Friday, July 29, 2016

Council Office Building Gets Solar Panels

The next time you are in the Council Office Building, take a look at our new rooftop solar panels. The solar energy system is expected to generate more than 53,000 kilowatt hours of energy each year.

The solar panel project at the Council Office Building is part of a larger Montgomery County initiative to generate clean solar energy on-site at County-owned facilities. With 75 percent of the projects completed, the Solar and Advanced Energy Initiative is on track to bring six megawatts of solar power on line this year. That is enough electricity to power more than 600 single-family homes.

The County’s solar projects will reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 870 cars off the road or planting 100,000 trees. In addition, the projects will save the County $11 million in energy costs over the next 20 years.

The Department of General Services deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the fantastic job they have been doing with renewable energy all over the County. Of course, this project seems extra special because it is so close to home for us, but it is really a part of a much larger program of sustainability.

Montgomery County has fully operating solar energy systems at 11 facilities, including the Gaithersburg Library, the Rockville Library, Potomac Community Center, Jane Lawton Recreation Center in Chevy Chase, the Up-County Regional Services Center in Germantown, the Silver Spring Civic Building, Fire Station No. 31 in North Potomac, the Montgomery County Circuit Court South Tower in Rockville, the Shady Grove Transfer Station, the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control in Darnestown and the Equipment Maintenance and Transit Operations Center.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Red Line Metrorail Service Extremely Limited Starting August 1

To help you deal with the disruption to Metro during its safety improvements, here's some excellent information from Montgomery County Commuter Services:

It's Time: Make alternative commuting plans. Metrorail service on the Red Line will be extremely limited and slow during Metro's upcoming "Safety Surges" on these dates:

  • August 1-7 (Continuous single tracking between Takoma and Silver Spring)
  • August 9-18 (Continuous single tracking between Shady Grove and Twinbrook)
  • October 10 - November 1 (Line segment shutdown between Ft. Totten and NoMa)
Plan for the Worst: Although each surge targets a limited section of the Red Line, you should expect major disruptions and very long delays throughout the entire loop between Shady Grove and Glenmont.

Choose Alternatives: Visit to explore your options.
  • Montgomery County Ride On will provide additional bus service on certain routes and free shuttles between affected Metrorail stations. Ride On will also provide on-street ambassadors at affected Metrorail stations to help direct travelers to transit options. (WMATA plans to enhance Metrobus service in surge areas, too.)
  • Consider MARC train, if your route aligns with their services.
  • Bike sharing and car sharing can help you reach your destination when your nearest transit stop is a bit too far for walking. (Capital Bikeshare offers a special $2 single-trip fare during SafeTrack.)
  • Join or form a carpool or vanpool. Call 240-773-TRIPS (8747), fill out the Commuter Connections ridematching form, or email us at for ridesharing assistance.
  • Download the Commuter Connections mobile app (available for iPhone, Android, Blackberry).
Employers, You Can Help
  • Telework is a great option for coping with Metro's SafeTrack surges. (See below for info from our recent telework webinar.)
  • Email to arrange on-site commuter information fairs for your employees.

Monday, July 25, 2016

PARKing Day Makes Lots Fun

The full press release:

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) is encouraging artists, planners, businesses, organizations, groups and individuals to participate in International PARK(ing) Day on September 16 by temporarily transforming a metered parking space into a fun, parklike spot. MCDOT has identified parking spaces in Silver Spring, Bethesda, Wheaton and Montgomery Hills for use by participants who are encouraged to creatively reimagine the urban landscape.

“PARK(ing) Day is an annual, global event that gives residents, businesses and organizations an opportunity to temporarily transform metered parking spaces and stimulate conversations about how we use our urban landscape,” said MCDOT Director Al Roshdieh. “We hope PARK(ing) Day will encourage everyone to rethink their transportation choices to support infrastructure that is more transit-oriented, bikeable and walkable.”

PARK(ing) Day participants can choose from 80 different locations (each one comprised of two adjacent parking spaces) in the County’s parking districts. The spots were chosen with safety in mind. The use of parking spaces will be allowed from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., including set up and tear down. There is no charge to participate in the event.

Those interested in taking part in PARK(ing) Day can get more information and apply online or by mail. Participants are required to meet certain guidelines that are spelled out in the application.

Get inspiration and see what others have done on past PARK(ing) Days online.

Learn more about International PARK(ing) Day.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Council Asks for Safety Improvements at Veirs Mill Road and Turkey Branch Parkway

Following the second fatal accident in less than a year at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Turkey Branch Parkway, the Council has asked Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, State Secretary of the Department of Transportation Peter Rahn and Administrator of the Maryland Highway Administration Gregory Johnson to take “more aggressive action to resolve the serious safety deficiencies at this intersection.”

Within the past week, a bicyclist was fatally injured on the road, which is near the crossing of the Matthew Henson Trail. After another bicyclist was killed near the same area in December, County Councilmember Nancy Navarro asked the State for improved safety measures at the intersection. The State Highway Administration responded by installing flashing yellow lights to make drivers aware that pedestrians and bicyclists may be in the area.

In the letter that went to the State official this week, the Council wrote: “While we appreciate the effort, we believe the flashers are insufficient to address the problem since they require motorists to slow down and exercise caution but not to stop. Drivers continue to exceed the 40-mph speed limit even when the light signal is activated. At these speeds, a collision with a pedestrian or bicyclist is almost certainly fatal.

“In the wake of this latest tragedy, we urge you to take more aggressive action to resolve the serious safety deficiencies at this intersection.”

The complete text of the letters written by the County Council on July 20 and by Councilmember Navarro on Jan. 6:

July 20, 2016

The Honorable Larry Hogan, Governor 
100 State Circle 
Annapolis, Maryland  21401

Pete K. Rahn, Secretary 
Maryland Department of Transportation 
7201 Corporate Center Drive 
Hanover, Maryland  21076

Mr. Gregory C. Johnson, Administrator
State Highway Administration 
707 North Calvert Street Baltimore, Maryland  21202

Dear Governor Hogan, Secretary Rahn and Administrator Johnson:

            Once again, we are mourning the loss of a young man who was struck and killed on Veirs Mill Road (MD 586) at the Matthew Henson Trail crossing. Less than a year ago, another bicyclist lost his life at the same intersection. With downhill approaches in both directions and high traffic volumes on Veirs Mill Road and the Matthew Henson Trail, there is no question this intersection remains a pedestrian and cyclist hazard.

            After the fatal collision in December, Councilmember Nancy Navarro wrote the attached letter asking you to expedite the process for implementing measures to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety at this intersection. Since then, the State Highway Administration has taken steps to address the safety concerns and has installed flashing yellow lights. While we appreciate the effort, we believe the flashers are insufficient to address the problem since they require motorists to slow down and exercise caution but not to stop. Drivers continue to exceed the 40-mph speed limit even when the light signal is activated. At these speeds, a collision with a pedestrian or bicyclist is almost certainly fatal.

            In the wake of this latest tragedy, we urge you to take more aggressive action to resolve the serious safety deficiencies at this intersection. We ask you to investigate the feasibility of a pedestrian-actuated traffic control device and structural improvements that may make this area safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. We understand from your correspondence with Councilmember Hans Riemer in March that an earlier study determined that the pedestrian volumes did not satisfy the warrants for a pedestrian-activated signal, but we encourage you to take another look in light of the ongoing hazard.

            On a separate topic that is also critical for bicycle safety, a loophole in the Maryland law must be fixed. In 2010 the State legislature amended § 21-1103 of the Maryland Code to allow cyclists to ride their bikes in crosswalks. While this was a strong step forward, the law that protects pedestrians on the crosswalks (§ 21 – 502) needs to be amended to include wheelchairs, electric personal assisted mobility device and bicycles. It has been reported that a judge dismissed charges against the driver who struck and killed the 19-year-old at the same intersection because he was riding his bike, not walking it, and thus was not protected by the law. We will be working with our Delegation to amend this law to safeguard all legal users of a crosswalk in our state, and we ask for your support in that endeavor.

            Montgomery County shares the Maryland Department of Transportation’s commitment to moving the State toward zero deaths on our roadways. There is no way to prevent people from making mistakes on our roads, but these mistakes need not be deadly. The crossing at Veirs Mill Road/Turkey Branch Parkway and the Matthew Henson Trail is undeniably dangerous, and we thank you for prioritizing improvements there.

Nancy Floreen                   Roger Berliner                   Marc Elrich   
Council President               Council Vice President       Councilmember

Tom Hucker                      Sidney Katz                       George Leventhal
Councilmember                  Councilmember                  Councilmember

Nancy Navarro                   Craig Rice                         Hans Riemer
Councilmember                  Councilmember                  Councilmember


cc: Isiah Leggett, Montgomery County Executive
      Al Roshdieh, Director, Montgomery County Department of Transportation
      Montgomery County Delegation

Nancy Navarro Councilmember, District 4

January 6, 2016

Larry Hogan, Governor 
100 State Circle
Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Pete K. Rahn, Maryland Secretary of Transportation 
7201 Corporate Center Drive 
Hanover, Maryland 21076

Gregory C. Johnson, State Highway Administrator
707 North Calvert Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202

Dear Governor Hogan, Secretary Rahn, and Administrator Johnson:

On Monday, December 28, a 19-year-old man named Frank Towers was struck by an SUV and killed while riding home from work on his bicycle at the intersection of Veirs Mill Rd. (MD 586) and Turkey Branch Parkway. As you know, the area around this intersection has been a pedestrian and cyclist hazard for some time. Two people were killed within a mile of this intersection by cars last year. 

While I am aware the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) and State Highway Administration (SHA) are currently reviewing this incident, I am urging your administration to take prompt action to increase pedestrian and bicycle safety at the intersection of Veirs Mill Rd. (MD 586) and Turkey Branch Parkway, as well as undertake a comprehensive review of all intersections along Veirs Mill Road (MD 586).

According to the Washington Post, SHA “has an active project underway to add additional flashers at this location…to address the occurrence of rear-end crashes…” While I am pleased some thought has already gone into making this intersection safer for vehicular traffic, I am concerned there is not enough emphasis on pedestrian and bicycle safety. As SHA continues to review traffic calming strategies for this area, I hope you will prioritize the need to reduce the number of accidents involving pedestrians and bicycles. I implore SHA to expedite its process in light of this most recent tragedy by taking swift action to resolve these serious safety deficiencies.  

In 2015, Montgomery County experienced more than a dozen pedestrian and bicycle fatalities. The vast majority of these incidents occurred along State Roads. I look forward to working with your administration, the County’s Department of Transportation and Police Department to reduce the number of these incidents to zero in 2016.


Nancy Navarro Councilmember, District 4

CC:      Isiah Legget, Montgomery County Executive
            Thomas Manger, Montgomery County Police Chief
            Al Roshdieh, Acting Director, Montgomery County Department of Transportation
            Nancy Floreen, Montgomery County Council President
            Roger Berliner, Chair, Transportation, Energy, & Environment Committee
            Roger Manno, Senator (District 19)
            Richard Madaleno, Jr., Senator (District 18)
            Bonnie Cullison, Delegate (District 19)
            Ben Kramer, Delegate (District 19)
            Marice Morales, Delegate (District 19)             
            Al Carr, Delegate (District 18)
            Ana Sol Gutierrez, Delegate (District 18)
            Jeff Waldstreicher, Delegate (District 18)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Annual Farm Tour July 23 and 24

Get the family ready for the 27th Annual Farm Tour and Harvest Sale on July 23 and 24. You can get seasonally fresh food, learn about agriculture and visit with some of the farms' four-legged residents. Did you know that agricultural activities occupy about one-third of the County’s land area? The majority of the farms in the County are family-run operations, which employ more than 10,000 residents. The County has 540 farms in Montgomery County, many of which produce crops that help feed residents.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Design Excellence Award Winners

Today we had the opportunity to celebrate with the 2015 Design Excellence Award winners. The award recognizes exceptional work in architecture, landscape architecture and urban design. The Silver Spring Civic Building, designed by Machado Silvetti, won the first annual Award for Design Excellence. Four projects received the Jury Citation Award. They are the Headquarters of Rupert Nurseries, designed by Muse Architects; the Cultural Arts Center at Montgomery College, designed by Smith Group JJR; the Town of Somerset Pool Bath House, designed by McInturff Architects; and Eleven55 Ripley, designed by Shalom Baranas Associates.

The Montgomery County Planning Department is accepting applications through July 21 for the 2016 awards. To be eligible, projects can be public or private projects located within Montgomery County; must be completed and in use; and must be built within the past 10 years.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Tips on Surviving the Heat Wave

The County urges you to take precautions during excessive heat and offers these tips on surviving the heat:

With temperatures forecast for the upper-90s to 100° later this week, and heat indexes forecast to exceed that, County officials are urging residents to take precautions to protect themselves against heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Residents are also asked to check on elderly friends, relatives and neighbors who may be isolated to be sure they are not showing signs of heat-related illnesses. County facilities, including libraries, swimming pools, recreation and senior centers, as well as regional services centers, will be open and may provide respite from the heat.

“Summer heat can be dangerous, especially for seniors and those with chronic illnesses,” said County Health Officer Dr. Ulder J. Tillman. “It is important for all of us to check on our friends, relatives and neighbors to make sure they are safe during extreme temperatures.

The following precautions will help residents remain safe and comfortable during excessive heat days:

  • Stay indoors, whenever possible.Visit nearby air conditioned buildings in your community if your home is not air-conditioned. In addition to County facilities, residents can visit shopping malls, movie theaters and museums. A hyperthermia plan for homeless shelters has been activated and shelters that are normally closed during daytime hours will remain open so that individuals can stay indoors. Progress Place in downtown Silver Spring will remain open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for all homeless individuals.
Heat Safety Tips                                                                                 
  • Be careful to avoid strenuous activities that can result in overexposure to the sun, such as sports and gardening. If you must do a strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning before 9 a.m.
  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration, cramps, exhaustion or heat stroke can result from not drinking enough fluids. Water is the safest liquid to drink.
  • Avoid drinks containing alcohol or caffeine.
  • When outdoors, wear proper protection from the sun. Light-colored clothing, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen protection are recommended.
  • Never leave pets or young children in a car for ANY amount of time, even if the windows are cracked open.
  • Monitor those at high risk. Those at greatest risk of heat-related illness include: infants and children up to four years of age; individuals 65 years of age and older; individuals who are ill or on certain medications; and individuals who are overweight.
Knowing the signs of heat exposure can prevent serious illness from becoming life threatening. Should any of the following occur, get out of the heat, loosen any tight or heavy clothing, and drink plenty of water:
  • Heat cramps:symptoms include painful muscle spasms, usually involving the abdominal muscles or legs;
  • Heat exhaustion:first signs are cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, dizziness, nausea, headache and weakness; and
  • Heat stroke:the most serious sign of overexposure. Symptoms include red, hot, dry skin, weak pulse, rapid breathing and changes in consciousness.
Seek medical attention by calling 9-1-1.

For general information about County programs and services, call 3-1-1.

For more tips on having a safe and enjoyable summer, please go to the County’s Summer of Safety page at, and on social media, use the #MoCoSafety.