Friday, March 14, 2008

Action on Transportation CIP

While I was disappointed that the County Executive’s recommended FY09-FY14 Capital Improvements Program for transportation included the smallest increase in 8 years when adjusted for inflation, I feel good that the Council has approved $100 million over the next six years for a number of much needed projects.

So far, the Council has tentatively approved action to fund construction of part of the North County Maintenance Depot to house Ride On buses. Currently, the County has room to park only two more Ride On buses. This plan will ultimately provide room for 250 more.

We also are funding the construction of the Bethesda Metro’s southern entrance (at Elm Street). While we need it whether or not the Purple Line gets built, it is a key connection for that line, just like the Silver Spring Transit Center at the other end.

We also are funding the Montrose Parkway East, a four-lane road with parkway features between Parklawn Drive and Veirs Mill Road. This project will be a next step in completing the full Montrose Parkway between I-270 and Veirs Mill Road and is the only project in the County’s transportation budget that will actually address congestion. (Montrose Parkway West has recently opened, so take a ride and try it out.)

To learn more about these and many other projects, including neighborhood enhancements, street trees, bikeways and sidewalks, click on “Transportation CIP” to the right.


Ben Ross said...

Hi Nancy,

Just one very small amplification to your blog today. The Bethesda south Metro entrance addresses congestion too.

If you've ever tried to leave the Bethesda Metro station when one of the platform escalators is out of service, you know that congestion can affect pedestrians as well as cars. Sometimes, there is a wait to get on the up escalator even when both are working, and as Metro ridership increases over the next few years the everyday escalator congestion is going to get worse. One of the many reasons we need the south entrance is to fix that problem.

Ben Ross

Adam Pagnucco said...

Nancy, whatever happened to last fall's Working Group Report on Infrastructure Financing? Some of the report's suggestions for transportation funding, like increasing impact taxes and recordation taxes, were implemented. But other suggestions, like local gas taxes, expanding impact taxes to finance libraries, storm drains and public safety and creating special taxing districts were not implemented. Are those types of financing mechanisms for transportation still on the table?

Councilmember Nancy Floreen said...

I'm pleased with the work of the Infrastructure Financing Working Group, and I'm glad we have implemented some of their suggestions. Indeed there continues to be some discussion of a carbon tax or a local gas tax, but right now when so many costs are going up, additional taxes, no matter how much they may help, have no political legs. We’ll see how things evolve.

Thomas Hardman said...

I grew up in Aspen Hill, and remember when you could go down Parkland Drive, cross Veirs Mill onto Gaynor Road and get across Rock Creek and then Randolph Road, and connect via Rocking Horse Road to Beach Drive. You could continue from there all of the way into the District.

There was also once a dirt road from the Gaynor Road bridge over Rock Creek, which ran from there up towards Rockville, and about halfway there, it connected with Halpine Road. This might have been called Fishers Lane. Halpine Road used to be one of the main routes across the railroad tracks, though with the completion of Twinbrook Parkway, all rail crossings between the Twinbrook bridge and the Edmonston bridge were removed.

After the completion of Twinbrook Parkway, Tropical Storm Agnes's floods washed out the Gaynor bridge over Rock Creek, as well as all of Halpine Road "back in the woods". We in Aspen Hill suddenly found that we had to go a very circuitous route to get to the Boiling Brook shopping center at the end of Rocking Horse Road, and to get over to Loehman's Plaza we had a choice of circuitous routes.

The bridge was never rebuilt, and that was 35 years ago. Now it seems that we shall be given the Montrose East Parkway Bridge at the same location, but Aspen Hill residents wanting to see Parkland Drive extended via Gaynor to Rocking Horse Road are likely to be left in the lurch -- there's no way for us to get onto the Parkway, and it doesn't allow exit or entry to the Rocking Horse Road end of Gaynor, it seems.

Ms Floreen, can we please have our bridge back?

It's been 35 years.

Can we also see a design blueprint detailing the exchange at Veirs Mill and Montrose Pkwy East?

Councilmember Nancy Floreen said...

Mr. Hardman, you have an excellent memory of your neighborhood’s history. Over the years, the North Bethesda and Aspen Hill Master Plans have been revised (with significant community input) to prohibit cut-through traffic in the area, which is why the bridge has not been replaced. Montrose Parkway East will include a bridge, although it will not connect to Gaynor, also as a measure to prevent cut-through traffic. I’ve included a link to the Montrose Parkway East plans to the right.

Fritz Hirst said...

How wonderful that beginning this year, the CIP provides major new funding for residential communities that will enjoy high quality road resurfacing with hot mix asphalt. Other communities with roads in better shape will receive slurry seal, which receives level funding under the operating budget proposal. Hopefully this is the final nail in the coffin for micro pave, rejected by the public because of its inherently rough texture and ugly appearance. But we still need a plan to restore micro pave communities. On the one hand, the CIP recognizes public desire to avoid micro pave's inherent problems, yet we see no recognition of the need to provide relief to communities that continue to suffer these impacts. Considering the county's change in policy, a fair plan must look beyond the nuts and bolts of preventive maintenance and must prioritize quality of life issues. Will recently micro-paved communities be among the last to receive relief?

Anonymous said...

I have seen and rode "Montrose Parkway West." I find it completely ridiculous that it starts at 270, and comes to a STOP at Executive Blvd! I understand that eventually there will be a road that takes you straight across Executive, but why put a red light there? Build an overpass! I thought this was suppose to allieviate congesstion, not add to it! Why not build an overpass above Executive?

Councilmember Nancy Floreen said...

You are right - it is nutty. And EXTREMELY painful to live through. But it is the price of building the parts we can afford in partnership with the state. Since the state is in charge of state roads, and the Montrose/Rockville Pike intersection is a state obligation, the ball is in their court to get the next part constructed. ( We have actually agreed to forward fund part of this to move it along.) They are slated to begin construction of the interchange shortly, and we are working on ways to get the rest of the road - over to Veirs Mill - funded. There is another chunk that is their obligation (from the interchange over to about Parklawn Drive), and we have funded the rest a few years out. It is truly a bummer that this all takes so long and is so terribly expensive. And as you may have heard, state transportation money is increasingly elusive. But I'll keep on it.

Thomas Hardman said...

Ms Floreen,

Thank you very much for posting the direct link to the Montrose West website. I found the large PDF plans very useful indeed.

You say that a wish to avoid cut-through traffic was a major consideration in never restoring the Gaynor Road bridge over Rock Creek.

Elsewhere, supporting documents for the project indicate that there will be no straight-through traffic passing from the Parkway to Parkland Drive or vice-versa.

As a longtime resident of the neighborhood who not only has a good memory, but who also tries to have some foresight, please let me point out that trying to avoid the long-haul cut-through traffic will most likely impose extreme if very local problems with cut-through traffic.

Assume that you live in Aspen Hill and want to get onto the parkway. Coming south on Parkland Drive, your best choice for a signal-controlled entry onto Veirs Mill will be at Robindale Drive. However to get to that point, the choices are extremely limited. One can either approach on Adrian Street, which simply isn't up to handling the traffic, as it is 3-lane with two parking lanes, effectively a one-lane two-way road in most places. Or, one could travel the length of Robindale Drive, originating at Caldwell Street, which itself originates at Falcon Street. Falcon Street connects to Parkland Drive, at the site of the Wheaton Woods Elementary School, and passed by the local Wheaton Woods park. All of the streets are of the same type and quality of Adrian Street.

Alternatively, one could make a left turn eastbound across Parkland to Adrian Street and go downhill to Turkey Branch Parkway, and take a right and access Veirs Mill that way. However, that places the driver at the bottom of a very steep hill notorious for problems in snow and icy weather. Also, it's not traffic controlled, and places a driver potentially at the bottom of a hill full of oncoming traffic, and needing to accelerate rapidly uphill as well as cross several lanes of through traffic to get to the left turn lane to turn onto the Parkway.

Thus, design elements intended to deter long-haul cut-through traffic will place significant burdens on small parts of the Aspen Hill neighborhood, as well as potentially increasing risk to the drivers themselves.

Again, thanks very much for the links to the information. I shall include them as part of the newly revamped Aspen Hill Network website.

Thomas Hardman,
Aspen Hill

Anonymous said...

Councilmember Nancy Floreen, could you please post the link, you mention above, "I’ve included a link to the Montrose Parkway East plans to the right," as I can't find it. I am VERY interested in getting more information on the EAST section of this parkway (as I live near to there). I have not been able to find any good maps/diagrams of where this section is going. Will it reach Viers Mill at Parkland Dr., will it go above the train tracks (or come to a dead halt at the tracks (which happens now), will it travel along the side of Randolph, will it have several access roads to get on and off.
Many questions,
Thanks, Marco