Friends of White Flint sent a short candidate questionnaire to all of the Democrat candidates fighting for your vote in the June 26th primary. Over the next couple of weeks, we will share their responses with you. The June 26 primary is a critical one for the White Flint area. Actually it’s a critical election for all of Montgomery County, so take the time to educate yourself and select the county executive candidate who not only believes in the tremendous potential of the White Flint/Pike District community but who also is determined to work with property owners, businesses, and residents to bring the White Flint sector plans to life.
We will vary the order of the responses to be fair to all the candidates, and we’ve attempted to restrict our comments to only facts rather than opinions.
The first topic we’ll tackle is infrastructure. Candidates were asked “What are your top three infrastructure projects for the White Flint area and how would you fund and implement those projects?”
One: A second metro entrance across the street from Pike and Rose
Two: A new MARC Station
Three: Bus Rapid Transit on Rockville Pike
The White Flint I Plan was somewhat unique in that a number of property owners (the White Flint Partnership) came together with residents in the area (Friends of White Flint) to come up with ways to transform underutilized land characterized by large surface parking lots into a vibrant, walkable district with many amenities. The county forward funded a significant amount of infrastructure and will be challenged to come up with more dollars since redevelopment has taken longer than anticipated, generating less tax revenue. I would hope that the State would finance the new Marc station, that we could get more Federal transit dollars to help implement BRT, and that we could work with developers and WMATA to get funding for the new Metro entrance.
Comment from Friends of White Flint: This answer includes funding solutions. Rose is the only candidate to mention a new MARC train station. Rose also acknowledges the challenge of forward funding dollars from the special White Flint Taxing District that developers pay into when they build.
One: High quality BRT in the median on Rockville Pike – the urban boulevard envisioned in the plan – County GO Bonds and State funds. This cannot happen until the western workaround and eastern workaround are built out– paid for from the Special Taxing District and County funds;
Two: A second entrance to the White Flint Metro – paid for with a partnership between county and WMATA;
Three: Parks – the redesign/re-use of Wall Park and creation of a civic green and a new North Bethesda Recreation Center – GO bonds in CIP Budget and/or Advance Land Acquisition Revolving Fund (ALARF)
Comment from Friends of White Flint: Roger offered very specific funding plans for each of projects. He is also the only candidate to mention the recreation center and parks.
My top three infrastructure projects for the White Flint area are bus rapid transit (BRT) on 355, BRT from Montgomery Mall, and BRT from Glenmont. These three projects create the capability to move people along an east-west and north-south axis so that many car trips can be intercepted before they reach the Pike, and that creates the capacity to achieve the mode shares (i.e., the right mix of cars and non-auto transit) that are tied to the additional stages of development in White Flint – whether or not a large corporation happens to land there.
Comment from Friends of White Flint: Marc did not disclose how he would pay for the three BRT projects he discussed. Two of his three projects aren’t in the White Flint area, although they will help people get to and from the White Flint area.
The White Flint area would benefit from public transportation, bike and pedestrian safety, and use of technology to keep cars moving rather than expanding roads because it will lead to a lower impact on our environment and infrastructure. I firmly support bus rapid transit and would like to make it free to incentivize public transportation use. To address our transportation issues, I believe there are short-term and long-term solutions. Some of the short-term solutions include fixing Metro and ensuring the Purple Line is completed on-time and on-budget, providing, free BRT and free Ride-on service to get more cars off the road, as well as implementing reversible lanes on I-270, installing adaptive traffic lights, and creating a local emergency quick action response unit to manage traffic accidents and keep residents moving. The long-term solutions include following through on our transportation Master Plans and creating new transit options for Clarksburg residents, who have been struggling with severe traffic due to the county’s inability to follow through. I would carefully study extending the Red Line to Clarksburg and will work closely with state, local, and federal partners to develop dedicated funding for Metro
Comment from Friends of White Flint: This appears to be a boilerplate response that didn’t really answer the question and didn’t discuss funding. Most of his answer is focused on areas other than White Flint.
One: North entrance to White Flint Metro;
Two: Bus Rapid Transit on Rockville Pike;
Three: North Bethesda Transitway from White Flint to Montgomery Mall.
We should look for any available federal or state assistance to fund these, but they can also be paid for through the White Flint Development District. If Amazon comes here, we should seek to include them in the state’s $2 billion commitment to transportation improvements.
Comment from Friends of White Flint: George’s third priority isn’t in the White Flint area, although it will help people get to and from the White Flint area. He was vague about funding these projects. Also, The White Flint taxing district was not designed to fund BRT or the North Bethesda Transitway.
Comment from Friends of White Flint: We asked Bill Frick twice for his answers to the questionnaire but he did not return his questionnaire to Friends of White Flint.
Overall Comment from Friends of White Flint: It is interesting and encouraging that every candidate mentioned Bus Rapid Transit on Route 355 as one of their infrastructure priorities.