Upcounty residents are concerned that their growing communities won’t have an adequate mass transit system.
The Upcounty Citizens Advisory Board met Monday evening with county and state experts on the Corridor Cities Transitway. The board is composed of 20 upcounty residents who represent different communities, including Montgomery Village, Laytonsville, Dickerson and Germantown.
The transitway is a bus rapid transit system running from the Shady Grove Metro station to Clarksburg. The first phase of the project, currently in the engineering stage, includes nine stations from the Metropolitan Grove MARC station to the Shady Grove Metro station. The second phase is four upcounty stations, named Germantown, Cloverleaf, Dorsey Mill and COMSAT. Dedicated roadways will allow the bus system to run independently from other commuter traffic.
Rick Kiegel, project manager for the Maryland transportation department’s Department of Planning, spoke to the Upcounty Citizens Advisory Board about the transitway.
“We’re moving forward on Phase One right now, which takes the CCT up to Metropolitan Grove,” he said. “Upcounty citizens are interested in...how soon it can make it there.”
The 18-station portion of the Corridor Cities Transitway that runs from the Shady Grove Metro station to COMSAT has not been precisely mapped out, Kiegel said.
“Generally speaking, we know where they will be,” he said.
Board members expressed concern that the quickly growing community of Clarksburg would not get an adequate public transit system. So far, residents’ public transit options with Clarksburg stations are limited to the county’s Ride On buses.
Members were also concerned that if more county funds are dedicated to the transitway, the proposed extension to Midcounty Highway would lose its piece of the county’s budget pie. The county’s Midcounty Highway extension study has been controversial among residents, as each of its six alternatives affect different communities.
In a County Council meeting held Tuesday, Councilman George L. Leventhal (D-At large) of Takoma Park said nothing in the county’s Corridor Cities Transitway master plan is final.
“We don’t know how it’s going to be funded,” he said. The county will receive $100 million from the state government for the project, but the remainder of the $500 million transitway is unfunded.
Leventhal said the county may never be able to solve the congestion issues present in main arteries such as Md. 355.
“[Congestion] will get worse, regardless of our transit improvements,” he said.
The council emphasized the importance of public input on the Corridor Cities Transitway as the plan begins to become more concrete.
“A vital facet of facility planning is to receive feedback,” said Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Potomac.
Leventhal said a citizens advisory group will be formed for each route of the Corridor Cities Transitway. The county council will take action on the proposed Corridor Cities Transitway plan on Nov. 26.