Maryland Department of Transportation, Office of Planning and Capital Programming

State planning policy in Maryland calls for continued emphasis on land use and transportation strategies to support  transit, biking and walking as viable options for transportation. Current methods and tools used by many transportation planners reflect a modal bias toward improving mobility and speed for autos. As part of an on-call contract, Renaissance is working with the Maryland DOT’s Office of Planning and Capital Programming on identifying new analytic methods and tools to more effectively guide planning and decision-making that better address broader multi-modal transportation system goals.

A key project supporting these efforts included conducting a multimodal accessibility analysis for a major urban corridor (MD U-355/I-270) in the metro Washington DC region. Building on prior research conducted by Renaissance documented in the National Cooperative Highway Research Program Report 770, we worked with MDOT to develop and apply new GIS-based methods and tools for measuring and evaluating multimodal accessibility. The multimodal accessibility approach enables analysis of existing multimodal opportunities within a given geographic scale as defined by both land use and existing multimodal infrastructure. These conditions correlate with estimated walk, bike and transit trip demand rates. This type of analysis can be used to help planners identify specific land use or infrastructure interventions to increase multimodal accessibility and thereby the likely walking, biking and transit trip opportunities. For this corridor, the analysis provided additional insights to help guide future planning for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

This work will enable MDOT to continue using the multimodal accessibility approach and tools for a wide range of purposes, from multimodal investment analyses and project prioritization to traffic impact studies and working with local jurisdictions in support of Plan Maryland, the state’s comprehensive land use plan. This seminal project has also led to additional work with other jurisdictions in the greater Washington region to incorporate multimodal accessibility as a key performance measure that can be used to guide project priorities and investments including an accessibility pilot study for Arlington County, Virginia and the creation of an accessibility metric for the Virginia Department of Transportation on the HB2 statewide funding prioritization process.