At its July meeting, the TPB continued its ongoing discussions about how to support projects, programs, and policies to implement the seven initiatives it endorsed in the winter. At the meeting, board members held an open discussion of ideas from each jurisdiction with the goal of finding out what it would take to implement the seven ideas throughout the region.
A call to action
TPB Chair Charles Allen started his chairmanship with the goal to call on TPB member jurisdictions to commit to identifying how the seven initiatives can be implemented throughout the region. Allen has called on TPB staff to look into best practices and for board members to share ideas and suggestions with each other. “Back in January I talked about how we want to take the work of the previous year of identifying what these initiatives were to see what we can do in any concrete ways,” he said.
Other committees within the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) have also been discussing how their area of expertise could help inspire jurisdictions to identify projects, programs, or policies to support the initiatives. While multiple COG and TPB committees have discussed them, the COG Planning Directors Technical Committee prepared a briefing for the TPB.
The planning directors provided a few key takeaways
Board member Eric Shaw, chairman of the COG Planning Directors Technical committee kicked off the discussion. Shaw presented on the work the planning directors have been doing to find out what is happening across the region in different jurisdictions. They also discussed how those activities can support the initiative that is focused on land-use—the initiative we call bringing jobs and housing closer together.
Shaw’s report focused on a few key takeaways. First, that everyone in the region is working on transit-oriented development but it looks different in different locations. A second takeaway was the impact that market forces have on what gets built. And third, that developers will build what is most feasible given the current market even before new transportation plans catch up. This point reflects the fact that developments are built faster than transportation projects can be built.
Board members discussed challenges to implementation, opportunities for collaboration
During the discussion, board member Linda Smyth pointed out that jurisdictions only have the ability to affect what happens in the future. Many locations have already built properties. How do you affect what is on the ground today? “In Tyson’s we have a parking maximum but only for new development. But the other existing properties that have a lot of parking, what can we do with it now that they have a Metro station and don’t need all of it,” she asked.
The discussion focused primarily on planning ahead for the future. Allen pointed out the importance of thinking beyond current conditions. He used an example of a new bridge, if a bridge is built assuming that people will live or travel in a similar manner in the future as they do today, it will remain that way for 50 years. Structures meant to last for 50-100 years should be built to accommodate not just current uses but possible future users as well. Retrofitting these structures can often be as hard as building them in the future.
Another important theme that came out of the discussion the importance of bringing everyone across sectors of the government together. Transportation can touch education, environment, and everything that is built. Similar to the way that the planning directors began to work with the TPB, others within jurisdictions and across the region can do the same.
This is only the beginning of an on-going discussion the TPB will be having about how to implement the seven initiatives it endorsed. From the discussion at the meeting, the region will need to come together to begin to realize the big ideas that will improve the region’s transportation system.
Listen to the full discussion about the initiatives: