Tuesday, November 24, 2015

will leggett cut corners to get BRT moving?

Despite a big funding setback last week, Montgomery County could start building bus rapid transit after all. But to do so, it may have to do it on the cheap. That could mean making BRT less useful for transit riders.

Potomac Yard Transitway
BRT in Alexandria. Montgomery County might get this sooner rather than later. Photo by Dan Malouff.
Montgomery County officials have been looking at building rapid transit routes for buses since 2008, and approved plans for a countywide BRT network in 2013. County Executive Ike Leggett had proposed creating a transit authority that could raise taxes to pay for building it, but yanked the idea last week due to opposition from some community members.

Yesterday, he announced that the county would build one or two of its planned BRT routes in a "less costly" fashion. One way to cut costs is by taking out dedicated lanes that give buses a way out of traffic. But doing that would make BRT slower and less reliable, discouraging people from using it.

Friday, November 20, 2015

what if montgomery county gave BRT a temporary test run?

Last week, Montgomery County pulled its proposal for building bus rapid transit, citing community opposition. How can the county win people over? By getting something on the ground now and doing a trial run.

Crossing Georgia at Colesville
How can we get streets like Colesville Road better transit sooner rather than later? Photo by the author.

After several years of discussion, the county approved a plan for a network of dedicated bus lanes in 2013 with strong support from residents, business leaders, and transit advocates. Soon after, County Executive Ike Leggett proposed creating an Independent Transit Authority that could build and operate transit in the county and raise taxes on its own to pay for it. Today, the department of transportation runs transit service, using money from the county's budget, which the County Council sets each year.

Leggett's proposal drew an unlikely coalition of opponents, from civic organizations who were against BRT in the first place to groups worried about government spending. Meanwhile, initial designs for BRT on corridors like Georgia Avenue proposed unnecessarily massive road widenings that would have removed dozens of homes and businesses, which naturally angered many residents.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

new video screens are a sign of silver spring's evolution

After twenty years, the dying City Place Mall is finally coming back to life. New video screens on the building's historic exterior are another sign of how downtown Silver Spring is evolving into an urban place.

Ellsworth Place Screens
The new screens. All photos by the author.

The new screens went up outside the five-story shopping center, located on Fenton Street between Colesville Road and Ellsworth Drive, a few weeks ago. They show a mix of ads for the mall, inspirational quotes, and "This Day in History" features.

While the rest of downtown Silver Spring is thriving, City Place has struggled since it opened in 1992. Developer Petrie Ross is renovating the mall, now called Ellsworth Place, opening it up to surrounding streets while adding new shops and restaurants.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

it's national coming out day, or why october 13 is a personal holiday

Ten years ago today, I was sitting on my best friend's bed hanging out with a bunch of people from our dorm at Maryland. Someone mentioned that it was National Coming Out Day. How does that even work? They asked.

Like this, I said. I got up, went in her closet, and shut the door behind me. I opened the door and stepped out. "I'm gay," I said.

There was a beat of silence. I don't think anyone had expected it. "Dan, does this mean you wish to sleep with men!?" she exclaimed.

"It does," I replied quietly, and the conversation eventually went back to classes or weekend plans or something.

As they say, coming out isn't one moment so much as something you do over and over again: to friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, and so on. But before that, you come out to yourself, and that's a gradual process too.