New DC Area Poll Shows Transportation Remains Top Concern

Posted on October 31, 2022 in: American Legion BridgeMetroNorthern Virginia Transportation AuthorityPotomac River CrossingStudySurveyTraffic CongestionTransitTransportation Planning Board

New DC Area Poll Shows Transportation Remains Top Concern
Region’s Residents Want Action on Congestion

A new Regional Transportation Survey sponsored by the Northern Virginia Transportation Coalition, a group of 25 business organizations from across Virginia, Maryland, and DC, has found that Transportation is still the top concern of DC area residents.

When asked an open-ended question about the biggest long-term challenge facing the Washington region, transportation was the top response at 26%, followed by inflation and cost of living at 14%, and public safety at 12%.

“Despite the many challenges facing our region, traffic and transportation infrastructure is still the top concern for many DC area residents,” said Jason Stanford, president of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance. “With traffic now back to pre-pandemic levels, voters want leaders to focus more on traffic relief.”

The survey, which was produced by OpinionWorks, also gauges how DC area residents prioritize different transportation benefits. While 76% of DC area residents said climate change should be a factor in transportation decision-making, climate ranked 4th as a top priority behind improving travel times, equity, and safety.

In another important finding, nearly 40% of DC area residents said they would consider leaving the region if transportation does not improve in the next five years.

“Our extensive investment in transportation infrastructure is one of the reasons Northern Virginia is such a great place to live, work, and raise a family,” added Ryan McLaughlin, CEO of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors®. “We encourage elected leaders to focus on creative and proactive solutions to improving the transportation network for our region to prosper and continue our economic growth. This survey and our own research show that more housing supply in the DC area and a robust transportation network are key to supporting the growth of the region.”

When asked about individual transportation projects, the survey found strong support for both roadway and transit improvements. In fact, 84% of survey respondents supported continued expansion of our roadway network and 73% opposed allowing congestion to worsen to discourage people from driving.

“Every major project, from adding HOT Lanes to the American Legion Bridge and I-270, to a new Rosslyn Metrorail tunnel was supported by more than 60% of residents,” said Julie Coons, CEO of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “The overall message from the Greater Washington region is clear. We must continue investing in our entire transportation system if we hope to maintain the long-term economic success of our community.”

“We hear a lot from the vocal minority, but 65% of the region’s residents support upgrading the American Legion Bridge and I-270 while only 10% oppose it,” said Rick Weldon from the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce. “Listening to and respecting the will of regional commuters should be an urgent priority for all of our area leaders.”

The survey results are timely, as the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority is currently working to update TransAction, the long-range transportation plan for Northern Virginia. The Authority will adopt a new plan by the end of the year.

The National Capital Region’s Transportation Planning Board is also beginning its two-year process of updating the Washington region’s long-range transportation plan. And thanks to an agreement made in 2021, the Board plans to require reapproval for every project in the plan that does not already have dedicated funding. This change in the process is likely to result in fewer transportation improvements being built over the next 20 years.

“With so many major transportation decisions before us, it’s really important to know what the public actually thinks,” added Stanford. “Policymakers should listen to the needs of their constituents and focus on expanding our transportation system to move more people efficiently and effectively throughout our community.”