At its September meeting the TPB received an hour-long briefing on the draft long-range transportation plan for the region, Visualize 2045. The board also heard public comments regarding Visualize 2045, reports from the Citizens Advisory Committee and Access For All Advisory Committee, and received a short briefing on the 2019-2024 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
The primary purpose of the meeting was the review of the draft Visualize 2045 plan document. To kick-off the meeting, in his remarks, TPB Chair Charles Allen noted the importance of re-examining the region’s long-range plan every four years. “So, besides the fact that it’s a federal regulation, this kind of regular reexamine is simply just the right thing for us to do in the region. This year is one such milestone year,” he said.
In a departure from past long-range plans, Visualize 2045 is not merely the Constrained Long-Range Transportation Plan or CLRP of the past that focused on transportation improvement projects. It now also includes an aspirational element, additional planning areas, and other new elements.
Chair Allen noted the importance of the aspirational element as a culmination of work the board pursued over the last three years. “One of the new, and in my opinion most significant features of this Visualize 2045 plan is the aspirational initiatives that we’ve collectively worked on, a set of transportation improvements that came out of our shared sense of unsatisfaction with the performance outcomes we’d seen to date of our future transportation system. And through this work, which is now an integral part of our regional transportation plan, we have an agreed-upon vision for the types of projects, programs, and policies that we individually and collectively will pursue, to have a transportation system that works well and serves all.”
TPB staff presented each part of Visualize 2045 and explained how they are presented in the draft plan. The presentation began by showing the regional context and the policies that the plan is based upon. Next, the Board heard about the seven aspirational initiatives the TPB endorsed in December 2017 and January 2018.
Staff then presented the federally required parts of the financially constrained elements showing what the region can reasonably expect to pay for by 2045. The federal government requires that metropolitan planning organizations, like the TPB, show the projects and a financial plan for how they are expected to be paid for. The financially constrained element also includes the performance analysis and the air quality conformity analysis showing the estimated amount of emissions from the transportation system and how it conforms to the region’s air quality plan.
Other parts of Visualize 2045 include performance targets for various aspects of the transportation system, including freight movement, bicycle and pedestrian planning elements that play a role in the region’s transportation system.
After the presentation board members ask a few questions about the draft plan. Board member Tim Lovain asked about how the region could eventually pay for the aspirational initiatives. He asked, “how can we afford it?” TPB Staff Director Kanti Srikanth reflected on the discussions from the Long-Range Plan Task Force. He explained that the region will have to look for additional funding as it did with WMATA funding and may also need to look at available resources and how they’re used.
Board member Neil Harris wanted to be sure that the region is getting all that it can with the money it has. “I just want to make sure that we’re all focused on doing things as cost-effectively as we can so we get the most out of the system,” he said.
Listen to the full presentation and board discussion:
FY 2019-2024 Transportation Improvement Program
TPB staff also briefed the board on the FY 2019-2024 TIP. The TIP is another important work product for an MPO. The TIP is an important regional planning document because it respects the planned investments which local, state, and regional agencies have identified and committed to make for specific transportation projects and programs over the next six years. As such, it’s a reflection of the transportation priorities of those jurisdictions and agencies. It also provides information on the sources of funding for major projects and can be analyzed to determine what share of spending is going to certain project types or travel modes. The TPB will consider the draft FY 2019-2024 TIP for approval at its October meeting.
Listen to the presentation on the FY 2019-2024 TIP:
Members of the public are always welcome to speak at the beginning of every TPB meeting. At the September meeting Katie Harris from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and Daniel Paschall of the East Coast Greenway Alliance spoke in support of adding more bike and pedestrian projects in the plan. They asked the TPB to add more to the National Capital Trail by adding a network of bike trails to add to the Bicycle Beltway.
In response to the comments about the bike trail network, Chair Allen asked about expanding the aspirational initiative to complete the National Capital Trail to include an additional network of trails. Srikanth explained that with regard to expanding the National Capital Trail as it is currently described in the aspirational initiative. He said that there has been some work done along these lines but that it hasn’t reached all member jurisdictions. He said he has heard from jurisdictions who want to be a part of this work. “We have reached out to the jurisdictions and I suspect that we would be able to work with the localities to complete this work,” he explained. Once this work is complete, he said it can be brought back to the board.
Jason Stanford from the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance asked that more investment be made in the road network in the region. He said that though the Alliance supports ride-sharing, transit, and transit oriented development, there needs to be greater investments in roads due to their high demand.
Listen to the public comments:
Reports from the Citizens Advisory and Access for All Advisory Committees
Citizens Advisory Committee Chair Katherine Kortum reported on the committee’s last meeting in Deanwood in DC to coincide with the DC Visualize 2045 open house. She reported some comments from the CAC on Visualize 2045 and the public outreach associated with it. The committee generally was pleased that the TPB went beyond its traditional forms of outreach. Committee members liked the new name for the plan and found it easier to understand. Committee members did suggest other ways to help people understand how much can change over 27 years and wondered if there were better ways to engage the public.
Access for All Advisory Committee Chair Kacy Kostiuk reported that the AFA received a briefing on the draft of Visualize 2045. She said the committee would be submitting formal comments on the plan but generally wanted more jurisdictional cooperation for special services and making sure that transportation improvements don’t leave behind people with disabilities.
Listen to the reports from the CAC and AFA: