Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett announced the launch of a new, online map that will make it easier for residents to decide when to safely venture out following a snowstorm. The map will show the progress of snow plows throughout the County and indicate when emergency, primary and neighborhood streets have been cleared. A zoom feature allows residents to focus on the plow status of their immediate neighborhood and then zoom out to check on a trip route or anywhere in the County. The application was created through a joint effort by the County’s departments of Technology Services and Transportation.
Learn more about the County’s action plan for snow removal by reading the recently updated “When It Snows” brochure (pdf). The brochure explains the Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) approach to dealing with winter storms. With a workforce of 200 employees with 175 pieces of snow removal equipment and 180 contractors with 225 pieces of equipment, crews work around the clock until all County-maintained streets are passable. More resources may be called in for exceptional storms.
When snow is in the forecast, MCDOT crews are mobilized and they begin pre-treating main roads. Once it begins snowing, crews work continuously to salt and sand nearly 1,000 lane miles of primary (arterial roads connecting subdivisions or business districts) and secondary roads (main collector streets through subdivisions) and keep them in “bare pavement” condition. This ensures that in case of an emergency every County resident is within one-quarter mile of a cleared road. As snow accumulations reach three inches, plowing operations begin.
Once the snow stops falling and major roads are clear, crews then turn their attention to snow removal from more than 4,100 lane miles of neighborhood streets. It’s important for residents to understand that MCDOT’s goal is to make these streets passable – not clear them to bare pavement.
The type of snow (wet or powdery), pavement temperature, ambient air temperature, and wind conditions following a storm affect how quickly snow can be removed. MCDOT offers these general guidelines:
It takes about 16 hours following the end of a three-inch snowfall to plow or treat every County road once.
After a 10-inch snowfall, major and primary County roads should be cleared and neighborhood streets made passable within 24 to 36 hours. Snow removal will continue until all streets have been treated at least once.
After a 15-inch snowfall, crews should complete their work in about 36 to 48 hours.
After a 24-inch snowfall, crews should complete the work in about 48 to 60 hours.
Not all roads in Montgomery County are maintained by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT). When it snows, several agencies and jurisdictions are out in force clearing snow and ice, and this can cause confusion for residents.
MCDOT clears more than 5,000 lane miles of County-maintained roads. All State-maintained, numbered roads (such as Georgia Avenue, Maryland Route 97 or Rockville Pike, Maryland Route 355) are cleared by the Maryland State Highway Administration (MSHA). Other departments, outside agencies and governmental jurisdictions also have responsibility for plowing. They include the Montgomery County Board of Education; the Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission; the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro); municipalities; and homeowner’s associations. Commercial parking lot owners plow their own properties and are prohibited from moving snow into the street.
The County’s new snow map indicates whether a road is maintained by the County or not. Or, call 311 to check on who plows your road.
In January 2010, Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation (MCDOT), Division of Parking began a pilot project testing a “pay-by-cell phone” system at 1,200 parking meters in Bethesda, which included Lot 31, Garage 57 and some adjacent streets.
The test was so successful that the MCDOT has begun expanding the system. Now, more than 2,000 meters in Bethesda are part of the program. And, this spring, MCDOT will begin further expanding the program to 11,000 parking meters located in Bethesda, Silver Spring, Wheaton, Montgomery Hills and North Bethesda. Participating meters are identified by a label with the telephone number and website for the contractor, MobileNow, and the meter number.
To use a pay-by-cell meter when parking at a participating meter, call 301-830-7074 with a cell phone and then follow the prompts to enter the meter location number (located on the meter decal) and the amount of parking time desired. A voice and text message will confirm the start of the parking session. A great feature of the system is the ability to send a warning text message reminder when parking time is about to expire. If this happens and the parker needs more time, it’s simple to extend the parking session by phone (as long as the maximum parking time is not exceeded).
Other system benefits include no need to carry coins or pay for parking time not used as the parking session stops when returning to the vehicle. The system is simple and user friendly and parkers can view their parking transactions online.
Ride On customers who purchase a 7-Day Bus Pass can now load the pass directly onto their SmarTrip® card. Bus passes on SmarTrip® are valid for seven consecutive days of unlimited travel, not only on Ride On, but also on Metrobus, ART, DASH, DC Circulator, CUE, Fairfax Connector and TheBus.
The pass is activated the first day a customer uses it, regardless of the day, and then is valid for seven consecutive days. As an added convenience, customers may load two bus passes at a time onto their SmarTrip® card.
The cost of the 7-Day Bus Pass on SmarTrip® is $15 for the regular bus pass and $7.50 for the senior/disabled bus pass, the same cost as paper bus passes. Bus passes cannot be loaded onto a SmarTrip® card that has a negative balance.
Customers may add the 7-Day Bus Pass to their SmarTrip® card at any Metro sales office, regional transit store or select retail outlets. For a complete list of locations, visit Metro's website or call 202-637-7000.
Since its beginning in 1975, Montgomery County’s Ride On bus system has become one of the largest suburban-based transit systems in the country. Here are some facts about the bus that connects your community with shops, schools, work sites and Metro:
Ride On carries about 28 million riders a year.
Over 40 percent of the Ride On fleet is now fueled by alternative fuels (compressed natural gas and diesel/electric hybrid).
The average age of a bus in Ride On’s fleet is five years.
Ride On improved disabled access and pedestrian safety at nearly 400 bus stops in fiscal year 2010 as part of its ongoing bus stop improvement program. About 1,800 bus stops have been improved in the last four years.
Ride On increased security on its buses and at its facilities by installing cameras. About 90 percent of the bus fleet is now equipped with cameras.
Ride On accepts the regional SmarTrip card along with Metrobus and the other local transit operators in the region. Paper transfers were eliminated and now weekly bus passes are also available on SmarTrip cards.
Every Ride On bus is handicapped accessible and has a bike rack.
The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) is committed to keeping roadsides beautiful, which includes road maintenance, litter removal and eradicating graffiti. A partner in graffiti removal is GRAB, which stands for GRaffiti ABatement. This non-profit organization is supported by businesses and government and works to eliminate graffiti vandalism through eradication, education and enforcement strategies.
GRAB’s approach to graffiti is to remove it immediately and then develop long-term strategies to target at-risk youth.
In fiscal year 2010, GRAB, working with the Montgomery County Department of Corrections, cleaned up a total of 125 sites across the County, including signal boxes, retaining walls, roads, bridge underpasses, pedestrian tunnels and fences. They removed or painted over 32,000 square feet of surface. GRAB responds to graffiti reports countywide and coordinates the clean-up.
If you spot graffiti in the County, call GRAB’s hotline at 301-607-4722.
According to a December 5, 2010 article in the Washington Examiner by Christie Findlay, a study recently released by the Royal Holloway University in London found that primary school children cannot accurately gauge the speed of a vehicle traveling faster than 20 miles per hour. Researchers found that adults can usually judge speeds for vehicles traveling up to 50 miles per hour. The study noted that the problem wasn’t that children weren’t paying attention, but rather with their visual perception.
According to Safe Kids USA, motor vehicle crashes and pedestrian-related incidents are among the leading causes of death to children. That’s why it is so important to educate children about the safest ways to cross the street.
For information on pedestrian safety, go to the County’s website. The website also includes a StreetSmart demonstration about the importance of stopping distances that include a child mannequin named “Bobby.”