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Comments to the Virginia CTB on Transform66, December 8, 2015

posted Mar 24, 2016, 4:32 PM by Info@ Transiters
I am here to speak in opposition to Transform66. 

There is an old and apt cliche that if you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there.

Do we know where we want to go in terms of local transportation?

I know that members of the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) are from all over the Commonwealth, but all of you must be familiar with the Transportation Planning Board (TPB), the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the region. After what the TPB describes as an extensive three year public outreach, the TPB articulated its goals and objectives.

Goal 1 reads "The Washington metropolitan region's transportation system will provide reasonable access at reasonable cost to everyone in the region."

Objective 1 reads "A comprehensive range of choices for users of the region's transportation system."

I think the TPB's vision articulates where we should go in terms of transportation. Does Transform66 help achieve our goals and objectives?

There are a few key questions we should ask about this and other transportation projects.

The first question is what does it mean to provide reasonable access at reasonable cost to everyone?

I don't think that means that we should have a system for white people and a system for black people, or a system for affluent people and a system for poor people. But that's what we have today. Take our local bus system. Metro reports that while the majority of people riding MetroRail are white, the vast majority -- 75% -- of the people riding buses are non-white.

What does that matter?

After Hurricane Katrina, researchers studied car ownership to understand who was and who was not able to move to safety as the hurricane bore down on the city. What they found is that nineteen percent of non-white households didn't have access to an automobile so they were dependent on public transportation. Non-white households were four times as likely to be without access to an automobile as white households.

I hope no such disaster befalls this area but reasonable access at reasonable cost with a comprehensive range of choices should be provided to everyone.

So, is Transform66 really a multimodal solution like VDOT likes to say? The I66 Multimodal Study Inside the Beltway from August, 2013 shows current auto mode share -- the share of trips taken by different modes of transportation -- of 70. Projected auto mode share in 2040 under the current proposal is 72%. Yes -- auto share is projected to increase. That doesn't sound like multimodal to me, it sounds more like unimodal.

What about outside the Beltway? The Tier 2 Draft Environmental Assessment dated May 2015 reports that the average auto mode share in the corridor outside the Beltway is 91.2%. Despite numerous requests to and promises from VDOT staff, no one has ever provided projections for future mode share. What are they hiding? We don't know.

I think it is clear. This project does not meet the goals and objectives of this community today or tomorrow. It does not take us where we want to go and it should not be approved.

- Stuart M Whitaker, Founder