Monday, September 30, 2013

Leggett Announces Availability of First Montgomery County Bikeshare Stations; Program is First Bikeshare in Maryland

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett (second from right) launched the first installment of the County’s 51 Bikeshare stations with 450 bikes. Bikeshare riders will be able to use any bike in the regional Capital Bikeshare network including the District of Columbia, Arlington and Alexandria. Pictured are (from left to right) Montgomery County Councilmembers Hans Riemer and Roger Berliner (Valerie Ervin not pictured), Maryland Transportation Secretary James T. Smith, Jr. and Senator Brian Frosh.
 On September 27, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett celebrated the grand opening of the County’s Bikeshare Network, launching the first installment of 51 Bikeshare stations and 450 bikes in Bethesda, Friendship Heights, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Rockville, Shady Grove and the Life Sciences Center area. Montgomery County’s Bikeshare program is the first in Maryland and is part of the regional Capital Bikeshare network, linking the County with the District of Columbia, Arlington and Alexandria’s Bikeshare systems.

Leggett made the announcement in Rockville at one of the 21 area stations designed to encourage low-income reverse commuters and job trainees to use Bikeshare. Those who qualify will receive a free, one-year membership in Capital Bikeshare.

Bikesharing provides short-term bicycle rentals at self-service, automated, solar-powered docking stations located at publicly accessible sites. Bikes may be picked up at one location and returned to another, creating a system that allows for one-way trips. Bikeshare is considered ideal for short trips of less than five miles. Trips under 30 minutes are included in the membership fee, while longer trips are charged based on their duration.

Over the next few weeks, the remaining Montgomery County stations will open. More information about Bikeshare and a map showing installed stations in the County is available online. For information on eligibility for free Bikeshare memberships and program benefits for low income residents, contact Montgomery County Commuter Services by email or phone at 240-777-8380.

Pedestrian Safety Volunteers Needed in Bethesda and Silver Spring

Building on a successful pedestrian safety volunteer program in Wheaton, the Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) Pedestrian Safety Initiative is expanding its outreach effort to Silver Spring and Bethesda. Once trained, volunteers in these areas will work with the County to spread the pedestrian safety message, educating both pedestrians and drivers on how to stay safe.

Volunteers are needed for the Taste of Bethesda on October 5. Learn more by emailing MCDOT or calling 240-777-7195. More information about Montgomery County’s pedestrian safety program is available online.

Metro Proposes Extending K9 Bus Service to White Oak

In January, County Executive Ike Leggett celebrated the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (Metro) creation of the K9 express bus service along New Hampshire Avenue and called on Metro to extend the service to White Oak. Metro is now proposing to extend the K9 bus service to the White Oak Shopping Center.

Currently, the K9 travels between Northwest Park and the Fort Totten Metrorail station. Under the proposed service change, the K9 would be extended to White Oak with new limited stops at Oakview Drive, Hillandale Shopping Center, Schindler Drive/Mahan Road/Food and Drug Administration, Lockwood Drive and the White Oak Transit Center. The service would operate every 12 to15 minutes during the morning and evening rush hours.

This New Hampshire Avenue corridor is one of the highest ridership routes in Maryland, with more than 5,800 weekday riders, 5,300 Saturday riders and 3,400 Sunday riders. More information about the proposed change is available on Metro’s website.

Update on Road Maintenance Projects

Several new road maintenance projects by the Division of Highway Services are beginning in local subdivisions.

Under the Rural and Residential Road Rehabilitation program, improvements have begun to Serenity Lane in Rockville that include replacing the roadway pavement, defective curbs and sidewalks, and resurfacing with hot mix asphalt. The project should be completed in late fall.

A paving project, in which crews will resurface the local streets with hot mix asphalt, began on Dufief Mill Road between Darnestown and Travilah roads in North Potomac, is expected to be completed in about eight weeks, weather permitting. Work hours will be between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Permanent patching projects, in which crews make structural, permanent patches to the road, are a cost-effective interim solution to maintaining roadway structural integrity.

Current projects include:
  • Oakview community in Silver Spring. The project began the third week in September and should be completed within three to four weeks, weather permitting. Work hours will be between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Saddle Ridge subdivision in Potomac. The project will begin late September and should be completed within three to four weeks, weather permitting. Work hours will be between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Fairland Heights and Fairland Estates subdivisions in Fairland. The project began in late September and should be completed within four to six weeks, weather permitting. Work hours will be between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
More information on resurfacing projects throughout the County is available on the Division of Highway Services’ website or by calling 311 (TTY, call 301-251-4850), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

State Highway Administration to Hold Open House on Carroll Avenue Bridge Repairs Planned for 2015

The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) will be holding an information session to acquaint the public with a proposed bridge repair project for the Maryland Route 195 Bridge over Sligo Creek and Sligo Creek Parkway. The project will replace the bridge deck, sidewalk, and railings and rehabilitate major elements of the bridge, including the beams and columns that support the deck. To complete the work, the bridge will be closed to traffic and a detour established around the area that will route traffic along Philadelphia, Maple and Flower avenues.

At the open house, staff will present display boards detailing the project. No formal presentations will be made, so residents are invited to stop in anytime during the session, which will be held on October 2 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Takoma Park Middle School cafeteria, 7611 Piney Branch Road, Silver Spring.

Additional project details are available on SHA’s website.

Residents’ Guide Now Available in Multiple Languages

MCDOT’s Resident’s Guide to Services is now available in Spanish, Traditional Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. The guide helps direct residents to information about all of MCDOT’s basic services as well as those provided by the Maryland State Highway Administration. Service areas outlined in the guide include:
  • Office of the Director: Adopt-a-Road, beautification grants, graffiti removal, pedestrian safety, storm drain marking and Keep Montgomery County Beautiful.
  • Transit Services: Ride On schedules and information, commuter services, taxicab licensing and special transportation programs, especially those aimed at seniors and persons with disabilities.
  • Transportation Engineering: Sidewalks, ADA ramps, bikeways, bridges, storm drains, public roads, highways and transit facilities.
  • Highway Services: Vacuum leaf collection, right-of-way maintenance and trees, potholes, roadway paving, snow removal and storm drain maintenance.
  • Parking Management: County parking garages and lots, parking permits, Cash Key, parking meters, parking enforcement and tickets.
  • Traffic Engineering: Residential parking, lane markings, crosswalk striping, traffic calming measures, traffic signals and streetlights.
Copies of the guide in English and the other languages are available on the County’s website.

Residents Encouraged to Participate in Walk to School Day on October 9 - Organize an Event or Take Part in One at a Neighborhood School

Looking for a healthy way to start the day? Join thousands of students, parents and community members throughout Montgomery County in celebrating the simple act of walking or bicycling to school on International Walk to School Day, Wednesday, October 9. Last year, 47 schools in the County participated.

International Walk to School Day was founded in 1997 as a way to bring community leaders and children together to promote more walkable communities, safer streets for walking and biking, healthier habits and cleaner air. Those who would like to participate but live too far from school to walk may choose to drive part of the distance, park and walk the rest of the way.

This year, the County’s focus school for the event will be Kensington Parkwood Elementary School, 4710 Saul Road in Kensington.

For more information about Walk to School Day or organizing an event at a local school, email Nadji Kirby or visit the County’s website.

SafeKids Worldwide Launches “Moment of Silence” Campaign that Honors Student Christina Morris-Ward, Pedestrian Killed on Halloween 2012

SafeKids Worldwide has launched a “Moment of Silence” campaign to highlight the dangers of distracted walking, urging students and parents to take the pledge “devices down, heads up.” The campaign honors Christina Morris-Ward, a 15-year-old Seneca Valley High School student who was struck by a car and killed on Halloween 2012 while, according to her mother Gwen Ward, dressed in dark clothes, wearing headphones and looking down at her phone as she started to cross the street.

Ward’s story is featured on the SafeKids Worldwide website that also remembers the thousands of teens who are hit by cars each year. According to SafeKids, teens account for 50 percent of all pedestrian deaths among kids aged 19 and under. Injuries among older teens are on the rise – an increase of 25 percent over the previous five years, which the website attributes to distracted walking. SafeKids is a program of Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Services.

Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation is developing an education program aimed at high school students that will be launched later this year to reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities.

For more information about Montgomery County’s pedestrian safety program, visit the County’s website.

Public Input Sought on Proposed Trail Signage along Rock Creek Hiker-Biker Trail

Montgomery Parks is seeking input by September 30 on proposed trail signage intended to improve wayfinding along the 14-mile hard surface Rock Creek Hiker-Biker Trail in Montgomery County and the adjacent neighborhood trail connectors leading to the main trail. Comments will be used to help develop a Trail Signage Design Manual for future hard surface trail signage improvement projects in the Montgomery Parks trail system.

More information about the project is available online or by calling 301-495-2595.

New Traffic Laws Go into Effect October 1

 Starting October 1, using a handheld cell phone while driving will become a primary traffic violation in Maryland and those cited will be subject to an $83 fine for the first violation. Using a handheld cell phone is already illegal in Maryland, but officers could only stop drivers if they were also observed committing another traffic violation. The new law will allow officers to stop drivers solely for using a handheld cell phone while driving. Texting while driving is already a primary offense. The County’s website has more details about the new law.

Another new law will require that every vehicle occupant use a seat belt or child safety restraint. Anyone over age 16 riding in either the front or back seat will be required to use a seat belt.

Purple Line Environmental Review and Comment Period Extended to October 21

The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), in coordination with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), has extended the public comment period for the Purple Line Final Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation (FEIS) through Monday, October 21.

The FEIS identifies and addresses issues raised by agency and public stakeholders throughout the project development phase. Copies of the FEIS are available online. Comments can be submitted online or by email with “FEIS COMMENT” as the subject heading.

The Purple Line is a proposed $2.2 billion, 16-mile, 21-station modern light rail line that would provide connections to major business districts and activity centers in Bethesda, Silver Spring, Takoma/Langley Park, College Park/University of Maryland and New Carrollton, as well as link to Metrorail’s Red, Green and Orange lines. The average daily ridership in 2040 is anticipated to be more than 74,000.

(Source: MTA)

MDOT Releases Draft 2035 Maryland Transportation Plan: Seeks Public Comment

The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) is seeking public review and comment on its recently released Draft 2035 Maryland Transportation Plan (MTP). The MTP outlines the State’s transportation goals, policies and priorities for the next 20 years. The plan is updated every five years and helps guide statewide policy and investment decisions. Comments can be provided until November 1 by email.

Adopt A Road Program Reports FY13 Clean Up Totals

As of June 30, there were 362 community groups enrolled in Montgomery County’s Adopt A Road program, in which residents, civic, business, and other groups or individuals volunteer to pick up trash and litter along roadways. About 40 percent of the groups (146) reported they had conducted 520 clean ups that removed 2,262 (32 gallon) bags of trash.

Adopt A Road not only keeps the County looking clean, volunteer activities also protect the County’s streams and creeks from degradation and pollution resulting from harmful litter and debris washing into streams during rain storms.

For more information on the program, including a list of selected candidate roads available for adoption, visit MCDOT’s Adopt A Road website or call the Community Outreach office at 240-777-7155.

Metro Advises Riders of Upcoming Major Work on Red Line

Metro is advising riders of major track work that will occur October 4 through 6 that will affect several downtown stations.

Beginning at 10 p.m. Friday, October 4 through system closing Sunday, October 6, free shuttle buses will replace Red Line trains between Dupont Circle and NoMa-Gallaudet stations to allow for major rebuilding work through the downtown area. The work includes replacement and renewal of third-rail components, installation of new rail fasteners, elimination of joints between sections of rail and structural work.

As a result, Farragut North, Judiciary Square and Union Station will be closed. Gallery Place will remain open for Yellow and Green line service only; Metro Center will remain open for Blue and Orange line service only.

During that weekend, Red Line trains will operate as follows:
  • Between Shady Grove and Dupont Circle - Every 10 minutes between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and at regular weekend intervals (every 15-20 minutes) at other times.
  • Between Glenmont and NoMa-Gallaudet - Every 10 minutes between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and at regular weekend intervals (every 15-20 minutes) at other times.
Within the work zone, shuttle buses will operate on two routes:
  • Limited stop buses will travel between Dupont Circle and NoMa-Gallaudet stations with intermediate stops at Metro Center and Gallery Place only.
  • Local buses will travel between Dupont Circle and NoMa-Gallaudet making all intermediate stops (Farragut North, Metro Center, Gallery Place, Judiciary Square and Union Station).
Metro recommends the following travel options:
  • From the eastern side of the Red Line, use the Green Line between Fort Totten and downtown destinations.
  • Metrobus may be a good alternate for some riders, including those along Wisconsin Ave. NW and Connecticut Ave. NW. To check, use Metro's trip planner and select the "bus only" option.
  • Riders transferring between the Blue/Orange and Green/Yellow lines should use L'Enfant Plaza.
(Source: Metro news release)