Monday, June 22, 2009

Independence Day Schedule

While I'll be at several community functions this Independence Day, various parts of the government will observe these schedules for Independence Day on Friday, July 3 (the day the holiday is observed):

County Offices - closed
Libraries - closed
County liquor stores – stores will be open on July 3. On July 4, all stores open 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Ride On – Saturday schedule
Metrobus – Saturday schedule on July 3 and July 4
Metrorail – Saturday schedule on July 3; supplemental service on July 4
Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
Refuse/recycling pick-up – regular collection
Transfer Station – open
MCPS Administrative Offices – closed
State offices & courts – closed

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Watch the History Channel Next Week

Set your DVR. I will appear on the History Channel’s documentary, The Crumbling of America, discussing the December 23 water main break on River Road that led to stranded motorists being rescued by helicopter and swift water boats.

I explained in the taping that Montgomery County, along with many other jurisdictions nationwide, grapples with competing needs. Invisible problems like underground pipes struggle to compete with sexier capital projects like libraries and community centers. The documentary highlights the seriousness of aging infrastructure that increasingly causes headaches for us all, and I am glad to see these issues playing out on a national stage.

According to the program listing, “America’s infrastructure is collapsing. Tens of thousands of bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. A third of the nation’s highways are in poor or mediocre shape. Massively leaking water and sewage systems are creating health hazards and contaminating rivers and streams. The Crumbling of America explores these problems using expert interviews, on location shooting and computer generated animation to illustrate the kinds of infrastructure disasters that could be just around the bend.”

The documentary will air on Monday, June 22 at 9 p.m.; Tuesday June 23 at 1 a.m.; and Sunday, June 28 at 5 p.m. Let me know that you think of the program.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Testimony to SHA on Corridor Cities Transitway

Thank you, everyone who attended last night’s public hearing for the I-270/US 15 Multi-Modal Corridor Study (which includes the Corridor Cities Transitway). Your advocacy on these transportation and transit priorities makes a difference. For your reference, here’s the testimony I presented last night:

Good evening and thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak. My name is Nancy Floreen, and I am an at-large member of the Montgomery County Council. I also serve as the chair of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee. In that role I have been committed to and continue to be committed to making sure Montgomery County has the best possible transportation infrastructure.

As an elected official, I know how challenging it is to meet current and future demands, and I appreciate the hard work that has gone into the Multi-Modal Corridor Study. The County Council will take up the details of the study and make its specific recommendations in July after the Planning Board completes its analysis.

Today I want to emphasize the Council’s overarching dedication to improving our transportation options. In particular, the Council has ranked the Corridor Cities Transitway, along with the Purple Line, as its top transit priorities. Adding HOV lanes on I-270 is also a very high priority.

I have long believed that providing the appropriate transportation infrastructure is one of government’s most basic jobs. For the Upcounty, that means supporting our growing biotechnology industry, the emerging Germantown Employment Corridor, and the ongoing build-out of Clarksburg. There’s no question that the Upcounty needs improvements to its roadways as well as new transit.

It is not just the Upcounty that will benefit, though. Our proximity to the nation’s capital provides us with invaluable opportunities not just for cultural and educational connections, but especially for the entire County’s economic vitality. We can’t afford to have the buck stop in gridlock on I-270. Traffic on this highway is intolerable and getting worse.

Additionally, Montgomery County, along with many other counties across the country, has pledged to reduce emissions that cause global warming 80 percent by 2050. To do that, we need to reduce vehicle miles traveled and spend less time idling in traffic. That’s good not just for the environment but for our quality of life too. What’s more, Metro’s dramatically increased ridership numbers indicate that commuters are hungry for transit options.

The proposed I-270/US 15 Highway and Transit Improvements will go a long way toward meeting these goals. That’s why I enthusiastically support the broad concepts of this plan, and I look forward to conducting in-depth analysis after hearing from our residents about what the plan means to them.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Girls Power Up Computers

A couple of years ago, I chaired the Girls in Technology Task Force—a group of public sector, private industry and education professionals committed to increasing the number if girls involved in technology studies.

We learned that seven out of 10 of the fastest growing occupations projected from 2004-2014 are technology-related professions. However, by grade eight, half as many girls as boys show interest in careers that require math, science and technology knowledge and skills. As a result, far fewer girls are positioned for technology professions, and there is no evidence that numbers will increase under current conditions without a concerted effort to improve the situation.

So, get your girl over to Montgomery College for two-week camp sessions filled with creative and interesting projects designed especially for middle school girls. Campers will create cool digital graphics and design their own Web sites while using their creativity and sense of style. You can choose from sessions offered at each of the college’s three campuses. Best of all, you can apply for a limited number of scholarships available through the Montgomery County Commission for Women.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Forensic Analysis Presented to Committee

Yesterday the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee heard a presentation by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission on the forensic analysis of the Dec. 23 water main break on River Road that led to stranded motorists being rescued by helicopter and swift water boats. In the meeting, I urged the agency to keep the County Council apprised as it identifies the most compromised pipes in its system and as it schedules repairs to major lines.

The December water main break on River Road in Bethesda put lives in jeopardy, closed schools and caused extreme inconvenience to commuters, residents, businesses and holiday travelers, so it is imperative that we stay on top of WSSC’s plans now that we have detailed information on the cause of the break. That’s why, after speaking with WSSC Commissioner Adrienne Mandel, I’m initiating more regular meetings with our three Montgomery County WSSC Commissioners.

The rupture of the 66-inch pre-cast concrete cylinder pipe (PCCP) was caused by damage to the coating as a result of the pipe being supported directly by rock, according to the forensic analysis conducted by Lewis Engineering and Consulting. Installation, which occurred in 1965, did not meet WSSC General Specifications in force at the time.

During prior discussions of the large diameter PCCP issue, it was concluded that a robust inspection and monitoring program was needed for all pipe of this type because of the uncertainty of where these pipes were degrading. The forensic analysis suggests that a review of installation practices, in addition to potentially defective pipe material, may be warranted.

I'll keep you posted as we move forward. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts.

Friday, June 5, 2009

WSSC River Road Break Report

On Monday the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T and E) Committee, which I chair, will receive a briefing from the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission that will include findings of a forensic analysis of the Dec. 23 water main break on River Road in Potomac that led to stranded motorists being rescued by helicopters and swift water boats. The report also will focus on the implications of the findings in regard to the WSSC’s future water main infrastructure priorities.

If you want to follow along, the session will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) or come to the Council's 3rd Floor Conference Room at 9:30 a.m. Then let me know that you think.

County's Top Ten Congested Intersections

In the 2009 Highway Mobility Report, transportation planners provide a snapshot of just how long it takes commuters and others to traverse Montgomery County roadways. They rank the top 10 most congested intersections and roads as the basis for improvements to the local network.

There’s a lot of good information in the report and a few particularly noteworthy items. All of the top ten involve roads that are the responsibility of the State (roads with numbers are State roads). Also, planners found a 5 percent increase in Metrorail ridership, and rail use was highest at those stations located amid a mix of houses and businesses, such as Silver Spring. And, Ride On use in 2008 exceeded the number of passengers using Metrorail, demonstrating the importance of Ride On buses to how people get around.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Welcome Nancy Navarro

It is my pleasure to welcome Nancy Navarro to the County Council. She was sworn in today as the new representative for District 4.

As we face new challenges and opportunities, we will rely on Nancy’s extensive background in education and her longtime advocacy for children and families. I’m glad we’ll be able to count on Nancy’s proven track record of leadership on issues that are important to everyone.

Moving forward, we’ll need creative ways of thinking and a strong spirit of collaboration. We also need to know that our elected officials reflect the faces of our constituents. Nancy Navarro is a modern leader with the guts and determination to do what’s necessary to tackle modern challenges and to move our county in the right direction. I look forward to working with her.