ICYMI: June 15 TPB meeting

The TPB received a briefing about lessons learned from surge 1 and what to expect from surge 2 of SafeTrack.
The TPB received a briefing about lessons learned from the first of Metro’s SafeTrack maintenance surges and what to expect during future surges.

At its meeting on June 22, the TPB took no formal actions, but received a series of briefings on topics including Metro’s SafeTrack maintenance program and a draft regional freight plan currently open for public comment.

Update on Metro’s SafeTrack maintenance program

Fairfax County’s Nick Perfelli briefed the board on actions the county has taken to mitigate the effects of the first so-called “safety surge” under Metro’s year-long SafeTrack maintenance blitz. Perfelli said that the county is providing shuttle buses and park-and-ride options and encouraging carpooling and other options like commuter rail. The county is also making sure that the word gets out for all who will be impacted by the track work.

Metro’s Regina Sullivan and Jim Hamre also briefed the board. They outlined ways the agency is helping jurisdictions deal with each phase of SafeTrack. Among the actions are adding extra staff at all the affected stations to help direct riders and adding in shuttle buses to help riders get through the shutdown area. Sullivan also praised the jurisdictions for getting the word out to riders to plan ahead and find alternate ways to get around.

In their presentation, Sullivan and Hamre also emphasized that the second safety surge, set to run from June 18 to July 3, would impact even more riders since a section of the Blue Line will be closed entirely for two weeks. Their key message was that riders should find other non-Metro options since the agency won’t be able to provide enough alternative bus service to accommodate all affected riders.

Board member Elissa Silverman (DC) asked what lessons were learned from the first surge that could be used to improve conditions during future ones. Hamre noted that Metro has gathered data and looked at how to better convey messages to riders at affected stations, how to get the word out about alternatives, and to make sure that riders know what to expect and where to go.

Board member Charles Allen (DC) asked if Metro has coordinated its work plans and mitigation efforts with local schools and organizers of major sporting events like DC United games and other special events. Hamre said that Metro has run shuttle buses for the DC United game before and could easily do it again during the upcoming surge. He said that because the game takes place on the weekend, the agency can redirect many more unused buses to serve as shuttle buses between the stadium and the nearest Metro station.


Draft regional freight plan presented

TPB transportation planner Jon Schermann briefed the board on a draft regional freight plan that aims to highlight the importance of freight in the region and to guide future freight planning at the regional level.

Among the key elements of the draft freight plan is a discussion of how economic and population growth have increased demand for goods movement. The plan also includes an overview of the different ways freight travels in the region, specific lists of projects and policies that affect or could help improve regional freight movement, and a list of key policy areas, including hazard mitigation and environmental justice, to guide freight planning across the region. The policy areas are new since the last freight plan update in 2010.

The draft freight plan is open for public comment through July 9. The TPB will be asked to approve the plan at its July 20 meeting.

Board member Charles Allen (DC) said that he was pleased that the freight plan addresses the topic of hazard mitigation.


Other items of note

  • Metro outlined plans to work with local jurisdictions to develop the areas around its rail stations in order to boost ridership and increase revenue. See the full presentation.
  • The federal government recently released final rules for using performance targets in state and metropolitan transportation planning. Learn more about the new rules and how they will affect the TPB.
  • TPB Staff Director Kanti Srikanth honored senior director Bob Griffiths, who retired on June 17 after more than 42 years of service. Bob received a standing ovation from board members, staff, and other meeting attendees for his dedicated service. Read more about Bob and the many hats he has worn in his four decades at COG.
  • During public comment, Rich Parsons, from the Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance, highlighted the results of a recent survey that showed that area voters’ top concern is traffic congestion. He stressed the need for the region’s leaders to address this concern. He stressed the need for the region’s leaders to look at a broad range of major projects across all modes to address this concern. Stewart Schwartz, from the Coalition for Smarter Growth, took issue with the survey, which he said presupposed that widening roads would solve the region’s congestion problems. He emphasized the importance of building transit-oriented, walkable communities to help deal with congestion. Listen to the comments.
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