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.