Bus rapid transit planned for Veirs Mill Road -- Gazette.Net


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Those looking for a quick way to travel from Rockville to Wheaton, or vice versa, are in luck.

Montgomery County is pursuing a bus rapid transit route along Veirs Mill Road that will connect Rockville Metro Station and Wheaton Metro Station.

The county hosted an open house on the topic May 23.

“Veirs Mill is one of the highest ridership routes in Montgomery County,” said Gary Erenrich, special assistant to the director for Montgomery County Department of Transportation. “We’ve been consistently trying to improve it.”

The Montgomery County Transit Task Force last week recommended that Montgomery County build a 160-mile transit network that would rely on buses traveling in special lanes reserved for them.

The estimated cost of the entire rapid bus line is nearly $2 billion to build and $176 million annually to operate.

Because the county is in the early stages of planning the Veirs Mill route, it has no cost estimate.

But several years ago, the county funded and completed a $6 million study to understand the feasibility of bus rapid transit along Veirs Mill Road. At the same time, the county conducted a $5 million study of a planned route along Georgia Avenue.

The Veirs Mill route is recommended for the first phase of the county’s bus rapid transit project. The route will be 6.7 miles long with 11 stops, according to a countywide Montgomery County Department of Transportation bus rapid transit study. Between 12,700 and 15,900 people are expected to board daily.

“These projects have been in the county master plan for a long time,” Erenrich said.

The May 23 meeting, attended by more than 90 people, kicked off the project, giving community members a chance to learn more about the route.

Next steps include the design process, during which the county will determine the layout and number of lanes for the route, Erenrich said.

“It’s only conceptual right now,” said Montgomery County Councilman Marc Elrich (D-At large) of Takoma Park. “So the point is to basically go out and talk to folks and get feedback and let them know this is what’s being contemplated.”

Parts of Veirs Mill Road will accommodate bus rapid transit well because the road is wide enough, Elrich said, and parts will require working with the community to reach a solution appealing to all.

abryant@gazette.net