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Jan 8 16

Featured Speaker Will Unveil a New Planning Approach for Buses and Streetcars at First Winter Speakers Series Event on January 20

by Bridget Schwiesow


Nat Bottigheimer of Fehr & Peers DC explains how data collected from cell phones and GPS devices can help determine the potential market and feasibility of proposed surface transit projects

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is launching its 2016 Winter Speaker Series with a presentation by Washington, DC-based transportation planner Nat Bottigheimer of Fehr & Peers DC on the pitfalls and practicalities of planning surface transit. Free and open to the public, the event will be held on Wednesday, January 20 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Planning Department headquarters (8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD).

Citing troubled streetcar and bus rapid transit projects in the region, Bottigheimer will show how new, data-driven tools can better predict success or failure at the outset. His presentation, Putting the Transition Back in Transit, will focus on the upfront planning of surface transportation through data collected from cell phones and GPS devices as a way to unlock transit’s transformational potential.

Bottigheimer will explain his methods by answering the following questions:

-Why are surface transit projects so hard to realize?
-What are the typical analytical tools used for planning transit?
-What is the new approach to planning transit?
-How can data from cell phones and GPS devices help with the new transit planning approach?
-How can this data can be applied to specific surface bus and rail projects?
-What are some examples of bus and light rail projects that are benefiting from the new tools?
-How could have troubled streetcar and bus projects in the region benefited from new types of transit planning?

About Speaker Nat Bottigheimer
Nat Bottigheimer of Fehr & Peers DC is a transportation planner with a background in public policy, economics, and transportation planning. Until 2012, Nat was an assistant general manager at Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), where he promoted bike and pedestrian access, sustainability and bus priority investment. He has expertise in planning for rail station access, transit and land use, and is a recognized expert in transit-oriented development.

About the 2016 Winter Speaker Series
The three-part Winter Speaker Series will focus on new approaches to transportation. Smart Moves: New Ideas about Bikes, Cars and Transit will address cycling, transit, trails and other alternatives to cars. The ideas generated from the series will help inform the Department’s current plans and policies, including the Bicycle Master Plan and Subdivision Staging Policy update.

The Winter Speakers Series is free and open to the public. The presentations, which will include question-and-answer discussions, will be held at the Planning Department headquarters (8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD) from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the following dates:

Session 1 –Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Speaker: Nat Bottigheimer, DC Region Market Lead, Fehr & Peers DC, Washington, DC
Topic: Putting the Transition Back in Transit: Bringing a market analysis perspective to transit planning using big data

Session 2 – Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Speaker: Jennifer Toole, President, Toole Design Group, Silver Spring, MD
Topic: Recent approaches to suburban bicycle planning

Session 3 – Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Speaker: Jeffrey Tumlin, Principal and Director of Strategy, Nelson/Nygaard, San Francisco, CA
Topic: Smart development in transitional suburban locations

Apr 3 15

Bicycle Master Plan Kicks Off With April 20 Meeting at Johns Hopkins Montgomery County Campus

by Bridget Schwiesow

Cycle Track 032

Community invited to learn about the upcoming Bicycle Master Plan beginning with in the vicinity of the planned Corridor Cities Transitway on Monday, April 20 from 7 – 9 p.m.

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), is hosting a community meeting on Monday, April 20 from 7 – 9 p.m. at the Johns Hopkins Montgomery County Campus (9601 Medical Center Drive, Rockville, MD 20850: Academic and Research Building, Room 106-110) to kick off the Bicycle Master Plan.  This meeting will provide an overview of the coutywide planning effort while focusing specifically on bikeways in the vicinity of the planned Corridor Cities Transitway.

At the April 20 meeting, planners will present their approach to the plan and milestones of the process while providing opportunities to give feedback and engage in person. RSVP’s are encouraged but not required. RSVP for the April 20 community meeting.

From April through July, planners will be working on developing a high-quality bicycle network that facilitates access to the planned Corridor Cities Transitway stations from the surrounding communities and ensure coordination and compatibility with the Life Science Center Loop, an off-road trail currently under design by the Planning Department.

Review a map of the Montgomery County Bicycle Master Plan Corridor Cities Transitway focus area.

Starting July 1, 2015, staff will begin working on a comprehensive update to the Master Plan of Bikeways, initiating a two-year process to comprehensively review and update the County’s bicycling network.  There will be ample opportunities for the community to get involved in the planning process. Check out the Bicycle Planning webpage to learn more.

The Master Plan of Bikeways, approved in 1978, has been amended over the years by area master plans, with a comprehensive update focused on “countywide” bikeways in 2005.


What is the Bicycle Master Plan all about? Why do we need to revise it?
The goal of the plan is to develop a high-quality, low-stress bicycling network in Montgomery County. Changes in planning over the past decade provide an opportunity to rethink and improve our bicycle network and design.

What is the Corridor Cities Transitway? How does it relate to bicycling?
The Corridor Cities Transitway is a planned bus rapid transit (BRT) project that will ultimately connect Shady Grove to Clarksburg via the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center and Germantown. A high quality bike network will expand access to the stations.

What is the duration of the planning process?

The Bicycle Master Plan is scheduled to be completed September 2017. Review the full schedule for this plan:

March 31, 2015 Council Review of Work Program
July 1, 2015 Start Work
Sept 2015 Planning Board Approves Scope of Work
March 2016 Methodology Report to Planning Board
Nov 2016 Staff Draft
February 2017 Planning Board Worksessions
April 2017 Planning Board Draft
Sept 2017 Council Approval

What will be the final product?
An updated countywide Bicycle Master Plan that lays out a coordinated network of bikeways and locations for bicycle storage. It will guide future facility planning studies and aid in the development approval process.

How can I get involved?
Attend meetings, talk to staff, send us your comments! Contact:

David Anspacher
Functional Planning and Policy Division

Learn more about Bicycle Planning in Montgomery County.


Mar 14 13

Planners to Present Countywide Transit Corridor Recommendations to Planning Board

by Valerie Berton

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

Oct 24 11

Montgomery County Congestion Remains Steady, Transportation Planners Say

by Valerie Berton

SILVER SPRING – Montgomery County’s traffic congestion has remained at the same level for the past two years, according to the Mobility Assessment Report, a bi-annual study by county transportation planners that monitors local transportation trends.

The Planning Board will consider the report at its meeting on Thursday, October 27.

The mobility assessment, which also measures transit ridership, bike use and pedestrian activity, finds that the county’s network of roads continues to be strained by increasing numbers of residents and commuters relying on cars as their primary means of travel.

To improve the road network, but recognizing that roads alone can’t address congestion, planners are addressing new options, such as expanded transit, bike paths and sidewalks to achieve more sustainable, less congested communities. Moreover, building future homes near transit will create more opportunities for people to avoid driving.

Particularly bad for commuters, according to travel time indexing: southbound US 29 between Howard County and University Boulevard in the mornings and eastbound University Boulevard between Georgia and New Hampshire avenues in the evenings.

The travel time assessment is based on 50 real-time travel observations collected along priority corridors – MD 355/Rockville Pike, MD 185/Connecticut Avenue, U.S. 29/Columbia Pike and MD 586/Veirs Mill Road – that have a history of the greatest congestion. Planners analyze travel conditions by comparing the slowest time traveled along a corridor compared to a vehicle traveling at the speed limit.

The report also ranks the county’s most congested intersections based on critical lane volume data gathered between 2008 and 2011. Critical lane volume data takes snapshots of intersection performance, literally capturing traffic volume at a particular time and place.

The top most congested intersections include: 

  • Old Georgetown Road at Democracy Boulevard
  • Darnestown Road at Riffle Ford Road
  • Shady Grove Road at Choke Cherry Lane
  • Rockville Pike at West Cedar Lane
  • Georgia Avenue at Norbeck Road
  • MD 355 at Edmonston Drive
  • Great Seneca Highway at Muddy Branch Road
  • Connecticut Avenue at Jones Bridge Road

Montgomery County Planning Board

2011 Mobility Assessment Report

Thursday, October 27, approximately 3 p.m.

Park and Planning Headquarters
8787 Georgia Ave.
Silver Spring, MD

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Jun 3 09

Planners Highlight Montgomery County’s Most Congested Roadways, Document Increased Transit Use in Traffic Trends Report

by Valerie Berton

SILVER SPRING – In a report that provides a snapshot of just how long it takes commuters and others to traverse Montgomery County roadways, county transportation planners have ranked the top 10 most congested intersections and roads as the basis for improvements to the local network.

The Highway Mobility Report provides background to local policymakers like County Council members as they weigh funding priorities to improve area transportation networks. The Planning Board uses the report to make decisions about lane, intersection or crosswalk improvements while reviewing development applications.

It should come as no surprise to county motorists that most congestion occurs along busy north-south corridors Rockville Pike, Connecticut Avenue, Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road and east-west connectors like Veirs Mill Road and MD 28. Planners labeled the intersection of Shady Grove Road and Midcounty Highway as the most congested, followed closely by Rockville Pike at West Cedar Lane.

Transportation planners calculate congestion by counting cars and determining average traffic volume in each lane at peak morning and afternoon commuting periods.

View the 2009 Highway Mobility Report and the list of most congested intersections and corridors.

In a departure from previous studies, this year’s Highway Mobility Report, which goes to the Planning Board on Monday, analyzes transit use and pedestrian activity to provide a more holistic view of travel in the county. Reflecting national trends, planners found a 5 percent increase in Metrorail ridership between February 2006 and February 2009. Metrorail ridership was highest at those stations located amid a mix of houses and businesses, such as Silver Spring.

Residents also frequent the county Ride On buses, with heaviest ridership –about 8,000 bus passengers daily – on routes running from Silver Spring to Germantown along the I-270 corridor, and among down-county commercial centers. Ridership in 2008 exceeded the number of passengers – measured by daily average boardings – using Metrorail, demonstrating the importance of Ride On buses to how people get around.

For those who travel by car, the report offers some cause for hope. Two projects now under construction will improve highway mobility. The Intercounty Connector will relieve congestion along Norbeck Road, and extending Montrose Parkway across Rockville Pike will improve mobility in North Bethesda. Two of the top 10 intersections – Rockville Pike at West Cedar Lane and Connecticut Avenue at Jones Bridge Road are recommended for improvement associated with the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC)  project at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Montgomery County Planning Board

Review Highway Mobility Report and transmit to County Council

Approximately 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 8

Park and Planning Headquarters
8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring