Montgomery in Focus Masthead
December 2011

 

Can Streetcar Program Expand to Silver Spring?

I, along with Councilmember Hans Riemer, sent a letter to District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett asking them to explore the possibility of extending the District's planned streetcar system to the Silver Spring Metro Station/Transit Center. The letter continues Montgomery County's interest in finding transportation alternatives that would benefit the Washington region beyond jurisdictional boundaries.

The complete text of the letter:

November 16, 2011

The Honorable Vincent C. Gray, Mayor
District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 316
Washington, DC 20004

The Honorable Isiah T. Leggett
Montgomery County Executive
101 Monroe Street
Rockville, MD 20850

Dear Mayor Gray and County Executive Leggett:

Recently we took time to review the final report of the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) entitled "DC's Transit Future System Plan" (April 2010). The report outlines plans for a comprehensive streetcar system within the District.

One of the proposed lines would run from Buzzard Point, north through downtown, continuing north on Georgia Avenue to Butternut Street, and then east to the Takoma Metro Station. Instead, would the District of Columbia consider the possibility of re-routing this line so that it proceeds north on Georgia Avenue to the Montgomery County line, and from there north to the Silver Spring Metro Station/Transit Center? While the terminus of each route is at a Metro Station, Silver Spring is also served by MARC Commuter Rail, as well as 46 bus routes and approximately 120 buses per hour in the peak hour--versus 15 bus routes and approximately 50 buses per hour at Takoma. Silver Spring will also be served by the Purple Line. Finally, there are many more opportunities for redevelopment along Georgia Avenue north of Butternut Street and in South Silver Spring that could be spurred and served by this extension.

If there is interest in both our jurisdictions, we would propose that our two DOTs engage in a sketch-planning exercise, in coordination with Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Maryland Transit Administration, and Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission staffs, to determine the design and operational feasibility of this route. Given our other respective transportation priorities, we are not under the illusion that this route would come about in the next few years, or even the next decade. But we think it is important to explore this idea now to determine whether we should revise our master plans accordingly. We look forward to hearing your response.

Sincerely,

Nancy Floreen, Councilmember
Hans Riemer, Councilmember


 

Montgomery's Economic Outlook

Dr. Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis, George Mason University, addressed the economic forecast for Montgomery County as it relates to transportation, housing and workforce development issues at at a briefing before the full Council.

He also discussed what steps the County can take to anticipate and absorb growth as well as the best practices to spur economic development and to make the connections between economic development, housing, and transportation.

I'm extremely grateful to Dr. Fuller for this thought-provoking presentation. You can see the slide show here, or better yet, watch the video of the presentation (click on November 8, agenda item 4).


 

Council Approves Wheaton Sector Plan

The Council approved the new Wheaton Sector Plan, which establishes a vision for future private sector redevelopment of this vibrant and diverse community.  We rezoned large portions of the area to encourage mixed use development, including retail, office and residential, while protecting surrounding residential neighborhoods.  We hope incentives in our new family of commercial/residential (CR) zones will preserve small businesses while allowing for large-scale development and adding the creation of a tree canopy as a priority.  It has been a great collegial effort among planners, community members and the Council's Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee, and I think it does a good job of accounting for a wide variety of needs and visions.


 

Helping Neighbors Celebrate the Holidays

A Bethesda Magazine article called The Great Divide points out that while Montgomery County enjoys a fair amount of wealth, there are many people here who struggle with basic necessities like food and housing, and the number of Montgomery County residents living in poverty has spiked in recent years.

There is no better way to share in the holiday spirit than to help make the holidays better for our neighbors in need.  For more than 30 years, the Holiday Giving Project of Montgomery County has helped low-income residents celebrate the December holidays.  A coalition of non-profit agencies, local governments and faith groups collect and distribute donations those in need.  To find out how you can help, visit A Wider Circle, the Holiday Giving Project's coordinating agency.


 

Fast Fact

Beginning in mid-January, 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.

In the interim, you can park at the Bethesda-Elm Parking Garage (Garage 57), which has more than 900 parking spaces and is located between Bethesda Avenue and Elm Street.  If you need to park for a longer time, you can use the Woodmont Corner Garage (Garage 11), at Woodmont and Old Georgetown Road, and the Auburn-Del Ray Garage (Garage 36), as well as at privately operated parking facilities surrounding Lot 31. Also remember the free Bethesda Circulator shuttle bus. Starting in December, and throughout the construction period, the Circulator schedule will expand, and the frequency of service will increase.


 

Green Tip of the Month

Illegal dumping is a serious problem in Montgomery County. Each year, the Department of Environmental Protection investigates more than 450 incidents of illegal dumping and spends over $100,000 for cleanup and enforcement.  If you see an act of illegal dumping, you can do something to help.  Please record:

  • The exact location where the dumping occurred
  • The license plate number of the vehicle
  • A description of the vehicle and person(s) involved
  • The date and time of the incident

Provide this important information by phone or online:


 

Let's Talk

Is your community organization hosting a public meeting?  Please let me know how I can help.  I am happy to assist residents in understanding pending bills or in finding ways to get involved in the political process.  Even more important, I want to hear about what matters to you.  Send your meeting notices to councilmember.floreen@montgomerycountymd.gov or call 240-777-7959 if you would like me to address a particular topic with your group.