County Executive Unveils FY08 Budget Submission — back
On March 13, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett introduced the first operating budget of his administration. The recommended budget increases funding for Leggett's priority issues and sets the County's spending on a path of sustainability for the future. Highlights of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 public works and transportation services budget follow:
- Enhance the quality, reliability, and safety of the County's Ride On bus service by using County personnel to operate all routes.
- Expand the Seniors Ride Free program on Ride On and Metrobus from its current midday availability to all hours of operation. This program also applies to persons with disabilities.
- Support construction of the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit Center in Silver Spring and other transit centers at Montgomery Mall, Takoma/Langley Park and White Oak. Part of this funding is included in the Executive's Capital Improvement Program.
- Expand the eligibility and monthly maximum value for the Call 'N Ride taxicab program.
- Expand the hours of the Connect-A-Ride Information Referral service.
- Improve the cashier and management services in the Woodmont Parking Garage in Bethesda.
- Add credit card payment capability in six parking facilities within the County's Parking Lot Districts.
- Expand the County's internal tracking systems to eventually provide more information to residents about the status of DPWT service requests.
- Establish a Snow Operations Tracking System that will be enable residents to monitor, online, the progress of neighborhood snow plowing operations.
Over the next two months, the County Council will hold public hearings and work sessions on Leggett's recommended FY08 operating budget. The final budget must be approved by June 1.
Construction Projects Update - back
Montrose Parkway West
The Division of Capital Development began construction of Montrose Parkway West in November 2005. The new road will reduce traffic congestion, especially for residents living and working in North Bethesda.
Recent project milestones include construction of an access road to Hitching Post Lane and the swim club. A new signal was installed on Montrose Road to help residents in adjacent neighborhoods enter and exit their communities. Retaining walls have been constructed along the south side of Montrose Road, and utility companies have started to relocate their facilities. Montrose Road will be widened to six lanes from Tower Oaks Boulevard to the new Parkway.
The Montrose Parkway West project is scheduled to be completed in 2008. For more information about the project, visit the Division of Capital Development's Montrose Parkway West website.
Sonoma/Ayrlawn Storm Drain Improvements
In March, construction began for storm drain improvements in the Sonoma/Arylawn neighborhood of North Bethesda. To combat local flooding, surface drainage ditches will be replaced with a permanent closed system of storm drains and underground piping. The project will take about a year to complete.
2007 Street Smart Campaign Launched: - back to top
County Continues Pedestrian Safety Initiatives
On March 20, County Executive Leggett joined Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger and other area-wide leaders in launching the 2007 Street Smart pedestrian safety campaign, a regional education effort to reduce pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities. Montgomery County was the founder of the regional Street Smart coalition.
At the event, Leggett announced that he has recommended $50,000 in his Fiscal Year 2008 budget for further outreach to residents with limited English language skills, a group that has been disproportionately involved in traffic safety incidents. Leggett also included in his budget Montgomery County's $40,600 contribution to fully support the regional Street Smart education campaign.
The County's recent enforcement actions against aggressive drivers, including the launch in March of its speed camera program is the first in Maryland that targets aggressive drivers in residential neighborhoods and school zones. In December, Montgomery County Police collaborated with City of Takoma Park and Prince Georges' County in an educational and enforcement activity to increase pedestrian safety at the Takoma/Langley crossroads area, which has been the site of many pedestrian injuries and fatalities. This community, at the intersection of University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue, has been an ongoing hot spot targeted by Montgomery County Police for stepped-up pedestrian safety enforcement.
The County's activities to further improve pedestrian and traffic safety around schools will be boosted by a new $140,000 grant to hire a full-time 'Safe Routes to Schools' coordinator. The County's aggressive reengineering program also includes an extensive effort -- that is well underway this year -- to catalog, evaluate, relocate or improve all 6,300 Ride On bus stops to improve pedestrian safety.
On the education front, Montgomery County expanded its highly successful Blair Walks Project to Kennedy High School in December. A group of about 50 new students were trained to teach elementary school students in the Kennedy cluster how to cross the street safely. For more information on Montgomery County's pedestrian safety program, go to the County's website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/walk.
Ride On's Annual Food Drive Switches to April - back to top
Donate Food and Take Ride On Bus for Free
Ride On bus passengers in Montgomery County can help needy families and receive free bus rides by donating canned or nonperishable food during Ride On's annual food drive. A free trip will be provided to riders who donate food from Monday, April 16 through Sunday, April 22.
For the past 20 years, Ride On collected food at Thanksgiving time. However, food donation centers tend to receive more food than they can store during the winter holiday season. So this year, Manna Food Center, the non-profit organization that distributes Ride On's food contributions, has asked Ride On to change the time of its food drive to the Spring. Manna Food Center distributes food to 2,000 hungry families each month.
Food collection bags will be placed near the fare box on all of Ride On's buses. Ride On also urges riders using free shuttles and other services to participate in the Food Drive and bring their donations to the buses, as well. In addition to non-perishable food, children's items are also needed. Disposable diapers, formula, baby or toddler food and juice are especially useful to families in need. Plastic containers are preferred. All food donations, whether one or more cans, will be valued at the regular fare rate of $1.25.
White Oak Transit Center - back to top
The Division of Capital Development is evaluating comments from other agencies and the public on preliminary plans for the White Oak Transit Center and conducting an environmental review of the project. This information will be used to complete final construction plans and right-of-way plats in the spring. Once final plans are completed, the Division will begin property acquisition for the Transit Center. Construction should begin in the spring of 2008, with the Center opening in the fall.
For more information, call Dan Sheridan in the Transportation Design section of the Division of Capital Development at 240-777-7283, or email him at email@example.com.
How to Report Potholes - back to top
Potholes on County roads can be reported to the Division of Operations' Customer Service Center, either by calling 240-777-6000 or by completing a form on the County's report potholes form.
If a motorist sustains vehicle damage from hitting a pothole, a claim can be filed with the County's Division of Risk Management by calling 240-777-8920 any business day between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., or by writing to the County Executive at 101 Monroe Street, Rockville, MD 20850.
Express Lane Available to SmarTrip Users at Bethesda Metro - back to top
Bethesda Transportation Solutions' newsletter reports that subway users with a SmarTrip card can now use an express faregate lane at the Bethesda Metro station. The pilot program is being tested by Metro at five stations. SmarTrip-only faregates allow 32 patrons to pass through each minute, as compared to the average of 22 a minute. The Bethesda station was chosen for the test because about 80 percent of its customers use SmarTrip cards.
For more information, or to subscribe to the Bethesda Transportation Solutions' newsletter, visit the Transportation Management District's website at http://www.bethesdatransit.org or call 301-656-0868.
Website Provides Information on Silver Spring Transit Center - back to top
The Division of Capital Development has a new website link to provide residents, businesses, and transit customers with the latest information on construction of the new Silver Spring Transit Center. The website features regular updates on this $73 million project, plus maps and County staff contacts. The website also features information on relocating buses. Beginning June 24, bus stops at the Silver Spring Metro station will be moved to nearby streets to make way for construction of the Transit Center.
The eight-acre Silver Spring Transit Center will bring together transit and taxi services in one location, boosting Silver Spring's revitalization. The site will be developed to accommodate a multi-level, pedestrian-friendly complex supporting rail (Metro and MARC), bus (local and inter-city), and automobiles (taxi service and Kiss and Ride). Major features include doubling the number of bus bays and a 4,500 square foot inter-city bus building. Hiker/biker trail enhancements and retail space are also included in the design concept.
Visit the Division of Capital Development's website to learn more about this project or call 240-777-7221. The Department of Public Works and Transportation's Community Outreach office can send informative post cards to civic associations -- describing the project (in English and Spanish) -- for distribution to interested residents. Call 240-777-7155
Graffiti Abatement Program Assists Property Owners - back to top
The County's Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPWT) provides a grant to Graffiti Abatement Partners, Inc., a non-profit organization known as GRAB, to eradicate graffiti. GRAB is supported by public and private groups to remove graffiti and conduct education to discourage people from engaging in graffiti tagging.
When reports of graffiti reach GRAB, the director inspects the graffiti and its location and pursues a number of options for its removal, including working with private property owners, enlisting another agency for help, or scheduling alternative community service workers to remove it. GRAB has a contract with the County's Department of Corrections, which provides a team of workers on a regular basis. If the graffiti can be scrubbed off or painted over, the GRAB team will handle it. Gang-related graffiti is also reported to County Police.
Residents can report graffiti in the community to GRAB by calling 301-607-GRAB.
Highway Maintenance Begins Street Sweeping - back to top
The Division of Operations' Highway Maintenance section has begun its 10- to 12-week street sweeping program to clean the County's nearly 4,000 curb miles of roads. This joint effort between the Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPWT) and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) removes abrasives and other debris left behind after the winter snow season and improves the appearance and safety of County streets. Based on past results, County officials expect the effort will help to recover more than 3,000 tons of material.
Removing salt and sand abrasives and other debris from road surfaces helps keep drainage systems clean. It also reduces pollutants that flow into local streams and eventually into the Chesapeake Bay. Roads that are in areas identified by DEP as sensitive watersheds will be swept first and, if needed, will receive additional sweepings.
Brightly colored signs will be posted in neighborhoods a few days before street sweeping begins. Residents are urged to find alternative parking while their streets are cleaned to improve the quality of service and the effectiveness of the sweeping operation.
Daily updates detailing the areas that are scheduled for street sweeping will be provided on County Cable Montgomery (Channel 6) during the morning and afternoon rush hours when the channel provides live coverage of local traffic conditions. Internet users can also find information about the schedule online at Highway Maintenance's website. Residents can also contact DPWT's Division of Operations Customer Service Line at 240-777-6000.
County Announces Photography Contest to Celebrate
"National Public Works Week" in May - back to top
The Montgomery County Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPWT) is celebrating "National Public Works Week" this year by sponsoring an amateur photography contest. The theme for the photographs is "Public Works: Moving Life Forward," and includes any public works operation such as road work, Ride On bus service, trash or recycling collections, or pedestrian safety improvements.
Open only to County residents or employees, all photos must have been taken in Montgomery County. The winners will receive a $100 U.S. Savings bond for first place; a $75 bond for second place; and a $50 bond for third place. Entries will be judged on effective composition, interesting subject, relevant subject, originality, and technique.
Photographs of up to 8 by 10 inches in size and dry-mounted on mat board will be accepted. There is no entry fee for participation. The deadline for entries is May 4. Winning entries will be announced at an employee appreciation ceremony to be held during National Public Works Week, which runs from May 21 to 25.
Any photographs entered in the contest will also automatically be entered in the Keep Montgomery County Beautiful Task Force photography contest in the "Montgomery County at Work" category. Winners of that contest will be honored at a special ceremony this fall.
Photo entries should be mailed to: NPWW Photo Contest, 101 Monroe Street, 10th Floor, Rockville, MD 20850-2540. For more information, a complete list of DPWT operations, the contest application or a list of contest rules, visit the County's website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dpwt and go to 'National Public Works Week,'or call 240-777-7155.
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