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Posts tagged ‘transportation’

Apr 26 13

Have Your Say about Countywide Transit Corridors Plan at Planning Board Hearing

by Valerie Berton

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SILVER SPRING – Have an opinion about a plan that would bring rapid transit to Montgomery County? If so, mark your calendar for a May 16 public hearing scheduled by the Montgomery County Planning Board.

The public hearing is to invite input on the draft Countywide Transit Corridors Plan, which recommends a system to place high-quality buses in the county’s most congested areas – inside-the-Beltway communities, suburban activity centers and highly traveled commuter corridors. The draft plan recommends 10 transit corridors spanning 79 miles.

Along with forecast population increases, Montgomery County is expected to add more than 200,000 jobs over the next 30 years without the ability to expand roadway capacity. 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. Planners focused on creating transit connections to Metro’s Red Line, the planned Purple Line and MARC.

The plan also makes recommendations to improve accessibility for bicycles, pedestrians, and train riders, such as designating bicycle-pedestrian priority areas around major stations and adding a third track on part of the MARC train’s Brunswick Line.

The Planning Board will begin a detailed review of the plan in the weeks following the public hearing, before revising and finalizing a new version for transmittal to the County Council in the summer.

Sign up to speak at the public hearing at www.montgomeryapps.org/planning_board/testify.asp; at date prompt, scroll to May 16.

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.

Who:
Montgomery County Planning Board

What:
Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan public hearing

When:
6 p.m. Thursday, May 16

Where:Park and Planning Headquarters auditorium
8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring

Learn more:http://tinyurl.com/3ce9rlh

Nov 7 12

Planners Propose Rapid Transit Corridor Recommendations to Planning Board

by Valerie Berton

SILVER SPRING – On Thursday, transportation planners hoping to increase the appeal of transit for people living in Montgomery County’s centers – Silver Spring, Bethesda, White Flint, and Germantown – will present the Planning Board with preliminary recommendations for a countywide transit network.

The recommended transit corridors will accommodate bus rapid transit (BRT) with all-day service, 10- or 15-minute wait times, stations or stops every half-mile or mile, and high-quality vehicles that resemble streetcars rather than traditional buses. Planners recommend rapid transit service primarily in existing lanes that would be repurposed to serve transit. Locating BRT within existing pavement wherever possible would help avoid large capital costs and environmental impacts.

Transportation modeling estimated the number of potential riders and found, unsurprisingly, that densely populated activity and employment centers will generate a greater number of transit riders. The recommendations focus on service in those areas, where high-quality transit mixed with growing mixed-use centers will make the best use of available road space.

While it makes sense to put transit where people are and want to be, planners explain that fitting it into existing roads will be a challenge. They recommend converting travel lanes to bus service on roads within first-ring communities inside and near the Beltway, as well as along the I-270 Corridor, where the forecast transit ridership is highest.

In their analysis, planners used a threshold for dedicated lanes of 1,000 passengers per hour in the peak direction in the peak period. In areas with lower levels of forecast transit demand, they recommend that buses generally operate in mixed traffic but prioritized at traffic lights.

Their studies showed:
Highest forecast ridership (49,000 riders a day) along MD355 between Friendship Heights and Rockville. Dedicated lanes or a dedicated busway would provide frequent all-day service in that corridor.

  • To accommodate high ridership on more commuter-focused corridors they recommend a mix of options. For example, along US29, with 17,000 forecast daily riders they recommend a mix of dedicated lanes (south of Lockwood Drive), mixed traffic (on Lockwood Drive and Stewart Lane in the area of the White Oak Transit Center), and a median busway north of Stewart Lane.
  • Planners ran the transportation model both with and without a test of lane-repurposing on segments of four corridors: MD355/Rockville Pike, MD97/Georgia Avenue, US29/Colesville Road, and MD650/New Hampshire Avenue to determine the relative impacts on transit ridership, vehicle miles traveled (VMT), and vehicle hours traveled (VHT) in the year 2040. Results varied by area but were generally favorable, and the benefits were greatest in the down-county area; in Silver Spring alone, VMT would be reduced by 6 percent.

While a forecast of sufficient ridership is needed to justify transit, planners also point out the need a pedestrian-friendly environment to attract that ridership. They emphasize that safe, handicapped-accessible pedestrian facilities, attractive shelters and landscaping, and bike access to stations are needed to make a top-tier, well-functioning system. They hope to refine standards for those amenities in the next phase of work.

WHO:
Montgomery County Planning Board

WHAT:
Consideration of rapid transit corridors preliminary recommendations

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, November 8

WHERE: Park and Planning Headquarters
8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring

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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

 WHO:
Montgomery County Planning Board

WHAT:
2011 Mobility Assessment Report

WHEN:
Thursday, October 27, approximately 3 p.m.

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

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Sep 21 11

Planning Board to Consider Scope of Work for Bus Rapid Transit Study

by Valerie Berton

SILVER SPRING – On Thursday, September 22 the Montgomery County Planning Board will review a scope of work for a transportation study that will evaluate corridors, signalization and right-of-way options for a new bus rapid transit network for Montgomery County.

Bus rapid transit (BRT) is intended to provide many of the benefits of light rail, such as greater speeds and passenger comfort, at a much lower cost. BRT offers bus priority on dedicated lanes and/or at intersections equipped with priority traffic signals, faster passenger boarding, and speedy fare collection. Successful BRT systems have been built in California, Oregon and other places around the world.

The bus rapid transit study will advance the recommendations of a county rapid transit task force that in August identified 16 corridors covering 150 miles on which the transit system could run. Some of those include MD 355/Rockville Pike, US 29/Columbia Pike and MD 97/Georgia Avenue.
The bus rapid transit network will become part of the county Master Plan of Highways and Transitways, a planning document that guides major transportation projects and any right-of-way requirements.

In the scope of work, planners describe each phase of the project, starting with reviewing the corridors already recommended and assessing the network for ridership potential to determine the level of investment each corridor merits. From there, planners propose to develop illustrations depicting how the proposed transitways and stations are accommodated within the corridors. Another significant task will be to identify where travel lanes might be repurposed or additional right-of-way acquired along corridors to accommodate BRT.

Planners will work with a consultant who will provide technical analysis.

To involve the community throughout the year-long project effort, planners propose to form a technical working group of state and county agency representatives and to hold public meetings to present draft recommendations and collect feedback. Comments also will be accepted at the BRT study webpage.

The Planning Board, which will consider the draft from transportation planners next summer, is scheduled to send its version of the plan to the County Council next September.

WHO:
Montgomery County Planning Board

WHAT:
Proposed BRT study scope of work

WHEN:
Thursday, September 22, approximately 3 p.m.

WHERE:
Park and Planning Headquarters
8787 Georgia Ave.
Silver Spring, MD
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Jun 15 09

Regional Transportation Director to Address Montgomery County Planning Board June 18

by Valerie Berton

SILVER SPRING, MD – The regional transportation planning board’s chief transportation planner, who focuses on long-range planning for the Washington. D.C., region’s highway and public transportation systems, will address the Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday, June 18 as part of its 2009 Growing Smarter Speaker Series.

Dr. Ronald F. Kirby, director of transportation planning for the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), will brief the Board, planners and members of the public about ongoing transportation projects as well as discuss land use and environmental implications of those projects. As part of his talk, Kirby will comment on the fiscal sustainability and environmental implications of current mass transit efforts, regional commuter assistance programs and other projects.

Before joining COG in 1987, Kirby directed the transportation program at the Urban Institute, a non-profit policy research organization in Washington, D.C., where he conducted several analyses of the performance of federal highway and public transportation programs. In addition, he worked on a series of policy studies and demonstration projects for the federal Urban Mass Transportation Administration.

With the Planning Board reviewing the state’s Environmental Impact Study for the proposed Corridor
Cities Transitway in early July, as well as a host of other transportation projects, Kirby’s talk is timely.

Kirby is the seventh of a series of speakers who will address the board this year. Continuing education credits have been approved for AICP members.

CM I 1.5 CM credits are
approved for this activity.

 AICP members will earn
Certification Maintenance
credits for this activity. 

Who:
Montgomery County Planning Department

What:
Ronald Kirby presenting “Analyzing Alternative Transportation, Land Use and Greenhouse Gas Scenarios for Greater Washington”

When: 
7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 18

Where:
Park and Planning Headquarters auditorium
8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring

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.

Who:
Montgomery County Planning Board

What:   
Review Highway Mobility Report and transmit to County Council

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

Where:
Park and Planning Headquarters
8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring

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