Yesterday, at a presentation hosted by the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, Dr. Timothy Lomax, co-author of the 2010 Urban Mobility Report, was asked why the Washington, D.C. region has risen to 1st place in congestion over the years. He answered, “You’ve been afflicted with a pretty good economy”. He also listed lack of adequate capacity for river crossings and cross commuting in suburbs as other important contributors to congestion.
While solutions to congestion were varied, he said the answer was some combination of the following:
- Accept some congestion
- Diversified development pattern
- Less construction delay
- Increase commute options
- Improve system efficiency
- Build more capacity
The solution will also vary within a region. In the Inner Loop, he recommended more emphasis on increasing travel options and increasing efficiency of existing systems. Increasing capacity and efficiency would form the larger share of the solution for the Outer Loop.
While congestion is never appealing, reliable congestion and predictability of delay is more acceptable to travelers. This implied that better communication of real-time traffic information and construction timelines should be part of the solution. The return on investment of accelerating construction timelines should also be considered in light of the cost of extra time and fuel expended by travelers.
Presentation Slides: Download NVTA June 2011 Timothy Lomax
Sonali Soneji, AICP, Research Manager, Arlington County Commuter Services.