In comments on the CONSERVATION OF INK, BITES AND BILE blog below Anon 12:14 / 1:34 / 6:55 raises important questions. These are issues that confuse many who “look into” transportation / settlement pattern relationships. Here are some quick responses with references.

“Is the prediction of 70 million new citizens over the next 25 years hype?

Just 15 years ago we and others could say: “If there is not a Fundamental Change in immigration or Fundamental Change in the birthrate, by 2030 the United States will join other First World nation-states (Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan, et. al.) with no net population growth.

To fill the need for technical skills that our educational system was not meeting, to meet the need for labor that existing citizens were unwilling to do for the wages offered and other reasons immigration – legal and illegal – boomed. These new citizens also contributed to a shift in the birth rate. At this point 70 million more citizens in 25 years is not hype.

What is hype is that these 70 million – or 140 million – new citizens will require massive expansion of the urbanized area in the United States. The issue is per capita consumption of land and resources. The market says the desired patterns will require less land than is now devoted to urban land uses.

At the New Urban Region Level the population in the northern part of Virginia is driven by the rapid expansion of government in The Great Communicator years and even more rapid expansion of government spending in the Bush II years.

Both expansions were leveraged by reductions is taxes and massive deficits. This was and is great for those who see “economic growth” as an unquestioned goal. It is not so good for those who see quality of life and long term sustainability of economic prosperity, social stability and environmental heath as a measure of human intelligence.

As with the nation-state level, at the New Urban Region scale, population growth is far less important than the pattern and density of land use (human settlement patterns) and overall resource consumption. See “Five Critical Realities the Shape the Future” at for a review of the facts on this issue.

“There was a plan for transportation and land use (for the northern part of Virginia) in the 1970s and the problem is that it was not built out.”


The last plan to balance land use and transportation in the what is now the National Capital Subregion (the Washington D. C. Metropolitan area plus) was the 1792 L’Enfant plan.

Starting in 1960 with the “Plan for the Year 2000” there were a series of land use plans for most of the National Capital Subregion, including ones for the northern part of Virginia in 1965 and 1967 that had transportable patterns and densities.

Outside of the sketch schematics in the Year 2000 Plan there was no transportation plan to match these land use plans that would create a balance of travel demand with system capacity.

One data point is that the vaulted 1975 “comprehensive” plan for Fairfax county included a transportation plan the had capacity to serve only 75% of the land uses shown on the plan and nothing for the land uses that were booming at the time outside the county and needed access to jobs at the centroid of the Subregion or even jobs and services in Fairfax County.

There were transportation plans in the 60s, but they did not match / serve the land use plans.

There was a METRO plan and a VDOT (nee VDH and VDH&T) plan.

METRO is based on a fundamentally flawed concept of regional mobility. See “It is time to Fundamentally Rethink METRO” at

The VDOT “plan” was a series of looping circumferentials that when superimposed on 1965 land use plan served only cows-in-the-green. (See the plan by the predecessor of the NVRC (nee NVPDC). There were also a number of radials shown on various plans, many redundant and conflicting.

None of these transportation plans were ever matched with or calibrated to balance a desired settlement pattern for the National Capital Subregion or the Washington-Baltimore New Urban Region.

Faced with overwhelming travel demand generated by dysfunction settlement patterns, the three major transportation plans for the northern part of Virginia since 1988 have continued the tradition of ignoring land use, the driving force of travel demand. For a description of this process see “Anatomy of a Bottleneck” and “Regional Rigor Mortis” both at

These realities of the northern part of Virginia transportation “plans” are spelled out with historic maps and graphics in “Transport in “November Election” at and in “Priority Transportation Improvements” one of the PowerPoint programs included on the CD containing the third printing of The Shape of the Future available at

The bottom line is that the “we had a plan” is a smokescreen by the asphalt gang paid for by land speculators and road builders.

“Where is the formula?”

If you agree with us that a free market is the best way to allocate resources and that a democracy is the best way to manage a government, then a sustainable society depends on better informed citizens in the market palace and in the voting booth.

The first step is that location-variable costs must be allocated fairly and equitably.

Under these conditions if federal, state, regional and municipal agencies are forced to create a plan for a balanced transport system to serve a desired (as demonstrated by the market) settlement pattern we will be on the way to sustainability.

One way to get there is spelled out in Handbook: Three Step Process to Create Balanced Communities and Sustainable New Urban Regions. A sketch view of how this process works is included in “The Shape of Richmond’s Future” at

We hope this helps Anon 12:14 / 1:34 / 6:55 and others with a sincere interest in making the world a better for all citizens.


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6 responses to “CLARIFICATON”

  1. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    The circles in L’Enfants plan for DC are were you place you cannons for crowd control when the peasants storm the capital. The distance between the circles is the effective range of those cannons then. All to give the citizens ‘a whiff of the grape’ (grapeshot) when they really need it. Straight lines for the roads make for better fields of fire.

  2. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Geez, ‘are where you place your’

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Unfortunately, my granddaddy’s granddaddy and rest of the boys in Jubal Early’s expedition never got that close in ’64.

    Oh, gawd, there goes NPR again — “Is it a civil war?” Lady, what I was just referring to in the previous paragraph was a civil war — two governments with competing claims to legitimacy, two organized armies. Iraq is just a bloody mess. And that even Bush will admit.

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    70 million more people added to the US in the next 25 years is a disaster. This October the US will pass the 300 million mark. In 1970 it was 203 million. Unless we cut back on immigration, legal and illegal, we are facing 420-500 million in 2050, depending on how the current immigration bills in Congress pan out.

    Is this really how we want to live? As everybody posting on Bacon’s Rebellion must know, population density means more laws, less choice, and less freedom.

    First rule of holes: When you realize that you are in a hole, stop digging, right?

  5. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Anonymous 9:56, I agree. I’m not anti-immigrant, but I’m most definitely anti-illegal immigrant. A defining characteristic of a nation-state is that it controls its borders — over who is allowed to enter, work here and draw social benefits. Our semi-open borders are an invitation for all the world’s poor to come here. We can accommodate some, but not all who would like to share our way of life.

  6. Ray Hyde Avatar

    If you don’t want illegal immigrants, then find a way to make them legal. Through legal channels I sponsored and alien, three years ago. I finally got a response to my application from the “Backlog Elimination Board” telling me that they needed two original copies of my application and they had to be turned in within three weeks or my application would be closed without recourse.

    There would not be a speck of information in the second original copy that wasn’t in the first. This is just plain bad faith in government, and it is the reason the peasants rebell.

    “The market says the desired patterns will require less land than is now devoted to urban land uses.”

    Desired by who?

    If the market was really saying that, then why is so much land being used? Well, bless my soul, isn’t it because we went to our lawmakers and demanded that they pass large lot ordinances and all the other sprawl inducing ordinances? Do you really think that if those ordinances were eliminated that people would suddenly prefer a 750 sq ft $267,000 unit over a real home?

    Those 70 million people have already happened, for the most part, and they are going to have to be dealt with, one way or another. If they don’t come here, they will further reduce the wages wherever they are, and we will have to compete with those wages. Keeping them out is not going to be an answer.

    If we have a balanced new urban region in northern virginia and an unbalanced global economy, our balanced region won’t stay balanced very long. That goal is a chimera. The very nature of balance is adapting swiftly to change, not bogging down our communities growth or patterns of growth with unproven dogma.

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