Planning big projects, such as replacing the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and building Metro’s Silver Line, is a team effort around the D.C. Metro area, and work started this week to decide what major plans should be next.
The region’s long-range transportation plan, Visualize 2045, kicked into a new gear Wednesday as the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ (COG) Transportation Planning Board (TPB) began the process for jurisdictions to submit projects, programs and policies for consideration.
“We’re required to update a plan every four years, and it needs to be at least 20 years as far as its horizon,” said COG transportation planner Stacy Cook.
The plan is attached to federal funding reserved for member jurisdictions from the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration.
“We need to imagine how many people and how many jobs there are in the future because that really talks about where people need to go and what kind of transportation they need to get there,” Cook said.
When proposing and selecting projects, area leaders have agreed to prioritize tackling climate change, building resilient communities, increasing equity and improving road safety.
“Ultimately it’s all about the quality of life, of our environment and the people who live here — supporting our economy and ensuring that people have choice in their transportation options,” Cook said.
According to the transportation planner, the end goals of long-term planning are to let people live closer to where they work and play; to shorten trips, helping keep greenhouse gasses down, and to allow people to choose whether they want to walk, bike, use transit or drive.
“So, that when you think about where you want to go there’s not just one option, but a whole range that you might choose from and you can choose what’s best for you,” Cook said.
The call for projects from jurisdictions initiated on Wednesday will lead to a public comment period beginning in April 2021. After the board responds to comments and plans are approved for analysis, a draft plan should be ready for comment by April 2022, with board approval of Visualize 2045 in its final form expected in June 2022.
Also at Wednesday’s virtual meeting, leaders for the 2021 TPB were chosen.
D.C. Council member Charles Allen was named chair, and City of Manassas Vice Mayor Pamela Sebesky and Charles County Board of Commissioners President Reuben B. Collins II were named vice chairs.
“I’m honored to serve again as Chair of the Transportation Planning Board for 2021,” said Allen in a news release.
He previously was TPB chair in 2018, second vice chair in 2019 and first vice chair in 2020.
“We can’t solve regional challenges without working together as neighbors,” Allen said. “I look forward to working together to plan for an economic recovery and transportation future that ensures equitable access to affordable, sustainable transportation options.”