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Thursday, August 29, 2013

August Roundup of Plan Advisory Committee Meeting Thoughts

We are at the approximate mid-point of the moveDC planning effort. We’d like to extend a special thank you to everyone who has provided input into the planning process to date. Your input has been valuable and insightful. We hope that you’ll continue to participate in-person and online.
We’d also like to take a moment to encourage everyone who has not attended one of our events, taken a survey, or followed us on social media to take the plunge. Join the moveDC movement. Visit to learn more.

In September we’ll launch two surveys and host another publicly-accessible plan advisory committee (TPAC) meeting on September 30th at the Reeve's Center. In October we’ll host our third round of in-person and online workshops (dates and locations coming soon). In October and through the end of the year, we’ll also host monthly advisory committee meetings. In the coming months, we hope you’ll lend your voice to the conversation on transportation in the District.

In follow-up to our meeting of last week (August 22, 2013) with the plan advisory committee (TPAC) and public, we wanted to share some additional information on several things that were discussed. The following is a brief summary of topics of conversation that were raised along with additional planning team perspective and information on each.
1.      TPAC Comment: Tools to help decide on priorities with respect to mobility and access would be helpful.

Planning Team: Glad that you raised this. The question on prioritization is timely. As a part of our effort, we will be developing a decision framework for weighing potential transportation initiative priorities. This is a topic we had planned to begin discussion on in September. As a part of our effort, we will refer to successful examples of prioritization tools and approaches from other places as well as from the experience of DDOT. In terms of developing a tool, the goal outcome of the effort will be to have a defined and documented approach through which to process, score, and rate transportation initiatives. Bigger picture, our goal is to create reliability in the way that projects and priorities are considered so that we focus our limited resources where they can best help us achieve our long-term city goals. You are welcome to come to the next TPAC meeting with thoughts/ieas on prioritization.
2.      TPAC Comment: Goals are an important consideration in terms of the plan and measuring progress of the transportation system over time. They should help inform decision-making and also communicate how we are doing relevant to other things happening in the region and to how we are serving people.

Planning Team: Understanding the wide reach of transportation, early in the moveDC process the planning team did a lot of research. We looked at what other places (nationally and internationally) are doing in terms of transportation goals. We also identified goals in regional plans, District agency plans not related to transportation, and District agency plans related to transportation. From all of our research, we compiled a set of goals and performance measures for moveDC. Some of the performance measures will be used in helping to make decisions during the planning process, while others could have use in monitoring the performance of our system over time. Hearing your comments related to setting specific targets, we took a second look at the way we had defined our goals in terms of themes and restructured and organized them around more defined targets.  Below is a summary of how we’ve approached the bigger picture transportation goals and targets for the plan:
    • Sustainability and health: Achieve 75% of all District trips by non-auto modes – How well do we increase access to parks and green space? How does the plan relate to changing climatological conditions? How well does the plan offer opportunities for people to walk and bicycle?
    • Citywide accessibility and mobility: Maximize system reliability and capacity for moving people and goods - How much do we increase our ability to move people? Will the system be efficient and reliable? What will the coverage of different transportation modes be to people? How well do we accommodate the movement of goods and services?
    • Neighborhood accessibility and connectivity: Support neighborhood vitality and economic development - How well do we do in terms of offering people more and better transportation choices? Do we increase access to the places people want and need to go? How well does transportation do in terms of supporting planned growth?
    • Safety and security: Achieve zero fatalities and serious injuries on District transportation network – Are we making our transportation system redundant where it needs to be? How well are we doing in improving the safety of all modal networks?
    • Public space: Reinforce Washington, D.C.’s historic landscapes and quality of neighborhood public space – Are we protecting important corridors and urban landscapes? How well are we doing in making our streets functional, beautiful, and walkable? How much are we increasing the city’s tree canopy?
    • Preservation and implementation: Achieve a state of good repair for all District infrastructure – How are we doing in achieving a full state of good repair for roads, bridges, and sidewalks?
    • Funding and finance: Invest in transportation to achieve outcomes within the plan horizon – How are we doing in establishing and securing sustainable long-term transportation funding? Are we making our transportation system (from an energy perspective) more efficient? Are we delivering projects on time and budget?
 3.      TPAC Comment: Stable, secure long-term transportation funding is important. Keeping options open to new ways to fund transportation is important. It also will be important to create/identify secure sources of funding.

Planning Team: We couldn’t agree more with your comment on the need to have stable, secure, and sustainable long-term transportation funding. Nationally and internationally, funding is at the forefront of most discussions relating obstacles on meeting long-term transportation needs. In the coming months, we will begin a discussion with you on transportation financing. We’ll talk about where the opportunities and challenges lie and offer our best forecast of what’s ahead. Later in the planning process, we’ll apply what we can know (there is lots that we just can’t predict) and try to narrow the gap between what we need and what we can reasonably expect to finance. We’ll identify innovative approaches to finance as well as those we have relied on in the past that have value for the future.

4.      TPAC Comment: We need to be aware that the District will continue to be a substantial employment destination for the region. We can’t lose sight of the fact that even if we (within the District) have lots of great, useful, and effective transportation choices, we will still be significantly affected by the influx of the region’s commuters and visitors each day.

Planning Team: This is an important issue. We are testing several approaches to reducing the negative impacts of it through the scenarios we are evaluating. We have considered a number of measures to incent and disincent people to make choices that are more sustainable within what the District’s transportation system can provide and better meet the District’s transportation goals. For longer distance trips originating outside the District, we are evaluating the effect of changes to commuter rail—more trains, more times of the day, in more directions (not just peak), and some running from Maryland into Virginia and some from Virginia into Maryland. We also are studying the effect of congestion pricing and vehicle occupancy policies (HOV/HOT)—in a defined geographic area of downtown and along major entry and through corridors. For moderate distance trips, we are looking at where our transit and bicycle investments can connect with neighboring jurisdictions’ services and facilities.

5.      TPAC Comment: We need to have a focus on connecting neighborhoods and offering transportation choices for neighborhoods throughout the city.

Planning Team: We have several performance measures that we’ll be reporting information for that specifically address transportation coverage for neighborhoods. In a nutshell, these are:
    • Transportation choices between city neighborhoods
    • Transportation availability to population centers, jobs, schools, amenities, and services
    • Transportation availability to economically challenged areas
    • Coverage of transportation networks to population

6.      TPAC Comment: We need to discuss, do we need to discuss, whether we should be establishing corridor, area, or systemwide modal priorities (i.e. San Francisco’s “Transit First” policy)?

Planning Team: Good question. We’ve been discussing the establishment of modal priorities from the beginning of the planning process. We’ve been discussing this because of the natural tendency to try to put everything in the same place (bike facility, transit facility, wide sidewalk, lots of vehicle lanes, parking, etc.) in the network to very often, an undesirable outcome. As we’ve approached the different plan approaches from a geographic perspective, we have sought to create complementary separation and coexistence among the modal networks. Our goal has been to not have everything need to inhabit the same limited set of streets and to instead create complete and complementary networks that overlap where needed and are separate, but interconnected elsewhere. All of this stated and taking a step back, we also are looking and starting a discussion on systemwide modal priority at a policy level. We have talked about the value and potential pitfalls of making a citywide statement on modal priority and have not yet come to resolution. This could be a very helpful topic at an upcoming meeting and we’d welcome a lively debate on it and its many potential approaches and outcomes.

7.      TPAC Comment: We’d like to view meeting materials ahead of time with some expectation from the planning team as to what you’d like from us at upcoming meetings:

Planning Team: We will share all materials ahead of time and also pose some framing type questions for discussion and consideration at upcoming meetings. For anticipatory purposes, our goal at upcoming meetings is to start talking about prioritization, performance of different aspects of the scenarios we’re studying, finance, and an overall plan policy framework. The comment made previously regarding modal priority would be a very timely and useful discussion to have and come to a better understanding of at the next meeting. Tomorrow (Friday, August 30th), we will have uploaded several materials to the project website for you including the local bus study update presentation, street typology discussion, and performance measures document. (

8.      TPAC Comment: Will the plan indicate likely implementation horizons for important elements?

Planning Team: Yes. We will lay the plan out in its ultimate form for the planning horizon year, 2040, and then back into short-, mid-, and long-term horizons.

Please let us know if we’ve missed big follow-up topics from our last meeting and we’ll do our best to share other thoughts, provide information, or respond. We hope that this has been helpful and informative and that you’ll comment on the information above and start thinking about attending our upcoming September advisory committee meeting. Advisory committee member or not, we hope that everyone will feel welcome to come attend an advisory committee meeting. We always provide time for public comments and discussion and encourage dialogue.

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