Photos from the Soon-to-be-Finished Nebel St. Bike Lanes

We’re oh so close to completion! (Thanks to the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee and Carolyn Chen for the photos.)

New Stop Sign on Nebel and Marinelli

Early this morning, I was greeted with a surprise on Nebel Street — a stop sign at Marinelli Drive!  This intersection has come up several times at the Downtown Advisory Committee and the Implementation Advisory Committee but it had seemed like creating a three-way stop here would require much more study.  Click here for notes from a meeting in March that addressed this topic and why a stop sign here is important to the community.  Thanks to the county for moving quickly on this big safety improvement!20141023_053721
Bike infrastructure is still in the works for Nebel Street.  The county is assessing the route for a cycle track, similar to what’s being installed this very minute on Woodglen Drive.  Stay tuned for updates!

Notes from the last Friends of White Flint Meeting

** The following are draft minutes of the meeting held on September 3, 2014 of the Board of Directors of Friends of White Flint.  These minutes will remain in draft form until approved at the next Board meeting.  In the meantime, please email suggested edits to Info@WhiteFlint.org **

 

Draft of Minutes of the September 3, 2014 Friends of White Flint Board of Director’s Meeting
2014 Board of Directors Meeting
September 3, 2014 at 6:30 pm
Georgetown Village Condominium Community Room

 

Board members include Howard Feldman, James Schaeffer, Chad Salganik, Amber Tedesco, Suzanne Hudson, Francine Waters, Bill Carey, Barnaby Zall, Todd Lewers, Brian Downie, and Kristi Smith.  Staff members include Lindsay Hoffman and Rebecca Hertz. Board Members not in attendance: David Freishtat, Eric Grosse, Evan Goldman, and Rob Eisinger.

The Friends of White Flint (FoWF) Board Meeting was called to order at 6:36 pm at the Georgetown Village Condominium Community Room by Lindsay Hoffman.

Ed Reich began the meeting by saying he and Georgetown Village Condominium are happy to host Friends of White Flint. It gives them the opportunity to show off their wonderful community.

Approval of Minutes from May 29, 2014 Board of Directors Meeting.
Lindsay called for the approval of minutes from the May 29th, Annual meeting. Suzanne Hudson motioned for the approval of the minutes and Barnaby Zall seconded the motion, all approved.

Updates from Friends of White Flint:
Friends of White Flint set new Board of Directors at the end of the annual meeting and over online correspondence. The new directors include two Property Owner/Developer representatives- Brian Downie from Saul Center and Rob Eisinger from ProMark; one Business representative- Bill Carey from Strathmore; and two Resident representatives- Amber Tedesco and Erin Grosse.

After the annual meeting, the Board of Directors voted for new officers and co-chairs. Resident representative co-chair is Chad Salganik. The Business representative co-chair is David Frieshtat. And the Property Owner/Developer representative co-chair is Evan Goldman. The officers are Barnaby Zall is the Treasurer and Amber Tedesco is the Secretary.

Treasurer’s Report
Barnaby Zall mentioned that FoWF receives no government funding. FoWF funding comes from membership dues and fundraising. As of August 30th, the bank balance was $26,700, which means it has been a good year for FoWF. Currently, the burn rate is $4,000 a month, which means FoWF will carry the same reserves as last year.

Membership update:
Over 30 individuals joined FoWF since the last Board of Director’s meeting. Willco Residential joined as a Property Owner/Developer. Willco has many properties among Executive Boulevard and Rockville Pike. In addition, two new Business members joined, Strathmore and Dr. Jay Samuels, DDS.

Becca attended Bike to Work Day in March for FoWF. We attended many community meetings with the Randolph Civic Association, Action Committee for Transit, and Bethesda Urban Partnership. Also, Grovesnor Park Condominium meeting with Goddard School soon.

Lindsay will host a walking tour in White Flint in November along with National Building Museum. If anyone has ideas, Lindsay is putting route together now, please let her know. The walking tour will take place on November 8th at 10:00 am-12:30 pm. Lindsay has done 4 tours around the White Flint sector so far.

In July, along with Communities for Transit, FoWF hosted a happy hour at Paladar Latin Kitchen about the rapid transit program coming to the county. We had a strong turn out.

FoWF added a new element to the website: a list of business members, property owner members, and developer members. There are links to the websites of each of the businesses/property owners/ developments/ condominium associations. The hope is to be as transparent as possible. There have been 11,850 unique visitors to the website since the last Board of Director’s meeting, as well as 33000 page views. The email list is now at 1053 people. Our emails’ have a high open rate as well, which is great news.

Also, the board recommended that a resident advisory board should be launched. The resident advisory group will be a sub group of friends that will help FoWF figure out more of the resident perspective. Laura Jaffe a new member of FoWF will lead this group. The group will begin by complying an email list. She will put the lists together and see what is the most efficient way to move forward. The feedback will come to the board through Laura and will act on it as a larger group as it is warranted.

The White Flint post office is not open yet. The site is nearly complete but it was found that the post office boxes don’t fit properly, so new ones were ordered. When we get the date for the opening, we will update everyone on the website.

Property Owners and Developers update:
**Ed Meder, Gables Residential.
Gables submitted their preliminary site plan in August. They will go forward with Development Review Committee on September 28th, 2014. Gables Residential has been in numerous conversations with the county to get Executive Boulevard re-routed or abandoned. The surface parking lot surrounding the Aquatic Center will be transformed into a large public park, Wall Park, in the long term. Before the lot can be transformed, however, the shared parking garage for both the Gables property and the Aquatic Center will be developed. Ed Meder mentioned that the community, especially residents should provide their support for the Wall Park approval, which is planned to be the largest green space in the county.

**Jay Corbalis, Federal Realty Investment Trust
Pike & Rose development is progressing nicely. Per Sei apartments are open with people living there now. This fall, Phase 1 of retail will open. There will be about 4 restaurants, IPic movie theatre, Amp by Strathmore venue, and Sport and Health Fitness. Starbucks and Bank of America are open now. Del Frisco Grille plans to open around September 22nd. IPic movie theatre plans to open in the beginning of November, a few weeks before the next installment of the Hunger Games movie.

**Francine Waters, Lerner Enterprises
Lerner Enterprises is working on the preliminary plan and site plan.

**Kristi Smith, The JBG Companies
North Bethesda Market II site plan will be bought to the Development Review Committee on September 29.

**Brian Downie, Saul Center
Saul Center received sketch plan approval for all three properties in the White Flint sector. They hope to file their site plan late this year. They will have a pre-application community meeting before they file their site plan, to incorporate community input.

County Executive’s White Flint Implementation Coordinator Report
Dee provided a presentation on pedestrian and biking safety. She focused much of her presentation on the Western Workaround area. She mentioned it is important to start with the network grid of streets, which includes the changes coming to the Western Workaround. Currently, the County doesn’t have control of some roads owned by private properties, as the roads were to be dedicated by property owners, which was discussed during the planning process of the Sector Pan.

As part of the changes, the road near the North Bethesda Conference Center property/parking lot will be shifted, which will take away parking spaces. There must be a solution to replace parking so that is the idea behind the structured parking garage, which will be constructed in coordination with the streets. The design of roads and garage are taking place now.

The county is working with Gables Residential to get project to go further. There are a lot of issues the county has to work out to make sure traffic can still flow through the area.

County council passed the Hoya Street/ Town Avenue plan will be included in first phase.

As part of the new street grid, Executive Boulevard will crossover Rockville Pike and will continue to the north side of the White Flint Mall property and connect with Nebel Street. The county is working on design of this currently. In addition, Chapman Avenue/Maple Avenue construction will hopefully start in 9 months and it will connect with Old Georgetown Avenue. This will be another alternative to Rockville Pike, defusing traffic. A new fire station and senior affordable housing is already programmed in the county budget. These will be on the west side of Chapman Avenue.

Andrew Bossi- County DOT
Andrew focused on the relationship between county bus stops and crosswalks. Crosswalks cannot be put at every location. Elements such as speed limits and sight distance can effect the placement of bus stops.

Andrew and Ken Hartman mentioned that the flashing light at Bethesda Trolley Trail have been permanently placed and will continue to improve site distance.

Woodglen Drive bikeway was presented at last White Flint implementation meeting. There will be a cycle track on the west-side of the road way, similar to those along 15th Street Northwest and 1st Street Northwest in D.C. Cycle tracks allow cyclists to go two directions side by side on the side. They hope to start construction on the cycle track in October and should be a pretty quick project. The cycle track will start at the intersection of Edson Lane and Woodglen Drive to Nicholson Lane on Woodglen Drive. The idea is to extend the cycle track up to the White Flint Metro. Sidewalks will not be involved- will remain as it is.

Nebel Street will also have some type of biking infrastructure, either buffer bike plans or cycle track. Marinelli Road will have bike lanes.

Suzanne Hudson asked about DOT’s efforts to educate the public biking lanes. Andrew mentioned that education is really important to DOT. They have the 3 e’s: education, enforcement and engineering.

The county uses similar markers to distinguish bike lanes and bike areas to those listed in the manual on uniform biking measures. Each state adopts own system of demarcation but most adopt the federal’s uniform markers.

Andrew also mentioned that he hopes many developers will incorporate space and funding for the Capital Bike Share program.  Pike & Rose development has two bike share dock areas planned but now they need to fund the docking stations themselves.

Public Concerns and Suggestions
A concerned citizen is focused on the safety of crossing over Executive Boulevard and Rockville Pike. The cars are moving too fast and they believe the Pike needs to be turned into a boulevard. Perhaps, restriping and narrowing the road is just one suggestion. Maybe reducing the speed limit can help slow people down.

Another concerned citizen mentioned that our roads need to change because there have been changes in people’s priorities, with a societal shift towards alternate methods of transportation.

Ken Hartman, Director of the B-CC Regional Services Center, mentioned that a plan to extend the Circulator between the Twinbrook and White Flint Metro stations is in the works.

Many residents expressed concerns with snow removal as the season is coming again.

Suzanne Hudson mentioned there are lighting issues. There needs to be more lighting focused towards the sidewalks and the roads. DOT does have new streetlight, which will be placed throughout the county soon.

In addition, another concerned citizen mentioned that the manhole covers need to be leveled with the street on Rockville Pike, especially between the White Flint Metro station and the White Flint Mall.

Jay from Federal Realty mentioned that FoWF members should advocate for Old Georgetown Road to change from a six lane road to a four lane road.

Report from Councilmember Hans Riemer
In addition, the county is working creating bicycle and pedestrian priority areas. The White Flint sector is one of these priority areas.

White Flint is the epicenter of change, the place to achieve so many community goals.

There is a lot of support on the County Council for walkability. Currently, the council is working on the snow removal legislation. Snow removal is a challenge to biking and walkability. County can do a better job to keep mobility options open to all after it snows. In addition, we need to change the standard for building roads. He wants the council to focus again on the Road Code initiative.  The plan was sent to a work group but Hans is working with Councilmember Roger Berliner to bring the code back to the County Council this session. He hopes to have it approved by end of term in November.

In addition, the county is working on a new bicycling master plan and a pedestrian master plan, which has never been created before. The bicycling plan has not been updated in seven years.

Councilmember Riemer also mentioned that a walkability audit would be really beneficial. It will provide a space for residents to point out all their concerns. We need to have a good process to present their problems to the DOT and SHA and FOWF is good way to do this.

Coming Attractions
On Thursday, September 11th, the Branding of the Pike charette will take place at StreetSense in Bethesda.

Starting Monday, September 8th, “Give support,” If an individual donates $25 to Friends of White Flint, they will receive a $25 gift certificate to Paladar Latin Kitchen in the mail.  The fundraising event will run for month. All one has to do is go to the Friends of White Flint website, click on the Paypal icon and donate $25.

In addition, Strathmore donated two vouchers that will be distributed during our membership drive starting in the fall.

No motion to adjourn meeting. Meeting adjourned at 8:25 pm. 

White Flint Bikeways Update

As we mentioned last month, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation offered a great presentation to the White Flint Implementation Advisory Committee on the status of Bikeway infrastructure in White Flint.  We’ve expressed concern in the past about the dirth of this amenity in White Flint but it looks like MCDOT is heeding the call!

We’re very grateful that MCDOT has shared its robust PowerPoint presentation with us so we can, in turn, pass it along to you.   Take a minute to click and scroll through so you can visualize the difference between a bike lane and a cycle track:

bike facilitiesFrom http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dot-dte/Resources/Files/Aug11WFICMeetingWoodglenCycletrack.pdf

and much, much more – including the proposed plans for Woodglen Drive, Nebel Street and Marinelli Road.  Just click here to see the full presentation.  Thanks to MCDOT for sharing!

Bike Infrastructure & More at the Implementation Committee Meeting

Last week, the White Flint Implementation Advisory Committee held their monthly meeting and, after preliminary and general updates, we finally got more information on the latest plan for Woodglen Drive.  Here are our notes from the meeting:

  • Not much development activity since last month. Only item is that the Goddard School on Edson will be filing in the near future.
  • County White Flint Implementation Coordinator Dee Metz’s Update:
    • The County along with the White Flint Partnership filed for a TIGER grant to fund a study for BRT on 355. Expect to have a response by the end of September.
    • The County is working with the Stadium Authority to bid out the design work for the parking garage that will sit on the Conference Center property. Design work should start by the end of the year.
    • The County is continuing to coordinate with the Gables.
    • Dee did a bike tour of DC with WABA.  Said the bike tour was interesting.
    • The traffic study for White Flint is still in progress. In particular there was concern over Old Georgetown Road. FRIT and many residents would like to see Old Georgetown reduced to 2 lanes in each direction. The County is proposing 3 lanes in each direction based on input from MD SHA. The County has been revising its projections based on changes in the residential / commercial mix of projects in the pipeline. The County is trying to project out to 2042. Generally, SHA agrees with their traffic projections, but has challenged the County on plans if the projections are exceeded. SHA has thus asked for additional analysis. MC DOT and the County are working to better understand what SHA is asking for.   The County hopes to publish the traffic study by the end of the year.
  • Representatives of MCDOT were present and were asked to focus on  pedestrians and cyclists in addition to cars. Bruce Johnston of MCDOT explained that their designs are consistent with the Sector Plan and, in some facets, exceed the Plan, ie bike lanes on Marinelli and the introduction of cycle tracks.
    • Bruce noted that they are predicting 50/50 split in mode share by 2042, so they are not being conservative in their view towards an increase in non-auto trips. Dee reiterated that they do not control state roads. Evan Goldman noted that FRIT will push for 2 lanes in each direction on Old Georgetown, even if they have to go to the State / Governor. He noted it will take pressure from the community to make this happen.
    • Bruce noted that the additional phases of the western work-around are a ways off due to the slow acquisition of buildings like the VOB building.
  • The Manager of Pike & Rose spoke about tenants moving in to all floors of PerSei and that it’s been successful thus far. Looking forward to the entertainment and restaurants opening, beginning in September. Evan Goldman spoke about phase 2 of Pike & Rose and a commitment to biking facilities (bike racks) and Zip Car. Phase 2 residential units also offer fewer car spaces per unit .7 spaces per unit vs. 1 per unit in Phase 1. Evan discussed the need to fund a bikeshare station.
Update on Bike Infrastructure in White Flint
  • Bruce Johnston, Chief, Division of Transportation Engineering, and Patricia Shepherd, Bikeways Coordinator, were on hand to discuss improvements Marinelli Road, Woodglen Drive and Nebel Street.
  • Bruce quickly reviewed the bike lanes that were added to Marinelli Road when it was resurfaced. He noted that MC DOT is attempting to improve cycling infrastructure when the opportunities present themselves, and this was one of those opportunities. He noted that bike lanes on Marinelli Road were not part of the Sector Plan. This section is considered complete, though sharrows and bicycle signage should be added shortly on the east bound lane of Marinelli at the intersection with Rockville Pike.
  • Improvements to Woodglen between Nicholson Drive and Edson Lane were supposed to be completed almost a year ago. MC DOT is now presenting a new design based on community feedback, the desire to save some trees and the inability to move utilities. The new design presents the County’s first cycle track, a 2 way bike lane that will be separated from street parking and traffic by a 2 – 3 foot striped buffer with plastic posts. The cycle track will be on the west side of Woodglen Drive.
  • They are also working on the intersections at Edson Lane and Nicholson Drive, but did not present those designs. They intend to use green surface treatments at intersections in the bike lanes to increase awareness.
  • They also presented two designs for Woodglen Drive from Nicholson Drive to Marinelli Road. They worked with BF Saul / Brian Downie on the design. This section features a two way cycle track, but it is separated from on street parking and traffic by a 5 foot grass buffer. The 2 options presented only varied in whether the cycle track would be on the same grade as an adjacent shared use path. One design had the cycle track a few inches below the shared use path, the other had the cycled track at grade with the shared use path.
  • The improvements to Woodglen were well received by those in attendance and represent a huge improvement to the previous design. There will be a briefing on the Woodglen improvements at the Planning Board meeting on September 4th.
  • Nebel Street is currently being designed by DOT. There are two groups within DOT that are working on unique designs. MC DOT is trying to figure out whether a cycle track or bike lanes are better for Nebel. MC DOT is intent on designing solutions that are best for each type of road. MC DOT will share a design for public input once the designs have been finished and evaluated.
  • There will be a briefing on the Woodglen improvements at the Planning Board meeting on September 4th.
  • Sogand Seirafi from MC DOT was on hand to discuss a new pedestrian and bicycle facility improvement initiative that was proposed by Council Member Hans Riemer. The County Council has appropriated $375,000 for projects in five areas where the enhancement of bicycle and pedestrian traffic and safety is a priority. Those areas are: Glenmont, Grosvenor, Silver Spring CBD, Veirs Mill/Randolph, and Wheaton CBD.

Downtown Advisory Committee has Busy Meeting

Tuesday’s White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee Meeting had been much-anticipated as the question of the naming/branding/borders of the future urban district has heated up.  So, it surprised some that the issue didn’t arise until the last few minutes of the gathering.  Below are the meeting highlights:

Western WorkaroundCounty Implementation Coordinator Dee Metz reported that construction of the western workaround will be broken into two phases.  The first will include the relocation of Executive Boulevard, the addition of the east/west Market Street and the adjustments to the area around the conference center.  Design is 90% done on this phase.  The second phase will address the intersections of Old Georgetown Road.  As will be the bottleneck in many upcoming projects, the challenge is with the utilities.  It will take the various utility companies a year to relocate their wires, lines and pipes after design is complete.

Chapman Avenue:  Ms. Metz also said that, to connect Chapman Avenue through to Randolph Road, utilities will begin their nine-month relocation process in the fall.  Road construction will begin next summer with a projected open date for the new stretch of road in summer of 2016.

Woodglen Drive and Nebel Street: We’ve been reporting for months on the county’s planned improvements to pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure on these roads.  Dee Metz said that we will hear more about the plan for Woodglen at the August meeting of the White Flint Implementation Committee.  As for Nebel, the county is looking into installing “cycle tracks” for this stretch.  These allow for bicycles to travel in both directions on one side of the road, separated from traffic.  They’ve not been built in Montgomery County before but are common around the country.

Downtown Advisory Committee Goals for this Year: Newly-minted committee chair Cliff Cohen listed his priorities for the Downtown Advisory Committee in this second year of its existence.  Among other things, he hopes to: (1) accelerate the maintenance and beautification of Rockville Pike (they’re working to navigate issues with the state), (2) consider hiring a streetscape consultant to move forward with the vision of Rockille Pike as a boulevard, (3) pursue one zip code for the sector, (4) establish a destination website and hire an intern to assist with its maintenance, (4) assess the types of public safety and human service needs that the future urban district will confront, and (5) move forward on establishing an urban district by, first, commissioning a report on the subject by the county’s Office of Legislative Oversight.

Presentations:  The committee heard two robust presentations that offered framework and background as the committee begins deeper work on the economic development and creation of the urban district.  First was Holly Sears Sullivan, president of Montgomery Business Development Corporation.   She focused on the impressive data capabilities of MBDC and on the opportunities the Downtown Advisory Committee might leverage from them.  Second, Jeff Burton of Bethesda Urban Partnership spoke about the functions and structures of BUP.  I’ll save most of my notes for a deeper blog post on the subject but, suffice it to say that BUP provides service and support to the 250 acres of downtown Bethesda with a budget of about $4M a year.  The existing White Flint Sector is 430 acres and won’t have access to the same funding streams (mainly parking fees) enjoyed by Bethesda.  This, I think, will be our next big hurdle.

Naming/Branding: This is why you read this blog post anyway, right?  Let’s start at the beginning.  The County created the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee with the following purpose:

The Committee advises County departments on public services in the White Flint Sector Plan Area; and coordinates community activities that promote and advance business interests, and a sense of place, community, maintenance and walkability within the Area. The Committee will also advise and make recommendations to the County Executive and County Council on the feasibility and timing of the establishment of the Urban District in White Flint no later than September 2017.

So, because this committee’s mission is to work within the Sector Plan Area, chair Cohen does not plan to entertain discussion of border adjustments at this time.  Similarly, he acknowledged that outside groups are working on naming the district and invited them to present their ideas when ready.  But, the committee will proceed with its council-driven mission in the meantime.

On that note, we’re pleased to share that the community’s input will be more robustly sought at an upcoming public charette.  You might remember charettes from the sector planning process.  They’re public meetings designed to solve a problem.  This one will focus on the naming/branding of the district.  It will be facilitated by neutral professionals who will begin with a bit of education on how branding works.  From there, all potential names will be on the table.  The goal will be to emerge from this session with 5 – 10 names that everyone can live with.  Those will then be taken for deeper market research.  We hope to hold the charette in the next month and a half, and it should be scheduled within the next week.  Stay tuned to this blog and our weekly emails for more details – we hope to see you there!

Updates from May White Flint Sector Plan Implementation Advisory Committee Meeting

Nkosi Yearwood began the committee meeting by discussing updates on the various development projects:

  • Saul Centers’ White Flint sketch plan was approved April 17th by the Planning board.
  • North Bethesda Gateway development is moving forward after the sketch plan was amended last year. The preliminary site plan was amended 3 weeks ago and will be coming to the Planning Board in the near future.
  • Gables Residential– White Flint will be presenting their site plan at a public meeting tonight, Thursday May 15th at Wall Local Park/Shriver Aquatic Center. This project is moving forward as well.
  • North Bethesda Market II- JBG met with the Planning Board and is amending their sketch plan and preliminary site plan.  JBG has decided to keep the multi-family building but change the office building. Hopefully, they will be submitting the amendments to the Planning Board this fall.
  • A plan for Hillery Way – a road behind the former Addie’s building, near the Crest of Wickford residences – has been designed to add 6-8 townhouses.  This is a small project but the preliminary site plan was given to the Planning Board, with more to follow.
  • At Pike & Rose, an amendment for Phase I was approved to provide clean-up of the construction of Buildings 10-12 and streetscape changes. In addition, the Building 13 plan was amended to include changing the corner appearance by adding a façade.
  • Public projects- North Bethesda Conference Center and Parking Garage plan design was approved for money under the CIP budget.

Next, Ken Hartman, Director of B-CC Regional Services, provided updates from the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee. The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee advises on services provided in the White Flint area that include, pedestrian safety programs, homelessness programs, public safety coordination, and the weekender cleaning team. The committee hopes to build services to eventually set-up an urban district, which can provide maintenance of urban space. Many individuals worked on completing the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grant application to get a share of the grant money provided by the Federal Government to complete a study on the BRT system. The Downtown committee is also focused on the Nebel Street plan to provide bike improvements. The committee hopes to hold joint meetings with the Sector Plan Implementation Advisory Committee to focus on common interests both committees have.

On the marketing side of development, they are working on the Metro White Flint destination website that will provide information on where to shop, eat, and live in the White Flint district and further information on development projects and economic development of the area, as well as a newsfeed option to access information from social media websites.

The committee, along with the Regional Services Center, hopes to work towards achievables. Right now, they have a goal to work on decreasing the speed of Rockville Pike by using strategies such as beautifying the streetscape on the Pike to slow down traffic and provide more open space and parks. One of the locations with a possible site to create a park is the Water Tower. Right now, there is $20,000 allotted to changing the street-scape of Rockville Pike but the committee is asking the Montgomery County Council to provide an extra $75,000 for marketing, the weekender team and for the street-scape plan. The committee hopes to have the street-scape done this summer.

The County Council has a funding reconciliation list of projects the council wants to fund but may not be covered under the budget currently. On May 15th, the council will decide on what projects will be funded under this reconciliation budget. Right now, the street-scape plan ask is being supported by Councilmember Roger Berliner. The budget resolution will be finalized on May 21st, which is when the funded projects will be announced. Another project the committee is working on is the need to create a unified White Flint zip code and unified White Flint district name. Stay tuned for more information on this.

Francine Waters then provided the committee with an update on the TIGER Grant program. The TIGER Grant is program run by the Federal government that provides funding for transportation projects or studies in communities and localities. The grant can be used for either planning or for construction. MCDOT together with the State of Maryland, Maryland State Highway, and Montgomery County Council of Governments agreed to apply for a preliminary engineering planning study of the BRT system on Rockville Pike. The 95 page application asked for $3 million dollars, as Montgomery County has never received more than $3 million for planning from the TIGER Grant in the past. The grant has received support from varying organizations and individuals throughout Montgomery County including Friends of White Flint, Congressmen Chris Van Hollen, and NIH. The Department of Transportation will not make their decision on the recipients of the grant until September so Francine is asking individuals or groups that are in support of the grant for Montgomery County to show their support by writing a letter of recommendation.

County White Flint Implementation Coordinator Dee Metz then provided her report for the Committee. Two other projects on the budget reconciliation list include the Hoya Street extension all the way through to Montrose Parkway and the planning submission for the North Bethesda Conference Center garage. For the garage project, the feasibility study has been completed. In addition, we know that the Maryland Stadium Authority will design the garage and are currently looking for contractors. They will put out a request for expressions of interest and then an RFP. They hope to find one contractor for both the garage and the street outside of the conference center. They hope to have bids by the end of Summer 2014.

Also, Nebel Street traffic calming plans were discussed. MCDOT provides grants for traffic calming developments and the Planning Department hopes to receive grant money for Nebel Street developments between Nicholson Lane and Randolph Road. They want to spread the grant money among various strategies along Nebel Street including the use of curbs and biking facilities along the street. In addition, they are looking at a cycle track demonstration for the White Flint district as well. One problem they are currently looking at is what to do at intersections for biking facilities.

Updates from White Flint Sector Implementation Advisory Committee

Since the Jewish holiday, Passover, falls on the next White Flint Sector Implementation Advisory Committee meeting date of Monday April 14th, there will be no Implementation Advisory Committee meeting this month.

N’kosi Yearwood, White Flint’s lead planner, sent along updates on projects and planning happening now around the White Flint District that you can find below:

Development Projects

  • Saul Centers White Flint is going to the Montgomery County Planning Board on April 17. The Committee has twice seen this proposal. Here is a link to the staff report

http://www.montgomeryplanningboard.org/agenda/2014/documents/StaffReport_320140010_SaulCentersWhiteFlint.pdf

  • There are some minor amendments for Pike and Rose (Phase IB) that will go to the Planning Board soon. Most of the adjustments, such as interior building and plant list changes, pertain to modifications that have occurred during construction for Buildings 10-12.

FY 15-20 CIP

  • FY 15-20 CIP:  The Council agreed with the Executive’s recommendations and at the request of the Transportation & Environment Committee, they are considering adding an additional $7.5 million to construct Hoya Ave, also known as Towne Road, from Old Georgetown to Montrose Parkway.  That will be put on the reconciliation list and a final determination will be made before the budget is approved at the end of May. 
  • Conference Center garage: An FY14 CIP Amendment was introduced at the Council to allow us to go forward with the design of the Conference Center parking garage. This garage is needed as a result of all the parking that will be displaced by constructing re-aligned Executive Boulevard and Market Street, as well as the disposition of the part of the parking lot cut off by Executive Boulevard.  The funding is available through an earlier transaction with the Maryland Dept. of Transportation, when they allowed us to purchase and resell a former commuter parking lot that belonged to SHA.  As part of the agreement, the State dictated that these funds would be used for the replacement parking at the Conference Center, which is partly owned by the state.  A Planning Housing & Economic Development Committee worksession is scheduled for April 28 at the Council office building. Attached is a copy of the Executive’s submitted CIP Amendment. 
  • Western Workaround:  Design is progressing on track.  Right now MCDOT is working with all of the utility companies to reach agreement on the location of the various utilities within the right of way, and also on a plan to relocate the current utilities that run along the span of Executive Boulevard to be abandoned. Our greatest challenge is right of way acquisition.  The Sector Plan and projected road costs assumed that any right of way needed from private property owners would be at no cost to the County.  The timing is not working out because not all of the developers are ready to proceed at the pace we need to have that right of way dedicated.  We are looking at alternatives in the event that the right of way cannot be dedicated in time for construction. 
  • Nebel Street:  MCDOT has a grant for traffic calming measures, and one of the projects identified is Nebel Street between Nicholson Lane and Randolph Road.  As part of the traffic calming design, they are hoping to be able to afford to include bike improvements within the current curb lines.  Different designs are being explored, and will be presented to the committee in a few months.

Bike to Work Day

  • Bike to Work Day is on May 16 and one of the official stops will again be in White Flint at NRC. Free food, beverages and raffle giveaways will be provided from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

 

 

FoWF Advocacy

Friends of White Flint is the only independent organization that represents the entire range of stakeholders impacted by the redevelopment of White Flint. When we create a position, we tap into the residents, businesses and landowners in and around our area in order to build consensus. Our advocacy often occurs in person and over the telephone but, last week, we had the opportunity to send letters on three topics at issue within county government.  The first is regarding the renovations being contemplated for Nebel Street, the second is asking for Hoya Street to be completed and the last is advocating for additional funds in the Parks Department budget for urban park elements.

Check out the text below :

To MCDOT regarding the redesign of Nebel Street (and see the update at the bottom):

We are very grateful that traffic engineer Kyle Liang took the time to share MCDOT’s plans for Nebel Street with the White Flint Downtown Advisory Board last month.  Friends of White Flint was present at the meeting and would like to share some thoughts and recommendations based on the concepts provided.  Friends of White Flint is a community advocacy group which represents the entire range of stakeholder groups impacted by the redevelopment of the White Flint Sector.  Our members include not only hundreds of individual residents but also most of the condominium and civic associations in and abutting the sector, businesses, and property owners/developers.

Nebel Street is a unique and well-traveled border of the White Flint sector and, though it is mostly industrial at present, it is projected for growth in the near future.  We are grateful for MCDOT’s attention to the road, and the fiscally-prudent strategy to assess how best we can be using the existing pavement.  We agree that re-striping the road and incorporating bicycle infrastructure are excellent improvements.  There are three major concerns, however, which we’d like to share.

While we appreciate the dedicated bicycle lane, and are willing to trade that facility’s optimum width for the streamlining of the project, we are concerned with its abrupt end before Randolph Road.  Bicycle trips will not end mid-block and it is unfair and unsafe to terminate a bike lane suddenly, depositing bicycles in the lane with unsuspecting drivers.  We do, however, understand that the pavement narrows at this point, impacting the options.  If a solution which continues the bike lane until the intersection is impossible, then we ask for every effort to be made in ensuring the safe transition of bikes into traffic.  Specifically, we ask that MCDOT install highly visible signage at the curbs and sharrows in the lane.  The suggestion that paint in the travel lane, in the form of a sharrow, is economically prohibitive is unacceptable.

Second, we ask that MCDOT take a more comprehensive look at the intersection of Marinelli Road and Nebel Street.  The subject of lengthy discourse over two WFDAC meetings, this intersection poses a significant visibility risk for drivers turning left onto Nebel from Marinelli.  A curve, a hill and parked cars make it very difficult to see and we ask that additional traffic calming measures be considered, just as they were at the intersection with Old Georgetown Road.  While a three-way stop has been discussed most widely, our members have also asked that you consider roundabouts at both the interesection with Marinelli and Old Georgetown.  We offer this suggestion with the understanding that it might broach farther into the realm of a capital improvement but ask that you explore all options to improve safety at these intersections.

Finally, we ask that you take a look at improving conditions at the intersection of Nebel Street and Nicholson Lane.  This intersection is presently treacherous for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.  A hedge at the southeast corner obstructs visibility for all travelers.  Also, the travel lanes on Nebel approaching the intersection are not clearly marked.  Drivers often mistake which lanes are for turning and which are for through-traffic.  And, large tractor trailers are often parked on the west side of Nebel Street, approaching Nicholson Lane obstructing visibility and stretching into travel lanes. There must be better solutions, for the sake of both visibility and safety.

We understand that these improvements to Nebel Street are still in the conceptual phase but we applaud your forethought in tackling them.  It’s our hope that a portion of the traffic calming budget will be used toward these needed changes and that they could be installed this year.  But, in the interest of using our county funds most effectively, we hope that our comments will be considered so that the improvements will be comprehensive and long-lasting.

** Update on Nebel Street – we learned from Dee Metz, the county’s White Flint Implementation Coordinator that MCDOT is now planning a 3-way stop at the intersection with Nebel Street.

To the County Council on completing Hoya Street as part of their Capital Improvements Projects Budget:

Friends of White Flint is ecstatic about the proposed acceleration of funding to complete Hoya Street in the White Flint sector and we ask that you and your colleagues maintain it within the budget.  Friends of White Flint is a community advocacy group which represents the entire range of stakeholder groups impacted by the redevelopment of the White Flint Sector.  Our members include not only hundreds of individual residents but also most of the condominium and civic associations in and abutting the sector, businesses, and property owners/developers.

Presently, Hoya Street ends abruptly just north of Old Georgetown Road.  In fact, when a driver begins their southbound journey from Rockville Pike, it actually appears that Hoya is a throughstreet that connects with the improving White Flint street grid.  It’s not until a driver is right upon it that they realize their mistake and need to turn around.  An improved street grid is crucial to a successfully redeveloped White Flint, and for addressing the ever-worsening traffic running through it.  A connected Hoya Street is at the heart of this.  Please get this project back on track by funding it as recommended by the T&E committee.

Thank you for considering this issue as you address the budget.

And, to augment the funding of the Parks’ department to allow them flexibility when addressing urban parks (like those planned for Wall Park and the White Flint Civic Green).  It’s our hope that the department will use some of these extra funds to make easy and relatively inexpensive improvements to Wall Park now, so we can increase our enjoyment of the space while we wait for the full improvement.  This is from our letter to the County Council on this budgetary item:

Green space is crucially important to the success of White Flint and we need the county to do its part to ensure our parks reach their potential. Therefore, we urge that the county fund Urban Parks Elements independently of other existing park needs so that these important areas can receive the attention they require.  It is our hope that some of this funding will be used toward improving Wall Park so that, even before its full transformation is complete, it can become an area of respite for residents of our growing White Flint area.

Advocacy is crucial to the success of the White Flint Sector!  Join us!