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Newslette | June, 2008 Back to Go Montgomery | Archive

DPWT Becomes DOT Next Month back to top

Starting July 1, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett's government reorganization plan will go into effect. Residents who interact with the County's Department of Public Works and Transportation will find a seamless transition to working with the new Department of Transportation (DOT), which will include capital transportation projects, traffic engineering and parking management, transit services, and highway maintenance and operations.

Other reorganization changes include creation of a new Department of General Services (DGS) with Fleet Management Services, Facilities and Services, and Capital Planning, Design and Construction from DPWT, as well as the Office of Procurement and the Small Business Reserve Program from the Department of Economic Development. The Division of Solid Waste will move from DPWT to the Department of Environmental Protection; the Department of Homeland Security will be abolished and, an Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security will be established. Responsibilities for facility security and Executive protection will be transferred from the Department of Homeland Security to the Montgomery County Police Department.

The reorganization is expected to improve accountability; provide a sharper focus on customer service, transportation, transit needs and environmental protection; and elevate the coordination of homeland security and emergency management activities.

The reorganization will also:

  • Enhance mission alignment;
  • Improve responsiveness, efficiency, and effectiveness;
  • Establish a single department with the sole focus of moving people and vehicles within a balanced, coordinated and safe network of transit, roads, bikeways, and pedestrian facilities;
  • Improve environmental sustainability and advance "green" programs to reduce carbon impacts on the environment;
  • Establish a single department for internal government support to proactively serve employees and County departments;
  • Improve the County's facility planning and asset management practices;
  • Enhance coordination and accountability for emergency planning; and
  • Consolidate and unite the protection of County facilities, employees, and visitors within the mission of a single department.

Construction Project Updates back to top

Montrose Road Reopens
After a six-month closure, Montrose Road between Tildenwood and East Jefferson Street reopened this month as the Montrose Parkway West project nears completion. Montrose Road was closed in December for reconstruction, and traffic was diverted onto the new Montrose Parkway while a bridge over Old Farm Creek was built to eliminate flooding problems and provide a safe crossing for wildlife.

Four lanes of Montrose Road were opened and, over the next few months, crews will finish constructing two additional lanes of Montrose Road west of Tildenwood Drive.

Montrose Parkway West, the largest road project ever constructed by the County, is a key component of efforts to relieve east-west traffic congestion and provide congestion relief in North Bethesda and along the Rockville Pike corridor. The project is expected to reduce traffic volume on Montrose Road between the Parkway and East Jefferson Street by nearly 50 percent. About 40 percent of the County's employers are located in the North Bethesda area. For more information about the Montrose Parkway project, visit the County's website.

Quince Orchard Road Safety Improvements
The Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPWT) has completed a $4.3 million project on Quince Orchard Road to improve pedestrian and driver safety, with the most recent enhancements between Pissaro Drive and the high school.

New additions include a bikeway along the west side of Quince Orchard from Darnestown Road to Horse Center Road, and the construction of missing links of sidewalk along the east side of the roadway. Other safety improvements widened the existing medians and aligned the entrance of Quince Orchard High School with the shopping plaza to reduce jaywalking by students, reduce vehicle speeds, and provide a larger refuge for pedestrians. Improvements were also previously made to increase sight distances for drivers near the intersection of Quince Orchard with Wonder View Way.

Redland Road
Construction has begun on improvements to Redland Road, between Crabbs Branch Way and Baederwood Lane that will widen the roadway width, create additional turning lanes at the road's intersection with Crabbs Branch Way and Needwood Road, install traffic control devices and construct additional storm drainage and storm water management structures. In addition, an eight-foot wide mixed-use bike path on the north side of Redland Road and the east side of Needwood Road will improve pedestrian access to the Shady Grove Metrorail station. Construction will take about a year. For more information, go to the County's website.

Longdraft Road, Phase I
DPWT has completed its Phase I Facility Planning Study for Longdraft Road between Quince Orchard Road (Maryland 124) and Clopper Road (Maryland 117). The proposed 1.5 mile project will widen Longdraft from two to four lanes and provide a continuous bike path and sidewalk to improve access to homes, Seneca Creek State Park, and places of worship. More details about this project are available on the County's website.

Seminary Road
A Phase I Facility Planning Study for intersection improvements to Seminary Road will soon be complete. The project, located in the Montgomery Hills section of Silver Spring, focuses on improving Seminary Road's intersection with Second Avenue, Linden Lane, Seminary Place, and Brookville Road, as well as the intersection of Linden Lane and Brookville Road. One of the main objectives for the study is to try and maintain the residential character of the area while providing traffic safety improvements. The recommended alternative is available for review online.

County Sets Temporary Emergency Fuel Surcharge for Taxicabs back to top

On May 30, Montgomery County set a temporary $1.50 emergency fuel surcharge on all taxicab rides that will be effective through August 27. The emergency measure provides relief to cab drivers because of high gasoline prices. Only one surcharge may be collected per ride. The charge may or may not appear on the taxicab meter, but will be added to the fare.

County officials were concerned that without the surcharge, the viability of the taxi industry could be impacted resulting in an inadequate number of taxicab drivers to maintain service levels. Taxicab drivers lease their cabs and earn a living by the profit they make from fares. Without the surcharge, drivers will continue to have difficulty paying their daily expenses.

The County's Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPWT) regulates the industry by licensing all taxicab vehicles and drivers and regulating rates charged by taxicabs. The last time the County established a temporary fuel surcharge was in September 2005. The County set current taxicab meter rates in February 2006, taking into consideration that a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline cost $3.28 in September 2005.

Residents may request more information about the surcharge by calling 240-777-CABS (2227), or by e-mailing taxicab.office@montgomerycountymd.gov.

County Has Two "Code Red, Ride Free" Days back to top

In June, the Montgomery County Ride On bus system offered free rides during two Code Red Air Quality Action Day alerts when unhealthy air quality was forecast. The "Code Red, Ride Free" program is part of the region's effort to encourage voluntary actions that reduce the emissions of smog-forming chemicals, including ozone and particulate matter. During Code Red days, the County refuels vehicles after dusk and curtails median strip spraying, mowing, and most asphalt paving, among other actions.

Residents can reduce their impact on air quality by carpooling, telecommuting, or taking mass transit to work. Residents can also reduce ozone and particulates by limiting driving or combining trips; refueling after dark; postponing lawn and garden chores that use gasoline powered equipment; waiting for a cooler day to use oil-based paints or switching to non-solvent or low volatile organic compound (VOC) paint; bringing a lunch to work so car trips around noon are unnecessary, and conserving energy whenever possible.

For more information visit the County's Department of Environmental Protection's website, or call 240-777-7700. For information on Ride On bus schedules, call the Transit Information Center at 240-777-7433, or check the County's website.

Ride On Ridership Increases in May back to top

Ride On bus ridership increased by 1.7 percent in May, compared to May 2007. Weekday ridership increased 2.8 percent. The average weekday ridership for the month was 97,226 and the total number of riders was 2,572,370. Ridership has increased by 5.2 percent so far this fiscal year (which ends June 30).

Storm Emergency Safety Tips back to top

Two fast-moving summer storms that swept through Montgomery County in June left many homes, businesses, and intersections without power.

Some safety tips for power outages include:

  • Keep a sufficient supply of flashlights and extra batteries on hand to provide lighting.
  • Avoid using candles for lighting. Battery-powered flashlights are safer.
  • Avoid candles and other open flames when fueling equipment such as a kerosene lanterns, since the candle flame can ignite fumes from the fuel.
  • Avoid opening refrigerator and freezer doors to maintain proper temperatures and keep food cold.
  • Treat highway intersections without signal power as four-way stops.

Residents can report downed trees on County property to the Department of Public Works and Transportation at 240-777-6000 during normal business hours. At other times, residents may leave a message or call the Police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000. Trees that have fallen on utility lines should be reported to local utility companies. "Hot" wires or sparking wires especially those across roadways should be reported by calling 9-1-1.

Ride On Celebrates National "Dump the Pump" Day back to top

To promote awareness of the role public transportation plays in improving the environment and conserving fuel, Ride On observed National "Dump the Pump" Day on June 19 by encouraging residents to take Ride On. Residents can reduce their impact on air quality by carpooling, telecommuting, or taking mass transit to work.

The celebration is sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). According to APTA, American public transportation systems help to create a healthier environment by reducing smog-producing pollutants and greenhouse gases. Public transportation produces nearly 50 percent less carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide per passenger mile, compared to private vehicles, and saves 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline every year -- the equivalent of 108 million cars filling up in a year.

Nearly one-third of Ride On's fleet of buses is environmentally friendly, running on compressed natural gas or using hybrid diesel-electric technology. The County has been aggressively acquiring a multi-technology fleet of alternative-fueled vehicles so it can benefit from expected improvements in operations, costs, and environmental impacts as different technologies evolve.

For more information about Ride On bus routes, visit the County's website or call the Transit Information Center at 240-777-RIDE (7433).

County Executive Leggett, Councilmembers, and State Officials Highlight Long Branch Streetscaping Project back to top

On June 5, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett joined County Councilmembers Valerie Ervin and George Leventhal, Maryland Delegate Tom Hucker, and members of the Long Branch Task Force to mark the start of a project to enhance the streetscape in a portion of the Long Branch community.

The project is financed by State Community Legacy funds and a federal Economic Development Initiative grant and will include sidewalks and other enhancements on Arliss Street between Flower Avenue and Garland Street. The improved streetscape will include new pedestrian streetlights, trash receptacles, shade trees, and disability accessible curb ramps.

This section of streetscaping is the first built to new design standards, developed with community input, through the work of the Long Branch Advisory Committee. The design standards are now a development requirement for future projects in Long Branch.

DPWT Employee Receives County Recognition back to top

Jean Gries, a Planning Specialist with the Division of Operations' Traffic Engineering and Operations section, received an Employee of the Year Award from the Montgomery's Best Honor Awards Program. Gries manages the Safe Routes to School program, an important component of the County's strategy to improve pedestrian safety and encourage more students to walk to school. The program focuses on engineering improvements that create a safer walking environment.

For more information about the County's pedestrian safety program, contact DPWT's Community Outreach office at 240-777-7155 or check the County's website.

New Pedestrian Safety Coordinator Hired back to top

In June, the Department of Public Works and Transportation selected Jeffrey R. Dunckel as the County's new Pedestrian Safety Coordinator. Dunckel joins the Director's Office from the Division of Transit Services, where he served as a transportation planner in charge of improving pedestrian safety and access to all transit facilities, including bus stops. Dunckel also served on the County's 2002 Blue Ribbon Panel on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety.

In his new role, Dunckel will improve walkability in the County; help implement portions of the County Executive's new Pedestrian Safety Initiative; coordinate pedestrian safety programs throughout the Executive Branch and other agencies, including Park and Planning and the public school system; and support the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee.

For more information on the County's pedestrian programs, visit the County's pedestrian safety website. To contact Dunckel, email him at the Community Outreach office at jeff.dunckel@montgomerycountymd.gov or call him at 240-777-7197

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Last edited: 6/30/2008