County's New Storm Operation Center Put to Test During January 17 Snow Storm — back
Montgomery County's new Storm Operation Center got a workout shortly after it opened when a snow storm brought three to six inches of snow to the County. The new center is expected to improve storm response by bringing together improved technology and storm managers in one location. One of the innovations includes the use of WeatherBug®, a web-based local weather forecasting system, to help target resources to areas most impacted by weather conditions. Montgomery County is the first local jurisdiction in the nation to use WeatherBug in this way.
In addition to WeatherBug, the Storm Operation Center features:
- Wall-mounted monitors that stream video of road and traffic conditions from all of the County's 185 traffic cameras. Three additional monitors allow managers to select the cameras they wish to view. Staff can rotate cameras to view road and traffic conditions.
- An 800 megahertz radio system to communicate with DPWT depots, the Transportation Management Center, Ride On, Police, Fire and Rescue, State Police, State Highway, and others in the event that wireless communications fail. Monitoring of plow driver radio chatter also provides invaluable information about weather and road conditions.
- An internal web-based snow program that allows staff to track progress on plow routes countywide. The information is displayed on a screen that managers in the Storm Center and at all seven DPWT depots can access at all times. The snow program also displays information from weather road patrols that monitor air and pavement temperatures across the County.
Residents can access the snow program on the internet at home to determine whether plowing in their area has been completed, report a missed street, or obtain other storm status information. Go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov and click on "Winter Snow Information and Updates" on the homepage. For more information, call the Operations Hotline at 240-777-6000.
Leggett Unveils Proposed Capital Budget — back
On January 15, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett presented his $3.2 billion fiscal year (FY) 2009-2014 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) that keeps overall spending to a very modest 1.1 percent increase.
Leggett's budget includes important transportation projects that will help relieve traffic congestion, including continued funding to complete the Silver Spring Transit Center and Montrose Parkway West, as well as increased funding to complete the Montrose Parkway East, Father Hurley Boulevard, Nebel Street, and Woodfield Road Extended. Funding is also included for traffic improvements along Randolph Road from Rock Creek to Charles Road and for planning and design of the Goshen Road South project. A connection for Thompson Road and Rainbow Drive in Spencerville will improve access for residents in the community. Funding is recommended, as well, for new or expanded transit centers at Takoma/Langley Park and Montgomery Mall.
With the County's bus transit system nearing capacity, new and expanded bus depots to park and maintain the bus fleet are needed. The budget includes funds for planning, design, and property acquisition for the North County Maintenance Depot. To support doubling of transit ridership by 2020, planning and design funds are included for the Equipment and Maintenance Operations Center (EMOC). The location and schedule of the EMOC project may be affected by the Property Use Initiative, which will also relocate a large portion of the County's industrial uses from the Crabbs Branch Service Park to allow for private, transit-oriented development near the Shady Grove Metro Station.
In December, the Executive announced a Pedestrian Safety Initiative that sets out a blueprint for action to reduce collisions and improve walkability throughout the County. Pedestrian safety will be enhanced by this budget through continued funding of the Annual Sidewalk program and the Sidewalk and Infrastructure Revitalization project, construction of the Dale Drive Sidewalk, design and property acquisition for the Falls Road East Side Hiker/Biker Path, and continued construction of the US Route 29 Sidewalk projects.
The Department of Public Works and Transportation has completed a representative assessment of the County's road network, revealing that a substantial portion of the County's rural and residential roads are in need of immediate repairs. This budget reverses an historical trend of under-funding basic infrastructure road maintenance by doubling funding for the Resurfacing Rural and Residential Roads project and establishing a Rural and Residential Road Rehabilitation program to fund extensive replacement work. Other important infrastructure projects will receive additional funding, including replacement of the Clarksburg Road and East Gude Drive bridges.
This budget also contains full funding to modernize the County's Traffic Signal System, which is nearly 30 years old and vulnerable to a system-wide failure unless it is replaced with a modern, state-of-the-art, traffic control system.
Leggett has pledged to aggressively pursue additional State aid to upgrade the overburdened transportation network, including securing financial commitments to construct the Corridor Cities Transitway and the Purple Line.
Leggett Announces Legislative Priorities — back
Transportation is one of Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett top priorities for this year’s legislative session in Annapolis. He has pledged to work with the state legislative delegation, the County Council and the Governor to ensure that Montgomery County gets needed increases for critical transportation needs.
Although the County appreciates the $400 million in increased funding for the State’s Transportation Trust Fund approved during the special session, it is unknown what percentage of this increase will be allocated to desperately needed, critical projects for Montgomery County, including the Purple Line, the Corridor Cities Transitway, and the Maryland Route 355 corridor study, plus improvements to accommodate the consolidation of the Walter Reed Medical Center and National Naval Medical Center.
Leggett has pledged to work to obtain funding for these and other projects, including the I-270 HOV lanes north of Shady Grove to the Frederick County line, I-495 HOV lanes from Virginia to the I-270 West Spur, and a long-term solution for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority funding so the region can increase investments in its transit system. Locally, the County’s top priority, for years, has been funding construction of a Georgia Ave./Randolph Rd. interchange.
Montgomery County Receives Federal Funding for Local Transportation Projects — back
Thanks to the efforts of Maryland senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin and Congressmen Chris Van Hollen and Al Wynn, some critical projects affecting Montgomery County will be funded through the omnibus package passed by Congress late last year.
Under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program's transportation projects, $1.97 million will go for improved access to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda by making adjustments to Route 355. This funding is a great start, but the County will be seeking additional federal and state support to deal with the traffic congestion that more patients, families and workers will create.
The Bi-County Transit Center in Langley Park will receive $818,000 to provide an off-street bus transfer facility for Montgomery and Prince George's county residents.
Pedestrian safety efforts will also receive a boost from more than $262,600 earmarked for pedestrian safety linkages and way-finding community markers in the Long Branch neighborhood.
Ride On Expands Free Rides to Seniors and Persons With Disabilities — back
Starting January 1, the County's Ride On bus service was expanded to offer free transportation anytime to seniors (65 and older) and persons with disabilities. The free service is also available on Metrobuses operating in the County.
In July 2006, Ride On began offering free rides to seniors and persons with disabilities weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Now, they can ride free anytime that Ride On or Metrobus operates in the County.
Seniors may ride free on Ride On by showing either a Metro Senior Reduced Fare Identification Card or a Medicare Card with valid photo identification (driver's license, passport, or state issued identification card). People with disabilities and, if applicable, their attendants, may ride free by presenting a Metro Disabled Identification (ID) Card or Metro Disabled "Attendant Eligible" ID card.
Most current Ride On customers who are seniors or persons with disabilities already have the Metro ID cards that allow them to qualify for reduced fares on transit throughout the region. Seniors who wish to obtain the Senior Reduced Fare ID Card must fill out the Metro Senior Citizen Reduced Fare Program application. Persons with disabilities who need an ID card must fill out the Metro Reduced Fare Program for People With Disabilities application.
ID card applications are available at County senior centers, libraries, commuter stores, and regional services centers. Seniors must complete their applications on site and present a valid picture ID. Persons with disabilities may mail their applications to Metro.
For more information about Ride On services, call the Transit Information Center at 240-777-RIDE (7433) or visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rideon.
Residents Invited to Share Their Thoughts about the Future of
Maryland's Statewide Transportation System — back
Residents are invited to complete a survey for the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to help update its long-range transportation plan. In order to help MDOT, Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) is hosting the online survey for library customers. MCPL patrons accessing the Internet through the library's computers will be encouraged to complete the brief survey
The Maryland Transportation Plan (MTP) establishes a 20-year vision that will guide statewide improvements for all means of transportation, including highways, roads, tunnels, bridges, trains, buses, water ports, airports, bike paths, and sidewalks. MDOT updates the MTP every five years to address current and future transportation challenges, needs and conditions, and strives to create a plan that reflects and responds to Maryland's residents, businesses, local governments, and communities.
Participate survey by visiting www.marylandtransportationplan.com.
Montrose Parkway Project Enters Final Stages — back
Montrose Road, between Tildenwood and East Jefferson Street, is closed for six months as the Montrose Parkway project enters its final stage of construction. Starting December 11, eastbound traffic was diverted onto the new Montrose Parkway, and on December 18, westbound traffic was also diverted. During the temporary closure of 650 feet of Montrose Road, local traffic can still access homes, churches, and synagogues from either side of the construction project.
The County's Department of Public Works and Transportation is reconstructing Montrose Road and building a new bridge over Old Farm Creek to eliminate flooding problems and provide a safe crossing for wildlife. A newly installed temporary pedestrian bridge along the north (westbound) side of Montrose Road, across Old Farm Creek, will provide pedestrians with safe access along Montrose Road during the road closure.
Montrose Parkway West is the largest road project ever constructed by the County and is a key component in efforts to relieve east-west traffic congestion and provide congestion relief in North Bethesda and along the Rockville Pike corridor. About 40 percent of the County's employers are located in the North Bethesda area. When the entire project is completed in summer 2008, it is expected to reduce traffic volume on Montrose Road between the Parkway and East Jefferson Street by nearly 50 percent.
Silver Spring Bikeways Guide Available — back
"Silver Spring Bikeways," a colorful guide for bikers and pedestrians, is now available. The guide makes it easy to take advantage of downtown Silver Spring's mix of shopping, dining, and entertainment venues without a car, and offers information on major bicycle and pedestrian routes; amenities and safety tips for cyclists; accessing public transportation with a bicycle; major retail and dining centers; local government offices; and other areas of interest. A greater Silver Spring regional map and a detailed map of the central business district are included. Contact information for county, state, and regional cycling resources is also listed.
In addition to highlighting the area's on- and off-road bicycle routes, "Silver Spring Bikeways" lists public transportation options serving the downtown including the VanGo, Silver Spring's free downtown circulator shuttle. All Ride On and Metrobuses in Montgomery County are equipped with bike racks.
Copies of "Silver Spring Bikeways" are available on the Silver Spring Transportation Management District office's website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/commute, and click on "TMD's"; by calling 301-770-POOL (7665); or by visiting the Commuter Services' Commuter Express store, 8401 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. Maps of the White Oak vicinity bikeways and pedestrian facilities are also available.
Bethesda Transportation Management District's New Director — back
The Bethesda Transportation Management District (TMD), known as Bethesda Transportation Solutions (BTS), has a new director -- Danielle T. Milo. BTS promotes alternate transportation -- transit use, carpooling, biking, and other forms of travel -- to downtown Bethesda commuters. Ms. Milo has worked extensively in the non-profit and corporate sectors in the fields of marketing and communications.
As director, she will manage BTS' budget, oversee employer participation in commuter surveys and traffic mitigation programs, create marketing materials, implement initiatives to promote commuter programs, and coordinate ridesharing promotional events and website content. She also provides staff support to the Bethesda TMD Advisory Committee.
For more information on the program, visit the Bethesda Transportation Solutions website at www.bethesdatransit.org or call 301-656-0868.
Ride On's New Farebox Accepts SmarTrip Cards — back
Metro recently raised many of its fares, but the fares for Metrobus riders who pay with a SmarTrip(R) card will remain the same. SmarTrip cards cost $5 and can be purchased online at www.wmata.com, at Metro sales offices, select Giant food stores, commuter stores, or vending machines at Metrorail stations that have parking facilities.
Riders can add value to their cards at the Passes/Farecards vending machines in all Metrorail stations and on Metrobuses or Ride On buses.
Commuters can use their SmarTrip cards to pay for travel on Metrorail and Metrobus, on regional bus systems including Ride On, ART, CUE, DASH, Fairfax Connector, Loudoun County Transit, and the DC Circulator, and to pay for parking at Metro parking facilities.
For more information about Metro and SmarTrip, visit Metro's website at www.wmata.com. For information about Ride On, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rideon.
Keep Montgomery County Beautiful Grants Available — back
Keep Montgomery County Beautiful is an informal advisory group that awards beautification grants every year. Residents are urged to apply now for matching funds of up to $500 for volunteer projects that add flowers, trees, or bushes to a common area in a neighborhood. Rainscape gardens that help the environment also qualify if they're placed in common areas. To find out more about the grant program, visit the County's website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dpwt.
Keep Montgomery County Beautiful is also looking for more volunteers to help run its programs, including Adopt-A-Road and storm drain marking, that improve residents' quality of life. The advisory group consists of civic activists, gardeners, business people and concerned residents. If you'd like to join them, or just get more information, call the Department of Public Works and Transportation's Community Outreach line at
InterCounty Connector Construction Information Available — back
The Maryland State Highway Administration has begun construction for the InterCounty Connector (ICC) in several locations, including Redland Road, eastbound I-370, Georgia Avenue (Maryland Route 97) and Shady Grove Road. Motorists and residents will see temporary lane closures, temporary concrete barriers, vegetation clearing, and erosion control measures, along with other types of construction activity.
To learn more about the ICC project, visit the State Highway Administration's ICC website at http://iccproject.com or call 866-462-0020. A newsletter is available.
The ICC public outreach team is also available to meet with individuals and small groups on the second Thursday of every month to answer design and construction questions. These meetings are held at the project's Hub Office, 2 Taft Court, in Rockville. Call 866-462-0020 to schedule a meeting.
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