The County’s departments of Transportation and Police met with CountyStat to review the progress of County Executive Ike Leggett’s Pedestrian Safety Initiative, launched in late 2007. CountyStat conducts periodic reviews to analyze the effectiveness of the program.
Data indicates pedestrian collisions and their severity are trending downward where engineering, enforcement or education strategies have been implemented. One of the biggest successes has been the Safe Routes to School program that has significantly reduced pedestrian collisions at more than 50 schools.
At the meeting, Montgomery County Department of Transportation Director Arthur Holmes described how the department’s traffic calming efforts have reduced speeds and reduced the number of collisions. Slowing traffic can significantly reduce the severity of collisions. He also reported that one-third of the County’s traffic signals now allow pedestrians more time to cross. County Police Chief Thomas Manger discussed how his department will be enacting a new zero tolerance pedestrian safety strategy with greater emphasis on issuing citations to both drivers and pedestrians who violate pedestrian safety laws.
Montgomery County has redesigned its Base Realignment and Closure BRAC website to provide helpful transportation, traffic and other information to residents and employees traveling to or through Bethesda . The closure of Walter Reed Army Medical Center means that more than 2,500 new jobs are being relocated to the campus of the National Naval Medical Center and visits are expected to double to nearly one million a year.
BRAC was enacted by Congress in 2005. Montgomery County has worked closely with the State of Maryland since the relocation was announced -- and with a very engaged Bethesda community -- to devise plans to address the oncoming impact. These plans include projects at key intersections, improved pedestrian and bicycle access and ensuring safe and efficient pedestrian access at the Medical Center Metro station.
County Executive Ike Leggett celebrated the completion of a 1.2-mile extension of Father Hurley Boulevard from Wisteria Drive to Germantown Road/Maryland 118. This is an important north-south link for Germantown communities separated from the Town Center and I-270 employment corridor by the CSX railroad tracks . from the Town Center and the I-270 employment corridor.
The $11 million extension is a four-lane divided highway that includes a bridge over the railroad tracks. Two retaining walls minimize impacts on adjacent properties. These walls feature a simulated stone pattern that was chosen to mimic what the B&O Railroad built in the early 1900s when the entire Metropolitan Branch was upgraded. At that time engineers used large, rectangular blocks of stone laid horizontally for strength. Many of these structures are still in service on tracks that go though Germantown .
The project also includes a bikeway; street lighting; storm water management features, such as a porous concrete sidewalk; landscaping and reforestation. For more information about this and other construction projects, visit the Division of Transportation Engineering’s website.
The Cedar Lane Bridge in Bethesda that carries traffic over Rock Creek reopened to traffic on August 5, three weeks ahead of schedule. The bridge was closed to traffic on June 16 to allow MCDOT to refurbish concrete beams and piers that were in poor condition.
The construction is related to transportation improvements in progress to address the increased traffic expected as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) changes at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda . For more information on BRAC, visit the County’s BRAC website.
When the bridge reopened, Ride On bus route 34, which was detoured during the bridge’s closure, returned to its normal routing. For Ride On schedule and route information, visit the Ride On’s website.
The Department of Transportation’s Division of Highway Services (DHS) recently began road resurfacing projects on: Research Boulevard between Shady Grove R road and Omega Drive, Muddy Branch Road, from Darnestown Road (MD 28) to Dufief Mill Road; Lockwood Drive, from MD 650 to Stewart Lane; Shakespeare Boulevard, between Frederick Road and Observation Drive; Observation Drive, north of Ridge Road; and Falls Chapel Way.
For these projects, DHS patches areas of distressed pavement; mills the roadway surface, removing one to two inches to improve drainage; makes utility adjustments; seals cracks; repaves the road using hot mix asphalt; and restores the lane markings.
Over the next three to four weeks, Tucker Lane , between New Hampshire Avenue and Ashton Road will be permanently patched. This is a cost effective interim way of maintaining roadway structural integrity. Areas of pavement that require replacement down to the road base are excavated and replaced with hot mix asphalt. This full depth patching restores the pavement’s structural integrity, and prevents water from getting into the pavement and underlying road base. Patching extends roads life between 15 and 20 years.
Sidewalk and curb repairs are also in progress in the communities of Tivoli , Silver Spring ; Ken-Gar, Kensington; Glenmont Hills, Kensington; Greencastle Lakes , Burtonsville; and Longmead Crossing, Silver Spring .
The work involves removing and replacing damaged sidewalks and ensuring that curb ramps are accessible to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act; removing and replacing damaged and misaligned curbs; and restoring disturbed areas with soil, grass seed, and straw mulch. While DHS is in the neighborhood, residents can take advantage of the competitive price offered by the County to replace driveway aprons (the portion of the driveway that is within the public right-of-way) and lead walks (the sidewalk from the edge of the road to a homeowner’s property line).
For more information on Highway Services’ resurfacing projects throughout the County, visit the Division of Highway Services’ website or call 311, Monday through Friday, 7:00 am to 5:00 pm .
When Hurricane Irene hit the County on August 27, Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) crews were fully mobilized to respond. The following is a summary of how each of MCDOT’s divisions responded during the storm:
Crews and 25 tree contractors were mobilized Saturday evening and remained on duty through Monday.
595 requests for service were logged.
209 of the requests were related to downed trees or power lines
Thirty roads were closed due to blockages or high water.
Traffic Engineering and Operations:
Additional technicians were mobilized Saturday evening and remained on duty throughout the storm until Monday.
130 traffic signals were either dark or on flash due to power outages
The Parking Maintenance Team spent several days in advance of the hurricane preparing parking facilities for the storm. This work included sand bagging all areas that tend to have flooding issues; testing and fueling all back-up power generators; obtaining plywood to secure windows if broken; cleaning all facility drains; and adjusting all crew schedules to provide coverage for the weekend.
On Sunday morning, two garages and two lots in Bethesda were without power, as were one lot in Silver Spring , one lot in Montgomery Hills, and the Burtonsville Park and Ride lot. In addition, Garage 2 in Silver Spring was flooded and the Barnesville MARC Station lost power and was flooded.
By Monday morning all Parking Lot District facilities, all Park and Ride lots, all MARC stations, and the Transit Centers were restored to normal service and clean up was complete.
Buses were fueled before the storm hit to ensure that they were ready for Monday service.
Staff stayed in close contact with Metro staff throughout the storm.
Up to 10 bus routes had to be detoured over the course of the storm due to road closures.
Engineers inspected 25 bridges for damage after the storm that could have been impacted by high water.
No foundation damage was found to any of the bridges.
Thanks to a $1.3 million grant, Montgomery County and the City of Rockville will establish a bikesharing pilot program to bring 200 bicycles and 20 stations to the Rockville and Shady Grove areas. The program is expected to begin next year.
The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board approved the grant on June 15. The program is one of eight regional projects receiving funds under the Federal Transit Administration's Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) initiative.
The project will test whether bikesharing is feasible in suburban centers outside a central city setting, as well as whether bikesharing can provide another transportation option to residents and employees.
Eligible low-income workers will receive a free, one-year bikeshare membership; coverage for a certain level of user fees; a bike helmet; training classes in bicycle use and safety; and assistance with identifying safe bicycle routes.
While this grant is for the bikesharing program in the Rockville and Shady Grove areas, Montgomery County is continuing to explore opportunities to expand the program to other parts of the county. Expanding the program would require partnerships with developers, businesses, and other organizations in the County. Any organizations interested in partnering with the County by helping to provide funding or sponsorship should email Commuter Services.
The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has enhanced its Pay-By-Cell phone parking program with the addition of QR (Quick Response) code scanning capabilities. A QR code is a two-dimensional bar code that looks like black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background and is readable by QR barcode readers and camera phones.
Under the new system, drivers can pay for a parking session by scanning a QR code with a smart phone. The code contains information that identifies the space number on a parking meter. This eliminates the possibility of typing in the wrong meter number when paying for parking using a cell phone. The QR code can be scanned using the ParkNOW! application, available free from iTunes, Android Market, and soon, Blackberry App World.
Three Montgomery County employers were recognized at the regional Commuter Connections’ 2011 Employer Recognition Awards ceremony this summer for collectively reducing 734,550 vehicle miles traveled in the region and cutting gasoline usage by 36,928 gallons last year.
The businesses honored were:
The American Occupational Therapy Association, which won the Incentive Award;
B.F. Saul Company won the Marketing Award; and
Clean Currents received the Telework Award.
Montgomery County Commuter Services and its local program operators, Bethesda Transportation Solutions and the North Bethesda Transportation Center , provided assistance and guidance to the companies. Commuter Services is available to assist other businesses in establishing and enhancing programs that make using alternative transportation options easier for employees. Contact Commuter Services for more information.
Join others throughout the Washington region and worldwide in celebrating Car-Free Day on September 22 this year. The first Car-Free Day was held September 2000 to encourage a small act that can have a big impact. The idea is that once residents try working from home, carpooling, vanpooling, riding a bus, taking a train, pedaling a bicycle, or walking to a destination, they may be encouraged to do more of it in the future. With the high cost of gasoline, Car Free Day is a great opportunity for commuters to try Car Free and Car-Lite alternatives and see the positive impact on their daily commute.
Last year, about 7,000 people took the pledge to go Car-Free or Car-Lite, and contributed to improving the region’s air quality and reducing their carbon footprint. Pledge today to go car-free on September 22, and enjoy a chance to win great prizes, including an iPad and a bicycle.
Montgomery County ’s Commuter Services will be glad to assist employers in organizing Car-Free Day events, as well as help individual commuters find new ways to get to work. Email Commuter Services for assistance.
A new taxi company, Ora n age Taxi, began service this month in Montgomery County . This is the fifth taxicab company that is licensed to operate in the County, providing residents with more options.
Taxicabs that operate in the County must be licensed by the Department of Transportation and meet stringent requirements. Vehicles must be late model cars, carry adequate insurance, pass two mechanical inspections a year, have clean interiors and be in be clean and in good cosmetic condition.
Taxicab drivers must also be licensed by the County. To get a license they must pass a test, complete both Maryland and Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal background clearances, and have good driving records.
Last year, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) began a study to identify key County transportation corridors in the county that could accommodate bus rapid transit ( BRT ) service. BRT is a provides a more predictable and streamlined bus service similar to light rail but at a lower cost.
The study recommends developing bus rapid transit along 16 corridors, totaling 150 miles. Passengers would pay their fares in advance and enter low floor buses directly through multiple doors—no steps or lifts. Buses would arrive at stations every 10 minutes or less, preferably operating in the median of major roads, such as Veirs Mill Road, Georgia Avenue and Randolph Road .
The next steps will be further discussions with neighboring agencies, jurisdictions and the general public to drive policy and investment decisions.