A letter in support of increased MARC train service

Below is a letter that Friends of White Flint signed, with many others, to support a veto override of MARC Bill HB 1236

Speaker Jones, President Ferguson, and Minority Leaders Kipke and Simonaire:

Please accept the attached letter from a diverse group of elected leaders, municipalities, and business, labor, smart growth, and  environmental organizations urging your support to override the veto for HB 1236, a bill that would begin to implement the MARC Cornerstone Plan through three initiatives of statewide importance, including:

  • a plan to pilot an extension of MARC trains beyond Union Station to L’Enfant Plaza, Crystal City and Alexandria;
  • a plan to close the commuter rail gap between Perryville, Maryland and Newark, Delaware—opening job opportunities for residents in Cecil and Harford counties; and
  • a concept plan to connect the Penn Line and the Camden Line to enhance these lines’ resiliency and improve operations and maintenance.

On behalf of all the signatories below, we thank you for your leadership and support of this request.

Angela D. Alsobrooks, County Executive, Prince George’s County

Ryan Dorsey, Councilmember, Baltimore City

Marc Elrich, County Executive, Montgomery County

Andrew Friedson, Councilmember, Montgomery County

Dannielle M. Glaros, Councilmember, Prince George’s County

Evan Glass, Councilmember, Montgomery County

Tom Hucker, Councilmember, Montgomery County

Nick J. Mosby, Council President, Baltimore City

Steuart Pittman, Jr., County Executive, Anne Arundel County

Hans Reimer, Councilmember, Montgomery County

Brandon M. Scott, Mayor, Baltimore City

Patrick L. Wojahn, Mayor, City of College Park

2030 Group

Baltimore-DC Metro Building Trades Council

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen – District of Columbia (BLET-DC)

City of College Park

Coalition for Smarter Growth

Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore

Friends of White Flint

Greater Washington Partnership


Maryland Sierra Club

Maryland State and D.C. AFL-CIO

Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce

National Landing Business Improvement District

Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce

Rail Passengers Association

SMART-TD Maryland

Town of Riverdale Park



The American Legion Bridge

Yes, I know that the American Legion Bridge isn’t in the Pike District, but I bet it affects the residents and businesses in the White Flint area in an array of ways — from making it home to attend your kid’s piano recital to leasing office space to debating in which neighborhood you’ll buy your first home to wondering if your Virginia friends will accept your Thursday at 6 pm dinner party invite. (All pre-Covid, of course.)

The purpose of the I-495/American Legion Bridge Transit/TDM Study is to identify a range of current and future multimodal solutions that can be implemented to reduce congestion, improve trip reliability and regional connections, and enhance existing and planned multimodal mobility and connectivity.

The agencies involved in this project are seeking public input on the Draft recommendations for multimodal improvements along the corridor.

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) will hold a Virtual Public Meeting for the I-495 American Legion Bridge Transit and Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Study on January 12 at 7pm. Draft recommendations will be presented to the public for information and input. Register here for the meeting.

In addition to providing comments at the public meeting, the public may provide public comment in other ways through February 1.

  • Completing the Online Form
  • Leaving a voicemail: (703) 253-3324
  • Mailing Address: DRPT Attn: Ciara Williams. 1725 Duke Street, Suite 675. Alexandria, VA 22314

Encouraging expanded MARC train service

Below is the draft letter regarding HB 1236, Del Solomon’s MARC expansion bill that Friends of White Flint has agreed to sign. We hope that MARC expansion would enable a “one-seat ride” from Garrett Park/Rockville to NoVa.

Dear Speaker Jones, President Ferguson, and Minority Leaders Kipke and Simonaire:

The undersigned elected officials, businesses, business organizations, labor unions, and advocates urge your support to override the veto for HB 1236, a bipartisan bill passed by the General Assembly that can be a key piece to our recovery in the near-term and for generations to come.

HB 1236 will enhance the economic competitiveness of the State of Maryland, deepen access to labor pools for employers and affordable housing options for residents, and reduce congestion on our clogged roadway network. This bill will begin to implement the MARC Cornerstone Plan through three initiatives of statewide importance, including: (1) a plan to pilot an extension of MARC trains beyond Union Station to L’Enfant Plaza, Crystal City and Alexandria; (2) a plan to close the gap between Perryville, Maryland and Newark, Delaware—opening job opportunities for residents in Cecil and Harford counties in Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania; and (3) a concept plan to connect the Penn Line and the Camden Line to enhance these lines’ resiliency and improve operations and maintenance.  

We appreciate Maryland’s current fiscal challenges, but we strongly believe the pilots and studies in HB 1236 will generate returns on investments that far exceed the relatively small upfront investment and will position the region to emerge from the pandemic, and future economic recessions, even stronger. Therefore, we urge your favorable support of this important piece of legislation.


Major Metro Budget Problems

Just in case you’re off the news until the world is a little less chaotic and news, less grim, I want to share with you Metro’s calamitous budget difficulties.

The combined ridership on Metrorail and Metrobus in September 2020 is down nearly 80% from pre-pandemic levels. The impact on Metro’s budget is significant. Safety precautions put in place to protect the health of employees and customers have added new expenses, while revenue from fare collection has dried up. No Metrobus fares have been collected since March 2020, and Metrorail fares, which typically account for two-thirds of Metro’s total revenue, are extremely low.

The service provided today is only possible thanks to emergency federal funding in the CARES Act, but that money will soon run out. Without additional federal help and facing a nearly $500 million deficit, Metro is proposing severe service cuts, including:

  • 19 stations would close — including Grosvenor-Strathmore
  • Metro would be closed on weekends
  • trains would come every 30 minutes on the weekdays except in busier parts of the District when they would come every 15 minutes
  • bus route service would be slashed by more than half 
  • Metro will close two hours earlier, at 9 p.m

Stay tuned to see what we can do to save this vital transit because cuts this deep could irrevocably harm our area.

BRT Debuts on Route 29

It’s not the headline I wish I was writing (BRT Opens on Route 355) but it does count as progress and is something to celebrate: Route 29 Bus Rpaid Transit (BRT) began operating last week. Known as FLASH, Montgomery County’s first BRT line is now transporting folks up and down Route 29.

A successful Route 29 BRT will make it easier and more likely for us to one day cheer the start of BRT service on Rockville Pike. While we had advocated for separated bus lanes the entire length of Route 29, the opening of this BRT line is a milestone that we are taking a moment to appreciate.

There’s been lots of news coverage, which I’ve listed below.

DCist: A New Type Of Bus Service Is Launching In Montgomery County This Week

Greater Greater Washington: Breakfast links: Bus Rapid Transit starts today along Route 29 in Montgomery County

Washington Post: The D.C. region’s most ambitious try at bus rapid transit is coming to Montgomery County

WTOP News: FLASH bus route to provide service in Montgomery County’s Route 29 corridor

Maryland Matters: Maryland’s First Bus Rapid Transit Service Opens

The return of the Grosvenor Turnback? Say it ain’t so.

The Covid-19 pandemic is costing Metro hundreds of millions of dollars. With ridership down by 80% from pre-pandemic levels and with no additional federal help, Metro has to make difficult decisions to balance the budget shortfall.  Metro is preparing to resume fare collection on Metrobus and cut costs by limiting the use of contractors, furloughing employees, and deferring some capital program expenses. But the budget shortfall is so large, some service cuts and layoffs will also be needed beginning this December.

Metro is requesting your feedback on its Fiscal Year 2021 budget amendments proposals that includes the return of the dreaded Grosvenor turnback. Metrorail is proposing a service adjustment during weekdays. Trains would operate trains every 12 minutes at all times. Additional Red Line trains would operate every 12 minutes between Grosvenor-Strathmore and Silver Spring (known as “turnbacks”), so that the Red Line would operate every 6 minutes in the core.

If you don’t want the Grosvenor Turnback to return, please give your feedback to Metro by 9 a.m. Monday, October 19, 2020 by taking the online survey and providing written comments.

Western Workaround Update

From MCDOT, the August 9, 2020 update:

As of July 8, 2020, Executive Boulevard between Old Georgetown Road and Grand Park Avenue at Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center is permanently closed; look for the “DETOUR” signs that are rerouting traffic. 

Corman Kokosing Construction Company presently uses the closed section of Executive Boulevard. as a material and equipment staging area.  No access to Old Georgetown Road exists from north/westbound Executive Boulevard after Marinelli Road/Marriott Hotel & Conference Center.  A right turn on Banneker Avenue from northbound Grand Park Avenue only leads to the Marriott Hotel back parking and loading areas.  Access to Old Georgetown Road will resume once the Contractor completes the new section of Grand Park Avenue from Banneker Avenue to Old Georgetown Road—tentatively scheduled for completion by late December 2020.  Look for updates regarding progress on Grand Park Avenue. 

Corman Kokosing under the Construction Management at Risk (CMAR) contract proceeds with other work on Executive Boulevard in order to facilitate both new storm drain system construction, telecommunication & signalization infrastructure installation, and work on the extension of Banneker Avenue.  Banneker Avenue will cut across the Gables parking lot and eventually tie in to Old Georgetown Road just north of the MNCPPC Aquatic Center rear service entrance.  Future updates will provide progress on Banneker Avenue construction as the Contractor is only in the early stages of demolition and construction. 

The Berg Corporation, Corman Kokosing’s demolition contractor, is winding down the demolition of the old VOB Nissan Dealership property.  The final stages of demolition should be completed by late August 2020.  Large tractor‐trailer vehicles and dump trucks hauling away debris and excavated earthen material can only enter and exit the property via Grand Park Avenue off of the Executive Boulevard dead end.  Motorists and pedestrians in the area of Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, as well as the M & T Bank and Aquatic Center & Park at Marinelli Road, should pay special attention to the increased presence of large vehicles.  In addition, Corman has closed the northbound right lane of Old Georgetown Road in front of the VOB property.  Concrete “Jersey barriers” closing the lane will remain there until Corman completes the Grand Park Avenue extension.

Over the next month, Verizon crews will continue with their cable/wire splicing and other telecom work along Towne Road.  Verizon linemen and technicians in multiple vehicles will continue to install overhead cable and work in manholes in that project area.  Verizon should complete the overhead work on Towne Road by early September, weather permitting.  In addition, look for Verizon crews working in other parts of the White Flint West project area including on Banneker Avenue, Executive Boulevard and Old Georgetown Road.  Keep an eye out for their own lane closures and flagging operations as they are separate from Corman Kokosing and affiliated sub‐contractors’ construction operations.

Anchor Construction, a Corman‐Kokosing subcontractor, continues with their PEPCO related work on Towne Road between Montrose Road and the cul‐de‐sac.  By the end of August, Anchor will complete their work in this area.  The sub‐contractor will wrap up placing six-inch fiberglass conduits in various configurations.  Still, at any time, Anchor crews could be roadway saw cutting, excavating, placing shoring, installing conduit, backfilling, and/or restoring roadway pavements.  Additionally, the Anchor Crew on Towne Road will move over to the northbound lanes of Old Georgetown Road between Nicholson/Tilden Lanes and Grand Park Avenue; the Crew will begin other PEPCO related work there.  Please be patient with their lane closures and subsequent delays on Towne Road, Montrose Road, Montrose Parkway, and eventually Old Georgetown Road. 

Corman Kokosing’s own crews continue with Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) sewer and water line upgrades known as Contract “G” and Contract “E.”  As a reminder, all nighttime construction operations have been suspended.  The contractor will provide seven days’ notice before they resume nighttime operations; look for any future updates regarding night work.  The WSSC construction activities instead are proceeding during the daytime hours of 6:00 am to 2:00 pm in the northbound and southbound lanes of Old Georgetown Road north and south of Executive Boulevard, as well as the grassy area in front of the PALLAS Apartment Building. 

Affordable Protected Bike Lanes

From Greater Greater Washington and Spin

As a StreetsBlog USA’s says, “The delineators most of our cities use to separate vulnerable road users from car traffic…kinda suck. The COVID-19 era is the perfect time to think outside the box and find something better.” Build a Better Barrier contest was sponsored by micromobility company Spin in response to the surge in active transportation during the coronavirus pandemic. 

An ultra-affordable bike lane made out of recycled car tires by WeClaim won first place. It’s environmentally-friendly, too. Spin says the WeClaim design will be made available for free to communities, and will need little more than “a simple template, [a few] used tire[s], a few basic hardware store parts, common tools, and a bit of elbow grease” to install and maintain.

Here are some other ideas:

“The Chain” Bike Lane Delineator, designed by team Culture House lead by Aaron Grenier, features a bike lane shielded from car and bus traffic by a large, waist-high lane delineator that resembles a large bicycle chain. The links in the chain form the barrier while the pins of the chain are anchored into the ground.
The Streetbloc, designed by Dayton Crites, features a protected lane, shielded from car traffic by a waist-high barrier made out of neon pink-and-orange blocks that resemble Legos. 
The Saris “Wave” delineator is one of a tiny handful of road barriers that both provide meaningful protection to the vulnerable *and* aren’t hideous to look at.
“The WAVE” bike lane barrier creates high-comfort bike facilities, is easy to implement, and is highly customizable. The modular design of the WAVE allows other features to be easily added to the bike lane, such as intersection foot rests, breaks for accessible parking or bus stops, and planters.