Advancing active mobility in greater Prince William, Virginia

Category: National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board

Metro DC’s Car Free Day, Thursday, September 22, 2022

 

Car Free Day Metro DC, organized by the Commuter Connections program of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, is back this year on Thursday, September 22, 2022.

Use Transit, Carpool/Vanpool (Car-Lite), Bike, Scooter, Walk, or Telework
Take the pledge, even if you’re already car free.

Car Free Day is a worldwide event that encourages greener methods of travel; meaning ways to get around other than driving alone by car.  Commuter Connections hosts Car Free Day in the Washington, DC region to bring awareness to the many benefits of travel options such as transit, bicycling and walking; and also telework for people who can work from home. Carpooling and vanpooling count too; they’re considered “car-lite” since they are both lighter on the wallet and the environment than driving alone in a car.

Reduce your Carbon Footprint

Using more sustainable ways to get around helps reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion. The more people who travel using bicycles, buses, trains, carpools and vanpools, the fewer pollutants are released into the atmosphere.

CHOOSE THE TRAVEL METHOD
THAT FITS YOUR MOBILITY BEST

Take the Pledge!

All are welcome to take the Car Free Day pledge whether you’re a Washington DC area resident, commuter, or student.  Once you take the Online Pledge, you’ll be automatically entered into a raffle for all sorts of great prizes. Click any of the links above, and select the travel method that fits your mobility best!

Will Prince William’s Road Expansions Bust Our Region’s Climate Goals?

To lessen catastrophic climate change from the burning of fossil fuels, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) has collectively pledged to substantially reduce our region’s emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the level that existed in 2005–by 50% by 2030 and by 80% by 2050.

The major sources of our region’s greenhouse gas emissions.  Transportation (yellow bars) is now the largest single source of our greenhouse gas emissions, comprising at least 40% of the total.

Prince William County and all other localities in the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG)–and the associated National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB)–have committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 50% of the 2005 level by 2030.  In the County, the transportation sector–cars and trucks, primarily–is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.   By 2030, there will be more electric vehicles (and a somewhat cleaner electric grid), but most vehicles will still be powered by fossil fuels and emit carbon dioxide from tailpipes.

The County’s traditional business-as-usual transportation planning–expanding highways for drive-alone commutes–would sabotage efforts to meet the 2030 target.  In particular, the proposed Route 28 Bypass would not increase local jobs but would increase solo auto commutes and greenhouse gas emissions.  Spending well over $200 million in County tax revenue on the Route 28 Bypass would subsidize housing and jobs in other localities, while sabotaging efforts to meet our region’s 2030 greenhouse gas target to lessen our global climate crisis.

Instead of building the Route 28 Bypass, the eight members on the Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) could plan to meet our region’s 2030 climate target and invest the savings to upgrade local infrastructure to better access local jobs.  What makes the most sense to you?

Below is our recent email exchange with BOCS Chair (and TPB Member) Ann Wheeler.   Active Prince William sent similar messages to Neabsco District Supervisor Victor Angry, Manassas Vice Mayor Pamela Sebesky, and Manassas Park Mayor Jeanette Rishell who also serve on the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB).


From: Active Prince William <active.princewilliam@gmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, March 31, 2022 6:46 PM
To: Wheeler, Ann <awheeler@pwcgov.org>; Angry, Victor S. <VSAngry@pwcgov.org>
Cc: Belita, Paolo J. <PBelita@pwcgov.org>; Canizales, Ricardo <rcanizales@pwcgov.org>
Subject: Metropolitan Washington 2030 Climate and Energy Action Plan

Dear Chair Wheeler and Supervisor Angry:

As members of the Transportation Planning Board (TPB), you have an especially important role in sustainability planning and advancing the Metropolitan Washington 2030 Climate and Energy Action Plan.  

Without action by TPB to adopt climate change mitigation goals and strategies, the region will not meet the 2030 and 2050 targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  

Technological changes will not be sufficient; we need policy changes that reduce regional VMT and VMT per capita as well.  Fundamentally, the TPB must adopt targets and policies to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector.  The impact of new projects in Northern Virginia’s long-range multimodal transportation plan, TransAction, need to be quantified.  Otherwise, how can the 24 jurisdictions in MWCOG meet their 2030 and 2050 targets?

Similarly, each jurisdiction needs to “do the math” regarding planned land use changes.  Transit-Oriented Development can minimize the greenhouse gas emissions that will be increased by population growth.  Those increases must be offset in order to meet the 2030 and 2050 targets, and the impact of changes in land use planning must be quantified. Otherwise, how can the 24 jurisdictions in MWCOG meet their 2030 and 2050 targets?

As noted by the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the 2030 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 50% below 2005 levels is essential for keeping our planet in the safety zone.  We cannot afford to ignore the cumulative impacts of emissions between now and 2030 and focus only on the 2050 target.


From: Wheeler, Ann <awheeler@pwcgov.org>
Date: Mon, Apr 4, 2022 at 1:12 PM
Subject: RE: Metropolitan Washington 2030 Climate and Energy Action Plan
To: Active Prince William <active.princewilliam@gmail.com>, Angry, Victor S. <VSAngry@pwcgov.org>
Cc: Belita, Paolo J. <PBelita@pwcgov.org>, Canizales, Ricardo <rcanizales@pwcgov.org>

Good afternoon-

Thank you for reaching out to our office.  I have attached the MWCOG plan for achieving GHG reductions.  As you can see on page 11 there will have to be various ways to address this issue and I know both MWCOG and TPB have discussed these at length.  Prince William County is a still growing outer jurisdiction, without Metro, which makes discussion of some of the items you brought up more difficult.  It is my belief that as an outer jurisdiction, with a current heavy reliance on automobiles, we should have a much, much greater focus on electrification of our County-owned fleet as well as encouragement of conversion to EVs through a robust charging infrastructure for our residents.  Even looking at the major activity or transit centers in the west where the housing growth will come from (Broad Run Station, the commuter lot on Route  29 and the commuter lot at Groveton) it will be difficult to get very high density around these three locations for various reasons.   I believe one of the strongest ways to ultimately reduce vehicle miles traveled is to expand our commercial base in Prince William County so people don’t have to commute to their job locations and that is what I am focusing on.  I am sure you will agree that ultimately this is a goal everyone can get behind.

Thank you for you comments as we continue evaluating our land-use and mobility plans to assure our future for the next twenty years.

In service,

Ann Wheeler


From: Active Prince William <active.princewilliam@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Apr 4, 2022 at 6:31 PM
Subject: Re: Metropolitan Washington 2030 Climate and Energy Action Plan
To: Wheeler, Ann <awheeler@pwcgov.org>
Cc: Angry, Victor S. <vsangry@pwcgov.org>, Belita, Paolo J. <pbelita@pwcgov.org>, Canizales, Ricardo <rcanizales@pwcgov.org><

Chair Wheeler,

Thank you for your response to our message regarding the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.  We certainly agree that “one of the strongest ways to ultimately reduce vehicle miles traveled is to expand our commercial base in Prince William County so people don’t have to commute to their job locations.”

That perspective should shape the county’s investments in new transportation infrastructure.  We should prioritize building new capacity that maximizes mobility while minimizing Vehicle Miles Traveled.  The 2040 Comprehensive Plan should focus on creating walkable communities to accommodate the expanding population.  The County priority for new mobility infrastructure should be expansion of local Omniride and shuttle/trolley services, plus bike/pedestrian connections that anticipate increasing use of e-bikes.

To expand our commercial base and increase local jobs, we should stop funding construction of new lane miles designed for Prince William commuters to leave the county–and for auto commuters who live to our west and south to commute through Prince William County–for jobs in other jurisdictions.  In particular, the county’s $200 million subsidy for the Route 28 Bypass is inconsistent with a priority to expand our commercial base in Prince William County so people don’t have to commute to their job locations.

That project, especially when the destruction of houses in an Equity Emphasis Area is viewed through an equity lens, should be cancelled.  The funding earmarked to repay the $200 million in county bonds, should be re-purposed in a joint venture with the school system to fund the Sustainability Action Plan that the Sustainability Commission will complete in the next year.

###

Active Prince William Advocates Reforms at NoVA Transportation Meeting

Active Prince William Co-Chairs Allen Muchnick and Mark Scheufler submitted the following statements for the Annual Joint Northern Virginia Transportation Public Meeting that was held on December 15, 2021.


Northern Virginia needs a transportation system that moves people and goods effectively, safely, equitably, and sustainably.  Sadly, our region’s pursuit of wider and faster roads over the past 70-plus years has failed to achieve those objectives. 

It’s long past time to stop expanding regional roadways for toll-free travel in single-occupant vehicles and instead focus new homes, jobs, and transportation investments in regional activity centers served by high-capacity public transportation and expeditiously retrofit existing arterial roads for safe and efficient travel by walking, bicycling, and bus transit. 

Robust and strategic Vision Zero programs are needed at the statewide, regional, and local levels, and the region should prioritize completion of the National Capital Trail Network.

We appreciate this annual joint transportation meeting and public comment opportunity for Northern Virginia.  However, the conspicuous absence of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (or TPB) from this annual meeting should be promptly fixed, with or without state legislation.

With the TPB excluded, the public, elected officials, CTB members, and agency staff are not fully and fairly apprised of the TPB’s critical role as the federally designated metropolitan planning organization for the National Capital Region, which includes Planning District 8, and they are not kept aware of the TPB’s many policies (e.g., the TPB Vision, Regional Transportation Priorities Plan, Visualize 2045 Aspirational Initiatives, Equity Emphasis Areas, strategies to achieve regional goals for greenhouse gas reduction and for locating the bulk of new housing in regional activity centers served by high-capacity public transportation), priorities, objectives, studies, planning activities, and transportation project and system evaluation processes.

In addition, the TPB does allocate funds for several transportation programs, including the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside, the FTA’s Enhanced Mobility Program (Section 5310), the TPB’s Transportation Land-Use Connection (TLC) technical assistance planning grants, the TPB’s new Transit within Reach technical assistance program, the TPB’s new Regional Roadway Safety Program, the Commuter Connections’ suite of transportation demand management programs, the Street Smart Safety Campaign, the TPB’s Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP), etc.

Transparent and impactful public involvement throughout the development of transportation projects is vital for creating better transportation projects.

The CTB and NVTA should require all localities or agencies to hold advertised public hearings on their proposed submissions for funding transportation projects with SMART SCALE, NVTA, CMAQ, RSTP, Revenue Sharing Program, Transportation Alternatives, HSIP, and other non-local funds before the project funding requests are formally submitted by staff and endorsed by the local governing body.  Only if such advertised public hearings are held in advance by agency staff or a local advisory body should the governing body itself be relieved of holding a [second] public hearing and simply endorse the project funding submission(s) as a consent agenda item prior to any public comment opportunity.

The CTB and NVTA should also require localities to hold advertised public hearings that generally comply with VDOT public involvement guidelines before a locally administered transportation project is either advanced beyond a feasibility study or approved for construction.  While VDOT has excellent public participation and environmental review procedures for its own projects. Virginia’s public involvement and environmental review requirements for locally administered projects are far less stringent. Locality transportation staff have long exploited lax VDOT oversight of locally administered projects to minimize input on the scope and design of transportation projects by the public and even elected officials.

Prince William County’s rigged and prematurely aborted feasibility and environmental assessment studies for its proposed Route 28 Bypass along the Flat Branch floodplain are prime examples of a corrupted public process.  The City of Manassas has also repeatedly evaded meaningful public scrutiny of its Sudley Road Third Lane Project along Route 234 Business.


Thank you for the opportunity to address you tonight.   To meet the regional, state, and federal greenhouse gas emission objectives and goals, a structural change in the transportation planning and investment needs to occur.

In addition to improved vehicle emission standards and investing in electric vehicles and infrastructure, vehicle miles traveled or VMT for Single Occupancy Vehicles as a whole needs to decrease even as the Northern Virginia population grows.

At a basic level, this means that we need to stop expanding unmanaged roadway lane miles.  This means Northern Virginia’s section of the Visualize 2045 constrained long-range plan needs to be radically changed. Any government funding for highway expansion is one less dollar going to meeting these urgent climate goals in the transportation sector.

A large number of major roadway projects in Northern Virginia are going to be completed in the next few years that will dramatically increase the VMT in the region.  We need to change the paradigm that Congestion is reduced–not by adding roadway supply to the system–but by reduced Single-Occupant-Vehicle travel demand.  This will require reducing car dependency by developing near high-capacity transit, repurposing roadway space for transit and non-motorized users, and reforming parking requirements and level of service standards, especially in outer jurisdictions.

Route 1 in Fairfax County is an example of a project that we cannot afford to replicate. Instead of repurposing the existing roadway corridor with dedicated bus lanes, we are investing over $1 billion to keep or expand to six lanes of high-speed traffic plus added dedicated bus Lanes to create an unsafe environment for all users in the corridor that will take additional 10 years to complete.

But, most importantly, the public needs to be educated on why these structural changes in transportation planning and investment need to be implemented. We need to move away from “investments in ‘multimodal’ transportation solutions” to “investments in everything but projects that induce SOV travel demand”. We need to start tonight…time is running out.  Thank you for considering this input.

###

APW Urges Its TPB Members to Ensure New Transportation Plans Meet Climate and Equity Goals

 

On June 15, 2021–in advance of the June 16 meeting of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) at which the project submissions for updating Visualize 2045, the region’s long-range transportation plan, were scheduled for adoption –Active Prince William sent the following message to Prince William County’s two representatives on that regional transportation planning body–Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Ann Wheeler and Neabsco District Supervisor Victor Angry.   We also sent similar messages to the TPB members who represent the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park–Manassas Vice Mayor Pamela Sebesky and Manassas Park Mayor Jeanette Rishell.

Here’s a summary of the contentious June 16, 2021 TPB meeting, at which a proposal to craft a climate-friendly regional transportation plan for adoption  by 2024 was agreed to


The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) will be taking up a resolution at their June 16th meeting regarding a Visualize 2045 Alternative Build Scenario that would aim to achieve TPB climate and equity goals through the use of transportation demand management, transit, and land use strategies consistent with regional policy goals, a modified regional project list that reduces the number and scale of road capacity expansion projects in accordance with anticipated reduced travel demand, and with particular focus on public transportation and pedestrian/bicycle improvements needed to serve mobility disadvantaged populations.  This is being brought forward because the recently submitted project updates to Visualize 2045 will not meet the TPB climate and equity goals.

Due to the time and resource constraints at this point in the Visualize 2045 update process, Active Prince William recommends Prince William County support the following action plan to support meeting TPB climate and equity goals:

1)    Commit to completing the TPB Climate Change Mitigation Study and review it thoroughly at the regional and jurisdictional levels through the first quarter of 2022.

2)    Formally commit to assisting the TPB to develop a set of transportation policies and projects, by the end of 2022, which would be implementable at the jurisdictional and regional levels, consistent with the recommendations of the Climate Change Mitigation Study, that, when fully implemented will assure the region will meet its climate change mitigation goals

3)    Commit to take actions to officially adopt the projects and policies developed to attain the region’s climate goals within the transportation sector, and advance these projects into the region’s LRTP for a mid-term update to be completed in 2024

As voting members of the TPB, this is an opportunity for Prince William County to be a transportation planning leader as it relates to climate and equity in the region.   Supporting this initiative aligns with PWC BOCS Resolution 20-773: Regional Climate Mitigation and Resiliency Goals and the Prince William County Equity and Inclusion Policy.

The updated mobility chapter of the comprehensive plan should be aligned with this action plan.  Prince William County should also advocate these measures be included as the starting point for the next NVTA Transaction Plan.  To support this the Prince William County should advocate that the General Assembly act to modify the NVTA statute to align with your climate and equity goals.

The climate is not waiting. The time to act is now.