Duncan Announces Major Increase in Transportation Funding — back to top
In his recommended fiscal year (FY) 2007 operating budget formally submitted to the County Council on March 15, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan announced a major increase in transportation spending for the County that includes a 21 percent increase in mass transit funding. The budget also puts more than $80 million of local money towards accelerating State road projects that are currently stalled, a proposal championed by County Council member Nancy Floreen. The additional transportation funding will go towards increased Ride On bus service, the purchase of new buses, and priority road improvement projects.
Under Duncan’s budget proposal, 24 of Ride On’s 83 routes throughout the County will get additional service next fiscal year. Ride On will add eight new compressed natural gas buses and nine new hybrid diesel-electric buses that will provide nearly 35,000 more service hours. The annual operating cost for the enhanced service is about $2.6 million. The 24 routes are among the fastest growing ones and were chosen because they are the ones most in need of additional capacity
Duncan also proposed contributing up to $80 million over three years, to accelerate a number of State road projects that are critical to reducing traffic congestion in Montgomery County. Duncan explained that he hopes that by providing this incentive, the State Highway Administration will add these projects to their Consolidated Transportation Program.
Five grade-separated interchanges are being considered, including:
- Randolph Road/Montrose Parkway and Maryland Route 355/Rockville Pike;
- I-270 and Watkins Mill Road Extended;
- U.S. Route 29/Columbia Pike and Musgrove/Fairland Road;
- Maryland Route 97/Georgia Avenue and Maryland Route 28/Norbeck Road; and
- Maryland Route 97/Georgia Avenue and Randolph Road.
In the first quarter of fiscal year 2006, transit ridership increased more than seven percent compared with the same period in fiscal year 2005. If this trend continues, Ride On expects to transport about 27 million passengers in FY 2006, an increase of about four million trips in two years.
Construction for Silver Spring Transit Center to Begin This Fall — back to top
On February 27, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan announced $24 million in additional federal funding for the Silver Spring Transit Center. Duncan was joined at the event by Senator Paul Sarbanes, Congressmen Albert Wynn and Chris Van Hollen, County Council President George Leventhal, State legislators and representatives from Metro.
“I applaud our Congressional delegation for their tireless advocacy in support of public transportation in general, and this project in particular,” Duncan said. “Silver Spring is a model of Smart Growth – and one of the most successful urban redevelopment projects in the nation today. The Silver Spring Transit Center has always been seen as an integral part of our vision for a redeveloped Silver Spring, and I’m delighted that it is finally becoming a reality.”
The $72 million dollar Silver Spring Transit Center project will combine Metrorail, Metrobus, Ride On, MARC and inter-city bus service in one facility. Sarbanes, Wynn, Van Hollen and Senator Barbara Mikulski all played a critical role in securing the additional federal support for the project. Buses, Metrorail and taxis currently serve 57,000 patrons daily at the Silver Spring Metro. By 2020, it is estimated that 97,000 people will be served. The Transit Center will improve pedestrian circulation and safety and create a pleasant pedestrian environment, including a wide promenade, green parks, plazas and customer conveniences. Traffic patterns and safety will be improved, and hiker/biker trail enhancements to the Capital Crescent and Metropolitan Branch trails are included in the design.
Silver Spring Metro LLC will enter into a land lease with WMATA for development of the site, integrating private development into the project's design, including a 200-room hotel, two residential towers with 450 units, and 25,000 square feet of retail space. The Federal Transit Administration has approved the environmental assessment for the project and given the go-head to proceed with preliminary engineering for the project.
The Transit Center design will feature buses on two levels, with access from Ramsey Avenue at the upper level and Colesville Road at the lower level. A third level will incorporate Metro's Kiss 'N Ride area, which will be accessed from Bonifant Avenue. Also on the third level will be a taxi stand and short term parking.
Adequate space for the future Capital Crescent Trail will be provided along the north side of the existing CSX tracks. A new traffic signal will be installed on Colesville Road, also along the north side of the existing CSX tracks, for better access to the bus bays, the Metrorail station, and the Transit Center. A new traffic light is also planned for the intersection of Wayne and Dixon avenues. The existing urban park will be reconstructed and a public plaza will be incorporated into the project.
Groundbreaking for the construction of the Interim Operation Facility (IOF) should occur in Fall 2006. Construction of the IOF and the Transit Center will take about three years.
Taxicab Rates Increased in Response to High Gasoline Costs — back to top
On February 14, the Montgomery County Council made permanent a $1.50 a trip temporary rate increase for taxicab rides in Montgomery County. The temporary gasoline surcharge, in effect since September 2005, provides relief to cab drivers as a result of high gasoline prices. The last permanent taxicab rate increase was in October 2003.
Recommended by the County’s Taxicab Services Advisory Committee, the rate change increases the initial charge for a taxicab ride from $2.50 to $4. The new rates will be posted on a chart in every taxicab. Rates are computed by meter and are the same in every taxicab operating in Montgomery County.
The Department of Public Works and Transportation regulates the County’s taxicab industry by ensuring it operates under established standards. The department licenses all taxicab vehicles and drivers. For more information about the rate increase, contact the Taxicab Office at 240-777-CABS (2227). For information about taxi service in the County, visit the Division of Transit Services' website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rideon, then click on Taxi Regulation.
Road Projects Underway — back to top
Fairland Road: Improvements to Fairland Road, from U.S. Route 29 to the Prince George’s County line, have begun, starting with utility relocations. Fairland will be widened to three lanes, with curbs and gutters, a sidewalk, and a bike path added. The road’s safety will be enhanced and construction of new storm drains will correct poor drainage and prevent flooding. The project should be completed in late 2008.
Inwood Avenue Bridge: The new bridge at Inwood Avenue over Sligo Creek Tributary was opened to traffic on January 20, 45 days ahead of schedule. The original bridge was 50 years old. A routine inspection uncovered serious deterioration of the bridge’s structure, and the west lane was closed to traffic. The refurbished bridge has now been returned to its full capacity.
For more information on these projects, visit the Division of Capital Development's website.
Streetlight Basics — back to top
Ever wonder who is responsible for repairing streetlights in Montgomery County? Well, it depends – and this quick guide spells out the basics:
Streetlights on Wooden Poles:
If a streetlight is on a wooden pole, the utility company, PEPCO, is responsible for the repairs. Contact PEPCO toll-free at 1-877-737-2662. When reporting an outage it is very helpful to have the nearest street address and/or a pole number.
Montgomery County services and repairs all traffic-signal-mounted streetlights owned by Montgomery County, and those owned by either the Maryland State Highway Administration or the City of Gaithersburg. Call the County’s Division of Operations' Customer Service Center, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at 240-777-6000, or go to website. When reporting a streetlight outage, it is very helpful to provide the nearest street address and/or a pole number.
Metal or Fiberglass Poles:
If the streetlight is on a metal or fiberglass pole, served by underground wire, and located within one of the municipalities, special tax districts, or Leisure World, contact that jurisdiction first to report the outage. Contact Leisure World’s Physical Properties Office at 301-598-1500
For other streetlights on metal or fiberglass poles, contact the County’s Division of Operations’ Customer Service Center, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at 240-777-6000, or go to website. A map on the website shows the locations of County-maintained streetlights. Again, be sure to have the nearest street address and/or a pole number.
Street lighting on interstate highways (I-270, I-370, and I-495) are the responsibility of the Maryland State Highway Adminstration (MSHA). MSHA also maintains streetlights along state roads on metal poles that are not on traffic signal poles. Contact MSHA at 1-800-749-0737.
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