Arlington, Fairfax and Traffic Demand Management

In Arlington County, a team of 38 employees is dedicated to encouraging employers and property managers to promote transit, biking and walking. Fairfax County, with about seven times as many residents, has recently appointed a single person to coordinate the county’s Traffic Demand Management policies. So reports Alec MacGillis in the Washington Post today.

Perhaps that helps explain why Arlington, despite its greater densities, experiences less traffic congestion than Fairfax County. In Traffic Demand Management (TDM), property owners use a variety of tools — pricing and availability of parking spaces, flex cars, van pools, coordination with mass transit, streetscape design, a complementary mix of land uses — to reduce automobile traffic. As Arlington has demonstrated, effective TDM programs can ameliorate a lot of congestion.

One reason that TDM works in Arlington and doesn’t in Fairfax, suggests MacGillis is that Arlington invests resources in its TDM program and Fairfax doesn’t. Another reason is that Fairfax has failed to enforce the agreements it has forged with developers in exchange for increased development densities.

As we’ve argued on this blog for a long time, TDM is potentially a very effective strategy for combatting traffic congestion. TDM is basic. Fairfax County needs to get serious about implementing it.

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10 responses to “Arlington, Fairfax and Traffic Demand Management”

  1. E M Risse Avatar

    There is something far more basic:

    The present territory of Arlington County makes up the majority of two Beta Communites.

    Fairfax is 20 times as large and covers all or part of 10 Beta Communities.

    Any serious effort on TDMs require the identification of the future Balanced (Alpha) Communites.


  2. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I wanted to point out a somewhat related issue in Fredericksburg:

    “As Fredericksburg ponders whether its downtown parking rules are keeping out new developers, one major project has been halted, and the developer says parking requirements are partly to blame.”

    …..”because of the “ridiculous city zoning ordinance” that sets the rules for how much parking developers have to provide with their projects.”

    ….”The Planning Commission is considering an alternative that would allow developers to pay a $5,500-per-space fee instead of providing the parking required by the ordinance.”

    The part that is intriquing is the concept of the city taking over parking and billing each developer according to how much traffic their development would generate.

    That would allow the government to determine where, where, how, and how much to charge for parking.

    It would allow them to operate parking authorities similiar to water/sewer and storm water authorities.

    It would also give them much sharper “teeth” in enforcing traffic demand strategies rather than relying on volunteer compliance and/or paying government employees to go around “monitoring” compliance.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Until you find a place for us in every community and there are, as Doctor Risse terms them Balanced Communites there will be no real progress.

    Anon Zoro and Anon Zora

  4. “In a survey of about 800 residents in the fall of 2005, the single largest concern regarding transportation in Arlington was traffic congestion (25 percent of respondents), followed by difficulty finding parking (19 percent of respondents). This is not surprising given that it is considered one of the most congested metropolitan areas in the country.

    Higher incomes and auto ownership rates have contributed to greater rates of driving-alone as compared with 1990. In fact, most jurisdictions in the Washington metropolitan region, including Arlington, reported a two to four percent increase in workers who choose to drive-alone. Another economic factor, an increase in auto operating costs, may have contributed to a slight increase in transit use by commuters to jobs in Arlington. The increase in transit usage is facilitated by the continuing investment in transit facilities and service. This shift to transit, however, was not reflected in the Census 2000 survey of Arlington residents who were employed. Approximately two percent of employed residents in Arlington shifted from riding transit to driving-alone between 1990 and 2000.

    The percentage of Arlington residents that work in the County has dropped steadily since the Census of 1960 when more than 37 percent of Arlingtonians worked in Arlington County. In 2000, only 30 percent of employed residents worked locally, increasing the number of out-of-county commuters. This trend has occurred despite significant job growth in Arlington County and tremendous employment opportunities in virtually all facets of business, industry, and government.”

    “Census 2000 figures show that 79 percent of jobs in Arlington are held by workers living elsewhere and 70 percent of employed Arlingtonians commute outside the County. The commute to and from the transit-rich District of Columbia is decreasing while commutes to and from auto-dominated suburbs are increasing significantly.”

    “….Forecasts predict a significant worsening, encompassing the entire length of both interstates in Arlington by the year 2020…..despite a planned $4 billion regional investment to expand interstates, transit, and trails. The study suggests that investing an additional $9 billion in system expansion, …… would relieve stop-and-go traffic congestion on Arlington Boulevard and Columbia Pike. Sources for an additional $5 billion investment have yet to be identified.”

    “These studies suggest that traffic congestion will worsen at a faster rate than the increase in population and jobs in Arlington County. Most experts concede that traffic congestion is inevitable in such a thriving urban area and that the focus should be on enhancing mobility through improved choices of commute mode.”

    “According to the Census, in 2000 nearly 60 percent of all workers commuting to jobs in Arlington County drove alone……. this is higher than the 55 percent rate reported in 1990. The drive-alone rate for employed residents of Arlington County is nearly 55 percent, which is also higher than in 1990.”

    “The number of Arlington residents who drove alone to all cities and counties to work increased 16 percent between 1990 and 2000, compared with only a 6.6 percent increase in the number of employed residents in Arlington County. A high level of ridesharing would be expected given the extent of interconnected high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on both interstate highways and in Arlington County. However, the total number of employed residents commuting to jobs in two- and three-occupant vehicles has decreased nearly 19 percent since 1990.”

    “…….various assumptions were tested regarding transportation improvement projects over the next 25 years. Regardless of the assumptions tested, the conclusion is clear that despite optimistic estimates of road and transit funding over the next 25 years, traffic congestion in Northern Virginia will not go away.”

    Arlington county Master Transportation Plan, 2006.

    Kool Aid, Anyone?

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Ray – We need more places. Bringing everyone inside the Beltway or jurisdictions bordering thereon simply means more traffic and higher taxes. We need more good jobs outside these areas so that many of the people who commute from there to here won’t need to do so.

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    Mr. TMT

    The National Capital Subregion as Doctor EMR call it, needs — must have — more BALANCED places.

    Given that most of those who will offer good jobs want to be in or near the Core the only way to achieve BALANCE without a dictatorship is to Create a BALANCE of J / H / S / R / A in every communty.

    There is no basis for the implication of your “more places” assertion if you mean these places will be scattered across the territory within R=60 or R= 70.

    I know you would like us to live at the friges but that does not create balance and MR. Hyde will twist any data to try to raise the value of his wifes land by acquiring direct and indirect subsidies and then charge Zora and I high prices for the rental units he says he wants to build.

    Anon Zoro

  7. I have no desire to raise the value of my wife’s land, or to develop it, at someone else’s expense, despite what EMR frequently says.

    However, if my use of the land is going to be artificially restricted, or expropriated for the benefit of others, then others should expect to pay for the benefits they recieve. This practice is already in place in other countries that truly care about maintaining their rural assets: they make sure those assets are profitable through various kinds of community support. This ensures that they will stay as they are.

    I might like to build one rental unit, for the purpose of adding additional supporting income to the farm. That unit will have extraordinary benefits, compared to the usual apartment, and it will be priced accordingly, if it is ever built. I don’t see that it will require any direct or indirect subsidies different from those that anybody else gets.

    However, it will still be a bargain compared to, say, buying an overpriced development home from Centex. Whether it is a value, depends on your requirements. I know people who rent farm residences and never go out of doors, because they are afraid of open spaces: different strokes for different folks is all I can say.

    I have no desire to tell you where or how to live. You pay your money and make your choices. My complaint is that I pay my money and someone else makes the choices. All I suggest is that if there is someone who would like to live in a modest home with lots of land around it, then they should have that choice. For at least one person, that choice is not presently available.

    As for indirect subsidies, if you oppose them, then please write a letter to the State Corporation Commission and tell them that you do not wish to be subsidized with below cost electricity through the expediency of expropriating the rural land belonging to myself and my neighbors.

    I have never suggested that more places means more places scattered all over. I mean more places like Warrenton, Jeffersonton, and Winchester, places like Delaplane once was. However, I do suggest that there might also be some better use for places like mine than using them for nothing, forever.

    My view of this requirement is that it amounts to a direct and an indirect subsidy for the few very rich people who can afford to buy such a place. That is because if its use is artificially restricted, and the income it might provide is prevented, then they do not have to compete with many people who might like a part, but cannot afford the whole.

  8. How does merely quoting alternate sources amount to twisting the data?

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    Glad to see Bacon’s talking so much about alternative transportation! Let’s hope the topic is a hot one in Richmond this year, too.

  10. It is not alternative transportation, it’s additional transportation, and it is going to cost additional money.

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