Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Mini-City Plan Discourages Use of Cars

"Fairfax County planners last night offered a vision for a mini-city at their westernmost Metro station that would begin to transform how people live and commute in Washington's largest suburb.

"In a place where cars and growth have always gone together, the county wants to offer incentives to the residents and workers in the planned MetroWest development at the Vienna station to not even own a car—let alone drive one.

"From high-priced parking spaces to cash rewards for riding Metro, a consultant laid out a series of carrots and sticks for developer Pulte Homes to reduce by almost half the number of car trips that otherwise would be generated by 13 residential and office towers planned next to the Metro station.

"If the county approves the strategies, Fairfax's controversial experiment with dense, transit-oriented development would become a laboratory for a movement in the fight against sprawl and traffic as well as a blueprint for the county's future of urban-style growth that rises up rather than out." ...

"UrbanTrans, a District-based transportation management firm and the county's consultant, offered several options at a public meeting last night, including showers in offices for bike riders, personalized traffic troubleshooters for residents, handy Zipcars on the site for planned or unplanned errands, cash rewards for employees who show that they are using transit, free Smartcards and even company cars for workers to do errands at lunch."

"County officials would return regularly to monitor whether the car-trip numbers are where they should be. If they aren't, Pulte could be required to pay out of a fund it negotiates with the county, a technique used in Montgomery County."

"'Flex hours and Metro vouchers won't stop 6,000 new people from increasing traffic congestion,' said Mark Tipton, a member of Fairfax Citizens for Responsible Growth, a group pushing for fewer homes at MetroWest."

"'Anytime you put in a system that requires somebody to permanently change their behavior means the government has to monitor people to make sure they behave properly,' Pisarski said. The idea is well-intentioned, but over the years it will fall apart, he added."

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