Federal buildings for transit access?

The US DOT at the beginning of July issued guidance for increasing the sustainability of Federal buildings:

Siting buildings in sustainable locations will help insure that workers and the visiting public have convenient, safe transportation options to reach federal facilities, which in turn will help to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that result from worker and visitor commuting and will better integrate the federal presence into the surrounding community. Additionally, this improved access will lower transportation costs for workers and visitors and can provide communities with employment centers that can help drive economic development

link: DOT Press release

I wonder about this. Most of these kinds of things are symbolic politics, I think, where a loud and active leader like Ray LaHood wants to send a strong message this isn’t your parents’ DOT. The principals:

• Promote efficient travel and ensure access to transit to reduce the need for employees and the public to drive to the facility. • Locate in existing central business districts and rural town centers. • Locate near or be accessible to affordable housing. • Ensure the ability to walk or bike to the facility. • Use existing buildings, infrastructure and other resources. • Foster the development of previously developed, abandoned or underused locations known as greyfields or brownfields. • Encourage adaptive reuse of historic buildings and districts. • Preserve the natural environment. • Achieve agency goals for reducing emissions as set out in their Sustainable Strategic Performance Plans. • Discuss location alternatives with local and regional planning officials and consider their recommendations.

link: DOT Press release

These are pretty general planner recommendations. However, am I the only one who thinks that the clusters of federal buildings in DC are almost like superblocks in their domination of the city core in some places?

The DuPont Circle neighborhood is a great exemplar I think of what compact development advocates are trying to get at. But when you go farther down towards the capitol and the White House…it’s not as nice an urban place as the smaller scale, mixed use districts farther up Connecticut Avenue.

One thought on “Federal buildings for transit access?

  1. Given that the federal building wastelands are an existing issue, it seems like access to transportation, etc., isn’t really the problem at this point. Particularly down in the SW federal center (Depts. of Education, Agriculture, etc., Bureau of Engraving/Printing, Smithsonian museums, Holocaust Museum, etc.), the bigger problem is that the area is virtually lifeless. While visitors to the Smithsonian have the option of venturing across the mall and into the slightly more vibrant parts of NW DC, federal workers, in particular, are pretty much trapped in a concrete wasteland. Lunchtime is a particular headache, and federal workers find themselves either having to venture to L’enfant Plaza, one of the overpriced Smithsonian food courts, or to the federal cafeteria at…I think…the Dept. of Agriculture.

    There’s also the issue of post-9/11 federal security. It’s all good and well to talk about housing federal employees (and, presumably, government agencies) in sustainable environments, but given the laundry list of security measures required of any given federal site, it seems logistically unlikely that such siting could ever gain any real traction.

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