Greater Greater Washington

Eight-car Metro trains equals widening I-66 by 2-4 lanes

Lengthening all Metrorail trains to eight cars long would add as much capacity to the I-66 corridor as widening the highway by two to four lanes.


I-66. Photo by thisisbossi on Flickr.

If Metro lengthened all trains to eight railcars, it would increase capacity on the Orange/Silver Line through Arlington by 4,740 passengers per hour per direction, according to WMATA's PlanItMetro blog. Comparatively, one new highway lane would be able to carry 2,200 cars per hour.

Even assuming two passengers per car (likely higher than the real average), a new highway lane would only carry 4,400 passengers per hour. Still fewer than 8-car Metro trains.

Then, to account for the reverse direction, double all calculations. Bidirectional Metrorail capacity would increase by 9,480 passengers per hour, equivalent to 4.3 lanes full of single-occupant cars, or 2.15 lanes full of cars with two passengers each.

Eight-car trains would also be cheaper and carry passengers faster than equivalent new highway capacity, PlanItMetro notes.

Clearly it's time to think longer, not wider.

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Dan Malouff is a professional transportation planner for Arlington County, but his blog posts represent only his own personal views. He has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Colorado, and lives car-free in Washington. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post

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Sorry, this is silly. Utilization matters, not capacity. I66 is over capacity in both directions several hours each day. Metro is rarely over capacity and when it does happen, it is usually due to something self-inflicted. You aren't going to pull drivers off of I66 by adding capacity to Metro.

by movement on Jul 15, 2014 10:45 am • linkreport

Eh, that .15 of an auto lane wasn't going to carry much capacity anyhow. ;)

by Lucre on Jul 15, 2014 10:46 am • linkreport

You aren't going to pull drivers off of I66 by adding capacity to Metro.

It matters when you're discussing expansion. This is the calculus that led to MWAA deciding it was worth it for them to build the Silver Line.

Or if you could expand the Orange Line down to Fair Oaks or Centreville as a part of the overall construction of the metro loop (which currently has a provision for an orange/silver express).

by drumz on Jul 15, 2014 10:53 am • linkreport

My understanding is that the Orange line (Orange Crush) at peak IS close to capacity, and will certainly be there as development continues.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 10:53 am • linkreport

Not to mention that running all 8-car trains will put an end to the mad rush for the 6th car from the far end of a platform. Crazy to have these platforms and not use all the space.

by LowHeadways on Jul 15, 2014 10:56 am • linkreport

I see some of the complaints above and understand them. Disregarding it though and assuming that this will help reduce traffic on I66 the next question I have is how would changing the cars to the 7000 series help? Those have a higher capacity per car.

by bk on Jul 15, 2014 11:02 am • linkreport

Please note: Adding highway lanes to relive congestion is long-held fallacy that has now been disproved, though not many are aware of this change in thought yet. Some articles to ponder: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2012/05/03/solving-traffic-congestion/ and http://usa.streetsblog.org/2011/05/31/study-building-roads-to-cure-congestion-is-an-exercise-in-futility/.

Let's hope adding longer metro trains has more impact!

by bsu4phd on Jul 15, 2014 11:07 am • linkreport

I'm not saying 8-car trains are a bad idea. We do need more of them. Just don't compare them to widening I66. It is not an apples to apples comparison.

by movement on Jul 15, 2014 11:10 am • linkreport

@bsu
In the case of I66, the biggest issue is bottlenecks, not overall width. We don't need I66 to be three lanes from the Beltway to the bridge, but we do need it to be wider around Exit 71. Isn't this what they are doing now?

by movement on Jul 15, 2014 11:14 am • linkreport

Just don't compare them to widening I66. It is not an apples to apples comparison.

They're both different approaches to a transportation solution along the same corridor. How much closer do we need to get to be able to make a comparison?

by drumz on Jul 15, 2014 11:17 am • linkreport

And especially in this location the debate is about whether it's better to expand transit options or make the road wider. Getting just one of these done is going to be tough.

Here's good evidence in favor of transit. You get way more capacity just by adding a couple of extra cars to an existing train.

by drumz on Jul 15, 2014 11:20 am • linkreport

@bsu4phd

The induced demand argument is widly overplayed. Taken to its logical conclusion, no roads should ever be built (or ever should have been built).

Even where it's valid, it's not necessarily an arguemtn against buildind roads. Yes, it resulted in vehicles being attracted to it--sometimes from roads that were slower, because they were not controlled access and had lights. That's not a bad thing. Sometimes they attracted development and thereby created their own demand. But that growth was going somewhere anyway, and without the new road would have resulted in lower service levels on existing roads.

Too often urbanists use the logical argument labelled "induced demand" as a way of shutting down discussion of roads. That's too simplistic. It's real, but it's not a valid argument that building any road is futile.

by Crickey7 on Jul 15, 2014 11:22 am • linkreport

Orange line trains were actually over capacity (compared to Metro's planning standard) before Rush+. The orange line will be over capacity again in a few years anyway. The entire system is close to capacity at peak hours right now, which is why more 8-car trains are needed.

by Scoot on Jul 15, 2014 11:22 am • linkreport

It's real, but it's not a valid argument that building any road is futile.

I'm unaware of anyone making that argument. Indeed, I only see induced demand brought up when we're specifically talking about widening a road vs. alternatives.

/Or when we talk about subsidizing parking.

by drumz on Jul 15, 2014 11:27 am • linkreport

All roads are not created equal. Induced demand is a valid argument against widening roads for the purpose of relieving congestion, but it's not a valid argument against building new roads in order to make new places more accessible.

That is to say, sometimes inducing more demand is the goal. And when that's the case, obviously induced demand is not a valid criticism.

by BeyondDC on Jul 15, 2014 11:27 am • linkreport

You aren't going to pull drivers off of I66 by adding capacity to Metro.
It matters when you're discussing expansion. This is the calculus that led to MWAA deciding it was worth it for them to build the Silver Line.

Or if you could expand the Orange Line down to Fair Oaks or Centreville as a part of the overall construction of the metro loop (which currently has a provision for an orange/silver express).

As somebody who lived out in Chantilly for a little while, you're not going to reduce congestion just by putting 8 car trains in the current system. That'd be welcome, sure, but the way you pull traffic off 66 is to make transit real for people living way out there. Every day, I drove 50 and 66 to Vienna. A stretch of 10 miles or so that took 40 minutes. To reduce traffic on 66, you need to extend the orange line, plain and simple. Right now, people are driving and parking at Vienna, and clogging up 66 trying to get to transit. If you extend the Orange line out to, say, Fair Oaks, all of a sudden, a huge chunk of people are never going to be even trying to drive on 66. They'll drive (or take a bus, since that that part of the trip would be much shorter and more bearable) to the Metro stop without ever having to get on a main artery.

Of course, if they did that, the extra capacity of all 8 car trains would be critical. But we can burn that bridge when we come to it.

by Zeus on Jul 15, 2014 11:27 am • linkreport

"The induced demand argument is widly overplayed. Taken to its logical conclusion, no roads should ever be built (or ever should have been built)."

I think of it more as an argument against building unpriced roads in congested metropolitan areas.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 11:32 am • linkreport

And what Dan says, plenty of ways I want to induce demand. Inducing demand for transit has the benefit of lower congestion for cars as well.

Same with inducing demand for cycling as we add bike lanes to our local streets.

by drumz on Jul 15, 2014 11:33 am • linkreport

I think of it more as an argument against building unpriced roads in congested metropolitan areas.

Well when someone proposes congestion pricing on I66 or even 267, let me know.

by movement on Jul 15, 2014 11:41 am • linkreport

@drumz

"This is the calculus that led to MWAA deciding it was worth it for them to build the Silver Line."

No, MWAA's decision was not based on how many drivers would be pulled from the Dulles Toll Road (that's counterproductive for MWAA anyway), it was about bringing more air passengers from downtown to Dulles.

@AWalkerInTheCity

"My understanding is that the Orange line (Orange Crush) at peak IS close to capacity, and will certainly be there as development continues."

I'm all for 8-car trains, but they have little bearing on I-66 capacity. And if Metro increased train frequency at rush hour and improved its on-time arrival performance, there wouldn't be as much crowding during rush hour.

by Brett on Jul 15, 2014 11:45 am • linkreport

movement

IIUC the corridor study for I66 outside the beltway envisions adding managed lanes - which I take to mean HOT lanes.

But 8 car trains on the existing Orange Line does not address that so much as inner part of I66.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 11:46 am • linkreport

"I'm all for 8-car trains, but they have little bearing on I-66 capacity. And if Metro increased train frequency at rush hour and improved its on-time arrival performance, there wouldn't be as much crowding during rush hour."

Once Silver Line opens there is no room for more trains, and I do not knoiw how much extra capacity you can squeeze out with better on time arrival, but I suspect its not much. By the time 2025 comes we will certainly capacity beyond that and 8 car trains are how you get it.

And that capacity gain is very big, which was the point of the planit metro calculation. Not to do a BCA on widening on I66 inside the beltway (there is no such proposal) but to show the dramatic gain in capacity that can be achieved with something we don't usually think of as an infra improvement.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 11:49 am • linkreport

If this region's traffic congestion (the nation's worst or second-worst, depending on who you believe) has taught us - or should have taught us - only one thing, it's that building/expanding Metro does not make increasing road capacity unnecessary.

Read slowly:

Inducing.demand.for.transit.does.not.eliminate.demand.for.roads.

by august4 on Jul 15, 2014 11:50 am • linkreport

There likely are some people who would be convinced to switch to Metro instead of using I-66 if there were less crowding on the Orange Line. Would it be up to full added capacity? Presumably not. Adding more lanes to I-66 probably would induce demand up to full added capacity.

Selfishly, I would love Orange Line extension. I could walk from my building to Exit 60 off of I-66 in like 3 minutes.

by Dizzy on Jul 15, 2014 11:56 am • linkreport

Arguments over whether the Orange or the Blue Lien are at, below, or over capacity are not exactly germane to the argument posed by the article above. Sure, if it's over capacity, it would be more comfortable to have longer trains...assuming people actually spread out to even the load, even though that's rarely the case in practice.

The real question is whether folks are being deterred from riding the Metro (or whether they would be deterred in the future) because of overcrowding. If that's not happening, then adding cars won't increase ridership by even one person.

----

On another subject, the Captcha question asks me what station is next if I head inbound from Dupont Circle. I am so confused. Which direction is inbound? Can't this question be phrased in a less confusing way, such as which station is next if I am traveling in the direction of Glenmont?

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Jul 15, 2014 12:02 pm • linkreport

@ Dizzy:There likely are some people who would be convinced to switch to Metro instead of using I-66 if there were less crowding on the Orange Line. Would it be up to full added capacity? Presumably not.

Off course it would. Induced demand baby!

Adding more lanes to I-66 probably would induce demand up to full added capacity.

Why would induced demand only work for drivers?

Induced demand works for any transportation form you offer in a congested area. If something is congested, people are avoiding that route, and they will use it when the congestion goes. Whether it's by car, rail, air or boat.

by Jasper on Jul 15, 2014 12:03 pm • linkreport

The induced demand canard is well used against roads, but it has the same issues with transit, a fault transit supporters never want to discuss.

"I think of it more as an argument against building unpriced roads in congested metropolitan areas"

The why exactly are we spending billions building the silverline out past the Dulless airport, along mile after mile of existing low to no density areas? Induced demand.

by Shells on Jul 15, 2014 12:05 pm • linkreport

Inducing.demand.for.transit.does.not.eliminate.demand.for.roads.

No, but it does ease the pressure on expanding existing roads. Or making local roads more freeway-like.

by drumz on Jul 15, 2014 12:06 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity

"By the time 2025 comes we will certainly capacity beyond that and 8 car trains are how you get it"

IF that were true, that's even more reason to scrap these useless streetcar plans and divert investments into building a new Potomac tunnel/Blue line.

@august4

The "more lanes and roads induces traffic" myth is the cornerstone of the anti-road movement, which ignores the fact that DC area traffic is already the worst in the nation (despite having one of the highest "Transit Scores"), in order to convince you to ride a bike or use Metro, even if you don't live near your job or a Metro Station or bus stop.

by Brett on Jul 15, 2014 12:08 pm • linkreport

"The induced demand canard is well used against roads, but it has the same issues with transit, a fault transit supporters never want to discuss. "

To the extent we get induced demand for transit by getting people to switch from driving thats good. To the extent its more people living further out, that is a concern, and a reason some urbanists are wary of big transit investments far out. I doubt we will have a more heavy rail metro lines as far out as the SL goes, and I do not think induced demand will make commuter rail investments not BCA positive.

"The why exactly are we spending billions building the silverline out past the Dulless airport, along mile after mile of existing low to no density areas? Induced demand."

NUmber one, thats priced. You have to pay to ride the SL. Number two, because fairfax expects employment growth to happen anyway, and wants to concentrate it along transit. For Loudoun, I suppose induced demand might have been an argument against the Loudoun stations - it may mean more development in the transitional zone. OTOH Loudoun has a growth boundary, and I guess folks think the transition zone will develop anyway, whether the SL Ph2 gets built or not - and concentrating more development near the stations, and getting more transit share, more than offsets any acceleration of the sprawl.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 12:10 pm • linkreport

@Shells:

"The why exactly are we spending billions building the silverline out past the Dulless airport, along mile after mile of existing low to no density areas? Induced demand."

The reason why it is being extended past Dulles is that Loudoun Co. needed to get something out of the Silver Line extension in order to agree to fund it.

by 202_Cyclist on Jul 15, 2014 12:11 pm • linkreport

I-66 Tier 2 Study kicks off on Thursday.

http://www.ctb.virginia.gov/resources/2014/july/pre/pres/Presentation_Agenda_Item_1.pptx

by mcs on Jul 15, 2014 12:14 pm • linkreport

"AWalkerInTheCity
"By the time 2025 comes we will certainly capacity beyond that and 8 car trains are how you get it"

IF that were true, that's even more reason to scrap these useless streetcar plans and divert investments into building a new Potomac tunnel/Blue line."

This is a discussion of running 8 car trains, not of the DC street car system. I think its okay to discuss something else once in a while.

"The "more lanes and roads induces traffic" myth is the cornerstone of the anti-road movement,"

Induced demand for roads is well supported by numerous studies.

" in order to convince you to ride a bike or use Metro, even if you don't live near your job or a Metro Station or bus stop."

Hmmm? I think you are confusing public policy discussions with personal choices. When driving works for me, I drive, when it doesnt I dont. Our policy discussions are not aimed at making you feel guilty for your choice. BTW< I thought you were a great advocate for articulated buses in mixed traffic - does that mean you are trying to convince other people what choices they should make?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 12:15 pm • linkreport

Also, Ashburn may not be Arlington but it's got several dense areas that are primed for some Silver Line transit.

But again, I and others recognize that demand can be induced for transit. We want that to happen. Because then you can provide more varied solutions than just widening a road.

In 8 car trains vs. extra lanes you have what amounts to an off the shelf solution that carries more people than widening the road which requires a lot of customization. That means you stave off the negative effects of induced demand a lot longer than you could with widening 66.

by drumz on Jul 15, 2014 12:15 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 12:16 pm • linkreport

Totally disagree. I-66 needs to be widened in both directions between Fairfax Drive in Ballston and the Dulles Connector, especially eastbound. Although adding capacity to Metro is desirable, it doesn't take into account people who use 66 to get to or from non-metro accessible points. Yeah it'd be nice to fill in all those gaps with buses, but the bottom line is you should never have two two-lane major highways dumping into one two-lane highway. Has anyone ever tried to drive into Arlington from the west during the evening rush?

If I were the state, I'd see how many Arlinton and DC residents the Silver Line takes off 66 for a year and if things aren't much better, I'd tell Arlington to pound sand and widen the road. You don't have to widen it all the way to Rosslyn or DC to help the situation, nor should there be an expectation that this will eliminate traffic, but the 4 to 2 needs to go.

by xtr657 on Jul 15, 2014 12:27 pm • linkreport

Can we please stop talking about extending the Orange Line? It's long enough as it is and there isn't enough density further out (eg, there's not another Tysons) to justify heavy rail.

If we want transit out in Centreville or something I'd really prefer that we spend our transit dollars on something more akin to commuter rail or BRT serving East Falls Church in the vein of how LA's Orange Line ends at West Hollywood, a heavy rail transfer point.

by Peter K on Jul 15, 2014 12:34 pm • linkreport

On whether crowded trains are restricting demand....
Undoubtedly, there are people who won't take Metro because they can't get a seat. Unfortunately, it's virtually impossible to increase capacity to a level where people can feel comfortable they will get seats, even at rush hour. So then, the question really is are there those who are happy standing, but are not willing to ride Metro now, because people are just packed in too tightly?

I suppose there might be, but that isn't obvious...and it's not obvious that increasing capacity by adding cars will increase demand. On the other hand, I see nothing wrong with trying to make a Metro ride more pleasurable. I recognize that my comment above presumed that there isn't a big problem with trains being so full that people cannot board at some stations. Relief there would also improve service considerably, and that should be a goal even if it won't lead to increased ridership.

I would also widen I-66. Traffic jams like that are a disaster for those in it, and for society at large. They're not doing our climate any good, either.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Jul 15, 2014 12:42 pm • linkreport

" I recognize that my comment above presumed that there isn't a big problem with trains being so full that people
cannot board at some stations."

IIUC there isnt that problem any more, because Rush+ shifted trains to the OL from the BL. BL trains are more crowded but people can still board. We will have to see what happens to BL when the number of trains decreases. Meanwhile OL will get relief from the added SL trains. So that won't be a problem in the near future. If you believe MWCOG's projections for growth in Arlington, Fairfax, etc it will be a problem by 2025 though.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 12:46 pm • linkreport

Peter K

It looks like the preferred alternative will be managed lanes - HOV3/rapid buses/variable tolls for SOVs. They may or may not reserve a median for building rail or BRT in the future.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 12:48 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity

"This is a discussion of running 8 car trains, not of the DC street car system. I think its okay to discuss something else once in a while."

Which I discussed. But in response to your comment that capacity might still be reached by 2025, I brought up the tunnel as the solution and one of its potential funding sources.

"Induced demand for roads is well supported by numerous studies."

Please let us know which study proves that adding lanes to a congested highway in a developed area will further induce traffic.

"When driving works for me, I drive, when it doesnt I dont."

Since driving works for most people in metro DC, then I'm sure you'd agree that sufficient infrastructure is needed to alleviate metro DC's terrible traffic which diminishes our quality of life.

" I thought you were a great advocate for articulated buses in mixed traffic"

No, that's just the cheaper and easier alternative to wasting tax dollars on an expensive but useless streetcar line.

by Brett on Jul 15, 2014 12:50 pm • linkreport

"Which I discussed. But in response to your comment that capacity might still be reached by 2025, I brought up the tunnel as the solution and one of its potential funding sources."

8 car trains and the other elements of metro2025 are much cheaper than the tunnel. And it almost certainly won't be possible to have the tunnel in place by 2025, given that Va has not even endorsed it in principle yet.

"Please let us know which study proves that adding lanes to a congested highway in a developed area will further induce traffic."

Im not in the mood for semantic quibbles on the words "prove" or "developed area" Again, we would be well served by a FAQ, for those unable to google.

"Since driving works for most people in metro DC, then I'm sure you'd agree that sufficient infrastructure is needed to alleviate metro DC's terrible traffic which diminishes our quality of life."

Depends on whether it passes a benefit cost test. I believe we do need more infra, but mostly that will be transit, but with some priced lanes. However that will likely still leave us with plenty of roads congested at peak hours. Only real way to solve that would be pricing all congested roads, and thats not politically feasible.

" I thought you were a great advocate for articulated buses in mixed traffic"

"No, that's just the cheaper and easier alternative to wasting tax dollars on an expensive but useless streetcar line."

Thanks for the admission that you don't care about or believe in articulared buses, and just them as a weapon against the street car. That, I believe, is the text book example of "BRT creep". You are not concerned about moving people with transit, but rather that the street car will get in your way when you drive.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 1:02 pm • linkreport

@ Peter K

The Orange Line should be extended to Fair Oaks Mall/Fairfax Corner with an inline highway BRT stop below for the following reasons:
1. Commercial Center (Reverse Commute)
2. 8000 Parking spots as Fair Oaks Mall
3. Work can be done at the same time as I-66 Improvements to save on mobilization costs
4. Extending the Metro beyond FOM is cost prohibitive (VRE and Silver Line can provide mass transit)
5. Commercial Tax District could finance to the Metro Station construction
6. Connects Fairfax Corner and Fair Oaks Mall
7. For an end of the line station, traffic dissipation is much greater than at Vienna Metro.
8. Helps create a BRT line connecting Fair Oaks to Tysons Corner.
9. Core Capacity issues are overstated (Farragut West had more passengers in 1980 than today)

by mcs on Jul 15, 2014 1:08 pm • linkreport

8 car trains from 7:00AM - 9:30AM and 4:00PM - 6:30PM would really be all you need here.

by Nick on Jul 15, 2014 1:16 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity

"And it almost certainly won't be possible to have the tunnel in place by 2025"

10.5 years is plenty of time with good planning and execution. Since the increased capacity is a result of the Silver Line, MWAA and VA should both have a bigger hand in funding. Of course if Metro was run as well as MTR, it would have plenty of money to contribute a lot as well.

"Im not in the mood for semantic quibbles on the words"

No worries, I never thought you had any studies that proved or even suggested as much.

"I believe we do need more infra, but mostly that will be transit, but with some priced lanes."

If transit solved road congestion, then DC metro wouldn't have the nation's worst traffic.

"You are not concerned about moving people with transit, but rather that the street car will get in your way when you drive."

In fact, I don't drive at all during the week. I just know that the streetcar won't remove people from the road or get anyone to work/school any faster, and therefore is not worth the enormous cost or the 6+ years to launch.

by Brett on Jul 15, 2014 1:17 pm • linkreport

@Nick: once you've spent the millions of dollars to upgrade the power traction systems, though, the marginal cost of adding two cars to every train is pretty negligible. And it would certainly help with finding your way onto a train if you're unfamiliar with the system (as opposed to the six-car sprint).

More succinctly: once we're able to do 8-cars, they should ALL be 8-cars.

by LowHeadways on Jul 15, 2014 1:23 pm • linkreport

And I'm sorry for the double post; but I am also sick of the induced demand meme being overplayed.

Induced demand is a highly complex subject; new car trip generation from highway expansion comes from many sources. For example, I-66 is very congested, so someone in FFX county takes US-50 as an alternate. A new lane on I-66 opens, which makes I-66 faster, so the driver switches. Is this good or bad for the region?

This is very different from a regional citizen deciding to relocate to Gainesville because of the new I-66 lane (which is more of the "induced demand" aspect).

If you're more interested on the academic debate on this subject, please please read this article:

http://www.uctc.net/access/22/Access%2022%20-%2004%20-%20Induced%20Travel%20Studies.pdf.

by Nick on Jul 15, 2014 1:30 pm • linkreport

"10.5 years is plenty of time with good planning and execution."

not for a project the region has not agreed to do yet. Anyway, I am still not sure why you do would do a 10 billion dollar plus heavy rail line ahead of 8 car train operation, the subject of this post.

"No worries, I never thought you had any studies that proved or even suggested as much."

Attempt to further derail thread declined. I will be happy to discuss induced demand the next time there is a post on it, and its not just seizing on a comment.

"If transit solved road congestion, then DC metro wouldn't have the nation's worst traffic."

Nothing will solve it in the absence of road pricing. But I would note that transit in DC right now consists of local buses, a few express buses on HOV lanes, 5 commuter rail lines with limited capacity, and a heavy rail system that was built to fulfill a 1960s era plan, and that has not been extended since the Largo extension in 2004.

"In fact, I don't drive at all during the week."

How DO you commute during the week?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 1:34 pm • linkreport

Congrats, movement, you've helped turn this thread into a quagmire.

My work is done.

by movement on Jul 15, 2014 1:41 pm • linkreport

Please also see this helpful FHWA FAQ about induced demand/travel: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/itfaq.cfm

by Nick on Jul 15, 2014 1:45 pm • linkreport

what is the current schedule for implementing 8 car trains? Given that the power and other upgrades are not done yet, is there a need to purchase more 7000's? Doesn't the Blue line get all 8 car operations before Orange? What about the Red Line?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 1:46 pm • linkreport

I-66 should be widened between Fairfax Drive/Ballston and the Dulles Toll Road Split. They are halfway done to getting it right outbound but the inbound needs the same. It is a ridiculous bottleneck of 3->2+2=2. I would be adamantly opposed to more lanes to DC though.

by NikolasM on Jul 15, 2014 1:50 pm • linkreport

Widening between the 267 merge and Ballston would just move the bottleneck up past Ballston.

They should just scale back the 267 ramp so that cars there have already merged to one lane before getting on 66.

Then we should wait and see how big the effect of the Silver Line is anyway.

In the future, 66 should have managed lanes and an orange/silver express running down the median that can use the new Loop tunnels.

If one thinks 66 in Arlington is bad then what do they expect to happen when the highway is always going to end at a DC traffic light?

by drumz on Jul 15, 2014 1:56 pm • linkreport

@Nick

That FHWA link is very helpful.

The real underlying question is, why widen I-66? The answer can't be "to reduce congestion on I-66" because that's not a long-term solution - eventually it will fill up back to an equilibrium level. It is not a long-term solution to fuel loss/pollution from congestion now because eventually the widening will result in more total VMT.

If the reason is to reduce congestion on parallel roads then that is a noble goal - but we have to question whether widening 66 is the best way to do that or if improving other modes would be better.

And if the reason is to support more overall economic activity (by providing for more travel of more people) we have to question whether widening 66 is the best way to do that or if improving other modes will result in the same economic growth in a way that is better for the environment, the region's economic health, etc.

The reason people are quick to say "induced demand" is that the usual request is "we need to widen XYZ road because it is congested!" and widening a road won't actually result in less congestion in the long-term. People have decided that that amount of congestion is worth dealing with for their trip - otherwise they would not make the trip. So widening the road will attract more travelers (from diverted routes, time-shifted trips, or new residents attracted to a faster commute) until the road is congested at equilibrium again.

by MLD on Jul 15, 2014 2:33 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity

"I am still not sure why you do would do a 10 billion dollar plus heavy rail line ahead of 8 car train operation"

Not sure what you're talking about as I've already said I fully support 8-car trains. I wasn't the one who brought up the 2025 capacity issue.

"not for a project the region has not agreed to do yet."

10.5 years is still plenty of time. Whether it will be done or not is a different story.

"Attempt to further derail thread declined."

The lane induces traffic myth is relevant to any thread like this entitled "Eight-car Metro trains equals widening I-66 by 2-4 lanes."

"Nothing will solve it in the absence of road pricing."

I'm sure you have a study that proves that one too.

"and a heavy rail system that was built to fulfill a 1960s era plan, and that has not been extended since the Largo extension in 2004."

Yet DC metro still has the 2nd highest percentage of transit users, but somehow still the worst road traffic because few roads and expressways and zero new Potomac river crossings have been built.

by Brett on Jul 15, 2014 2:40 pm • linkreport

@Brett - I just know that the streetcar won't remove people from the road or get anyone to work/school any faster, and therefore is not worth the enormous cost or the 6+ years to launch.

While it'll be nice for some people to use DC streetcars to commute, I would argue they're geared much more towards local, in-town transit at all times. There's a commuting benefit, just like there's one for Bikeshare, but I would use them mostly for getting around the city during non-rush hours. Bus service in DC is generally inadequate and infrequent in off-peak times; streetcars give routes permanence and a greater likelihood of locking in a consistent schedule.

by worthing on Jul 15, 2014 2:42 pm • linkreport

"Not sure what you're talking about as I've already said I fully support 8-car trains. I wasn't the one who brought up the 2025 capacity issue."

2025 was brought up as to discuss why this matters when OL is not at crush load currently. 2025 is relevant to the Metro2025 plan which is that this post is about. The additional crossing is not, unless its a substitute for the Metro2025 plan.

"The lane induces traffic myth is relevant to any thread like this entitled "Eight-car Metro trains equals widening I-66 by 2-4 lanes"

The equivalence stated was in terms of people carried, and is in fact correct. induced demand was not mentioned till someone mentioned it in the comments. At which point you ran with it.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 2:49 pm • linkreport

"Metro is rarely over capacity and when it does happen, it is usually due to something self-inflicted."

Sorry, if you've been on the Orange line during rush hour, you know this isn't true. It's at capacity (as in "holy crap you can't squeeze more people in here") right now.

Bring on the 8 car trains...

by Vinnie on Jul 15, 2014 3:07 pm • linkreport

But I would note that transit in DC right now consists of local buses, a few express buses on HOV lanes, 5 commuter rail lines with limited capacity, and a heavy rail system that was built to fulfill a 1960s era plan, and that has not been extended since the Largo extension in 2004.


Also note that the highway network in metro DC consists of a 1950's-era plan that was not fully built-out (in fact, most of planned freeways were scaled back if not canceled) and hasn't been significantly extended/expanded in a generation (except for building the ICC).

But people say we must live with that to avoid "induced demand".

by august4 on Jul 15, 2014 3:12 pm • linkreport

So, what do you think will happen first: Orange Line to Fair Oaks; Blue Line to Woodbridge; or Silver Line to Leesburg?

:-)

by Rich 'n Alexandria on Jul 15, 2014 3:13 pm • linkreport

In Va we have the new HOT lanes on the beltway, and the HOT lanes now under construction on I95, and I Rte 28 was recently widened, etc. There has certainly been more highway construction in the last ten years than new transit lines, and plenty planned since the 1960s. The canceled freeways were in the core, where other cities are now removing freeways that damage central city development.

Note, if people are discussing the TTI report, it notes that, as MLD paraphrased,

"Transit in the DC region reduced driver delay by 15% - 6th best in the nation.

Transit in the DC region reduced overall driver commute time by 5.8% - 4th best in the nation."

It confirms that transit reduces highway congestion.

It is of course difficult to discuss this outside of the context of a specific highway proposal. Which is not on the table in this thread (note the PlanitMetro reference to I66 was simply a way to visualize the numbers, it was not a comparison to any specific proposal to expand I66.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 3:17 pm • linkreport

And, don't forget the rebuilding of the Springfield Mixing Bowl, the Wilson Bridge, and the expansion of the Beltway throughout that entire area.

by Thad on Jul 15, 2014 3:44 pm • linkreport

@worthing

"Bus service in DC is generally inadequate and infrequent in off-peak times; streetcars give routes permanence and a greater likelihood of locking in a consistent schedule."

According to WMATA, the #1 reason buses are not on time is traffic. Streetcars are not immune to being stuck in traffic.

Also as to infrequent off-peak times, the same can be said about Metrorail. What makes you think a streetcar will be any more frequent off-peak than Metrorail or Metrobus?

@AWalkerInTheCity

"In Va we have the new HOT lanes on the beltway, and the HOT lanes now under construction on I95, and I Rte 28 was recently widened, etc. "

Wow, a few widened lanes on existing highways/freeways in the last decade. But no new freeways, no new river crossings...and more traffic.

"It confirms that transit reduces highway congestion."

Note, if people are discussing the TTI report:

"Yearly Delay per Auto Commuter" - DC region ranks 1st
"Congestion Cost per Auto Commuter" - DC region ranks 1st
"Freeway Planning Time Index" - DC region ranks 1st

It confirms that more highways and lanes reduce highway congestion.

by Brett on Jul 15, 2014 3:51 pm • linkreport

"Wow, a few widened lanes on existing highways/freeways in the last decade."

The lanes were not widened, the lanes were added. I beleive the width of the lanes is the same. So odd when us highway haters are more careful about highway terms than "highway defenders" are. And of course it was in comparison to the zero new transit lines opened in the same period.

"It confirms that more highways and lanes reduce highway congestion."

I am pretty sure TTI has not stated that. You can't determine that from a cross city comparison, that includes different sized metros, with different employment location patterns, different usage of teleworking, different approachs to managing highways (a lot of the delay in DC is incident related and would be reduced if folks here drove more carefully, esp in inclement weather) etc.

Now that thats settled can we go back to discussing 8 car trains?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 3:55 pm • linkreport

The HOT lanes on 495 added 4 lanes. That's basically a new highway (especially considering it has new/unique exits).

by drumz on Jul 15, 2014 4:00 pm • linkreport

"What makes you think a streetcar will be any more frequent off-peak than Metrorail or Metrobus?"

Because I believe DDOT has said that their goal is 10-minute headways. That is MUCH more frequent than any weekend Metrobus headway that I can find, and it also beats Metrorail during most weekend hours.

by JES on Jul 15, 2014 4:00 pm • linkreport

It confirms that more highways and lanes reduce highway congestion.

Uhh, no it doesn't. None of those quantify "how much" highway or highway lanes DC has or doesn't have compared to other places.

Wow, a few widened lanes on existing highways/freeways in the last decade. But no new freeways, no new river crossings...and more traffic.

Hey, if there are neighborhoods that people are clamoring to have freeways bulldozed through feel free to suggest which ones. I think none have been built because people suggesting this 1960s policy would be laughed out of the room.

Also, looks like I was wrong - according to those new TTI numbers transit in DC reduces auto delay by 20%. You're welcome, drivers!

by MLD on Jul 15, 2014 4:14 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity

"The lanes were not widened, the lanes were added."

Excuse me, I should've said "widened freeways" or "added lanes" (so much for no "semantic quibbles" LOL). Doesn't change the FACT that no new freeways or river crossings were built since 2004.

"I am pretty sure TTI has not stated that."

Regardless of your opinion, I pasted direct quotes and DC metro's corresponding rankings. I'm sorry you can't accept that DC area has the nation's worst traffic despite 2nd highest transit ridership. Unsurprising since it casts doubt on your claims.

by Brett on Jul 15, 2014 4:21 pm • linkreport

I'm sorry you can't accept that DC area has the nation's worst traffic despite 2nd highest transit ridership.

It's easy to accept. Its hard to see how this proves that means that some new highway is the best solution.

by drumz on Jul 15, 2014 4:29 pm • linkreport

Thats not a quibble, thats a correction. Quibble means something quite specific (and yes, THAT is a quibble)

So yes, they added lanes,not a new freeway in a place without a freeway. Why would you add a completely new freeway, when you can add lanes to an existing one, at less cost and less disruption? The debate about induced demand is about capacity, and added lanes are added capacity.

Can you suggest where you would build a new highway, not added lanes but a new highway, that would address the congestion identified by TTI? And note, a new potomac river crossing up stream from the AL Bridge would not do so.

And no, the rankings do NOT prove any claims of mine wrong. They show we have high traffic congestion. Our traffic congestion would be worse without metro. It seems unlikely that any feasible highway would make it better.

What POLICY are you trying to advocate? Are you just here to provoke?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 4:33 pm • linkreport

Now can we get back to 8 car trains. I feel that is an important thing - perhaps the most important transit improvement that region will see in some time, and undercovered compared to the shiny new infrastructure. Its unfortunate that folks can't seem to focus on it.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 4:36 pm • linkreport

@MLD

"Uhh, no it doesn't. None of those quantify "how much" highway or highway lanes DC has or doesn't have compared to other places."

And saying "transit in DC reduces auto delay by 20%" doesn't quantify "how much" transit or highway lanes DC has or doesn't have compared to other places.

"I think none have been built because people suggesting this 1960s policy would be laughed out of the room."

I think the policy of let's hope traffic gets better without building more roads despite population growth and having the nation's worst traffic is far more laughable.

"Also, looks like I was wrong - according to those new TTI numbers transit in DC reduces auto delay by 20%."

That really doesn't matter since DC still ranks first in "Yearly Delay per Auto Commuter" and "Freeway Planning Time Index."

by Brett on Jul 15, 2014 4:42 pm • linkreport

"I think the policy of let's hope traffic gets better without building more roads despite population growth and having the nation's worst traffic is far more laughable."

Oh yes. DC and Arlington residents should TOTALLY be willing to bulldoze homes and neighborhoods to build freeways so the people in Woodbridge or McClean can drive to their offices faster. Totally a fair and smart thing to do. Let's see how far that policy goes.

by JES on Jul 15, 2014 4:53 pm • linkreport

@JES

Please let us know who said they should?

by Brett on Jul 15, 2014 5:00 pm • linkreport

"I think the policy of let's hope traffic gets better without building more roads despite population growth and having the nation's worst traffic is far more laughable."

Again, Va. and Md. are/have been building roads in addition to new transit.

DC just released its MoveDC plan which is a very comprehensive plan on how to handle pop. growth while actually reducing the number of automobile trips in the district.

by drumz on Jul 15, 2014 5:03 pm • linkreport

@Brett, I suppose no one said that directly. But if you pull up Google Maps and try to route a highway into or through the core, I'm almost positive you won't find a way to do it without displacing a lot of people or businesses.

by JES on Jul 15, 2014 5:05 pm • linkreport

Please let us know who said they should?

Well, where else are you going to put these new highways?

by MLD on Jul 15, 2014 5:06 pm • linkreport

@JES

All we've done is proposed widening 66 and somehow people are making every excuse why not to widen a key congested thoroughfare and now talking about bulldozing homes.

But that's just another anti-road scare tactic about land scarcity.

Since most growth over the past two decades has been in the outer burbs, led by Loudoun, PW, Stafford, Charles, etc., this is where most new roads/highways/river crossings are needed. VA is forging ahead with the Bi-County without bulldozing homes, MD recently completed the ICC without bulldozing homes, and other new intercounty freeways can be built without bulldozing homes.

by Brett on Jul 15, 2014 5:48 pm • linkreport

Brett, for the most part, _DC proper_ doesn't have significant traffic congestion, except for major commuter roads (e.g., NY Avenue) and at various chokepoints.

I judge traffic congestion based on my ability to run red lights on major arterials during rush periods via Idaho Stop methods, and I can do it on more roads than you would think, but not obviously, the major commuter roads (North Capitol, New York Avenue, etc.).

It is true that the suburbs and freeways have high congestion as measured by national studies. But those studies are sorta like shooting fish in a barrel. The road and freeway network is designed to induce automobile dependence. In deconcentrated spatial conditions, it's hard to reduce traffic congestion with the addition of transit, except over multi decade periods of time as land use changes towards transit favorability.

(Your point by the way is supported by Belmont in _Cities in Full_ when he argues that "polycentric" transit systems like BART or WMATA don't reduce traffic. However, what he fails to get--when the book was published it wasn't as evident--is that where the system functions monocentrically, at DC's core and along the R-B corridor, it has differential positive effects.)

by Richard Layman on Jul 15, 2014 6:03 pm • linkreport

JES -- for what it's worth, I favor undergrounding New York Avenue (building a tunnel) for through traffic, as well as doing the same for North Capitol-Blair Road, and tolling them, as a way to remove commuting or through traffic off city streets where it has deleterious impact on neighborhoods or general quality of life/traffic congestion.

That would be like adding highways. Now it's damn expensive and really should be subsidized by the other states, which it wouldn't, because it is non-DC drivers who would use it most, although there would be quantifiable benefits for DC residents.

But yes, I don't favor above-ground freeways.

For an image of some of the freeway proposals see the dashed lines on this Shell gas map.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rllayman/7827416376

by Richard Layman on Jul 15, 2014 6:14 pm • linkreport

@MLD

Thanks for responding! This debate is fascinating.

I think part of the answer to "why widen I-66" can be "to reduce congestion" - temporarily, depending on how long temporarily is. The problem is figuring how how many diverted route/time-shifted trips/new new trips will add up to create an eventual equilibrium congestion level.

My issue with "induced demand" is that the region is going to continue to grow anyway. I don't buy the argument that new people will only move out to Gainesville or wherever if the road is widened - they're already moving out there. Yes, slightly more people may move out there/land use may change at the fringe if we widen the highway, but congestion is already a problem, and it is already getting worse.

What if there were land use restrictions in Fauquier or PWC, and less residential development was allowed? Widening the highway might not result in a congested equilibrium again - see that Robert Cervero study in my link above. Checking the cost/benefits on congestion on I-66 versus expanding the lanes would be helpful here. That is, what kind of monetary value of time and pollution would not widening the highway cost the region, and would widening the highway be "worth" the cost?

Of course, this is all probably a moot point because in 25 years when we eventually widen the highway near the beltway, we'll all be in driverless cars or telecommuting on the internet 3.0 full time. Also, there is literally no room left to widen the highway in the ROW between roughly the vienna station and the beltway.

by Nick on Jul 15, 2014 7:59 pm • linkreport

"All we've done is proposed widening 66 and somehow people are making every excuse why not to widen a key congested thoroughfare and now talking about bulldozing homes."

Widening I66 inside the beltway is not on the table (except possibly some small changes to deal with bottlenecks). Arlington County does not want it. It would feed more cars into the streets of Arlington and DC. The places it goes are NOT the places where there is no transit available. And while some widening is possible without taking homes, I think that is the ROW that would be useful eventually for an express metro line.

Outside the beltway I66 is very likely to be widened. But the new lanes will be tolled (free for HOV3 and buses.) Pricing will address the induced demand problem.

"Since most growth over the past two decades has been in the outer burbs, led by Loudoun, PW, Stafford, Charles, etc., this is where most new roads/highways/river crossings are needed. VA is forging ahead with the Bi-County without bulldozing homes,"

actually there are land issues with the BCP, which is why some very unurbanist people in PWC oppose it. It also will NOT address regional congestion. Most congestion is on the radials to the center, or on the circumferentials much further in. BCP will NOT address congestion on I495, or even on Rte 28, unless it pulls more development further out, which is almost certainly a bad outcome, and certainly one FFX cty will oppose.

"and other new intercounty freeways can be built without bulldozing homes." which ones?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 8:17 pm • linkreport

"Yes, slightly more people may move out there/land use may change at the fringe "

Thats precisely the issue - that it will mean more sprawl ceteris paribus. My reading of real estate discussions is that people are quite aware of the long commutes to places like that, and that it does impact the locational decisions of many.

Note that Fauquier has a lot of land under conservation easement, but it does not quite amount to a UGB, and that PWC has tried to limit development in the "rural crescent" but there is much pressure to upzone.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 8:20 pm • linkreport

Clearly you don't have to use 66 west of the Vienna metro stop. If you did, you would know how stupid 8 car trains would be. Where are 3 to 4 lanes worth of traffic supposed to go once all those people end up at the end of line in Vienna? If you want to add 8 car trains, you will have to add 3 lanes to 66 from Vienna as far west as Haymarket(about 20 miles). The other alternative is to put up the cash to extend orange line ten more miles, from Vienna to Centreville.

by Jon on Jul 15, 2014 9:04 pm • linkreport

@Richard Layman

"DC proper_ doesn't have significant traffic congestion, except for major commuter roads (e.g., NY Avenue) and at various chokepoints"

Funniest line of the day! Not sure what "DC proper" you're talking about, but Washington, DC has frequent traffic congestion on most major arteries, Penn Ave., Const. Ave, 14th St, 16th St, 395, 295, etc. etc.

@AWalkerInTheCity

"Widening I66 inside the beltway is not on the table"

Who said it was? And what you consider "not on the table" is up for debate.

"actually there are land issues with the BCP, which is why some very unurbanist people in PWC oppose it."

What "land issues"? And there's normally opposition to planned new roads. Nothing new, but this project is moving ahead.

"BCP will NOT address congestion on I495, or even on Rte 28"

That's just your opinion, unless of course you have yet another study to not show us.

by Brett on Jul 15, 2014 11:46 pm • linkreport

@Nick
My issue with "induced demand" is that the region is going to continue to grow anyway. I don't buy the argument that new people will only move out to Gainesville or wherever if the road is widened - they're already moving out there.
Correct, the region will grow. We don't have real regional land use planning in the US, so infrastructure plays an even bigger part in enabling certain places to grow in certain ways. So the debate is entirely about HOW (and therefore where) the region will grow. Is directing that growth toward auto-dependent living a better outcome for the region, for the environment, for people's future lives?

Yes, slightly more people may move out there/land use may change at the fringe if we widen the highway, but congestion is already a problem, and it is already getting worse.
Again, it's about planning for the future

What if there were land use restrictions in Fauquier or PWC, and less residential development was allowed? Widening the highway might not result in a congested equilibrium again
That's true but since we don't have actual regional land use planning in the US, PWC and Fauquier counties have no incentive to restrict land use in their borders. In fact, the incentive is to do the exact opposite.

Of course, this is all probably a moot point because in 25 years when we eventually widen the highway near the beltway, we'll all be in driverless cars or telecommuting on the internet 3.0 full time.
Or, in 25 years gas prices in the US could look more like they do in Europe and people will be crippled under the financial burden of having to drive long distances to do anything.

The problem is you're coming at this from a "we need to fix congestion" mindset rather than a "we need to move everyone where they need to go in the way that is most effective/efficient for the region as a whole." We need to make sure drivers can go fast because God forbid their trips be as slow as those transit users'!

Why is 70MPH "free flow" the "correct" speed for everyone to be moving at rather than something else? Why isn't the speed of transit the speed everyone should be moving?

As some critics of these congestion measures/reports have pointed out, they are now measuring congestion based on "free flow" speeds at off-peak times, rather than setting the baseline at the speed limit engineers have decided is safe. So part of the congestion "cost" we are supposedly paying is speeding drivers do.

by MLD on Jul 16, 2014 8:33 am • linkreport

When the argument is limited to congestion on roadways only, then widening and building new roadways seems like a good solution. When the cost-benefit analysis is more complete, then congestion is just one of several costs and not the biggest or most important one. This review is good:

Smart Congestion Relief
http://www.vtpi.org/cong_relief.pdf

The relationship is pretty simple. Where auto congestion is high, then transit and other alternatives are used more. Where auto congestion is low, alternatives are used less. The automakers and dealers have known that for a long time.

What's best for the health and prosperity of the region? Better access to destinations is essential, but better access doesn't always require more roads and more auto traffic. A good policy is based on many factors, not just congestion.

by Laurence Aurbach on Jul 16, 2014 9:05 am • linkreport

"BCP will NOT address congestion on I495, or even on Rte 28"

That's just your opinion, unless of course you have yet another study to not show us.

It has not even been suggested as a rationale for the BCP. Can you show a study demonstrating it WOULD relieve traffic on I495? The burden is not on me to prove a negative. ESPECIALLY when the BCP, and induced demand generally is NOT the topic of this post. 8 car trains are. If there is nothing more to say on 8 car trains, then this thread should die. The tactics of trying to keep an argument going for its own sake, on a topic of interest to one commenter that is not germane to the post, by attempting to shift the burden of proof to others, requesting THEM to do research for you, so you can then quibble with whatever they come up with, until they cry uncle or go away and leave you with the last word, is the tactic of a certain kind of disruptive commenter. I will not say what kind.

But since we are not limiting ourselves in terms of transport topics - many of us urbanists think bike commuting can help relieve congestion. one heavily traveled bike commute route is the Mount Vernon trail. There is a section of it over a swamp that is called "trollheim" by the local cycling community.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2014 9:11 am • linkreport

What needs to happen is

Improved on-time performance by metro with 8 car trains. Possibly next train displayed outside the station. I would love to see a sign at the parking lot showing next train. Orange Crush is real, though it will possibly go down a bit with the Silver Line coming online.

Then on 66 making the HOV lanes flex, and follow traffic patterns better. Many times outside of rush there is a bottleneck that could be alleviated by those extra lanes opening.

While also, cleaning up where they are painted. The feed from Nutley/66 onto 496 it narrows for no reason with the HOV lane then turns exit only. There are a few other spots that need some refinement.

by TeganAnn on Jul 16, 2014 10:36 am • linkreport

Brett, I specifically said that commuter routes into and out of the city are congested. Many of the streets focused on intra-city mobility are not.

But the "commuter" routes are complicated by through traffic, such as NY Ave., which make providing "solutions" more complicated.

The point of freeways, mostly serving suburbanites, is moot, but more importantly, wouldn't have helped DC in terms of building its own economy and quality of life. In fact the original plan would have destroyed tens of thousands of houses. And making automobility easier would have encouraged more car trips and required millions of square feet of additional parking space, which given the height limit, could have had even more devastating impact on the central business district.

So yeah, it sucks for suburbanites, but residents do ok. In any case, to repeat myself, I am ok with some tunneling, basically creating a couple of hidden freeways, in order to minimize the negative impact of car sewerage on DC neighborhoods and quality of life (cf. the arguments of Donald Appleyard and David Engwicht on the impact of space dedicated to cars on exchange and interaction).

by Richard Layman on Jul 16, 2014 11:18 am • linkreport

@Richard Layman

"So yeah, it sucks for suburbanites, but residents do ok."

LOL. Again, not sure what DC residents you're talking about, but Washington, DC residents also use DC freeways, parkways and other arterial routes, as most DC residents drive/take buses than walk, bike or take Metrorail. So traffic congestion affects most DC commuters too, contrary to your opinion.

"It has not even been suggested as a rationale for the BCP."

Not true. VDOT specifically cited 28, as well as 66, 15, etc. as traffic problematic north-south routes that would be relieved by the bi-county.

"Can you show a study demonstrating it WOULD relieve traffic on I495? "

I didn't make a claim that it would. Just asked you to provide a study that you don't have to back up your claim.

"The burden is not on me to prove a negative. "

It is when you make definitive statements like "BCP will NOT address congestion on I495, or even on Rte 28." No worries, I didn't think you could anyway.

by Brett on Jul 16, 2014 12:11 pm • linkreport

I'd like to see 66 widened all the way through Arlington and the ridiculous HOV road gotten rid of, even though I currently enjoy the hybrid exemption.

My commute is at least 20 minutes shorter each way than on Metro so the only way they could induce my demand is to beat the drive. Maybe if the Orange line went out the Fair Oaks I might consider it, but right now to take Metro in its a 30 minute drive to Vienna plus walk to the platform and wait for the train, and is half the distance of my commute. I could look at the Silver Line when it opens but the streets around Weihle aren't set up to handle any volume of traffic and I think running 3 trains on the same lines is just a recipe for delays.

If they are looking for ideas to remove traffic from 66, they need to look at improving other east-west streets, but they are really unable to because of a failure to plan from the beginning. From 66 to 267 there are no multilane east west roads, everything is an extremely narrow 2 lane country road lined with houses and hard turns. All of those people get on 66 to go east, how many cars get on 66 at 50 and get off at 123 or Nutley, hopping on an interstate to go less than 2 or 4 miles? I grew up outside Chicago and we rarely took the interstate for a ride that short.

by Haus on Jul 16, 2014 12:37 pm • linkreport

I didn't say it doesn't affect DC residents. Just that the measurements are mostly on suburban roads, and that DC residents, because of a spatial pattern that supports walking, biking, and transit, aren't affected as much by _motor vehicle traffic congestion_.

And I state by that assertion, although yes, of course, there are thousands upon thousands of DC residents impacted every day, as opposed to virtually every suburban resident reliant on an automobile.

hell, even weekend traffic (e.g., Route 7) is horrid.

But it's obvious why. The mobility paradigm is set up to promote, encourage, and maintain automobile dependence.

Since for "physics of space" reasons it's impossible to build enough roads for all of the people to move around in 150 s.f. boxes, looking for solutions bounded by maintaining that mobility paradigm is a no win proposition.

by Richard Layman on Jul 16, 2014 12:41 pm • linkreport

"I didn't make a claim that it would. Just asked you to provide a study that you don't have to back up your claim."

You claimed that we have congestion, as measured by TTI, due to not building enough roads. People responded by suggesting that its not feasible to tear down lots of houses for new highways. You responded with a list of highways that you believe would not involved tearing down houses, including the BCP. But you have not explained how roads like the BCP address congestion as measured by TTI, which is mostly on radials and closer in circumferentials.

I am also not clear what the BCP has to do with the running 8 car trains on the Orange Line, which was the topic of this post.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2014 12:45 pm • linkreport

http://bicountyparkway.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/FINAL_BCP_TrafficAnalysisAppendices_May2013.pdf

note page 15.

the difference on Rte 28, between the build and no build case, is 1% of volume on rte 28 in one section, and 2% in the other section.

IE the impact of the BCP on traffic on Rte 28 will be trivial. Less than the standard deviation of traffic forecasts. I would guess a dedicated transit line on Rte 28 would do more than that.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2014 1:05 pm • linkreport

@Richard Layman

"I didn't say it doesn't affect DC residents."

You said DC doesn't have congestion "for the most part" and DC residents "do OK," when most Washington, DC commuters in fact drive and take bus in traffic congestion, not walk or bike or take Metrorail.

@AWalkerInTheCity

"I am also not clear what the BCP has to do with the running 8 car trains on the Orange Line, which was the topic of this post."

We're only talking about the bi-county b/c JES said new highways require bulldozing homes and you unsurprisingly made several unfounded claims that it will not address congestion, to derail things yet again.

"the difference on Rte 28, between the build and no build case, is 1% of volume on rte 28 in one section, and 2% in the other section."

I didn't said it would be a huge factor for 28, I just said VDOT cited 28, contrary to your claim.

Regardless, the study showed a big impact on the most congested stretch of 66 in PW Co, as well as even bigger impacts on Loudoun Pkwy, 659 and 15. All of which is contrary to your claim that "It also will NOT address regional congestion."

by Brett on Jul 16, 2014 3:15 pm • linkreport

"We're only talking about the bi-county b/c JES said "

he was responding to you. To something YOU said that had had nothing to do with 8 car trains, which you have not discussed in a long time.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2014 3:26 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerIntheCity

Off again on another tangent, I see, because the VDOT report shows the bi-county improving traffic on other routes. In reality, JES initially responded to my on-topic comment that a few extra cars on a train does not negate the need for more lanes and highways to combat congestion, prior to making a claim that bulldozing was necessary.

DC has the 4th highest "Transit Score" and, again, the metro area has the nation's 2nd highest percentage of transit users, yet still the worst traffic b/c roads have not kept up with growth.

by Brett on Jul 16, 2014 4:11 pm • linkreport

DC has the 4th highest "Transit Score" and, again, the metro area has the nation's 2nd highest percentage of transit users, yet still the worst traffic b/c roads have not kept up with growth.

You could replace "roads" with "transit" and the sentence would read the same.

by drumz on Jul 16, 2014 4:29 pm • linkreport

DC's bad traffic congestion is mostly, AFAICT on radial highways leading to the core. I know of no particular measure showing that congestion on circumferential roads in outer suburbs is worse than in other metros of similar size. But if it is or is not, thats not relevant to 8 car trains on the Orange Line, which obviously cannot address congestion on rte 15 or Rte 28.

However a 33% increase in capacity (because that is what going from 6 to 8 car trains represents, even if its only two cars on each train - and yeah, I know there are already a few 8 car trains) is significant. It represents a vast increase in the number of people the Orange line can handle at any degree of comfort - and yes, that is the equivalent of a couple of highway lanes. Note it will increase capacity adjacent to the I66 between EFC and Vienna - where there are limited possibibilities to widen I66 - between Rosslyn and EFC - where there is theoretically room to widen I66 - but its not likely to happen, the ROW may be needed for other things, and where the highway widening would likely be costlier than the 8 car trains - and will add capacity on the Orange line all the way through the District from Foggy Bottom to Stadium Armory. What highway project that is feasible now could add similar capacity there?

And thats just the Orange line. the infra for 8 car trains will enable 8 car trains around the system, which will help other capacity constrained lines.

That is probably why all local jurisdictions support this change. Its high bang for the buck.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 16, 2014 4:34 pm • linkreport

@drumz

Not really since here are many metro areas in the US with much lower "Transit Scores" and far lower percentages of commuters who take transit that have far less traffic congestion than the DC area.

@AWalkerInTheCity

"DC's bad traffic congestion is mostly..."

More excuses. I know it's hard for you to accept DC area's terrible traffic congestion, especially because our region has the nation's 2nd highest transit ridership.

"But if it is or is not, thats not relevant to 8 car trains on the Orange Line, which obviously cannot address congestion on rte 15 or Rte 28."

This article is about widening 66, and the bi-county, per the VDOT study, would help alleviate traffic on a busy stretch of 66. It further serves as an example how building alternative routes can help limit congestion.

"However a 33% increase in capacity...going from 6 to 8 car trains...is significant."

All we know is that adding 2 cars will give extra space to commuters who presently overcrowd the 6 car trains. It certainly does not mean that more people will decide to take Metro instead of driving.

by Brett on Jul 16, 2014 6:06 pm • linkreport

DC has more freeway miles per capita than 92 other metro areas including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, San Jose, and Tampa -- and nearly the same amount as Detroit, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City.

Our roadway congestion is the result of giving away a scarce commodity (road space) for free. What happens when you give away for free something that people want unlimited amounts of? That's right, you get long lines and rationing.

The simple fact is no city on earth can afford to build enough road space to serve all the demand during peak hours. Even if some could, it would be an enormous waste because the oversized roads would be mostly empty for the majority of each day.

We can't build our way out of congestion. Embarking on a large-scale program of new freeways and major arterials is the wrong direction for many reasons. For instance, it tends to destroy the very qualities that make the city attractive in the first place.

by Laurence Aurbach on Jul 16, 2014 6:59 pm • linkreport

@Laurence Aurbach

Of 25 largest metro areas, DC area ranks in the bottom half. Chicago, NY and Los Angeles all have terrible traffic too. Atlanta actually has more per capita miles than DC area.

"Our roadway congestion is the result of giving away a scarce commodity (road space) for free."

New York area probably has the highest (nominally) amount of
tolls (and most expensive!), and its traffic congestion consistently ranks in the top 5. This in spite of having the nation's highest percentage of transit users.

St. Louis area, by contrast, has one of the highest amount of freeways per capita, a very low percentage of transit users, and....low traffic congestion!

by Brett on Jul 17, 2014 12:54 pm • linkreport

What benefits does St. Louis derive from its low traffic congestion? St. Louis has one-third the population of DC but its air particulate emissions are greater on an annual basis. St. Louis has higher rates of asthma, heart disease, and obesity. It has more people who report no physical activity.

St. Louis is more sprawling than DC according the Smart Growth America ranking. Annual transportation costs for the average household are higher in St. Louis. St. Louis has a higher poverty rate and it has lower GDP per capita.

by Laurence Aurbach on Jul 17, 2014 2:15 pm • linkreport

@Laurence Aurbach

First, the St Louis area is about half the size of the DC area, not a third.

As to benefits from low traffic congestion: less than HALF the number of hours delayed and HALF the congestion cost per auto commuter, according to the TTI report.

Not that it's at all relevant here, but St. Louis' air quality might be poorer (although DC area has more days with high ozone levels) b/c St. Louis metro is far more industrial, and industry contributes significantly to emissions there.

"St. Louis is more sprawling...."

Not sure how any of that is relevant to congestion or commute times. I'm not here to advocate St. Louis, I don't even care about it, just pointing out that it has more freeway miles per capita, less transit usage, and is far less congested than DC.

by Brett on Jul 17, 2014 2:49 pm • linkreport

CSA 2.9 M for St. Louis versus 9.331 M for Balt-Wash according to Wiki.

9.331/2.9 > 3

by NikolasM on Jul 17, 2014 3:48 pm • linkreport

^The Washington DC MSA has 5.9 M people

by Brett on Jul 17, 2014 4:15 pm • linkreport

Which omits half of the built up area around here.

by NikolasM on Jul 17, 2014 4:23 pm • linkreport

^No, it just doesn't include the Baltimore MSA.

by Brett on Jul 17, 2014 4:41 pm • linkreport

The TTI report has several methodological shortcomings that result in an incomplete picture of overall travel costs. For example, much of the TTI's "delay" is actually speed limits. Also, the TTI says any delay from free-flow speed is a cost. But building roads to maintain free-flow speed is economically wasteful (because maximum traffic flow occurs only at speeds lower than free-flow). The TTI model ignores that economic waste.

Sprawl affects transportation costs because people must travel more miles. The TTI model does not address that cost. The U.S. government's Location Affordability Index, in contrast, does include that cost and, unlike the TTI, verifies its model with survey samples. The Location Affordability Index says the average household in the St. Louis metro area (CBSA) spends 19% of income on transportation. In the DC metro area (CBSA) the average household spends 13% of income on transportation.

Part of that difference is due to the higher average income in the DC area. So the absolute cost of transportation is also important to know. The H+T Index uses a similar database and methodology as the Location Affordability Index. It has reported the absolute costs of transportation in various metro areas. In St. Louis the annual cost of transportation for the average household is $13,899; in DC it is $12,664.

by Laurence Aurbach on Jul 17, 2014 5:05 pm • linkreport

"The TTI report has several methodological shortcomings"

That's your opinion, which appears biased since the data does not support your original claims.

"Sprawl affects transportation costs because people must travel more miles. "

Not sure what your tangent about transportation cost in St. Louis has to do with the claim that adding 2 cars to a train equals widening 66.

by Brett on Jul 17, 2014 5:18 pm • linkreport

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