County’s Plan Hopes to Change Germantown Commuter Habits
By Kevin O’Rourke
Montgomery County has published a long-term plan for the Countywide Transit Corridor, that could, if implemented, fundamentally change the way Germantown residents commute to work, at least that is what the county hopes.
In late July the county made the approved and adopted version of The Countywide Transit Corridor master plan available to the public on its website.
The master plan, which was first introduced in December 2013, includes recommendations for a bus rapid transit (BRT) network throughout Montgomery County that will improve accessibility and mobility on county roads. The 102-mile BRT network would comprise 10 corridors and the TransCorridor Cities Transitway, which was proposed by the State of Maryland, and expand the right-of-way for the CSX Metropolitan Branch to allow for enhanced MARC commuter rail service. It also designates 24 additional Bicycle–Pedestrian Priority Areas–throughout the county.
It is important to realize that this is the county’s master plan, which still has numerous and varied hurdles to get over prior to becoming a reality.The entire plan can be found on the Montgomery County's Planning
The BTR Network in Germantown
In Germantown, the plan calls for major changes to the Frederick Road/MD-355 corridor from Shakespeare Boulevard through Gaithersburg to the Rockville Metro stop. The changes would include the possibility of widening MD-355 to accommodate a dedicated bus-only lane or lanes, with stand-alone stations similar to current Metro stations.
There will be two major arteries in Germantown. One is planned to run down Shakespeare Boulevard to the Shops at Seneca Meadows, where the Wegmans is located. The second will run down Middlebrook Road past the new Holy Cross Germantown Hospital, scheduled to open in October, and Montgomery College in Germantown and up to the Shops at Seneca Meadows. Both arteries would see dedicated bus-only lanes.
The arteries may require existing roads to be widened and in some cases, new roads to be created. One will run from MD-355 to Observation Drive along Shakespeare Boulevard near the Milestone Shopping Center. Germantown artery two will included dedicated bus-only lanes running from MD-355 down Middlebrook Road to the new road at Observation Drive, near the new Holy Cross Germantown Hospital. The BRT lanes will connect from Observation Drive to Goldenrod Lane and then run down Seneca Meadows Parkway.
The area of MD-355 from Shakespeare Boulevard north to Redgrave Place in Clarksburg is designated as a “mixed traffic” area meaning the BRT will continue but without the benefit of designated bus-only lanes.
According to the plan, “MD-355 North is an activity center corridor planned for a high level of development that will support all day travel throughout the corridor. The corridor has several major existing and planned activity nodes, including Rockville and Gaithersburg. It is also characterized by heavy congestion and high transit ridership potential.”
The plan calls for eight BRT “station locations” in Germ