We’ve been working on the region’s new long-range transportation plan for over a year and will be releasing it for public comment on Sept 7. If you want to learn more about the plan, we’re hosting three Open Houses for folks to learn more about what is in the draft plan.
At the open houses, you will be able to walk around the room, look at displays about each part of Visualize 2045 plus ask questions from TPB staff who wrote and developed the plan.
But first, here’s a short preview of what’s in the plan:
Visualize 2045 is a new kind of long-range transportation plan for the TPB. In the past, our region’s long-range transportation plans were the federally required financially constrained plan or CLRP showing all the planned projects that the region could reasonably show could be funded. For this four-year update, the TPB asked staff to include more than just the financially constrained plan. In honor of this new plan staff gave the plan a name, Visualize 2045 to reflect not just what is planned but also what could be.
The region and policy framework
Visualize 2045 has been based on regional policies reflected in previous and current policy documents. These include the TPB Vision from 1998, the 2014 Regional Transportation Priorities Plan, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Region Forward, and the seven initiatives developed by the TPB’s Long-Range Plan Task Force in 2017. This policy framework has guided the TPB and its staff as they developed the plan.
The Aspirational Element
One of the new parts of Visualize 2045 is the aspirational element. This element highlights what the region aspires to do. The aspirational element focuses on the seven initiatives that the TPB endorsed last winter. It also explains the way these initiatives came to be and the process of identifying what the region aspires to do.
The aspirational element reflects a desire from the board to go beyond the financially constrained element. It provides a new policy framework for its member jurisdictions to inform the contents of future regional transportation plans. It represents a call to action for jurisdictions and transportation agencies to develop projects, programs, and policies that reflect these ideas.
The financially constrained element
Remember that acronym, the CLRP? That was the Constrained Long-Range Transportation Plan and is the federally required plan for the region. In Visualize 2045 we call it the financially constrained element. This element includes all the projects that the region can reasonably expect to fund from now until 2045.
It also includes a financial plan to show how the region expects to pay for these projects. The financial plan covers the revenues and expenditures for building new transit and road projects, and continuing to maintain the existing system.
Another part of the financially constrained element is the air quality conformity analysis. Transportation planning in the region is heavily influenced by air quality planning, which like financial constraint, is a federal requirement. Once the new plan is drafted, it is tested to ensure that the projects in the plan, when considered collectively, contribute to the air quality improvement goals embodied in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. A series of tests are performed with computer models that predict how much air pollution could be generated over the next 25 years if all of the projects in plan were constructed, and how much the air could be improved by cleaner gasoline and engine standards and many other factors.
If the plan is found by the TPB to meet regional air quality goals, federal agencies certify that the plan is “in conformity.” In other words, the TPB ensures that it “conforms” to air quality improvement goals.
The transportation system in 2045
The main question most people want answers to is how well might the planned transportation system work? How does what is planned for 2045 compare to today? What if we left everything alone and built nothing, how would that compare?
The answers to these questions are explored in the Visualize 2045 performance analysis. The performance analysis looks at the forecasted growth in the region and how what is planned might affect how the transportation system functions.
Performance planning, not to be confused with the performance analysis, relates to the federal requirements for Performance Based Planning and Programming (PBPP) and the Congestion Management Plan (CMP). The TPB champions improvements in the ways the transportation system is managed and operated. In addition, federal laws also require setting performance targets and progress reports through PBPP. Visualize 2045 includes these elements of performance planning as drivers of decision-making.
Another new addition for Visualize 2045 is an overview of 14 other planning areas that are part of the region’s long-range transportation plan. These other planning areas help the region plan for a better multi-modal system for everyone. That means planning a system for people driving cars, riding bikes, using transit, and walking. It also means a system that can accommodate visitors from outside the region by air or by bus. Plus a system that can move freight into and out of the region. The these areas address an array of challenges and help accomplish broader regional goals. Within Visualize 2045 we have shown how each of these planning areas addresses the goals laid out in the Regional Transportation Priorities Plan and how they help further the seven initiatives.
Some highlights include bike and pedestrian planning, land-use coordination, Equity Emphasis Areas and more.
In preparation for developing Visualize 2045 and continuing throughout the process, we have sought to find new ways to include the public. In the spring and summer of 2017, we asked people in the region about their opinions of the transportation system. We found out that reliability was the number one priority of those surveyed.
In 2018, we wanted to broaden the conversation about the seven initiatives. The initiatives provided an opportunity for the public to begin to discuss how the region might implement the ideas. These conversations resulted in some takeaways that we have included in our plan.
And finally, we’re providing an opportunity for people in the region to learn more from TPB staff who developed the plan. Three open houses will provide members of the public a chance to take a deeper dive into the draft plan.
The draft plan document will be available for review on September 7, 2018 and posted at visualize2045.org.
Cover photo by Doc Searles on Flickr.