What's ahead for D.C. transportation
What's going to change for the District in the likely event that Vincent C. Gray replaces Adrian M. Fenty as mayor? A panel of Post writers Wednesday night previewed the impact on city politics, education, social issues, real estate, economics and transportation in a town hall meeting at the new Shaw library. I took transportation.
While we may be in for a change in mayoral style that involves more task forces and discussion, the city's transportation program is unlikely to undergo a dramatic shift. The D.C. government's priorities, policies and programs are pretty typical of those that 21st century city governments are pursuing.
City governments want to help people get where they're going as quickly and safely as possible through densely packed grid systems of streets, use transportation improvements to encourage economic development and offer alternatives to owning a car. (Real estate writer and editor Elizabeth Razzi noted that giving people opportunities to go car free helps them handle the high cost of urban housing.)
So the District is not alone in trying to improve bus services, add trolleys or light rail, put in bike lanes and improve pedestrian safety. The District's programs to do those things didn't start with Fenty and they won't end with Gray. Bike lanes weren't dreamed up by Fenty to make the world safe for triathletes.
The new mayor will have different ideas about how to implement some of these programs, but I don't foresee radical changes. The District has been fortunate in its choices for transportation director, but the basic goals will remain, no matter who is director.
Yes, there are tensions between neighborhoods and between types of travelers in the District. But transportation politics in the city was not a dominant factor in this election, and nothing compared to what we routinely see in Virginia, and occasionally in Maryland. On many issues about the future of local travel in the D.C. area, city vs. suburbs provides a lot more tension than city interest group vs. city interest group.
The next mayor could adjust elements of the long-term plan for a streetcar network, but he's not going to tear up the tracks laid down along H Street and Benning Road. He's not going to uproot the pilings now in place for the city's biggest transportation project: the construction of a new 11th Street Bridge over the Anacostia River. (Greer Johnson Gillis, the city's deputy chief engineer, told me Wednesday that the bridge is more than 25 percent done.)
And the next mayor is not going to weaken D.C. support for city residents' most important transportation system: Metro. If the transit authority finds itself in another budget crisis, he'll do what other D.C. leaders have done: Push to maintain the city bus routes and keep the fares as low as possible.
| October 21, 2010; 9:55 AM ET
Categories: District, Transportation Politics | Tags: Dr. Gridlock
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