The Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee of the Montgomery County Council began its sixth hearing on the White Flint Plan, a bit later than scheduled, by reviewing a staff memorandum on Transportation issues before a packed hearing room. The memo is available here:
Committee Chair Mike Knapp: this is an ongoing conversation. Achieving balance in this area would have required eliminating vast amounts of development, which didn’t make much sense. So more analysis have been done, and staff will tell us what else we could do.
Committee staff Glenn Orlin: increase mode share from 40% to 51%. Not enough to bring balance. Considered changing Montrose Rd and Rockville Pike (outside the sector), but the community reaction was negative. So proposed only doing the first phase of the Plan. The committee didn’t like that. Then reviewed the mode shares outside the Sector to determine if that would affect the calculations, but that didn’t make much difference. So finally we looked at mode shares in Bethesda and elsewhere, which increased the “balance” somewhat, but not to the 40% goal.
There is some precedent for setting a mode share point differently. we’ve pushed to the edge of the edge of the envelope of our development options, so the only thing left is mode share options.
Committee member Marc Elrich: I appreciate all the efforts, but the point is to get us to our level. The difference is about 1/4 of a mile per hour, so that’s pretty close. If we can hold this at 39%, there’s nothing to prevent us from doing something in future years to do even better. I’m comfortable with this. Let’s call it a day.
Councilmember Roger Berliner: I think there are legitimate questions about whether PAMR is an appropriate measure. We’ve been working for several months to make improvements in it. consensus that there will be changes to it. Ironic that even assuming it’s a bad test, we were able to take a bad test and achieve a good public policy with it. If we can’t make a good mode share split in 20 years, then shame on us. If we’re not able to make significant changes in 20 years to drive this mode share above where it is now, then shame on us. We have produced the optimal results here. And we’ll do better when we talk about a Bus Rapid Transit system that doesn’t just begin and end in White Flint, but serves more of our people. this is as good as we can hope to achieve. this is good for our citizens and good for Montgomery County.
Council President Nancy Floreen: neighborhood protection language? Recognizes that there will be protection as we move forward? Orlin: yes.
Knapp: So let’s move forward with three other issues.
Orlin: Woodglen Drive right-of-way would be 62′ for the entire block. Knapp: OK. Orlin: Old Georgetown Lane lanes from Executive Blvd to Rockville Pike. Harris Teeter is worried that reducing the number of lanes would reduce the number of people who cross the Pike on Old Georgetown. But the turn lanes would mean there are only two lanes now, so this would be no change. Mike Smith from LCOR (and a member of the Friends of White Flint board of directors): Harris Teeter strongly recommended the road be maintained in its current configuration. We are energizing the intersection, particularly on the east side of the Pike. But if we make it seem to be a less accessible path, it will hurt the transportation. Orlin: the reality is that it would have no impact on Harris Teeter at all. Floreen: so no change? Orlin: no. The through lanes will be reduced at some point, but the through lanes will not be changed. Floreen: pavement? Orlin: the through pavement will not be changed. Smith: P. 29 of the master plan shows change. Orlin: Only two of those lanes go through. Doesn’t reduce the capacity across the Pike. Smith: the ques will be longer on that side of the Pike, and that will reduce people crossing the Pike. Dan Hardy, chief transportation planner: we concur with council staff. The perception will be that the road is not so wide; that’s the idea because it’s supposed to be more walkable. And eventually we’ll change the alignment. It won’t affect people’s travel to Harris Teeter. Elrich: same configuration? Hardy: we’ll tighten up the intersection, but it will look the same.
Orlin: MARC station. Montouri property. Owner sent letter asking to reconsider the northern site, which would be on Montouri site. Staff recommendation is to put the MARC station on the Montouri, northern site. Much much closer to the center of the White Flint density. more than a half-mile from the Metro station, and separated by Nicholson Lane which is a pedestrian barrier. Floreen: how would the Planning Board recommend it? Planning Board Chair Royce Hanson: we had more discussion. The effect of putting it on the Montouri site is to have no station. Better off to have the southern site. The cost of the northern property is prohibitive. Floreen: we just got a letter from Randolph Hills Civic Association which says they came to an agreement with Garrett Park, which is welcome to see. I just didn’t want to do anything that affected Garrett Park, and that’s still my concern. Orlin: makes it harder to get a 50% mode share. Floreen: I’m good with not doing Montouri. Mr. Hoffman says ew may have an agreement. Knapp: if we’re waiting for Garrett Park, we can wait to hear. Elrich: station near Montouri is going to bring people in. Southern station is going to take people out; if you board there, you’re going to D.C. I imagine you will take more cars off the road southbound from the southern station, and more from northbound Pike from the northern station. Berliner: I hope committee will defer formal action on this issue. Planning Board says we’ll never get that site, and I think the other site is preferable. Potential for win-win by moving it to Nicholson Court site. Knapp: we’ll defer until we hear from communities.
Mike Smith from LCOR: bus bay issue. P. 54, second bullet. I think staff is ok with this. Change the plan so bus bays don’t have to be “at” the Metro Station, but can be “around” the station. Gives staff more flexibility. Orlin: how far? Smith: close proximity, maybe other side of the Pike. Orlin: needs to be where people have a clear path to the station. Across the street with an underpass is “at” but beyond that is “away.” Knapp: work with staff so we can bring that up. An issue that can come back.