Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Leggett Joins Governor at Bill Signing for Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act; O’Malley Hails Leggett’s Role as Consistently Strong Advocate

On May 16, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett joined Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. and Speaker of the House Michael E. Busch at the bill signing for the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013.

Leggett was praised by many, including the Governor, for his role as an outspoken advocate for an increase in transportation funding revenues: “Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett has been a consistently strong advocate and working together with legislative leaders and members of the General Assembly, we have guaranteed a sustainable transportation funding source that will provide a safer, more efficient transportation network, spur economic development and support more than 57,200 jobs,” said O’Malley.

The Act increases revenues from the sale of gasoline for the first time in a generation. Revenue from the bill is estimated at $4.4 billion over the next six years, boosting economic development in the County. The funds will be dedicated to new roads and mass transit projects, including the Purple Line, the Corridor Cities Transitway and a backlog of major road projects.

See Leggett’s statement following passage of the bill and the full press release for more details.

Leggett Objects to MTA Proposal to Eliminate Three ICC Commuter Bus Routes; MTA to Hold Public Hearings in June

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett opposes the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) proposal to eliminate three commuter bus routes along the Inter County Connector (ICC) that serve Walter Reed-Bethesda, the Shady Grove Red Line Metro Station and other stops.

In his letter, Leggett notes that this commuter bus service is part of a comprehensive traffic strategy developed by the Maryland and Montgomery County departments of Transportation in collaboration with the Navy, the National Institutes of Health and the local community to mitigate the effects of BRAC (the Base Realignment and Closure Act) in Bethesda. BRAC has increased staff at Walter Reed-Bethesda by about 45 percent.

MTA will hold public hearings June 4 through 6 on its proposed elimination of three commuter bus routes along the InterCounty Connector.

The affected routes are:
  • Route 202: Weekday peak service between Gaithersburg and DOD/Fort Meade 
  • Route 203: Weekday peak service between Columbia and Bethesda 
  • Route 204: Weekday peak service between College Park and Germantown 
For more information about the dates, times and locations of the public hearings, visit MTA’s website.

MCDOT Improving Transportation Infrastructure

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) Division of Highway Services is working on road maintenance projects using hot mix asphalt to resurface the following areas and streets:
  • Westlake Drive, Bethesda, from Democracy Boulevard to Tuckerman Lane, began the week of May 13. The project is expected to take four weeks, with construction occurring between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. 
Pavement preservation projects are also underway. These include full depth patching in portions of the pavement that have deteriorated, sealing cracks and applying a micro-resurfacing material. The first phase of the projects listed below is expected to take four weeks, weather permitting. Final resurfacing will occur this summer or fall. Construction will occur between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
  • Brownstown Estates, Germantown, began April 29. 
  • The Countryside neighborhood, Fairland, began May 13. 
  • Fox Hills West, Potomac, began April 22. 
  • Hawkins Landing, Gaithersburg, began May 9.

Minor Schedule Adjustments on Three Ride On Bus Routes Began May 5

On May 5, Montgomery County’s Ride On bus service made minor schedule changes to bus routes 42, 45 and 94 to better match schedules with bus operations. Information on the changes is also available in Spanish.

Riders are encouraged to get up-to-date information about when their next bus is arriving by computer, smartphone or text message at Ride On Real Time.

For more information about Ride On, call 311, or from outside the County, call 240-777-0311, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The TTY (for hearing impaired) number is 301-251-4850. Or, visit the County’s website.

Pedestrian Safety Progress Continues But More Work Remains

A May 8 CountyStat review of Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett’s Pedestrian Safety Initiative showed that County efforts to improve pedestrian safety are having a positive effect. In 2012, the most severe collisions resulting in debilitating injury (Level 4) or death (Level 5) decreased by 20 percent and fatalities dropped to an all-time low of 0.6 per 100,000 people.

While the CountyStat analysis reveals significant progress, more work remains to be done. So far this year, there have been nine pedestrian fatalities, compared with a total for all of 2012 of six. Nationally, pedestrian collisions have also increased. This uptick illustrates that the work of the Pedestrian Initiative is not done and the difficulty in trying to curb pedestrian collisions that often result from split second decisions made by drivers or pedestrians.

An article by Angie Schmitt in DC.StreetsBlog.org discussed a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control that “found that while 10.5 percent of all trips in the United States are made on foot, pedestrians made up 13 percent of all traffic fatalities between 2001 and 2010. During those years, a staggering 47,392 pedestrians were killed on American roadways.”

Schmitt reported that minority groups and the elderly suffer disproportionately from dangerous conditions for walking.

The County continues engineering, enforcement and education activities to reduce pedestrian collisions, including the following recent efforts:

MCDOT Installs Traffic Calming Project on Brunett Avenue to Improve Pedestrian Safety

Residents concerned about speeding traffic on Brunett Avenue between Guilford Street and Bruce Drive in Silver Spring asked the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) to do something to improve safety for pedestrian. This spring, contractors installed new, concrete median islands; marked crosswalks along Brunett Avenue; installed curb, gutter and sidewalk modifications to ensure ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance; and completed minor roadway repairs.

Residents concerned about pedestrian safety in their neighborhoods who would like to request a traffic study may contact the MCDOT Division of Traffic Engineering by email or in writing at: The Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Engineering, 100 Edison Park Drive, 4th Floor, Gaithersburg, MD 20878. Provide contact information, include the location of concern and describe the safety issues.

Police Step Up Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Enforcement This Spring

During April and May, the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) Traffic Division focused enforcement efforts on pedestrian safety in High Incidence Areas (HIAs) -- areas with more pedestrian collisions -- and other crosswalk locations where driver compliance with pedestrian safety laws has been an issue. Results of some of these actions are listed below.

On May 8, officers at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Turkey Branch Parkway in Aspen Hill addressed safety concerns between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.: 
  • 72 drivers were cited for failing to stop for a pedestrian crossing the roadway in a crosswalk; 
  • One driver was cited for a child seat violation; 
  • Four tickets were issued for driving with a suspended license; and 
  • Two citations noted the need for safety repairs to vehicles. 
On May 9, officers dressed in bright clothing crossed in the crosswalk at the intersection of Democracy Boulevard and Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. They issued 77 traffic citations; 56 citations for failing to stop for a pedestrian crossing the roadway in a crosswalk; and arrested one person who was charged with a drug offense.

Between 2008 and 2012, 48.5 percent of Maryland’s nighttime passenger vehicle fatality victims were not wearing seat belts. On May 10, Montgomery County, Gaithersburg and Rockville City police officers conducted nighttime seat belt enforcement for several hours starting at 7:30 p.m. at the entrance and exit ramps of I-270 and I-495.

The activity resulted in a total of 139 traffic citations, with the following breakdown:
  • 44 seat belt citations issued; 
  • 59 warnings issued; 
  • Four driving under the influence (DUI) arrests; 
  • Two criminal arrests; 
  • One criminal citation issued; 
  • One warrant served; 
  • Eight driving with a suspended license citations; and 
  • 25 citations noted the need for safety repairs to vehicles. 
During the Washington region’s Street Smart campaign, which ran through May 13, law enforcement officers in Maryland, the District of Columbia and northern Virginia stepped up ticketing of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists who violate traffic safety laws. Drivers and cyclists who fail to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, as well as pedestrians who jaywalk, can face fines. Drivers also are subject to getting points on their driving records.

Information on the campaign and the Street Smart public education program is available on MWCOG’s website.

“Give and Ride” Program Helps Feed Area’s Neediest Families

This year, Montgomery County’s annual weeklong “Give and Ride” food drive campaign collected enough donated food to feed 115 needy area families. County residents donated canned and non-perishable food on the County’s Ride On buses. In exchange, donors received free bus rides. All donated food was given to Manna Food Center.

For more information on Ride On, visit the County’s website or call 311 or TDD/TTY 301-251-4850 Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Change to Ride On Route 38 Begins Sunday, June 9

Beginning Sunday, June 9, the Montgomery County Ride On Bus Route 38 will follow a new route. All buses will turn off Veirs Mill Road at Claridge Road, travel along Medway Street, Judson Street, Parker Avenue and Newport Mill Road, and then continue along Veirs Mill Road to the Wheaton or White Flint Metro stations.

Schedule times for Route 38 will stay the same. The route map is available online. Information about the route change is also available online in Spanish.

For more information on Ride On, visit the County’s website or call 311 or TDD/TTY 301-251-4850 Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Monthly Parking Permits Can be Purchased Online; Stickers Will Still Be Mailed to Customer

Residents can now purchase monthly Parking Convenience Stickers (PCS permits) and the AM/PM monthly permits online. PCS permits allow unlimited parking for one calendar month at County long-term meters (up to 15 hours) in parking garages, lots or PCS reserved areas. There are also a few long-term, on-street parking meters in Silver Spring, North Bethesda, Wheaton and Montgomery Hills. The AM/PM monthly permit allows unlimited parking at long-term meters only from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Once the online transaction is completed, the permit will be mailed to the purchaser. Residents may continue to purchase through the mail or in person at the Montgomery County Parking Division’s sales stores in Bethesda and Silver Spring.

Montgomery County operates parking lot districts in Bethesda, Montgomery Hills, North Bethesda, Silver Spring and Wheaton. Additional information on parking permits and County parking options is available on the County’s website. Or, call 311 Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Bethesda Parking Sales Store can be reached at 240-777-8770 and the Silver Spring Parking Sales Store number is 240-777-8744.

County to Test Displaying Ads in Four Parking Garages

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s Division of Parking Management (DPM) will begin a six-month pilot project to test ad-based marketing opportunities in County parking garages. Ads should be posted in the garages by early June. The test will help DPM evaluate business demand for the ads, revenue potential for the County, the types and sizes of displays that are attractive to businesses and ways to ensure that garage signage remains clear and visible.

The four test garages are:
  • Garage 61, 801 Ellsworth Drive, Silver Spring; 
  • Garage 7, 8530 Cameron Street, Silver Spring; 
  • Garage 57, 4841 Bethesda Avenue, Bethesda; and 
  • Garage 11, 7730 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda. 
Montgomery County operates public parking lots, garages and on-street parking meters with about 12,000 parking spaces in four areas of the County: Silver Spring, Bethesda, Wheaton and Montgomery Hills.

More information about parking in Montgomery County is available on DPM’s website. Advertising inquires should be directed to RMR Outdoor, 855-201-7887.

Bethesda and Woodmont Avenues Project Update

Work continues on the public-private partnership project located on the former parking lot (Lot 31) at the corner of Bethesda and Woodmont avenues in Bethesda.

Concrete work continues as footers and Garage P4 level columns are poured. Other ongoing work includes waterproofing the walls in front of the sheeting and shoring, installing the below- grade storm water tanks and removing rock and soil under the east elevation shoring system.

The second tower crane pad has been poured in the north/northeast quadrant of the site. The tower crane itself will be installed the first week of June. Excavation has begun on the construction ramp. Excavation is expected to be completed by July.

Metro Launches Unlimited 7-Day "Short Trip" Pass For SmarTrip Cards

On May 20, Metro’s $35 seven-day “short trip” pass became available for SmarTrip cards. Riders can buy the passes and load them onto a SmarTrip card from their computer or by using a fare card vending machine. Metro will discontinue sales of the paper version of the short-trip pass after May 31, 2013.

The 7-Day Short Trip Pass costs $35 for seven days from its first use, expiring at the end of the seventh operating day. The short trip pass is a good option for riders who take frequent trips between nearby stations -- or any combination of trips where the fare is less than $3.50 during peak periods.

The short trip pass also is good for unlimited Metrorail trips valued up to $3.50 during peak periods and unlimited Metrorail trips of any value during off-peak times. During peak periods, the pass can be used for longer trips (greater than $3.50), but the passenger must pay the difference.

More information is available on Metro’s website or by calling 202-637-7000.

Texts Cause Wrecks

An article on Latino Fox News.com by Antonio Tijerino, a member of County Executive Isiah Leggett’s Latin American Advisory Group, highlighted the dangers of texting and driving. Tijerino discusses some of his personal experiences about the dangers of those who text while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, texting while driving is considered six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.

Tijerino states that the public would not tolerate seeing a truck driver, minivan mom or teen driving down the road swigging from a liquor bottle of booze, and we shouldn’t tolerate them driving while texting. The full article is available online.

Public Meeting on the Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan to be Held June 11

The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) is updating the Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan and is seeking comments on how to improve biking and walking in Maryland over the next 20 years.

MDOT will hold a public meeting to seek input on Tuesday, June 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Rockville Memorial Library.

More information is available at MDOT’s website or by calling 410-865-1000.