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Newsletter | August/September, 2008 Back to Go Montgomery | Archive

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett Celebrates "Pedestrian Safety Week": Five Events Highlight County's Progress on Improving Pedestrian Safety and Access back to top

On his way to one of five events held during the first two weeks of September to announce new steps Montgomery County is taking to improve pedestrian safety, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett came upon a tragic scene. A young woman was lying dead in the road - one of the County's most recent pedestrian fatalities. This heartbreaking tragedy was just another reminder of the urgency of the County's pedestrian safety efforts and why Leggett designated the first week in September as "Pedestrian Safety Week" in Montgomery County. At the event that day, Leggett said, "We are making progress in creating a truly walkable community, but we are still losing too many lives -- and even one death is too many."

Last year, there were 412 pedestrian collisions in the County and 17 deaths. So far this year, there have been 13 deaths, and in the first four months of 2008, there were 145 pedestrian collisions.

Leggett announced a number of new initiatives aimed at reducing, and hopefully preventing, future tragedies:

Focus on Areas with the Highest Number of Pedestrian Collisions
On September 2, the Department of Transportation (MCDOT) announced that Piney Branch Road between Flower Avenue and the County line, will be the first area targeted for pedestrian safety improvements aimed at areas with the highest frequency of collisions. Over the next few months, MCDOT will make engineering improvements and beef up education and enforcement. Success will be measured and the results will be used as a model to target other problem corridors.

New Road Code Regulations Will Improve Pedestrian Safety
On September 4, Leggett released new "Road Code" Executive Regulations that are designed to ensure that County roads fit into their surroundings and the environment and better accommodate their many different users, including bicyclists, vehicles, mass transit - and, of course, pedestrians. A 24-person Stakeholder Work Group comprised of advocates for pedestrians, bicyclists, the disability community, transit, motor vehicles, environmental concerns and County agencies overwhelmingly endorsed the proposed changes to the way the County builds and rebuilds. The new Road Code will make Montgomery County a model for others to follow.

New Pedestrian Safety Video Available
On September 5, Leggett announced the availability of a pedestrian safety video called, "Walk SafeTM: Keeping Pedestrians Safe in the Danger Zone" that is being distributed to adult English-as-a-Second Language (ESOL) teachers, Montgomery County public schools, community groups, faith organizations, non-profits and others who work with non-native English speakers. This group is at much higher risk than the general population for being involved in pedestrian collisions, so the County is ramping up efforts to reach them, and other high risk groups, with pedestrian safety messages. For more information about the video, or to order it for your group, check the County's website.

Nearly $5 Million in Annual Speed Camera Revenues Pledged to Improve Pedestrian Safety
Given the County's very difficult budget situation, it has been a challenge to find a way to pay for all the improvements that are needed to make streets safer for County families. But, on September 8, Leggett was able to recommend full funding of his Pedestrian Safety Initiative starting next July - an increase in pedestrian safety spending of $4.8 million annually - using speed-camera revenues. Speed cameras are designed to deter aggressive driving in residential neighborhoods near County schools, and they are already having an impact by reducing speeds in those areas. The cameras are protecting families and protecting lives.

Safety Improvements on Arcola Avenue
Engineering changes are making a difference in enhancing safety. Last year, MCDOT installed pedestrian protection improvements on Connecticut Avenue that reduced traffic speed by 10 miles per hour, made drivers more aware of pedestrians, and increased compliance by motorists yielding to pedestrians at the crosswalk.

Leggett announced on September 9 that similar engineering changes were recently installed on Arcola Avenue in Wheaton, where a 14-year old boy was killed two years ago. For Arcola, the four-lane road was reduced to one lane in each direction. MCDOT installed concrete pedestrian refuge islands, which are areas between lanes of traffic where pedestrians may safely wait. The refuge islands not only help calm traffic, but also reduce the crossing distance for pedestrians. MCDOT also installed bump-outs, which extend the curb, also giving pedestrians a shorter distance to cross the road.

At the conclusion of the five events, Leggett said, "The new measures I announced are just a beginning. Reducing pedestrian fatalities and injuries in Montgomery County will require more creativity, hard work and dedication. It will require significant changes, as well, in the attitudes and habits of all drivers and pedestrians. But, I am confident it can be done and encourage everyone to be involved in a partnership of caring. If we all look out for each other, we will succeed in making Montgomery County safer and more pedestrian-friendly."

Federal, State and Local Leaders Break Ground for the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit Center in Silver Spring; Bus Operations Moved on September 28 back to top

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett was joined by Senator Paul S. Sarbanes at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit Center in Silver Spring. The transit center will combine Metrorail, Metrobus, Ride On, MARC and inter-city bus services in one facility on the site of current Ride On and Metrorail bus operations - an area bordered by Colesville Road, Wayne Avenue, Ramsey Avenue and the Silver Spring Metro Station.

Bus operations were moved to on-street stops on Sunday, September 28 to make way for construction of the Transit Center. Ride On and Metrobus stops are now at nearby locations on Wayne Avenue, Dixon Avenue and Bonifant Street. The taxicab stand is located on Ramsey Avenue near its intersection with Wayne Avenue. Metro's Kiss & Ride area for the Silver Spring Metrorail station is in the public parking garage located at the intersection of Bonifant Street and Dixon Avenue. To access the Kiss & Ride, drivers should use the garage's Bonifant Street entrance.

Pedestrian and transit amenities have been built to allow access to bus and other services during project construction. New on-street signs throughout the area around the transit center display maps showing the location of Ride On, Metro, VanGo, MTA Commuter and the University of Maryland shuttle bus stops. The map also shows the location of the Commuter Store, taxi stand, Kiss & Ride area, parking, Silver Spring Metrorail station and the MARC Brunswick Line Silver Spring station. Maps depict a recommended route for persons with disabilities. Patrons with disabilities can also use the VanGo circulator bus, which services two locations near the Metrorail station and the bus stop areas.

Also attending the groundbreaking were County Councilmembers Valerie Ervin, Marc Elrich and Don Praisner; State Senator Richard Madaleno; State Delgate Tom Hucker; Maryland Transportation Secretary John Porcari; Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) General Manager John B. Catoe, Jr.; Federal Transit Administration and Maryland Transit Administration representatives; and community members.

Construction is expected to take about two years. For more information about the project, go to the County's website or call 240-773-7777.

Construction Project Updates back to top

A project to construct a sidewalk along Maryland Route 108 in Sandy Spring is underway. The project will install new sidewalks along the east side of Norwood Road from Windrush Lane to Route 108, and continue along the south side of Route 108 from Norwood Road to about 300 feet east of the Route 108 and Meeting House Road intersection. A new storm drain system will also be installed. The project should be completed by the end of this year.

MCDOT Repairs and Resurfaces Neighborhood Streets and Sidewalks
MCDOT's Division of Highway Services (DHS) continues its seasonal road maintenance program. DHS is responsible for maintaining over 4,800 lane-miles of streets in Montgomery County. During the warmer weather months, the crews focus on repair and resurfacing. Resurfacing roads extends their usefulness, protects the road base and sub-base, seals small cracks, and levels minor imperfections.

DHS notifies residents in neighborhoods before resurfacing begins. Some areas of the County recently receiving improvements include: Flower Avenue, Montgomery Village Avenue, Kentsdale Drive, Burdette Road, Potomac Ridge, Pratt Place in Capitol View Park, Brooke Manor, Sweepstakes Road, Waters Landing Drive, Middlebrook and Seneca Park areas, and Neelsville Estates.

Road repairs were completed in the Avenel area.

Curb and sidewalk repairs were completed in the neighborhoods of Fox Hills, Glenview and Westmoreland Hills.

Ride On Ridership Continues to Grow back to top

For the month of August, Ride On ridership grew by 3.2 percent compared to August of last year and the weekday ridership grew by 7.9 percent. Total ridership for the month was 2.6 million passengers and the average weekday ridership was 99,646 customers.

Growth on Ride On's Route 70 bus, the Germantown/Bethesda Express, continued to outpace the rest of the system, with a nearly 40 percent increase over last August. Other express/commuter style routes, including 71, 76, 78, 79 and 100, all had 25 percent or more increases in ridership over the past year.

County's Silver Spring Commuter Store Gets New Name and New Location back to top

Montgomery County's Silver Spring Commuter Express Store has a new name - TriPS - and a new location at 8413 Ramsey Avenue. The new store, at the corner of Wayne and Ramsey Avenues, near the Silver Spring Metro Station, provides visitors with whatever they need to make their commutes easier. TriPS stands for "Transportation Resources, Information and Places to See" and is part of the preparation for the new Silver Spring Transit Center, which is scheduled to open in late 2010.

The TRiPS store sells bus passes and tokens for Ride On and Metrobus, SmarTrip Cards, Metrorail and MetroAccess farecards. Transit maps, schedules, and transit-related merchandise are also available. Environmentally-friendly travel modes are promoted, including transit, car/vanpooling, biking, walking, and car sharing.

TRiPs, operated by Montgomery County Commuter Services, provides complimentary services to help Montgomery County employers and their employees beat traffic, save time and reduce expenses, while being kind to the environment. Transportation marketing specialists are available to visit businesses and set up a customized commuting benefits program, tailored to its needs.

For more information, contact Montgomery County Commuter Services, which also moved on September 8 to 1110 Bonifant Street, Suite 400, Silver Spring. Call 240-777-8380 or 240-773-8747, or visit the County's website.

MCDOT's Customer Service Center back to top

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) established a Customer Service Center in September of 2005 to handle highway, traffic and some parking related issues at one convenient number: 240-777-6000. The Center's hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Residents can call the Customer Service Center to report concerns about potholes; mowing and leaf collection; shoulder repairs; sidewalk, curb or gutter refurbishment; lane markings; street name or stop signs; streetlight problems; and traffic signal concerns.

Seniors and Persons With Disabilities Reminded That They Can Ride Free on Ride On and Metro Buses back to top

Ride On and Metro buses in Montgomery County are now free anytime for seniors, age 65 and older, and persons with disabilities. Seniors ride free by showing the new Metro Senior SmarTrip card to the bus operator. The card can also be used on Metrorail, like any SmarTrip card, by adding value to the card using either a bus farebox or a farecard machine in a Metro station.

The Metro Senior SmarTrip cards are available at any County library. To obtain the card, seniors need only show proof of age, such as a driver's license, other state-issued identification card, birth certificate and a photo ID, or a passport, and pay five dollars.

People with disabilities may ride free by presenting a Metro Disabled Identification (ID) Card that can be obtained by filling out an application (pdf) available on Metro's website or at County libraries, the TRiPS Store in Silver Spring, the Transit Information Center, County senior centers or regional service centers.

Metrobus routes in Montgomery County that are free to seniors and persons with disabilities are: C2, C4, C7, C8, D5, F4, F6, J1, J2, J3, J4, J5, J7, J9, K6, L7, L8, Q2, T2, Y5, Y7, Y8, Y9, Z2, Z6, Z8, Z9, Z11, Z13 and Z29.

County Celebrates Car Free Day back to top

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett proclaimed Monday, September 22 as Car Free Day in Montgomery County. The County joined the Washington region in celebrating this annual, worldwide event by encouraging residents and employees to find an alternative to using their car that day, or simply reducing their driving.

To celebrate Car Free Day, Montgomery County's Commuter Services (MCCS) staff were available at the Silver Spring, Bethesda, White Flint, Wheaton and Friendship Heights Metrorail stations to provide commuters with information about various transportation options. MCCS also sent a letter to employers in the County encouraging them and their employees to participate in these activities and/or walk, take transit, carpool, vanpool, bike, or telework on September 22. Commuters who pledged to be car-free or car-lite for the day were eligible to win prizes from the Car Free Network.

For more information about commuting options in the County, contact Commuter Services at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/commute or call 240-777-2989. Or, commuters in the Silver Spring area can stop in at the new location of the County's Commuter Store, now called TRiPS (for Transportation Resources, Information and Places to See), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is located at the corner of Wayne and Ramsey avenues at 8413 Ramsey Avenue.

Additional Taxicab Vehicle Licenses Available back to top

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) announces the availability of 15 Taxicab Passenger Vehicle Licenses for individual taxicab drivers. The availability of additional fleet licenses will be advertised in October.

To be eligible for the licenses, individuals must hold a Montgomery County taxi driver identification card, have driven a cab in the County during the past three years, have a superior driving record and not already have a Passenger Vehicle License.

Application forms (pdf) are available at the Division of Transit Services Taxicab Office, 101 Monroe Street, 5th floor, Rockville, Maryland 20850 or on the MCDOT website. Applications require a non-refundable $500 fee and must be received at the taxicab office no later than 11 a.m. on Wednesday, October 8.

For more information, call the Taxicab Regulation Office at 240-777-CABS (2227) or e-mail taxi.office@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Last edited: 10/6/2008