County Council T & E Committee votes to fund half a second metro entrance and pedestrian improvements on Route 355!

Here are some of our tweets from Thursday’s T &E meeting:

“T&E committee on @MoCoCouncilMD voted yes for funding for Rockville Pike pedestrian safety improvements in the @Pike_District. THANK YOU!”

“T&E Committee @MoCoCouncilMD votes for funding for half the cost of 2nd entrance with design being forward funded. Hopefully @wmata will pay its half. Thank you @EvanMGlass@hansriemer@CmHucker! “

“At T&E @MoCoCouncilMD suggests @wmata pay for station so MoCo can pay for pedestrian improvements to get to the station and invest more in the White Flint area.”

“At T&E @MoCoCouncilMD: @Andrew_Friedson appreciates council funding 2nd White Flint metro entrance last year and hopes we can do that again. Says we haven’t built the urban infrastructure that makes development attractive in @Pike_District. “County has to step up to the plate.”

“At T&E @MoCoCouncilMD meeting @EvanMGlass says great potential with this site and second White Flint entrance.”

“We have to forward fund infrastructure then private sector investments will be more likely. ” @hansriemer at T&E committee. Recommends funding 2nd metro entrance.”

Will you be at the WMATA Town Hall Monday night?

The Montgomery County Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee (Tom Hucker, Evan Glass, Hans Riemer) is hosting a public forum on WMATA’s FY21 Operating Budget. The committee will be joined by WMATA Board Member Michael Goldman to listen to community feedback. Please join us and share your feedback on WMATA’s current operating budget proposal.

Friends of White Flint will testify at the meeting to advocate for northern metro entrance funding for the White Flint station.

Sign-up here to RSVP or to speak: 

https://form.jotform.com/200544525953152

Council Panel Pushes To Keep Money for Metrorail Station Improvements

From Bethesda Beat

A Montgomery County Council committee wants funding for station improvements at the Forest Glen and White Flint Metrorail stations to remain a priority in the county’s construction-projects budget.

County Executive Marc Elrich last month recommended deferring $14.7 million from the White Flint and Forest Glen stations projects and pursuing funding from the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority, which operates the regional subway system. Elrich recommended delaying funding for Forest Glen by two years and deferring funding for White Flint beyond the six-year period that the Capital Improvements Program budget covers.

But council Transportation and Environment committee members Tom Hucker, Hans Riemer, Evan Glass and Andrew Friedson indicated that they would not accept the Elrich’s amendments to the CIP budget, which the council is reviewing.

“We need to be prepared to pay for this ourselves,” Riemer said.

Riemer said the station improvement was key to “changing the dynamic” at White Flint in order to spur additional economic development. He said there are plans for transit-oriented development in the corridor and the station improvements are essential.

“It’s in our interest to get those projects completed, because it’s gonna enhance their [WMATA] ridership and there will be greater density around those stations,” Reimer said

Councilmember Andrew Friedson, whose council district includes White Flint, said a lack of county funding for the White Flint entrance sends the wrong message to private sector companies that the county hopes to attract. “Symbols do matter and actions do matter,” he said.

Read the full article on Bethesda Beat.

MoCo proposes to shorten development review process for Amazon HQ2

On Tuesday, County Council will vote on a proposal to cut in dramatically decrease the time of the development review process for  companies, like Amazon, that bring more than 25,000 employees to an area near a Metro station in the county. That means they will do the review in sixty days. Note that the public comment time is not shortened in the least. Usually the planning staff have 120 days to review a site plan and 90 days to review a sketch plan

Friends of White Flint thinks this is a very smart, positive move in our battle to win Amazon’s second headquarters.

Read more at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/montgomery-county-eyes-zoning-changes-to-attract-companies-like-amazon/2018/04/06/00ca8992-39dc-11e8-8fd2-49fe3c675a89_story.html?utm_term=.204a86c869a5

http://www.bethesdamagazine.com/Bethesda-Beat/2018/Montgomery-County-Executive-Proposes-Speedier-Zoning-Approval-Designed-To-Help-Secure-Amazon-H2Q/

A memo on Montrose Parkway from Councilmembers Berliner, Riemer, and Hucker

MONTGOMERY COUNTY COUNCIL ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND

TO: Councilmembers
FROM: Council President Riemer  Councilmember Berliner  Councilmember Hucker
SUBJECT: Transportation FY19-24 Capital Improvements Program

Colleagues, it is important that we focus the County’s limited resources for transportation improvements on projects that will most efficiently move the most number of people while reflecting our goal of creating walkable, vibrant, and environmentally sustainable places. That is why we believe the Council should defer funding for Montrose Parkway East (P500717) in the County Executive’s proposed FY19-24 Capital Improvements Program (CIP).

While Montrose Parkway East could be needed in the future to handle vehicle traffic as the White Flint area develops, we believe there are other worthy transportation projects that are higher priorities both for White Flint and the rest of the county. We recommend delaying the start of construction for this project from FY 21 in the County Executive-proposed schedule to FY 24 and evenly spreading out land acquisition costs in years FY 19-FY 23.

This would free up $94.1 million in the CIP for other priorities of councilmembers. We have heard from a significant number of residents who believe this funding could be put to better use on projects that encourage transit use and enhance walkability and our bicycle infrastructure network. These projects include:

Northern Entrance to White Flint Metro Station
This project, recommended in the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan and 2017 White Flint 2 Sector Plan, would increase accessibility and connectivity at the intersection of Rockville Pike and Old Georgetown Road and to Executive Boulevard. WMATA has indicated it has funding available in its FY 19 Project Development Program to update a 2010 study of northern entrance options. This funding would have to be approved by the Maryland Department of Transportation and would allow for the study to be completed in FY 19. In order to ensure that real progress is made on this important project beyond the updated study,we recommend creating a White Flint Metro Station Northern Entrance project to include a total of $7 million in funding to plan, design, and begin implementation – with $3.5 million in FY 21 and $3.5 million in FY 22.

Forest Glen Pedestrian Tunnel
In a 2013 Feasibility Study Report, MCDOT recommended a pedestrian tunnel from the northeast quadrant of the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Forest Glen Road to the Forest Glen Metro station. This entrance would provide a safe, below-grade crossing for thousands of residents who now must cross this dangerous intersection to get to the Metro station. It would also enhance connectivity and accessibility from the Metro station to Holy Cross Hospital and other points east of Georgia Avenue. We recommend adding this estimated five-year, $20,150,000 project to the CIP beginning in FY 21 , consistent with the production schedule provided by MCDOT:

New Hampshire Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Corridor
Accelerating Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) planning on additional corridors is critical to addressing traffic congestion. Planning for the New Hampshire Avenue BRT will allow work to begin on this corridor between the Colesville Road Park and Ride and Eastern Avenue. We recommend funding this total $7 million project starting with $3 million in FY 21, $2 million in FY 22, and $2 million in FY 23.

Veirs Mill Bus Rapid Transit Corridor
Last year, the Council selected a hybrid alternative as its locally preferred alternative for BRT on Veirs Mill Road between the Rockville and Wheaton Metro stations. No funding has been proposed to implement this project. To start work on this important corridor, we recommend programming $7 million total of design funding beginning with $3 million in FY 21, $3 million in FY 22, and $1 million in FY 23.

Burtonsville Access Road
This new roadway called for in the Burtonsville Crossroads Neighborhood Plan will provide rear access to businesses along MD 198, creating a more unified and pedestrian-friendly downtown Burtonsville and building on the safety improvements to MD 198 being planned by the State Highway Administration. We recommend $4.5 million in planning and land acquisition funding for this project in the six-year CIP.

Bikeway and Pedestrian Safety Funding Recommendations
A number of long-planned or ready-to-be-built bikeway improvements need attention in the FY19-24 CIP. Some of these projects have been delayed for several years, including  Marinelli Road Separated Bicycle Lanes. This project was included as a Tier One bikeway priority in the White Flint Sector in the Planning Department’s proposed Bicycle Master Plan and would provide a critical connection to the White Flint Metro station. We recommend programming $1 million in funding in FY 19 to construct this project from Rockville Pike to Nebel Street and adding $75,000 in FY 19 to the Bikeway Program.

We recommend adding $300,000 to the FY 19 budget for Facility Planning – Transportation to allow MCDOT to study long-term solutions to pedestrian safety issues along Dale Drive between Colesville Road and Columbia Boulevard.

Falls Road East Side Hiker/Biker Path
This long-delayed project would allow for final design, right-of-way acquisition and construction of an approximately four-mile long, eight-foot-wide hiker/biker path along the east side of Falls Road from River Road to Dunster Road, providing pedestrians and cyclists safe connections to communities in Rockville and Potomac. The current right-of-way in this area is very narrow and dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. The County Executive has recommended further delaying this project by starting final design in FY 24.

MacArthur Blvd Bikeway Improvements
This long-planned, roughly $9 million project would allow for the completion of this important bikeway along a popular commuter and recreational cyclist route from Oberlin Avenue to the District line, improving safety for all users along MacArthur Boulevard consistent with the 2004 Potomac Subregion Master Plan and 2005 Countywide Bikeways Functional Master Plan. We recommend the following expenditure schedule, consistent with the production schedule provided by MCDOT:

Life Sciences Center Loop Trail
This 3.5-mile cycling and walking path is recommended in the 2010 Great Seneca Science Corridor Master Plan in order to connect five districts within the area and connect to the planned Corridor Cities Transitway. We recommend the following expenditure schedule, consistent with the production schedule provided by MCDOT:

Additional funding for Bicycle-Pedestrian Priority Area Improvements (BiPPAs)
This project allows for improved bicycle and pedestrian facilities within areas where such improvements have been identified as a priority. The $2.8 million in additional funding proposed below would allow MCDOT to accelerate bicycle infrastructure projects in the Wheaton, Veirs Mill, Takoma-Langley, Long Branch and Piney Branch BiPPAs.

Thank you for your consideration of this recommendation to defer funding for the Montrose Parkway East project and to fund these other transportation priorities. We look forward to answering any questions.

You can read the entire memo here.

Our CIP testimony given to County Council

This week we testified before the County Council on the CIP (Capital Improvement Projects) budget. Below is our testimony.

Good afternoon. My name is Amy Ginsburg, Executive Director of Friends of White Flint.

The 2,000 supporters of Friends of White Flint, including property owners, residents, and businesses, want the promise of the White Flint sector plans to be fulfilled.  The implementation of those innovative sector plans is only possible through the funding of CIP projects.  Many of those projects are already part of the draft CIP.  We urge you to fully fund Bus Rapid Transit along Route 355. The North Bethesda Recreation Center, White Flint Fire Station, and Shriver Aquatic Center Improvements must also be fully funded to make the White Flint/Pike District area a vibrant place to live, work, and play. The Western Workaround is key to creating a grid that will improve mobility around the White Flint area and also needs full funding.

Did you know the intersection of Marinelli and Rockville Pike, where the White Flint metro station is located, is the busiest intersection in the County outside of Bethesda and Silver Spring? More and more people are walking and biking in the White Flint area. Many more want to but are stymied because there is much that needs to be done to make the White Flint area as walkable as possible as quickly as possible.  We ask that you fully fund a variety of relatively inexpensive, relatively quick improvements, such as new crosswalks, mid-block crosswalks, improved lighting, bike lanes, and wayfinding signs.

Through the CIP, the County sets its long-term priorities. Show that your priorities are multi-modal transit.  Demonstrate that your priorities are the walkability and bikeability businesses and residents crave. Show your support for the transformation of the White Flint area through this CIP.

Thank you.

PHED Committee Worksession on Staging, NADMS, and Light Industrial in White Flint 2 on Monday, October 30

The Montgomery Council PHED Committee (Planning, Housing & Economic Development) composed of Nancy Floreen, Chair, George Leventhal,  Hans Riemer will discuss White Flint 2 at their worksession on Monday, October 30 at 2:30 pm.  There are important discussions about NADMS goals, staging, light industrial space, and other issues in the two staff memos, labeled Packet A and Packet B below.

Packet A

Packet B

Friends of White Flint advocated the same staging, taxing district, and NADMS goals for the western side of White Flint 2 and White Flint 1.  This is not what council staff is recommending.  We believe it is critical to have the staging, NADMS goals, and other policies that will foster walkability and transit-oriented development in White Flint 2.

Committee meetings are televised live on County Cable Montgomery or streaming live at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/council/ondemand/index.html
Videos are archived and available on-demand 24 hours after the meeting concludes.