Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett was joined today by Senator Paul S. Sarbanes at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit Center in Silver Spring. The center will combine Metrorail, Metrobus, Ride On, MARC and inter-city bus services in one facility on the site of current Ride On and Metrorail bus operations – an area bordered by Colesville Road, Wayne Avenue, Ramsey Avenue and the Silver Spring Metro Station. Bus operations will be moved to on-street stops on Sunday, September 28 to make way for construction of the Transit Center.
“The Silver Spring Transit Center will be a tremendous boost to Silver Spring, to public transportation, and to Smart Growth,” said Leggett. “This center has been one of the County’s highest transportation priorities, and we are very grateful to our Federal delegation for their support and success in securing the funds to make this project a reality.”
The County’s Congressional delegation played a critical role in securing $53.6 million in federal support for the project.
“Keeping Marylanders on the move has always been one of my top priorities,” said Senator Barbara Mikulski. “A strong, modern transportation and mass transit system strengthens our neighborhoods and communities, gets Marylanders to their jobs, delivers goods to the marketplace and reduces traffic on our roads and highways. This project is critical to the economic growth of Silver Spring. That’s why I’ve been fighting for years to improve public transportation in Silver Spring and throughout Montgomery County.”
“Like my predecessor, Senator Paul Sarbanes, I strongly believe that federal investment in public transportation should be a national priority. Communities across our nation receive extraordinary public benefit from mass transportation systems,” said Senator Benjamin L. Cardin. “Silver Spring’s new Transit Center will facilitate the movement of thousands of people, help take cars off our congested highways and remove tons of pollutants out of the air we breathe. It’s a win for our local economy, our environment and the health of our citizens.”
Also attending the groundbreaking were County Councilmembers Valerie Ervin, Marc Elrich and Don Praisner; State Senators Jamie Raskin and Richard Madaleno; State Delgate Al Carr; Maryland Transportation Secretary John Porcari; Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) General Manager John B. Catoe, Jr.; Federal Transit Administration and Maryland Transit Administration representatives; and community members.
On Sunday, Ride On and Metrobus stops will be relocated to nearby locations on Wayne Avenue, Dixon Avenue and Bonifant Street. The taxicab stand will be located on Ramsey Avenue near its intersection with Wayne Avenue. Metro’s Kiss & Ride area for the Silver Spring Metrorail station will be in the public parking garage located at the intersection of Bonifant Street and Dixon Avenue. To access the Kiss & Ride, drivers should use the garage’s Bonifant Street entrance.
“With sky-rocketing fuel prices squeezing our family budgets and burdening our economy, a strong, modern transportation and mass transit system is more important now than ever,” said Congressman Chris Van Hollen. “The Paul S. Sarbanes Transit Center will play a vital role in keeping our community moving, relieving traffic congestion, and giving our residents more transportation choices.”
“The opening of the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit Center is an exciting and welcome addition to a revitalized downtown Silver Spring,” said Representative Donna F. Edwards. “This state-of-the-art facility will help meet the ever-growing public transportation needs of the entire area. I hope this center can serve as a model to develop similar projects throughout the Washington metropolitan area.”
Pedestrian and transit amenities have been built to allow access to bus and other services during project construction. New on-street signs throughout the area around the Transit Center display maps showing the location of Ride On, Metro, VanGo, MTA Commuter and the University of Maryland shuttle bus stops. The map also shows the location of the Commuter Store, taxi stand, Kiss & Ride area, parking, Silver Spring Metrorail station and the MARC Brunswick Line Silver Spring station. Maps depict a recommended route for persons with disabilities. Patrons with disabilities can also use the VanGo circulator bus, which services two locations near the Metrorail station and the bus stop areas.
“I am so excited that my community will finally have a state-of-the-art transit center in downtown Silver Spring that will increase access to a variety of transportation options and help people leave their cars at home,” said Councilmember Valerie Ervin, who represents District 5, which includes Kensington, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, and Wheaton. “The Paul S. Sarbanes Transit Center is a multi-modal transit hub that not only serves Silver Spring residents, but also provides the transportation capacity needed to continue to operate as a critical infrustructure link for all county residents well into the future.”
Bus stop signs and shelters have been added throughout the area around the Transit Center. A new pedestrian walkway around the construction site will provide access to the MARC train platform. There is no change to the MARC timetable. Passengers should be aware that no ticket agent is available onsite. Monthly and weekly tickets or Transit Link Cards can be purchased at the on-site MARC Fare Machine, at another MARC station, or online at www.commuterdirect.com. One-way tickets can also be purchased (cash only) onboard the train with no penalty fee.
Buses, Metrorail and taxis currently serve 57,000 patrons daily at the Silver Spring Metro. By 2020, it is estimated that 97,000 people will be served. The Transit Center will improve pedestrian circulation and safety and create a pleasant pedestrian environment including a wide promenade, green parks, plazas and customer conveniences. The design also includes access for the future Purple Line.
“This transit center is just the type of facility we need to help take full advantage of surface transportation and link multiple modes of transportation together,” said Metro General Manager John Catoe. “Facilities like this clearly help us take people where they want to go.”
The total project area is 5.7 acres, of which 1.9 acres is owned by the County and the remainder by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro). Metro and the County issued a joint development solicitation that integrates private development into the project’s design, including 170 residential units, a, 200-room hotel and 250,000 square feet of office space. Construction of the Transit Center is expected to take about two years.
“The Federal Transit Administration is proud to sponsor the Sarbanes Transit Center Project,” said James S. Simpson, FTA administrator. “This facility promises to improve mobility in this densely populated corridor, to encourage further economic development in fast-growing Silver Spring and provide convenient access to transit for people who choose to live or work nearby. We believe the Center will continue to spur the kind of transit-oriented development that helps keep communities like Silver Spring healthy and attractive.”
“Generations of Marylanders will be reminded of Senator Sarbanes vision, hard work and commitment to transit when they use the Paul Sarbanes Transit Center,” said Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari. “Governor Martin O’Malley shares that commitment. We will continue to invest in our transit assets in the days ahead, including transit oriented development projects that will create more ridership and economic development. These projects will foster continued smart growth throughout Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, and around the state.”
The Transit Center design features buses on two levels, accessed from Ramsey Avenue at the upper level and Colesville Road at the lower level. A third level will incorporate Metro's Kiss & Ride area, which will be accessed from Bonifant Avenue, in addition to a taxi stand and short term parking. Adequate space for the future Capital Crescent Trail will be provided along the north side of the existing CSX tracks. A new traffic signal will be installed on Colesville Road, also along the north side of the existing CSX tracks to provide better access to the bus bays, the Metrorail station, and the Transit Center. A new traffic light is also planned for the intersection of Wayne and Dixon avenues. The existing urban park will be reconstructed and a public plaza will be incorporated into the project.
Foulger-Pratt Construction is the construction contractor for the Transit Center. The total project cost is $93.3 million.
For more information about the project, go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov/sstc or call 240-773-7777.
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