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A publication of the Greater Capital Area Association of REALTORS®

smart growth

montgomery county

Making Smart Growth Happen in • Bethesda • Great Seneca • White Flint

Rapid Transit Vehicle System

The Future of Transportation

Photo: Elena Elisseeva\

Smart Growth Initiatives: The New National Mindset

smart growth

montgomery county

Making Smart Growth Happen ith just over 500 square miles in Montgomery County and most of it already developed, much of the expansion planned in the area is for higher density than what currently exists, changing the way neighborhoods look, feel, and function. The range of housing options REALTORS® will be showing in 20 years will most definitely look very different than it does today. To maintain the quality of life expected by County residents, mass transit needs to be expanded to accommodate the growing workforce and population. GCAAR is taking a leading role in advocating for funding and support of new development that will increase the County’s tax base and effective transit plans to service these developments.

Photo: Paul Vasarhelyi\


Integral to GCAAR’s support is educating members about the benefits of the County’s smart growth agenda and specific development and mass transit plans. This effort began with a variety of planned development seminars held in 2011 and 2012 in the areas of White Flint, the Great Seneca Science Corridor, and Bethesda, providing a vision for the County’s landscape of the future. Each of the seminars covered changes to major transportation corridors, expanded modes of transportation, and the integration of ‘mass rapid transit’ into the living and working environments, in addition to the development plans themselves. With the help of a Smart Growth Grant from the National Association of REALTORS® GCAAR is able to expand the reach of its information and advocacy efforts, and produce this magazine. This grant has also helped fund GCAAR’s participation in a coalition of County officials, developers, private sector businesses, organizations, planning officials, and transportation/transit groups, that is actively advocating for a comprehensive “Rapid Transit Vehicle” or RTV mass transit plan. In order for RTV to become a reality, major legislative and public policy changes, as well as funding, are required at the state and local levels. Many development projects are tied to RTV and cannot move forward without its implementation. These developments would create tens of thousands of quality jobs, expand the economic base, and provide affordable housing, ultimately improving the quality of life REALTORS® sell in Montgomery County.

A publication of Greater Capital Area Association of REALTORS® 8757 Georgia Avenue, Suite 600 Silver Spring, MD 20910 301-590-2000

GCAAR Smart Growth Magazine


inside Table of Contents 1

Making Smart Growth Happen


Introduction – Welcome Letter


Smart Growth: The New National Mindset


Securing Montgomery County’s Economic Future through Enhanced Mobility


North Bethesda’s Urban Center

10 Great Seneca – a Mid-County Life Sciences Center

12 The Future of Downtown Bethesda 15 Rapid Transit Vehicle System – the Future of Transportation in Montgomery County

North Bethesda’s Urban Center

Photo: Steve Johnson\


12 The Future of Downtown Bethesda 15 Rapid Transit Vehicle System 2

GCAAR Smart Growth Magazine

Welcome Looking For Answers Metropolitan Washington in the 21st Century is going through a time of significant change and uncertainty. DC has seen the rejuvenation of many commercial areas – but still faces challenges in housing, transportation, education, and other services – all of which have an impact on the supply, price and quality of housing. Maryland, and Montgomery County in particular, are confronting population growth and demographic change. These changes put pressure on housing availability and affordability, job creation, transportation, education, and other services. Montgomery County is in the midst of a hugely important transition from a suburban to a much more urbanized community. Regionally we are looking for approaches to accommodate these changes, and not just maintain the quality of life we have come to expect but improve upon it. For this reason, the REALTORS® as well as our local units of government are looking to implement Smart Growth policies that will enable us to achieve balanced and sustainable economic growth and enhance our quality of life.

Smart Growth and Economic Success Smart growth is an urban planning and transportation theory the result of which is to concentrate growth in compact, walkable, urban centers to avoid sprawl. It provides a diverse range of choices in land uses, building types, transportation, homes, workplace locations, and stores. Such development projects are attractive to private-sector interests because they can find a ready market and compete financially. They appeal to local governments because they can be the building blocks of a growing economy and high-quality, economically-sustainable neighborhoods and communities while also helping to create a cleaner, healthier environment. Metropolitan DC residents know what happens when development occurs without sufficient planning for present and future transportation needs. We doubt there is one of us who has not been stuck on the Beltway or in the heart of Bethesda or downtown DC for over an hour to complete a trip that should take ten minutes or less. Thus, GCAAR has focused on the importance of transit-oriented development as the linchpin for smart growth in the area. Our area is growing and that is good. This magazine features some of the most significant areas of growth in Montgomery County today. It also features the transportation plans and zoning guidelines that make these developments “smart” with access to current and future mass transportation, and rebuilt roads that increase greenscapes and improve the flow of traffic. Keep this magazine as a reference, and feel free to give a copy to your clients, friends, and anyone else who is curious about how the County is growing. —GCAAR Board of Directors

GCAAR Smart Growth Magazine


Smart Growth:

The New

National Mindset Since the end of World War II, the US population has doubled to more than 300 million people and continues to grow by three million people annually, adding a new person every 13 seconds. This rapid population growth, compounded by development patterns that encourage bigger houses and longer commutes, is forcing us to face an important question: How should our communities grow?


he constant influx of new people demands new development, but the form it takes is likely to be

critical to the long-term quality of life and economic stability of our towns, cities, and nation. In recent years our metro areas have sprawled outward. It has been easier for developers to gobble up fields and forests with new subdivisions while leaving older areas to languish, with declining population, decaying infrastructure, and a slumping tax base. As farms surrender to big-box stores and woods give way to asphalt, there is mounting frustration over increased traffic, decreased open space, inadequate public services, over-crowded schools, lack of affordable housing, and loss of community vitality. In our most economically-vibrant metros, many young families face a painful choice between close-in neighborhoods that are expensive even when they are less-than-desirable, and ever more-distant subdivisions that condemn them to a life spent behind the wheel. The approach to planning and development that has come to be known as smart growth grew out of an effort by policy makers, real estate

Reprinted from NAR Smart Growth Toolkit

professionals, planners and urban designers, environmentalists, key employers, and many ordinary citizens to find ways to ease these tensions. It is an attempt to find a middle way between growth-at-any-cost and the “no-growth� reaction to it. The idea is to involve citizens, public officials, and myriad stakeholders in working together to plan ahead for development according to a set of common-sense principles. The vision is that communities get better as

Photo: Jennifer Pinto\

they grow, while remaining both economically


viable and environmentally responsible. n

GCAAR Smart Growth Magazine


Securing Montgomery County’s Economic Future through Enhanced Mobility


ver the next 20 years, Montgomery County will face

Master plans for planning districts within Montgomery

a problem many counties would love to have – the

County provide another perspective on the relationship

estimated increase of more than 160,000 jobs. Of

between transit and development. A review of 10

course, this merely represents estimated job growth,

master plans, commercial market analyses, sectors

but one could reasonably ask whether a County that is

plans, and similar documents found an almost

already heavily gridlocked has the wherewithal to absorb

universal identification of transit as a critical element

a 36 percent increase in employment. It is unlikely that

in overcoming local congestion and in facilitating

the County could accommodate the forecasted jobs and

planned growth potential through increased mobility. A


Excerpted from Sage Policy Group Report for Montgomery County Task Force

associated families without a substantial upgrade in transit capacity and relevance. This expansion of the employment base from 2010 to 2030 will coincide with the retirement of 200,000 baby boomers, most of whom will stay in the area. The 200,000 replacement workers the County will need over the next 20 years will also add to the demands for housing and other development and will also place new demands on the transportation system. Public transit is a growing part of that transportation system. Growth in employment over the past 20 years has coincided with an even larger increase in the use of public transit. Residents’ use of public transit in Montgomery County has grown 42 percent in recent years with more than 77,000 County residents routinely in 2000 after modest growth in the 1990s.

GCAAR Smart Growth Magazine

Photo: Steve Johnson\

using public transit in 2010, almost 20,000 more than

Residents’ use of public transit in Montgomery County has grown 42 percent in recent years with more than 77,000 County residents routinely using public transit in 2010, almost 20,000 more than in 2000 after modest growth in the 1990s.


MOBILITY number make specific reference to mass transit systems

congestion. In the absence of a substantial increase

and its ability to facilitate the development process.

in transit capacity, the County will be unable to

In other words, many of Montgomery County’s most

accommodate already planned and approved growth or

transformative planned and approved commercial and

the additional jobs, growth, and other economic benefits

residential real estate investments simply cannot move

that will accompany the expanding employment base.

ahead without additional transit capacity (e.g., White Flint, Shady Grove, Great Seneca). An RTV system would deliver that capacity.

Alternatively, an RTV system coupled with more intense development tied to this system can accommodate net new jobs and the housing and other development that is

The Washington, DC region, including Montgomery

associated with new workers and new households. The

County, is already the most congested in the country.

RTV system can mitigate congestion associated with

Each year the average vehicle-based commuter wastes

this growth by providing a countywide RTV mass transit

74 hours and 37 gallons of fuel because of congestion.

alternative to automobiles.

The forecast of net new jobs will only add to this

From a public policy perspective, Montgomery County could embrace both the expected population and job

Each year the average vehicle-based commuter wastes 74 hours and 37 gallons of fuel because of congestion.

growth, creating potentially shorter commutes in the process. The County could also embrace jobs, but not housing with the implication being that many of the new jobs would be filled by nonresidents, often traveling long distances. The County could also accommodate the population, but not make the infrastructure investments necessary to support commercial development. This would require many of the new residents to secure employment outside of the County, also leading to lengthy commutes as well as a foregone commercial tax base. A final possibility is to try to prevent both residential and commercial development, which would cause the County to age over time as population stagnated and as other communities steadily attracted Photo: S Jupiterimages\

a higher share of the region’s net new jobs. This would


shrink the tax base at least in real terms over time. The implication of this discussion is that the best public policy outcome emerges from a strategy that seeks to intelligently accommodate both commercial and residential development. In the absence of significant transit improvements, accommodating this growth intelligently or at all will be difficult. n

GCAAR Smart Growth Magazine



he White Flint area has long been

White Flint: North Bethesda’s Urban Center

the gateway to Rockville Pike and

the seemingly limitless retail and office space opportunities it offers. Bordered on the north by Montrose Parkway, the south by White Flint Mall, the west by Old Georgetown Road, and the east by CSX tracks, the White Flint area is scheduled for an early twenty-first century overhaul. Unanimously approved by The Montgomery County Council on March 23, 2010, the White Flint Sector Plan aims to create a thriving, diverse, mixed-use center with easy access to Metro and Rockville Pike. The plan transforms the Pike into a boulevard with street trees and improved crosswalks, improves the pedestrian and bicycling environment, and creates new parks and open spaces. Integral to the plan is a newly-developed transportation network that includes a grid of new public streets and an emphasis for developers to incorporate environmentally-sensitive design. A total of 9,800 new residential units and 5.69 million square feet of office and retail space are proposed in the plan. The core of the urban center will be at the existing White Flint Metro station, where the highest density and tallest buildings will form an identifiable center expressing White Flint’s character. New development will decline in height and density from the center, providing compatible transitions as it approaches the surrounding plan includes a system of public-use


neighborhoods. The compact development

Wisconsin Avenue in North Bethesda. Photo courtesy of The JBG Companies.

GCAAR Smart Growth Magazine


WHITE FLINT spaces where people can gather for events or enjoy recreational activities. This Sector Plan updates the 1992 North Bethesda Garrett Park Master Plan. In October 2010, the plan won the “Neighborhood/Small Area Plan award” from the National Capital Area chapter of the American Planning Association. Several stakeholders including property owners, residents, as well as a steering and an advisory committee, contributed to creating the Plan. The White Flint area was chosen for redevelopment in part because of the strength of its existing infrastructure. “Given the reality of future energy constraints and the effects of climate change, growth must take advantage of existing infrastructure, especially transit, to create compact new communities where reliance on the automobile is unnecessary. Growth should be directed to those places where a reduction in the carbon footprint is possible, like White Flint, and where the infrastructure can support a sustainable, culturally diverse urban center. . .” according to the text of the White Flint Sector Plan. On February 23, 2011, GCAAR invited the major developers involved in the White Flint projects and a representative from the Office of the Montgomery County Executive to Whole Foods Market boasts its own parking garage and easy access out of the hustle and bustle of Rockville Pike. Photo courtesy of The JBG Companies.

present each group’s plan for redevelopment. Representatives from The JBG Companies, ProMark Real Estate Services, and Federal Realty Investment Trust shared their strategies and architectural layouts and drawings with the crowd. The target audience for the residential units includes both young


GCAAR Smart Growth Magazine

WHITE FLINT singles and couples, and local move-down empty nesters. In general, the units to be built are smaller than current offerings, offer luxury finishes, balconies and views, and are laid out in a pedestrian-friendly format with easy access to a multitude of retail offerings. JBG’s first leg of construction was completed in late 2010 and includes a Whole Foods Market, LA Fitness, Seasons 52 restaurant, Aurhaus Furniture, Starbucks, CVS, and both a high-rise and mid-rise residential development complete with concierge service. ProMark’s plans for North Bethesda Gateway include 622,000 square feet of office, 811,000 square feet of residential, a 181,000 square foot hotel, and 74,000 square feet of retail.  Federal Realty Investment Trust is redeveloping Mid-Pike Plaza with plans for

Seasons 52 restaurant welcomes diners. Photo courtesy of The JBG Companies.

434,000 square feet of retail, 1,192,000 square feet of office, 1,727,000 square feet of residential (1,544 units), and a 90,000 square foot hotel. To wrap it all up, a representative from the County talked about the infrastructure changes that will be taking place along Rockville Pike to accommodate the projects, including more use of green space, walking trails, and reduced vehicle traffic. n

Epad concept living space. Photo courtesy of ProMark.

GCAAR Smart Growth Magazine



Great Seneca Science Corridor

A Mid-County Life Sciences Center A 21st-century blueprint for the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center was established with the approval of the Great Seneca Science Corridor (GSSC) Master Plan by the County Council on May 4, 2010.

Master Plan Vision The Master Plan envisions -- and zoning will help implement -- a future LSC that includes an expanded, first-class medical center, research facilities, academic institutions, and an array of services and amenities for residents, workers, and visitors. It will have an open space system that incorporates the area’s natural environmental features into a larger network, connecting destinations by paths and trails, and providing opportunities for a range of outdoor experiences. Over the next 20 years the GSSC Master Plan for an Applied BioScience Research Community will generate 60,000 new full and part-time science-related jobs within the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center. The annual contribution to County tax revenues associated with the center is projected to be $176 million, with $11 billion in annual goods and services for businesses. In addition to the commercial space, the Plan could yield 2,000 dwelling units.



ome to a major hospital, academic institutions, and private biotechnology companies, the Life Sciences Center (LSC) already serves as the County’s premier location for and has the largest concentration of advanced technology companies. Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Johns Hopkins University-Montgomery County Campus (JHUMCC), the Universities at Shady Grove, and biotechnology companies such as Human Genome Sciences, BioReliance, and the J. Craig Venter Institute are all located in the Life Sciences Center. The federal government’s General Services Administration recently selected the JHUMCC site for the National Cancer Institute’s consolidated headquarters. 10

Transforming today’s suburban, autooriented LSC into tomorrow’s walkable, vibrant science center requires changing the built environment and the mix of uses over time. The Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT) – a 14-mile system that will run from the Shady Grove Metro Station to Clarksburg – is a centerpiece of the Master Plan’s vision. The LSC of the future will be served by this fully-integrated transit system that links the LSC Districts as well as midCounty activity centers in Rockville and Gaithersburg. The Master Plan includes a rigorous staging element that ties GCAAR Smart Growth Magazine

G R E AT S E N E C A development to implementation of the CCT, including funding, construction, and operation of the transit system. On April 4, 2012, developers, involved institutions, and representatives from the County and state presented

The Montgomery County Planning Board approved Camden USA’s Sketch Plan Application for up to 498,072 SF of multifamily uses and a minimum of 5,000 SF of commercial uses on 7.62 gross acres of the DANAC Stiles Corporate Campus, in the Great Seneca Science Corridor.

detailed plans for the area to GCAAR members. Johns Hopkins University opened the session with a discussion of the expansion of its existing Montgomery County Campus, which will include 2.7 million square feet with a transit station, town center and a mix of uses. The JHU Belward Research Campus plan includes 4.7 million square feet with a transit station and town center. Adventist HealthCare is also planning to expand its campus. Developers DANAC Corporation and Woodfield Investments are planning new residential developments in the area to help house the new work force.

Home to a major hospital, academic institutions, and private biotechnology companies, the Life Sciences Center (LSC) serves as the County’s premier location for and has the largest concentration of advanced technology accompanies. Photos courtesy of Johns Hopkins University. GCAAR Smart Growth Magazine

State and County transit planners presented the details on the CCT that must be built to accommodate the influx of 60,000 jobs to the area. The final approval of each development phase depends on the building progression of the CCT and meeting minimum ridership goals. If the CCT gets delayed, so does the private development. Once built, if a certain percentage of workers don’t use the CCT, the next phase of private development won’t be approved. With these triggers in place, the County and state are ensuring that development does not continue until the transit to facilitate movement around the area is functional. n 11


The Future of Bethesda’s

Urban Center D

owntown Bethesda has long been a vibrant urban center

in Montgomery County and continues to be an admirable model of smart growth. While other parts of the county require major changes to roadways and transit infrastructure to accommodate growth, Bethesda’s infrastructure is poised to handle significant increases in residential and

Photo courtesy of Bethesda Urban Partnership.

office space within its already

Montgomery County continues to be an admirable model of smart growth. Downtown Bethesda offers a lively urban community filled with restaurants, home and fashion retailers, and walkable access to unique boutiques, day spas and salons, three live theaters, and numerous art galleries. Photo courtesy of Bethesda Urban Partnership.

Below: The Bernstein Companies is bringing a new high-end Starwood Westin Hotel to Bethesda, along with trophy office, retail, and restaurant space. Rendering courtesy of The Bernstein Companies.


Photo courtesy of Bethesda Urban Partnership.

GCAAR Smart Growth Magazine


Right: Montgomery County has approved StonebridgeCarras’s LEED certified development plan for the 3.3 acre Lot 31 project, which includes up to 250 condominium units, 40,000 square feet of retail, 1,400 underground parking spaces, 1,100 of which will be controlled by the County for public parking, the re-alignment of Woodmont Road and major public amenities. Rendering courtesy of StonebridgeCarras.

walkable footprint with modest additions of parking and connection to the proposed Rapid Transit Vehicle system. Bethesda boasts a Metro station that currently handles more than 15,000 passengers on the average weekday, and 10,000 each weekend. Downtown Bethesda offers 17 public garages and lots for easy access by car, and

Three developers currently working on projects in

offers a free “Circulator” bus from many garages to the

Bethesda’s downtown highlighted their plans at a

most central downtown attractions, including Metro.

GCAAR seminar on June 28, 2012. Significant

Living in downtown Bethesda offers a lively urban community filled with nearly 200 restaurants, home and fashion retailers, and walkable access to unique boutiques, day spas and salons, three live theaters, and numerous art galleries. Apartments and

residential growth is planned over the next seven years. In 1994 there were 5,200 residential units available in Bethesda. By 2019, that will have more than doubled to 10,691 units. StonebridgeCarras, in joint venture with PN Hoffman,

condominiums in downtown Bethesda offer

is developing “Lot 31,” two former surface parking

convenient and luxurious living.

lots at the corner of Woodmont Road and Bethesda

As with any true urban center, in addition to the many retail and residential opportunities, Bethesda’s office space is integral to its downtown. According to the Montgomery County Department of Parks & Planning, Bethesda has a downtown workforce that exceeds 43,000.

Avenue, at the gateway of “Bethesda Row.” The County has approved development plans including up to 250 condominium units, 40,000 square feet of retail, 1,400 underground parking spaces, 1,100 of which will be controlled by the County for public parking, and the re-alignment of Woodmont Road and major public amenities.  The adjacent Capital Crescent Trail will be widened to support its use.  The residences will include

and the additional jobs projected to enter

a combination of workforce, affordable, and luxury

the area with the Base Realignment plans for

condominium product comprised of studio units to

Navy Medical and the National Institute of

three-bedroom units with private decks. Stonebridge is

Health just north of downtown, it’s no wonder

also developing 8300 Wisconsin Avenue into a mix of

that Bethesda remains one of the prized real

townhouse and high-rise condo units with a full-service

estate markets in the DC Metropolitan area.

grocery store and attractive public space.


With all the excitement already in Bethesda,

GCAAR Smart Growth Magazine


BETHESDA Donohoe’s development of The Gallery of Bethesda I & II

by The Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP), offers

high-rise apartment buildings will bring 454 rental units

door-to-door service from parking garages to the most

and nearly 19,000 square feet of retail to the Central

popular destinations. A non-profit organization, BUP

Business District (CBD). Housed on Auburn and Del

also handles landscaping and maintenance, manages

Ray Avenues, the two buildings will be separated by a

the Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District, operates

pedestrian street, Rugby Lane.

Bethesda Transportation Solutions, and handles

The Bernstein Companies is bringing a new high-end

promotion of downtown.

Starwood Westin Hotel to Bethesda, along with trophy

Bethesda will become even more connected with the

office, retail, and restaurant space. At 7750 Wisconsin

introduction of the proposed Rapid Transit Vehicle (RTV)

Avenue, one building will feature a 210 key full-

system. With a focus on increasing east-west connectivity

service Westin Bethesda hotel with a 6,000 sf ballroom

through mass transit, RTV will open up to even more

overlooking the shared plaza, while the other brings a

County residents all Bethesda has to offer.

250,000 sf trophy office building. The unique shared plaza which connects Woodmont Avenue to Wisconsin Avenue will feature 16,000 sf for restaurant and retail space on the ground floor of the buildings.

The final presentation in June was from the County’s Director of Economic Development, Steve Silverman. Silverman underscored the importance to the County and the state of Bethesda’s growing and thriving economy.

In no small part, Bethesda’s success is due to its

Already a significant contributer to the area’s tax base,

connectivity to existing public transportation. Once

Bethesda’s continued success is important to and greatly

you’re there, the Bethesda Circulator bus system, run

supported by the local and state leaders. n

Donohoe Development Company’s planned Woodmont Central multi-phase development will include two high-rise apartment buildings. The Gallery of Bethesda will feature 5,400 sf of retail along with public art space and a pedestrian street. Rendering courtesy of The Donohoe Companies.


GCAAR Smart Growth Magazine


Rapid Transit Vehicle System The Future of Transportation in Montgomery County By Mark Winston, Chair, Montgomery County Executive’s Transit Task Force

What is RTV?


he Rapid Transit Vehicle (RTV) System creates a comprehensive transit network across Montgomery County, providing north-south and east-west transportation opportunities. The proposal suggests a sophisticated surface transit system covering approximately 160 miles, using vehicles that will operate like “light rail on rubber tires.”

The vehicles themselves will be high quality, energy efficient, and as environmentally clean as possible, including state of the art information technology for the benefit of passengers and operators. Stations will be comfortable, functional, and will have “next vehicle” information and off-vehicle payment technology. The proposed network of 23 corridors (or lines) builds on previously proposed route corridors with a focus on north-south and east-west connectivity. Within the network an infinite number of routes are possible by combining lines and segments of lines to accommodate user needs. Reconfiguration of the existing Ride-On bus system is envisioned to serve as a feeder from virtually every neighborhood in the County to the RTV network and Metro Rail.

When Will the RTV System Be Built? RTV is still in the study and planning stages. The network is proposed to be built in three phases to mitigate construction and affordability issues. Each GCAAR Smart Growth Magazine

phase is designed to be fully functional and maximize network connectivity. It is anticipated that the County Executive will propose, and it is hoped that the County Council will adopt, a series of proposals that will create and advance this unique transit asset.

Why Do We Need More Public Transit? Transportation is at the foundation of the government’s and the private sector’s ability to achieve their goals in a wide range of activities, each of which requires access and mobility in the County and throughout the region. Investment in transit must be undertaken to enable any community to meet its most basic needs of moving people and commerce. Failure to make these necessary investments undermines our productivity, economic competitiveness, environment, safety, and quality of life. The Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University forecasts that between 2010 and 2030 the Washington Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (“WPMSA”) will experience employment growth of approximately 1.05 million net new jobs. Montgomery County’s forecasted share of this job growth is approximately 163,000 net new jobs. The WPMSA already suffers from the most congested roads in the country. The Transportation Planning Board projects that the region will add yet another 3.9 million daily vehicular 15


To the maximum extent possible, the RTV network will have physically separated, dedicated RTV lanes, so that operations are not commingled in traffic. This will enhance system performance and result in transformational change in how people move around the County.

RAPID TRANSIT trips, another 25 million vehicle miles travelled daily, and another 250,000 daily transit trips during the same 20 year period. Even more daunting, if the current trends of exurban/urban sprawl were to continue, today’s estimated 230,000 daily work trips from outside the WPMSA into and through the WPMSA (pass-through traffic) is projected to more than triple to approximately 700,000 by the year 2030. With 75% of commuters traveling in single-occupancy vehicles and another 10% traveling in carpools, such an automobile-dependent commuting pattern is unsustainable.

Why Is RTV the Answer for Transit? • It is the most cost-effective way to address transportation capacity and congestion issues. • It is our best hope for creating vibrant, livework communities for existing as well as future residents and employees that reduce our reliance on automobiles to get to and from work. • It is needed to implement the County’s already adopted and anticipated future land use decisions. Without an increase in transportation capacity, forecasted jobs will not come to the County. They are likely to go elsewhere, either to other jurisdictions or out of the region altogether. This will result in more congestion on our roads without the economic and fiscal benefits that would occur if such jobs and housing were created in the County. The proposed transit network provides the best option for providing the transportation capacity for these forecasted jobs to become a reality. At the same time, it will positively impact our congestion, environmental quality, and general quality of life needs.

Paying for the RTV System The system is projected to cost in excess of $1.8 billion to build, including approximately $477 million for the Corridor Cities Transit Way, which is a portion of the system already being planned by the State Mass Transit Administration. The projected annual operating cost of the system is up to $1.1 million per mile.

There are a variety of ways in which to finance these costs. The funding of capital costs is proposed to come primarily through the issuance of debt. Debt service payments are proposed to be funded by a combination of annual State contributions toward debt service on special obligation bonds, and revenues derived from one or more special taxing districts formed to tax real property. Special tax district revenues will be used both to pay the County’s share of debt service on capital costs, and to fund operating deficits of the transit operations. Another funding alternative, in whole or in part, may be to use a portion of the County’s capital improvements program budget, which could be re-allocated to transit uses from certain road projects.

How Was this Plan Created? Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett appointed the Transit Task Force in February 2011 and starting in March 2011, met numerous times in public session. The Task Force was comprised of a group of community leaders, elected and appointed officials, and transportation and planning experts from state, regional, and local government agencies. The Executive’s directive to the Task Force was to develop a plan for the implementation of a comprehensive and effective rapid transit system for Montgomery County. After over a year of deliberations, the Task Force recommended the approximately 160-mile RTV system. The Task Force believes that a high-quality transit network, matched with transit-supportive mixed-use development and density, is not only consistent with but required by the “wedges and corridor” plan embodied in the County’s General Plan, as amended. The Task Force has proposed the exploration of the creation of an independent transit authority to plan, construct, finance, operate, and maintain the combined RTV system and the redeployed Ride-On transit operation. The Task Force has also recommended that the County explore using public-private procurement methods and processes to make the system development and operations process more efficient, less expensive, and more expeditious. n


GCAAR Smart Growth Magazine

Smart Growth Montgomery County Magazine  

The new Smart Growth magazine created by GCAAR with a grant from the National Association of REALTORS® features some of the most significant...

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