Where White Flint Stands in the CIP Budget

**Updated at 9:50am with ways to be heard on the proposed budget.

Over the summer, we told you about the county’s Capital Improvement Programs budget.  This budget covers all capital projects (think physical projects, like buildings and roads) and is created as a six-year plan every other year.  This is a capital budget creation year.  As such, the County Executive proposes a draft budget which will be ratified, or amended, by the County Council.  This is a tricky proposition because every capital project throughout our whole county is competing for a share of the same pot of money.

In developing his budget proposal, the County Executive hosted several community forums and Friends of White Flint was well-represented at a July event.  There, we stressed the importance of funding the Western WorkaroundWall Park, the Civic Green and the new Eastern Workaround (where Executive Boulevard will cross over Rockville Pike, just north of White Flint Mall).  Many of you heeded our call and advocated via email for these important projects.  Yesterday, we learned how we did in those efforts when the County Executive presented his budget to the Council.  Frankly, we’re pretty excited.

Below, you can find all of the White Flint-related projects proposed for funding in the County Executive’s budget.  These were compiled by Ken Hartman, Director of the Bethesda/Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.  He staffs the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee, which is preparing testimony for the County Council on the subject.

Friends of White Flint is also preparing to testify before the County Council on the Capital Improvements Budget and we’d like our members’ input.  Where you see an asterisk in the projects below, these are ones that will be funded through the special taxing district on White Flint redevelopment.  This taxing district, though, is taking longer to ramp up than expected and, as yet, has generated less revenue than expected.  Therefore, it’s our understanding that these projects will be paid for out of the general fund, if needed, and reimbursed by the taxing district when possible.

Want to be heard on this? There are lots of ways. Sign up to testify before the County Council at one of their hearings on February 5th (1:30pm or 7:30pm) or February 6th (7:30pm) by calling 240-777-7803. Or email your thoughts to the Council at County.Council@montgomerycountymd.gov. Finally, members can email us to have your thoughts incorporated into our testimony on February 5th.

Take a look at the various projects (italicized portions are commentary from the FoWF team) and let us know you’re thoughts:

Chapman Extended 
Utility relocations to be completed by Summer 2014, and construction will start in Summer 2014 and will end in Summer 2015.
http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/OMB/Resources/Files/omb/pdfs/fy15/ciprec/500719.pdf

Fire Station
Land purchase in FY15; Planning and design beginning in FY16; Construction FY18-20.
http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/OMB/Resources/Files/omb/pdfs/fy15/ciprec/451502.pdf  (note that the proposal includes equipment – perhaps it could be equipment specially designed for our new urban roads?)

White Flint District East: Transportation*
Design of all road projects began in FY12 and is expected to conclude in FY16. Construction of Executive Boulevard Extended East from Rockville Pike/MD 355 to a New Private Street will begin in FY17 and is expected to conclude in FY18, subject to tax district affordability. Design of Executive Boulevard East Extended was delayed due to coordination between the stakeholders over the road alignment. Design for the bridge across the the WMATA tracks adjacent to the White Flint Metro Station has been delayed due to negotiations between WMATA, State Highway Administration (SHA), the County, and the developers; bridge design will begin after a Memorandum of Understanding between the parties has been finalized.
http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/OMB/Resources/Files/omb/pdfs/fy15/ciprec/501204.pdf  (learn more about the “Eastern Workaround,” which includes extending Executive Boulevard across the Pike and between the White Flint Mall property and the Fitgerald Auto property in our blog post here.  It ultimately connects with Nebel Street.)

White Flint District West: Transportation*
Design is underway on all road projects in the western workaround, with the exception of the Rockville Pike segment, and will conclude in FY15 (FY15 design is funded through White Flint West Workaround). Design of the Rockville Pike section will begin in FY19 and will conclude in FY21 in order to coordinate with the implementation of the Rapid Transit System (RTS) (CIP #501318). Some property acquisition may occur on this section in FY20. The current expenditure/funding schedule assumes that land needed for road construction will be dedicated by the major developers in a timely manner.
http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/OMB/Resources/Files/omb/pdfs/fy15/ciprec/501116.pdf  (this project includes the redesign of Rockville Pike into a boulevard as part of the plan for Bus Rapid Transit).

White Flint Traffic Analysis and Mitigation
Component A-access restrictions: bi-annual data collection: site specific studies to commence in FY17. Component B- Intersection Mitigation: site specific preliminary engineering and concept plan development commenced in FY 12 based on M-NCPPC Comprehensive Local Area Transportation Review (CLATR) evaluation. Component C- Modal Split Activities: transit, pedestrian, bicycle access, and safety studies in FY 12; data collection and updating Transportation Demand Management (TDM) information in FY 12-13.
http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/OMB/Resources/Files/omb/pdfs/fy15/ciprec/501202.pdf  (Because our goal here is to, ultimately, relieve traffic!)

White Flint West Workaround*
1. Main Street/Market Street (B-10) – Design in FY14 through FY15, SI&U in FY16 through FY18, and construction in FY17 and FY18.
>2. Main Street/Market Street (LB-1) – Design in FY14 through FY15, SI&U in FY16 through FY18, and construction in FY17 and FY18.
3. Executive Boulevard Extended (B-15) – Design in FY14 through FY15, SI&U and construction in FY16 through FY20.
4. Intersection of Hoya Street (formerly ‘Old’ Old Georgetown Road) (M-4A), Old Georgetown Road, and Executive Boulevard – Design in FY14 through FY15, land acquisition in FY16, SI&U in FY16 through FY18, and construction in FY17 through FY19.
The schedule assumes that all land needed for road construction will be dedicated by the major developers in a timely manner. The schedule also assumes the construction of conference center replacement parking will take place prior to the start of the roadway construction.    
http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/OMB/Resources/Files/omb/pdfs/fy15/ciprec/501506.pdf  (We’ve reported ad nauseum about the importance of the Western Workaround, which creates a true streetgrid on the western edge of White Flint and paves the way [pun intended] for projects like Wall Park and an expanded Aquatic Center and Recreation Center.)

White Flint Redevelopment Program*
http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/OMB/Resources/Files/omb/pdfs/fy15/ciprec/151200.pdf

Montrose Parkway East
The design and land acquisition phase is expected to be complete in mid-FY16. Construction is expected to start in FY19 and will be completed in approximately 3.5 years.
http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/OMB/Resources/Files/omb/pdfs/fy15/ciprec/500717.pdf  (This is a project we’re not very excited about.  FoWF Board member Barnaby Zall put it best in his post on the subject: Vogons Come to MoCo.  There have been some developments since that time, though: click here for more.)

North Bethesda Community Recreation Center
The project schedule is dependent upon the development of the White Flint Sector plan.
http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/OMB/Resources/Files/omb/pdfs/fy15/ciprec/720100.pdf  (Both this project and the below are set to sit as part of the reimagined Wall Park.  We’re not big fans of the name, though…)

Kennedy Shriver Aquatic Center Building Envelope Improvement
Design to start in FY18, and construction to start in FY19
http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/OMB/Resources/Files/omb/pdfs/fy15/ciprec/721503.pdf

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.

Advocate for a Great White Flint

Looking for Ways to Get Involved and Ensure White Flint Reaches its Potential?

Then, we have two great opportunities for you – and you don’t even need to leave the keyboard.

First, having a post office located in the White Flint sector is not only an important amenity, it’s also key to building our identity.  The US Postal Service presently holds a lease at White Flint Mall that’s set to expire in less than a year and they have begun a public vetting process for choosing their new site.  Community input is critical to ensuring that we keep this important service nearby.  So, by August 9th, please send an email to Richard Hancock at Richard.A.Hancock@usps.gov.  Let him know that you want to keep a post office in the White Flint Sector in Montgomery County, MD!

Second, Friends of White Flint is dedicated to ensuring that the promises made during the White Flint planning process are kept during the implementation and build-out. We hold property owners and developers to these expectations and we hold our public entities to them, as well.  At this point, infrastructure is key and the funding for these projects – like the roads that will diffuse traffic from Rockville Pike and the beautiful green spaces – has not been designated.

At this time of year, the County Executive is creating his Capital Improvement Projects budget and we need him to know that White Flint projects cannot be delayed any longer.  The projects added to this budget are placed in a six-year cycle, so we need to get them on the list NOW.  So, please email Ike Leggett at ocemail@montgomerycountymd.gov, and include the County Council at county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov, to tell them that infrastructure must keep up with development.  Ask them to fund the Western WorkaroundWall Park, the Civic Green and the new Eastern Workaround (where Executive Boulevard will cross over Rockville Pike, just north of White Flint Mall).

You can also tell Mr. Leggett yourself.  He’s hosting a public budget forum on Tuesday July 30th from 7pm-8pm at the Bethesda/Chevy-Chase Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane in Bethesda).

If we don’t ask for these things, we may not get them.  Your engagement is key!  Thank you for taking the time!

Implementation Committee discusses Western Workaround

street network

Montgomery County is figuring out how to build out White Flint’s new street grid.

The White Flint Implementation Advisory Committee held its monthly meeting before a packed crowd Monday night at the Shriver Aquatic Center in Wall Park. The main topic of discussion was the Metro Pike Center development at Rockville Pike and Marinelli Road, which we’ll talk about in more detail later this week. Here’s what else was on the agenda:

Chad Salganik has been appointed resident co-chair of the Implementation Advisory Committee. He’s currently the President and webmaster of the Randolph Civic Association. Congratulations, Chad!

– Dee Metz, White Flint Coordinator for the County Executive’s office, gave an update on the Western Workaround, a set of new streets and street improvements along the west side of Rockville Pike. The project would rebuild the intersection of Old Georgetown Road, Executive Boulevard and Hoya Street, which will cost about $37 million. It would also build 2 new streets between Marinelli and Old Georgetown Roads, dubbed Grand Park Avenue and Market Street, which would cost about $50 million.

An accompanying Eastern Workaround would extend Executive Boulevard east of Rockville Pike, behind a redeveloped White Flint Mall, then north to connect with Nebel Street. Both projects are at 35% design, which means there’s still a lot of details to be worked out.

Among the biggest issues with the Western Workaround is how the new streets will be designed. While the White Flint Sector Plan calls for Old Georgetown Road to be rebuilt as an urban street with wide sidewalks, bike lanes and just 2 car lanes in each direction, Montgomery County Department of Transportation officials basically want to keep it the same wide, fast road for now, then rebuild it again when more people start biking and walking.

“It’s not that they don’t want to do it right away, but there’s things we need to do before going forward,” said Metz.

But many people, including Councilmember Roger Berliner, say it would be cheaper and more in keeping with the plan’s goals to rebuild Old Georgetown once. Developer Federal Realty, which is building the Pike + Rose mixed-use project next to Old Georgetown Road, worries that the current design will hurt their vision and the community’s vision of an urban White Flint.

“I’ve got 6 leases signed with restaurants on Old Georgetown Road,” said Evan Goldman, vice president of development at Federal Realty. “I want outdoor cafes and street trees.”

Metz says that MCDOT has to find a compromise between those who want more pedestrian and bicycle facilities and those who are worried about car traffic. “We’re probably getting as many letters from people who want bike lanes,” she said, “as we are from people who say, what are you going to do about this traffic? We don’t need more bikes. It’s a balancing act.”

– County Executive Ike Leggett is hosting 5 forums this month to discuss the county’s capital improvements budget, which will set priorities for public construction projects over the next 6 years. If you’d like to see the Western Workaround and Eastern Workaround built sooner rather than later, this is your chance to let county officials know. Here’s the schedule:

Thursday, July 11 at the Mid-County Community Recreation Center, 2004 Queensguard Road, Silver Spring
Thursday, July 18 at the Eastern Montgomery Regional Services Center, 3300 Briggs Chaney Road, Silver Spring
Monday, July 22 at the Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place in downtown Silver Spring
Tuesday, July 30 at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane in downtown Bethesda
Wednesday, July 31 at the BlackRock Center for the Arts, 12901 Town Commons Drive, Germantown

For more information, visit the county’s website.