Friday, February 28, 2014

Leggett Announces Installation of “Smart” Parking Meters in Bethesda that Accept Credit Card Payment

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett announced that during the week of February 24, all 840 on-street parking meters in Bethesda were replaced with new “smart” parking meters that will accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover credit cards in addition to coins or pay-by-cell phone. 

The changeover to new meters reuses existing meter poles and the lower part of the meter head. The meters’ displays and internal workings have been replaced with the new technology. The parking meters use a solar-powered battery system with a highly visible expiration time indicator. They also have real-time communication capabilities, which allow web-based identification of broken meters and instant processing of credit card transactions that use the highest level of security. Information in the meter window notes parking restrictions and displays parking rates and hours, and days when payment is required.

Another benefit of the smart meters will become available later this year when in-pavement sensors will be installed so customers can use an app to find unoccupied, on-street parking spaces in Bethesda in real time.

Cash keys will no longer be accepted by the smart meters, but will continue to be an option in parking lots and garages that currently accept them. Residents who will no longer need cash keys will receive, in trade, a special value card equivalent to the cash key’s loaded value, plus original deposit. The value cards can then be used like a credit card in the smart meters until their value is zeroed out. Customers can exchange their cash key for the value card at the Bethesda Parking Store located at 4720 Cheltenham Drive.

More information about parking in Montgomery County is available on the Division of Parking’s website.

Leggett Announces that MCDOT Conducted Intensive Effort to Fill Potholes

To take advantage of milder weather in the County at the end of February, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett announced that the Department of Transportation (MCDOT) conducted an intensive effort to fill the County’s potholes. For this effort, the department added extra equipment and used a more durable material, hot mix asphalt, because of the warmer temperatures. Potholes are repaired every day of the year except during rain and snow.

MCDOT relies on resident reports of potholes, and as they make their rounds, repair crews also stop to fill any other potholes encounter. Residents can report potholes online by creating a service request or by calling the MC311 Call Center at 311 or 240-777-0311, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Drivers are asked to be cautious and patient when encountering crews filling potholes.

MCDOT fills potholes on 5,000 lane miles of County-maintained roads. The Maryland State Highway Administration (MSHA) fills potholes, plows snow and maintains numbered routes in the County, such as Maryland routes 355 or 97. MSHA can be reached at 301-513-7300. In addition, municipalities, such as the cities of Rockville or Gaithersburg, handle their own repairs.

Transportation Engineering Installs Two New Sidewalks

The Division of Transportation Engineering’s New Sidewalk Program recently completed two new sidewalk links to enhance pedestrian access in the Silver Spring area -- on Franklin Avenue, from Colesville Road/US 29 to University Boulevard/MD 193 and along Melbourne Avenue at the dead end.

Two sidewalk links were also completed in the Bethesda/Potomac area along Oaklyn Drive, from Persimmon Tree Road to Avenel Farm Road, and along River Road, from Bradley Boulevard to Clewerwell Drive.

Request a new sidewalk online or get more information.

MCDOT Responds to Snow Emergency

Making up for two relatively mild winter seasons, Mother Nature delivered a real wallop beginning February 11. By the time the snow ended on the 13th, the County had received between 12 and 20 inches – depending on the location. The County Department of Transportation deployed 675 pieces of equipment to plow the roads and remove the snow from the central business districts.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett declared a Snow Emergency beginning on February 12 to aid snow removal staff in clearing emergency routes and urged residents to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary. A Snow Emergency Declaration means that parking is prohibited along routes signed and marked as “Snow Emergency Route.” Vehicles parked on emergency routes are 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.

To aid residents in moving vehicles off-road so snow plows could more efficiently remove snow, free parking was offered in County-owned parking lots and garages Wednesday evening through Friday.

The best way for residents to receive timely severe weather and emergency notifications directly to cell phones and/or email addresses is from Alert Montgomery. Or, follow the County on Facebook or Twitter.

The latest information about closings, delays and other snow-related updates is also available on the County’s website or by calling the MC311 Call Center at 311 or 240-777-0311. The Center’s normal operating hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but during storms, operating hours are generally extended.

Residents can track MCDOT’s plowing operations on the County’s Storm Operations Map. Once plowing in a neighborhood is complete, use the map to request additional service or report a missed street if needed.

Ride On's Paper Youth Cruiser Passes to be Phased Out

Youth Cruiser SmarTrip Card Will Take the Place of Paper Passes

Starting March 1, the Youth Cruiser SmarTrip® card will replace Ride On’s paper Youth Cruiser passes. The Youth Monthly Pass provides unlimited rides on Ride On to those 18 years of age or younger for an entire month for only $11. The Youth Summer Pass provides unlimited rides all summer, from June 1 through August 31, for $18. Both passes provide a significant savings over regular fares. Additional value can be added to the Youth Cruiser card, the same as a regular SmarTrip® card, for use on Metrorail, Metrobus and other participating transit agencies.

The Youth Cruiser SmarTrip® Card must be purchased in person. Proof of age and County residence is required. Purchase cards for $2 at the:
  • TRiPS Commuter Store: 8413 Ramsey Avenue, Silver Spring (Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., 240-773-8747); 
  • TRiPS Commuter Store: 17 Wisconsin Circle, Friendship Heights (Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., 240-773-8747); or 
  • Montgomery County Division of Treasury: 255 Rockville Pike, L-15, Rockville, (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., 240-777-8930). 
Passes and stored value can be loaded onto Youth Cruiser SmarTrip® cards either online at or in person at:
  • The TRiPS Commuter Stores or Montgomery County Division of Treasury (see above); 
  • Certain Giant Food stores in Montgomery County; 
  • Certain CVS Pharmacy stores in Montgomery County; and 
  • Zodiac Stores in Gaithersburg and Wheaton. 
A full list of participating retail outlets is available online.

Up to two months of youth passes can be added to the Youth Cruiser SmarTrip® card at one time. The three-month summer rate for June, July and August can be combined on the card with the value for either May or September.

Ride On passengers with youth passes who use the express Route 70 bus will be charged an additional $2.05 for each trip. A youth monthly pass purchased the first through the 15th of any month is active for the month in which it was purchased. If the pass is purchased the 16th through the end of the month, the pass will be valid beginning the first day of the following month.

Riders aged 18 and under can also continue to take advantage of Ride On’s Kids Ride Free program on weekdays from 2 to 7 p.m.

Information about the Youth Cruiser SmarTrip® card and passes is available online.

Ride On information is available on the County’s website or by calling 311, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., 301-251-4850 TTY, or 240-777-0311 (from outside Montgomery County).

New Plan Identifies Regional Transportation Priorities

At its January meeting, the Transportation Planning Board announced that it approved a new plan of transportation strategies for 2014 and beyond. The plan recognizes the constraints and challenges posed by limited funding accompanied by expanding population and job growth.

More information about the plan and links to media stories are available on the TPB’s website.

Workshop Planned on Community Development in the Purple Line Corridor

The Purple Line Corridor Coalition will hold a one-day workshop entitled “Beyond the Tracks: Community Development in the Purple Line Corridor” on Friday, March 21, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, University of Maryland Campus, College Park. The discussion will focus on preparing a community development strategy to meet upcoming opportunities and challenges associated with the Purple Line.

The workshop is for leaders from local and state government, design and development firms, philanthropies, non-profit community-serving organizations, civic associations, advocacy groups, chambers of commerce, small business associations, large employers and others with significant interest in the health and vitality of the Purple Line corridor.

Experts from the Twin Cities and Denver will share lessons learned about preserving affordable housing, supporting small businesses, connecting workers with jobs and building community through innovative development and design.

Register for the workshop and view the agenda online.

Cedar Lane Construction Underway

The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) is constructing intersection improvements on Maryland Route 355 at Cedar Lane and adding bicycle and pedestrian facilities where appropriate. This project is part of the Base Realignment and Closure Act road and other improvements that Montgomery County and SHA are making to accommodate the expansion of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Part of SHA’s construction plan is to close Cedar Lane at Rockville Pike from June through August. More information about the project is available on the County’s website and in a recent BethesdaNow article.