On Thursday the Montgomery County Planning Board received an initial briefing on a proposed new bridge over I-270 just north of the Father Hurley Interchange in Germantown.
The Dorsey Mill Road bridge, which has been part of the master plan for Germantown since 2009, will connect Century Boulevard on the west side of I-270 with Observation Drive on the east side.
The bridge is part of the original Corridor Cities Transitway, which the State of Maryland first proposed in 2012. The transitway is a 15-mile Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line that would run from Shady Grove Metro Station in Gaithersburg to Clarksburg, along a route that would run parallel to the proposed MD-355 Corridor BRT network.
At this point the CCT is not part of the County’s FY15 –FY20 Capital Improvements Program.
At the Planning Board meeting held in Rockville on Thursday, the Board approved the general initial design concept which was developed by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation staff. However, no action will be taken on this project until the funding for Phase II of the CCT is approved.
“While no detailed planning has been done for CCT Phase 2, of which the Dorsey Mill Road Bridge is a part, MCDOT and MTA have coordinated on concept design elements of the Dorsey Mill Road Bridge project to ensure overall compatibility,” said the MCDOT memo to Planning board members.
In a memo, the MCDOT staff stated that there was concern that the planned phased construction of the bridge, with the roadway spans being constructed before the CCT, could result in “unnecessarily wide bridge that would be more costly but less attractive.”
The memo also asked the Planning Board to consider reducing the width of the shoulders and using the space to increase the width of the buffer between the travel lanes and provide space for planter boxes on the bridge.
In 2013, the plans for the CCT were scaled back and broken into two phases. Phase I, which consists of the first nine miles of the route which will run from Shady Grove Metro southwest through central Gaithersburg to the new Crown development near the Rio at Washingtonian, then along Great Seneca Highway to the Kentlands, and to Quince Orchard Road to NIST and up to the Metropolitan Grove Metro Station just off Clopper Road.
Construction on Phase I of the CCT is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2018 and service is expected to begin in 2020.
Phase II of the CCT of which the Dorsey Mill Road Bridge is part of, would extend the BRT north through Germantown to the COMSAT property in Clarksburg has been not been funded.
In a July 27, 2013 Washington Post article, Rick Kiegel, the project manager for the Maryland Transit Administration said, “We’re not abandoning the northern portion. We’re just advancing the project in phases to give that northern portion a chance to develop.” Kiegel also said there is no funding or schedule for work on the Germantown-Clarksburg segment to resume. However, he said, the entire 15-mile route will remain in long-term growth plans to ensure the right of way is preserved. If it is funded, Phase II is estimated to cost $300 million.
According to the master plan, the county needs for an “expand transit infrastructure through more efficient use of public rights-of-way is essential if current and future congestion is to be mitigated.”
Caption: The circle indicates the approximate location of the planned Dorsey Mill Road Bridge over I-270 in Germantown. Map courtesy of Montgomery County Planning Department.