Updated, 2:50 p.m.
The D.C. Department of Transportation has drafted an ambitious plan for how residents will move around the District by 2040. MoveDC sets a vision for a city with expanded transportation options, reliable public transit, and less personal vehicle use.
The $54 billion plan received mixed reviews Friday at a City Council hearing, where some speakers praised the plan’s goals to widen access for pedestrians and bike users and others complained about the proposals to take away road space for bikes and transit lanes, reduce parking and impose tolls on drivers. Consensus among many speakers was that the plan failed to address how the city would implement the recommendations.
“I think it makes a lot of sense,” council member David Grosso (I-At Large) said of the plan. “How we implement this is still up in the air.”
David Alpert, founder and editor of Greater Greater Washington, said he hopes the city will take steps to make sure the plan or at least a very large portion becomes a reality.
He said the city has to focus on having continuity of planning across administrations even as they change, and set an oversight mechanism to ensure progress is made and goals are met. (Current Mayor Vincent Gray (D) will leave office in January.)
DDOT interim director Matt Brown said that after the proposal is completed, the agency will begin to work on a detailed implementation plan. He said the document should be viewed as a guide that will have to be updated every five years, with opportunities for public input through the implementation process.
“We will not wake up Monday morning to find the transportation envisioned in the plan,” he said.
The plan, which looks ahead to 2040, envisions a city with a wide transit network that includes a streetcar system, dedicated bus lanes in major commuter corridors, expanded Metrorail service in the downtown core, an active water taxi system and 200 miles of on-street bicycle facilities.
Greg Billing, advocacy coordinator with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, said already the city has made significant strides with new biking facilities that have encouraged more people to commute by bike. But there are still areas of the District where the lack of facilities remains a barrier for biking, he said. The plan would increase the bike access through the expansion of trails and bike lanes, he said.
Joseph Riener, a resident with the group All Walks DC, praised the document’s emphasis on protecting pedestrians, by ensuring sidewalks are installed on at least one side of a street by 2040. But in a city that has seen its good share of traffic incidents involving pedestrians, he said now specific steps must be taken to boost traffic enforcement to reduce pedestrian fatalities.
Although pedestrian safety is a central component in the plan, some residents and church leaders said they were concerned about some recommendations to add bike lanes that would take away parking in some communities. Others also said they feared turning some streets into major transit corridors would change the character of their neighborhoods.
Increasing transportation choices is important as the city continues to grow and projects 170,000 new residents and 200,000 additional jobs in the next 25 years, D.C. transportation officials say. The plan is shaped around the city’s sustainability goals, including an objective to have 75 percent of D.C. commutes made via transit, bike or walking within 20 years.
Some residents say the proposed changes will come at the expense of drivers.
“MoveDC is forcing people to change,” said Larry Werner, who argued the plan was crafted without input from vehicle-owners. He said the solution to the city’s traffic congestion is not reducing road space and increasing bike lanes.
“Are we really going to increase jobs by making vehicular traffic more difficult?” he said. “I don’t think so.”
AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman Lon Anderson said the plan will make an already rough commute more challenging for drivers coming into the city. He said the plan is an attempt from the city to make more money from people who live outside its boundaries.
The plan proposes tolls or HOV lanes at major entry points into the District, including the 14th Street bridge from Interstate 395; Interstate 295; Interstate 66 on the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge; Canal Road; and New York Avenue.
DDOT will continue to receive comments on the plan until July 6. Residents can comment on the plan’s Web site, wemovedc.org. The plan is expected to be adopted later this summer.