The Montgomery County Council today unanimously approved the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan. The main purpose of that plan is to establish the routes and possible station locations of the proposed countywide Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.
BRT is a plan for specially designed buses to travel over mostly dedicated lines throughout the County. The plan approved by the Council provides a framework for future transit that would enhance transit already available in the County in the form of Ride On, Metrobus and Metrorail and MARC Commuter rail, as well as the future Purple Line and Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT).
The Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan recommends a network of Bus Rapid Transit lines covering about 82 miles and 110 stations, not including the already master-planned CCT.
The master plan approved by the Council recommends the routes, the station locations and, for each segment, the minimum right-of-way. The recommended plan also states whether there would be dedicated lanes or not, and whether there would be up to 0, 1 or 2 lanes added in the road's cross-section dedicated to BRT.
The recommendations in the approved plan will serve as guidelines. Subsequent project planning studies could indicate that a route should be diverted slightly to serve a major destination. A station location in the plan means that there would be a station in the vicinity.
"I’m happy we are at this point today of adding Bus Rapid Transit routes to the master plan and acknowledging the importance of transit in our county. Seven years ago I asked my staff to find some roads where we could put transit that connected people from where they live to where they work. I knew that with all the existing congestion and all the planned and already approved development, we needed more and better transit to deal with traffic congestion and reduce carbon emissions" said Councilmember Marc Elrich, who introduced the concept of BRT for the County.
“Today our Council has set out a bold course toward a less congested future,” said Councilmember Roger Berliner, who chairs the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee. “A network of 10 Bus Rapid Transit corridors—in dedicated lanes—is at the heart of the plan unanimously adopted by our Council. It is an aspirational plan that will be implemented only after extensive community involvement, and if achieved, will make our County a transit leader in the country. It is a plan that focuses on moving people most efficiently utilizing our existing infrastructure, not just cars, and by doing so we will improve our quality of life, our environment, and our competitiveness in the region.”
The master plan does not recommend specific approaches on how BRT would be implemented on certain routes. For example, where the plan recommends dedicated lanes and adding one transit lane to the cross-section, it does not specify whether it would be a reversible lane (one direction in the morning peak, the opposite in the evening peak) or bi-directional lane (both directions in both peak periods, with a periodic lane to allow buses to pass).
Including the CCT, the plan identifies about 81 miles of dedicated lanes and 21 miles of mixed traffic operations. Subsequent project planning will determine the details of each route and there will be opportunities for considerable public input.
"I was very proud to preside over the passage of the Countywide Transit Corridors Master Plan, a plan to augment our public transportation system with an ambitious network of dedicated lanes for buses,” said Council President Nancy Navarro. “By itself, the plan we approved today will not alter the flow of traffic on any road in the County. We still have many years of funding decisions, public hearings, design and analysis before the first shovel can touch the ground for any of the routes in the plan. But we have put down an important marker—the Council understands that the only way to accommodate growth without traffic screeching to a halt is investing big in transit."
Councilmember Valerie Ervin said: “As the Council’s representative on the County’s Pedestrian, Bicycle and Traffic Safety Advisory Committee, I appreciate the designation of additional Bicycle-Pedestrian Priority Areas, which will promote better accommodation of non-automotive modes of transportation and increase safety, as part of the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan. In addition, I recognize how interconnected improved transit is to our land use decisions, especially in eastern Montgomery County.”
Councilmember Hans Riemer said: "As a member of the transportation committee I am pleased to see the transit master plan earn such strong support. Recognizing that most people will continue driving, this plan seeks to add fewer new cars to our roads in the future by gradually building a high quality public transportation alternative. We should proceed immediately with the Corridor Cities Transitway as our demonstration project."
The corridor routes in the recommended plan are:
· Corridor 1: Georgia Avenue North. A proposed 9.6-mile corridor that would run nearly entirely on Georgia Avenue (Maryland Route 97) between the Wheaton Metro Station and Olney.
· Corridor 2: Georgia Avenue South. A proposed 3.9-mile corridor that would run nearly entirely on Georgia Avenue between the Wheaton Metro Station and the District of Columbia line.
· Corridor 3: Maryland 355 North. A proposed 15.3-mile corridor that would run almost entirely on Maryland 355 between the Rockville Metro Station and Redgrave Place in Clarksburg, with two routes in Germantown East. The southern portion of the corridor lies within the City of Rockville and the center portion lies within the City of Gaithersburg.
· Corridor 4: Maryland 355 South. A proposed 7.8-mile corridor that would run entirely on Rockville Pike/Wisconsin Avenue (Maryland 355) between the Rockville and Bethesda Metro Stations. Despite the fact that it would run directly parallel to the Red Line, it is projected to carry more riders than any other proposed BRT route in this plan.
· Corridor 5: New Hampshire Avenue. A proposed 8.5-mile corridor that would run on New Hampshire Avenue (Maryland 650) from the Colesville park-and-ride lot south to Eastern Avenue at the District of Columbia line. This corridor is distinctive because it will require cooperation with Prince George's County and the District of Columbia.
· Corridor 6: North Bethesda Transitway. A proposed 2.7-mile corridor that would run from either the Grosvenor or White Flint Metro Station to Old Georgetown Road, south on Old Georgetown Road to Rock Spring Drive, and west on Rock Spring drive and Fernwood Road to Montgomery Mall. There would also be a new interchange connecting Fernwood Road to the HOV lane to and from the south on I-270. This is part of a planned transit/HOV lane that would connect to the HOT lanes in Virginia.
· Corridor 7: Randolph Road. A proposed 10.l-mile corridor that would run in mixed traffic nearly entirely on Randolph Road between the White Flint Metro Station and the U.S. Route 29 corridor station at Tech Road. In the western segment of the corridor, an alternative would be to add a BRT lane on Montrose Parkway between Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike.
· Corridor 8: University Boulevard. A proposed 5.5-mile corridor that would run on University Boulevard (Maryland 193) between the Wheaton Metro Station and Langley Park. It would also connect to—and, for a short stretch, run concurrent with—the Purple Line, as well to five other proposed BRT corridors: Veirs Mill Road, Georgia Avenue North, Georgia Avenue South, U.S. 29 and New Hampshire Avenue.
· Corridor 9: U.S. Route 29. A proposed 12.3-mile corridor that generally would run along Colesville Road and Columbia Pike between the District of Columbia boundary and Burtonsville, with two routes in the White Oak area.
· Corridor 10: Veirs Mill Road. A proposed 6.2-mile corridor that would run almost entirely on Veirs Mill Road (Maryland 586) between the Wheaton and Rockville Metro Stations.
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