Council Votes Yes to Ike Leggett’s Compromise on Montrose Parkway East Funding

On Tuesday the Montgomery County Council unanimously agreed to a compromise proposed by County Executive Ike Leggett that delays the start of construction of Montrose Parkway East for one year.

In a memo, Ike Leggett said that  the one-year delay from Leggett’s initial proposed construction schedule will allow Montrose Parkway to be redesigned to incorporate better pedestrian and bicycle facilities and connections.

The savings from the delay in Montrose Parkway will allow the following projects to be funded:

Begin making progress on adding a new entrance at the White Flint Metro station

Design and initial construction of Forest Glen Metro station access improvements

Design of bus rapid transit on Veirs Mill Road

Planning a new bus rapid transit system for New Hampshire Avenue

Buying land and beginning the designing of the Burtonsville Access Road

Making investments on new infrastructure in the bicycle and pedestrian priority areas

Buying land and conducting design work for the first phase of extending Observation Drive in the Clarksburg area

Planning for Dale Drive safety improvements in Silver Spring

Read more at Bethesda Beat and in The Washington Post.

A memo on Montrose Parkway from Councilmembers Berliner, Riemer, and Hucker

MONTGOMERY COUNTY COUNCIL ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND

TO: Councilmembers
FROM: Council President Riemer  Councilmember Berliner  Councilmember Hucker
SUBJECT: Transportation FY19-24 Capital Improvements Program

Colleagues, it is important that we focus the County’s limited resources for transportation improvements on projects that will most efficiently move the most number of people while reflecting our goal of creating walkable, vibrant, and environmentally sustainable places. That is why we believe the Council should defer funding for Montrose Parkway East (P500717) in the County Executive’s proposed FY19-24 Capital Improvements Program (CIP).

While Montrose Parkway East could be needed in the future to handle vehicle traffic as the White Flint area develops, we believe there are other worthy transportation projects that are higher priorities both for White Flint and the rest of the county. We recommend delaying the start of construction for this project from FY 21 in the County Executive-proposed schedule to FY 24 and evenly spreading out land acquisition costs in years FY 19-FY 23.

This would free up $94.1 million in the CIP for other priorities of councilmembers. We have heard from a significant number of residents who believe this funding could be put to better use on projects that encourage transit use and enhance walkability and our bicycle infrastructure network. These projects include:

Northern Entrance to White Flint Metro Station
This project, recommended in the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan and 2017 White Flint 2 Sector Plan, would increase accessibility and connectivity at the intersection of Rockville Pike and Old Georgetown Road and to Executive Boulevard. WMATA has indicated it has funding available in its FY 19 Project Development Program to update a 2010 study of northern entrance options. This funding would have to be approved by the Maryland Department of Transportation and would allow for the study to be completed in FY 19. In order to ensure that real progress is made on this important project beyond the updated study,we recommend creating a White Flint Metro Station Northern Entrance project to include a total of $7 million in funding to plan, design, and begin implementation – with $3.5 million in FY 21 and $3.5 million in FY 22.

Forest Glen Pedestrian Tunnel
In a 2013 Feasibility Study Report, MCDOT recommended a pedestrian tunnel from the northeast quadrant of the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Forest Glen Road to the Forest Glen Metro station. This entrance would provide a safe, below-grade crossing for thousands of residents who now must cross this dangerous intersection to get to the Metro station. It would also enhance connectivity and accessibility from the Metro station to Holy Cross Hospital and other points east of Georgia Avenue. We recommend adding this estimated five-year, $20,150,000 project to the CIP beginning in FY 21 , consistent with the production schedule provided by MCDOT:

New Hampshire Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Corridor
Accelerating Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) planning on additional corridors is critical to addressing traffic congestion. Planning for the New Hampshire Avenue BRT will allow work to begin on this corridor between the Colesville Road Park and Ride and Eastern Avenue. We recommend funding this total $7 million project starting with $3 million in FY 21, $2 million in FY 22, and $2 million in FY 23.

Veirs Mill Bus Rapid Transit Corridor
Last year, the Council selected a hybrid alternative as its locally preferred alternative for BRT on Veirs Mill Road between the Rockville and Wheaton Metro stations. No funding has been proposed to implement this project. To start work on this important corridor, we recommend programming $7 million total of design funding beginning with $3 million in FY 21, $3 million in FY 22, and $1 million in FY 23.

Burtonsville Access Road
This new roadway called for in the Burtonsville Crossroads Neighborhood Plan will provide rear access to businesses along MD 198, creating a more unified and pedestrian-friendly downtown Burtonsville and building on the safety improvements to MD 198 being planned by the State Highway Administration. We recommend $4.5 million in planning and land acquisition funding for this project in the six-year CIP.

Bikeway and Pedestrian Safety Funding Recommendations
A number of long-planned or ready-to-be-built bikeway improvements need attention in the FY19-24 CIP. Some of these projects have been delayed for several years, including  Marinelli Road Separated Bicycle Lanes. This project was included as a Tier One bikeway priority in the White Flint Sector in the Planning Department’s proposed Bicycle Master Plan and would provide a critical connection to the White Flint Metro station. We recommend programming $1 million in funding in FY 19 to construct this project from Rockville Pike to Nebel Street and adding $75,000 in FY 19 to the Bikeway Program.

We recommend adding $300,000 to the FY 19 budget for Facility Planning – Transportation to allow MCDOT to study long-term solutions to pedestrian safety issues along Dale Drive between Colesville Road and Columbia Boulevard.

Falls Road East Side Hiker/Biker Path
This long-delayed project would allow for final design, right-of-way acquisition and construction of an approximately four-mile long, eight-foot-wide hiker/biker path along the east side of Falls Road from River Road to Dunster Road, providing pedestrians and cyclists safe connections to communities in Rockville and Potomac. The current right-of-way in this area is very narrow and dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. The County Executive has recommended further delaying this project by starting final design in FY 24.

MacArthur Blvd Bikeway Improvements
This long-planned, roughly $9 million project would allow for the completion of this important bikeway along a popular commuter and recreational cyclist route from Oberlin Avenue to the District line, improving safety for all users along MacArthur Boulevard consistent with the 2004 Potomac Subregion Master Plan and 2005 Countywide Bikeways Functional Master Plan. We recommend the following expenditure schedule, consistent with the production schedule provided by MCDOT:

Life Sciences Center Loop Trail
This 3.5-mile cycling and walking path is recommended in the 2010 Great Seneca Science Corridor Master Plan in order to connect five districts within the area and connect to the planned Corridor Cities Transitway. We recommend the following expenditure schedule, consistent with the production schedule provided by MCDOT:

Additional funding for Bicycle-Pedestrian Priority Area Improvements (BiPPAs)
This project allows for improved bicycle and pedestrian facilities within areas where such improvements have been identified as a priority. The $2.8 million in additional funding proposed below would allow MCDOT to accelerate bicycle infrastructure projects in the Wheaton, Veirs Mill, Takoma-Langley, Long Branch and Piney Branch BiPPAs.

Thank you for your consideration of this recommendation to defer funding for the Montrose Parkway East project and to fund these other transportation priorities. We look forward to answering any questions.

You can read the entire memo here.

FOWF’s Official Position on Possible Delay of Montrose Parkway Funding

Montrose Parkway East is important to long-term transportation connectivity to the White Flint area. Should the County Council choose to delay funding of this road, Friends of White Flint recommends the Council ensure Montrose Parkway East CIP funds serve their original purpose — improving transportation in the White Flint area.

We strongly urge the Council to use the Montrose Parkway funding to advance the White Flint sector plan by funding essential transportation projects including the revitalization of Rockville Pike, the eastern workaround, and the second metro entrance.

If you agree with this, please email the council today at County.Council@MontgomeryCountyMD.gov

Montrose Parkway East

SHA/MCDOT want to extend Montrose Parkway to Parklawn Drive. Supporters of Friends of White Flint have differing opinions on this road. They’ve expressed opinions that range from “needed road to bring traffic from the east” to “good idea but a terrible SPUI intersection that needs to be changed” or “over my dead body will that road be built.”

Yesterday, the Coalition for Smarter Growth sent out an alert concerning funding (or more accurately, not funding) Montrose Parkway. I want to share it with you, in case there are Friends of White Flint supporters who want to participate in their email campaign urging the County Council  “to properly fund our school and transit needs, not the Montrose Parkway East extension.”  Here is the CSG alert.

Stop a highway, save a school

Badly-needed school funding, or an unneeded new highway in walkable White Flint: which should Montgomery County fund?

Before Thursday’s County Council hearing on the budget, tell councilmembers to properly fund our school and transit needs, not the Montrose Parkway East extension.

Send an email »

With the latest price tag clocking in at $140 million for just 8,000 feet, extending Montrose Parkway is an expensive boondoggle and incompatible with the walkable White Flint plan.

What’s a better use for this $140 million ($90 million in this six-year capital improvement program)? Properly funding new school construction and bus rapid transit.

We don’t want a new Montrose Parkway East undermining a walkable, transit-friendly White Flint. What we do want are top quality schools for our children and modern transit to attract and retain top employers, like Marriott, and the revenue they generate.

In tough fiscal times, we should put our tax dollars where they can do the most good: schools and transit, not the Montrose Parkway East extension.

This past January, Coalition for Smarter Growth supporters like you spoke up when County Executive Leggett’s budget contained over $300 million dollars for new roads and nothing for bus rapid transit or near term bus improvements. The County Executive heard you and committed funds to both. We know the power our community has when we speak up. Tell the County Council to fund schools and transit, not the Montrose Parkway East extension.

Send an email now»

Thanks for all that you do,
Coalition for Smarter Growth

Your thoughts on Montrose Parkway East

In yesterday’s weekly e-newsletter, we asked what you thought about the proposed Montrose Parkway East. Your opinions on this new section of road were pretty evenly divided between pro and con. (It’s not too late to voice your thoughts — email them to info@whiteflint.org. )

Here are some of your responses:

“I currently can walk to Giant and all the stores at Montrose Crossing from my residence in Gallery at White Flint Condominiums but think that would not be possible if that project proceeds. “

“I like this new plan.  It could run all the way to 200.  This new addition would be very helpful for people traveling east and west. I also like the idea of going over the train tracks.  It would be safer and less congestion.  The train would keep on rolling and the cars would also.”

“The proposed 4-lane road seems like an over-the-top response to the congestion in the White Flint area. I do agree we need another railroad crossing, and I’m not opposed to an additional road. But to put a road of that size in a quiet neighborhood (past Parklawn) will be really disruptive. “

“I think the Montrose Parkway East is a great plan!  It is desperately needed—(We are NOT all  Pike & Rose bikers & walkers)!  It will greatly improve transportation speed & access thru county for professionals and visitors as well.  Definitely am pro this project! Wish it were already completed!  How long do we meed to wait?”

“I’m of two minds. It will certainly serve as a significant divider between White Flint 2 and White Flint 1 and it’s not a very walkable plan. On the other hand, we do need to get people to the Pike District, and the county needs more east-west roads.”

“It doesn’t make sense to build a major highway in a community that’s trying to become a walkable, transit-friendly area.”

“I don’t like the idea of the SPUI for the intersection of Parklawn and Montrose. They can be confusing, and definitely difficult for pedestrians and bikes and it seems to take just as much space as it would take to do an interchange (on ramp/off ramp). I see Montrose Pkwy as an main arterial roadway that allows ease of travel from Wheaton, Aspen Hill, etc to 270 and will allow that heavy travel to NOT disturb the walkable feel desired for the Pike District.  I see Randolph Rd as the walkable street in the Pike District and Montrose Pkwy as the highway separated by a level change from the walkable streets of the Pike District below.”

 

 

Montrose Parkway — Helpful or Hurtful for the Pike District?

Montrose Parkway

Construction of the Montrose Parkway is back in the news.  What do you think?  Will this new section of Montrose Parkway help or hurt the Pike District?

For details, read more: (thank you, Bethesda Beat)

Montgomery County and state transportation officials are ready to present construction plans for a controversial stretch of highway east of Rockville Pike, near White Flint.

The county and State Highway Administration will hold a public hearing to present 90-percent completed design plans for the section of the Montrose Parkway project between Rockville Pike and Parklawn Drive.

The project, which officials say is needed to alleviate the heavy traffic load on Randolph Road east of Rockville Pike, has run into opposition from the county’s Planning Department and from some nearby residents worried that it could cut off access to what’s supposed to be a more walkable White Flint area.

The entire Montrose Parkway East extension—expected to cost the county $119 million—would run 1.62 miles from Rockville Pike to Veirs Mill Road. The section of the project to be discussed at a July 23 public hearing is much shorter, but does include a critical interchange at Parklawn Drive north of that road’s intersection with Randolph Road.

The new four-lane divided highway would essentially run parallel to Randolph Road, where average daily traffic is projected to reach 42,000 vehicles per day by 2020. The highway would bridge Nebel Street and the CSX railroad tracks.

County officials have said providing a bridge crossing of that railroad—as opposed to the existing street-level crossing at Randolph Road—is another key part of the project. They also originally proposed cutting off the existing Randolph Road at the railroad, a proposal the county’s Planning Board advised against in 2013.

The Federal Railroad Administration’s accident prediction model rates the Randolph Road crossing of the railroad as having the fourth highest predicted chance for a collision out of 700 crossings in Maryland.

The project was originally supposed to start construction in mid-2013. Montrose Parkway West, the companion project on the west side of Rockville Pike, was completed in 2010.

The public hearing is set for 6 p.m. July 23 in the lobby-level auditorium of the Executive Office Building,  100 Monroe St., Rockville.

Written comments can be sent to Bruce Johnston, chief of Montgomery County’s Division of Transportation Engineering, via email at bruce.johnston@montgomerycountymd.gov.

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

County Council resists some calls to water down BRT plan

It’s been 5 years since Montgomery County first started talking about a countywide Bus Rapid Transit network, but the County Council could vote on the proposed 81-mile system in two weeks. While the latest round of revisions are good, will councilmembers resist calls from a few residents to cut BRT routes in their neighborhoods?

BRT in Los Angeles. Photo by the author.

The draft Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan designates future transit corridors and recommends how to allocate space on our major roads for them. While business, civic, activist, and environmental groups say planning for transit will reduce traffic and support future growth, some residents are fighting to block the plan.

Councilmember Roger Berliner, who sits on the council’s Transportation and Energy committee, emphasized that it’s only the beginning of a longer conversation. “This is a predicate for future action,” he said. “Just like when we put the Purple Line in our master plan, we said, ‘Hey, this might be a good idea.'”

Read More

The timeline: Big moves, little moves

Part of an occasional series looking at how the new White Flint will come together.

The White Flint Sector Plan is made up of lots of “big moves,” like a new Rockville Pike, that will take a long time to complete. But there are also lots of smaller projects that will play a big role in the area’s evolution. Thankfully, they’ll happen much sooner.

Rockville Pike: A long time away

The most important part of the new White Flint may be a new Rockville Pike, reimagined as an urban boulevard. While the county has set aside money to redesign Rockville Pike in the CIP, work may get delayed if the County Council approves the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan, which proposes a Bus Rapid Transit line down the median.

BF Saul proposes a pedestrian plaza along the west side of Rockville Pike.

The new Rockville Pike, as seen from BF Saul’s proposed Metro Pike Center project.

The plan will specify where stations should go and how wide the road will need to be, allowing planners and engineers to do more detailed design work. It’s possible that property owners along Rockville Pike will have to dedicate some land to accommodate BRT, meaning work can’t really start until the master plan is approved.

Dee Metz, the County Executive’s White Flint Implementation Coordinator, notes that White Flint is “ahead of the game” because the county is already asking landowners to dedicate land for the new Rockville Pike when they apply to build new developments. But there’s still no construction funding lined up for Rockville Pike, meaning it’ll be a while until anything happens.

Montrose Parkway: No word yet

Montgomery County has been talking about Montrose Parkway for decades, and a few years ago, the portion west of Rockville Pike actually got built. Not surprisingly, progress on the eastern part has been slow.

Montrose Parkway East

Map of the proposed route of Montrose Parkway from SHA. The section in yellow has been built and the section in purple has funding, but the portion in blue is still in design.

To save money, the county split Montrose Parkway East into two segments. Officials have already set aside $55 million to build the 1-mile section between Parklawn Drive and Veirs Mill Road, which will start construction in 2018 and finish in 2020.

Meanwhile, the State Highway Administration will spend $64 million to build the .62-mile portion between Rockville Pike and Parklawn Drive, including a new interchange at Parklawn. This section has been more controversial because of the interchange and a proposal to close Randolph Road at the train tracks, effectively cutting off White Flint from neighborhoods to the east.

The Planning Board voted to build this section while keeping Randolph open in March, but there isn’t much else happening. As of September, state highway planners were finishing design work on the parkway, but there’s no timeline for construction yet.

“I don’t see that starting anytime soon,” says Metz.

Maple Avenue: Could open by 2015

However, work could start soon on rebuilding and extending Maple Avenue, currently a dead-end street south of Randolph Road, to connect to Chapman Avenue. This is an important part of White Flint’s future street grid, creating a new connection between Marinelli Road, Randolph Road and the Montrose Crossing shopping center.

The $21 million street will include 5-foot-wide sidewalks on both sides, landscaping and street trees, streetlights, and stormwater management. In addition, the county will move utilities underground. Construction will start next summer and end by the summer of 2015.

New fire station and senior housing: In planning

As White Flint’s population grows, the area will need a new fire station. Meanwhile, an aging population will create a need for more senior housing, especially for individuals with limited incomes. Montgomery County plans to address both needs by building a  fire station with senior housing above at the southeast corner of Rockville Pike and Montrose Parkway, next to the new Maple Avenue.

That may seem like an unusual combination, but fire stations and housing have been built together before, including the Station at Potomac Yard, an affordable housing complex atop a fire station in Alexandria.  To build the two, Montgomery County will purchase land that the state of Maryland acquired to build the interchange at Rockville Pike and Montrose Parkway, but no longer needs.

Conference Center: New parking garage could open in 18 months, mixed-use development to follow

Within 18 months, Montgomery County will begin work on a parking garage behind the Bethesda North Conference Center on Marinelli Road. The garage will replace the current surface parking lot, freeing up room for buildings, since this site is not only adjacent to the Metro station, but behind the future White Flint Civic Green. County officials would like to see a mix of retail space and housing there, 30% of which would be set aside as affordable housing.

Right now, the county’s doing a feasibility study to figure out how to fit a parking garage and housing and retail space on the parking lot, part of which will get shaved off as part of the realignment of Executive Boulevard. With most of the funding already in place, Metz says construction on the parking garage could begin within the next 18 months.

New entrance at White Flint Metro: No funding

Likewise, residents will be waiting a while for a new northern entrance to the White Flint Metro station at Rockville Pike and Old Georgetown Road. The project, which is under WMATA’s jurisdiction, currently has no funding and no timeline for construction. Like the proposed south entrance at the Bethesda Metro station, money would probably come from Montgomery County and the state of Maryland, but it’s up to WMATA to ask for it.

Breakfast Club at the Tastee Diner

We know it’s short timing, but we’ve just learned that Maryland State Highway Administration Regional Planning Director, John Thomas, will be at the District 18 Breakfast Club tomorrow morning, April 8th, at 7:30am.  He and a colleague will be at the Silver Spring Tastee Diner to engage in discussion on transportation issues and challenges.  They’ll also be taking questions.

As we’ve said here and here, we’ve got some real concerns about the State’s plan for the Montrose East Parkway.  Initially equated to the Vogons from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” a poorly conceived Montrose East Parkway could, among other things, close the railroad crossing at Randolph Road.  This would cut neighborhoods east of the railroad tracks (including a chunk of White Flint II) from having a northern access point to White Flint.  It will also funnel all local traffic to the Nicholson Lane crossing – and that’s a lot of cars.

So, if you’d care to be heard on this or any other State transportation project, you have your chance tomorrow morning at the Silver Spring Tastee Diner.