Friday, August 30, 2013

Leggett Joins O’Malley/Brown Administration in Announcing $630 Million Investment in County’s Transportation Network and $400 Million for Construction of Purple Line

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett joined Governor Martin O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown during their announcement that Montgomery County will be receiving $628 million in transportation investments and an additional $400 million for construction of the Purple Line. Brown also announced that the Purple Line will be built as a public-private partnership under HB 560, the law he championed to attract private investment for new infrastructure in Maryland.

O’Malley recognized the critical role Leggett played in advocating for the passage of the Transportation Act and Leggett recognized and thanked the County’s State delegation for their efforts.

In addition to the Purple Line, critical projects receiving funding include the Corridor Cities Transitway, I-270/Watkins Mill Road Interchange, Ride On Bus, MD97 Relocation Near Brookeville, US29 Interchanges Design at Musgrove Road and Fairland Road, MD124 Widening (Phase 2) and the MD28/MD198 Corridor Transportation Improvement Study.

The County’s news release provides more details about the projects and their funding levels.

Update on Road Maintenance Projects

A hot mix asphalt paving project to resurface Bonifant Road, from Layhill Road to New Hampshire Avenue in the Colesville service area, began in early August and should be completed in late September. Work hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Another hot mix asphalt paving project will begin the second week in September to resurface 2nd Avenue in Silver Spring from Spring Street to Seminary Road. The work will take about eight weeks to complete. Work hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Permanent patching projects to maintain roadway structural integrity begun in August include:
  • Stonecrest-Snowden Mills community, in the Colesville service area. 
  • Ambleside Drive from Glenn Road to Betteker Lane, in the Gaithersburg West service area. 

Beginning the second week in September, roads in the Goshen Estates neighborhood in Gaithersburg will also be permanently patched. The permanent patching projects take about three to four weeks to complete, weather permitting, Work occurs between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For more information on resurfacing projects throughout the County, visit the Division of Highway Services’ website or call 311 (TTY, call 301-251-4850), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

State Begins Safety and Resurfacing Project on Georgia Avenue/MD97

The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) began a $4.6 million safety and resurfacing project along nearly two miles of MD97 (Georgia Avenue) from the Washington, D.C. line to MD390 (16th Street) in Silver Spring. Weather permitting, the work will be completed by late fall. Motorists and pedestrians traveling in this area should plan ahead, add extra commute time and be aware of shifting traffic and walking patterns.

The work will:
  • Reconstruct existing sidewalks to ensure they meet ADA standards and are at least five feet wide; 
  • Repair and replace existing inlets and pipes; 
  • Patch damaged sections of pavement prior to resurfacing; 
  • Install new curb and gutter; 
  • Resurface Georgia Avenue; 
  • Replace traffic signal pavement detectors at the intersection of MD 97 and MD 390; and 
  • Install new line striping and pavement markings. 
SHA’s contractor is permitted to close one lane of Georgia Avenue in both directions weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and up to two lanes overnight Sunday through Thursday, between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Drivers are urged to stay alert and look for reduced speed limits, narrow driving lanes and highway workers.

For more information, see SHA’s press release.

Franklin Knolls Neighborhood Refurbishment Project Starting

The Franklin Knolls community is the most recent neighborhood to benefit from the Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) Residential Road Rehabilitation program. In response to County Executive Ike Leggett’s call for a more systematic approach to maintaining our transportation infrastructure, MCDOT biennially assesses the condition of every County road. Franklin Knolls, located in Silver Spring, had many streets rated very poor.

The rehabilitation project will renew seven lane miles of concrete and asphalt, remove and replace defective curbs and sidewalks, conduct full depth pavement patching and repave the streets with hot mix asphalt. The project includes the option for residents to make concrete repairs on their property at reduced cost.

MCDOT does not widen or alter the character of the streets and takes special care to preserve the trees in the right-of-way during construction.

More information is available on the Division of Highway Services’ website.

Renew Montgomery Restores and Improves Older Communities

Newly Released Progress Report Tracks Investment in 72 Neighborhoods

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) recently released the 2013 progress report on Renew Montgomery, a program that restores and replaces deteriorating infrastructure in mature neighborhoods. Since the program began in 1996, 72 neighborhoods have been upgraded with investments of more than $68 million.

Renew Montgomery is a community-driven program that seeks early input from homeowner or civic association leaders who identify neighborhood priorities. Renew Montgomery neighborhoods can receive a variety of services, including repair or installation of new curbs, gutters, and sidewalks; repair and maintenance of roads; renovation of streets, roads and walkways to make them accessible and comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act; installation of traffic calming modifications; installation of improved or new streetlights; repair or replacement of traffic signs and pavement markings; installation of Ride On bus stop amenities; tree maintenance and replacement plantings; storm drain improvements; and award of neighborhood beautification grants to assist communities with landscaping and beautification projects. MCDOT typically spends several years completing projects in these established neighborhoods.

The Renew Montgomery progress report is available on the County’s website. For a copy of the report, or for more information about Renew Montgomery, call MCDOT’s Community Outreach Office at 240-777-7155.

Drainage Project Causes Short Term Closure of Annapolis Rock Road

The Division of Highway Services began a project at the end of August to replace a culvert and improve drainage in eastern Damascus near the Howard County line. The project will require about a two week closure of Annapolis Rock Road at the creek near the PEPCO power transmission lines. Message boards will direct drivers around the closure.

Replacement of the culvert is urgent. Army Corps of Engineers approval of the project was required due to the sensitive nature of the pristine wetlands encompassing the area.

MCDOT to Construct Dual Bikeway on Woodglen Drive

Beginning this fall, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) will start construction of a dual bikeway that includes:
  • An eight-foot, off-road, shared use bikepath on the west side of Woodglen Drive between Edson and Nicholson lanes in North Bethesda; 
  • An on-road, six-foot-wide bike lane on the east side of Woodglen Drive (in the northbound travel lane); and 
  • An on-road shared lane, or “sharrow” on the west side of Woodglen Drive (in the southbound travel lane). 
Sharrows are pavement markings that alert motorists to the presence of bicyclists and encourage safer passing practices.

The Woodglen dual bikeway will provide an important link to the Bethesda Trolley Trail and access to Metro stations, retail and neighborhood activity centers in the Rockville and North Bethesda areas.

In Maryland, bicycles are classified as vehicles and are permitted on any road where the speed limit is posted at 50 mph or below. The on-road bicycle lanes will require the removal of six metered parking spaces along Woodglen Drive. Travel lanes will be narrowed for the sharrow. To enhance safety, discourage speeding and alert motorists to those using the path, curb extenders will be built at the intersection of Executive Boulevard and Woodglen Drive.

Bikeshare Coming Soon to Montgomery County

Memberships Now Available

Capital Bikeshare stations are coming soon to Montgomery County. A membership in the program allows use of bikes in any of the participating jurisdictions, including Washington D.C., Arlington and Alexandria.

Montgomery County’s system will have 450 bikes at 51 stations located in Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Friendship Heights, Bethesda, Rockville, Shady Grove and the Life Sciences Center. More details about the County’s bikeshare program are available online.

Join online to enjoy the benefits of quick, easy connections between home and transit, work, school or job training centers.

Free Bikeshare memberships are available to those who qualify based on income eligibility through the County’s federal Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) grant. The special County program is aimed at those using bikeshare in the Rockville, Shady Grove and Life Sciences Center areas. The County’s JARC grant will support use of bikeshare to commute to work or school or complete job training. Those who qualify will also receive free bicycle education, safety training, a free helmet and route planning assistance. To find out more about eligibility requirements, email or call Commuter Services at 240-777-8380.

Leggett Celebrates Completion of Shady Grove Access Bike Path

Bike Path Will Enhance Smart Growth Initiative Transformation of Area

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett celebrated the completion of the Shady Grove Access Bike Path that provides a safe pathway to the Shady Grove Metro Station for bicyclists and pedestrians and a connection to other area sidewalks and bikeways. By improving access to transit, residents may be encouraged to not only travel by bike, but also combine bicycle trips with buses, Metro and walking.

The new, 10-foot bike path extends 4,700 feet from Shady Grove Road to Redland Road along the east side of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Metro Access Road. Included in the project is a bikeway ramp from the new bike path to an existing bikeway on Crabbs Branch Way. To enhance safety, a pedestrian-activated traffic signal was installed at the crossing to the Metro station.

More information is available on the County’s website.

Bicyclists Who Park at Metro Urged to Register their Bikes

Metro Transit Police recently launched a free online registration service for bike riders who park their bikes at Metro facilities. Providing the make, model, serial number, color and frame size of the bike will assist Police in identifying and recovering a bicycle if it is stolen or lost.

Police urge riders to practice basic security measures, such as locking their bike to an authorized rack (not a sign post or fence), keeping a copy of the bike’s serial number on hand and hiding a business or index card with the owner’s name and phone number inside the bike frame.

Leggett Celebrates Pedestrian Safety Improvements in Wheaton

Thanks Wheaton Pedestrian Volunteers for their Efforts to Educate Public

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett celebrated the completion of pedestrian safety improvements installed by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) on Reedie Drive, between Veirs Mill Road and Georgia Avenue in Wheaton. This 800-foot stretch of road was targeted because it was designated as one of the County’s “High Incidence Areas” (HIAs) -- locations having the highest density of pedestrian collisions. Between January 1, 2004 and December 31, 2012, there were 20 pedestrian collisions, including one fatality, in the Reedie Drive HIA.

The Reedie Drive area is heavily traveled by pedestrians going to Wheaton Westfield Shopping Mall, the Wheaton Metro Station, public parking, retail shops, restaurants and nearby bus stops. Wheaton redevelopment is expected to further increase pedestrian activity.

The engineering improvements along Reedie Drive already appear to be reducing traffic speeds and increasing compliance of drivers yielding to pedestrians.

Leggett also thanked members of a group of 30 Spanish- and English-speaking pedestrian safety advocates who have been conducting education activities in Wheaton/Aspen Hill for 15 months. Several of the volunteers were instrumental in working with the State of Maryland to have a new signal installed at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Claridge Road to improve pedestrian safety in this heavily traveled area.

More details about the Reedie Drive improvements and the volunteer outreach efforts are available on the County’s website.

Seven Locks Sidewalk Improves County’s Pedestrian Infrastructure

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) recently installed 1.25 miles of new sidewalk along Seven Locks Road in response to a request from the president of the Montgomery Square Civic Association. This project included the installation of ADA compliant ramps, selected driveway aprons and new, five-foot-wide concrete sidewalk panels.

This sidewalk project, costing about $270,000, provides a safe and convenient connection for pedestrians to religious institutions, retail stores and other activity centers. MCDOT’s Sidewalk Program provides funding to expand the sidewalk network throughout the County. Concurrently, the Division of Highway Services resurfaced this same segment of Seven Locks Road, milling and patching the pavement where needed, applying a layer of hot mix asphalt and restriping the road.

More information on sidewalk or roadway projects is available on the Division of Transportation Engineering’s website.

Fire and Rescue Releases Back to School Safety Tips

As children across the region head back to school, Montgomery County Fire Chief Steve Lohr is asking all drivers to exercise extra caution and be alert. A recent Fire and Rescue Service press release suggests ways to enhance safety.

County Council to Hold Public Hearing on the Proposed Rapid Transit System

The Montgomery County Council will hold a two-day public hearing on the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan. The hearing will be held in Rockville on September 24 and 26, beginning each evening at 7:30 p.m.

For more information or to testify, call 240-777-7803 by 10 a.m. on the preferred testimony day or visit the Council’s website. Learn more about the Rapid Transit System on the County’s website.

Ride On to Hold Public Forum on Proposed Changes to Routes 83 and 94

Montgomery County will hold a public forum on proposed changes to Ride On Bus routes 83 and 94 on Thursday, September 26 at the Upcounty Regional Center, 12900 Middlebrook Road, Germantown. The forum will begin at 6:30 p.m. and end after the last speaker presents remarks. In case of inclement weather, the public forum will be held on October 3.

Ride On is considering the following changes/additions to service:
  • Route 83 - Extend service to the future Holy Cross Hospital site in Germantown by extending the route along Observation Drive through Montgomery College/Germantown to the hospital. The existing Route 83 operates between the Germantown Transit Center and the Milestone Park & Ride Lot via Dorsey Mill Road, with some service to the Germantown MARC Station. 
  • Route 94 – A new route for this bus line called “Meet the MARC” is proposed to address greater demand for transit service in the Upcounty area, connect MARC commuter train service to Rockville, Silver Spring and Washington, D.C. and serve residents of the Clarksburg community. The new Route 94 will originate in the morning in Clarksburg and operate via Clarksburg Road, Snowden Farm Parkway, Little Seneca Parkway, Meadow Mist Road, Skylark Road, Ridge Road, Father Hurley Boulevard., Dawson Farm Road and Liberty Mill Road and end at the lower level of the Germantown MARC Station. The last day of service for the existing Route 94 will be Friday, October 18. 
Additional information regarding these proposed changes is available on Ride On’s website.

Bethesda Avenue-Woodmont Avenue Project Update

Work continues at the former site of the County’s parking lot at the corner of Bethesda and Woodmont avenues in Bethesda. The project is in its final weeks of excavation work. Concrete operations are in full swing, including rebar placement and concrete pours and finishing. Footings are completed on the west side of the site. Under construction are elevated decks in the northwest corner and pouring of final footings and slabs on the east side.

Restoration of the Capital Crescent Trail immediately adjacent to Lot 31, including a protective cover, has been completed.

Motorists are reminded that Woodmont Avenue remains closed from Miller to Bethesda avenues. Only vehicles with business on Miller or who live off Miller Avenue should enter Woodmont Avenue northbound at Wisconsin.

When completed, the public-private partnership project will feature 940 underground public parking spaces.

More information on parking options in Bethesda is available on the Division of Parking Management’s website.

Planners to Hold Open Houses on Apex Building in Bethesda

Staff from the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission will hold three open houses to provide information and receive input from the public about proposed changes to the Apex Building site and the area around the future Bethesda Purple Line station. The sessions will be held at the Bethesda Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, near the intersection of Woodmont Avenue and Old Georgetown Road. Enter on the plaza level above Chipotle.

The sessions are scheduled for:
  • Tuesday, September 3, 6 to 9 p.m. 
  • Saturday, September 7, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
  • Monday, September 9, 6 to 9 p.m.

New Public Service Announcement Highlights Dangers of Texting While Driving

Filmmaker Werner Herzog has developed a new short film to focus attention on texting while driving -- which in 2011 caused nearly 200,000 vehicle collisions. The documentary, called “From One Second to the Next” can be viewed online.

Metro to Conduct Survey on Public Hearings

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration (Metro) is asking the public to participate in an online survey to help determine which types of service changes should be preceded by a public hearing. Metro will use the results to evaluate their public hearing policy.

According to Metro, public hearings are just one of the ways in which Metro gets feedback from customers and all forms of feedback are taken into consideration when Metro contemplates service changes.

AAA Reports that Americans are Less Concerned about Dangerous Driving Behaviors Although Traffic Fatalities Increased for First Time in Seven Years

An August news release issued by AAA reported disturbing news about the public’s perception of dangerous driving behaviors. The release stated that, “Americans are less likely to perceive a serious threat from dangerous driving behaviors such as drunk, aggressive or drowsy driving, according to an analysis of four years of public surveys conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The decreased concern is accompanied by an estimated 5.3 percent increase in annual traffic fatalities, totaling more than 34,000 in 2012. This is the first annual increase in seven years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”

The full report is available online.

U.S. Army Garrison Fort Detrick/Forest Glen to Hold Community Town Hall

The United States Army Garrison (USAG) Fort Detrick/Forest Glen is inviting the public and media to attend a community Town Hall meeting on Thursday, September 12 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. concerning activities on the Forest Glen installation. Discussion topics are expected to include future changes at the Linden Lane gate; impacts on the Ride On Route 4 bus; noise pollution from building 178; and other environmental issues.

After 6 p.m., visitors must access USAG through the Brookville gate.

Email or call 301-619-2018 for more information about USAG.

Celebrate Car Free Days DC on September 20 to 22

Join thousands of participants around the Washington metropolitan region on September 20 to 22 as they celebrate Car Free Days events. Pledge to go car free online on one of those days and automatically be entered for prizes and giveaways, including an Apple iPad.

On Friday, September 20, Montgomery County Commuter Services will host Car Free Day events from 6:30 to 9 a.m. at the Silver Spring, Friendship Heights, Bethesda, Grosvenor and Shady Grove Metrorail Stations.

Continue the celebration on Saturday, September 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. by joining Commuter Services at the FreshFarm Farmer’s Market on Ellsworth Drive between Fenton Street and Georgia Avenue in Downtown Silver Spring.

Stop by both events to receive information about alternative commute options and enter prize drawings to win a Kindle, a SmarTrip card with $200 value and other prizes.

More information is available online. (From Better Ways to Work)

SHA Begins Resurfacing Project on MD355

The State Highway Administration (SHA) has begun a $2.6 million safety and resurfacing project on MD355 (Wisconsin Avenue) between MD191 (Bradley Boulevard) and Montgomery Avenue in Bethesda. Weather permitting, work should be completed next fall.

SHA will:
  • Improve drainage to help prevent standing water on the roadway; 
  • Construct American with Disabilities (ADA) compliant sidewalk and sidewalk ramps and construct new curbs and gutters; and 
  • Upgrade traffic signals with new mast arms, signal heads, audible pedestrian signals, and countdown pedestrian signals at the intersections of MD355 and Montgomery Avenue, Elm Street and Bethesda Avenue. 
Crews may close a single lane in both directions of MD355 weekdays, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Beginning next spring, crews may also close up to two lanes in both directions of MD355 for resurfacing overnight, Sunday through Thursday, between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., weather permitting.

SHA will maintain pedestrian access within the work zone. Residents and travelers are advised that equipment used for construction can be loud and disruptive. (source: State Highway Administration press release)