Friday, January 17, 2014

BRT & Four Corners: Common concerns and other options

As expected, I've caught some flak over my support of BRT.  I've had comments from people saying I'm "unwilling to consider anyone's reservations about the BRT" and that I "don't take a balanced view of the community's needs".  While I did not want to seem dismissive, I probably let my frustration get the best of me, and I could have addressed some people's concerns more appropriately.  So I figured I'd make some posts addressing some common concerns that local residents have about BRT, as well as explaining how I've come to my own opinions.  I'm not mindlessly pushing a pro-transit agenda.  Studies and data have lead me to believe that BRT will be a good thing for Four Corners if done right.  I'd like to help my neighbors come to a similar understanding.  

This BRT plan is not perfect.   No transportation plan is.  There are always going to be those who benefit more than others.  For example, when the Capital Beltway was built through Four Corners in the early 60's, there was a ton of neighborhood opposition to it.  Dozens of homes south of Forest Glen Road were destroyed or relocated, neighborhoods were divided, and Indian Spring Country Club was forced to move out.  The Beltway changed the character of Four Corners forever.  Those are examples of the bad things that resulted from the Beltway.  

Nowadays, our proximity to the Beltway is one of the biggest selling points of our community.  Most Four Corners residents use it daily to get to work and other activities around the region.  When a house goes up for sale, its hard to find a flyer that doesn't say "convenient to I-495" or something along those lines.  While it was vehemently opposed in the late 50's and early 60's, most Four Corners residents now consider the Beltway to be an asset, if not a necessity.

Do I think BRT will be as beneficial to Four Corners residents as the Beltway is?  No.  The scale of BRT does not begin to approach that of the Beltway, so it can't have as big of an impact.   Do I think BRT will be good for our community?  Yes.  BRT (if done right) is as close as we're going to get to a Metro line.  When the Red Line was being proposed, it faced significant neighborhood opposition in places like Upper Northwest, DC and Bethesda.  Now, Metro proximity has greatly increased home values in those areas (and everywhere else Metro goes), giving long time home owners a great return on their investment.  Access to frequent transit has been proven to make communities more desirable.

I think I have taken a balanced view of the community's (and property owner's) needs, which is why I am an 'advocate' for BRT.  But to show that I am willing to address other options and the concerns of residents, I will make a series of posts on smaller things we can do to improve existing transit, and I will try to answer some people's questions about BRT.  I don't claim to be an expert.  If you want one of those, call up M-NCPPC.  I'm just a well-read neighbor who cares about the future of Four Corners.

I will make posts on the following questions and concerns:

What can be done to improve existing bus service?

Will BRT put pedestrians in danger and take away medians?

Won't BRT only benefit people who live further out 29 instead of Four Corners residents?

 If you have another question or concern you would like me to get information on or talk about, add it in the comments.


  1. You do realize there is a good chance the Woodmoor shopping center will go away if the BRT comes is?

    1. False. The Woodmoor Shopping Center contributes millions in tax revenue to Montgomery County. Destroying such a revenue generator is the absolute last thing the county wants to do. Please consult the Countywide BRT Master Plan to learn more about BRT (I've linked to it in several articles). The plan will provide you with accurate information regarding right-of-way widths and different forms of BRT implementation.