Is the big MARC Station fight all for nothing?

Is the big MARC Station fight all for nothing?

One of the long-running battles in the development of the new White Flint Sector Plan is over the placement of a new commuter rail station in White Flint. There’s been a rail stop in nearby Garrett Park for decades, and master plans for the White Flint area have long had another station pencilled in for Montrose Station, just above Randolph Road to the north of the Sector. White Flint planners have tried to bring the planned station south into the Sector to provide connections for long-distance commuters to White Flint and to make a relatively seamless transition to the White Flint Metro. The developers for the Nicholson Lane properties have lobbied for a new MARC station on their site, even though it is relatively far from the Metro station; the Randolph Hills neighborhood to the east of the Sector has supported that proposal as a means to help connect their community to the rest of the Sector (currently the CSX railroad tracks acts as a barrier). In contrast, the Montouri property owners, on whose property the Planning Board staff’s proposal would put the new station, oppose a new station, since they want to put more development on their property. Thus, some observers characterize the fight as putting the new station where it belongs for transit but isn’t wanted, as opposed to putting it further away where it is wanted.

Today’s Gazette has a story indicating that all this controversy may be over very little. Jen Beasley, whose stories have paced the development of the Sector Plan over the last two years, writes that the Maryland Transit Authority, which oversees the commuter rail program, has “no plans for a new station in White Flint.” MTA spokeswoman Cheron Wicker “said a planning recommendation does not translate into a plan to build a new station.”

County Councilwoman Nancy Floreen (D-At Large) is from Garrett Park, site of the current MARC station, and told the Gazette that “even if the Planning Board approves the sector plan featuring a new station, that won’t make the issue final.”

The story can be found at:

http://www.gazette.net/stories/04082009/chevnew204504_32476.shtml.

Also in today’s Gazette┬áis a letter to the editor by Jeff Jaeger of Rockville warning that if a station is placed in the Sector, residents will have to get used to train noise, including blowing whistles by each passing freight train. Train whistles (horns, actually) now sound a block north of the Montouri property site, at the at-grade intersection with of the train tracks with Randolph Road.

Barnaby Zall

Barnaby Zall

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