Few problems touch all the residents of our district quite like transportation problems. Our community is united in ranking our transportation infrastructure as a most serious challenge. And since transportation is intimately tied into the environment and the availability of clean energy, it becomes an even greater focus for the community as a whole.
The financial and economic crisis came close to shutting down all transportation projects. Federal support has slowed to a trickle, and we must as a state find creative ways to fund our transportation needs. They are many.
We've known for decades that we must have a two-pronged approach - public transport (the Purple Line and Corridor Cities Transitway), and road repair and interchange upgrades to deal with safety concerns, such as the intersection at Georgia and Forest Glen. It's time that we place greater effort into the public system -- to help clear the air, reduce greenhouse emissions, protect the public health, unclog the roads, and provide reliable, efficient transportation for all who choose not to drive to work and play.
- Work with regional allies, including the federal government, to create a dedicated source of consistent, reliable revenue for Metro train and bus services, using the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as a model. We still cannot seem to make this work, and Metro continues to deteriorate, resulting in the loss of nine lives in ’09 and persistent rail breakdowns and delays, as well as chronic recurrent escalator breakdowns.
- Move forward on building the Purple Line from Bethesda to New Carrollton. As a marathon runner who trains on the trail, I greatly appreciate the trail’s value, but I believe construction can be done in an environmentally-friendly manner and light rail will serve the need for better public transportation.
- Work with our neighboring states to build a state-of-the-art high speed rail line connecting Washington to Boston, cutting down on I-95 traffic as well as short-haul air travel. Elon Musk of PayPal and SpaceX fame has developed an even more futuristic high-speed transit system known as the HyperLoop, which is feasible today and far cheaper than maglev rail.
- Improve the quality of our roads and decrease construction time and costs by using higher quality road materials. Do it right the first time.
- Replace incandescent traffic lights with longer-lasting, low maintenance, energy efficient LEDs, which have the added benefit of being more visible during hazardous driving conditions. Study the alternatives available to minimize light pollution while improving visibility on the streets.
- Study the implementation of a European-style traffic signaling system to alert drivers that the signal is changing (flashing red to yellow to green), similar to the countdown-style pedestrian time signals now being deployed throughout the region. Increase the use of HAWK traffic lights in high-pedestrian areas. Improve signage, and add more frequent and helpful dynamic messaging on the Beltway, markings directly on the roads as well as overhead, congestion detection and protection sensors on major thoroughfares, and the expansion of variable lane signals as are currently in use on Georgia Ave. and Colesville Rd.
- Continue to encourage the use of car-sharing programs, and expand the system of bike lanes, trails and rentals.
- Implement a “feebate” system, where a fee on the sale of energy-inefficient vehicles such as SUVs is used to rebate the purchase price of hybrid vehicles.
- Encourage mass transit use by improving the quality of free broadband wireless access.