Live blogging from April 23, 2009 worksession of the Montgomery County Planning Board. Topic: new commuter rail (MARC) station.
Dan Hardy, transportation wizard and head, Vision Division: Review of MARC section of transportation appendix ( see the staff presentation for today’s meeting). Review of two possible sites: northern on Montouri property across from Harris-Teeter, and southern site, at the end of Nicholson Court, south of Nicholson Lane. Maryland Transportation Authority has looked at both sites and says that both are equally feasible. MTA long-range plans would increase usefulness of trains to more Montgomery County residents, including off-peak and non-peak direction service. We like the northern site because the population density is higher and closer to Metro. Southern station is that more likely to come on line sooner because there’s less neighborhood opposition.
Cryor: if we open this station, will they close others? Hardy: we don’t know, but we’ve received information that they might close Garrett Park. Demand will determine. Cryor: what kind of specific discussion between planning staff and MARC staff? When do you anticipate they’d do this? Hardy: we work with them a lot. Nothing that distinguishes between the two sites. Have spoken with the Mayor of Garrett Park, but don’t see a reason to prefer one over the other site. We haven’t talked specifically to MTA about their time line. Their plan goes out to 2035. They might add a third set of tracks, but that would be on the east side of the tracks. Cryor: state and county funds? any federal funds? Hardy: can’t answer federal. Private sector.
Robinson: not supporting staff recommendation. too WF-centric. Two markets: residential and commercial. Their incentives are to change at Rockville and go to Union Station. Already abandoned the automobile mode. So we’re not gaining much in the commercial market because the market forces already push them out of cars. If you’re on the east side of a residential neighborhood or in Garrett Park (if the GP station closes), you need access to a station. East side of tracks commercial development. If put it on Nicholson, you have double coverage of commercial and better coverage for residential, and better coverage of east side of tracks. Plus much more helpful if you don’t have condemnation, but have landowners’ support. Roughly the same level of train noise either site. Overall better utility of transportation benefits on Nicholson site.
Presley: I support southern site. Same as Robinson. Can’t assume northern commuters, but need access for commuters in southern part of Sector.
Cryor: I agree.
Hanson: we may be unanimous on this. MARC goes, unanimous support.