WHAT'S UP: The Amish Market is down, but not out; Guest blogger Adam finishes explaining the Annual Growth Policy tomorrow.
"BEAUTIFUL, AIN'T IT?" The proposed interchange at Route 29 and the InterCounty Connector will be over fifty feet high.
Check out additional coverage from the Gazette which is, of course, a day late.
Many apologies were made for dragging local residents out of bed at 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning and into last weekend's East County Transportation Forum, held at the Regional Services Center on Briggs Chaney Road. Several dozen sleepy people came by to hear presentations on transportation and land use in East County - and, of course - to yell at a panel of public officials and politicians whom they no longer seem to have faith in. Topics covered included the Route 29 reconstruction, a new Ride-On bus route, and the InterCounty Connector.
"The impacts of construction will be lower than what you've experienced for the past several years," promises InterCounty Connector Contract Manager Mike Jaeger, brought in to discuss the new highway whose bulldozers will quietly pass through East County next year.
Jaeger was also referring to construction on Route 29, which is currently being transformed into a freeway. Three interchanges have already been completed (at Cherry Hill Road, Briggs Chaney Road and Route 198) and six more are waiting for State funding.
But Stuart Rochester, best described as the "Voice of East County," questioned whether new or existing freeways were the answer. "We're really changing the face of our communities," Rochester says. "If we do this, we're not gonna be able to recognize our neighborhoods." Even County Councilwoman Marilyn Praisner (D-Calverton) says she was "unsure" about continuing construction on Route 29, given the congestion that still occurs on it.
AFTER THE JUMP: Praisner wants you to buy more booze; poetic NIMBYs lead to the creation of a new bus route.
Praisner was especially concerned about the InterCounty Connector's proposed interchange with Route 29, a sprawling, fifty-foot-high behemoth known to roadgeeks as a "three-level stack." You may have seen a "stack" interchange where the Baltimore Beltway meets I-70 (above, at right). But unlike that connection, "the aesthetics of this interchange will be greater," says Jaeger. "We can do landscaping."
"How do you landscape an interchange?" the councilwoman asks. "Big pots," calls out a member of the audience. "That's one way," Jaeger replies, laughing.
However, Marilyn Praisner did stress the importance of public transit, repeating her commitment to building the Purple Line "between Bethesda and some destination in Prince George's County," possibly referring to New Carrollton. Praisner also supports additional transportation funding.
"Keep buying your beer," Praisner says to a mildly amused audience. "Keep buying your alcohol, because it's helping to fund transportation projects in Montgomery County." (The Department of Liquor Control handles all beer and wine sales in MoCo; the proceeds pay for county services.)
One of those transportation projects likely paid for by your last Bethesda bender is Ride-On's new Route 21, which serves Tanglewood, the Tamarack Triangle and Dumont Oaks - all on the same needlessly convoluted route to the Silver Spring Metro. It was created by cutting service on the Metrobus Z6 (one of many I took to work last summer) to my neighborhood due to excessive whining about noise and filth by residents of Tanglewood, who are notoriously defensive (and surprisingly poetic) about their tree-lined streets (at left).
One Tamarack Triangle resident (whose wife, seated next to him, turned out to be my English professor last semester, much to my chagrin) was unimpressed. "We're very happy with the current service to Glenmont," the resident says. "And we're very concerned we're gonna lose [the Metrobus] C7 to Glenmont and we'll have to take a longer trip to Silver Spring."
"I think someone is giving you bad information," replies Arthur Holmes, representing the Department of Public Works and Transportation, which manages Ride-On.
Ride-On Route 21 begins service June 25, and I plan to try it out. The Z6 took me to Downtown Silver Spring in forty-five minutes during rush hour; the Z8, forty minutes; the Z9 Express, thirty. We'll see if the 21 is worth your dollar-twenty-five - or if Tanglewood should have kept their poems to themselves.
I-695/I-70 photos courtesy of AARoads.com.