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Friends And Colleagues Remember Slain Regional Transportation Official

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Alexandra Police continue to investigate the murder of a prominent transportation official. Ron Kirby, a top planner at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, was found shot to death inside his home Monday afternoon by a relative.

The news shocked friends and colleagues who had worked with Kirby over his 27 years at the Council of Governments. While there, the native of Australia faced a daunting task: figure out how to loosen the grip of traffic congestion on the Washington metropolitan area.

As the group's top transportation planner, he brought together the most influential elected officials in the region to support a multi-modal approach: not only more roads, but more public transit, more bicycling and walking, too.

"When you start looking at particular locations, you have to take into account the characteristics of that particular area," he said last Wednesday in the final of many interviews he gave WAMU 88.5, talking about the importance of developing land around Metro stations into walkable neighborhoods where residents don't need to own cars.

At the Council of Governments, he is being remembered as a genius in the transportation planning field who valued the input of ordinary citizens. "His deep knowledge and his wise counsel assisted local, state, and national officials in reaching consensus on major issues over these decades," said Chuck Bean, the council's executive director.

Stewart Schwartz at the Coalition for Smarter Growth called Kirby's death a "significant and tragic loss for our region."

"He very strongly supported this multi-modal future that we need to have where we focus not just on roads but on transit, and local streets, and walking and biking," said Schwartz.

Kirby was 69. He is survived by his wife and two children.

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