Thursday, January 30, 2014

Leggett Releases Six-Year Capital Budget; Investment in Transportation Boosted

On January 15, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett unveiled his six-year, $4.49 billion fiscal year Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Capital Budget and FY 2015-2020 Capital Improvements Program. 

Leggett’s budget recommends a balance of road, mass transit and pedestrian-bikeway projects while also focusing resources on maintaining core transportation infrastructure. Anticipating that Maryland and the Federal Government will fund the Purple Line (which will provide light rail service from College Park to Bethesda), the CIP includes $144.2 million to support the project by funding the Bethesda South Metro Station south entrance, the Capital Crescent Trail, the Silver Spring Green Trail and State-requested changes to the Silver Spring Library. The County also anticipates providing land donations and in-kind staff support for the project. Additionally, the State has indicated its commitment to the Purple Line by setting aside $711 million from the Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2013.

The County Council recently approved the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan, which identifies specific corridors for a rapid transit system to reduce congestion on County and State roadways, increase transit ridership and improve air quality. Leggett’s recommendation includes $10 million provided by the State in its Consolidated Transportation Program for 2014-2019 to begin facility planning for the MD 355 and US 29 corridors in the approved Master Plan.

Funding is included to construct the Needwood and Frederick roads bike paths; plan and design the Falls Road East Side Hiker/Biker Path and the Seven Locks Bikeway and Safety Improvements project; and a previously approved grade separated crossing across Georgia Avenue for the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

To reduce road congestion that costs County residents precious time and damages the environment, the budget includes funding for the following projects: 
  • Observation Drive Extended. This extension will support existing and future development in the UpCounty area and provide needed congestion relief between Germantown and Clarksburg. 
  • Clarksburg Transportation Connections. A public-private partnership will provide connections between existing roads in Clarksburg, including Little Seneca and Snowden Farm parkways, and improve the Brink Road intersection to support development and enhance traffic flow. 
  • Goshen Road South. Widening existing lanes and adding center medians, sidewalks and bike paths will provide traffic congestion relief and safety improvements. 
  • Snouffer School Road and Snouffer School Road North (Webb Tract). These two related projects will provide traffic congestion relief and safety improvements, including sidewalks, turning lanes and traffic signals, in the vicinity of the County’s future Multi-Agency Service Park. 
  • East Gude Drive. Sidewalk safety improvements and enhanced turning lanes at intersections will improve existing and future traffic flows. 
  • Montrose Parkway East. A new east-west road will include a bridge, interchanges, sidewalks and bike paths. The road will connect the existing Montrose Parkway/Rockville Pike interchange to Viers Mill Road and improve access to the White Flint area and to I-270. The County is coordinating with the Maryland State Highway Administration on several portions of the project. 
  • Seminary Road. Realigning an existing intersection in Silver Spring will improve traffic flow and enhance safety by adding on-road bike lanes and sidewalks. 
The recommended CIP also includes $154 million to protect and maintain roads. An additional $20 million, added to the previously approved $36.9 million in funding, is allocated to the residential and rural road resurfacing project – a more than 50 percent increase over the approved FY13-18 investment to cost-effectively preserve the County’s existing roads. A timely investment of $147,000 per lane mile in road resurfacing avoids a future rehabilitation cost of $680,000 per lane mile.

To upgrade the County’s bridge infrastructure, the Valley Road, Piney Meetinghouse Road and Park Valley Road bridges will be replaced.

Highlights of the entire CIP budget and Leggett’s full recommended CIP budget are available on the County’s website.

Leggett Announces Recreation Department's New Senior Transportation Initiative

On January 13, the Montgomery County Department of Recreation launched a new Senior Center Transportation Initiative that supports the County’s commitment to ensuring a viable lifetime community.

This new service is provided through a contract with the Jewish Council for the Aging (JCA). For more than 40 years, JCA has earned a reputation for the quality transportation services it offers to seniors.

The transportation initiative provides an option to neighborhoods that cannot be served by the County’s larger Ride On buses. The new program uses smaller buses that provide curb-to-curb service, Monday through Friday, to County residents living within a defined geographic radius of the County’s five senior centers – Damascus, Holiday Park, Long Branch, Margaret Schweinhaut and White Oak. County residents 55 and older are eligible to take the bus if they are within a center’s service area.

In addition to providing transportation options, the initiative restores the popular Senior Mini-Trips offered by the Recreation Department. These trips, available at the five senior centers and through the 11 active adult neighborhood programs, expand offerings throughout Maryland, DC and Northern Virginia, taking advantage of cultural opportunities in neighboring jurisdictions currently not served by Ride On.

For more information about the new transportation service, call 240-777-4980. Information about services for seniors in Montgomery County is available online.

MCDOT Crews Battle Snow and Cold Weather in January

After two relatively mild winters, this winter’s icy blasts have been a rude awakening. The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has already responded to five wintry events in January, four of which were accompanied by extremely low temperatures. On January 2-3, 5-6 and 10, MCDOT responded to freezing rain. On January 18, there was a dusting of snow and on January 21-22, the County received between four to six inches of snow in the southern region and eight to 10 inches in the northern part. MCDOT responded to the most recent storm by mobilizing more than 400 pieces of snow removal equipment..

Residents can track the progress of MCDOT’s neighborhood plowing operations on the County’s Storm Operations Map accessible through the County’s website. The Storm Operations Map allows residents to request additional service or report missed streets once the map indicates that neighborhood plowing operations in that area are complete.

During snow removal operations, residents can contact the County’s Customer Service Center at 240-777-0311 (TTY, call 301-251-4850). The MC311 Call Center generally extends its hours during snowstorms. Its normal operating hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Dixon Avenue Entrance to Bonifant-Dixon Parking Garage Has Reopened

The Dixon Avenue entrance to Montgomery County’s Bonifant-Dixon parking garage in Silver Spring has reopened following the several month-long construction of an extension of Dixon Avenue through the garage.

The project was completed at no cost to the County by Home Properties in accordance with the Silver Spring Sector Plan to accommodate additional demand for parking.

The garage is located at 1101 Bonifant Drive. Payment to park in the garage is required Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The garage has 1,185 metered parking spaces.

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

Metrorail Maintenance Schedule Now Online Several Weeks in Advance

Metrorail is about halfway through a six-year, $5 billion capital improvement program to improve safety and reliability. The investment to install new rail, ties, platforms, escalators, signals, lighting, communication systems and other improvements is the largest capital investment – and work effort – since the system was constructed in the early 1970s.

View upcoming work schedules on Metro’s website or call 202-637-7000.

Chinese Delegation from Tainan City Government, Taiwan to Visit MCDOT

On January 15, a delegation from the Tainan City government in Taiwan visited Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation (MCDOT) to learn more about the County’s Transportation Engineering and Highway Services operations. This is the sixth Chinese delegation recently hosted by MCDOT.

The visitors were briefed on MCDOT road and bridge construction; the bridge inspection process; and bikeway and new sidewalk planning and construction. The visitors toured the Bethesda Highway Depot and the Materials Testing Lab, the only State-certified, County-run facility to test concrete or asphalt used in road construction. MCDOT hosted the group at the new David F. Bone Equipment Maintenance and Transit Operations Center, and providedingproviding a tour that highlighted the facility’s green building features.