"An unusual confluence of events has created a rare opportunity today for our region to do even more to unclog roads and improve the quality of life," says McCartney.
"Both Virginia and Maryland passed historic tax increases in the spring to raise additional billions of dollars for roads and transit. The new money is arriving just as two important, long-term trends improve the odds that the money could actually lead to appreciably less time wasted in backups."
"First, people are driving less, both in the Washington region and the rest of the nation," he explains. "Second, our area is seeing the benefits of so-called smart growth policies designed to concentrate development around mass transit, especially Metro stations, and generally encourage alternatives to driving."
McCartney looks at the balance of transportation investments that need to be demanded by the public, and some of the key battles that need to be resolved in order to build on recent gains.
"There’s money on the way and reason to believe that it can make a sizable dent in what’s often called the region’s biggest problem. Let’s not blow this chance."
UPDATE: For a critical response to McCartney's column, with suggestions for how to further reduce congestion without building new roads, see Richard Layman's post on the blog "Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space".