TLC sets the stage for new local projects


What do a redesigned New Hampshire Avenue with bike and bus lanes in Takoma Park, a spruced-up 19th Street NW with a raingarden and benches in the District of Columbia, and Reston’s new bikeshare system all have in common?

These projects were all funded under the Transportation/Land-Use Connections Program, which was created by the Transportation Planning Board in 2006 to help local jurisdictions identify key improvements to help make the transportation system and development patterns support one another more effectively.

TLC is a program that provides planning and design assistance to our member jurisdictions for small local projects. The program is set up to help localities increase economic development, provide options for multiple modes of transportation, and provide better and more equitable transportation options in areas in need. More than 90 projects have focused on topics like transit station accessibility, mixed-use and transit-oriented development opportunities, pedestrian and bicycle planning, and streetscape design and corridor planning.

The TPB approved eight new projects at its May 18 board meeting but let’s look back at three projects that have moved from conception to reality.

Takoma Park’s New Hampshire Avenue
Takoma Park has been an exemplar for using TLC help to focus on transforming New Hampshire Avenue from a multi-lane arterial to a vibrant urban boulevard. The goal is to enhance economic development and provide more options for people using the road.

The TLC program helped Takoma Park work on a vision for a revitalized New Hampshire Avenue. The idea is for faster traffic to use the middle lanes of the six-lane road while reserving tree-lined outer lanes for slower moving traffic that provide a better space for people walking. This visioning led to a study to look at how to improve the Avenue to increase economic development. Though a rebuild may be far into the future, the visioning and study became the basis for a process that included public input and a workshop to look at which options residents liked the best to revitalize New Hampshire Avenue.

The public asked for bike lanes and a street that could include more options for people walking, biking, and riding buses along the Avenue. This planning has now moved to a new level and Takoma Park has applied and been approved to use the TLC program to create a design for a protected bikeway. The bikeway would connect to Langley Park, the new transit center, bikeshare stations, and the future Purple Line route.

Takoma Park provides a standout example of how to use the TLC program from concept to design. Using this program, planners were able to take the project from a vision, collect ideas from the community, and discover some options for how to make New Hampshire Avenue more usable and more vibrant. Eventually, they will be able to design the Avenue with a new bikeway to connect and revitalize the area.

Rain Garden 19 & L NW DC May 2016 by Elvert Barnes on Flickr
Rain Garden 19 & L NW DC May 2016 by Elvert Barnes on Flickr

19th Street NW between K and M Streets NW

19th Street NW is a busy area in downtown DC. It is home to many restaurants, stores, and office buildings. Outdoor seating, loading areas, and many pedestrians make the street very busy during most weekdays. The Golden Triangle Business Improvement District partnering with the District Department of Transportation received TLC assistance to study a better streetscape design that would accommodate people walking, traffic to service business, and outdoor street-life in the area. The project brought together the District Department of Transportation, the Office of Planning, and the Department of Energy and the Environment to work out what pieces needed to come together to create a more pleasant streetscape and how to incorporate an environmentally friendly design.

Building on the TLC study, the DC agencies are creating a new streetscape complete with seating, more space for sidewalk cafes, room for pedestrians, and artwork. And that included room for delivery vehicles and comfort for pedestrians and diners alike. The Department of Energy and the Environment secured a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to not only address stormwater runoff but also create an attractive rain garden to do so. Benches and street furniture completed the project providing a comfortable space for pedestrians.

Capital bikeshare bikes by Mr.TinDC on Flickr
Capital Bikeshare bikes by Mr.TinDC on Flickr

Reston bikeshare
Back in 2014 Reston received TLC assistance to study what bikeshare would look like in Reston. Residents, businesses, and leaders in Fairfax County had begun asking when the county would extend Capital Bikeshare into the county and specifically identified Reston as a destination. However, in order to extend bikeshare to Reston, the county needed to figure out where bikeshare stations should be located, how many bikes would be needed, and how to connect the system to the Silver Line.

The TLC study looked at all of the aspects of bringing bikeshare to Reston including answering how many stations and bikes would be needed and where to place them to connect them to transit. Now, the town is ready to build its bikeshare system, and applied for funding for this project through the federal Transportation Alternatives Program, which provides dollars for implementation. The TPB, which is responsible for selecting projects for a portion of TAP funding, approved a capital grant for this project at its April meeting.

All of these projects show how valuable the TLC program can be to bring ideas from the early visioning stages to study and design so they can come to fruition. The goals of the TLC program is to connect transportation and land use so they work better together across the region.

Bob Griffiths retires from COG after 42 years
Hitting the road for Memorial Day? Think twice before leaving Thursday afternoon