Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett has released his recommended capital budget for fiscal 2013 and recommended $4.21 billion Capital Improvement Program for fiscal 2013 to 2018, and it looks pretty good on the transportation front.
Mass transit, specifically Ride On bus service, came out as a big winner. Not only does the county executive look to replace 39 Ride On buses in fiscal 2013 and enhance bus system technology, he also hopes to use $1.3 million for a new transit center at Montgomery Mall and complete the Silver Spring Transit Center before year’s end. Along with that is an initiative to increase Ride On usage by using $9.4 million for improvements at more than 600 bus stops in the next several years.
When it comes to getting around, reducing the number of cars on the road looks is taking a greater role. Leggett’s proposed budget calls for the continued pedestrian safety improvements and funding for projects such as $982,000 for the Frederick Road Bike Path, more than $8 million over several years for MacArthur Boulevard Bikeway improvements, and $3.4 million for sidewalks on Greentree Road and Md. 355 through fiscal 2014. It also advocates for inclusion of non-vehicular transportation elements, like sidewalks and mixed-use paths, whenever feasible for road improvements and new roads.It goes without saying that winners cannot exist without a few losers. Perhaps the biggest to come out of the proposed budget and CIP is the delay of the proposed Bethesda Metro south entrance.
Construction to build a second entrance to the already problematic Metro station (escalators, anyone?) is put on indefinite hold, just months after the Maryland Transit Authority announced that the project demanded an increased $80 million budget.
Any schedule to advance progress on the entrance is stalled until federal and state aid can be secured for the construction of the Purple Line, the proposed rail line with east-west service from Bethesda to New Carrollton in Prince George’s County.
The budget documents can be viewed on the Montgomery County government’s Office of Management and Budget, at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/omb.