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M-83 is a Real Solution for a Real UpCounty Community

Editor’s Note: The Montgomery County Council held a public hearing on Tuesday evening, Oct. 17 at 7:30 pm regarding the resolution by at-large Councilmember Hans Riemer titled, “Transportation Solutions for Northwest Montgomery County” as part of the public hearing Cherian Eapen of the Coalition of Upcounty gave the following testimony.

As the Council is set to hear from the real Upcounty community on the proposed resolution by Councilmember Riemer, the overwhelming opinion of the larger Upcounty community (and not some fictional "Northwest Montgomery County" community that is highlighted only in the title of the Riemer Resolution) is that completion of the extension of Snowden Farm Parkway (designated as M-83 in the County master plans and in the Master Plan for Highways and Transitways) is an essential and long overdue action by the County.

The community and C4U are demanding that the Council stop this continuing tax-payer funded circus on M-83 and get on with the completion of Snowden Farm Parkway extension. We urge the Council and the County Executive to stop acquiescing to all the unsubstantiated, false narratives that is being put out by local special-interest groups and to fund the project immediately.

The continuing actions by a select few on the Council to remove this spine roadway in the pretext of providing a "transportation solution" to the community, especially Councilmembers who have no connection to the community whatsoever other than their relationship to a few special-interest groups in the area (as highlighted on their webpage), only shows Council's disconnect with local residents and an utter disregard to this critical community need, first documented in decade-plus long study and then in a subsequent study that was completed to satisfy the whims of those who oppose the roadway connection.

Over the last few days, some members of the Council who are opposed to the roadway extension and a non-Montgomery County based blog have selectively cherry-picked sections of the above studies to base their opposition to the roadway extension. The Riemer Resolution is fundamentally a collection of incoherent statements and has no alignment with policies the County has used for decades in planning its communities. Most amazingly, the Riemer Resolution have invoked the Paris Climate Accord, suggesting that MCDOT will not be building any more roads in the County in-lieu of an imaginary BRT system.

The hypocrisy in all this is evident because the Council, County Executive, and MCDOT, while opposing completion of Snowden Farm Parkway, is supporting completion of Observation Drive and has funded this project (another much needed roadway connection in Clarksburg that has similar costs and environmental impacts as Snowden Farm Parkway Extension).

This hypocrisy is further evident given the fact that recently MCDOT terminated the free Ride-On shuttle between Clarksburg and Germantown MARC Station, forcing many in the community now to drive! These actions clearly demonstrate that the Council, County Executive, and MCDOT are not acting in the best interests of the community.

Ultimately, we hope that common-sense prevails. We therefore urge the Council to not act on the ill-advised Riemer Resolution for "Northwest Montgomery County" (wherever that fake community is) now as it will not provide any "transportation solution" to any of the real Upcounty communities. We also urge the County Executive and MCDOT to stop playing politics with the quality of life of Upcounty residents and recommend that the final design and construction of much-needed Snowden Farm Parkway extension is funded at the earliest.

Cherian Eapen is a Clarksburg resident.

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