Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Corridor Advisory Committee formed to study BRT on Route 29

As part of the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan approved in November 2013, Corridor Advisory Committees have been formed to give local residents, business owners, and stakeholders a voice in the planning and design process of the county's rapid transit system.  The county has established five committees to study three corridors.  The three corridors are Route 355, Veirs Mill Road, and Route 29.  Those three corridors were divided into the following committees: 355 North, 355 South, Veirs Mill Road, 29 North, and 29 South.  The Route 29 South Committee is focused on the stretch of Colesville Road which passes through Four Corners.

The Route 29 corridor.  Image from Montgomery County rapid transit system site.

In early February, I was selected to serve on the Route 29 South Corridor Advisory Committee, which encompasses a 4.14 mile stretch of Route 29 between New Hampshire Avenue and the Silver Spring Metro Station (passing through Four Corners), as well as a .80 mile stretch of Lockwood Drive between Route 29 and New Hampshire Avenue.  My CAC consists of 40 people, many of whom are local residents who live along Route 29 within the corridor limits, which ensures that the concerns of citizens are well represented.

This past Saturday, a kickoff event was held at the Executive Office Building in Rockville to begin the committee process.  The event was attended by interested citizens, committee members, agency representatives (MCDOT, SHA, MTA), and elected officials.  The purpose of the kickoff meeting was to explain the goals of the CACs, as well as providing CAC members and interested citizens a chance to meet with agency representatives and elected officials to learn more about the rapid transit system and the planning/design process.

Acting MCDOT director Al Roshdieh speaking about the importance of the rapid transit system.  Photo by the author.

After the opening presentation, breakout sessions were held for individual Corridor Advisory Committees.  Our first meeting on Saturday consisted of a meet & greet and a map exercise, along with presentation from the committee facilitators detailing the purpose and goals of our committee.  

Present at the meeting, aside from the CAC members themselves, where various representatives from agencies like SHA, MCDOT, and MTA.  After short presentations by facilitators and agency reps, the committee took part in a map exercise to identify places of concern along the corridor.  We were given numbered stickers to put on a large map stretched across a table, and a scribe wrote down  what each number correlated to.  I found this exercise to be fun and useful, and I had several good conversations with other committee members about various issues and points of concern along Route 29.

Map with stickers denoting areas of concern around Four Corners.  Photo by the author.

After the map exercise, a wrap up presentation was given by the group facilitator, and logistics of the committee were discussed.  The facilitators went over the ground rules and mission statement, and there was a Q&A period between members and the agency representatives.  Most of the questions focused on the purpose and goals of the committee, and less on the technicalities of BRT implementation or the Master Plan.  As the committee progresses, it is likely that the questions will become even more detailed and focused (on things like lane widths, ROW widths, signal phasing, etc.), but this was just the first of many meetings.  After this discussion period, the meeting closed, lasting about an hour and a half in total.

From a community standpoint, I would say that Four Corners is well represented on this committee, as there each civic group has a representative, and there are numerous others from the area on the committee representing themselves or local businesses.  There are also a diversity of viewpoints and demographic groups represented on the committee as well, which I find beneficial.  I look forward to this process, and I would say that the first meeting was great start.  

The next meeting of the CAC will be on Tuesday, March 24th at the Silver Spring Civic Center.  More information about the CAC and the Rapid Transit System can be found on the county's website.

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