The District of Columbia enjoys a rich historic heritage and cultural diversity. The uniqueness of Washington, DC is also seen in its transportation infrastructure. Most of the city’s downtown core is part of the historic L’Enfant Plan. Developing, maintaining and operating a transportation system in a context where view sheds and street alignments are of national importance provides unique challenges for DDOT. With over 4,000 lane miles of streets, thousands of trees and millions of square feet of public right of way the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) performs diverse functions in order to provide excellent transportation services to its users.
Furthermore, DDOT has a unique role of functioning as a state DOT as well as a city DOT. This makes DDOT responsible for a large array of transportation infrastructure from the Interstate Highways to small alleys. Additionally, the District enjoys a huge population of travelers using a multitude of transportation options including transit, riding, walking and driving. Providing a balanced transportation system with choices for all modes of travel, while maintaining city streets as public places, requires sustainable practices.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) defines sustainability as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainability consists of three elements: Environment, Social Structure and Economy. Collectively, these elements provide a foundation for quality of life. These three elements will be further discussed in Chapter 1.
In pursuing sustainability, DDOT recognizes that there is a close relationship between transportation and sustainability. DDOT understands that its projects and programs impact the local environment. Transportation infrastructure changes storm water flows, temperatures, natural habitats and community cohesion. Additionally, land development is influenced by adjacent transportation facilities. Therefore, DDOT is faced with the challenge of providing a sustainable transportation system for the District that enhances the economy and promotes livability while protecting the environment. To this goal, it is DDOT’s priority to provide balanced transportation mode choices without compromising safety, accessibility and mobility.
The DDOT Sustainability Plan serves as a guide for decision-making at DDOT so that the District of Columbia remains a safe, multi-modal and healthy city for present and future generations. It was developed to ensure that sustainable practices are incorporated into all agency activities. Based on the DC Green Agenda, the DDOT mission statement and the DDOT Action Agenda, the DDOT Sustainability Plan provides actionable and measurable goals that deepen and refine DDOT’s dedication to sustainability.
The following chapters discuss eight priority areas that DDOT will focus on to promote sustainable practices in the agency’s work. The priority areas are: (1) Promoting Transportation and Land Use Linkage; (2) Improving Mode Choices, Accessibility and Mobility; (3) Effective Cost Assessments in Decision-Making; (4) Supporting Economy; (5) Improving DDOT Operations and Project Development Processes; (6) Protecting the Environment and Conserving Resources; (7) Climate Change Adaptation; and (8) Promoting Livability and Safety. Throughout this plan, recommended actions, measures and targets accompany these priorities. Focusing on these eight priority areas and their respective metrics will help DDOT ensure that its work in the District of Columbia is congruent with its commitment to sustainability.
Project Development, Environment & Sustainability Division
August 14, 2010