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Newsletter | November/December, 2008 Back to Go Montgomery | Archive

Construction Project Updates — back to top

Greencastle Road

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation's (MCDOT) Division of Transportation Engineering has completed the reconstruction of Greencastle Road from south of Robey Road to Greencastle Ridge Terrace. Concrete curbs and gutters were installed along the two-lane road.

Redland Road

MCDOT has begun reconstructing Redland Road between Crabbs Branch Way and Baederwood Lane in Derwood. The road will be widened, with additional turning lanes installed at both Crabbs Branch and Needwood Road, new traffic signals will be installed, and storm water management structures added.

To provide better pedestrian and bicycle access to the Shady Grove Metro station, an eight-foot wide mixed use bike path will be built on the north side of Redland Road and the east side of Needwood Road.

This $5.5 million project is designed to reduce traffic congestion and solve other traffic problems at the Redland Road-Crabbs Branch Way intersection. Work should be completed by the fall of 2009. Learn more about this and other MCDOT projects at the Division of Transportation Engineering's website.


Battery Park Road Rehabilitation Project Completed — back to top

On December 17, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett greeted residents on Glenbrook Road, who expressed their thanks for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Battery Park's deteriorated roads. This is the first neighborhood to benefit from the County's new program that takes a more systematic and comprehensive approach to maintaining the County's transportation infrastructure using data-driven methods to ensure that critical services are provided in the most effective and efficient ways.

MCDOT's Division of Highway Services has completed a comprehensive evaluation of all of the nearly 5,000 lane miles of County roads and assigned ratings of very good, good, fair, poor, or very poor to each road using a formula-based scoring system. This road evaluation will be used to prioritize the department's maintenance, rehabilitation and resurfacing efforts.

Work began in July in Bethesda Battery Park neighborhood, which was established in 1923.


County Prepares for Winter Snow Storms — back to top

Before winter snow season begins, MCDOT's Division of Highway Services gathers county crews and contractors to review upcoming strategies for dealing with winter storms and coordinate assignments. This year, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett joined staff at the annual Storm Summit, which was held at the new maintenance depot on Seven Locks Road. The depot features an innovative storage barn designed to more efficiently handle unloading, storage, and distribution of the salt and sand mix used to treat roads. The next day, Highway Services staged a mock snow storm to test procedures and familiarize new drivers with their plowing routes.

The Division of Highway Services (DHS) is engaged in a multi-year effort to review its operations and make improvements. Last year, DHS opened a Storm Operations Center that, for the first time, brings together storm managers and technology in one location. One of the innovations includes the use of WeatherBug®, a web-based weather forecasting system that provides localized storm information.

When a snow storm hits, residents can access information about Highway's snow plowing operations on the County website, where they can find out if plowing has been completed in their area, report a missed street, or obtain other storm related information.


Ride On Ridership — back to top

Ridership for the month of October 2008 grew by two percent over October 2007, with a total ridership of 2,772,628 passengers, the highest monthly total in Ride On's history. The average number of weekday riders for October was 103,025, which represents the second highest weekday average for Ride On.

In November, ridership declined by four percent compared to last year, partly because there were two fewer weekdays in the month. For the first five months of fiscal year 2009, ridership increased by 4.1 percent. The express/commuter routes outpaced the rest of the system in growth. These routes grew by 25 percent in October.


Ride On to Join Metro in Adding a Bus-to-Rail Transfer Benefit Starting January 4 — back to top

Beginning Sunday, January 4, Montgomery County's Ride On bus system will join Metro in making changes that provide discounts to bus passengers transferring to Metrorail. The changes will also benefit passengers by increasing the amount of time they are eligible for a discounted or free transfer – increasing the current two-hour window to three hours. The changes make it even easier and more convenient for passengers using SmarTrip cards to transfer to any of the transit systems in the region.

The changes will:

1) Provide a discounted fare when transferring from bus to Metrorail. Currently passengers transferring from a Ride On or Metro bus to Metrorail receive no discount on their rail trip. Next month, when the change goes into effect, Ride On passengers using SmarTrip cards who transfer to rail within three hours of initiating their bus trip will receive a 50 cent discount on their Metrorail trip; and

2) Eliminate paper transfers, but continue free bus transfers for Ride On SmarTrip card users. Ride On will follow Metro's lead in eliminating paper transfers, which were available to patrons transferring from one bus to another. However, SmarTrip card users will continue to receive a free transfer within three hours of boarding the first bus, an improvement over the current two hours.

Two additional changes for Ride On users are still pending until the Montgomery County Council votes on January 13. The first issue they will decide is whether or not to approve a 50-cent discount on bus transfers from Metrorail to Ride On or Metrobus. If the Council approves this action, the new discount will go into effect Sunday, January 25.

The second decision is whether to eliminate the 20-Trip Ride On punch ticket, which is no longer needed. Since the price for each ride on the 20-Trip Ticket is $1.25, the same discounted fare as paid by a SmarTrip card user, these paper tickets are no longer needed to provide a reduced rate for bus rides for regular riders who use SmarTrip.

For more information on Ride On rates, go to Ride On's website or call the Transit Information Center at 240-777-RIDE (7433). Information about using SmarTrip cards is available in both English and Spanish on the Montgomery County You Tube site.


Leggett Joins Regional Officials in Launch of Fall Street Smart Campaign — back to top

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett hosted regional leaders and law enforcement officials for this year's launch of the fall Street Smart pedestrian safety campaign. Leaders highlighted the progress made on improving pedestrian safety at schools and the success of these efforts in reducing collisions. Improvements made at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School were featured.

Street Smart, launched in 2002, is a regional public education, awareness and behavioral change campaign. Its goals are to:

  • Increase public awareness of pedestrian and bicycle safety issues
  • Reduce the incidence of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities and injuries and
  • Support an intensive region-wide education and enforcement effort

Montgomery County's Safe Routes to Schools Program — back to top

Montgomery County is committed to providing safe pathways to County schools for all children and has conducted a full assessment of each school, identifying where safety improvements are most needed. So far, 46 schools have been improved.

To bolster efforts, the County recently hired Larry McGoogin as the new Safe Routes to Schools coordinator, using grant money from the State of Maryland. In addition, the State has provided funding to make safety improvements at 17 more schools in fiscal year 2009.

The process used to conduct the safety evaluations and improve access to schools begins with meetings between MCDOT engineers and school administrators, principals, teachers, and Parent Teacher Association (PTA) representatives to identify critical needs. Then, staff observes school operations to better understand the potential safety conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles. Sidewalks and crosswalks are evaluated and improved where needed, and changes to traffic patterns, traffic signage, and signals are also made to improve safety.

McGoogin's will work with school officials and parents to examine school policies and procedures that could encourage more students to walk or bike to school. He will also arrange training in safe walking practices for students. McGoogin will coordinate increased enforcement at schools after MCDOT makes engineering improvements.

The results are promising. Most schools where assessments and corrective actions have been made have had a reduction in the number of nearby pedestrian collisions.


County Executive Releases Statement Opposing Council Proposal on Speed Camera Revenue Use— back to top

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett sent a memorandum to County Council members expressing his opposition to Bill 35-08, Motor Vehicles and Traffic - Miscellaneous Provisions - Funding for Public Safety. The bill would offset the need for an Emergency Medical Services Transport Fee by allocating portions of the County's speed camera revenues to the purchase of fire and rescue equipment.

Leggett's statement criticized the bill because it would decrease funding for pedestrian safety measures. In September, the County Executive pledged full funding for his pedestrian safety initiative by using revenues from the speed cameras. See the County's press release.

For more information about MCDOT's pedestrian safety programs, visit the County's website.


Talbot Avenue Bridge Reopens — back to top

The Talbot Avenue Bridge in Silver Spring has reopened after its closure on May 28 for repairs. The bridge spans the CSX railroad tracks between Hanover Street and Lanier Drive in the Silver Spring/Brookville area. A routine inspection of the bridge last spring found loose deck boards, which required the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) to close the bridge to ensure motorists' safety. The bridge remained open to pedestrians throughout construction.


Bethesda Circulator Has Special Holiday Hours of Operation — back to top

The Bethesda Circulator, downtown Bethesda's free shuttle bus operated by the Bethesda Urban Partnership, will expand its route and hours of operation in a pilot program during the holiday season. The new service will include five additional stops located on Montgomery Lane, East-West Highway and Old Georgetown Road. The shuttle makes pick ups at each stop every 10 minutes.

The pilot program will run from through December 31. For more information, including a route map, visit the Bethesda Urban Partnership's website.


Dutch Study Finds Link Between Graffiti and Crime — back to top

GRaffiti ABatement Partners, Inc. (GRAB) is a non-profit private-public partnership in Montgomery County that includes community, business and government working together to eliminate graffiti vandalism through eradication, education, and enforcement strategies.

Anti-graffiti groups operate under the belief that removing litter, graffiti, and other forms of community blight decreases the risk of additional crime. Now, a study conducted by Dutch scientists that was published in the journal, Science, confirms that a link exists between graffiti and certain criminal behavior. The more graffiti or litter present, the greater the tendency of people to act in an anti-social manner. A summary of the study was recently published by the Los Angeles Times.

To report graffiti in Montgomery County, call GRAB at 301-607-4722. MCDOT oversees the County's contract with GRAB as part of its Keep Montgomery County Beautiful program.


Inauguration Day Schedules for State of Maryland Transit Services — back to top

The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) has announced that special MARC Train and Commuter Bus service will operate on both Martin Luther King Day, January 19 Inauguration Day and Inauguration Day January 20.

On Martin Luther King Day, the Penn Line will operate on a regular schedule; Camden and Brunswick lines will operate on a limited schedule. Regular fares apply and passes will be accepted. Commuter Bus will operate to Metrorail stations between 5:30 and 10 a.m. and between 4 and 9 p.m. MTA monthly and weekly passes and 10-trip tickets will not be accepted. Special tickets may be purchased from drivers.

On January 20, MARC Train's Penn, Camden and Brunswick lines will operate between 5 and 9 a.m. and between 4 and 9 p.m. MTA monthly and weekly passes, 10-trip tickets and previously purchased one-way tickets will not be accepted. All trains will be reserved and tickets must be purchased in advance. For the Penn Line, there will no service north of Penn Station. Commuter Bus will operate to Metrorail stations between 4 and 9 a.m. and between 4 and 9 p.m. MTA monthly and weekly passes and 10-trip tickets will not be accepted. Special tickets may be purchased from drivers.

Schedule and ticket information is available at the Maryland Transit Administration's website.


State Bridge Maintenance on U.S. Route 29 May Cause Delays — back to top

The Maryland Department of Transportation's State Highway Administration (SHA) has begun a $1.1 million bridge cleaning and painting project on U.S. Route 29 (Colesville Road), which crosses the Patuxent River in Montgomery County.

Painting the steel bridge is part of SHA's preventative maintenance program. There will be a containment system in place to prevent any damage to the Howard T. Duckett (Rocky Gorge) watershed.

During construction, motorists can expect single-lane closures in both directions of U.S. Route 29 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. SHA will also provide variable message signs, drums, and arrow boards to guide motorists through the work zone. The project will be completed by the summer of 2009, weather permitting.

SHA reminds all drivers to buckle up, obey posted speed limits and stay alert. Residents or motorists who have questions about traffic operations on US 29 or other State numbered routes in Montgomery County may call SHA's District 3 Office at 301-513-7300 or toll free at 1-800-749-0737.

Last edited: 12/19/2008