What a Ride! Thanks and Cheers from Gabe…

The District is going through a re-transformation, as are many cities across the United States.

People flocked to urban areas in the first half of the 20th century, fled to the suburbs in the 2nd half, and are rediscovering the historic beauty, convenience, and livability of our urban cores in the 21st century.  For the first time in 40 years, Washington D.C. is growing again with 30k new residents over the last decade as of the recent census.

We saw vehicle registrations fall by 11% over the last 3 years, and in the same period saw biking grow by 82%.  [Click here for more info]

When we work to create a vibrant, livable, healthy and safe city focused on residents well-being, we go back to some aspects of a Washington D.C. with 200k more residents that many of us have just read about, or seen pictures of, but never lived in:

Whether it’s the Streetcar, the prevalence of walking and biking, or the vibrant downtown core…. It’s all coming back.  With more residents, we have a broader tax base to provide better services for all of us.  Better schools, transportation, less debt.

So what does all of this mean?  It means that the work done by thousands in DC over the last 12 years is paying off, and we are one of the cities that is now benefiting from this movement, and many cities that did not aggressively reinvent themselves are stagnating.   We are now seeing a snowball effect in the District over the last few years by all measures.  I am proud that DDOT doing its part, with streetscape reconstructions, and the introduction of many attractive, safe and low cost transportation options for our existing residents, and for our new residents that don’t bring a car (or 2) into the city.   This money that would have been spent on a capital asset/vehicle can now be put into the local economy, into savings, better housing, or starting a business in the city (AAA estimates almost $10k a yr!  That buys you a lot more housing).  We also can attract more residents because their money will go farther in the District…. if we tell the story: separating transportation and housing costs.  DC can actually be a cheaper place to live! With our improvements in schools, public safety, public spaces, and the expanded transportation options, suddenly DC has a better quality of life as well, and is a place you choose to raise a family vs. the suburbs.

Over the last few months, we started to compile our achievements for the updated Action Agenda and Annual Report.  I was actually amazed by how much the 1000 strong DDOT team has accomplished over the last 12, and 24 months.  I am pleased to announce the 2010 Action Agenda and Report:  [Click here for copy of 2010 Action Agenda Progress Report!!!]

Here are just a few of the highlights:

  1. Funded and kicked off construction of the largest project in DDOT history: The 11th Street Bridges
  2. Capital Bikeshare: the largest bikesharing system in the United States
  3. ARRA funding kicks off 13 additional projects for $124 million
  4. Great Streets projects escalated and started: Nannie Helen Burroughs, Pennsylvania Ave SE, H/Benning
  5. Facelift for the Agency: New website, Twitter (5000 followers), Facebook (1000), Scribd (documents), Flickr, Youtube in-house videos and more…
  6. DTAP 2.0 launched on heels of 1.0 beta with new project portal, safety, transit, road condition, finance…
  7. Continuous Process Improvement culture instilled at DDOT:  Sigma Black belt training, DTAP, DDOT University
  8. Snowmageddeon: biggest storm in DC history… and we survived
  9. Summer-Stormageddeon: DDOT Trees and Traffic Operations coordinate emergency response for thousands of District residents with trees down, and without power
  10. Filled over 7,500 thousand potholes during potholepalooza
  11. Hundreds of thousands of hours of Traffic Control and School Crossing Guard service
  12. First high speed, curbside electric charging stations in the U.S.
  13. Multi-Modal Station pilot for rollout in 2011 to bus shelters with Federal grant money
  14. Streetcar initial line segments funded, Program Management Team hired, Progressive Transportation Services put together, 37 mile Streetcar System Plan adopted
  15. Circulator Bus expanded, turnkey contract signed that rolls bus and facilities costs together
  16. With a $16 million snow overrun last winter, our Finance team flexed the unified fund, we balanced the budget to +$67 for the 2010 fiscal year
  17. Completed the new Farragut facility for front line workers, got $65 million lease signed for new Leed Certified office building at 55 M Street SE
  18. Conducted numerous parking pilots in2010 and our advances in the parking program were noticed by Donald Shoup, the preeminent parking guru:     “Washington is taking the lead in this country and almost throughout the world,” said UCLA professor Donald Shoup, author of “The High Cost of Free Parking.” “Washington has started its [parking] reforms at just the right time, when there’s so much new technology available.”    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/28/AR2010062804850.html
  19. Built DC’s first separated cycle tracks  as a safety initiative to protect cyclists
  20. Installed 67 Leading pedestrian intervals to give pedestrians the jump on vehicular traffic at intersections
  21. Rolled out the citywide “Livability Program” to address traffic calming and quality of life holistically, and systematically, using the entire tool-box
  22. Rebranded Urban Forestry DDOT Trees, worked towards a “participatory model,” and planted 3,750 trees
  23. Launched the online permitting system, and enhanced it so that you can now print permits in your office or at home
  24. Partnered with Arlington County on a Transportation Demand Management program (goDCgo.com) and Bikesharing and Circulator Bus
  25. We had fun doing it every day!

For these innovations, and hundreds of others, I am eternally grateful to the amazing DDOT team, which has new members brought in over the last two years, and teammates that have devoted a ½ century to the agency.   One of the things I am proudest of is the alignment behind a shared vision throughout the agency (that took 8 months to build, share, tweak), and an extremely fast, organized execution which shows that we all bought in.

In closing, what I have hopefully taught, and have definitely learned from the amazing team at DDOT and in the D.C. Government as a whole, is:  Never let anyone tell you “it can’t be done,” always have passion for your work (or do something that will) and tell the public what you are doing so that they can work with you.

Keep up the excellent progress D.C., and let’s make sure that DDOT continues to improve, and of course always delivers!

-Gabe Klein

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