By Kevin O'Rourke
Montgomery County Department of Transportation is looking for residents and businesses to serve on the county’s Rapid Transit System Corridor Advisory Committees. These committees are part of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation's and the State of Maryland's commitment to developing a Bus Rapid Transit System in Montgomery County.
These committees will provide area residents, businesses, community organizations and others with the opportunity to participate in the Bus Rapid Transit System planning process. By working with engineers, architects, land use professionals, and planners, these committees will advise MCDOT and the State in the decision process related to: General BRT concept designs, BRT study assumptions, transit access and operations, coordination with other modes, public involvement planning, and community needs.
Four major corridors in Montgomery County will be studied over the next two years. The four corridors have been divided into seven segments, with each segment assigned to a Corridor Advisory Committee.
Residents and business can nominate themselves for these positions, to do so individuals are asked to fill out an online form. To maximize participation and maintain manageable meetings, each committee will usually have up to 40 members. Once the committee members are selected, they will be notified about member orientation. Nominations will be accepted until Nov. 21.
The Countywide Transit Corridor master plan 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.
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 Germantown. Most BTR stations would be be along MD-355 at Middlebrook Road, Germantown Road (MD 118), Shakespeare Boulevard, and Ridge Road. Additional stations along the Germantown arteries of the BRT will include Holy Cross Germantown Hospital, Montgomery College Germantown Campus, Seneca Meadows Corporate Park, and the Shops at Seneca Meadows.