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D.C. Could Hit 880,000 Residents By 2040, A Number Not Seen Since 1950

The District continues to attract newcomers at a greater pace than its neighbors.
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The District continues to attract newcomers at a greater pace than its neighbors.

The population of the District of Columbia is expected to reach 880,000 people by 2040, a level it has not seen since 1950.

The finding, first noted by Greater Greater Washington, comes from population forecasts presented to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments on Wednesday. The forecasts are updated periodically and used to help plan for transportation and development throughout the region.

According to the forecast, D.C. is expected to add close to 300,000 residents by 2040, putting it above its highest recorded population of 802,000 residents in 1950. The city consistently lost residents after that, hitting 572,000 residents in 2000. Since then, it has grown steadily; by December 2013, the city's population reached 646,000.

D.C.'s growth remains consistent, says Robert Griffiths, acting co-director for transportation at COG, especially compared to other parts of the region. He says that regional growth has generally slowed, a trend more evident outside the city. "They've reduced estimates compared to previous forecasts," he says of areas outside D.C.

Still, the forecast finds that the region will continue adding people and jobs over the next three decades.

Fairfax County will remain the single largest jurisdiction in the region and add close to 300,000 residents for a total population of 1.3 million by 2040, while outer suburbs like Stafford, Loudoun and Prince William counties will post the highest overall growth rates. Stafford is expected to add 122,000 residents, almost doubling in population from 2010 to 2040.

Griffiths says the that growth is expected to center on 141 activity centers, areas including everything from D.C.'s NoMa to Virginia's McLean and Maryland's Frederick. Those centers will account for three of four new jobs and three of five new homes through 2040.

That, he says, speaks to the need for transportation planning focused on public transit, walking and biking.

Forecast

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