synergies with the Port of Baltimore, there is already some business down there, it's on 95, etc.

But it's in Maryland and isn't controlled by MWAA...

2. but wrt to freight planning there are interesting issues in VA, not just that proposed highway to I-81 from Norfolk, the general issue of I-81, railroad intermodal, the Panama Canal expansion issue--which is why the connection to I-81 is desired, etc.

3. And recently I've read a couple of articles in trade pubs. about how with changes in fed. regulations for truck driving resulting in reduced hours, that there is going to be a labor shortage and cost increase, because they need more trucks and drivers to move the same amount of freight.

Plus the increased push by trucking companies and shippers to allow double and triple length trailer carriage, to cut costs and labor demand.

At 12:25 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

This too. The Intl. Warehouse Logistics Assn. touts the SoCal regional planning effort on goods movement as one of the best in the nation.

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