Plan Calls for Congestion Pricing, More Bike Lanes, and Expanded Transit for D.C.
Congestion pricing downtown. A vastly expanded network of bike lanes. Streetcar and bus routes with dedicated lanes. A parking system more tailored to demand. Lanes reserved for high-occupancy vehicles and toll-payers on major thoroughfares.
If the city's transportation network evolves as the District Department of Transportation hopes it will, these could all soon be a reality.
DDOT released a draft of its moveDC plan today, a vision for how to shape the city's transportation system to fit its growing population, shifting transit mode shares, and need for sustainability. The agency is soliciting public input on the plan until July 6. The D.C. Council will hold a hearing on it on June 27, and a final plan will be completed by July 31, according to DDOT.
“Building a world-class, sustainable city in the District of Columbia has always been one of the principal goals of my administration, and moveDC plays an integral role in advancing this effort,” Mayor Vince Gray said in a statement. “It is so exciting to see the hard work and energy of District residents pay off in a plan that will continue to move us forward into the future.”
Here are some of the key changes DDOT proposes.
"Bicycling," the draft plan states, "is the mode with the greatest potential to accommodate more demand. While the District’s bicycle commute mode share has risen appreciably in the last decade to 4.1 percent, neighborhoods like Logan Circle, Mt. Pleasant, and Capitol Hill show the true potential with bicycle commute shares of up to 14 percent."
The moveDC plan calls for a significant expansion of the city's bike infrastructure. There are currently about 60 miles of bike lanes, three miles of protected cycletracks, and 10 miles of off-road, multiuse trails, according to the report. Under the plan, the network would increase to 136 miles of bike lanes, 72 miles of protected bike lanes (cycle tracks), and 135 miles of trails over the next 25 years.
Here are maps of DDOT's proposed network of bike lanes and cycletracks, downtown and citywide (click to enlarge):
The report also advocates an expansion of Capital Bikeshare, such that 75 percent of D.C. residents and 90 percent of D.C. employees are within a quarter mile of a Capital Bikeshare station.
The moveDC plan's transit vision includes four major components. The first is familiar: the 22-mile streetcar system whose construction is already underway, with "potential extensions." The second is new: 25 miles of high-capacity transit in dedicated lanes. These transit routes could be either bus or rail, and could run in the median, in the center lane, or on the side of the road, but would be separated from traffic in some form. Additionally, the plan calls for 22 miles of high-capacity transit in shared lanes, and for "water transit service" within the District and between D.C. and neighboring jurisdictions, with six boats per hour at peak times and stops in Georgetown, the Southwest Waterfront, and the Navy Yard area.
Included among the high-capacity transit routes with dedicated lanes would be a route on 16th Street NW connecting downtown and Silver Spring, one on North Capitol Street connecting NoMa and Stonghold/McMillan, and dedicated bus lanes on H and I streets NW. A route connecting the 14th Street Bridge and Navy Yard via Maine Avenue and M Street SW/SE would include both dedicated and shared lanes.
These maps show the proposed transit networks downtown and citywide. The blue lines indicate high-capacity transit routes, either bus or rail:
The report also calls for "go anywhere, all day transit." That's defined as 18 hours of service per day in most areas, but round-the-clock service where demand requires. The moveDC plan also suggests eliminating the transfer penalty between transit modes, creating free transfers between bus and Metro, for example, to match the current free transfers between buses.
The most radical proposal for drivers involves congestion pricing, which would require drivers entering the "Central Employment Area" on weekdays to pay a fee. This is similar to a policy enacted in London to reduce traffic congestion and raise revenue. The program would require "investment in vehicle detection and payment collection technology prior to it taking effect," according to the report. The fee would be approximately equivalent to a round-trip, peak-hour Metro fare.
The plan also calls for "managed lanes" on a few high-traffic thoroughfares, including New York Avenue NE, Canal Road NW, I-295, and I-395. Managed lanes would either be restricted to high-occupancy vehicles or charge tolls to driver there.
Under the plan, new street grids would be introduced at major development sites, including McMillan, Reservation 13 (a.k.a. Hill East, and the Armed Forces Retirement Home). The Rock Creek Parkway would be opened to two-way traffic all day between K and Q streets NW.
This map shows traffic congestion, measured by the ratio of vehicles to capacity, that's projected in 2040 without any changes:
And this map shows the projected ratio under the proposals laid out in the moveDC plan:
The parking proposals are more limited. The plans calls for an expansion of DDOT's Performance Parking program, which ties curbside parking meter rates to demand for those spaces in certain commercial areas. By expanding the program, DDOT hopes to spread out demand and reduce the time cars spend circling the block looking for spaces in high-demand areas. In order to help achieve this goal, the plan also calls for implementing more advance technologies to help people find and pay for spaces.
This map shows the areas where residential parking is currently most constrained:
All images via the moveDC draft report