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Planners Consider Dedicating Colesville Road/Route 29 Lanes to Bus Rapid Transit

Planners say the system will help Montgomery County meet an increasing transit demand as population and employment grows.

Montgomery County planners are recommending that one or more travel lanes of Colesville Road/Route 29 be re-purposed as dedicated rapid transit bus lanes. 

The areas of the Route 29 corridor being considered are Georgia Avenue to 16th Street in downtown Silver Spring and Lockwood Drive to Southwood Drive in White Oak.

The recommendation is part of a staff draft of a Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan presented to the Montgomery County Planning Board Monday evening. The master plan includes a proposal for a 79-mile bus rapid transit system using 10 routes across the county.

The draft will undergo an extensive public hearing process before it’s submitted to the Montgomery County Council this fall.

Planners say the system will help Montgomery County meet an increasing transit demand as population and employment grows.

“An expansion of high-quality transit service will be needed to move greater numbers of people to and from jobs, homes, shopping, and entertainment areas, reducing the gap between transportation demand and supply and providing a reliable alternative to congested roadways,” the staff report read.

With limited space, however, planners are recommending taking out travel lanes to make way for the buses along certain sections of roadways in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Germantown, Gaithersburg, Rockville, Takoma Park and Silver Spring.

The Route 29 corridor isn’t the only corridor where planners propose to take out travel lanes for dedicated bus use, David Anspacher, a senior transportation planner with the county’s planning department, wrote in an e-mail to Patch. Anspacher said other stretches of road flagged for lane re-purposing are:

  • Shakespeare Boulevard in Germantown to Game Preserve Road in Gaithersburg along MD 355
  • South of O’Neill Drive to 1,250 feet south of Shady Grove Road along MD 355 in Gaithersburg
  • 1,000 feet south of Indianola Road to 270 feet north of North Campus Drive along MD 355 in Rockville
  • From University Boulevard to the Washington, DC line along University Boulevard
  • University Boulevard to the Washington, DC line along New Hampshire Avenue in Takoma Park

“Where bus rapid transit would move people most efficiently in a corridor, the space needed to accommodate transit should be dedicated first to those bus lanes; the remaining lanes would then be available for general traffic,” planners wrote in the staff draft.

“If congestion is too high in the remaining lanes, providing additional general traffic lanes should be considered. The impacts associated with constructing the additional pavement — construction costs, environmental impacts, community impacts, etc. — should be weighed against the benefits of providing more accommodation for the less efficient mode.”

View the staff draft online at the Montgomery County Planning Board's website.

What do you think of the proposal? Tell us in the comments.

Woodside Park Bob March 20, 2013 at 02:17 PM
The BRT proposal is a 20th Century solution to a 21st Century problem. Instead of putting all that money in to buses and bus lanes and then having to subsidize their operation forever, the county instead should invest in a building a 21st Century solution: a Gigabit Internet network to connect all county homes and businesses. Such a fast network could eliminate the need for a lot of trips and reduce traffic by making high quality real-time multi-location video conferencing and big data analysis capabilities available everywhere. The work could get done faster and cheaper without people having to always go to the office or from one location to another for meetings. Don't move the people, move the information!

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