Region will rely on cars for foreseeable future

Michelle Basch,

McLEAN, Va.- So much for dreams of flying a helicopter to work in the future.

Thirty years from now, cars will still be the main mode of transportation people use to get to and from work in the region, according to a study conducted by the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis.

“What we were doing was trying to make a connection between transportation improvements, transportation investments and economic growth. It’s not really been addressed before,” says George Mason University Senior Fellow John McClain.

“We developed a methodology to put some numbers on it, to be able to say we’re going to have economic growth in certain areas because of transportation investments that we’re making. Not only just that we’re adding jobs, but we are increasing economic activity.”

Today, about three quarters of the jobs in the region are dependent on people getting to them by car. The study finds this isn’t expected to change by 2040.

“We talk a lot about transit, there’s a lot of emphasis on transit, but the truth is by what we’re going to build and what the patterns are in terms of relationships to economic activity, we’re not going to change those trends very much at all,” McClain says.

The study does show the completion of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project will have a significant impact on transit use in the Tysons Corner area.

“It goes up from 7 percent to 17 percent with the completion of the Silver Line. That’s a big increase,” says McClain.

“Transit’s very important, but we can’t put transit everywhere because it’s too expensive. So we need to put it in places where it will have the biggest impact, like we’re doing from Tysons out to Dulles.”

One thing the study assumes is transportation projects that are on the region’s wish list today, will actually be built.

“That’s probably stepping out on a limb, because the funding for that is uncertain,” McClain says.

McClain discussed the study Wednesday at a seminar in McLean held by the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance.

Read the entire study here.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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