Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett announced that Ride On has purchased 13 new American-made buses -- 12 hybrid electric-diesel buses and one clean diesel bus -- using $6.55 million in federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds provided by the State of Maryland. Ride On has a fleet of 339 buses and in fiscal year 2011, the bus system carried 26.7 million riders. With this acquisition, environmentally-friendly buses will comprise nearly two-thirds of the fleet or 64 percent. Eighteen percent are hybrids, 27 percent are compressed natural gas buses (CNG) and 19 percent are clean diesel.
Leggett thanked the County’s federal delegation: Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski and Representatives Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards; Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff; Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley; and the County’s State delegation for their assistance in helping to secure the ARRA funds for Ride On.
Compared to Ride On’s oldest buses, the clean diesel and hybrid diesel-electric buses that were purchased with ARRA funds meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 emissions standards for heavy-duty diesel vehicles. These buses emit 95 percent less nitrogen oxides, 90 percent less particulate matter and five percent less carbon dioxide. The clean diesels also improve fuel economy by five percent. In addition, as hybrid buses use 20 to 30 percent less fuel, they emit 20 to 30 percent less carbon emissions compared to conventional diesel buses.
The Division of Highway Services began work this month to improve both Travilah and Wightman roads using stimulus funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to improve primary federal roads.
In the spring. both roads will be resurfaced, using hot mix asphalt, after crews complete full depth patching, pavement milling, utility adjustments and crack sealing this month.
Other permanent patching projects completed this fall include Fawsett Farms Manor and River Falls neighborhoods in Potomac; Olney Village community, Olney; and Parkside neighborhood in Bethesda.
In addition, Highway Services completed concrete curb and sidewalk repairs in the Kensington Heights community.
The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has submitted an application to the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) for a $1 million grant that will fund a bikesharing system in southern Montgomery County. The bikeshare application to MDOT is the fifth grant submitted by MCDOT over the past three years seeking funding for bikesharing, but the first to the State of Maryland since it announced a bikeshare grant program this November.
The proposed bikeshare program will fund 29 docking stations and 204 bikes between the Beltway and the District of Columbia border, including Friendship Heights (Chevy Chase), Bethesda, the Medical Center Metro area, Takoma Park and Silver Spring. The bikeshare stations would be integrated with the Capital Bikeshare system in Arlington, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, focusing on connecting Metrorail stations in downcounty areas with major employment, residential, commercial and activity centers.
Montgomery County has been successful in obtaining a $1.3 million Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant for a bikesharing program in portions of the City of Rockville and Greater Shady Grove Transportation Management District, including the County’s Life Sciences Center. That grant is provided through the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments under the FTA’s Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) program to link lower-income residents and employees with jobs and job training. The City of Rockville is partnering with the County to provide matching funds and implement the program. The Rockville/Shady Grove bikesharing program will eventually be connected with the proposed downcounty system as it expands.
The new bikesharing application requests 80 percent grant funding for capital facilities. The County would be responsible for the remaining 20 percent local match, which is coming from private sector sources. The County also will be responsible for operating and maintenance costs, some of which are expected to be offset by revenues from membership and usage fees.
Building developers, businesses, residents and other organizations in the County that have an interest in bikesharing are invited to contact the County’s bikeshare program staff to explore opportunities for joint funding, as well as to suggest locations for bikeshare stations.
Beginning January 1, 2012, long-term parking rates in the Silver Spring Parking Lot District and the North Bethesda Transportation Management District will increase by 10-cents an hour.
The Montgomery County Council approved the parking rate increase as part of the fiscal year 2012 budget approved in May.
In addition, Parking Convenience Sticker rates will increase from $95 a month to $113 a month.
For additional information on parking options in Silver Spring, the County’s other Parking Lot Districts or other locations in the County, visit the Division of Parking Management’s website or call 311.
The County has received $90 million from the U.S. Department of Defense for transportation projects in Bethesda. The funds will be used to address traffic congestion resulting from the move of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to the National Naval Medical Center under the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC).
Forty million dollars will be used by the County to construct a Maryland Route 355 crossing, which involves installing deep elevators on the east side of Rockville Pike to the Metro Station platform and a pedestrian tunnel for bus and carpool commuters and walkers.
Forty-nine million dollars will be used by the State of Maryland to construct improvements at four major intersections: Rockville Pike at Cedar Lane and at Jones Bridge Road; Connecticut Avenue at Jones Bridge Road; and West Cedar Lane at Old Georgetown Road.
These projects are in addition to new or renovated bike paths and sidewalks the Montgomery County Department of Transportation has already constructed at the medical complex. Together they will improve transit and vehicle mobility and promote pedestrian safety. For more information, visit the County’s BRAC website.
The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has announced 47 winners of its 25th annual Keep Montgomery County Beautiful (KMCB) community beautification awards. Fourteen amateur photographers were also honored in addition to two Adopt-A-Road volunteers.
The beautification contest is open to community groups, businesses, public institutions and other organizations undertaking landscaping projects that enhance the appearance of commonly owned sections of commercial or residential properties and along County roadsides, medians, or other public locations.
More than 20 years ago, concerned volunteers formed the Keep Montgomery County Beautiful Task Force to work with the County to develop beautification projects and anti-litter and recycling programs. The group also conducts public education to change citizen attitudes about littering and graffiti.
For the 20th Annual Amateur Photography Contest, photos were judged on effective composition, originality, technique, interest and relevance of the subject matter. This year there were 21 entries.
Beginning in a few weeks, two surface parking lots in Bethesda (known as Lots 31 and 31A), located at the intersection of Woodmont and Bethesda avenues, will close for about 30 months for the construction of a public-private partnership project that will more than triple the number of public parking spaces available on the site. One to two months after the project begins, Woodmont Avenue between Bethesda Avenue and Leland Street will also close for about 20 months. The adjacent Capital Crescent Trail will remain open during the entire construction project.
Working with Montgomery County since 2005, real estate developers StonebridgeCarras and PN Hoffman announced that they have formed a joint venture with Northwestern Mutual to develop the mixed-use project that will 250 residential units and 40,000 square feet of street retail above a public parking garage that will accommodate about 950 cars.
Residential components of the development include The Darcy, an 88-unit condominium building, and The Flats, a 162-unit apartment building.
The National Center for Safe Routes to School recently released “How Children Get to School: School Travel Patterns from 1969 to 2009,” a research report that provides insight into national trends in U.S. school travel. The report describes how student school travel in the United States changed in the past 40 years..
Among the findings:
From 1995 to 2009, there were no significant changes in school travel trends for students living within one mile of school -- a distance often considered easily walkable and bikeable.
When all students are considered, regardless of their distance from school, the percentage of students driven to school in personal vehicles increased while walking and school bus use dipped slightly and bicycle use stabilized.
Parents driving students and teens driving themselves to school accounted for 10-14 percent of all the personal vehicle trips made during mornings of the school year.
Federal law has allowed employees or employers a $230 a month tax-free or pre-tax transit benefit for those who commute to work using transit or vanpools. The current transit benefit cap was not extended by Congress, so beginning January 1, 2012 the tax-free transit benefit will decrease to $125 a month and the parking benefit will increase to $240/month.
The Montgomery County Council will hold a public hearing on January 24 at 1:30 p.m. on proposed Bill 37-11 that would allow the installation of cameras on County school buses to monitor vehicles that illegally pass stopped buses.
A Maryland State Department of Education survey released in March 2011 reported that in a single day in February, more than 7,000 drivers illegally passed stopped school buses in Maryland.