Friday, June 02, 2006

Does rail transit (and transit-oriented land use) provide highway congestion relief? 

The other day, there was an article in the Washington Post about the top-ten congested intersections in my home county, Montgomery County, Maryland:

Stuck at a Crossroads Is Par for the Course

The article is directly based on the staff draft of a report by the county's transportation planning staff, and the report can be found on the Web site of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission here.

The map below is a graphic that was included with this article:

Here is what I find interesting about this list of street and arterial highway intersections.

Intersection 1, the most congested, Md. 97 (Georgia Avenue) at Md. 192 (Forest Glen Road) is literally smack on top of the Forest Glen Metrorail stop on the Red Line route to Glenmont.

Intersections 2 (Md. 355 (Rockville Pike) at Cedar Lane), 4 (Md. 355 (Rockville Pike) at South Drive), 8 (Md. 355 (Frederick Road) at King Farm Boulevard) and 9 (Md. 355 (Rockville Pike) at Pooks Hill Road) are on top of or very near the WMATA Metrorail Red Line's western route (which runs to Shady Grove), which is located very near intersection number 8, above.

Development near Intersection 8, called the King Farm, was mostly high- to extremely-high density, owing entirely to its proximity to the Shady Grove Metrorail station.

Intersections 5 (U.S. 29 (Colesville Road) at Southwood Avenue) and 10 (U.S. 29 (Colesville Road) at Md. 193 (University Boulevard)) are in Eastern Montgomery County, just downstream of the area that was subjected to 16 years of a land use plan based on a concept of transit serviceability, the 1981 Eastern Montgomery County Master Plan, which governed land use along much of U.S. 29 in Montgomery County from 1981 to 1997 - and led to the construction of thousands of high-density dwelling units - and this area took extra density in the form of transferrable development rights (TDRs) which were used to preserve farms in the Montgomery County Ag Preserve.

Perhaps some things to consider when we hear promises of "real" congestion relief from advocates of high-density development and new transit lines that would run on steel rails?

Those rail lines do provide relief from highway congestion. Those using the system do not have to wait for traffic and can live and walk to work. Those who use the highway, have the OPTION to live in these high density neighborhoods instead of using the horrible highway.

They too receive the benefit of NOT having all those living in those high density neighborhoods from clogging up the highways to an even greater extent.
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