Build Missing Links First Strategy
Today's regional highway and bridge network constitutes a relatively small portion of the comprehensive system that professional planners in the mid-1960s proposed for the area by the year 2000.
Many key planned links were deleted from official plans or never built because elected officials believed, "if we don't build roads, people won't come." But the people and jobs came anyway. For area population and job growth trends, click here.
Today, failure to build planned roads and bridges has provided the nation's second worst congestion.
To view PowerPoint slides of the year 2000 plans and the subsequent road and bridge deletions, click here. (The yellow lines mark deleted roads and the X's mark deleted bridges. I-66 Inside the Beltway and the Fairfax County Parkway have been downsized from original plans, while the Prince William County Parkway and Route 28 were not on the Year 2000 plans.)
A recent year-long Alliance study of previous transportation plans and current travel conditions concluded that the fundamental cause of today's traffic gridlock is a lack of alternative corridors to the extent that a single Capital Beltway or Woodrow Wilson Bridge accident can tie up the region for hours.
The Alliance Study also found that, while most planned transit facilities have been constructed, an extensive list of planned parkway and bridge projects have not.
In evaluating current plans, including the National Capital Region's Constrained Long Range Plan (CLRP) and Northern Virginia's 2030 Transportation Plan, the Alliance finds that most emphasis is on widening the limited existing network rather than creating new alternatives. The Alliance also found that widening a dysfunctional transportation system simply creates a wider dysfunctional system. For a regional system that works, we need more alternatives.
For this reason the Alliance believes that the primary focus for a regional transportation strategy should be investing in completing long-planned “missing links”, i.e. parkways, bridges and flexible mass transit alternatives before spending major sums on widening. For example, for the estimated $7 billion plus cost of widening the 64-mile Capital Beltway, the region could fund construction of a new Potomac Techway Crossing, Western and Eastern Bypasses, the Tri-County Parkway and additional lanes on I-66 inside the Beltway.
Missing Link Priorities
"Identify and develop additional highway and transit circumferential facilities and capacity, including Potomac River crossings where necessary and appropriate, that improve mobility and accessibility between and among regional activity centers and the regional core."
Alliance's Missing Links Focus Consistent With Regional Vision
National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board Vision Plan
Northern Virginia Lacks Performance-Based Transportation Priorities
To ensure existing and future funds are well spent, regional priorities must be assigned to projects that best improve travel speeds, reduce delays and move the most people in the most cost-effective manner.
Alliance priorities are “missing links” that planners for decades have identified as essential for better mobility and land use.