BY DAN BEHREND
Prince George’s County is writing a new transportation master plan. Called the Master Plan of Transportation 2035 (MPOT 2035), the new plan will update and replace the 2009 Approved Countywide MPOT, as well as the active area and sector master plans. When completed, and approved by the county council, MPOT 2035 will guide the development of transportation infrastructure, including roads, trails, and train tracks.
While MPOT 2035 represents high-level planning for transportation, establishing the county’s vision and providing policy guidance to elected leaders and staff at multiple public agencies, it will also influence how people travel — driving to work and the grocery store, finding safe options to walk or bike, and accessing reliable public transit.
The plan will also shape how equitable the county’s future transportation network will be, in terms of affordability, mobility of residents and accessibility for people with disabilities.
Transportation planning is also related to other recent county policy developments like land use and development, climate action and street safety.
In January, the county published a draft climate action plan, which noted that in 2018, the transportation sector accounted for approximately 48% of the county’s total greenhouse gas emissions. According to that plan, “To reduce these emissions — as well as improve residents’ health and safety — a key strategy is to reduce vehicle miles traveled by making the land use decisions and transit investments that support alternative modes of transportation.”
The development of the county’s transportation infrastructure will also affect residents’ safety and the county’s progress on its Vision Zero goals. In July 2019, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks launched Vision Zero Prince George’s, a street safety campaign that acknowledges that traffic deaths are preventable, not inevitable, and focuses on promoting policies that will eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2040.
Every year since 2015, more people have died on roadways in Prince George’s County than in any other county in the state. The county’s troubling record with road safety pre-dates 2015, however. In reference to the county leading the state in 2014 traffic fatalities, a Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration spokesperson said in a 2015 WUSA9 interview that, “Prince George’s County has always led the state in this area.”
According to data compiled by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, 106 people, including 36 pedestrians and two cyclists, died in car crashes in 2020. That year, Prince George’s County accounted for approximately 34% of all traffic deaths and approximately 38% of pedestrian and cyclists deaths in the entire D.C. metropolitan area.
During a series of virtual community meetings at the end of January, Odessa Phillip, consultant lead for outreach, said, “The primary goal of the MPOT 2035 Plan is to envision a countywide transportation system that supports the safe, efficient and equitable movement of people and goods within the county and region.”
Another MPOT plan goal is to advance Plan Prince George’s 2035 (Plan 2035), the comprehensive 20-year general development plan for the county published in 2014.
In addition to compiling earlier transportation and current infrastructure recommendations, MPOT will also include new recommendations. For example, under the prior plan, MPOT 2009, the county first recommended the College Park Woods Connector Trail. That trail has connected the College Park Woods neighborhood to the Paint Branch Trail since December 2020.
Virtual meetings and a community survey for MPOT 2035 have focused on walking and biking, Vision Zero, bus and rail transit, and roadways and sustainability, among other themes.
During the virtual meetings, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) also outlined some of what MPOT 2035 can and cannot do. The master plan can, for example, provide guidelines for future transportation recommendations, but it cannot provide specific recommendations for implementation, make specific land use or zoning recommendations, or guarantee timelines.
The M-NCPPC plans to release an existing conditions analysis in spring 2022, followed by a draft MPOT 2035 in fall 2022. The commission will host community meetings and solicit additional public feedback on the draft plan. In early 2023, the commission plans to submit the final master plan to the county planning board and county council. During the county’s review of the final plan, the community will have the opportunity to provide feedback to the planning board and to their county councilmembers.
Interested residents can participate in the planning process in the following ways:
- Listen to prior community meetings: bit.ly/MPOT2035.
- Apply to be a part of a community advisory group: www.surveymonkey.com/r/MPOTEOI.
- Join the MPOT 2035 mailing list for updates and other opportunities to participate: pgparks.com/list.aspx?ListID=460.
- Schedule a meeting during virtual office hours on Mondays between 1 and 3 p.m. and Wednesdays from 1 to 3 p.m. through May 25: www.mncppcapps.org/planning/MPOT_2035/.
- Email questions and comments to project staff: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Follow @PGPlanningMD on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for MPOT 2035 news and updates.