Mayor Vincent Gray kicks off moveDC plan

Mayor Vincent Gray kicks off moveDC plan

By Luz Lazo, Washington Post, October 21 at 2:16 PM

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray on Tuesday released an ambitious long-range transportation plan that he said would expand the city’s transit options while deterring driving through the use of toll lanes on the city’s gateways and charging a congestion fee to motorists entering downtown.

MoveDC, looks ahead to 2040 and envisions 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.

To ensure the plan is implemented, Gray launched an action plan Tuesday that lays out 36 key steps the city will take over the next two years to advance the vision. The two-year action plan includes some capital investments in infrastructure, the advance of several transportation studies and some policy changes.

“MoveDC is about being able to expand choices for all modes or methods of getting around the city,” said Gray, whose term ends in January. He said he has every confidence that the 25-year plan will be carried out. “I don’t know what changes future mayors will make, but the fundamental direction in this plan will be made.”

Some of the key steps over the next two years are:

  • Begin construction of a new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge over the Anacostia River. Transportation officials project construction will begin next year. A new bridge would provide wide sidewalks and bike facilities and serve as an important gateway for people east of the river into downtown.
  • Complete DDOT’s traffic signal optimization project to enhance the District’s traffic signal network. The city plans to finish optimizing each of the 1,600 signals by 2016.
  • Add sidewalks where they are missing, with priority to areas near schools, parks, and transit.
  • Improve pedestrian safety at 20 or more intersections.
  • Complete the Klingle and Kenilworth Anacostia Riverwalk Trail projects and advance the Rock Creek and Metropolitan Branch Trail projects
  • Continue the expansion of the bike network by installing or upgrading 15 miles of on-street bicycle facilities
  • Complete bus priority improvements: DDOT plans to install dedicated bus lanes on Georgia Avenue from Florida Avenue to Barry Place, transit signal priority on 16th Street, and real-time arrival information in shelters citywide. DDOT officials say they plan to work with Metro to implement signal improvements in at least 10 locations on high-ridership corridors to expedite the bus service.
  • Reduce by half the number of structurally deficient bridges. DDOT officials say in the pipeline are investments for improvements at several of the city’s most used bridges including the 16th Street Bridge and the Key Bridge.

DDOT Director Matthew Brown said the short-term action plan will keep DDOT and other agencies on track to advance the vision. Officials say a discussion and a plan about how to pay for the $54 billion moveDC plan have yet to be addressed. Gray said among the most immediate concerns are restoring funding for the proposed 22-mile streetcar network. The D.C. Council voted to sharply roll back Gray’s proposed budget for the streetcar system, something that he says imperils the system before it even begins service.

“This funding needs to be restored,” Gray said. “It is going to cost the city more money to not have the streetcar program fully in the city.”

As part of the short-term goals, DDOT will proceed with several studies, including how to increase bus capacity in the 16th Street NW corridor where some transit users and advocates have been calling for the implementation of dedicated bus lanes. The agency also plans to advance a study on bicycle infrastructure on the east side of downtown, the federal environmental review process for the streetcar system and a comprehensive rail plan for the city.

Cheryl Cort, policy director at the Coalition for Smarter Growth, said the plan provides a big vision for how the city will move in the future and welcomed the two-year action plan as a good strategy to advance the vision.

“We can check and keep track and see how we are going to move forward,” she said.

Luz Lazo writes about transportation and development. She has recently written about the challenges of bus commuting, Metro’s dark stations, and the impact of sequestration on air travel.

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