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Jul 25 16

Planning Board Approved Revisions to County’s Subdivision Staging Policy on July 21 and Will Transmit Updated Policy to County Council for Review

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Transportation and school elements, focus of the new draft of the Subdivision Staging Policy, are now available online for public review

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, has updated the Subdivision Staging Policy (formerly called the Growth Policy) for review and approval by the County Council by November 15, 2016. The intent of the Subdivision Staging Policy is to ensure public facilities, particularly schools and transportation facilities, are adequate to accommodate new development.

As part of this review process, the Montgomery County Planning Board held public hearings and work sessions to determine the best ways to revise the current policy. At their meeting on July 21, 2016, Board members voted to approve and transmit the current draft of the Subdivision Staging Policy to the County Council. The Council will hold its own work sessions and public hearing in the fall, before voting to adopt the revised policy in November.

Learn more about the Subdivision Staging Policy and read the newest draft.

The following updates are reflected in the current draft of the Subdivision Staging Policy:

Transportation Policy Updates
Planners recognize that there is not a “one size fits all” set of rules and have revised the transportation policies to recognize current land use patterns, modes of travel other than single occupant vehicles and planning visions for different parts of the County. Policy areas have been reorganized into four groupings to acknowledge the diverse nature of transportation in the County.

A spectrum of policy area-based transportation tests appropriate for each group has been created, with a strong focus on transit accessibility. Some groups will not require policy area transit accessibility tests. For those areas requiring transportation tests, trip generation rates have been updated to reflect current land use patterns and travel behavior. In addition, trip generation rates can be adjusted based on reduced parking.

A new system for evaluating local area transportation conditions has been proposed. It does not rely solely on critical lane volume to determine traffic flow, but rather focuses on other tools, such as Synchro, vehicle miles traveled and non-auto driver mode share rates.

Transportation impact taxes will be directed to the geographic area where they are being collected and may be adjusted to better incentivize reduced parking.

School Policy Updates
In revising the Subdivision Staging Policy, planners worked to more thoroughly assess the adequacy of school facilities and more accurately account for the impact of new development.

The new Subdivision Staging Policy recommends a hybrid annual school test combining cluster utilization tests with new individual school capacity deficit tests to determine adequate school capacity. The tests are used to determine those school clusters with inadequate capacity overall as well as whether individual schools greatly exceed the capacity for which they were built.

Depending on the level of adequacy, school facility payments may be required for each new housing unit built or a development moratorium could be enacted. The draft policy also proposes a system to regularly update the school facility payment formulas to better keep up with the latest student generation rates and school construction costs.

The new policy would limit the impact that school placeholder projects have on calculating school capacity for the annual school tests. Such placeholders currently allow development to move forward and school facility payments to be collected by adding just enough capacity to prevent a cluster from entering a moratorium. The new policy proposes to limit the use of placeholder capacity. If a real capacity improvement is not placed in the CIP within two years, a moratorium will be put into effect..

The new policy proposes to calculate school impact taxes to reflect the latest student generation rates and school construction costs. Improvements in technology allow the school system to combine the school system’s data containing student addresses and grade-level information (stripped of any confidential information) and combine it with Planning Department parcel data on the type of residential structure associated with every address in the County. The results are generation rates that reflect the actual location and housing structure of virtually every MCPS student.

The newly revised policy also recommends reintroducing school facility payments and school impact taxes in former Enterprise Zones. The proposed policy would ease the transition by phasing in the collection of the impact taxes and facility payments. It also recommends conducting further research to develop a new process for determining when an area of the County can be exempted from the impact taxes and facility payments.

Background on Subdivision Staging Policy
Planning staff has proposed these new ideas in transportation and school capacity planning as part of revising the Subdivision Staging Policy, which is updated every four years. This quadrennial policy (formerly known as the Growth Policy) includes criteria and guidance for the administration of the County’s Adequate Public Facility Ordinance (APFO), which matches the timing of private development with the availability of public services.
In the past, the APFO was designed to ensure that road and school capacity – as well as water and sewer and other infrastructure – kept pace with new development. Where new areas of the County were developed, infrastructure to support new homes and businesses was needed.

Today, much of the County has been developed. Growth is occurring through infill development and redevelopment, including the resale of homes in many of the County’s established neighborhoods. This type of growth creates pressure on transportation systems and school facilities; however, the tools used to evaluate the impact of development may not adequately access these changing growth patterns, so they were re-examined for their effectiveness and relevancy.

Jun 7 16

Proposed Revisions to County’s Subdivision Staging Policy Were Focus of Public Hearings on June 2

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Transportation and school elements of the Subdivision Staging Policy were discussed at public hearings held at the Planning Board meeting in Silver Spring

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is updating the Subdivision Staging Policy (formerly called the Growth Policy) for review and approval by the County Council by November 15, 2016. The intent of the Subdivision Staging Policy is to ensure public facilities, particularly schools and transportation facilities, are adequate to accommodate new development.

As part of this review process, two public hearings – one discussing transportation and another focused on schools – were held on Thursday, June 2, 2016 during the Montgomery County Planning Board meeting in Silver Spring (8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD). The Public Hearing Draft proposes changes to the current Subdivision Staging Policy, which includes the following updates.

Transportation Policy Updates

Planners recognize that there is not a “one size fits all” set of rules and have revised the transportation policies to recognize current land use patterns, modes of travel other than single occupant vehicles and planning visions for different parts of the County. Policy areas have been reorganized into four groups; Core, Corridor, Wedge and Rural.

A spectrum of policy area-based transportation tests appropriate for each group has been created, with a strong focus on transit accessibility. Some groups, such as the Core and Rural areas, will not require policy area transit accessibility tests. For those areas requiring transportation tests, trip generation rates have been updated to reflect current land use patterns and travel behavior. In addition, trip generation rates can be adjusted based on reduced parking.

A new system for evaluating local area transportation conditions has been proposed. It does not rely solely on critical lane volume to determine traffic flow, but rather focuses on other tools, such as Synchro, vehicle miles traveled and non-auto driver mode share rates.

Transportation impact taxes will be directed to the geographic area where they are being collected for the Core policy areas and may be adjusted to better incentivize reduced parking.

Schools Policy Updates

In revising the Subdivision Staging Policy, planners worked to more thoroughly assess the adequacy of school facilities and more accurately account for the impact of new development.

The Public Hearing Draft of the Subdivision Staging Policy recommends a hybrid annual school test combining cluster utilization tests with new individual school capacity deficit tests to determine adequate school capacity. The tests are used to determine those school clusters with inadequate capacity overall as well as whether individual schools greatly exceed the capacity for which they were built.

Depending on the level of adequacy, school facility payments may be required for each new housing unit built, or a development moratorium could be enacted.  The draft policy also proposes a system to regularly update the school facility payment formulas to better keep up with the latest student generation rates and school construction costs.

The new policy would limit the impact that school placeholder projects have on calculating school capacity for the annual school tests. Such placeholders currently allow development to move forward and school facility payments to be collected by adding just enough unplanned capacity to prevent a cluster from entering a moratorium. The Public Hearing Draft proposes limiting the use of placeholder capacity to two years to ensure that real capacity improvements are actually being built, not just appearing in a budget document.

The new policy proposes to calculate school impact taxes to reflect the latest student generation rates and school construction costs. Data from Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) containing student addresses and grade-level information (stripped of any confidential information) are combined with Planning Department parcel data on the type of residential structure associated with every address in the County. The results are generation rates that reflect the actual location and housing structure of virtually every MCPS student.

The Public Hearing Draft also recommends reintroducing school facility payments and school impact taxes in former Enterprise Zones. The proposed policy would ease the transition by phasing in the collection of the impact taxes and facility payments.  It also recommends conducting further research to develop a new process for determining when an area of the County can be exempted from the impact taxes and facility payments.

Schedule of Subdivision Staging Policy Review

Planning Board work sessions to refine the Subdivision Staging Policy will continue each Thursday in June before the Planning Board draft of the policy is transmitted to the County Council at the end of July. The Council will hold its own work sessions and public hearing in the fall, before voting to adopt the revised policy in November.

Background on Subdivision Staging Policy
Planning staff is proposing new ideas in transportation and school capacity planning as part of revising the Subdivision Staging Policy, which is updated every four years. This quadrennial policy (formerly known as the Growth Policy) includes criteria and guidance for the administration of the County’s Adequate Public Facility Ordinance (APFO), which matches the timing of private development with the availability of public services.

In the past, the APFO was designed to ensure that road and school capacity – as well as water and sewer and other infrastructure – kept pace with new development. Where new areas of the County were developed, infrastructure to support new homes and businesses was needed.

Today, much of the County has been developed. Growth is occurring through infill development and redevelopment, including the resale of homes in many of the County’s established neighborhoods. This type of growth creates pressure on transportation systems and school facilities; however, the current tools used to evaluate the impact of development may not adequately access these changing growth patterns and are being examined for their effectiveness and relevancy.

Apr 14 16

Community Meeting Held on April 12 Focused on Transportation-related Changes to the County’s Subdivision Staging Policy

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Proposed revisions to the transportation elements of the Subdivision Staging Policy were discussed at a public meeting held at the Planning Department in Silver Spring

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is updating the Subdivision Staging Policy (formerly called Growth Policy) for review and approval by the County Council by November 15, 2016. The intent of the Subdivision Staging Policy is to ensure public facilities, particularly schools and transportation facilities, are adequate to accommodate new development.

A community meeting, attended by about 20 County residents, was held on Tuesday, April 12, 2016 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Montgomery County Planning Board auditorium (8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD) to discuss key transportation elements of the policy update.

This event follows a similar public forum held on March 15, 2016 and, like that meeting, presented the opportunity for the community to learn more about the Subdivision Staging Policy and share thoughts about proposed changes to the policy.

The meeting summarized recent discussions at Planning Board briefings that have focused on changes to the current transportation adequacy tests known as Local Area Transportation Review and Transportation Policy Area Review. These tests are intended to ensure that development in Montgomery County is accompanied by appropriate and sufficient transportation facilities. They are used to estimate the impact of development on the transportation network and determine effective ways to mitigate that impact when transportation facilities are inadequate.

Planning Board work sessions to refine the Subdivision Staging Policy will continue in April, May and June. A public hearing about the policy will be held in June before the Planning Board draft of the policy is transmitted to the County Council at the end of July. The Council will hold its own work sessions in the fall, before voting to adopt the revised policy in November.

Background on Subdivision Staging Policy
Planning staff is proposing new ideas in transportation and school capacity planning as part of revising the Subdivision Staging Policy, which is updated every four years. This quadrennial policy (formerly known as the Growth Policy) includes criteria and guidance for the administration of the County’s Adequate Public Facility Ordinance (APFO), which matches the timing of private development with the availability of public services.

In the past, the APFO was designed to ensure that road and school capacity – as well as water and sewer and other infrastructure — kept pace with new development. Where new areas of the County were developed, infrastructure to support new homes and businesses was needed.

Today, much of the County has been developed. Growth is occurring through infill development and redevelopment, including the resale of homes in many of the County’s established neighborhoods. This type of growth creates pressure on transportation systems and school facilities; however, the current tools used to evaluate the impact of development may not adequately access these changing growth patterns and are being examined for their effectiveness.

Feb 4 16

Updates to Subdivision Staging Policy Being Discussed at Planning Board and Community Meetings

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Public events in January and February focus on schools and transportation issues related to new development and growth

Silver Spring, MD The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is in the process of updating the Subdivision Staging Policy (formerly called Growth Policy) for review and approval by the County Council later this year. The intent of the Subdivision Staging Policy is to ensure public facilities, particularly schools and roads, are adequate to meet the needs of new development and growth.

On Tuesday, January 12, a community meeting was held from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Planning Department auditorium (8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD) to discuss current school tests and school facility funding as they relate to the staging of future subdivision development.

The approximately 40 participants provided comments on four topics related to school facilities: school facility funding, options for new schools, calculation of the annual school test and school adequacy policies. They voiced concern about overcrowding at the elementary school level and how the school impact tax is calculated.

Feedback from this event will help planners revise the sections related to schools in the current Subdivision Staging Policy.

View the presentation from the January 12 meeting.

Next Steps for the Subdivision Staging Policy

Aspects of the Subdivision Staging Policy related to transportation and schools will be discussed at Planning Board meetings and community events scheduled in February, as follows:

February 4 – The Subdivision Staging Policy team will continue to discuss new ideas for transportation testing with the Planning Board. View the Planning Board Agenda for details about this item.

February 18 – The Subdivision Staging Policy team will engage in its third discussion of new ideas for transportation testing with the Planning Board. View the Planning Board Agenda for details about this item.

February 18 –After the Planning Board meeting, a public forum to discuss whether the Subdivision Staging Policy can include new approaches to determining the adequacy of school facilities will start at 7 p.m. at the Planning Department headquarters (8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring MD). It will focus on possible changes to the current school tests and school facility funding as they relate to the staging of subdivision development. Feedback from this event will help planners revise the current Subdivision Staging Policy.

February 25 –The Planning Board will hold a work session on the update to the Subdivision Staging Policy at its regularly scheduled meeting. This session will focus on draft recommendations related to the work of the Transportation Impact Study Technical Working Group. Feedback from this event will help planners revise the current Subdivision Staging Policy.

Background on the Subdivision Staging Policy

The County’s Subdivision Staging Policy is revised every four years. Planners are currently researching new ideas in transportation and school capacity planning to help them revise the regulations to make them as useful as possible in managing growth in the county. The policy update will first be presented to the Planning Board in May 2016 for comment. This quadrennial policy includes criteria and guidance for the administration of the County’s Adequate Public Facility Ordinance (APFO), which matches the timing of private development with the availability of public services.

In the past, the APFO was designed to ensure that road and school capacity – as well as water and sewer and other infrastructure — kept pace with new development. Where new areas of the County were developed, infrastructure to support new homes and businesses was needed.

Today, much of the County has been developed. Growth is occurring through infill development and redevelopment. This type of growth creates pressure on existing transportation systems and school facilities. In updating the Subdivision Staging Policy, staff will evaluate whether the current methodologies effectively account for these changing growth patterns.

Learn More About the Update to the Subdivision Staging Policy

Sign up for the Subdivision Staging Policy e-newsletter

Check out the Subdivision Staging Policy webpage

Watch the Subdivision Staging Policy promo video

Contact Planning Department staff:

Pamela Dunn, Chief of Functional Planning and Policy, tel. 301-650-5649, Pamela.Dunn@montgomeryplanning.org

Feb 4 16

Civic Groups, Homeowner Associations and Property Owners Share Perspectives for White Flint 2 Area at Public Forum on February 1

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Speakers addressed schools, transportation, parks and new developments within White Flint 2 Sector Plan boundaries at evening meeting

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, held a public forum on Monday, February 1, 2016 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Luxmanor Elementary School (6201 Tilden Lane, Rockville, MD) for the White Flint 2 Sector Plan.

This event allowed civic and homeowner associations, including representatives from the Luxmanor, Garrett Park, Cherington and Randolph Hills neighborhoods, to share ideas with planners and the approximately 40 meeting participants. The discussion focused on public schools within the Walter Johnson cluster, transportation and new parks and open spaces.

In addition, developers from Federal Realty Investment Trust explained their initial concepts for redeveloping the Montrose Crossing Shopping Center and the owner of Randolph Hills Shopping Center also presented his suggested renovation plans.

Local representatives of the Sierra Club presented the benefits of such development, including the provision of more affordable housing in proximity to transit, as well as ways to improve the energy efficiencies of buildings and sites.

View the video recap of the meeting.

Background on the White Flint 2 Sector Plan

The White Flint 2 Plan aims to close the gap between the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan, Twinbrook Sector Plan and the pending City of Rockville plan for Rockville Pike (MD 355). Its land use, zoning and transportation recommendations will apply to properties in a bow-tie-shaped area between the boundaries of these already established Plans. White Flint 2 will link common elements between the Plan areas, including Rockville Pike and the proposed network of bike lanes and public open spaces.

Planners will be looking at parcels along Executive Boulevard, west of Old Georgetown Road; east of the CSX rail tracks, between Randolph Road and Nicholson Lane; and north of Montrose Parkway along Rockville Pike to the city limits of Rockville. Nicholson Court, which was a part of the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan, will also be included in the proposed plan area.

Issues confronting the White Flint 2 planners

  • How should the City of Rockville and County officials coordinate their efforts in redesigning Rockville Pike?
  • What transportation policies should be introduced or amended?
  • Should the White Flint Special Taxing District extend to White Flint 2?
  • How can uses on both sides of the MARC station and CSX tracks be integrated?
  • What is the role of the proposed MARC station?
  • How should properties outside of the 2010 White Flint Plan be developed?
  • Should light-industrial-zoned properties be retained?
  • What would the school capacity impacts be if significant numbers of new residential developments are approved?
  • What are the impacts associated with bus rapid transit (BRT)?
  • What is the potential for infill to create a mix of uses and promote walkability?

For more information about the White Flint 2 Plan and February 1 public forum, contact:

Lead Planner Nkosi Yearwood, tel. 301-495-1332, email Nkosi.Yearwood@montgomeryplanning.org

Stay connected with the latest information about the WF2 Sector Plan
Connect with us on Twitter: #WF2
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/montgomeryplanning

Dec 21 15

Planning Department Announces its 2016 Winter Speaker Series

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Three sessions will focus on newest transportation strategies, including suburban bicycle planning and other alternatives to single occupancy vehicles

Silver Spring, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, in partnership with the National Capital Chapter of the American Planning Association, is sponsoring a three-part Winter Speaker Series in 2016 that will focus on transportation. Smart Moves: New Ideas about Bikes, Cars and Transit will address new approaches to 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 and planning professionals. Credit for certification maintenance (CM) for members of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) attending the series is pending.

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, 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

About Session 1
Putting the Transition back in Transit will address the challenges that surface transit projects – light rail, streetcars, bus rapid transit in the region – face in being implemented and generating the mobility benefits that are among the key motivations and aspirations of these projects. The presentation will highlight these challenges that have been, and continue to be, encountered, as well as look at the tools and processes that are most common in transit planning.

The presentation will include some new approaches to surface transit planning that rely on new and developing data sources. These sources offer the potential to thread the narrow space between the rock of roadway widening and the hard place of converting general purpose lanes to dedicated transit lanes.

For more information, go to Montgomeryplanning.org/smartmoves
Use #smartmoves

Speaker Bios
Nat Bottigheimer of DC-based Fehr & Peers is a transportation planner with a background in public policy and real estate economics. 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.

Jennifer Toole, president of Toole Design Group in Silver Spring, has a keen understanding of how to design streets that work for all users. She has been involved in numerous projects of national significance for the Federal Highway Administration, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2008, Jennifer was honored with the Professional of the Year award from the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals.

Jeffery Tumlin of San Francisco-based Nelson/Nygaard has led award-winning plans in cities from Seattle and Vancouver to Moscow and Abu Dhabi. He helps balance all modes of transportation in densely developed places to achieve a community’s goals and best utilize limited resources. He has developed plans throughout the world that accommodate millions of square feet of growth with no net increase in motor vehicle traffic. Jeff is the author of the book Sustainable Transportation Planning: Tools for Creating Healthy, Vibrant and Resilient Communities.

Jul 21 14

Approved and Adopted Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan Available

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Amendment to the Master Plan of Highways available online 

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department has made the approved and adopted Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan available on its website. The plan recommends a bus rapid transit (BRT) network throughout Montgomery County that will improve accessibility and mobility on county roads. The plan was adopted on December 18, 2013 by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, as modified by the County Council on November 25, 2013.

View the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan along with the timeline of the planning process.

This Plan provides enhanced opportunities for travel by transit to support Montgomery County’s economic development and mobility goals in an environmentally sustainable way, and in a way that preserves our existing communities. As a Functional Master Plan, it makes no changes to current planned land use or zoning, but recommends changes and additions to the transportation network that are needed to serve the County’s most densely developed areas, areas planned for redevelopment, and areas planned for new dense development.

The Countywide Transit Corridor Functional Master Plan’s recommendations include:

  • Transit facilities along eleven corridors to facilitate Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service that will move more people to and from jobs, homes, shopping, and entertainment areas in urbanizing parts of the County, while making more efficient use of our public rights-of-way and existing pavement.
  • Pedestrian facilities that meet ADA Best Practices and provide safe and adequate accommodation along and across the recommended transit corridors, ensuring that transit patrons can safely cross to and from transit stops and that the general public can safely cross these roadways at all intersections.
  • Accommodating all master plan bikeways within the recommended rights-of-way and accommodating additional on-road bike facilities where possible.
  • Designating more than two dozen Bicycle-Pedestrian Priority Areas around major transit stations.
  • Adding 25 feet of right-of-way for a third track on the MARC Brunswick Line between the Frederick County line and the Metropolitan Grove station to reduce conflicts with freight service and enable the expansion of commuter service.
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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