The Montgomery County Transit Task Force presented its recommendations to County Executive Isiah Leggett for establishing a 160-mile, innovative, “best-in-class” rapid transit system that creates a comprehensive transit network. The Task Force is recommending that the system be built in three phases over the next nine to 20 years to mitigate both construction and affordability issues. Leggett created the Transit Task Force in February 2011 and appointed the members of the public/private partnership.
The proposed rapid transit system uses vehicles that will operate like “light rail on rubber tires.” To the maximum extent possible, the network would have separate, dedicated lanes, with an emphasis on creating a network with both north-south and east-west connections. The report states that a rapid transit network is essential if the County wants to achieve its smart growth vision and successfully compete for its fair share of the projected job growth in the region.
Governor Martin O’Malley announced that the locally preferred alternative (LPA) for the Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT) will be Maryland’s first Bus Rapid Transit system and will operate along a 15-mile north-south corridor from the Shady Grove Metrorail station to the COMSAT facility near Clarksburg. The next step is for the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) to submit the project to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) under its New Starts Program as the MTA prepares for the preliminary engineering phase of the project.
The preferred alternative will connect major employment, residential and activity centers in the corridor including Shady Grove, King Farm, Crown Farm, Life Sciences Center (LSC), Kentlands, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Metropolitan Grove, Germantown, and COMSAT. There will be direct connections to the Red Line at Shady Grove, the MARC Brunswick Line at Metropolitan Grove and local bus service throughout the corridor.
The CCT LPA will be a pedestrian-friendly system with 16 proposed stations that is expected to have 47,700 boardings a day by 2035. The CCT will operate at street level on a fully dedicated right-of-way with no shared use segments, allowing for fast and reliable transit operations. Parking will be available through existing and/or new Park and Rides at Shady Grove, Crown Farm, LSC West, Metropolitan Grove, Germantown, and COMSAT. The transitway is also being designed to accommodate a future hiker/biker trail.
On May 24, the Montgomery County Council approved a $4.6 billion total County operating budget for Fiscal Year 2013, which begins July 1, 2012.
Transportation-related items include:
An increase in the Ride On Monthly Pass from $40 to $45.
An increase in the cash or token Ride On fare from $1.70 to $1.80.
An increase in the regular SmarTrip Ride On fare from $1.50 to $1.60.
An increase in the Senior/Disabled cash/token fare from $0.85 to $0.90.
An increase in the Senior/Disabled SmarTrip fare from $0.75 to $0.80.
In the Bethesda Parking Lot District, an increase in: the short-term parking fee from $1/hour to $1.25/hour; long-term parking from $0.75/hour to $0.80/hour; the monthly pass from $140 to $150; and the associated daily and carpool passes.
In the Silver Spring Parking Lot District: an increase in the short-term parking fee from $0.75/hour to $1/hour; long-term parking from $0.60/hour to $0.65/hour; the monthly pass from $113 to $123; and the associated daily and carpool passes, effective Jan. 1, 2013.
A pilot program whereby residents of South Silver Spring can buy a monthly parking pass for the Kennett and King Street garages for the discounted price of $95; the pilot will run from Oct. 1, 2012 until June 30, 2014.
In the Wheaton Parking Lot District, an increase in the short-term parking fee from $0.50/hour to $0.75/hour, long-term parking from $0.50/hour to $0.60/hour, the monthly pass from $95 to $113, and the associated daily and carpool passes.
Approved items in the Capital Improvement Projects Budge include:
An increase in funding of by $16.25 million (95 percent) for roadway patching and resurfacing in FY 2013.
An increase in funding of $2.5 million (40 percent) for sidewalk and curb replacement in FY 2013.
A new parking garage on the Rockville campus of Montgomery College by FY 2015.
Design and construction of the Capital Crescent Trail, costing $49.5 million.
Construction funding for the Metropolitan Branch Trail and the Silver Spring Green Trail.
Construction of new bike trails along Frederick Road in Clarksburg, Needwood Road in Derwood and Gold Mine Road east of Brookeville.
The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) Division of Transportation Engineering will host a workshop to solicit community comment on the Midcounty Corridor Study on Wednesday, June 6. The meeting will take place, from 4 to 9 p.m. in the Watkins Mill High School cafeteria, 10301 Apple Ridge Rd., Gaithersburg.
The Midcounty Corridor Study is looking at ways to improve north-south transportation options in the Clarksburg, Germantown and Gaithersburg areas to serve the planned land use and future growth.
Attendees at the workshop will be able to review concepts at their own pace and provide feedback. MCDOT staff and other agency representatives will be available to discuss the project, answer questions and address concerns. No formal presentation will be made.
Planning for the Midcounty Corridor Study (MCS) began in 2006 with 11 preliminary alternatives. The MCS is now at a critical milestone where the 11 alternatives have been reduced to six, based on the results of preliminary studies, agency input, stakeholder recommendations and public comments. More information about the study is available on the County’s website.
The public may also comment by contacting Project Manager Greg Hwang at
The Division of Traffic Engineering and Operations (DTEO) recently completed traffic calming and pedestrian safety improvements on Jones Bridge Road between Connecticut Avenue (MD 185) and Jones Mill Road. DTEO installed new concrete median islands, marked crosswalks, ADA-compliant wheelchair ramps, permanent traffic signs and pavement markings. Crews also patched the roadway where needed.
Traffic calming efforts like this have reduced speeding on arterial and primary residential roads by as much as 11 miles per hour. Speed is directly linked to collisions and injury severity, so slowing traffic to the posted speed limits can both reduce collisions and significantly reduce the severity of injuries for those who are struck.
The Division of Highway Services (DHS) is repairing and repaving roads, including Fenton Street between Wayne Avenue and Philadelphia Avenue and Executive Boulevard, between East Jefferson Street and Old Georgetown Road. DHS will patch areas of distressed pavement; mill the roadway surface, removing one to two inches to improve drainage; make utility adjustments; seal cracks; repave the road using hot mix asphalt; and restore the lane markings.
The Montgomery County Department of Transportation Division of Highway Services Residential Streetsweeping program, which began in April, will continue through early July. More than 3,900 curb miles of streets are scheduled to be swept and over 2,000 tons of debris is expected to be collected. This program not only cleans streets, but also prevents harmful debris and pollutants from being washed into storm drains, eventually degrading local streams and the Chesapeake Bay.
Highway Services crews are also conducting litter pick-up across the County as part of the Refresh Montgomery program. So far, crews have patrolled 143 miles of roadway and collected 71 tons of debris.
Dedicated volunteers help the County remove litter from roadways. Under the Adopt-A-Road program, about 300 groups conduct roadside cleanups program and many have been active this spring, particularly around Earth Day in April.
Elsewhere in the County, bridge decks and drainage systems are being flushed of winter debris; road shoulders are being repaired; and crews are patching potholes and doing resurfacing projects.
For more information, including sweeping schedules or to report a pothole, visit the Highway Services’ website or call 311, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (TTY, call 301-251-4850).
As part of the County’s efforts to improve pedestrian safety in areas with the highest densities of collisions, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has launched a campaign aimed at high school students in the Four Corners area of Silver Spring. Collision data from Four Corners show that those under 20 years of age and those over 50 have been involved in the most collisions, usually during daylight hours. A group of Blair students was involved in developing the public education campaign.
A professional photographer took pictures of competing teens’ eyes at Montgomery Blair High School and two students are now featured on posters that urge pedestrians to establish eye contact with drivers and look both ways before crossing the street. The theme? “See Them See You!” Participating students received rubber wristbands -- reminders of safe behaviors.
Montgomery Blair students also participated in a contest to answer text message questions about pedestrian safety to win prizes, while learning to be safe walkers.
Street Smart is a regional public safety campaign that has addressed the challenges of pedestrian and bicyclist safety since 2002. The campaign urges pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists to stay safe by following the law and sharing the road safely.
The Street Smart program is coordinated by the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) and supported by federal funds, made available through state governments, and funding from some TPB member jurisdictions, including Montgomery County.
According to Street Smart, the Washington region ranks 20th out of the 52 largest metropolitan areas in pedestrian deaths per capita. On average, over 2,600 pedestrians and bicyclists are injured in the region every year and 89 are killed. Pedestrians and bicyclists account for 30 percent of the region’s traffic fatalities.
In Montgomery County, pedestrian collisions continue to decrease as a result of Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett’s Pedestrian Safety Initiative to improve pedestrian safety. Since 2005, pedestrian collisions per 100,000 residents have fallen from 46.7 in 2005 to 40.5 in 2011, and the severity of those collisions decreased.
Visit the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government’s Street Smart website to learn more about the campaign. For other information about pedestrian safety in Montgomery County, visit the Department of Transportation’s website.
Preliminary estimates for the Ride On bus system for this past March show the number of users grew by 2.7 percent, compared to the same month last year.
For the first nine months of the fiscal year, ridership is up 2.8 percent, compared to the same period in FY11.
Selected routes are doing very well. For example, Ride On’s express Routes 70 and 100 are up 21 percent from January through March; and the routes serving the National Medical Center (impacted by BRAC closure of Walter Reed) are up 6.5 percent from October through March.
Residents are reminded that Ride On Real Time now provides real-time information on bus arrivals using the internet, texting or applications for Android or iPhones. The tool helps passengers determine when the next arriving bus will be at their stop. Ride On Real Time can be accessed in several ways:
Through the internet using a computer or web-enabled device such as a smart phone
Through the Ride On Real Time App
Or, by texting the bus stop ID number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Passengers will quickly receive a text message indicating when their next arriving bus is coming. Or by texting the bus stop ID number to email@example.com. Passengers will quickly receive a text message indicating when their next arriving bus is coming. (Enter ONLY the bus stop number -- no text.)
Montgomery County’s Ride On bus system collected nearly 8,800 pounds of food and other items, a nearly 50 percent increase from last year, during its 25th annual “Give and Ride” food drive that took place the week of April 22. Bus passengers received free rides by donating canned or nonperishable food, disposable diapers, formula, baby or toddler food, and juice.
All food donations were sent to the Manna Food Center, a Gaithersburg-based non-profit organization that distributes food to the County’s neediest residents. Manna requested that Ride On hold its annual food collection drive in the spring to better meet community food distribution needs. Manna feeds about 3,000 families every month. Eligible clients in need of emergency food assistance may receive food every 30 days.
For more information about Ride On, check the website or call 311 (TTY, call 301-251-4850).
Beginning Sunday, May 20, schedules for seven Ride On bus routes were adjusted to better match the time it takes for the buses to complete their routes. No changes to the route or stop locations were made.
The changes affect only the weekday schedules for the following routes: 48, 49, 57, 58, 61, 64, and 74.
Ride On periodically makes these types of adjustments to take into account traffic conditions, construction projects and other factors that can affect the time it takes for a bus to complete its route.
Check the timetables by visiting Ride On’s website or calling 311 (outside Montgomery County call 240-777-0311) or TTY 240-773-3556.
Residents of metropolitan Washington can now dial (202) 589-1212 for current weather, air quality information and forecasts. According to its sponsors, the Metropolitan Council of Governments (COG) and Clean Air Partners, the weather line has received about 170,000 calls since January 2012.
COG has provided regional air quality forecasts since the 1970s, and the Clean Air Partners program educates people on ways to reduce air pollution and protect their health. The line encourages callers to visit the Clean Air Partners website to sign up for Air Quality Alerts, a free service that emails air quality information to subscribers.
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Reach-a-Ride program facilitates access to a broad range of specialized transportation services, from ramp- or lift-equipped taxis for mobility device users to door-through-door escort services for people with significant physical or cognitive limitations. Call center representatives can help find providers that offer appropriate services.
Contact the toll-free call center at 1-855-732-2427.
According to an April 25 ABC news report by Ben Eisler, a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that 16-year old drivers get in more accidents than any other age group. Only one-third of teens surveyed considered talking on the phone dangerous while driving. One in five admitted to texting while driving. Overall, girls were 15 percent more likely to engage in these risky behaviors than boys. Only two to three percent of teens surveyed admitted to drunk driving.
The Bethesda Urban Partnership and Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District have chosen 12 artists whose works are being featured in a public art exhibition called “Tunnel Vision.” The works are displayed in the pedestrian tunnel that runs under Wisconsin Avenue to the Bethesda Metro station in downtown Bethesda.
The 2012 Tunnel Vision artists are:
John James Anderson, Washington, DC
Sheila Blake, Takoma Park, MD
Frank Capello, Potomac, MD
Anne Chan, Silver Spring, MD
Howard E. Clark, Montgomery Village, MD
Richard L. Dana, Bethesda, MD
Bob Elliott, Bethesda, MD
Joey P. Manlapaz, Washington, DC
Greg Minah, Baltimore, MD
Alex L. Porter, Chevy Chase, MD
Spencer Razick, Kensington, MD (Young Artist)
Kristy Simmons, Bethesda, MD
The artists’ works were chosen from nearly 200 submissions. Painting, photography and digital imagery in both traditional and contemporary styles are represented among the artwork chosen. Now installed in the Metro tunnel, the images were printed on a poly metal material.
“Tunnel Vision” is a public art initiative made possible through a partnership with Montgomery County, the Bethesda Urban Partnership and the Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District and with donations from local organizations.