MONTGOMERY COUNTY COUNCIL ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND
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.