Live blogging from the worksession of the Montgomery County Planning Board. Topics include parks, environment and transportation update.
The Planning Board does much of its work on the White Flint Sector Plan in worksessions. Ordinarily, the Board rapidly passes through routine “consent” materials on its way to the worksessions, but today the subjects seem to be more controversial, and the auditorium is full of suits with earnest expressions. Clarksburg and a multi-modal study on I-270 seem to be on the agenda.
Maryland Transit Administration: Discussions of Bus Rapid Transit and Express Toll lanes on 270, congestion pricing of toll lanes in Florida (I-95). Target is 55 Miles Per Hour at all hours until 2030. Chairman Hanson: to maintain the flow you jack up the rate to reduce the number of people who use the lanes. Cmsnr Alfandre: is this as much asphalt as you’ve got in this area? Still have room to pave in Gaithersburg? MTA: We could continue to pave but there are trade-offs, particularly when we have these high densities next to 270. Hanson: equivalent of old sewer moratorium. didn’t work well. MTA: Express toll lanes extend from Urbana to Shady Grove Rd. Cmsnr Robinson: extend below Shady Grove? MTA: it would not be precluded. $5 Billion project.
Corridor Cities Transitway: CCT starts at Shady Grove Metro station, through King Farm, Washingtonian, West Gaithersburg, National Institutes of Standards and Technology, back north to Metropolitan Grove, up to Germantown, north of Dept. of Energy, and up to Comsat. Example of BRT in King Farm and Light Rail; stations are nearly identical. Only difference is the vehicle itself and wires on top. Alfandre: would you consider using existing lanes? MTA: yes. we consider what we can use today that’s not at capacity that we can use for BRT to delay capital investments. Run in the lanes against rush hour traffic to use that available capacity. CCT right-of-way is mostly protected already so don’t have to relocate homes, and unprotected section is to the north where the county is already preparing for expansion. Either BRT or light rail cuts travel time from 60 mins (Shady Grove to Comsat) to 36-38 minutes, and that reduced travel time will remain for the life of the plan, while the travel time on roads will continue over time.
Cmsnr Cryor: enormous change in sentiment and support from Light Rail to Bus Rapid Transit. MTA: requirements are similar, but cost are much different. Federal requirements push toward BRT; $400 million vs. $700 million for light rail. Robinson: BRT have maximum flexibility to extend service, especially at Shady Grove and Life Sciences Center. MTA: federal government cares about annualized cost per hour of user benefit. BRT is $18.25/hr, light rail is $32.43/hr.
Schedule is Public hearings in June with further activity in late 2009. Website: www.i270multimodalstudy.com.