The latest draft of DDOT’s citywide transportation plan, moveDC, calls for a massive expansion of transit and cycling facilities throughout the District, plus new tolls on car commuters. If it actually becomes the template for DC’s transportation, the plan will be one of America’s most progressive.
DDOT released the latest version of moveDC last Friday, launching a month long public comment period in anticipation of a DC Council hearing on June 27. Following that, the mayor will determine any changes based on the comment period, and adopt a final plan likely this summer.
What’s in the plan
Amid the hundreds of specific recommendations in the plan, a few major proposed initiatives stand out:
- A vastly improved transit network, with 69 miles of streetcars, transit lanes, and improved buses.
- A new Metrorail subway downtown.
- A massive increase in new cycling infrastructure, including the densest network of cycletracks this side of Europe.
- Congestion pricing for cars entering downtown, and traveling on some of DC’s biggest highways.
Proposed high-capacity transit network (both streetcars and bus). Blue is mixed-traffic, red is dedicated transit lanes.
The plan proposes to finish DC’s 22-mile streetcar system, then implement a further 47-mile high-capacity transit network that could use a combination of streetcars or buses. That includes 25 miles of dedicated transit lanes, including the much requested 16th Street bus lane.
Although the proposed high capacity transit corridors closely mirror the 37-mile streetcar network originally charted in 2010, there are several new corridors. In addition to 16th Street, moveDC shows routes on Wisconsin Avenue, both North and South Capitol Streets, H and I Streets downtown, and several tweaks and extensions to other corridors.
The plan endorses WMATA’s idea for a new loop subway through downtown DC, but explicitly denies that DC can fund that project alone.
MoveDC also shows a network of new high-frequency local bus routes, including Connecticut Avenue, Military Road, Alabama Avenue, and MacArthur Boulevard.
MoveDC also includes a huge expansion of trails and bike lanes, especially cycletracks.
Under the plan, DC would have a whopping 72 miles of cycletracks crisscrossing all over the city. From South Dakota Avenue to Arizona Avenue to Mississippi Avenue, everybody gets a cycletrack.
Meanwhile, moveDC shows major new off-street trails along Massachusetts Avenue, New York Avenue, and the Anacostia Freeway, among others.
Tolls for cars
Congestion pricing is clearly on DDOT’s mind, with multiple proposals for new variable tolls in the plan.
The most aggressive proposal is to a declare a cordon charge to enter downtown in a car. This idea has worked in London and has been discussed in New York and San Francisco, but so far no American city has tried it.
Meanwhile, some of the major car routes into DC would also be converted to managed lanes. Like Maryland’s ICC or Virginia’s Beltway HOT lanes, managed lanes have variable tolls that rise or fall based on how busy a road is.
MoveDC proposes managed lanes on I-395, I-295, New York Avenue, and Canal Road.
What will the council think?
DDOT has produced a very strong plan, but is it going anywhere? The DC Council will discuss moveDC on June 27, at which time we’ll find out if the same people who pulled the rug out from under streetcar funding are interested in progressive policy-making, at least.
Even if DC does adopt this plan, whether the council will actually provide the funds necessary to build it is anybody’s guess.
Correction: An earlier version of this story reported the DC Council will approve or deny this plan. Actually, the mayor has authority to adopt the plan entirely on his own.
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.