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.

Friday, December 25, 2009

29 of the DC region's top transportation stories of the decade

I can't claim to be able to say what I think the top #10 transportation issues are in the DC region, but here are more than 20 (it's hard to limit myself to 10), not necessarily in order:

1. The crash of WMATA trains in June 2009 and the resulting deaths and injuries. Hands down this would be #1 for me. Including the resulting discovery that the systems problem with train controls has been an issue since 2005, and inadequately addressed.

2. Lack of quality leadership (board) for WMATA, turnover in leaders (Richard White, Dan Tangherlini, John Catoe).

3. Creation of the DC Department of Transportation, having been calved off the DC Dept. of Public Works.

4. Expanded transportation planning in DC's Department of Transportation, both as part of the "Transportation Policy and Planning Administration" and the Mass Transit Administration.

5. DDOT focus on streetscape improvements including in Georgetown, 8th Street SE (Barracks Row), Brookland, H Street NE, and other neighborhoods

6. Creation of the sustainable transportation oriented Arlington County Master Transportation Plan, and the general excellence and leadership on _regional_ transportation issues by Arlington County and its elected officials on transportation issues.

7. 2003 budget cutbacks at WMATA, leading to the devolvement of responsibility for expansion planning to the separate jurisdictions.

8. Silver Line subway extension to Dulles Airport.

9. Wilson Bridge reconstruction/Springfield freeway interchange construction.

10. Approval of the east-west Inter County Connector freeway from I-270 in Montgomery County to I-95 in Prince George's County.

11. High Occupancy Toll lanes for Virginia.

12. Creation of the DC Circulator bus system.

13. DC Bus shelter improvement contract (2005) including the creation of bicycle sharing (2008) and the funding of streetscape improvement projects.

14. Purple Line advances in Montgomery and Prince George's County, and the efforts of the citizen group Action Committee for Transit. As well as the oppositional efforts of the Town of Chevy Chase.

15. Efforts to make the Metropolitan Branch Trail off-road walking and bicycling trail from Silver Spring to Union Station in DC, first conceived of in 1988, reality.

16. All the cockamamie initiatives of DC City Council on transportation issues, ranging from earmarks for special bus services, proposals for tolls on the 14th Street bridge, the creation of "performance" parking initiatives while failing to increase the price of residential parking permits, Councilmember Harry Thomas' idea that gas stations should get tax incentives because he doesn't think the city has enough gas stations, etc.

17. That DC doesn't have a transportation plan, and certainly not one at the level of cities like New York City, Seattle, or Portland ... not to mention Arlington County.

18. The spending of $40+ million on a 1,000 space parking garage at DC/USA, immediately adjacent to the subway system, and its underutilization to the tune of 50% or more.

19. The publication of Trans-Formation: Recreating Transit-Oriented Neighborhood Centers in Washington, DC by the DC Office of Planning and the _failure_ to actually incorporate transit oriented development and urban design practices for city-involved projects adjacent to transit stations such as at Rhode Island Metro (the Rhode Island Place development) and Congress Heights in southeast DC (see "Giant Missed Opportunity" from East of the River).

20. Relatedly would be the transportation oriented development intensification efforts in the region that look to be more successful such as at Tyson's Corner in Fairfax County, Virginia, Columbia Pike in Arlington County, Potomac Yards in Alexandria and Arlington County, Virginia, and maybe at White Flint in Montgomery County.

21. Record ridership for WMATA in 2009, including during the Obama Inauguration as well as severe budget deficits and declines in ridership later in the year.

22. Planning for streetcars in DC and Northern Virginia.

23. BRAC and the stresses it is causing on regional mobility because base expansions are in places with limited transit service, while most of the locations that are being closed had high quality transit service.

24. Arlington County's opposition to widening I-66, to the tune of suing the State of Virginia.

25. Maryland's proposals, not yet funded, to expand the MARC train service to weekends. And the growth, decline, and regrowth of the Virginia Railway Express passenger railroad service.

26. Increased focus on pedestrian and bicycling matters in many of the region's jurisdictions.

27. The failure of the forthcoming Silver Spring Transit Station to include a dedicated bike station. (And the building of this station.)

28. A bikestation just opened in the past year at Union Station.

29. Bloggers, blogging and blogs on urban design and transportation issues.

30. "Dedicated" funding for WMATA from the Federal Government.



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