On March 23, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett welcomed regional leaders to Silver Spring for the launch of the spring Street Smart pedestrian safety campaign. This year’s campaign focuses on the message “speed kills,” which was graphically demonstrated using a foam-padded, child-sized dummy. A pick-up truck operator driving at 25 mph and was able to stop in time to avoid hitting the pedestrian dummy. However, at 35 mph, the vehicle collided with the dummy.
Leggett explained that speeding on residential streets and in school zones is unacceptable. A recent study of areas in the County where traffic calming measures were implemented showed they reduced speeds by as much as 10 mph – which has translated into a 70 to 100 percent reduction in collisions.
The direct connection between speed and collisions is why speed cameras are so effective in improving safety. A study has shown the cameras are effectively slowing traffic, by as much as 70 percent – and reducing collisions.
Spring is upon us and we’ve survived one of the severest winters in our history. County roads have also had to endure a season of freezing and thawing in addition to three major blizzards. That stress will manifest itself in the form of pavement cracks and those annoying potholes. Highway Services crews and contractors will be working all spring and summer making needed repairs.
Residents can easily report potholes online by going to www.montgomerycountymd.gov/potholes or by calling the customer service center at 240-777-6000. Provide details about the exact location -- the street address nearest the pothole or a landmark. During the winter Highway Services equipped foreman pickup trucks with cold patching materials to quickly address problems. Now that the weather is warmer, four pothole patching trucks work every day to make permanent repairs. Highway’s goal is to fix any pothole 36 hours after the time it was reported.
On March 15, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett announced his recommended $4.3 billion operating budget that closes a $779 million gap for fiscal year (FY) 2011 that begins July 1. Leggett’s budget focuses on protecting essential services and his priorities of education, public safety and the safety net for the most vulnerable, but includes significant reductions in services and staffing levels.
His hard choices resulted from the continued severity of the economic recession; doubling in the local rate of unemployment; declining residential and commercial development; ongoing, sharp declines in tax revenues and state aid; and emergencies such as the H1N1 flu outbreak and snow removal from this winter’s historic blizzards. Leggett’s budget brings the County government’s tax-supported growth rate down from a 14.1 percent increase in FY07, the year before he took office, to an historic minus 6.1 percent in the FY11 Recommended Budget compared with the current year. The overall 3.8 percent decrease for all County agencies from all sources represents the only reduction in the annual County budget in modern County history -- since the adoption of the current charter in 1968.
Many Montgomery County Department of Transportation services will be maintained, but there will be unavoidable reductions in certain areas. To view the budget highlights and the full budget, go to the Office of Management and Budget’s website. For transportation related items, see sections 46-48.
Approval of the budget is the responsibility of the County Council. The Council has now begun reviewing the proposed budget leading to their approval of the final budget by the end of May. The public can submit comments on the proposed budget through the Council’s public hearings, which will be held in Rockville on April 5-8. Residents may sign up to speak by calling 240-777-7803, by email, by regular mail at 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850, or by calling the Council’s budget hotline at 240-777-7802.
Starting Monday, March 22, Montgomery County’s roadways began getting a spring cleaning through the annual street sweeping program that cleans the County’s 5,000 curb miles of roads.
This joint effort between the Department of Transportation (MCDOT) and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) removes abrasives and other debris left behind after the winter snow season and improves the appearance and safety of County streets. Based on past results, officials expect the effort will help remove more than 3,000 tons of material that could otherwise be washed into county streams.
The amount of salt and abrasives used during this record-breaking winter means MCDOT’s clean up efforts are even more important. Removing excess debris and abrasives from road surfaces helps to keep drainage systems clean. It also helps to reduce pollutants that flow into local streams and, eventually, into the Chesapeake Bay. Roads that are in areas identified by DEP as sensitive watersheds will be swept first and, if needed, will receive additional sweepings.
Look for brightly colored signs posted in neighborhoods a few days before street sweeping begins. To improve the quality of service and the effectiveness of the sweeping program, residents are urged to find alternative parking while their streets are cleaned.
Daily updates detailing which areas are scheduled for street sweeping will be provided on County Cable Montgomery (Channel 6) during the morning and afternoon rush hours when the channel provides live coverage of local traffic conditions. Internet users can also find information about the schedule online.
For more information, contact MCDOT’s Customer Service Line at 240-777-6000.
Ride On bus passengers in Montgomery County can help needy families and receive free bus rides by donating canned or nonperishable food during Ride On’s annual food drive. A free trip will be provided to riders who donate food from Sunday, April 11 through Saturday, April 17. Food collected through the drive goes to Manna Food Center, which feeds 3,000 hungry families a month.
For 20 years, Ride On collected food at Thanksgiving. However, food donation centers tend to receive more food than they can store during the winter holiday season. So two years ago, Manna Food Center, the non-profit organization that distributes Ride On’s food contributions, asked Ride On to change the time of its food drive to the Spring.
During the Give and Ride promotion, food collection bags will be placed near the fare boxes on all Ride On buses. Riders using free shuttles and other transit services can participate by bringing their donations to a Ride On bus. In addition to non-perishable food, children’s items are also needed. Disposable diapers, formula, baby or toddler food and juice are especially useful to families in need. Plastic containers are preferred.
All food donations, regardless of the number of cans, will be valued at the regular fare rate of $1.45. Passengers who transfer buses will need an additional food donation to ride free on the second bus. Riders who wish to buy a Regional One-Day pass will need to add $1.75 to the fare box. Checks made out to Manna Food Center will also be accepted. Writing in “Ride On” on the “For” or “Memo” line in the lower left corner of a check will make it easier to track the success of the program.
For bus stop locations or bus schedules, call the County’s Transit Information Center at 240-777-7433; TDD/TTY 240-777-5869. Route and timetable information is also available on Ride On’s web site at montgomerycountymd.gov/rideon, , then click on “Ride On.” SmarTrip® and passes can be purchased online.
Four additional bus routes now supplement Metrobus’ Q2 on the busy Veirs Mill Road corridor that connects Shady Grove, Montgomery College, Rockville, Wheaton and Silver Spring thanks to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro), in partnership with the County and the Maryland Department of Transportation.
The Veirs Mill Road corridor serves about 10,000 riders a day. Because of its popularity and heavy route traffic, the line suffered from frequent overcrowding and poor schedule adherence. A comprehensive study, rider survey and series of public meetings led to the service improvements for routes Q1, Q4, Q5 and Q6.
In addition to the route changes, several operational improvements will help the service to run more smoothly. Among these are:
Increased Supervision – A team of Metrobus supervisors will focus only on the operation of the Q Line.
Greater Parking Enforcement – Enforcement of parking regulations around bus stops will help improve the overall flow of bus service, especially along Georgia Avenue and in Silver Spring.
Enhanced Bus Driver Training – Additional training will be given to bus drivers to help them deal with problems specific to the Q Line.
For more details about the new service, go to Metro’s website, call Metro Customer Service at 202-637-7000, go to the County’s website or call the Montgomery County Transit Information Center at 240-777-7433.
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Commuter Connections program is sponsoring a pilot project called “Pool Rewards” to encourage commuters who drive alone to try carpooling. If eligible, drivers can earn $2 a day ($1 each way) for each day they carpool to work over a consecutive 90-day period. The maximum incentive for the 90-day trial period is $130 in exchange for providing information online about the new commute and completing surveys about the experience.
This trial offer is only valid through March 31 to a limited number of commuters.
Since mid-2009, five pay-on-foot or pay-by-space County public parking garages have been accepting credit cards as a means of payment. And, the number of patrons relying on the convenience of credit cards continues to grow.
The garages that accept credit cards and the percentage of transactions by credit card at each one during February are listed below:
Number of Spaces
% of Transactions by Credit Card
Woodmont Corner Garage, Bethesda
Cameron Street Garage, Silver Spring
Wayne Ave Garage, Silver Spring
Town Square Garage, Silver Spring
Amherst Garage, Wheaton
For more information on public parking options in the county, visit the Division of Parking Management’s website, or call Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation Customer Service Center at 240-777-6000.