Friday, December 5, 2014

First Round of Leaf Collection Completed

The Division of Highway Services began vacuum leaf collection in the downcounty on November 10. So far, they have collected more than 78,000 cubic yards of leaves.

The next round of leaf collection is expected to be completed by the end of December.

View the leaf collection schedule online to find out when leaves will be collected.

Leggett Sworn in for Third Term on December 1; Inaugural Speech Links Transportation Improvements to County’s Economic Health

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett was sworn in for his third term on Monday, December 1 at Richard Montgomery High School. Leggett announced a six-point economic plan to take advantage of the County’s already formidable strengths and better position it for the future.

One of Leggett’s recommendations is to create an independent transit authority for Montgomery County to move transit projects forward.

“The authority would focus attention and resources on our growing transit needs as we compete for jobs, talents and investments,” said Leggett. “A state-of-the art transit network is essential to unlocking our County’s economic potential and linking our economic centers of excellence throughout the County.”  

Read Leggett’s entire speech online.

MCDOT Director Arthur Holmes, Jr. Announces his Retirement after 12 Years of Service to Montgomery County

Arthur Holmes, Jr., director of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT), has officially announced his retirement. His last day on the job will be December 19. In October, Holmes shared the news with County Executive Isiah Leggett.

“Art Holmes has provided tremendous leadership at a time of change and significant challenges,” said County Executive Ike Leggett.  “He has helped broaden transportation options for County commuters, deliver critical infrastructure, and support Smart Growth. We are doing more road maintenance, advancing more transit, and promoting more pedestrian safety. On behalf of a grateful County, I wish him all the best in retirement.”

During Holmes’ tenure, the County established a broader approach to transportation that placed greater emphasis on transit, biking and walking. He has been instrumental in implementing Leggett’s vision for developing new, transit-oriented, communities while ensuring that the County’s transportation infrastructure is maintained, repaired, rehabilitated and expanded.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to lead the Department,” said Holmes. “I look back on my 12 years with Montgomery County – two as Go Montgomery Director and 10 as Department of Public Works and Transportation and Department of Transportation Director – with great pride in the accomplishments of MCDOT. Together, we have ushered in a new era in transportation in Montgomery County – one that is focused on a comprehensive approach to mobility that encourages smart growth, transit-oriented development and alternative transportation, while enhancing and extending our critical road network, bridges and other infrastructure."

“What I am most proud of, however, is our MCDOT team. They exemplify the best of public service, and I truly appreciate all that they have done to improve the quality of life in Montgomery County for those who live, work and play here.”

Under Holmes, MCDOT has won dozens of national awards for its innovation, customer service and creativity. Read more about Holmes’ major achievements and background.

Leggett Congratulates Montgomery County Department of Transportation for its Role in Developing Bill 33-13 to Improve Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett congratulated the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) for playing an essential role in crafting Bill 33-13, Streets and Roads - Urban Road Standards and Pedestrian Safety Improvements passed on November 25 by the Montgomery County Council.

MCDOT successfully advocated for modifications to the bill proposed by the County Council, changing the initial “one-size fits all” approach to one that incorporated flexibility in creating a more pedestrian and bicycle friendly urban environment. MCDOT was concerned that the bill as originally written compromised the safety of walkers and bikers. Bill 33-13 accomplishes the goal of establishing adaptable guidelines for lane widths and road intersection curb radii that make safety for pedestrians and bicyclists the priority.

“The safety of pedestrians is paramount in urban design,” Leggett said. “Setting new standards for our walkable, bikeable urban centers is critical to realizing our vision for the future. That is why I am glad that, with MCDOT’s leadership, a bill was passed that will help us continue to create safe and smart business districts.”

Bill 33-13 specifies maximum dimensions for lane widths and curb radii on urban roads; further defines certain required pedestrian improvements; and generally amends the laws governing road design and construction.

“During my 10 years as Transportation director, MCDOT has embraced the vision of a walkable, bikeable community and has made tremendous strides in making this concept a reality,” said MCDOT Director Arthur Holmes Jr. “Complete street planning ensures that our urban cores are accessible and safe for everyone. To keep them that way, I’m so glad that we were able to convince the work group and the County Council that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to road design.”

In addition to the changes for urban roads detailed in Bill 33-13, MCDOT led the effort to further modify the County Code to ensure that more sidewalks will be built during road construction and development.

Holmes said, “There were too many loopholes in the existing County Code that allowed developers to avoid building sidewalks on residential streets. Now, sidewalks will be built in most situations.”

Road Weather Information System is Saving Tax Dollars While Improving Storm Response

The Division of Highway Services (DHS) is relying on information from its four Road Weather Information System (RWIS) stations to cut costs and improve efficiency in responding to winter storms. The stations are distributed around the County in areas with different microclimates: Burtonsville, Potomac, Clarksburg and Darnestown. The data collected allows DHS to be more proactive in responding to hazardous driving conditions.

With two storm activations already this winter season, the stations have been put to good use. They report pavement temperature, air temperature, dew point and “grip,” which indicates when roads transition from wet to icy. When conditions turn hazardous for drivers, the station automatically sends real time text messages to DHS depot staff who can immediately respond, allowing crews to target their efforts where it is needed.

County Launches Website to Encourage Neighbors to Help Neighbors During Snowstorms

Winter has come early this year and with the cold weather may come the need to get the snow shovels out sooner rather than later. That’s why Montgomery County has launched a website about neighbors helping neighbors – during snow storms as well as other storms and emergencies. Part of being a good neighbor is clearing the sidewalks so pedestrians can use them as well as checking on neighbors who may live alone and need assistance.

Under Montgomery County law, a property owner is responsible for removing snow and ice on sidewalks in the public right-of- way within 24 hours after the end of a snowstorm. A pathway should be available that is wide enough for safe pedestrian and wheelchair use. Property owners who are unable to clear their sidewalks can call 311 or go to the 311 website to obtain a list of contractors who are available to assist.

Everyone benefits when walkways are quickly cleared of snow – schoolchildren, seniors, transit users, shoppers and anyone who walks to nearby destinations.

Learn more about the campaign on the County’s website.

How to be Sure You are Prepared for Snow

When winter weather is expected, residents can receive timely severe weather and emergency notifications from Alert Montgomery, on Facebook or Twitter. The progress of plowing operations can be tracked online and Highway Services also updates the status of snow removal operations on Facebook and Twitter. 

Montgomery County Division of Highway Services (DHS) clears more than 5,000 lane miles of County roads. The State Highway Administration clears state roads – those that are numbered.

To aid snowplows in clearing roads, residents are urged, when possible, to park vehicles in driveways or off-road. During a snowstorm, crews work to keep main County roads and emergency routes clear to ensure all households are within a half-mile of a cleared road and are accessible in case of an emergency. Only once the snow stops, do crews begin plowing neighborhood roads.

Residents should be aware that although emergency and main roads are generally cleared to bare pavement, the goal for neighborhood streets is to make them passable, which oftentimes means some snow will remain.

Residents are reminded that if a snow emergency is declared, no parking is permitted on signed “Snow Emergency Routes.” Vehicles parked on emergency routes will be ticketed and towed. During a Snow Emergency, vehicles on the road must have all-weather or snow tires, or chains. Taxicabs operating in Montgomery County during declared snow emergencies are allowed to charge $2.50 extra per trip.

 Here’s some tips to help residents prepare for a storm:

·       Emergency preparations should include having enough food, water, medication (if needed) and batteries to last two to three days. Make sure portable radios, smoke detectors and flashlights are working properly. Keep a fresh supply of extra batteries on hand, along with a basic first aid kit and a non-electric can opener.

·       Check with neighbors who may require special assistance to see if they need help in stocking up on supplies or medications, and call them during the storm.

·       Be sure your vehicle is ready to drive after the storm by filling the gas tank; checking tires to make sure they have an adequate tread and are fully inflated; checking oil, antifreeze and windshield washer fluid levels; and ensuring windshield wipers, lights, flashing hazard lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes and defroster are all working properly. Keep a windshield scraper and small broom in the car for ice and snow removal, and a small sack of sand or kitty litter to improve wheel traction.

·       Stay off the roads during the storm if at all possible to allow snow plows to do their work. If driving during the storm is unavoidable, put together a separate emergency supply kit for the trunk of the car that includes: flashlight with extra batteries, flares, blankets or sleeping bags, dry clothing, mittens, socks, and a wool cap, plastic bags, snacks and water, jumper cables, a first aid kit and necessary medications and a brightly colored cloth to tie to the vehicle antenna in case the vehicle becomes stranded.