Today (April 25) is the last day for comments on the Draft Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Plan. This will also have to be the final post on the topic at this blog. A few words about the transportation and mass transit sections are in order.
For mass transit, the Draft Plan offers the trolley. Full stop. With respect to other routes to and from the Pike, it dodges the issue entirely:
The transportation analysis involved a broader examination of the entire Columbia Pike planning boundary to assess connectivity, however, recommendations are primarily limited to the study area.
Translated: we plan to give you a streetcar, and if you plan to take transit to anywhere other than Pentagon City or the strip malls of Skyline, no promises, no plans. This is unfortunate. Further ART expansion (routes, times and frequency), more direct-to-DC bus routes/days of operation, and upgrading capacity on buses to the Pentagon are critical steps, with or without the trolley. It should be in there.
The Draft Plan is similarly vague when it gets to pedestrian improvements. As part of the mysterious layer of Initiatives, Plans and Organizations, the planning for the reconstruction of the Columbia Pike roadway/sidewalks is handled by Pike Multimodal. When it comes to the sidewalk portion of that plan on Columbia Pike, it’s actually great for pedestrians. The Neighborhoods Plan, however, is the County’s opportunity to build sidewalks on existing streets that lack them (there are some sidewalks for Foxcroft Heights; the plan needs more specific ideas like that). Instead, the Plan offers sidewalks on new streets and new developments, but fails on adding sidewalks to existing streets that lack them. The Neighborhood Plan is also an opportunity to commit to crosswalks (where appropriate) for intersections near, but not on, the Pike, but they are not in there, either.
All in all, while there are items to like in the Draft Neighborhoods plan, it dodges the hard issues on the interaction of zoning/density and affordable housing, actually makes cycling a worse commuter option, and is far too vague on transit and sidewalks. They should do better in the final plan.
(Comments can be made here, scroll down a bit for the form. All these posts will be submitted as comments to the Draft Plan.)