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Planners to Present Countywide Transit Corridor Recommendations to Planning Board

by Valerie Berton on March 14th, 2013

SILVER SPRING – With Montgomery County’s population expected to grow by 30 percent by 2040, planners have drafted a series of recommendations to keep all of those people moving.

On Monday, the Planning Board will review a draft plan for a transit network targeted at some of the county’s most congested areas – inside-the-Beltway communities, suburban activity centers and highly traveled commuter corridors. The plan addresses bus rapid transit (BRT) – high-quality buses that run in dedicated lanes or get traffic signal priority, as well as bicycle and pedestrian needs.

Along with forecast population increases, Montgomery County is expected to add more than 200,000 jobs. For the last two decades, policy-makers and planners have encouraged alternative modes of travel to reduce congestion.

BRT provides a flexible, cost-effective alternative to congested roadways, planners say, by offering reliable, fast connections in areas where development and density is not high enough to warrant rail. The draft plan recommends 10 transit corridors spanning 79 miles. Options include dedicated bus lanes in the median or repurposing curbside lanes for bus use.

map 1 revised 3

To determine which corridors warranted treatments to promote rapid transit, planners analyzed forecast ridership, traffic volumes, existing roadside development and planned land use changes. The plan recommends where busways would require replacing an existing traffic lane based on location – for example, downtown areas typically have limited land area in which to build new bus lanes – and on 2040 forecasts of ridership versus traffic demand. Transportation modeling showed an improvement in traffic speeds on a countywide basis with the introduction of BRT, even after converting some traffic lanes.

In some areas, such as Rockville Pike, where forecast ridership is as high as 2,500 people per hour in rush hour in the peak direction, planners recommend creating median busways by reducing the existing six traffic lanes to four. In other locations, such as northern New Hampshire Avenue, where fewer than 700 passengers are forecast to ride during rush hour, planners recommend mixing buses in traffic. Planners call for more detailed analysis during the planning and design process for each corridor to determine specific lane repurposing strategies and treatments.

As part of the plan, planners focused on creating transit connections to Metro’s Red Line, the planned Purple Line and MARC. They also addressed BRT station locations.

Planners also recommend designating bicycle-pedestrian priority areas around major stations and adding a third track on part of the MARC train’s Brunswick Line.

The Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan will amend the Master Plan of Highways, which will be renamed the Master Plan of Highways and Transitways.

Montgomery County Planning Board

Review of Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan staff draft

6 p.m. Monday, March 18

Park and Planning Headquarters auditorium
8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring

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