Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett celebrated the completion of a 1,500-foot extension of Watkins Mill Road from Frederick Road/MD355 to I-270. In the future, the State will construct an interchange onto I-270, with Watkins Mill bridging over I-270 and becoming a vital east-west transportation link, as designated in the Gaithersburg Vicinity Master Plan. The road will also provide a future link to the Corridor Cities Transitway.
For now, the new segment provides access to a new townhouse development under construction and will allow development of the Monument Office Park . Kaiser Permanente will build a new road to access their Gaithersburg facility, which is under construction, from Watkins Mill Road . The $7.7 million project was built thanks to a partnership between Montgomery County ’s Department of Transportation (MCDOT), the City of Gaithersburg and BP Realty Investments.
The extension is a four-lane divided roadway that includes a new sidewalk and bikeway. To further improve safety, the traffic signals at 355 and Watkins Mill Road were upgraded. A wildlife management plan, in partnership with the Humane Society of the U.S. , moved vulnerable animals away from the path of the roadway.
On October 5, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett joined several hundred parents, teachers, children and community members at Captain James E. Daly, Jr. Elementary School in Germantown to celebrate International Walk to School Day. This annual event attracts millions of participants around the world who promote safer streets, healthier habits and cleaner air.
Joining Leggett at this year’s County focus school were Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Joshua Starr, School Board Member Dr. Judith Docca, County Councilmembers Craig Rice and Hans Riemer and other dignitaries. Over 40 schools in Montgomery County celebrated the day with various activities.
Supporters of the event included the AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Foundation for Safety and Education, Federal Express, Montgomery County Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School, Safe Kids Montgomery County, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, Montgomery County Police, Maryland Safe Routes Network, Maryland Highway Safety Office and Captain James E. Daly, Jr. Elementary School.
Montgomery County is upgrading safety at schools, thanks, in part, to the federal Safe Routes to School program created in 2005. The program provides funding used by communities to create sidewalks and bike paths that allow children to safely walk or bike to school. Funding also supports enforcement and education campaigns. For more information, visit the County’s website.
The Montgomery County Department of Transportation Division of Highway Services (DHS) will conduct its annual vacuum collection of leaves in the southern part of the county from November 7 through mid-December. DHS makes two collections on every street in the vacuum leaf collection district during the fall.
Residents should look for signs posted along the streets announcing the collection dates in their neighborhoods. The green signs indicating the first collection should be posted the week of October 31. Red signs indicate the second and final collection.
The leaf vacuum collection district is bounded by I-495, I-270, the Rockville City limits, Norbeck, Bel Pre and Bonifant roads, Northwest Branch Park , and the District of Columbia and Prince George 's County lines.
Leaves should be placed in piles or containers on the grass or behind the curb. Placing leaves in streets or alleys can disrupt traffic and surface drainage, hamper snow removal operations or pose a fire hazard to automobiles parked over them.
Collections are restricted to leaves only. Tree debris, sticks, branches or coarse garden debris should be placed in containers or tied in bundles not more than four feet long and placed where household trash is regularly picked up.
Residents who miss the two scheduled vacuum collections can still have their leaves collected by placing them in paper yard waste bags or reusable containers for pick up on their regular yard waste collection day. Leaves placed in plastic bags will not be accepted.
DHS reminds residents that although every effort is made to maintain the posted schedules, weather and equipment issues can affect the timing.
Our clocks are scheduled to “fall back” to Eastern Standard Time on November 6 and unfortunately, with this change can come an increase in pedestrian collisions. Fewer hours of daylight and people in dark-colored coats can make it even more difficult for drivers to see pedestrians crossing at night or in bad weather.
Motorists are urged to slow down and watch for pedestrians. In any collision between a car and a pedestrian, it’s the pedestrian who will bear the brunt of the impact, regardless of who is at fault.
Pedestrians are urged to remember:
When you’re in the street, you’re in the danger zone!
Stay on guard even when you’re doing everything right.
Don’t expect drivers to see you or react in time.
Before you step off the curb look left-right- and then left again.
Get off the cell phone and stop texting so you’re not distracted.
While crossing, keep looking around for cars.
The County’s aggressive pedestrian safety program has invested millions of dollars in improvements – and the investment is making a difference. In cooperation with the State Highway Administration, the County is working to address engineering improvements to reduce collisions on both State and County roads. Police are also doing their part through enhanced enforcement to ensure that motorists obey the law.
The message to pedestrians is: Stay alert to stay alive in the danger zone.
On November 1, the Montgomery County Council will hold a public hearing to consider supplemental funding for the Maryland Route 355 Crossing project. The project will fund right-of-way negotiations, utility relocations and design and construction of a multi-modal, grade-separated connection between the Walter Reed Naval Medical Center and the Medical Center Metrorail Station. Funding also includes high-speed elevators to provide a direct connection between the Medical Center and the Metro Station mezzanine. The need for these improvements stems from Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) relocations that are bringing more than 2,500 new jobs to Bethesda and an increase of visits to the Center from 500,000 a year to nearly one million.
Montgomery County ’s Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Advisory Committee, in coordination with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and the Montgomery County Department of Transportation, recently hosted a Bike Ride-Along. Participants included Planning Board Chair Françoise Carrier, County Councilmembers Nancy Floreen and Hans Riemer and other local officials who got a first-hand look at both the pleasures and the challenges that bicycling in Montgomery County entails..
Traveling the nine-mile route between North Bethesda and Downtown Silver Spring, took riders along bikeways, roadways and trails used daily by both commuter and recreational bikers.
On average, more than 100 bicycle collisions occur each year in the County. A new Maryland law passed last fall requires motorists to give bikes three feet of space when passing. Bicyclists are no longer required to ride on the shoulder. However, if traveling at less than the speed of traffic, a bicyclist must still ride as near to the right of the roadway as practical and safe.
(Taken from State Highway Administration News Release, September 30)
Beginning October 1, the State Highway Administration (SHA) and local governments will begin issuing warnings to those who illegally post signs along State-maintained highways. Beginning January 2012, jurisdictions will start fining offenders a $25 for each sign in order to recoup the costs of removing them from highways.
Illegal signs distract drivers and, in some cases, can impede drivers’ vision or block legal signs from view. They can also affect maintenance operations, interfere with the work of utility crews and mar the landscape along Maryland ’s scenic routes.
Along state highways – including interstates, U.S. and Maryland numbered routes – private signs are prohibited in the medians and along the sides on the public property or “right-of-way.” The illegal signs are often found attached to utility poles or stacked together on wooden posts littering medians.
This summer, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments ( COG ) held a driver recognition program to honor truck and bus drivers and their companies for reducing engine idling.
Using “street teams” of COG , American Bus Association and state government staff, thousands of promotional campaign items were distributed. The campaign resulted in 200 drivers being nominated, from which seven winners were selected.
The program is part of the regional Diesel Anti-Idling Campaign, which raises awareness among drivers and businesses of the economic and environmental benefits of turning off engines instead of idling. Learn more about the campaign at “Turn Your Engines Off.”
The Maryland Department of Transportation has launched a new official travel information service called Maryland 511. Travel information is provided through the internet at www.md511.org, by phone at 511 (for those in Maryland or key roads in the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia ) or by smartphone. Those outside Maryland can call 1 - 855 - GOMD511 (466-3511).
Maryland 511 provides users with real time traffic information, transportation alternatives and links to tourism spots across the State. Travelers will be able to access information on:
Live traffic camera feeds
Highway construction updates
Weather conditions and forecasts
Transit and airport information
Toll facility information
Travelers can also follow the latest information from Maryland 511 on Twitter, which can be accessed from the Maryland 511 website.