Monday, March 31, 2014

Leggett Announces his Recommended FY15 Operating Budget

County Executive Ike Leggett has announced his recommended $4.97 billion operating budget for fiscal year (FY) 2015 that begins July 1, and includes a tax-supported County government budget of $1.478 billion. The budget funds education beyond what is required by the State Maintenance of Effort Level law to meet future needs created by the skyrocketing number of students in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), puts more police on the beat and reduces the County’s property tax rate.

Highlights on transportation improvements in the budget include: 
  • Enhance resources for Call ‘N’ Ride eligibility requirements that are expected to result in more than 400 new participants. 
  • Extend Ride On’s Kids Ride Free program for an extra hour -- from 
  • 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. 
  • Ensure the County’s road infrastructure remains sound by significantly boosting funding for maintenance. Highway Services would expand planned road resurfacing from 24 lane miles in FY14 to 124 lane miles in FY15. 
  • Expand customer-friendly “smart” parking meters that were recently installed in Bethesda to on-street meters in downtown Silver Spring. 
View the budget on the County’s website.

Ride On’s ‘Give & Ride’ Food Drive Offers Free Rides to Those Who Donate Food for Needy Families

Ride On bus passengers can help residents in need and receive a free bus ride by donating canned or nonperishable food during Ride On’s annual food drive. Riders who donate will ride free during Give and Ride from Sunday, April 6, through Saturday, April 12. Food collection bags will be placed near the fare boxes on all Ride On buses.

The donated food goes to Manna Food Center, Montgomery County's food bank.

Canned and non-perishable foods are acceptable but not those in glass containers. Healthful foods, such as whole grains and low-salt or low-sugar items, are appreciated.

More details about Give and Ride are available on the County’s website or visit the Division of Transit Services’ website.

Road Rehabilitation Project to Begin in Sligo Park Hills

The Sligo Park Hills community in Silver Spring is the latest 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 the County’s transportation infrastructure, MCDOT biennially assesses the condition of every County road. Sligo Park Hills, located east of Piney Branch Road, has many streets rated very poor. The rehabilitation project will renew concrete and asphalt streets, sidewalks and curbs, and provides the option for residents to make concrete repairs on their property at reduced cost.

In the residential road rehabilitation program, MCDOT does not widen or alter the character of the streets and, during construction, takes special care to preserve trees in the right-of-way. Contractors conduct full-depth pavement patching and repave the streets with hot mix asphalt.

Rehabilitation will begin in the spring and should be completed in the summer.

Dale Drive Sidewalk Completed

The Division of Transportation Engineering recently completed construction of 1,900 feet of new sidewalk along the north side of Dale Drive, from Mansfield Road to Hartford Avenue, in Silver Spring. The project was part of the Transportation Improvements for New Schools program, which funds improvements to serve County public schools. Previously, the program constructed sections of other sidewalk along Dale Drive from Wayne Avenue to Piney Branch Road. This latest sidewalk connects Sligo Creek Elementary School and the Silver Spring International Middle School to downtown Silver Spring, Sligo Creek Park and bus stops.

The project involved building retaining walls that are more than 300 feet long, ranging in height from three to 11 feet, and relocating the storm drainage system and gas, sewer, and water utilities.

Highway Services to Resume Road Repair Work as Spring Hopefully Approaches

The Division of Highway Services anticipates finally putting away its snow plows and resuming warmer weather road repair and maintenance work.

Among the upcoming projects are:
  • Peach Tree Road, Barnesville, permanent patching project. Beginning in early April, crews will make structural, permanent patches to the road to cost-effectively maintain roadway structural integrity. The project is expected to take two to three weeks, weather permitting. Work will be performed between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 
  • Kensington Heights, Kensington, concrete repair project will fix concrete curbs, gutters and sidewalks; replace defective sections of curbs or sidewalks; ensure structural integrity and proper drainage; and remove tripping hazards. Residents can take advantage of discounts for concrete work under the driveway apron and lead walk repair program. The project will begin in early April and is expected to take six to eight weeks, weather permitting. Work will occur between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Transit Advisory Group Seeks Members

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) is seeking 12 regular riders of the County’s Ride On bus system to serve as volunteers on its Transit Advisory Group (TAG).TAG advises Ride On and the County Executive on issues related to transit. Applications will be accepted through close of business on Friday, April 15.

Residents interested in being considered for the group should email, fax or send a letter to MCDOT containing the following information:
  • Name, home address, city, state and zip code;
  • Day/evening telephone numbers;
  • Email address
  • Length of time using Ride On;
  • Frequency of using Ride On;
  • The contributions you hope to provide to the Transit Advisory Group; and
  • Personal or professional background information.
Email the information to, fax to 240-777-5801 or write to:

Division of Transit Services
Transit Advisory Group
101 Monroe Street, 5th Floor, Rockville, Maryland 20850

For more information, visit and click on current events or call 240-777-5800.

Neighborhood Beautification Grants Available

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) Keep Montgomery County Beautiful (KMCB) Task Force is reviewing grant applications through June to fund beautification projects that help improve the appearance of communities. The grants pay 50 percent of the total cost, up to $500, on a competitive basis, to any non-profit community association. Volunteer hours spent on the project are valued at $7.25 an hour.

Since 2000, KMCB has helped 65 communities fund beautification projects to plant flowers, shrubs or trees; landscape a community entranceway or traffic circle; convert weed fields to wildflower meadows; use plants to screen roads; and beautify schools.

Grants must be used for new projects that improve community aesthetics or serve to protect the environment. Construction and general maintenance projects or those that have already been completed do not qualify.

The KMCB Task Force is a group of concerned volunteers who help educate residents and change public attitudes about littering; support cleanup and beautification projects; encourage residents to start or improve recycling programs; and raise awareness of the problems caused by graffiti. MCDOT has funded KMCB since the mid-1980s. The group welcomes new members and meets informally once a month in Rockville.

To apply for a beautification grant, or for information on how you can become a member of the Task Force, contact MCDOT’s Community Outreach Program at 240-777-7155, email or visit their website.

Public Hearings to be Held April 8, 9, 10 for FY15 Operating and Capital Budgets

Residents can provide input on the County’s Fiscal Year 2015 Operating Budget at any one of five public hearings, hosted by the County Council, between April 8 and 10. Residents also can offer comments on the FY15-20 County Capital Improvements Program, the FY15 Capital Budget and the WSSC FY15-20 Capital Improvements Program.

The hearings will be held in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville according to the following schedule:

Tuesday, April 8 at 7 p.m.; Wednesday, April 9, at 1:30 and 7 p.m.: and on Thursday, April 10 at 1:30 and 7 p.m.

The hearings will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM -- Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and also will be available via streaming through the County website at

The number of speaker spots available for the week is limited. To register to speak, residents should call 240-777-7803. The deadline to sign up to testify for 1:30 p.m. hearings is 5 p.m. the day before the hearing. The sign-up deadline for 7:30 p.m. hearings is 10 a.m. the day of the hearing.

In addition to speaking at the public hearings, residents can offer comments on the budget by emailing; via regular mail to: County Council, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850; or by calling the Council’s budget hotline at 240-777-7802.

Railroad Street Train Crossing in Washington Grove Reopened

CSX reopened the Railroad Street train crossing in Washington Grove to vehicles on Saturday, March 22 after it was closed for emergency repairs to the track bed on February 7. Asphalt had not been available over the past few weeks due to the unusually cold weather, delaying completion of repairs.

Register for Bike to Work Day Activities in May

Registration is now open for the region’s annual Bike to Work Day celebration that will be held on Friday, May 16. This year, there will be 79 pit stops where participating cyclists can obtain free refreshments, see entertainment and receive giveaways. The first 14,000 participants who register for this free event will receive a tee shirt and be eligible for a bicycle raffle.

Bike to Work Day is organized by Commuter Connections and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA. Last year more than 14,000 area commuters participated.

Sponsors include: Marriott International, REI, ICF International, BicycleSPACE, Bike Arlington, Capital Bikeshare, City of Alexandria, Twinbrook Urban by Nature and Whole Foods Market.

Sign up to join a commuter convoy led by experienced bicycle commuters.

First ‘Great Montgomery Bike Summit’ to be Held in April

Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) and Montgomery Bicycle Advocates (MoBike) are organizing a bike summit to obtain input from residents on what the next steps should be to improve the County’s bike infrastructure. Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner will deliver closing remarks at the summit.

The event will be held on Saturday, April 5, at the Jane Lawton Recreation Center, 4301 Willow Lane, Chevy Chase. The day will begin at 9:15 a.m. with a family-friendly ride starting at the Tastee Diner at 8601 Cameron St. in Silver Spring. The ride will go along the Capital Crescent Trail and end at the center shortly before 10 a.m. The program will continue at 10 a.m. with a panel discussion on general bike issues, followed by a second panel discussion from 11 a.m. to noon about bikesharing. A focus for the event will be how Montgomery County should incorporate next-generation bicycle facilities and how to make Capital Bikeshare a success.

To RSVP for the event or suggest topics for discussion in advance of the summit, visit the summit web site. More information about the summit is available online.

U.S. Transit Ridership Reaches Highest Level Since 1956

Transit ridership in the U.S. grew 1.1 percent in 2013 to 10.7 billion trips, the highest total since 1956, according to data collected by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). A trip is considered any segment of a passenger’s commute. For example, taking a bus to the subway and then riding the train to work constitutes two trips.

Since 1995, transit ridership is up 37.2 percent, which outpaced the national population growth of 20.3 percent, according to Michael Melaniphy, APTA president and CEO. The nation’s trains, buses and commuter rail carried more trips last year than in 2008, when gas prices soared to $4 to $5 per gallon and many were forced out of their cars by necessity. That year saw the highest ridership totals since 1957

Melaniphy said that public transit systems in large and small cities and in suburban and rural communities are seeing ridership increases.

Ride On’s ridership dipped last January due to the snow storms, but, overall, is up slightly from a year ago.

Alan Pisarski, editor of the Commuting in America report series, notes that while transit carried more trips last year than at any time since the Eisenhower administration, its share of the transportation mode – that is, the percentage of commuters who take transit versus driving, walking, etc. – is still well below what it was in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. He stated that in 1960, 12.1 percent of commuters took public transportation. That dropped to 8.9 percent 10 years later and to 6.2 percent in 1980. By 2000, the percentage was 4.6 percent, but it rose at the end of the decade. In 2012, transit’s share of the transportation mode was 5 percent.

(Source for national data: USA Today, March 10, 2014, as noted in Transit Intelligence eNewsletter, March 10, 2014.)

Accident Rates Improving for Older Drivers

A decade ago, safety researchers expressed concern that traffic accidents would rise as the nation’s aging population increased the number of older drivers on the road. Now, they say they've been proved wrong. Today’s drivers aged 70 and older are less likely to be involved in crashes than previous generations and are less likely to be killed or seriously injured if they do crash, according to a study recently released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That’s because vehicles are getting safer and seniors are generally getting healthier.

The marked shift began in the mid-1990s and indicates that growing ranks of aging drivers as baby boomers head into their retirement years aren’t making U.S. roads deadlier. Traffic fatalities overall in the U.S. have declined to levels not seen since the late 1940s, and accident rates have come down for other drivers as well.

(Source: (Boston Globe newspaper), March, 2014, as reported in the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety eNewsletter, March 14, 2014.)

Texting and Walking Results in More Injuries Per Mile than Texting and Driving

A new study has found that texting while walking causes more injuries per mile than texting while driving. The consequences of texting while walking include bumping into walls, falling down stairs, tripping over clutter or stepping into traffic, according to researchers at the University of Buffalo. They pointed out that even though injuries from texting and driving are more severe, physical harm resulting from texting and walking occurs more frequently.

The full article is available online.

(Source for national data: Headline and Global News, March 4, 2014, as reported in the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety eNewsletter, March 14, 2014.)

Bike to Work Day 2014 Registration Opens Marking the Start of Spring