Autumn on Lake Thoreau

Autumn on Lake Thoreau

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Fairfax County Urban Transportation Design Standards, May 8, 2012



Will Reston's key north-south roadways meet the "D" level of service (LOS) standard laid out in this briefing (see pp. 33-34)?

Statement re Sequential Construction of Phase 2 Silver Line Stations, January 29, 2013



Statement to Reston Master Planning Task Force
Re: Phasing of Metro Silver Line Construction
Tammi Petrine
January 29, 2013


As we have been informed by the County transportation staff numerous times, the arrival of the Silver Line in less than a year will result in unavoidable, dismal gridlock around the Wiehle Metro Station.

And to further add to our woes, we are learning that Reston will be doomed to suffer with this unacceptable situation for many more years than was previously promised.  The line is tentatively scheduled for completion in 2018.  This will negatively affect our residential and commercial communities alike.

What I am proposing here tonight is an effort to reduce the forecast of gridlock and misery for residents and development delays for commercial landowners. 

I am proposing the building of the Silver Line from Wiehle be phased so that each Reston station can be opened sequentially. 

If the building of Phase 2 could begin at Wiehle and proceed to west of   the Herndon-Monroe station, the next two stations, Reston Town Center and Herndon/Monroe could be built and opened earlier than now forecast.  RTC is the town nexus and has the ability to easily provide kiss ‘n ride drop offs as well as bus, bike and pedestrian traffic for the central parts of Reston.  Herndon/Monroe has a completed parking garage as well as kiss ‘n ride and multi-model access from both western Reston and Herndon, north and south.

Spreading the entire load of commuters who would be forced to use only the desperately compromised Wiehle station to three stations sooner would spread the traffic burden.  In addition, this plan offers developers the opportunity to begin earlier development of all three areas, not just Wiehle alone. 

We would still have to contend with commuters fleeing the toll way but the more commuters can use Metro to get to their destinations are sure to try it, hopefully reducing some of the load on local roads.

I would ask the task force to consider sending a letter to MWAA proposing the idea of phased construction of the Silver Line from Wiehle to Herndon/Monroe and the amount of track west of it necessary to store and re-route the trains similar to what is now completed at Wiehle.  The letter should note both the difficulties the current plan places on entirely Reston as well as the opportunities it offers for early transit-oriented development around the new stations. 

Although the scope of Phase 2 contracts would remain the same for the five firms bidding on it, the phasing of the work would dramatically improve conditions for both local traffic and for local development and should be put into planning stages immediately.  This plan would seem to be a win/win for all in Reston.

Madam chair, could we have a show of hands of those that might be interested in this proposal?  Because the bids on Phase 2 of the Silver Line are due to be let soon, time is of the essence.

Thank you!

Tammi Petrine
Co-Chair
RCA Reston 2020

January 29, 2013


UPDATE:  Restonian has its own take on Ms. Petrine's idea:  "That's so crazy, it just might work."  Click here to read the comments in full. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Metro's Coming. Is Reston Ready? Colin Mills, RCA President, Reston Patch, January 30, 2013

I drove by the Wiehle Avenue Metro station on the Toll Road last weekend, and I’m impressed by how far it’s come.  It almost looks as though it could open for business today.  The station serves as a reminder that the Silver Line is coming, and is on track to debut before the year is out.  It’s hard to believe that Metro is almost here in Reston.  I know I’m excited!

 

As you’re driving near the station, though, you might wonder if we’re ready for the influx of traffic it will bring.  The streets around the Wiehle station are already congested during rush hour, and with Wiehle slated to be the end of the line for several years, we can expect a lot more cars driving into Reston to park and ride.  We know there’s going to be a parking garage there, and they’re constructing some bus access points from the Toll Road, but what else is being done?  Are we really ready for Metro?  If not, with the opening scheduled less than a year away, what can we do to get ready?

RCA’s Dick Rogers had these same questions.  Rather than just wondering, he decided to find out.  He did the research, interviewed key players, and put together a report, “Wiehle Metro Station Access: Congestion Ahead.”  It’s the most focused attempt I’ve seen yet to study the transportation issues that the Silver Line will bring to Reston.

Dick’s report reveals that not enough has been done to allow Silver Line users to access the station easily, whether by foot, by car, or by bus.  The report details problems that are likely to arise: clogged streets around the station, buses bogged down in traffic, and challenging access to the station from the south side in particular.  Fortunately, Dick doesn’t just point out the problems; he also suggests solutions.

The biggest key to relieving congestion around the station is encouraging people to access the station by bus.  More bus passengers means fewer cars on Reston’s roads.  In order to achieve this, however, we’ll need to make bus travel as attractive as possible.  If the routes or the frequency of buses are too incovenient, or if the buses are mired in traffic, or they’re not much cheaper than driving, it will be hard to convince people to get out of their cars.

Unfortunately, not much has been done so far to make the bus a more attractive option.  The planning of Reston’s revised bus service seems to have taken a back seat to Tysons, and the routes and schedules are still in the planning stages.  (To the degree that it has been thought out, the plan largely involves taking the existing Fairfax Connector routes and terminating them at Wiehle, rather than West Falls Church.)  There are no designated bus lanes, which means that buses and autos will be stuck in the same traffic jams.  And there’s no program to encourage the use of buses or carpools, rather than single-occupancy vehicles.

Dick’s report offers suggestions to make bus travel more attractive for Silver Line riders.  The report recommends routing buses up Reston Parkway and using the Toll Road to access the station.  To speed the trip, the report suggests converting the Toll Road’s shoulders between Reston Parkway and Wiehle into bus-only lanes.  Combining these two suggestions would allow speedier bus service that bypasses the troublesome intersections where Wiehle meets Sunset Hills and Sunrise Valley, offering a real incentive for people not to drive to the station area.  The report also suggests providing free bus service to the station from the Herndon-Monroe garage and Reston South Park and Ride, which would further ease the crush around the station.

To discourage single-occupant vehicles from parking at the Wiehle garage, the report suggests offering discounted rates for carpools of three or more at the garage.  If this incentive is combined with fast, frequent, and cheap or free bus service, we might have a real shot at getting people to forsake driving to the station.

In order to maximize use of the buses, the routes must be well-planned.  And who better to advise on the best routes through Reston than Restonians?  Dick’s report recommends that RCA and RA form a joint subcommittee to look at the proposed bus routes and suggest improvements.  The subcommittee should include current bus riders, so that we’re getting comments from people with first-hand knowledge, who can say what works and what doesn’t.

A lot of folks getting off at the Wiehle station will probably be headed to Reston’s urban core, the Town Center.  So we need to make sure that Wiehle and the Town Center are connected by fast, convenient bus service.  Currently, the County is not planning for a designated Wiehle-Town Center shuttle.  The report recommends that the Reston Town Center Association review the propose bus service and comment on whether it is adequate.  If people want to take the Silver Line to visit the Town Center, but are then faced with either a difficult walk or infrequent bus service, they’ll stick with their cars – or head to Tysons instead.

One of the things that struck me when reading the report was that Dick had made connections that County officials haven’t.  For instance, the County has apparently planned for pedestrians (at least) to access the Wiehle station from the south via the Commerce Park property (where the Melting Pot used to be).  But when Dick spoke to the property owners, he discovered that not only do they not plan to allow access through their property, but the County hasn’t even discussed it with them!  I hope that at the least, our report will get some of the stakeholders having much-needed discussions.

Perhaps some of these conversations would already have occurred if there were a single person coordinating the Wiehle station area development effort.  Like Reston itself, this project has an “alphabet soup” of involved agencies and entities, including MWAA, WMATA, the Park Authority, VDOT, Fairfax County, and private developers and landowners.  Dick’s final suggestion is for Supervisor Hudgins to select a station coordinator, who can direct the effort, bring all the involved parties together for joint efforts, and serve as a point of contact for citizen concerns and questions.  Having a designated point person would make it a lot easier to focus the effort, and to implement some of Dick’s other recommendations.

Thanks to Dick for his tremendous research and analytical effort in putting this paper together.  Because of his work, Restonians will be a lot more aware of what lies ahead once the Silver Line begins operation.  The paper should be released next week, and I hope you’ll all give it a look.  We all want Metro to be a success; if we can implement the ideas in the report, we can keep our community from being derailed.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Reston 2020 commentary on the draft documents on the RTF agenda for January 29, 2013



On Tuesday, January 29, 2013, the Reston Task Force that is planning the future of Reston’s new Metrorail station areas will discuss the two draft documents made broadly available by Reston Patch in its link to their posting on the RCA Reston 2020 blog.

The first document is a set of performance standards that developers would be expected to achieve in proposals to build around Reston’s three Metrorail stations.  It outlines three standards levels:  a basic performance level that all developers must meet, an elevated standards level to reach the higher end of the approved development range, and “bonus” density beyond the permitted development range for developers who provide exceptional contributions to the community.

The second document, a statement regarding development intensity drafted by two land use attorneys on the task force, says that Scenario G—the development scenario that considers traffic impacts—and maybe even Scenario E—the 20-year scenario derived from the task force’s station area sub-committee reports—may not permit enough density to encourage redevelopment around the station areas.  It adds that “even Scenario E may need additional density ‘carrots’ to provide the desired amenities and infrastructure.” 

This will be the first opportunity for either the full task force or the Reston public to review these documents in their current form.  Task Force Chairman Patty Nicoson told the writing group that no vote is planned on these documents at this Task Force meeting, but the task force may vote on them at the next task force meeting. 

RCA’s Reston 2020 Committee believes the performance standards document is headed in the right direction, but needs to be more specific and comprehensive.  In particular, we question the role of “bonus” density and, if it is part of the report, it should be extremely explicit and demanding of the development community.  The performance standards must also be more specific and demanding, especially on the issues of schools, parks, and recreation in the station areas.  To date, the development community has sought to push most of these vital infrastructure features—if they are developed—beyond the station areas, creating a burden for the rest of the Reston community both physically and financially.  That would be a particularly unsatisfactory outcome. 

On the other hand, the draft statement on intensity of use is nothing less than an effort by the development community to garner additional potential development around the Reston Parkway and Wiehle Metro stations, plain and simple.  In fact, the overall density that would be permitted in the two scenarios is set at about 65 million gross square feet—roughly a doubling of current development in the study area.  The difference is that Scenario G spreads more of that density to the Herndon-Monroe station area and shifts the mix of uses toward residential development by about ten percent. 

The changes in the development distribution and mix the County staff has proposed in Scenario G are expected to markedly reduce the growth of traffic gridlock in Reston forecast under Scenario E.  Under Scenario E, Reston drivers could expect evening rush hour delays of three to four minutes at the intersections of Reston Parkway and Wiehle with Sunset Hills Drive and Sunrise Valley Drive, according to the County’s detailed traffic impact analysis.  We hope that  the County’s traffic impact analysis will show these rush hour delays can be cut in half at least under Scenario G. 

Another reason for the shift of some density to Herndon-Monroe is that the County is exploring the potential for public-private partnerships for mixed-use transit-oriented development of the station area on its property around its parking garage.  From the County’s perspective, revenues from such development would help offset the costs experienced in building the Silver Line.  It could also reduce Metrorail-related needed increases in County property taxes.

For the development community, however, it’s simply a matter of who wins and who loses.  Developers and their attorneys with interests around the Reston Parkway and Wiehle stations don’t like the possibility of losing potential development opportunities to the Herndon-Monroe area.   These task force members are pushing hard to retain the traffic-clogging Scenario E—and even pressing for the opportunity of higher densities around these stations.  Yet, until this draft statement proposed otherwise, the overall development density proposed in Scenario E had been generally accepted by the task force’s Reston station area development community. 

Developers and their attorneys have repeatedly claimed that a shift to Scenario G is ‘the (traffic) tail wagging the dog.’  Nonetheless, traffic congestion on Reston’s main north-south arteries is a serious problem in Reston now, much less in the future.  Restonians identified it as Reston’s second-most important community issue (after broader development issues) in Reston 2020’s recent online community survey.  All Restonians live with congestion on these arteries every day, especially Reston Parkway and Wiehle Avenue.  Moreover, the planning experience at Tysons accentuates the importance of traffic impact in Reston planning.  Traffic impacts were a key driver for restricting office building construction as well as massively increased bus service and sharp cutbacks in allowable office parking at Tysons, especially nearest the station, according to a County official deeply engaged in that process.  Not surprisingly, the analyses at Tysons also indicated that station area residential construction either has no impact or actually reduces congestion while office construction drives up congestion.

At the same time the development community is arguing that they should be permitted to develop the density proposed by Scenario E or more, they are also arguing that the County’s traffic impact analysis—based on 83% of the Scenario’s development potential—is based on future market demand that is way too high for the 2030 horizon.  So, on the one hand, they say they won’t need the development levels laid out in Scenario E (or even Scenario G) by 2030, but they want the authority to develop much more than Scenario E proposes.  They have not even tried to reconcile the contradiction in those two positions.  Looking longer term, they also choose to ignore that, whatever the market demand in 2030, Reston and surrounding areas will continue to grow and, at some point, local traffic on our key north-south connectors will substantially exceed that tested by the County even with the addition of new corridor crossings. 

The County’s transportation experts are in the midst of modeling the projected traffic impacts of Scenario G.  The results of that effort are expected in March.  To pre-empt results that will likely demonstrate the traffic impact benefits of Scenario G to their loss, the  development community is rushing to have this draft statement approved by the task force to pre-empt those results.   The results  will almost certainly undermine any argument for Scenario E-type development and may even challenge the development potential under Scenario G.  The rush to judgment in this draft statement is pre-mature and wrongheaded, yet typical of the way much of the development community has approached the Reston planning process.  They have shown little interest in integrating new development into the Reston community in a way that preserves Reston’s quality of life, much less protecting what is so unique here. 

I encourage all Reston residents to attend Tuesday’s task force meeting to see and hear for themselves what the task force is doing.  If you want to be heard, there is an opportunity at the beginning of each meeting for the public to offer brief statements to the task force.  And, of course, RCA’s Reston 2020 Committee welcomes your participation in sustaining and improving Reston’s quality of life through excellence in community planning. 


Terry Maynard
Reston Citizens Association Board of Directors
RCA Representative to the Reston Task Force
Co-Chair, RCA Reston 2020 Committee

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Financially Constrained Long-Range Transportation Plan: Performance Analysis, MWCOG, December 19, 2012

This performance analysis of the constrained long-range plan (CLRP) highlights that there will likely be little change in the way people travel in the Washington metro region and, as a result, even greater congestion on the region's roadways and crowding on rail transit.  The one relative bright spot is a continuing reduction in vehicle air pollution, a result stemming largely from improved auto technology since the growing population and jobs will generate more vehicle trips.  Unfortunately, climate warming carbon dioxide emissions will continue to grow, if slowly. 

An End to the Gas Tax? Freakonomics, January 24, 2013

Eric Morris at Freakonomics takes a look at Governor McDonnell's transportation plan in, "An End to the Gas Tax?" and finds it, well, "daft."  Here are his final thoughts on the proposal:

Bob McDonnell, have pity. Please retract this proposal and stay away from the other governors at the annual Governor’s Association cookout. Let’s follow in the path of that well-known leftie communist sympathizer Ronald Reagan, who saw the gas tax not as a tax but as a user’s fee and signed an increase into law. And please free me to focus my patience on tolerating other daft proposals like crisscrossing our cities with networks of subterranean toll tunnels—oh wait, that’s my daft proposal, and it might not be as daft as it seems. More on it in another post.
Click here to see how Morris walks through the weaknesses and even some of the strengths in the governor's proposal.  


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Draft documents to be discussed at January 29, 2013, meeting of the Reston Task Force

Although a draft agenda for the January 29, 2013, meeting of the Reston Task Force has not yet been published, the following two documents will be discussed at that meeting.  (UPDATE:  No agenda has been published as of 11AM, January 29, the date of the RTF meeteing.)  Here is the text of the e-mail sent by RTF Chairman Patty Nicoson to the task force's report drafting group:

PNICOSON@aol.com Fri, Jan 25, 2013 at 4:44 PM

To: dcra@dullescorridorrail.com

Cc: Kohann.williams@cox.net, pnicoson@aol.com, heidi.merkel@fairfaxcounty.gov, mlooney@cooley.com, sydec@patriot.net, terrmayn@yahoo.com, johnandcarter@msn.com, joekelly@royco-wb.com, matthews@reston.org, minicrk@comcast.net, van.foster@comcast.net, mvalentini@jbg.com, sydec@patriotnet.com, drlasso@venable.com, wkeefe@ldn.thelandlawyers.com, mary.peters@dot.gov, potteni@bostonproperties.com, wpenniman@verizon.net, judithallen@comcast.net, rdougpew@restonpaths.com, Richard.Lambert@fairfaxcounty.gov, griegle@mcguirewoods.com

RMP SS TF Writing Group,


Attached are revised drafts of:
Achieving a Vision for Reston
Task Force Statement on Intensity of Use
Bill Penniman and I worked on the documents to incorporate comments that were made at the Writing Group's 1/23 meeting.
We also included some elements of comments by Judith Pew, Matt Valentini, and Greg Trimmer.
As we discussed, we will present the two documents as drafts of our work to the task force on Tuesday, January 29 for members consideration.
We will bring the task force up to date on our efforts and discuss the purpose and intent of the documents.  We will be looking for feedback.  Since, members will be just getting the documents, there will be no formal approvals sought.   We will invite comments.
Patty
Patricia Nicoson, President
Dulles Corridor Rail Association
11800 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite B
Reston, VA 20191
Phone: (703) 716-5750
Fax: (703) 716-5751
www.dullescorridorrail.com
dcra@dullescorridorrail.com
The two documents are embedded below for easy readability.
  • The first document, Achieving a Vision for Reston, is a set of proposed performance standards for development in the Phase 1 study area. This document, prepared by the Reston TF writing group, will be presented to the RTF on January 29, 2013, for discussion. It defines basic performance standards all developers must meet, additional standards that will help developers achieve the higher end of the proposed range of development density, and special "bonus" density standards for exceptional contributions.   
  • The second document is a proposal by developers and their attorneys for greater density than County staff believes Reston's streets can handle.  The County has prepared a "Scenario G" with densities, distribution, and mixes it believes may achieve minimum traffic impact standards.   Developers are not pleased with the restrictions County staff has proposed placing on development in Reston's TOD areas as laid out in the County-developed "Scenario G." This draft document proposes that higher density should be authorized in the areas. It will be discussed at the January 29, 2013, meeting of the Reston Task Force. The RTF report writing group did not vote to present this to the RTF; it has been placed on the agenda by the Chairman. 



Friday, January 25, 2013

10 Principles for Liveable High Density Cities: Lessons from Singapore, Urban Land Institute, January 24, 2013

This article, a summary of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) study, sounds like it was taken from Reston's Vision and Planning Principles--or even Bob Simon's original vision for our community. 

10 Principles for Liveable High Density Cities: Lessons from Singapore draws upon Singapore’s successful urbanization experience – despite its population density, the city-state has consistently ranked favorably in various surveys measuring the liveability and sustainability of cities around the globe.
The ten principles in the publication were developed during two workshops hosted in 2012 by the CLC (Singapore's Centre for Liveable Cities) and ULI Asia Pacific, bringing together 62 thought leaders, experts and practitioners from different disciplines related to urban planning and development. Discussions at the first workshop centred around the four case study districts in Singapore that both organizations consider to be both densely populated and highly liveable: the mixed-use downtown district of Marina Bay; the commercial corridor of Orchard Road, and two new public housing developments in Toa Payoh and Tampines. The ideas and principles so generated were further developed, corroborated, and condensed into ten principles. . .
  • Plan for long-term growth and renewal –A highly dense city usually does not have much choice but to make efficient use of every square inch of its scarce land. Yet city planners need to do this in a way that does not make the city feel cramped and unliveable. A combination of long-term planning, responsive land policies, development control and good design has enabled Singapore to have dense developments that do not feel overly crowded, and, in fact, are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
  • Embrace diversity, foster inclusiveness – There is a need to ensure that diversity is not divisive, particularly in densely populated cities where people live in close proximity to one another. Density and diversity work in Singapore because there has always been a concurrent focus on creating a sense of inclusiveness through encouraging greater interaction.
  • Draw nature closer to people – Blending nature into the city helps soften the hard edges of a highly built up cityscape and provides the city dwellers pockets of respite from the bustle of urban life. By adopting a strategy of pervasive greenery and by transforming its parks and water bodies into lifestyle spaces for community activities, Singapore integrated nature with its dense developments. Nearly half of Singapore is now under green cover, which is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also improves the air quality and mitigates heat from the tropical sun.
  • Develop affordable, mixed-use neighbourhoods – The ease of living in a compact neighbourhood that is relatively self-contained can add to the pleasure of city living. With density, it becomes more cost effective to provide common amenities. Neighbourhoods in Singapore’s new towns have a mix of public and private developments which are served with a full range of facilities that are easy to access and generally affordable.
  • Make public spaces work harder – Often, parcels of land that adjoin or surround the city’s infrastructure are dormant, empty spaces. Singapore has sought to maximize the potential of these spaces by unlocking them for commercial and leisure activities, The idea is to make all space, including infrastructural spaces, serve multiple uses and users.
  • Prioritise green transport and building options – An overall reduction in energy consumption and dependence adds to city sustainability. Singapore has adopted a resource-conscious growth strategy that relies on planning, design and the use of low-energy environmental systems for its buildings. It has also developed an efficient public transport system and well-connected walkways to give city dwellers transport alternatives to driving.
  • Relieve density with variety and add green boundaries – A high-density city need not be all about closely packed high-rise buildings. Singapore intersperses high-rise with low-rise buildings, creating a skyline with more character and reducing the sense of being in a crowded space.
  • Activate spaces for greater safety – Having a sense of safety and security is an important quality-of-life factor. As Singapore became denser, designs of high-rise public housing estates were modified to improve the “visual access” to spaces so the community can collectively be the “eyes on the street,” helping to keep neighbourhoods safe.
  • Promote innovative and non-conventional solutions – As a city gets more populated and built up, it starts facing constraints on land and resources, and has to often look at non-traditional solutions to get around the challenges. To ensure sufficient water, Singapore developed reclaimed water under the brand name NEWater-to drinking and industrial standards.
  • Forge “3P” (people, public, private) partnerships – With land parcels in close proximity to one another, the effects of development in one area are likely to be felt quickly and acutely in neighbouring sites. The city government and all stakeholders need to work together to ensure they are not taking actions that would reduce the quality of life for others. URA launched the Singapore River ONE partnership to get the various stakeholders to feel a stronger ownership of Singapore River so that social and economic activity in the precinct would be developed in a coordinated and sustainable manner.
From my own experience in Singapore, one of the most densely populated place on the planet, I can say that it is a beautiful tropical city-state with especially attractive parks and open spaces that utilizes transportation demand management (TDM) methods to the extreme, e.g.--only specially licensed vehicles in the core business district.  From the foreword of the report:
Indeed Singapore’s former Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew observed
in an interview with the Centre for Liveable Cities that a good city is one
that is clean, creates a sense of safety and space, provides mobility and
connectivity, and above all, “a sense of equity, that everybody owns a part
of the city.”
 Worthy goals for Reston's new urbanizing core.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A first look at WMATA's strategic plan for Metrorail by GreaterGreaterWashington

WMATA wants longer trains, more tunnels, better service

WMATA hopes to lengthen all its trains to 8 cars, add pedestrian connections at downtown stations, and maybe build new rail tunnels for the Blue and Yellow Lines in the region's core. That's part of a strategic plan which its media relations team showed only to the Washington Post this week, and which board members will see at a meeting today.

The potential for new downtown tunnels (left) and connections between existing lines (right).
More broadly, the agency will focus on safety, service quality, better regional mobility, and its own financial stability in the strategic plan. Besides a set of still somewhat amorphous connections and service improvements, the plan calls for building a system where riders can more easily "plan, pay, and ride" in a smoother customer experience.
The big money, up to $20 billion, in the plan would be for tunnels to separate the Blue Line at Rosslyn and the Yellow Line at L'Enfant Plaza, the two major chokepoints, as part of a vision for Metro by 2040. Silver Line trains from Dulles Airport could also turn at Rosslyn to go toward Arlington Cemetery, then stop at Pentagon before crossing the Yellow Line bridge into DC.

Map by the author, from 2009.

By 2025, Metro wants to have the railcars and power stations to run all trains with the full 8 cars. It would like to build pedestrian tunnels to link Farragut North with West and Metro Center with Gallery Place, and a train tunnel so that some Dulles trains can go down to Franconia-Springfield, which would relieve some of the immediate Blue Line problems of Rush Plus, which will only get worse once the Silver Line opens. . . .
Click here to read the rest of this post.  

More tolls coming your way?


Area Officials to Consider Road Pricing to Relieve Congestion


10112012_highway.jpeg
Photo by philliefan99

Few would argue that traffic—really bad traffic—is one of the hallmarks of the greater D.C. area. It's the third-worst in the United States, in fact, according to one survey last year. But officials from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments will discuss potential remedies to the everlasting gridlock later today.
A report released this morning compiled by the council and researchers from the Brookings Institution analyzes the feasibility and public reception of three congestion pricing models that—if implemented—would replenish transportation funding and possibly make those morning commutes a little less nightmarish. And though the year-and-half-long study found some support for a few proposals, whether they would actually be successful in thinning traffic patterns is a bit murkier. . .
The article continues with an outline of the Brookings initiative, the options it studied, and the feedback it received.  Click here for the full DCist article by Benjamin R. Freed and a link to the Brookings report.  

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Eleven Principles to Turn Public Spaces into Civic Places, Project for Public Spaces

Several key principles are essential to creating any successful public space. These principles begin with numerous underlying ideas, the first of which is that the community is the expert — the most knowledgeable and best resource for the professionals that are responsible for designing or managing the space. The second is that when one creates a “place,” the entire project needs to be viewed differently. Partnerships are the third basic tenet because anyone who manages a space knows that it cannot be done alone. Finally, when embarking on a process for creating a successful space, one must accept that there always will be people who will say that it can’t be done — yet one can learn to work around the obstacles.
Other remaining principles include techniques for planning and outreach, translating ideas into action and implementation. All 11 principles are illustrated below with recommended steps to ensure that the goals are reached, as well as case studies from GSA projects.

Underlying Ideas:

Planning And Outreach Techniques:

Translating Ideas into Action:

Implementation:

Click on each topic for a discussion of the principle, including case studies. 



Friday, January 18, 2013

County schedules public meetings for Silver Line related bus service plans

Fairfax County has announced on its website and via Facebook and Twitter the upcoming schedule for its public meetings concerning its plans to adjust bus service when the Silver Line is completed to Wiehle Avenue (Phase 1).  Here is the text of their announcement (the three meetings specifically relevant to Reston are highlighted):  

Fairfax Connector logo

Fairfax Connector Public Meetings





We Need to Hear From You!
Fairfax County Department of Transportation is holding a series of public meetings designed to gather public input on the proposed Dulles Rail bus service plan. Please plan to attend one of the six scheduled meetings, or participate in our online chat to see and hear about this new service and provide us with your feedback. Your opinion matters!


  • Thursday, Jan. 31: 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
    McLean Service Discussion
    Dolley Madison Library
    1244 Oak Ridge Avenue, McLean
    Transit: Metrobus 15K

  • Monday, Feb. 4: 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
    Vienna Service Discussion
    Westbriar Elementary School
    1741 Pine Valley Drive, Vienna

  • Tuesday, Feb. 5: 10 a.m.
    Ask Fairfax! online discussion
    Questions can be submitted online starting Jan. 31

  • Tuesday, Feb. 5: 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
    Merrifield-Tysons Service Discussion
    Luther Jackson Middle School
    3020 Gallows Road, Falls Church
    Transit: Fairfax Connector routes 401 and 402; Metrobus 1C

  • Wednesday, Feb. 6: 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
    Herndon Service Discussion
    Town Council Center
    765 Lynn Street, Herndon
    Transit: Fairfax Connector RIBS 5


  • Thursday, Feb. 7: 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
    Reston Service Discussion
    Reston Community Center at Lake Anne
    JoAnn Rose Library
    1609A Washington Plaza, Reston
    Transit: Fairfax Connector routes 552, 574, RIBS 1 and RIBS 3

  • Monday, Feb. 11: 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
    Reston Service Discussion
    Lake Anne Elementary School
    11510 North Shore Drive, Reston
    Transit: Fairfax Connector routes 552, RIBS 1 and RIBS 3
The links to individual routes noted above bring you to route and timetable information concerning the specific route.   

Please note that in a Reston 2020 post yesterday, we highlighted that frequency (or "headway") is a critical element in assuring that transit passengers do not abandon transit.  A rigorous study indicates that transit frequency must be at least every 10 minutes to succeed.  NONE of the Reston lines (and only the "Tysons Link" lines) meet that minimum frequency criterion.  The Reston lines are scheduled for 15 minute headways in "rush hour" and, for those that operate beyond "rush hour," only once per hour otherwise.   

If you are or plan to be a bus transit user, now is the time to speak up!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Placemaking's Tangible Benefits: Aging in Place

An article in the Metropolitan Planning Council Connector takes a look at "aging in place," a goal being pursued by a Reston group created by Supervisor Hudgins.  Here are some key excerpts:
So what does this mean for the goal of aging in place? It means we need more great places to begin with -- places where as people grow older, they can still have a high quality of life despite their changing abilities. Walkable places allow seniors greater flexibility and independence; when an elderly person is no longer comfortable driving, she can easily walk to get groceries or hop the bus to visit her doctor. . . .
Ed Yourdon via Flickr
Despite the trends of the last century, however, we can still incorporate walkability into built-out spaces, and thus preserve more of our independence as we age. As Christopher Leinberger found in his examination of walkable urban centers, “The new real estate paradigm is no longer city versus suburbia, it is walkable versus drivable.” He notes that retrofitting the suburbs is the biggest challenge of the next generation, but also cites multiple examples of suburbs with revitalized town centers such as Rockville and Silver Spring, Maryland. . . .
We know how to do this. We know how to create walkable places to live, and, in the case of some of our older city neighborhoods, we know how to nourish those that have long existed. A major benefit to those who live in these walkable urban centers is that they can keep living there as they grow older and their abilities change. . . .
Click here for the rest of this article.