Autonomous Vehicle Testing in Northern Virginia
NVRC was pleased to be part of the winning team that won the Olli Fleet Challenge that resulted in two autonomous vehicles on Joint Base Meyer-Henderson Hall in Arlington from June thru September. This partnership is a collaboration among the Army, Marine Corps, federal and state DOTs, NVRC and local communities, academic institutions, and private sector. The demonstration evaluates Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) for the potential to reduce base operating costs, improve mobility and safety, and contribute to the quality of life for military service members and their families. The CAV demonstration operates with six lines of effort that include: Infrastructure and Safety; Energy and Economy; Data Architecture and Cyber Security; Data Analytics; Human Factors; Planning and Policy; and Integration.
Traffic Demand Management Program for Military Facilities Launched
It is estimated that nearly 25% of the traffic in the I395/95 corridor are related to traffic to and from military facilities in the region. At some facilities, nearly 100% of the car traffic is occupied by a single occupant. In October, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission awarded a grant to NVRC to provide Traffic Demand Management (TDM) services to our base partners to reduce single occupancy vehicles on I395/95. The award allowed us to hire Allison Doerfler, a military spouse, to provide TDM outreach.
Regional Demographer – Census Concerns
The NOVA Region Dashboard is Northern Virginia Regional Commission’s dashboard containing a plentiful amount of demographic, military, and environmental information and interactive charts. With the hiring of a Demographer, the demographic charts and descriptive analyses on the dashboard were enhanced and updated for the first time in years. The updates reflected the most current demographic data on population, education, and income. As part of this effort, the Demographer analyzed the demographic trends and informed the members of the commission with a presentation that brought to light the major transformations in the region, that of which is largely being driven by the growth of racial minorities and the foreign-born populations. The demographic analysis also highlighted how dependent our region’s economy is on the federal government sector and the need for our region to continue to take great strides to diversify our economy.
At a Northern Virginia Demographers meeting in the Fall, some members expressed their concerns about the new 2020 Census disclosure avoidance system known as differential privacy and the 2020 Census data on citizenship status. With these being issues that would affect all localities and their ability to plan programs and services effectively, NVRC’s Demographer stepped forward to coordinate a successful effort in documenting the concerns. The Demographer proactively engaged in getting the concerns voiced to state and U.S. delegates and the U.S. Census Bureau. The goal of this regional effort has been to get a 2020 Census complete count, private census data, accurate census data, and similar demographic data available at small geographies like that of past Decennial Censuses for purposes of meeting local planning and service delivery needs. In the end, the concerns were brought to the Commonwealth of Virginia Governor, Virginia delegation in the General Assembly, U.S. Congressional delegates representing Northern Virginia, and the U.S. Census Bureau. This effort strengthened NVRC’s ties to localities and NVRC’s role in the region with assisting the region in demographic matters.
Learning from our International Partners
In 2019, NVRC led a one-week exchange to Germany to study the transfer and application of climate mitigation and resiliency innovations to Northern Virginia. The 10-member delegation consisted of elected officials, technical and policy staff from the NVRC, Dominion Energy, George Mason University, Community Energy Partners and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and reviewed climate programs in the cities and regions of Stuttgart, Bottrop and Berlin.
The innovations from Germany currently informing NVRC’s climate programs include:
• Adopting elements of the Stuttgart Climate Atlas into a data-driven, integrated region-wide resiliency planning effort linking “green” infrastructure, stormwater mitigation planning and watershed restoration;
• Transferring urban heat island mitigation efforts from Bottrop via pre-fabricated, recyclable, mobile, steel frame/platforms laden with “native plants“ and seating provide shade and microclimate management;
• Applying multi-purposed utility poles/street lights with LED lighting, air quality monitors and air temperature sensors in downtown areas;
• Applying photocatalytic bricks for sidewalks and streets to absorb NO and NO2;
• Exploring comprehensive energy planning for NOVA utilities from Bottrop;
• Adopting building retrofit and zero emissions construction from Bottrop and Stuttgart public-private outreach and energy consulting services;
• Transferring energy incubator and research facility concepts from Berlin to Alexandria Mirant plant.
This effort is consistent with the NVRC business model and workplan. For over 20 years, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission has led one of the most successful examples of strategically focused and outcome-oriented trans-Atlantic exchanges on sustainable development. Its transatlantic work started and has continued for these 20 years with the Verband Region Stuttgart. Over that time, the adoption of energy innovations from Berlin, Stuttgart and Bottrop and other German cities is now firmly in the work undertaken by a number of our local governments.
Road Salt Management
NVRC has been requested by the VA Department of Environmental Quality to play a regional leadership role in working with the agency and our local government partners with respect to the impact of road salt on potable water drinking supplies. NVRC will be playing a similar role to our Clean Water Partners campaign regarding stormwater.
NVRC was pleased to organize and lead a well attended, regional summit on walking safety. America Walks led a training and walkability audit during the one day summit. The 64 participants represented state and local planners, engineers and service providers along with elected official staff, community and pedestrian advocates and police.
Outcomes included assessments from the walkability audits, tools for engaging and communicating challenges, feedback on four problematic areas in Northern Virginia and a commitment by all participants to promote and encourage safe walking opportunities.
You can read the after action summary report from the Summit by clicking here.
Waste Managers looked to the Northern Virginia Waste Management Board to offer a platform for addressing significant market and industry challenges undermining the effectiveness and mission of local solid waste management in the region. Staffed by the NVRC waste program manager, the group developed common policy positions and problem solved approaches to keep local waste programs sustainable considering difficult market conditions, continued growth and waste generation, and with continued industry verticalization that undermines the flexibility of local waste management programs.
The Waste Board developed a series of fact sheets, developed policy positions, and used the waste board as a resource as they piloted a glass recovery initiative, offering a drop off option for local reuse while removing glass from single stream household collection.
Other policy fact sheets and research areas include litter, producer responsibility, industry paint recovery programs, plastic bags and other contaminants in recycling, among other items.