A New Stadium Needs New Transportation Infrastructure

This morning, the Committee of the Whole, the Committee on Government Operations, and the Committee on Finance and Revenue held a joint public hearing to receive public testimony on the B20-805, the “District of Columbia Soccer Stadium Development Act of 2014.” I have significant concerns with the lack of transportation planning in the current proposal and it is my hope that these issues can be addressed quickly so that we can move forward with construction of a new DC United soccer stadium at Buzzard Point.

I recognize the substantial benefits that would be realized as a result of this project. In addition to providing much needed jobs for District residents, construction of a new stadium will serve as a catalyst for development of the area between Nationals Park and the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront. But any additional development brings with it both a challenge and opportunity to address public infrastructure in a way that ensures our ability to meet the needs of such a large increase in population and use. Adding massive stress to our existing transportation network and hoping everything works out is irresponsible.

My immediate concern with the current stadium proposal is that it lacks an adequate transportation infrastructure plan. This is about much more than just getting fans to and from the stadium. This is about taking a responsible, comprehensive approach to smart growth development. We must be able to forecast the impending needs that will come with a significant increase in not just fans, but new residents, workers and other visitors to the area.

Before I can vote to support the stadium deal, it is critical that we make a concurrent investment in the transportation infrastructure needed to meet the new demands that will come with the broader development of a currently under-connected part of the District.

Tommy Wells is the Councilmember for Ward 6.