Think the region's traffic is bad? Just wait a few decades, and you'll wish you were back in 2012, according to a new analysis published online by the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board.
Without more investment in transportation infrastructure and without changes in land use, "Metro Washington’s already notorious traffic congestion [topped only by that of the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas, according to a recent report by TomTom] is set to get even worse in the coming decades," according to the website for Region Forward, a vision developed by a coalition created by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
"This is our best estimate as to what is there for the future. There's nothing that says this is inevitable, but it's a starting point for changing the future and having a different future," transportation expert Ron Kirby said at a meeting of the Transportation Planning Board, The Examiner reported.
The analysis predicts that the region’s population will grow by 24 percent—to almost 6.5 million people—by 2040. Montgomery County is expected to grow by about 21 percent, according to the analysis.
Employment is expected to grow by about 36 percent in the region—and by 39 percent in Montgomery County, the analysis added.
About 42 percent of all trips in the area currently are made via single-occupancy vehicles, and that is expected to fall to 40 percent by 2040. Carpools (with two or more people in a vehicle) are expected to increase from 41 percent to 42 percent of all trips by 2040, the analysis added. Seven percent of trips currently are made via bus or rail, and that percentage is expected to remain constant through 2040, according to the analysis.
Translation? A lot more cars on the road.
In Montgomery County, morning commutes are predicted to become particularly bad in the southbound lanes of Interstate Highway 270. And, the Capital Beltway likely will get worse, too, the analysis added.
Taking Metrorail isn't likely to be the answer to the region's commuting headaches, as the train cars are predicted to become more congested over time.
"The Metrorail system will likely reach capacity on trips to and through the regional core, due to lack of funding for capacity enhancements. Without additional railcars beyond those currently funded, all lines entering the core will become congested [i.e., will have 100 to 120 people in each car] by 2040," the analysis stated.
That's a lot of people in one car. Let's hope the "hot car" situation that often plagues commuters in the summer is resolved by then.
Do you agree with the analysis? Tell us in the comments.