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Timeline: White Flint’s new street grid

First in an occasional series looking at how the new White Flint will come together.

street network

Street grid from the White Flint Sector Plan. Private developers will build many of the local streets, but the county and Maryland are responsible for the major ones.

The White Flint Sector Plan calls for a new street grid, which will relieve congestion on Rockville Pike and provide more ways to walk, bike, or drive around White Flint. While many of the new streets will be built by private developers, like at Pike + Rose and North Bethesda Center, Montgomery County and the State of Maryland will be responsible for much of the heavy lifting.

The process of building a new street grid is complicated, involving many players and complex negotiations. “It’s very difficult to put a timeline together on most things in White Flint because they’re all interdependent,” says Dee Metz, the county’s White Flint implementation coordinator.

Montgomery County has divided the street grid into two halves on either side of Rockville Pike and refers to them as the Western Workaround and Eastern Workaround. On both sides, new and existing streets will get new, wider sidewalks, landscaping and street trees, and some bicycle accommodations. Utilities will be moved underground as well, reducing visual clutter and making it easier for street trees to grow.

Western Workaround: Could start by 2015

The first big street construction project in White Flint will be the Western Workaround, a network of new streets west of Rockville Pike. They include Market Street, a new east-west street between Rockville Pike and Old Georgetown Road, and shifting Executive Boulevard from its current intersection with Old Georgetown further east, so it can connect to a new street in Pike + Rose. The project also includes funds to rebuild Rockville Pike between Flanders Avenue and Hubbard Drive.

New and rebuilt streets in the Western Workaround.

New and rebuilt streets in the Western Workaround. Image from MCDOT.

White Flint landowners will pay for the $98 million project through a special tax district created to fund the infrastructure needed to support the area’s redevelopment. So far, the project is at 35% design, which means some but not all of the minor details are being worked out. County transportation officials have been make any changes that would inconvenience drivers.

According to Metz, the county plans to start construction in Fiscal Year 2016, which starts in July 2015. However, there are still questions left unanswered. There are stormwater management issues with many of the new streets due to the slope of the land.

For the new street grid to work, the county will have to rebuild the existing intersections of Old Georgetown, Executive and Hoya Street, which officials estimate will cost between $30 and $40 million. But it isn’t funded, nor does it include rebuilding Hoya Street between Old Georgetown and Montrose, which is basically a service road today.

It’s also unclear how the county will get the land to build the new streets. Developers promised the county that they would dedicate the land to them as they redeveloped their properties, so there’s no money set aside for buying it. While Gables Residential has agreed to dedicate part of the site where they’re building apartments and retail, the owners of the VOB car dealership on Old Georgetown Road have no plans to redevelop anytime soon, putting the new Executive Boulevard in danger.

Metz notes that councilmembers and residents are starting to get impatient. “There was an assumption that things would be happening already,” she says. “That was never the case.”

Much of the funding and coordination issues will have to be figured out when the county council works on next year’s budget in the spring. Metz says there are currently discussions with County Executive Ike Leggett to get the intersection of Old Georgetown, Executive and Hoya funded sooner rather than later.  Friends of White Flint has been an assertive advocate on this front.

Eastern Workaround: New bridge today, new streets later

Like its counterpart, the Eastern Workaround is a network of new streets on the east side of Rockville Pike. This $29 million project, also funded by White Flint landowners, would extend Executive Boulevard across Rockville Pike and just over a half-mile to Nebel Street.  It would also build an 80-foot-long bridge over the White Flint Metro station to connect the future McGrath Boulevard, within the North Bethesda Center property, with Rockville Pike.

The Eastern Workaround includes funding for a new bridge over the White Flint Metro station connecting McGrath Boulevard to Rockville Pike. Image from LCOR.

The county has budgeted money to build the bridge within the next year, though funds for the rest of the network have been pushed back at least 6 years. At least that will create time to figure out how and where to extend Executive Boulevard.

County transportation planners laid out the eastern stretch of Executive Boulevard so it straddled the existing property line, ensuring that landowners on each side of the street gave up equal amounts of land. But the State Highway Administration wants to shift the road slightly to the north because Rockville Pike, which they control, is at an angle. Moving the road would create an intersection closer to a 90-degree angle, which SHA planners argue is better for drivers. But this would place more of the road on the property of Fitzgerald Auto Malls, which is unwilling to give up additional land.

As a result, progress on the Eastern Workaround has slowed. “There are lots of private negotiations the county doesn’t control,” says Metz. The county and property owners are trying to find an alternative alignment that could spare Fitzgerald while appeasing the SHA.

Grid, Not Wedges

Roger K. Lewis is a visionary architect and retired professor who writes the “Shaping the City” column for the Washington Post. He recently appeared with Montgomery County Planning Board Chair Royce Hanson to discuss the White Flint Sector Plan on WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi radio show.

Today, Lewis has a column discussing “Washington’s Future: More Cobweb than Wagon Wheel.” Lewis thesis is that we are moving into a more modern paradigm in urban design:

Fifty years ago, planners generated the famous “wedges and corridors” master plan for the Washington metropolitan region. It envisioned the District as the hub from which transportation corridors — think of them as spokes — radiate into the surrounding counties and along which dense development would occur. The wedges of space between corridors would have low-density development, a combination of residential subdivisions and open space in the form of public parks and natural landscape.

The configuration of the Metro system was based on the “wedges and corridors” model. Likewise, the Capital Beltway was designed as a circle that would connect these transportation spokes radiating out from the District hub, while allowing interstate drivers to go around, rather than through, the District.

But this half-century-old planning model has been superseded. The evolving pattern of the future will be a lattice rather than a hub-and-spoke network, looking more like a cobweb than a wagon wheel.

Lewis notes causes for the shift, including changes in families (from nuclear to diverse), increasing demand for walkable communities (both for environmental and cultural reasons), and a better understanding of traffic and congestion. “Some willingly walk, ride bikes or use transit rather than driving, a behavioral shift that relieves traffic congestion and reduces carbon emissions.”

I recently attended the 112th presentation on the White Flint Sector Plan by a group of businesses, property owners and residents to a local business. Evan Goldman, Co-Chair of Friends of White Flint, made a point that leapt out at me again when Lewis’ column:

The congestion on the Pike, parking lots, paved-over areas, and overhead wires in White Flint, even the very tall buildings now going up along the Pike, are all exactly what we planned for in the 1950’s. They all conform to local county codes. They are what we asked for, and now that we have them, we see that we were wrong. We need to rethink our reliance on the automobile, and our planning that makes the automobile King over all, and relegates the pedestrian to an after-thought.

Traffic on Rockville Pike — we asked for it, and we got it:

Traffic on Rockville Pike: we asked for it, and we got it

You can find Lewis’ column at:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/03/AR2009090304103.html 

Barnaby Zall

One last chance to support Friends of White Flint in 2020

Friends of White Flint makes sure you are informed about everything happening in our area, and we advocate for a transit-oriented, walkable neighborhood. Whether it’s working for pedestrian improvements, supporting local businesses and placemaking initiatives, testifying on policies that affect us, or educating the community, Friends of White Flint strives to create the vibrant community we all want.

Will you make a donation to support our essential work? Whether it’s $10 or $100, we are incredibly grateful for your contribution. Click here to make your donation easily and safely.


Friends of White Flint had a surprisingly busy year advocating for pedestrian improvements, tracking the Western Workaround, testifying on the new growth policy, supporting local business,  nurturing relationships with elected and government officials as well as with residents, creating a new improved website, and keeping the community informed about what’s happening in our community through online meetings, social media, our daily blog, and our weekly e-newsletter.— one of our most important tasks.

This year we enjoyed tangible progress in the fulfillment of the White Flint sector plan:

  1. Foulger Pratt and Promark started construction of its East Village apartments on Nicholson Lane.
  2. LCOR is ready to open its Arrowwood apartments near Harris Teeter.
  3. Willco continues to move its Wilgus Tract/Northpark at Montrose project through the Planning Board approval process.
  4. Federal Realty is leasing its new office building and even opening a new restaurant at Pike at Rose.
  5. The Planning Department is focused on the White Flint area with its Advancing the Pike District initiative. (Please visit our blog for an update.)
  6. Finally — after years and years and years of advocating — we’re going to see the elimination of the hot right/slip lanes at Old Georgetown Road and Route 355.
  7. The Western Workaround project is considerably further along than in 2019 as we create a grid of streets, sidewalks, and bike lanes in the Pike District.
  8. The new Growth Policy/Subdivision Staging Policy is favorable to smart growth construction and eliminated the dreaded moratorium.
  9. Placemaking efforts, including drive-in movies,  Market Park, and other initiatives, were launched this year in response to the pandemic.
  10. Beach Drive opened to pedestrians and cyclists every weekend. (Yes, technically not within our borders but darn close.)

I’d also like to share just a couple of email snippets I’ve received over the year that demonstrate the importance of Friends of White Flint in the transformation of our neighborhood into a walkable, vibrant, smart growth hub:

“Thank you, Amy. Your call paid off, the entrance to the trail at Woodglen and Edson looks great. I hope this is a new beginning and we can all work to keep it looking great.” Resident Member about our work getting MCDOT to clean up the Trolley Trail.

“Thanks so much for the excellent newsletter. I was very interested in the maps – so much so that I went to the video to see the original pictures. Your coverage is top notch.”Resident Member 

“By the way, thank you for all your great efforts in keeping Friends of White Flint in the spotlight, staying on top of current events and actions, and coming up with great agendas for community meetings.  You do an awesome job and we do appreciate you!!!”Resident Member

Thank you for your support!

Actually, 2020 Was A Good Year For White Flint, Despite The Pandemic

2020 —  what a year!  A very short sentence that’s bursting with anxiety, Zoom calls, Covid restrictions, elections, and chaos. Friends of White Flint, despite the pandemic and its economic fallout, successfully pivoted so we could continue our essential advocacy and education work without interruption. 

Tracking the Western Workaround, advocating for pedestrian improvements, speaking at the North Bethesda rotary via Zoom, testifying on the new growth policy, supporting local business,  nurturing relationships with elected and government officials as well as with residents, creating a new improved website, etc.– Friends of White Flint had a surprisingly busy year. And of course, one of our most important tasks — keeping the community informed about what’s happening in our community — continued through online meetings, social media, our daily blog, and our weekly e-newsletter.

This year we enjoyed tangible progress in the fulfillment of the White Flint sector plan:

  1. Foulger Pratt and Promark started construction of its East Village apartments on Nicholson Lane.
  2. LCOR is ready to open its Arrowwood apartments near Harris Teeter.
  3. Willco continues to move its Wilgus Tract/Northpark at Montrose project through the Planning Board approval process.
  4. Federal Realty is leasing its new office building and even opening a new restaurant at Pike at Rose.
  5. The Planning Department is focused on the White Flint area with its Advancing the Pike District initiative. (Please visit our blog for an update.)
  6. Finally — after years and years and years of advocating — we’re going to see the elimination of the hot right/slip lanes at Old Georgetown Road and Route 355.
  7. The Western Workaround project is considerably further along than in 2019 as we create a grid of streets, sidewalks, and bike lanes in the Pike District.
  8. The new Growth Policy/Subdivision Staging Policy is favorable to smart growth construction and eliminated the dreaded moratorium.
  9. Placemaking efforts, including drive-in movies,  Market Park, and other initiatives, were launched this year in response to the pandemic.
  10. Beach Drive opened to pedestrians and cyclists every weekend. (Yes, technically not within our borders but darn close.)

I’d also like to share just a couple of email snippets I’ve received over the year that demonstrate the importance of Friends of White Flint in the transformation of our neighborhood into a walkable, vibrant, smart growth hub:

“Thank you, Amy. Your call paid off, the entrance to the trail at Woodglen and Edson looks great. I hope this is a new beginning and we can all work to keep it looking great.” Resident Member about our work getting MCDOT to clean up the Trolley Trail.

“Thanks so much for the excellent newsletter. I was very interested in the maps – so much so that I went to the video to see the original pictures. Your coverage is top notch.”Resident Member 

“By the way, thank you for all your great efforts in keeping Friends of White Flint in the spotlight, staying on top of current events and actions, and coming up with great agendas for community meetings.  You do an awesome job and we do appreciate you!!!”Resident Member

Friends of White Flint makes sure you are informed about everything happening in our area, and we advocate for a transit-oriented, walkable neighborhood. Whether it’s working for pedestrian improvements, supporting local businesses and placemaking initiatives, testifying on policies that affect us, or educating the community, Friends of White Flint strives to create the vibrant community we all want.

Will you make a donation to support our essential work? Whether it’s $10 or $100, we are incredibly grateful for your contribution.

Click here to make your donation easily and safely. Thank you so much for your support!

Tomorrow — Executive Blvd. Closes

If you want to take one last sentimental drive on Executive Boulevard from Marinelli Road to Old Georgetown Road, today is your last chance to do so. Executive Boulevard closes tomorrow to construct the western workaround.

The western workaround will align Towne Road, Old Georgetown Road, and Executive Blvd. in a traditional four-sided intersection, improving the road grid.

District 16 Delegation Asks for Route 355 Crosswalk Repairs

In a recent letter to the State Highway Administration, Senator Susan Lee and Delegates Mark Korman, Ariana Kelly, and Sara Love wrote:

… In recent months, we have received increased reports of crosswalks along MD 355 that are in need of maintenance. In the attached document, we have compiled a list of crosswalks that warrant your office’s attention. The document catalogs every crosswalk along MD 355 that is in need of either A) new paint,B) stripes added, or in some cases, both. The pictures in the document are current as of January 2020. Consistent with SHA’s own recommendations laid out in the Context Driven guide, we encourage the addition of “continental” crosswalks because they are more visible to motorists than the standard parallel lines. Additionally, the continental stripes indicate to pedestrians where to cross safely.

Thank you, delegation from District 16, for staying on top of this important pedestrian safety issues, and we look forward to seeing those new and improved crosswalks from SHA.

Here are are few images from their document, and you can see all the crosswalks by clicking here. (The White Flint/Pike District section begins on page 19.) Because of the advocacy of Friends of White Flint, the intersections of Route 355 and Nicholson Lane, Marinelli Street, and Old Georgetown Road already have freshly painted crosswalks with stripes.

Which Restaurants and Retail are Still Open in the Pike District?

Here’s a great list of Pike District restaurants that are open for delivery or curbside delivery. Despite the shelter-in-place order, you can get your fix of pretty much any one of your favorite cuisines in the White Flint area. (All while helping these restaurants stay in business.)

And if you want to know if a White Flint/Pike District store is open, visit this list on pikedistrict.org.

&Pizza

Fast Casual • Pizza

11626 Old Georgetown Rd

(202) 558-7549

visit website Delivery Available Curbside Pickup Available

Bibibop Asian Grill

Fast Casual • Asian

11584 Old Georgetown Rd

(301) 337-9465

visit website Delivery Available

The Big Greek Cafe

Fast Casual • Greek • Catering

5268 Nicholson Ln

(301) 881-4976

visit website Curbside Pickup Available

Call Ahead Or Order Online And Our Staff Will Bring The BGC Food To Your Car!!

BurgerFi

Fast Casual • American • Fast/Fast Casual

11881 Grand Park Ave

2406697244

visit website Takeout Available Curbside Pickup Available

Guests can use third-party delivery service partners or place a prepaid order via Burgerfi.com or the BurgerFi app and pick up at the counter to take out. During this time our dining room and patio seating will be closed.

CAVA

Fast Casual • Fast/Fast Casual

12037 Rockville Pike

(240) 235-0627

visit website Takeout Available Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

Chick-fil-A

Fast/Fast Casual

12001 Rockville Pike

(301) 881-1726

visit website Takeout Available Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

City Perch Kitchen & Bar

Brunch • Happy Hours • American

11830 Grand Park Ave

(301) 231-2310

visit website Delivery Available Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

IN COMPLIANCE WITH STATE & LOCAL COVID-19 REGULATIONS, WE HAVE TEMPORARILY LIMITED OUR OPERATIONS AT CITY PERCH FORT LEE TO TAKE-OUT & CURBSIDE DELIVERY FROM 2PM-7PM. VIEW OUR MENU PAGE FOR MORE DETAILS.

Commonwealth Indian Restaurant

Indian

11610 Old Georgetown Rd

(240) 833-3055

visit website Takeout Available

Temporary hours: 5pm – 9pm
Offering a 20% discount on entire purchase!

El Patio Argentine Restaurant

Bakeries • Spanish & Latin American • Breakfast • Vegan/Vegetarian

5240 Randolph Rd

(301)-231-9225

visit website Delivery Available Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

Emily’s Kitchen

Fast Casual • American

11200 Rockville Pike

(301) 230-5647

visit website Delivery Available Curbside Pickup Available

Five Guys

American • Fast/Fast Casual

12029 Rockville Pike

(301) 230-1340

visit website Delivery Available Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

Flor de Luna

Happy Hours • Spanish & Latin American

11417 Woodglen Dr

(240) 242-3534

visit website Delivery Available Curbside Pickup Available

Take Happy Hour home with our delicious appetizers and specialty drinks!
Margaritas $5. Make sure to ask about our Manager Specials on food/drink combos
Offers available for takeout only

Fogo de Chao

Spanish & Latin American

11600 Old Georgetown Rd

301-841-9200

visit website Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

Avoid grocery store stress and buy your favorite protein here––freshly carved by our expert Gauchos for you to grill at home. Legendary cuts of meat, like Picanha, start at just $12/lb.

Gourmet Beer and Wine

Beer/Wine/Brewery

11510 Rockville Pike

(301) 468-6688 Takeout Available

honeygrow

Fast/Fast Casual

12035 Rockville Pike

(240) 621-7696

visit website Delivery Available Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

We’re offering FREE delivery, as well as contactless white glove, curbside pick-up and offers from our third-party delivery partners.
We are also still running a BOGO for all healthcare providers with valid ID through 4/1!

Ize’s Deli & Bagelry

Bakeries • Delicatessens & Sandwich Shops

11622 Rockville Pike

301- 231-0771

visit website Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

Java Nation

Brunch • Coffee/Tea Houses • Spanish & Latin American • Breakfast

11120 Rockville Pike

visit website Takeout Available Delivery Available Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

Jinya Ramen Bar

Asian

910 Prose St

(301) 816-3029

visit website Delivery Available Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

order online directly from our website but we are also available on delivery apps

Kiin Imm Thai Restaurant

Asian

785 Rockville Pike

(301) 251-1888

visit website Curbside Pickup Available

Kung Fu Tea

Coffee/Tea Houses

11802 Rockville Pike

(240) 699-7099

visit website Curbside Pickup Available

Kusshi Sushi

Asian

11826 Trade St

240-770-0355

visit website Delivery Available Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

We will still remain open for delivery & carryout. Have you seen our Gift Card Sale?

Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly

Late Night Eats • Happy Hours • Asian

5268-H Nicholson Ln

(240) 669-4383

visit website Gift Cards Available

Unfortunately we are closed for now but selling gift cards.

Mediterranean House of Kabobs

Mediterranean

11616 Rockville Pike

(301) 881-5956

visit website Delivery Available Curbside Pickup Available

Mike & Sons Sub Shop

Delicatessens & Sandwich Shops • Fast/Fast Casual

5404 Randolph Rd

(301) 468-9066

visit website Delivery Available Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

MOD Pizza

Pizza

12027 Rockville Pike

3012874284

visit website Takeout Available Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

Nada

Brunch • Mexican & Southwestern

11886 Grand Park Ave

(301) 770-4040

visit website Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

New Carryout Hours all locations: Monday – Sunday, 11:30 am – 9 pm⁠
⁠Taco Tuesday at home! We have carryout!

Nando’s Peri Peri

Bakeries

922 Rose Ave

(240) 660-5050

visit website Delivery Available Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

We’re still serving our PERI-PERI, but let’s do it at your house!
Order to-go, online, on our app or delivery.

The Original Pancake House

Brunch • American • Breakfast

12224 Rockville Pike

(301) 468-0886

visit website Delivery Available Curbside Pickup Available

Every morning we are ready to roll. Griddle is ready and the Pancakes are Flippin. All we need is a phone call or an Online Order

Owen’s Ordinary

Brunch • Late Night Eats • Happy Hours • American

11820 Trade St

(301) 245-1226

visit website Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

From bar food favorites, to Chef @collinscooks’ amazing Salmon special, we’ve still got you covered! Stop in for carry-out or get your meal delivered.
For carry-out: 301-245-1226 or order through DoorDash

Pho Eatery

Asian

11618 Rockville Pike

(240) 669-9777

visit website Delivery Available Curbside Pickup Available

Quincy’s South Bar & Grill

Brunch • Happy Hours • American • Pizza

11401 Woodglen Dr

(240) 669-3270

visit website Delivery Available Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

WE ARE STILL HERE FOR YOU! We are offering Take-Out and Delivery daily between 11:30am and 10pm. Take-Out: Call (240) 669-3270 to place your order for Take-Out and we will bring it to your car. Ask about delivery.

Seasons 52

Brunch • Happy Hours • American

11414 Rockville Pike

(301) 984-5252

visit website Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

Staying home? We’ll bring the comfort to you with complimentary delivery. Call your local Seasons 52 for details and to place your order. Curbside pickup also available.

Slapfish

Fast/Fast Casual

12033 Rockville Pike

(240) 880-2037

visit website Takeout Available Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

Spring Mill Bread Company

Bakeries

5568 Randolph Rd

240-747-0350

visit website Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

Starbucks – Montrose Crossing

Coffee/Tea Houses

12091 Rockville Pike

301) 231-0680

visit website Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

Stella Barra Pizzeria

Pizza

11825 Grand Park Ave

(301) 881-1982

visit website Delivery Available

Summer House Santa Monica

Brunch • Happy Hours • American

11825 Grand Park Ave

(301) 881-2381

visit website Delivery Available Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

UPDATE: Summer House Santa Monica will be available for delivery and curbside pickup during the following hours until further notice:
Monday-Friday 10:30 AM – 8:00 PM
Saturday 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Sunday 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Sweetgreen

Fast/Fast Casual

11875 Grand Park Ave

(301) 770-6625

visit website Delivery Available Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

As we follow health guidelines and shift to a pickup + delivery only ordering experience, we’re providing free delivery* through the sg app + online.

Taipei Tokyo Cafe

Asian

11510-A Rockville Pike

(301) 881-8388

visit website Delivery Available Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt

Ice Cream, Yogurt & Gelato

11802 Rockville Pike

(301) 231-7546

visit website Takeout Available

Vignola Gourmet

Italian

11612 Boiling Brook Place

301-770-4523

visit website Curbside Pickup Available Gift Cards Available

DJ Pauly D Plays Private Party In North Bethesda For Bat Mitzvah

So often we write about zoning regulations and other not-so-fun-but-important issues. Not today. Today we’re writing about a hip, over-the-top private party at Pike& Rose’s Stella Barra and Summer House.

Photo by Hot 99.5 Radio

As reported by Hot 99.5 radio:

In a scene that wouldn’t have been out of place on MTV’s My Super Sweet 16, DJ Pauly D was hired to play a bat mitzvah in North Bethesda, MD Saturday night that took over half a block of the Pike & Rose shopping district and the entirety of restaurants “Summer House” and “Stella Barra”.

Residents noticed something was up when copious amounts of security guards popped up around Pike & Rose to direct traffic which was quickly becoming gridlock in the two block neighborhood. Pike & Rose was suddenly turning into Hollywood & Vine!

Bonnie Walker Events put everything together along with Revolution Events who was hired to transform the two restaurant spaces at the corner of Grand Park Ave and Persei Place into a trendy nightclub space called “Penthouse 2 – North Bethesda”. Hired paparazzi stood outside the entrance taking photos of guests as they entered.

According to the insider who spoke to us directly, this party was for two young women turning 13. It was important to their family to have the party in their community and support community businesses.

We were told by our exclusive insider source that the party planning began months ago and included a super-cool ‘mini bar’ invitation with non-alcoholic rosé. Because this party was taking over Pike & Rose, they worked closely with the developers of the community (Federal Realty) to hire security and secure the necessary permits to take over the sidewalk and entrance areas around “Summer House” and “Stella Barra”. Some insider info: the restaurants are owned by “Lettuce Entertain You” and they flew in staff from around the country to support…even the main chef!

The party began around 7pm with light fare followed by DJ Pauly D, of MTV’s Jersey Shore fame, arriving to play a set for the attendees around 9pm. He played for about 90 minutes and posed for photos with partygoers.

According to reports, the birthday celebration wrapped around 11pm and moved to The Canopy hotel next door where there was a personalized metal water-bottle station. Guests could custom paint their own S’well-style bottle to take as a parting gift. According to our insider, the swag was epic with various items made available throughout the night.

Maryland county looks to build on the success of a new, limited-stop bus route

From Mobility Lab

Buses traversing Montgomery County, Md.’s limited-stop Ride On ExtRa Route 101 have gotten fuller and fuller since they began operating in October 2017. The Bethesda-Gaithersburg route’s 12 percent ridership increase over the past year and a half was achieved despite competition from low gas prices and investor-subsidized ride hailing.

This contrasts strongly with national trends, as well as the county’s overall bus ridership numbers, which have fallen 11 percent during that time, according to internal Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) figures.

Route 101, though today just a weekday rush-hour-only service, could be the beginning of a bright future for mobility in Washington D.C.’s northern suburbs. Ride On is in the process of expanding fast, frequent transit service to reach more residents and businesses, with some new routes set to incorporate characteristics of bus rapid transit (BRT).

But at the same time, in response to county budget shortfalls, the county executive proposed reducing service on seven of the county’s busiest existing bus routes. While the Montgomery County Council quickly backed off some of the originally proposed cuts, three routes still face reductions.

MCDOT officials emphasized that none of the proposed cuts will directly affect Ride On’s ExtRa, Flash, or Flex services. However, any ridership losses resulting from the cuts could adversely affect transit’s overall role in Montgomery County mobility and create further challenges for Ride On in the future.

Even on wide suburban arterials, people ride transit that meets their needs

Al Roshdieh

Al Roshdieh, Director of MCDOT, told me that he “honestly didn’t expect this kind of a result” from Ride On ExtRa.

But those results weren’t just luck. Rather, they were a product of the county’s people-oriented planning.

“In the past, it was more about . . . how fast you can get the cars through the intersection,” Roshdieh said, referring to the auto-centric level of service metrics often used to predict a project’s impact on traffic congestion. “[But now,] that is not my priority; my priority is how many people I can get through an intersection.”

Ride On ExtRa coasts down Rockville Pike, even though the arterial is one of the most crowded roads in the county during peak periods. Limited stops (only 13, instead of the 80 that local routes along the corridor serve), 10-minute headways, and transit signal priority have helped reduce travel times by 25 percent, compared to the bus routes that preceded the new service.

Though the corridor doesn’t have any dedicated bus lanes, the less-frequent stopping means buses can use center and left lanes for much of the route, helping them flow more smoothly with traffic and contributing to the shorter travel times. In addition, Wi-Fi coverage and USB charging ports help make people more productive on the buses.

According to MCDOT, the ExtRa service averages 2,000 riders a day, and total daily ridership on the corridor (including the Ride On buses that preceded ExtRa and continue to operate) is up 700, demonstrating that the improvements have both benefited existing riders (as I can attest) and attracted new ones. For example, Roshdieh told me that the MCDOT Director of Consumer Protection gave up his car commute soon after initially trying Ride On ExtRa.

Ride On survey numbers show that many ExtRa riders have the option to drive, but are choosing the bus instead. Some of these riders still do use their vehicles to access bus stops, resulting in increased usage of the main parking lot serving the route.

Marketing campaigns – such as a free trial period when Ride On ExtRa started, public service announcements, multiple appearances at community events, and social media outreach – have helped attract riders. Montgomery County also has a robust Transportation Demand Management program, which means that businesses and other developments might, for instance, provide employees and residents with subsidized or free bus passes and help publicize transit services.

With a hodge-podge of expansions and cuts on the table, will Montgomery County choose a people-oriented future?

In a sprawling, suburban area like Montgomery County, it can be hard to spur change. Despite Ride On ExtRa’s strong ridership, solo car trips remain the most common form of mobility in the area.

However, Roshdieh told me that he sees sustainable transportation as more than just something that’s good for the environment, emphasizing transit’s social and economic benefits.

As a result, officials see Ride On ExtRa as just the first part of much larger plans for Montgomery County that will make it far easier for families to live with fewer cars (or even no car) while moving safely and swiftly between multiple destinations. Accordingly, Ride On is taking numerous steps to give people more options to get around.

A pilot microtransit service, Ride On Flex, will begin this June, allowing people to call shared, flexible-route vans using a smartphone app. Though the service will only be available in two specific parts of the county at first, one of these areas – Rockville – is served by Ride On ExtRa. Roshdieh told me that the county plans to market the new vans as an option for first- and last-mile travel to and from ExtRa stops.

The county also is in the process of adding new routes – branded as Flash – that will benefit from not just the advantages that have helped speed up Ride On ExtRa, but also additional Bus Rapid Transit amenities such as dedicated bus lanes on some segments, upgraded stations, and all-door boarding.

Ground has already broken for the first Flash route, which will serve the Route 29 corridor. About a third of the corridor will have dedicated lanes, though in the future the county hopes to separate more of the route from cars.

While the route is not yet full-on BRT, Roshdieh estimates Flash service will be 35 percent faster than current buses. Also, MCDOT plans to charge the same, flat $2 fare for Flash, ExtRa, Flex vans, and other existing Ride On bus routes, helping integrate the various transit services it provides.

While such fare integration will benefit riders, it also demonstrates the extent to which a transit system’s various components complement each other – and, accordingly, the risk the aforementioned proposed service cuts on existing routes could pose to the ongoing improvements.

To accomplish their bold plans, county officials must not only invest in service expansions and infrastructure improvements, but also commit to providing and maintaining a convenient, county-wide transit system for the long term. If they do so, Montgomery County has an opportunity to become a national leader in car-free mobility, facilitating a more sustainable future and serving as a model for other suburban areas to follow.