News and information about transportation, including roads, transit, hiker-biker trails and pedestrian safety.
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
MCDOT Prepared for First Winter Storm of the Season; Snow Removal Operations Revised to Keep Staff Safe During Health Crisis
MCDOT is preparing for the approach of a significant winter storm that is expected to begin in the early morning hours of Wednesday, December 16 and continue through Thursday morning, December 17. MCDOT activated its virtual Snow Operations Center Wednesday morning and staff reported to depots to begin pre-treating roadways. The National Weather Service is calling for 4-8 inches of snow in the northern parts of the County and 2-4 inches in the down County with temperatures in the high 20’s to low 30’s
To be more environmentally-friendly, MCDOT has explanded its use of salt brine.
When Snow or Ice is Predicted, MCDOT Springs into Action
MCDOT has 200 Highway Services employees and 175 pieces of equipment to handle snow operations. If more resources are needed, contractors can be called upon to immediately provide hundreds of pieces of additional equipment and plow operators. Learn more about how MCDOT tackles winter storms and read the FAQ's.
Here’s the basics:
Before a winter storm begins, MCDOT will pre-treat primary and arterial roads with salt brine or salt depending on the storm profile.
Generally, plowing operations do not begin until at least three inches of snow have accumulated on the road to protect both the road surface and the plow blades.
Plowing operations first focus on keeping primary, arterial and emergency roads clear to ensure emergency vehicles can reach every home and business.
Residential roads are tackled next with the goal of making them passable.
Depending on how much snow falls, it may take several days before a plow can reach every street.
MCDOT crews also clear 60 miles of sidewalks along County right-of-ways and three miles of bike paths and trails.
Residents are responsible for shoveling their own sidewalks.
Who Plows My Streets?
MCDOT is responsible for clearing snow from 5,200 lane miles of County-maintained roads – but this doesn’t include every road in the County. Read more, or visit the County's Snow Portal to find out who plows your street.
Some other agencies that also handle snow removal include:
Montgomery Parks, which clears snow on roads, bridges and trails inside local parks.
Ride On contractors clear nearly 800 bus stops and work to keep transit centers clear of snow and ice. Follow Ride On on Twitter @RideOnMCT for real-time service announcements related to weather.
MCDOT trucks are ready to clear roadways.
Information on Snow Emergency Routes
Both the State of Maryland and Montgomery County have designated certain roads as Snow Emergency Routes and they are prominently marked with red and white signs. When the State and/or County initiates their snow emergency plan, it is illegal to park on these designated roads. Vehicles found blocking snow routes during an emergency may be ticketed and towed at the owner’s expense. State and County snow emergency plans may not be put into effect simultaneously, so pay special attention to news broadcasts when announcements are made.
During Snowstorms, When is Parking Free in County Garages?
During a County Executive-declared snow emergency in Montgomery County, the MCDOT Director may announce that parking is free in County-owned garages and lots for the duration of the snow emergency. This helps get cars off the roads to aid plowing operations and overall safety.
For on-street meters along non-snow emergency roadways, regular parking rates will continue to be charged. Look for real-time storm-related parking information on Twitter.
Clearing Sidewalks of Snow and Ice - If You Own Property, It's Your Responsibility
Clearing sidewalks within 24 hours after the end of a snowstorm is a civic responsibility that keeps our communities and neighbors safe – and it’s the law. Property owners are required to clear sidewalks in front of and alongside their properties. Be a good neighbor by clearing your sidewalks and assisting those in your neighborhood who may need help. Read more or watch video.
MCDOT Shared Streets Are Still Open This Winter For Recreation and Exercise
During a winter storm, Shared Streets barriers and signage will be temporarily removed to facilitate street clearing. Once the roads are clear, barriers will be erected again.
Many local restaurants and businesses continue to rely on MCDOT’s Shared Streets program for curbside access and space for outdoor dining. Shared Streets temporarily adjust the uses of roadways to support activities such as biking, walking, outdoor dining and recreation. All in-street activity must comply with public health guidance during the COVID-19 health crisis.
Montgomery County activates its Extreme Cold Plan when forecasted temperatures, and/or wind chill drops below 32 degrees in any part of the County. This creates a hazardous situation in which hypothermia and frostbite are likely. If you must spend time outdoors in frigid weather, wear layers and take extra precautions. Learn more at bit.ly/2JdmQ3C.
This handy, online website provides information on the latest delays and closings, shows the status of plowing in your neighborhood, provides up-to-date snow-related information and allows residents to submit a service request, visit: montgomerycountymd.gov/snow
Do You Know the Difference Between a Winter Weather Advisory, Watch or Warning?
Check the National Weather Service website for definitions about the differences between these and other weather-related advisories.
MCDOT to Enhance Sustainable Salt Practices During Snow Removal
MCDOT continues to use environmental controls to better balance salt use during snow removal operations this winter. Learn more.
Don't Be Salty... Be Salt Wise...
Road salt (sodium chloride) can be a very useful tool for keeping our roads and walkways safe in winter. However, using salt to melt ice corrodes concrete and masonry, poses dangers for pets and wildlife, damages surrounding plants and lawns, and harms our local streams and rivers. It can even contaminate our water supply. By using the right amount of salt, or using salt alternatives, we can all get the job done, ensure safety, and reduce damage to our environment.
Use S.T.O.R.M App to Check Plowing Operations and Road Conditions on State Roads
The Maryland State Highway Administration has a Statewide Transportation Operations Response Map (S.T.OR.M), which is a web-based app available on computers and mobile devices. The app shows the location and status of snow removal equipment across the state, allows drivers to check where plow trucks are heading and uses the state's traffic cameras to show road conditions. Read the article and try out the S.T.O.R.M. App.
Sign up for Montgomery County Alert Montgomery to receive emergency information, event updates, warnings and instructions directly to your email or device.
WHO TO CALL
Want more information about the status of County programs and services? Want to report unshoveled sidewalks, downed trees or other weather-related issues? Contact Montgomery County’s Customer Service Center by calling 311 (or 240-777-0311 if outside the County) or visiting 311 online at: montgomerycountymd.gov/311
MCDOT Posts Placards on Ride On Buses to Commemorate Rosa Parks Day in Montgomery County
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and Montgomery County Council President Sidney Katz issued a proclamation to recognize Rosa Parks, an American hero who refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus on December 1, 1955. MCDOTDirector Chris Conklin joined Elrich, Katz and others at a County Council presentation recognizing Parks’ moral clarity in the face of bigotry and oppression, which inspired millions to stand up for fundamental fairness. Learn more. Watch the reading of the proclamation starting at minute 48:45 in theonline video.
MCDOT Updates County Council Committees on Shared Streets Program
MCDOT, Montgomery Parks and Maryland Department of Transportation briefed the Montgomery County Council’s Transportation and Environment and Planning, Housing, and Economic Development committees on Dec. 10, on their experiences in creating the Shared/Open Streets programs and provided a preview on what to expect for these programs over the upcoming winter months. MCDOT Director Chris Conklin, Acting Deputy Director for Policy Hannah Henn and Planning Specialist Kyle Lukacs discussed the adjustments that have been made since the program started from resident input.
MCDOT’s Shared Streets converts sections of streets in the county’s downtown areas to pedestrian-only spaces in an effort to provide restaurants and residents safe spaces for outdoor dining, recreation, safe social opportunities during the COVID-19 health crisis.
Outdoor dining is a part of the Shared Streets program in Bethesda and Wheaton, and other jurisdictions such as Rockville City and Takoma Park have supported outdoor dining on local streets. MCDOT also offers residents a chance to turn their street into a temporary shared street by submitting application for a permit. Learn more at montgomerycountymd.gov/dot/sharedstreets.
MCDOT Shared Streets Still Open This Winter
Many local restaurants and businesses continue to rely on MCDOT’s Shared Streets program for curbside access and space for outdoor dining. Shared Streets temporarily adjusts the uses of roadways to support activities such as biking, walking, outdoor dining and recreation. All in-street activity must comply with public health guidance during the COVID-19 health crisis. See the locations of Shared Streets and learn more at montgomerycountymd.gov/dot/sharedstreets.
Webinar Recording Available On-Demand: Transportation Options During COVID-19 for Older Adults and Adults with Disabilities
The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, MCDOT and the Jewish Council for the Aging’s Connect-A-Ride program recently held a webinar followed by a public question and answer session to discuss the many transportation options and resources available for older residents and adults with disabilities. The session highlightedinformation onchanges in transportation services and safety practices in response to the COVID-19 health crisis. Learn more about the session and watch the recording at your convenience at youtu.be/xKB8CWMg0y8.
MCDOT’s Leaf Collection to Be Completed On Schedule
This year’s mild fall weather helped MCDOT’s leafing crews to anticipate completing leaf collection this week. Watch this video about the program.
Learn more and check out the video on how to prepare leaves properly and why it is important to keep leaf piles clear of trash and off of the streets.
While leaf collection has concluded for the year, there are still year-round options for bagged leaf collection with paper lawn bags on your recycling day or by bringingleaves in brown paper bags or reusable containers to the Shady Grove Transfer Station. Another option is mowing them into your lawn and leaving them in place to fertilize your yard naturally.
If you are looking for a way to help your community, but still want to remain socially distanced and outdoors, please consider reaching out to your elderly neighbors or neighbors with disabilities to ask if they need help raking their leaves. Raking leaves is a great way to help others while getting good exercise.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic many employers have quickly implemented telework programs – with little to no preparation. Supervisors may find it challenging to manage staff resources while so many of your employees are working remotely and wonder what types of technology solutions, organizational structure or communications strategies might help you and your staff be more productive under these circumstances. Watch our webinar for helpful guidelines to start and manage your telework program.
As an employee, are you finding it challenging to manage your workload and manager’s expectations? Wonder what types of technology solutions, organizational structure or communications strategies might help you to be more productive under these circumstances? Watch our webinar for guidelines to help you telework productively.
The garage will be closed to the public from the entrance ramp upwards from Dec.15 at 5:00 a.m. to Dec.16 at 5:00 p.m. Only the ADA Spaces on the ground floor will be available.
The garage will be partially closed to the public on Friday, December 18 from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Neighborhood Activity Grants Available Until June 2021
Neighborhood organizations, block groups, tenant or civic groups, and similar organizations are eligible to apply for matching grants of up to $1,000 for events and activities that promote community engagement, encourage capacity-building and networking and stimulate the local economy. Virtual and hybrid events qualify. Learn more and apply here.
Maryland and Virginia are seekingpublic input about potential solutions to reduce congestion on the I-495- American Legion bridge, improve trip reliability and regional connections, and enhance existing and planned multi-modal mobility and connectivity. Take the survey.
Bird E-Scooters Now Accept PayPal
Micromobility riders around the world can now set PayPal as their preferred payment option for their Bird account. Learn more by visiting the Bird Cities blog.
Montgomery Parks Open This Winter
Stay fit this holiday! Use almost seven miles of Montgomery Parks roads that are closed to vehicles 9 a.m. Fridays through 4 p.m. Sundays throughout the COVID-19 health crisis for walkers, bikers and runners, include:
Beach Drive from Connecticut Avenue to Knowles Avenue (2.7 miles)
Capital Bikeshare offers Corporate Memberships to companies. Many local companies, agencies and non-profits enroll in their corporate membership program to offer Bikeshare as a benefit for their employees. Learn more.
Commuters can use the free WiFi on FLASH to be more productive during their trip to work. They'll have time to reply to emails, catch up with colleagues and plan their workday. Learn more.
MCDOT added its first four electric buses to the Ride On fleet. Each of the 35-foot buses producees zero emissions and contributes to reducing noise pollution through their noticeably quiet operation.Learn more.
MCDOT has a list of all the bicycle, motorcycle and accessible spaces in County-owned garages and parking lots in Bethesda, Silver Spring, Wheaton and Montgomery Hills. Learn more.
MCDOT's Bike Match Program Needs Bike Donations
Do you have a bike you no longer use? Bike Match MoCo is a new, free service that enables people with extra or unused bicycles to connect with individuals who can use the bicycle for commuting or running errands. Currently, more than 300 residents need a bike. If you have one to donate, fill out the online form at montgomerycountymd.gov/ dot-dir/commuter/bikeshare/ bikematch.html.
Get Some Exercise While Improving Biking
Looking for a way to help your fellow bicyclists while improving bicycling in Montgomery County? Contribute to RackSpotter – an app that displays neighborhood bike racks. Log into RackSpotter, take a picture and enter the location. During the past month MCDOT's Commuter Services has logged over 200 bike racks into RackSpotter, visit ow.ly/QELw30rg7f5.
Make This Holiday Season Greener
MCDOT is promoting the County’s annual “Gift Outside the Box” campaign with ads on Ride On buses.The campaign encourages everyone to gift greener this holiday season by supporting local businesses, making more sustainable choices and reducing one's carbon footprint by using alternatives to driving alone. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, household waste in the U.S. increases an average of 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Get ideas for environmentally friendly gift-givingonline.
CDC Urges Action NOW to Fight Rapidly Rising COVID-19 Cases
County Health Officials Offer COVID-19 Holiday Safety Tips
Celebrating the holidays during the pandemic can be challenging as we try to keep ourselves, family and friends safe. Check out the following suggestions on what to consider when planning your holiday celebration. Read more.
Distracted Driving Way Up During the Pandemic
A new study finds that a shocking 27 percent of all drivers were using their cell phones within 60 seconds of impact — and transportation safety leaders are doing almost nothing to stop it, despite a preponderance of proven strategies. Read article by Kea Wilson.
Have you ridden the FLASH and have feedback? Be sure to call 311. If you're calling from outside Montgomery County please dial 240-777-0311.
To report down trees, sidewalk or curb damage, streetlight outage, traffic or pedestrian signal timing issues, street or traffic sign damage or foliage obstruction and pot holes or have feedback on FLASH or the Ride On bus services call 311 or report it online at montgomerycountymd.gov/ 311.