(Prince George's County) Elected officials have to take responsibility for failure to enact necessary transportation demand planning and implementation
Today's Post has a column by Courtland Milloy, "The biggest gamble at MGM National Harbor may be on the traffic getting there," which whines about the lack of improvements to the transportation infrastructure serving the National Harbor development in Prince George's County, which will soon feature the opening of the MGM National Harbor Casino.
Traffic is expected to double to about 180,000 cars/week. Frankly, while that seems like a lot, it really isn't. A typical four-lane arterial (plus parking lanes in DC gets 25,000 to 35,000 cars/day, and suburban arterials even more traffic.
But that level of traffic growth can be problematic even so depending on the nature of the system, chokepoints, queuing capacity at intersection, traffic signal timing, etc.
-- Traffic Volume Map, Prince George's County, Maryland
And that concerns County Councilman Obie Patterson, in whose district National Harbor is located. From the article:
But Patterson is worried that the good luck is about to run out. When the slots begin to spin at MGM National Harbor on Dec. 8, weekly vehicular traffic to the site is expected to double — from 90,000 cars, buses and trucks a week to an astounding 180,000.After the fact pointing out of the obvious is worthless. (Also see "Construction is officially underway on the Wynn casino," Boston Globe.)
Given the casino’s location — where the heavily traveled Wilson Bridge links Virginia and Maryland and connects with the District on Interstate 295 — a traffic tie-up could potentially cause disruptions from Charles County in Southern Maryland to downtown Washington as well as for miles along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and on the Beltway.
“The casino has a pretty slick traffic plan once you get on the property, but off-site, it’s going to be nothing more than a nightmare,” said Patterson, who lives in Fort Washington, Md., just a few miles from the casino. “I expect people to go crazy when they can’t get to the doctor or work or church.”
When Maryland state legislators approved a casino for the county in 2012, the bill called for developing a comprehensive transportation plan for the site and the surrounding area. The National Harbor location was selected in December 2013. The county finally unveiled a traffic plan last month, but it is far from comprehensive.
Where elected officials can make the most difference is in advance of the change. I've made this point about the need for transportation demand management planning for National Harbor over the years, including "Transportation demand management requirements for large developments and the MGM National Harbor Casino as an example of why this is absolutely necessary," "Yet another example of failures in metropolitan transportation planning: no transportation demand management requirements for casinos in Maryland," and "National Harbor in Prince George's County and the Inter County Connector in Montgomery and PG Counties: belated critical analysis in the Post."
For example this project would have been a great opportunity to put on the table the extension of the Purple Line from New Carrollton to Alexandria, to serve among other destinations, National Harbor. Although that is very much a long term transportation system improvement.