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.

Our Testimony on Rapid Transit in the 2017 Operating Budget

 Below is the testimony Friends of White Flint will be providing to the County Council today during one of the public hearings on the 2017 Operating Budget. You can read County Executive’s proposed operating budget here. The budget includes funding for rapid transit and express bus service along Route 355.

My name is Amy Ginsburg, and I am the Executive Director of Friends of White Flint, a nonprofit organization with more than 1,300 supporters, including residents, businesses, homeowners and civic associations, and property owners.  Our only mission is to ensure the full implementation of the White Flint Sector Plan so that the promise of a walkable, transit-oriented, smart-growth community is achieved.

Rapid Transit is indispensable for improving the quality of life for a growing White Flint population and to attracting businesses and retailers to the Pike District. Transit oriented development—-and the revenue it generates—-is necessary for the economic health of both the White Flint community and Montgomery County.

The White Flint Sector Plan calls for phased-in development. Non-Auto Driver Mode Share goals must be achieved before moving to the second phase of development.  A Rapid Transit System along Rockville Pike is essential to reaching those mode share goals and allowing the promise of the White Flint Sector Plan to be fulfilled. In fact, 7,400 residential units are linked to developing an RTS along Route 355.

Moving forward with RTS is vital for both the County and the White Flint area.  Studies have shown that after factoring in the cost of RTS, the County will net $871 million in revenue over twenty-five years.  Investing in transit makes the County more financially stable and more attractive to both businesses and residents.  BRT along the White Flint/Route 355 South Corridor would generate the highest projected ridership. By 2040, riders would take 35,000 daily trips on a rapid transit system along Rockville Pike.

I urge the Council to commit to funding Bus Rapid Transit studies and Implementing BRT service as the County Executive outlined in his operating budget.   Friends of White Flint very much hopes that the Route 355 BRT studies will be fully funded through the locally preferred alternative stage.

As an interim improvement, prior to the full implementation of the Route 355 BRT, Friends of White Flint also supports the plan for Ride On Express Bus Service along 355 from Lakeforest Mall to the Medical Center Metro Station.

The White Flint area has the density, commercial development, and support to be the successful first rapid transit line in Montgomery County.  BRT on Route 355 will give the County its best return on investment and allow everyone to see how a Rapid Transit System helps create a vibrant, thriving community.  Please support BRT funding in the 2017 Operating Budget.

From all of us at Friends of White Flint, thank you for your continued support of transit and the White Flint Sector Plan.