Archives July 2009

ACT Offers Transit Alternative to 270 Expansion

The Action Committee for Transit, a Friends of White Flint member, has offered comments to the Maryland State Highway Administration on the proposed I-270 Corridor study. The letter responds to the $3.8 billion proposal approved by the Montgomery County Planning Board.

ACT proposes four alternative steps which it says could provide the same capacity for moving people through transit as the Planning Board proposal does through the 270 expansion:

  • Extend the Metro Red Line to Germantown;
  • Expand the MARC Commuter Rail service to an all-day, both directions rail transit system;
  • Redevelop Rockville Pike along the lines of the proposed Glatting Jackson cross-section along more of the Pike, not just in White Flint (note: ACT, unlike the Friends of White Flint position on the Pike, proposes light rail instead of Vehicular/Bus Rapid Transit); and
  • Build the Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT) as a light rail up to Clarksburg.

ACT notes that a 2001 County study tested these alternatives and indicated that the transit ridership would be “huge.” The ACT letter can be found here:

ACT I-270 All-Transit Alternative

Tragedy strikes White Flint family

Pictures of White Flint, old and new, show asphalt and glass towers, but it is people and families that animate the community. Some of the stories that illuminate the families break your heart.

Jan Taylor Weeks, an artist, and Linton Weeks, a former Washington Post and current NPR journalist, are typical of the middle-class families who live just west of the Sector boundaries. Linton’s writing tended toward the old southern style, and he chronicled, among other things, stories of the denizens of Hank Dietle’s Beer, a long-time “establishment” next to upscale Addie’s restaurant on Rockville Pike in the southern part of the White Flint Sector.

Their two sons, Stone, 24, and Holt, 20, grew up in White Flint, as polite, intelligent, active young men. Stone, a graduate of St. Andrews Episcopal and the University of Delaware, was a research assistant to historian Douglas Brinkley. He shared his father’s love of history and writing; his most recent project had been Brinkley’s newest book on President Teddy Roosevelt. Holt had just transferred from Eckard College to Rice University, a top-level institution in Houston, Texas which has long courted outstanding students from the White Flint area; he planned to begin classes in August. Holt played on my son’s Farmland Elementary School-based soccer team for five years; though one of the smallest players, he was also one of the best, a little dynamo. The brothers served food to the homeless on Sundays even after their admission to college.

On July 23, Stone and Holt were almost home, at the intersections of I-81 and I-66 in the Shenandoah Valley, where wisps linger from the southern life their father wrote about.  There was a little over an hour left in the grueling 22-hour drive from Houston. They drove so Stone could bring his dog along. They were headed for the publication party for Brinkley’s  Teddy Roosevelt book.

As the brothers waited in the usual traffic jam on these busy highways, a tractor-trailer slammed into their car, driving the 2007 Honda under a second trailer. A third and fourth truck also hit the accident, and the fuel tanks on one truck ruptured. The fuel ignited.

A memorial service is scheduled for 1:30 Sunday at the National Cathedral.

A Washington Post story can be found at:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/30/AR2009073003984.html

The Gazette story can be found at:

http://www.gazette.net/stories/07292009/bethnew205316_32536.shtml

Barnaby Zall

More construction news

Media reports indicate that a portion of the Montrose Parkway underpass to Rockville Pike is reaching completion. Expect traffic shifts in the near future.

Signs have gone up on Nicholson Lane between Rockville Pike and Old Georgetown Rd. warning of upcoming repaving “soon.” Some of the lanes on this major road are more hole than pavement.

Water Tunnel Blasting to Begin

In the wake of recent repair work on the sinkhole over the big water main under Tilden Lane (the same size and age as the one which broke under River Road last year), the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission is beginning a new, even larger water main project. The new 84-inch water tunnel will carry 100 million gallons of water every day, mainly to Prince Georges County. The project will run under the Old Farm/Tilden Woods community (a member of Friends of White Flint), along Tuckerman Lane, and through Kensington to the Mormon Temple. Blasting in Old Farm will begin next year.

Today’s Washington Post Metro section has a story:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/26/AR2009072602485.html

Wells-Harley Newest Member of Planning Board

The Montgomery County Planning Board approved the White Flint Sector Plan on July 16, 2009, the last day in office for Commissioner John Robinson, who has been actively involved in developing the Plan for more than three years. Robinson’s term had actually expired, but the County Council, which is now reviewing the Plan, held his term open to retain his expertise.

The Council has now approved Robinson’s successor, voting 7-1 to appoint Marye Wells-Harley of Silver Spring to the five-year term. Wells-Harley has decades of experience with planning issues, with 42 years’ employment at the Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission, the parent organization of the Planning Board. For the last six years before her 2007 retirement from MNCPPC, Wells-Harley was the director of parks and recreation for Prince Georges County.

Wells-Harley is the first African-American woman to serve on the Planning Board. The Sentinel story on her appointment can be found here:

http://www.thesentinel.com/mont/Marye-Wells

Schedule Change for White Flint Town Hall

The date of the upcoming White Flint Town Hall has been changed to September 23.

Friends of White Flint will host the White Flint Town Hall on Wednesday, September 23, 2009, at 7PM. The Town Hall will be held in the auditorium of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Rockville Pike, across the street from the White Flint Metro Station.

Montgomery County Planning Board Chairman Royce Hanson will present the White Flint Sector Plan, as approved by the Board on July 16. Former Commissioner John Robinson will moderate the presentations. There will be an opportunity for questions following the presentations.

The Town Hall is free and open to all in the community. Please be aware that the NRC is a government facility and there may be security requirements; parking and other information will be available later.

We hope you can join us and participate in this important event.

Barnaby Zall

Wash Post Summary of yesterday’s Planning Board Votes

Today’s Washington Post has an article on yesterday’s Montgomery County Planning Board actions. The article is sometimes odd and distorted, as in suggesting that the new White Flint “could be larger than Tysons Corner;” since Tysons Corner is four times larger than the White Flint area, that seems unlikely. (for clarification – here are the numbers: Tyson’s will be between 100 million and 150 million square feet of commercial development vs a total in White Flint of 13 million sf of commercial development at total build out.  Tyson’s is 1600 acres vs. 430 acres for White Flint.  Tyson’s will be between 8 and 12 times the amount of commercial development of White Flnt and it is 4 times the size in land area. see my comment below)

The article compresses the Planning Board’s West Gaithersburg, White Flint and general growth policy actions into one short piece, so impressions may be misleading to those who don’t separate the three actions. The general gist of the article is that “Montgomery is expected to grow by more than 1 million residents in the next 20 years and is almost out of space to build, so planners say trying a new development approach is the best option for absorbing newcomers. But many residents, accustomed to a suburban lifestyle built around the automobile in a county with limited public transportation, fear the changes would cause problems.”

In support for this last statement regarding White Flint, the article quotes only the “White Flint Coalition, a group of neighborhood organizations near White Flint mall in North Bethesda, said some elements are “unconscionable.”” The article doesn’t say which “elements” are “unconscionable.” And the White Flint Community Coalition, a group of some community organizations near White Flint which is probably the quoted group, is  not on record as favoring continuing the area’s love for the automobile.

Nevertheless, the article can be found at:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/16/AR2009071602119.html?sub=AR

Barnaby Zall

CR Zone moves forward

One of the many moving parts involved in the effort to make a new White Flint is the creation of a new type of incentive-based zoning system, called the Commercial/Residential (“CR”) Zone. Earlier FLOG posts yesterday describe the CR Zone in more detail. The CR Zone was approved yesterday by the Montgomery County Planning Board, and now moves to the County Council for final enactment.

Barnaby Zall