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These Boots Were Made For Walking

Cities Are Becoming More Walkable – DC Region Ranks 2nd in New Study

Planners across the country are transforming their car-dependent communities into more walking-friendly environments, a phenomenon that has been embraced here in the DC Region.  Building on the concept of transit-oriented development, creating communities that are more walkable is a trend that is catering to the demands of millennials, many of whom do not, nor want to, own a car.  The rise in popularity of Capital Bikeshare and biking in general in these communities is no surprise.  And lo and behold, this has also led to steady increases in housing and commercial land values, as well as communities that are “hot” in the real estate market.

The Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis (CREUA),
located at George Washington University, recently released a study that Washington is second only to New York City as the most walkable metropolitan area in the United States.  It makes sense frankly if you look at the recent developments like the Wharf, and the continued popularity of the Rosslyn – Ballston corridor.  Reston Town Center is also emerging as a go-to place to live because of its walkability combined with its “urban” atmosphere.  With the anticipated opening of Phase II of  Metro’s Silver line, the Dulles Corridor looks a whole lot like an adolescent Rosslyn – Ballston Corridor.

The CREUA analysis looked at variables that create Walkable Urban Places, or WalkUPs for short.  The attributes of walkable urban development include areas of higher densities and mixed land uses that encompass office, retail and multifamily housing.  The study also weighed the level of innovative types of functionally blended real estate (transit oriented development ranks very high), such as apartment units atop retail stores and the availability of multiple transportation options that include walking, biking and public transit (and surprisingly the ability to drive cars).

The top six metropolitan areas that ranked highest in WalkUPs include:

  • 1. New York
  • 2. Washington, D.C.
  • 3. Boston
  • 4. Chicago
  • 5. San Francisco
  • 6. Seattle

This is a list of very formidable competition – the urban heavyweight division if you will – so Washingtonians should be very proud of their ranking in WalkUPs.  The Dulles Area Transportation Association sees great promise in making the Dulles Corridor a very WalkUP oriented community and is poised to continue its efforts in promoting mobility options and assisting our stakeholders in achieving WalkUP success!


Back2Good: Metro Delivers Improvements in Safety, Service and Financial Management

One year ago, Metro’s emergency SafeTrack program was at its halfway point and its Back2Good plan to improve safety, service and financial management had just begun. Today, Metro has completed SafeTrack and achieved progress in every Back2Good category.

As a result of actions taken over the past two years since Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer (GM/CEO) Paul J. Wiedefeld joined the organization, there are promising signs that Metro has turned a corner when it comes to safety and reliability.

Back2Good, announced in 2016, was Metro’s plan to improve safety, reduce delays caused by problems with the tracks and railcars, and provide a balanced budget based on what the region can afford. In November, Metro released its last Back2Good customer update, which highlighted several accomplishments, including:

  • Nearly nine out of 10 weekday rail customer trips arrived on time in October 2017, compared with just 7 out of 10 in fall 2016
  • Customer offloads due to railcar problems down 45%
    in 2017
  • 452 new 7000-series railcars have now been delivered, doubling the number
    of new trains in the past
    12 months
  • Red signal overruns down 60% in 2017
  • Major crime on Metro down 18% through October 2017

Building on these successes, Metro believes it has a path forward, but that it requires a new funding plan. Earlier this year, Wiedefeld released a plan to keep Metro safe, reliable and affordable. The proposal includes $15.5 billion in capital spending over the next 10 years funded through continued federal and jurisdictional support, and a new dedicated funding source to generate $500 million per year. With less than a year of committed capital funding remaining, Metro has stated that failure to act could erase the gains Metro has made through SafeTrack, and perpetuate the unreliable service riders have endured far too long.

Stay tuned as @livemore will be publishing additional Metro updates in subsequent editions.


Dulles Matters: Dulles Airport by the Numbers

By Rob Yingling

Looking back on Dulles International’s 55th year as an airport, some impressive numbers come to light.

Dulles handled about 23 million passengers and 266,000 flights in the last twelve months – serving 120 cities with nonstop flights, including 34 capitals around the globe. Dulles hosted the 25th anniversary Plane Pull – which has raised more than $2.5 million for Special Olympics Virginia since the first Plane Pull in 1992.

Active construction continues along 11.4 miles of new Metrorail track with six new stations taking shape. The track through the airport is approximately 3.8 miles long.  72 new shops and restaurants opened at Dulles since concessions redevelopment began in 2013.

Passengers can visit to learn about the latest airport offerings, specials and security wait times. New restaurants such as the Washington Redskins Burgundy and Gold Club (B-gates), Pei Wei (B-gates) and Chef›s Table by Wolfgang Puck (C-gates) await travelers. And a new, free Wi-Fi system in the airport has dramatically increased connection speeds for people traveling with devices.

Happy holidays, and have a safe and enjoyable journey!


Northern Virginia Awarded Another Dubious Traffic Distinction – Worst Traffic Hotspot in US

I-95 gridlock, photo courtesy of VDOT.

If you have ever driven in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta or Dallas, you will very much agree their traffic is horrific.  And it is…all rank in the top five for the worst traffic in metropolitan areas.  But DC likes traffic misery too. We ranked third, just behind LA and New York.  But wait, we beat them out in a new analysis – worst traffic hotspot in the US.  Congratulations to Northern Virginia!

As reported recently in the Washington Post, INRIX, a traffic analysis and traffic app company, surveyed metropolitan areas over a two month period (March-April) to ascertain where and how many times traffic back ups occurred, and then put dollar figures on what the lost time and productivity cost each metro region.  The I-95 south segment between the Fairfax County Parkway and Fredericksburg took the gold medal for worst traffic hotspot in the US.

Anyone who commutes this segment of roadway would never disagree, but the analysis brings to light just what these commuters experience every day, a “whopping 23 traffic jams a day” and they lose “an average 33 minutes in backups that leave brake lights stretching an average 6.5 miles.”

Those are truly painful numbers, but wait, there is even more alarming news for our region.  The WaPost article goes on to note that “If congestion doesn’t improve over the next decade, the researchers said, that stretch of I-95 will cost local motorists $2.3 billion in wasted time, lost fuel and additional carbon emissions.”  And that is just on one segment of our region’s road network.

Two more segments made the nation’s top 25 – “Northbound I-95 from an area south of Fredericksburg to Exit 143 (Garrisonville Road), also in Northern Virginia, came in seventh with “936 traffic jams,” and “the eastern part of the Capital Beltway between Kenilworth Avenue (Route 201) and just east of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Prince George’s County ranked ninth worst with nearly 700 backups.”

INRIX conducted this research to assist policy makers to prioritize where to dedicate scarce funding for infrastructure improvements…  essentially what gives public investments the most bang for buck.  This type of analysis also demonstrates, at least to those who work in the alternative mobility fields, the needs to find transportation alternatives for these commuting corridors.


DATA Welcomes New Member Froehling & Robertson, Inc.

For over 70 years, Froehling & Robertson, Inc. has been helping the public and private sectors complete their transportation construction projects on time and under budget. During this time, F&R have proudly provided multi-disciplinary engineering services not only for some of the mid-Atlantic region’s most transformational highway and bridge construction projects, but also for many of the smaller, municipal quality-of-life projects that are so important to maintaining efficient and liveable communities.

Established in 1881, F&R has provided clients in the transportation sector with the full range of engineering services, including their core competencies of geotechnical engineering, construction materials testing, and environmental services. F&R offers a comprehensive scope of geotechnical engineering exploration and design services to assist in the design and construction of foundations, roadways and earth structures for all types of transportation projects. Their materials testing field and laboratory professionals are DOT certified throughout the mid-Atlantic to provide the most thorough inspections and accurate reporting available in the industry. Let them show you how over a century of engineering experience can keep your transportation projects rolling along to successful completion.

F&R performed the very first subsurface explorations in support of what is now Dulles International Airport, and to this day have completed a number of noteworthy transportation projects in the Metropolitan Washington Area.  These include the Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge over the Potomac, the 11th Street Corridor Reconfiguration in Washington, DC, and the I-95 Hot Lanes in Northern Virginia.  “Off road” projects include the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Expansion, and the Virginia Square Towers in Arlington.

DATA welcomes F&R and looks forward to working with them in
the future.