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5-Minute Drill on Transportation

It was a great idea: Get a bunch of transportation experts into a room and tell them they can each talk for five minutes. By the time they were done, they had knit together the progress made and the challenges still ahead as the Washington region struggles to keep people mobile.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, which sponsored this seminar on Oct. 4, has put the speakers' talking points, charts and maps online. Here's a link to a 100-page pdf file based on the presentation.

The focus was on the problems and potential for transportation progress in Northern Virginia -- the Dulles rail project, the efforts to improve the Virginia Railway Express and the HOT lane construction program -- but much of the material was of interest to the entire region, including population growth, land use issues and travel trends.

Like this, from John McClain, deputy director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University: During the 40 years from 1985 to 2035, more than 80 percent of the region's population and job growth will occur outside the Capital Beltway, where much of the planned transportation infrastructure remains incomplete.

Or these related ideas, from Alan E. Pisarski, author of Commuting in America:
In most U.S. counties, a quarter or less of the workforce commutes to jobs outside the county. But in Northern Virginia the average is above 50 percent, the highest rate in the nation. Montgomery County is a close second. The search for new workers combined with housing affordability issues is likely to exacerbate this trend and increase the need to build transportation systems in outer jurisdictions.

These experts did not resolve all of our arguments. There was plenty of information to back cases for more roads, more rail lines and more growth controls. But it's rare to get a look at the battlefield from above the level of the trench lines.

By Robert Thomson  |  December 11, 2007; 8:28 AM ET
Categories:  Commuting  
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