Wednesday, December 17, 2008

against all odds, students take "hard-line" stance against ICC

"Here we are, and it's seventy-one degrees outside on November 15th," says Davey Rogner (pictured), sitting down with me in the Stamp Student Union at the University of Maryland. We are both wearing T-shirts and enjoying the last throes of Indian summer. Or could it be global warming at work? It's just one reason why Rogner, an environmental science major who grew up in White Oak, has joined a small cadre of Maryland students fighting to stop the InterCounty Connector once and for all.

About a month or so ago, Rogner responded to a column I wrote arguing that the ICC - set to open in two years, according to State Highway Administrator Neil Pedersen - is "too far gone" to really be stopped. He agreed to sit down with me to talk about growing up in the shadow of the long-debated toll road and why it's still worth fighting.

"One, there's politicians willing to go out of their way to stop the ICC," says Rogner. "Two, there are people vehemently opposed to this thing. Three, it doesn't make any sense to build it."

Since September, Rogner has been involved with a group of students at Maryland working to stop the InterCounty Connector once and for all. The group has met with the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club and local neighborhood associations, predominantly in Prince George's County. "The people most hard-line against it are from P.G. County," says Rogner. In November, they met with State Sen. Jim Rosapepe (D-Dist. 21) to discuss de-funding the highway, only to be politely shown the door.

so much more AFTER THE JUMP . . .

ICC construction underway in Tanglewood, east of Route 29.

Rogner grew up in Springbrook Village, a neighborhood at the intersection of Route 29 and New Hampshire Avenue. In many places, a thin shield of trees is all that separates backyards from the traffic of Columbia Pike. To show where he lives, Rogner places a finger on the table. "I live here," he says. Another finger goes a few inches away. "And it's [the ICC] going right here."

He suggests that living next to an existing highway has been a detriment to his health, which agrees with a University of Southern California study which discovered that people living hear highways have a higher occurrence of asthma. "I'm an asthmatic," says Rogner, "and I know it's partly due to the genetics, but I know the congestion's made it worse."

Building the ICC seems to contradict the State legislature's focus on the environment, he says, citing initiatives to combat global warming, car emissions - which make up 30 percent of all pollution in Maryland, he says - and the "No Child Left Inside" program, signed into law by Governor Martin O'Malley last spring, which encourages "environmental literacy" among state youth. "I wanna see a healthy, productive bay and to see our kids enjoying the natural world," says Rogner. "But why would they want to go outside if there's a giant highway?"

"When you build more roads, it doesn't mean there will be fewer people in the road. It means more people will be driving," Rogner says. "When you build more roads, you increase congestion."

It's hard to deny, however, that local traffic can be unbearable. As a student at Montgomery College, Rogner would drive on Norbeck Road to classes in Rockville. "Norbeck is a nightmare," he says. "But from a stand point of water quality, and increased air pollution, and the debt, I'd have to know how much it'd cost to take [the traffic] off."

As much as possible, Rogner tries to avoid driving in his daily life by using a bike to get around College Park, where he currently lives - and by taking public transit "two to three times a week," he says, including to his parents' home. It's not hard to ditch the car because "I just don't leave College Park that much," he notes.

Traffic at Route 28 (Norbeck Road) and Georgia Avenue during afternoon rush hour.

Many ICC opponents argue that the communities it travels through would be better served by improved transit, though the issue of how much density is needed to sustain new bus or rail lines is rarely discussed. Would Rogner accept more jobs and households in East County in exchange for better public transportation?

"I'd be willing to make that sacrifice," he says. "In all actuality, I think the answer to a lot of Americans' inability to turn around in this economy is based on this dependence on foreign oil. I would like us to travel less and build real compact, smart growth."

For a class assignment, Rogner visited Konterra, the planned mini-city set to rise where the ICC meets I-95 west of Laurel, to test the water quality in nearby streams. "Now that it's already clear-cut, you'd think that's the right thing" to develop it, Rogner says. "But we could still bring it back."

"We need to develop on areas that are already developed with more efficient infrastructure," he continues. "Konterra, it's already owned by this guy and he gave a lot to see the ICC built."

But while the ICC would be "going back to the old status quo," Rogner admits that the alternative solution wouldn't be as easy as putting up a few more apartment buildings. "Would MoCo do it? I don't know. I feel like, with all these houses and all this infrastructure, it'd be hard to change."

I suggest that, rather than try to stop the entire highway, the student movement could focus on the portion between Georgia Avenue and Route 29. Also known as Contract B, this section has yet to begin work, though the State already awarded it to a construction firm in July - at 22 percent over earlier estimates. Cutting across the environmentally sensitive Paint Branch watershed, this segment was the first to go when Governor Glendening cancelled the ICC in 1997.

ICC construction near the intersection of Route 29 and Fairland Road.

It's also predicted to have much smaller traffic volumes than the rest of the highway - a 2004 study from the SHA (appearing in this Baltimore Sun online chat) estimates that between 63,000 and 66,000 vehicles would travel the segment each day, compared to over 110,000 vehicles west of Georgia Avenue and 85,000 vehicles east of Route 29.

"I'd like to see the whole thing be stopped, but if we could get a portion of it stopped, I'd be happier," says Rogner. "Well, I couldn't be happy . . . Push for everything, and take the hard-line stance, and hope that something good happens."

Support for the InterCounty Connector has never been unanimous, says Rogner. The following week, the Maryland students would be in Rockville to protest the highway at County Council's unveiling of their yearly transportation plan, with State Delegate Heather Mizeur (D-Dist. 20) and other elected officials in attendance.

"I can't see us reaching the goals of a more sustainable society by building these gigantic highways, and I'd have the same approach regardless of where it was," says Rogner. "When something's a really, really bad idea, you should try to stop it before it's gone through."

16 comments:

klaatu said...

Davey Rogner, a college student at University of Maryland said:

"I can't see us reaching the goals of a more sustainable society by building these gigantic highways, and I'd have the same approach regardless of where it was," says Rogner. "When something's a really, really bad idea, you should try to stop it before it's gone through."

Mr Rogner displays a significant failing seen by a lot of purportedly intelligent people who come from the culture of the Maryland suburbs of the Nation's Capital.

This pervasive intellectual fault can only be laid at the feet of the politicization of the local schools and the culture they foster.

When you go to solve a problem, you don't look at the symptoms and then attack solutions to the symptoms. When you go to solve a problem, you look at the causes of the symptoms and you tackle that.

There is exactly one reason why the ICC needs to be built: the population, and the population density, continued to increase.

Until and unless that is dealt with, you will have the symptoms of overpopulation, excess densification, and the ills associated with that. These ills include resource depletion, pollution, and traffic congestion.

If you increase density, and try to deal with it through the means of placing large-scale mass-transit, and still encourage population growth, eventually you will saturate the mass-transit. If you saturate mass-transit and have not provided ample capacity for things that can't use mass-transit (truck deliveries, for example) your civilization will grind to a halt... and when civilization grinds to a halt, asthma is the least of your problems.

I am not taking a position on the side of the ICC, nor against it, with these remarks.

I am pointing out that if you fail to seek to the source of problems, and correct it at that point, either you are stupid and misdirected, or for some reason you have chosen to reject essential solutions and are rationalizing around them and are effectively insane. Yet regardless of diminished mental capacity, inherent or willfully adopted, the problem remains what it is and no mental gymnastics will ever change that.

Stop rationalizing, and start facing reality. There is no problem we face today which is not the direct result of excess population growth and consequent densification.

Why do we need more mass-transit? Too many people... and more on the way.

Why are we running short of clean air, clean water, and healthy environment? Too many people... and more on the way.

Why do we have insane traffic congestion even with mass-transit ridership at record levels? Too many people... and more on the way.

Why do we have shortages of energy and, strangely enough of food? Too many people... and more on the way.

Failure to face the real dangers, incapacity to deal directly with the causes of problems, that's just nuts.

Don't fight the ICC, fight the idiots that don't want effective sex-education mandated, and effective birth-control made accessible.

Got asthma? That's because too many of Other People's Kids are farting in your air, so to speak.

Can't drive anywhere because of too much traffic and the buses are stuck in traffic and the metrorail cars are packed solid? That's because Other People's Kids are taking up space.

There's nothing much to be done about Other People's Kids, other than to try to keep them from coming here and getting in your way and farting in your air (so to speak). However, if you want to make a positive contribution to create a better world, deal with the actual problem, not oppose solutions addressing only the symptoms of the actual problem.

Do what I did:

Have no children.

And that will mean that Other People's Grandkids have a chance to live in a much better world.

Dave Murphy said...

I have to say that I am heavily opposed to cutting out only the chunk between Georgia and 29. If that happens, you have two dead end freeway stubs dumping traffic that will find the path of least resistance on neighborhood roads to get between them (similar to the situation on New York Av between the 395 tunnel and the B-W Parkway).

Build the whole thing, or cancel the whole thing. chopping out the middle segment is a horrible idea in my opinion.

@ klaatu: preaching Malthusian population control HERE? First of all, I don't believe that clogged highways are caused by population growth. They're caused by population relocation and policies promoting infrastructure favoring cars. Highways disperse density, they don't support it.

Robert said...

re: ""When you build more roads, it doesn't mean there will be fewer people in the road. It means more people will be driving," Rogner says. "When you build more roads, you increase congestion.""

You hear this a lot, but it doesn't make any sense. I'm not going out and drive on the ICC [or the widened Woodrow Wilson bridge] every day just for fun, and no one else is either. If people use the ICC, it will be because they need to get from point A to point B, and the ICC is the best way to do it. Otherwise, they will have to take a different route.

Traffic increases because new development is allowed, not because roads are built or improved. Stop new development and there won't be an increase in traffic.

Concerning substituting mass transit for the ICC, it is hard to have mass transit where there is no mass, at least on one end. Metro rail works because there is a big mass destination (downtown DC), but there is no big mass destination for the ICC. People are coming from many diverse points and going to many diverse points. Automobiles work in this situation, but even very extensive bus system wouldn't work very well as an ICC replacement because most people are unwilling to spend the time it takes to get to a bus stop from their home, wait for the bus, take the bus to a central point, wait, catch a second bus to take them along the ICC route to another transfer point, wait, and then take a third bus to their final destination (work site, etc). And just try doing that if you need to carry packages or make a stop for shopping on your way home or to work.

We have bad traffic because we built sprawl development without building the roads to support it.

We have sprawl because most people wanted to buy single family houses, not big, dense, apartment complexes and were willing to pay the price in money and time. Single family home ownership = "the American Dream." Developers will give us anything we are willing to pay for, and historically most of us wanted and paid for the single family house with the yard. That's why those big houses on huge lots in Potomac and Great Falls cost more than a new condo downtown. It would be the other way around if people in general valued dense living and greater convenience more. But we get what we are willing to pay for = sprawl.

It should also be noted that our close-in suburbs, which today are considered not to be sprawl at all but smart growth areas, were sprawl when they were developed. There was a lot of undeveloped land in NW DC when Silver Spring and Bethesda were developed. Today's sprawl may well be considered smart growth areas in 50 years.....

David said...

My goodness. I cannot believe that klaatu would go out of his way to say that I am "effectively insane" and that "I have diminished mental capacity" for my stance against the inter county connector. Why you are needing to insult someone whom you have never met on the basis that you believe I don't understand malthusian principles is only a reflection of your character. And not taking a stance on this issue only intensifies that character.
My friend, I am obviously very idealistic. Insane, I may be by your standards; but having a diminsished mental capacity, I do not by any means.
I understand what is at stake with overpopulation and I understand that this road is a symptom of it. However, population control is out of my hands!!! I can't treat this symptom by lobbying my government. I can't effectively change some of the endemic cultures, by for example telling Catholic's to use birth control. I mean I can, but why the hell would they listen to me.
What I can do is encourage my government and my community to grow in ways that will encourage the capacity of having greater resources in the future. This is not just with natural resources, but also in the money available to my government to spend on transit.
Furthermore, just giving up and not encouraging our burgeoning population to grow in a mindful way, it's only putting these problems of for another day or another generation.
This is what industrialization has encouraged so much, but given our economic and environmental crises CHANGE NEED TO START TODAY. WE NEED TO GET CARTS OFF THE ROAD AND HAVE DENSELY POPULATED LIVING COMMUNITIES.
Are you from Maryland?? I have been to other cities, for example, Denver whose mass transit is highly effective at getting people from one place to another. In this area, we don't even have a bus that makes continual trips from Baltimore to DC eventhough it is two highly populated areas seperated by about 45 minutes. We, as in public leaders, are not looking at alternative approaches to transit in Maryland and furthermore the culture of building more highways is only encouraging people to consume more of our natural resources.
As an environmentalist the first thing I have established is that there are growing populations, and to think that I am not familiar Malthusian principles is kind of ridiculous given my stance.
Please when you talk about an issue, talk about the issue and don't attack someone personally, it is offensive to yourself.

klaatu said...

Mr Rogner: Please understand that I am not insulting you specifically; I am not even insulting anyone, merely pointing out cold hard facts. These are inarguable facts that cannot be denied. So long as population increases, additional transportation routes are required anytime extant transportation routes become saturated or cannot be extended to underserved areas. The alternative is to do nothing, in that situation. Doing nothing leads to intolerable congestion, and once things are sufficiently congested, the traffic required to keep the civilization functioning cannot travel.

I also see here the reflexive rationalization so prevalent hereabouts, and if I insult anything I insult that.

You suggest that you know all about "malthusian" concept, but you rationalize that you cannot affect other people's policies and actions. Yet somehow, madly and inconsistently, having made the claim that you cannot influence policies and actions, you directly attempt to influence policies and actions, only you try to prevent policy and action remedial to failure to influence policy and action on population growth. I'm not sure that you can even see the hypocrisy inherent in attempting to change something that can't be changed while saying that some things can't be changed.

Thus, rather than attack the source of the problem, you attack a solution to a symptom of the problem.

You make the argument that you can't talk Catholics into not having dozens of kids, more or less. That's ridiculous; back when I was in secondary schools here in Montgomery in the 1970-1976 timeframe, we did mostly talk the local Catholics and everyone else into having, on national average, no more children than required to replace our numbers. Your argument on Malthusain ground -- or rather your argument that there can't be any successful such argument -- is misplaced; since 1990 the vast majority of all population growth in the USA and in this region is due to immigration (legal or otherwise) and the second-generation population growth effects of the American children of immigrants (legal or otherwise).

Now, you are suggesting that it's possible to "grow" a community in a way that increases, rather than decreases, available resources. That can't happen in a free society that encourages "upward mobility". As individual or class or community wealth increases, so does the level of resource consumption of all individuals and of the community in aggregate. More and wealthier people require and will consume more water, food, and energy. The only way to prevent that is to prevent wealth. And you need that wealth to fund improvements in mass transit.

As for promoting "densely populated living communities", we have those, they are called cities.

Now, I am not here to insult you, any more than you pay your professors to insult you. I'm here to teach you and stop getting angry and start getting your intellect challenged.

Now that we both admit that there are densely-populated communities called "cities", most of which do in fact have effective mass-transit systems serving their central cores and usually the closer suburban areas and "edge cities", let's move on to the real core of the discussion which seems to have gone right over your head.

The issue we are wrestling with is what must be understood. What we are discussing is the Urbanization of Suburbs and even the densification interfill of Exurbs.

The MNCPPC Planning Commission has just issued their "vision" of admitting that Georgia Avenue north of Downtown Silver Spring is in fact no longer a commuter highway but the Core Arterial for a very long but not-too-wide city; and it is their proposal to more or less officially turn it into Rockville Pike, which has long vied with Route One in College Park for the title of "world's longest strip mall".

They will soon issue a comparable vision for US-29, the Colesville Pike.

They've already been highly successful with their densification right around US-29 and Briggs Chaney Road, as Mr Reed will surely attest if he survives being dipped in my present acid sarcasm. However, Mr Reed could easily and properly point out that had anyone actually served this area with useful mass-transit, the present failures could be moderated, perhaps even into actual success.

Now, you use the phrase "we, as public leaders" in the context of failing to make sensible plans for the future and in fact where you think I am insulting you for having no concept of even mere engineering limitations, much less Malthusian ones, I am in fact insulting "we, as public leaders".

You're right. We need rapid rail from downtown to Brookville and possibly even to Sunshine. We need rapid rail mass-transit the length of US-29 in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. We need plans on the table headed for instant approval for Bus Trains and or Bus Rapid Transit ("BRT") for the entire length of the ICC. That will get people out of their cars and only mass-transit, because it will take a lot less time to get from Shady Grove to Laurel than by taking the train downtown and back and then taking the bus north from College Park.

We also need to be ready to sacrifice the campaign contributions of Winchester Homes who want to plant a development in the path of a long-overdue overhaul of MD-28/MD-198 from Georgia Avenue to US-1 in Laurel; and we also need to be ready to sacrifice a rather elderly elementary school and about 20 houses in Burtonsville in order to rationalize that route into a flat-and-straight (more or less) 21st-century 3-lane by 3-lane highway with reserved mass-transit right-of-way running either centered or parallel.

But keep in mind at all times that we are playing King Canute, trying to push back the tide when what might actually work would be building a dike. "Growth" has at the heart of it nothing more than shortsighted people making lots of money off of bringing in more people, whether from abroad or from elsewhere in the region or in the States.

We just need to keep in mind also that there are limits to densification; after all, Georgia Avenue has become a central arterial to a not-very-dense city larger than the District of Columbia and with comparable population. It wasn't designed to be a city, and we are suffering because it was not designed to be a city but effectively is one. Adding more people to it isn't and cannot be a solution. Failing to stabilize the population is a guaranteed and highly predictable route to failure.

So, my conclusion? Don't work against the ICC without also working against the causes that made it necessary. Otherwise anyone can call you a hypocrite, and the only way you could possibly escape that label would be to say "I hadn't thought of it, you're right" and then change your ultimate focus to the fundamental problem -- overpopulation and population growth on top of that -- and press for more effective uses such as BRT mass-transit down the ICC if it does get built.

PS, yes, I've travelled.

C. P. Zilliacus said...

David wrote:

> This is what industrialization
> has encouraged so much, but
> given our economic and
> environmental crises CHANGE
> NEED TO START TODAY. WE NEED
> TO GET CARTS OFF THE ROAD AND
> HAVE DENSELY POPULATED
> LIVING COMMUNITIES.

"Been there, done that," and so have you, if you grew up in Eastern Montgomery County (Cloverly, Fairland or White Oak).

The 1981 Eastern Montgomery County Master Plan was about those things (it was based on a concept of transit serviceability). It was also a massive failure.

If you are genuinely concerned about the environment, stop trying to practice social engineering and start working on new technologies that will reduce environmental impacts without attempting to force changes to our lifestyles.

C. P. Zilliacus said...

David wrote:

> Are you from Maryland??

Yes. Lived in Eastern Montgomery County since 1960.

> I have been to other cities,
> for example, Denver whose
> mass transit is highly
> effective at getting people
> from one place to another.

Best check your facts before
you make claims like the above.

According to the Census Bureau,
transit ridership for work
trips in Montgomery County,
Maryland is about 12.6%.
For Denver County, Colorado,
it's 8.5%.

> In this area, we don't even
> have a bus that makes continual
> trips from Baltimore to DC
> eventhough it is two highly
> populated areas seperated
> by about 45 minutes.

Again, I suggest you check
your facts before making
such claims.

www.greyhound.com

Metrobus Route B30

> We, as in public leaders,
> are not looking at alternative
> approaches to transit in
> Maryland and furthermore
> the culture of building
> more highways is only
> encouraging people to
> consume more of our
> natural resources.

How many new highways (in terms
of centerline miles) have
been built in Montgomery
and Prince George's Counties
in your lifetime?

> As an environmentalist the first
> thing I have established is that
> there are growing populations,
> and to think that I am not
> familiar Malthusian
> principles is kind of
> ridiculous given my stance.
> Please when you talk about
> an issue, talk about the
> issue and don't attack
> someone personally, it
> is offensive to yourself.

Fine.

Why don't you do yourself
and the rest of us a favor
and stop repeating verbatim
the same stuff we've been
hearing from Greg Smith and
Mark Robinowitz for decades?

C. P. Zilliacus said...

klaatu wrote:

> Mr Rogner displays a
> significant failing seen by
> a lot of purportedly
> intelligent people who come
> from the culture of the
> Maryland suburbs of the
> Nation's Capital.
>
> This pervasive intellectual
> fault can only be laid at
> the feet of the
> politicization of the
> local schools and the
> culture they foster.

Klaatu, long time no see. I recall seeing your posts on
Usenet.

Not so sure I agree with your
last sentence above.

I think the problem is more one
of pervasive NIMBYism, and the
success of the so-called
"anti-auto vanguard" at
getting people to think that
cancellation of highways is
somehow a morally right thing
to do.

> When you go to solve a
> problem, you don't look at
> the symptoms and then
> attack solutions to
> the symptoms. When you go
> to solve a problem, you look
> at the causes of the
> symptoms and you tackle
> that.
>
> There is exactly one reason
> why the ICC needs to be
> built: the population, and
> the population density,
> continued to increase.
>
> Until and unless that is
> dealt with, you will have
> the symptoms of overpopulation,
> excess densification, and
> the ills associated with
> that. These ills include
> resource depletion,
> pollution, and traffic
> congestion.

I don't disagree with what you
say above, but there is
another reason why the ICC
is needed - construction of
tens or hundreds of thousands
of dwelling units since the
1970's have been done with
the assumption that the ICC
would be built.

> If you increase density, and
> try to deal with it through
> the means of placing
> large-scale mass-transit,
> and still encourage
> population growth,
> eventually you will saturate
> the mass-transit. If you
> saturate mass-transit and
> have not provided ample
> capacity for things that
> can't use mass-transit
> (truck deliveries, for
> example) your civilization
> will grind to a halt... and
> when civilization grinds to
> a halt, asthma is the least
> of your problems.

A few comments:

(1) As a friend put it,
"densities don't ride
transit.
"

(2) Asthma is a problem in
the United States. But
those Southern California
studies were done in the
1990's, and vehicle
emission controls and
lower-emission fuels (e.g.
ultra-low-sulfur Diesel fuel)
have come a long way since
then, and have greatly
reduced tailpipe emissions. So
I question how those studies are
relevant today.

C. P. Zilliacus said...

Dan wrote:

> Many ICC opponents argue
> that the communities it
> travels through would be
> better served by
> improved transit, though
> the issue of how much density
> is needed to sustain new bus
> or rail lines is
> rarely discussed. Would
> Rogner accept more jobs
> and households in East
> County in exchange for
> better public
> transportation?

Dan, thanks for asking the
question above. It's one
that most of the anti-ICC
folks do not, under any
circumstances, want to
discuss.

> "I'd be willing to make
> that sacrifice," he says.
> "In all actuality, I think
> the answer to a lot
> of Americans' inability to
> turn around in this economy
> is based on this dependence
> on foreign oil. I would like
> us to travel less and build
> real compact, smart growth."

More Castle Boulevards?

> For a class assignment, Rogner
> visited Konterra, the planned
> mini-city set to rise where
> the ICC meets I-95 west
> of Laurel, to test the
> water quality in nearby
> streams. "Now that it's
> already clear-cut, you'd
> think that's the right thing"
> to develop it, Rogner says.
> "But we could still bring
> it back."

This shows that David knows
little or nothing about
the history of the land that
will make up Konterra.

It's not greenfields
in any way, shape, or form.

All or very nearly all of
Konterra is old, mined-out
sand and gravel pits.

Developing it will actually
improve water quality!

> "We need to develop on
> areas that are already
> developed with more
> efficient infrastructure,"
> he continues. "Konterra,
> it's already owned by this
> guy and he gave a lot to
> see the ICC built."

So David does not think
that developers of buildings
near Metrorail stops in the
District of Columbia did not
make campaign contributions?

> But while the ICC would
> be "going back to the old
> status quo," Rogner admits
> that the alternative
> solution wouldn't be as
> easy as putting up a few
> more apartment buildings.
> "Would MoCo do it? I don't
> know. I feel like, with
> all these houses and all
> this infrastructure, it'd
> be hard to change."

Maybe there is hope for
David yet.

> I suggest that, rather than
> try to stop the entire
> highway, the student
> movement could focus on
> the portion between
> Georgia Avenue and
> Route 29. Also known as
> Contract B, this section
> has yet to begin work,
> though the State already
> awarded it to a
> construction firm in July
> - at 22 percent over
> earlier estimates.
> Cutting across the
> environmentally sensitive
> Paint Branch watershed,
> this segment was the first
> to go when Governor
> Glendening cancelled the
> ICC in 1997.

No, no, a thousand times no.

Study of Glendening's so-called
Eastern and Western Parkways
(ICC with the "Contract B"
segment left out) was quietly
dropped in 2000. It was
unworkable then and it is
unworkable now.

That would mean massive
increases in traffic on
U.S. 29. around the terminus
of the eastern ICC (and
presumably similar impacts
around a terminus of the
western ICC near Md. 28).
68,000 vehicles is a lot
of traffic. As a resident
of that area, I resent
the impact it would have
on substandard roads like
Briggs Chaney, Fairland,
East Randolph and
Md. 198.

Also, it would mean the
following:

(1) The payment of $80 million
in liquidated damages to
the Contract B joint venture
group of contractors.

(2) It would almost certainly
be in violation of the
Record of Decision approving
the ICC, putting federal
funding at risk.

(3) It would almost
certainly violate the
MdTA trust indenture,
under which revenue
bonds were sold to investors
to build the project.

C. P. Zilliacus said...

Dan wrote (quoting David):

> "The people most hard-line
> against it are from P.G.
> County," says Rogner.

That may be true.

But in spite of all of the
anti-ICC rhetoric that has
swirled around, were either of
you aware that the Prince
George's County Council,
while stating its opposition
to the ICC, has also repeatedly
endorsed the ICC
(at least
in its own county)?

Below is what I wrote in the
ICC's Wikipedia article:


The position of the County Council of Prince George's County in opposition to the ICC has been repeatedly cited by opposition groups, and its 2003 resolution on the subject, CR-32-2003, adopted on June 10, 2003, starts off with these words:

A RESOLUTION concerning Intercounty Connector (ICC) For the purpose of expressing the County Council’s opposition to construction of the Intercounty Connector (ICC)

On the second page of the resolution, in the fifth paragraph, are the following words, which include an endorsement of the ICC in Prince George's County and as far west as U.S. 29 in Montgomery County:

... supporting project planning for alternatives to the construction of the ICC between I-95 and I-270, including an East-West Link between US 29 and US 1 and transit service improvements ...

(emphasis added)

Stated differently, Resolution CR-32-2003 opposes the ICC, but only that part of the ICC in Montgomery County and west of U.S. 29, where the Prince George's County Council does not have legal planning powers.

In 2007, the Prince George's County Council passed resolution CR-59-2007, which repeats much of what was stated in CR-32-2003, including the language endorsing the ICC in Prince George's County, starting with the following words:

A RESOLUTION concerning the Inter County Connector For the purpose of expressing and restating the Prince George’s County Council’s long-standing opposition to construction of the Inter County Connector (ICC) on the basis that the ICC will further sprawl development, and thus cause or exacerbate an increase in vehicle miles traveled, shift jobs away from Prince George's County, and cause substantial local and regional environmental impact and contribute negatively to climate change, and that there is a lack of need for the ICC, that the cost of it is too great and that there are reasonable and better transportation alternatives that will reduce sprawl development and its impacts.

On the sixth page of this resolution, in the fifth paragraph, the language endorsing the ICC in Prince George's County from CR-32-2003 is repeated almost verbatim:

WHEREAS, on December 14, 2001, the Prince George’s County Council, County Executive and Chairman of the Prince George’s County Transportation Oversight Committee submitted a Joint Signature letter on State Transportation Priorities to the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation, supporting project planning for alternatives to the construction of the ICC between I-95 and I-270, including an East-West Link between US 29 and US 1 and transit service improvements;

(emphasis added)

klaatu said...

Wow, that is a lot of information from CPZ... and thanks for remembering me. It's been about 10 years or so since I was all that active in dc.general and Urban Planning newsgroups on UseNet. (clueless people might want to try groups.google.com ...)

Okay, folks: please take a look at Park and Planning's Georgia Avenue Study.

Take a look, particularly, at their plans for Aspen Hill.

The illustration effectively replaces the Northgate Plaza Shopping Center (Lee Development Group property since the 1950s or so) with a high density mixed use property, and it would make sense in a lot of ways, the Red Line is right up the road in Glenmont about 3 miles away. Further, Layhill Road splits off from Georgia Avenue at Glenmont and heads due north right up to the ICC and everyone agrees that Layhill Road is long overdue for significant improvements.

Aspen Hill and surrounding communities -- especially "semi-planned for now" highly-densified developments -- would benefit massively from the proximity to the ICC on the north and the Montrose East Parkway on the south, at least in terms of being able to get on a major road and go places.

And of course, people wanting to get to/from the ICC and connections to it, onto Montrose East parkway, would of course tend to turn Aspen Hill into a giant mixing bowl and everyone knows it. And of course, the logical route is that of the old "Rockville Facility" which unfortunately can't be built due to the nearly overnight amendment of the Maryland Constitution to create Matthew Henson State Park from the former right-of-way ("ROW"). Of course, that doesn't mean than an amendment made to block profiteering by cronies of a Republican governor couldn't instantly be repealed to enable profiteering by cronies of a Democrat administration, and everyone knows it.

It's moot in any case, since with Eminent Domain the County could leave alone any infringement on the "pristine" (stop laughing, dammit) parklands along the Turkey Branch of Rock Creek, and just condemn the entirety of Turkey Branch Parkway and as many houses as got in the way. All they'd have to do would be to crack down on illegal immigration and half of the homes in Stoney Brook Estates II will be emptied. They're already cheap little boxed in a declining housing market and could probably be bought for a song. Of course, the Aspen Hill Civic Association might not like it, but it's not as if that neighborhood is the majority of their membership... plus as most of their directors are Realtors, it's quite possible they could make a mint selling "modestly priced homes in an established neighborhood very well served by both freeways and transit". But I digress.

Aspen Hill's "downtown" will be caught in between the traffic dumping off of the Montrose East onto Veirs Mill Road, and the only way northbound from there as planned is a left on Randolph Road and then another left on Connecticut Avenue, but from there it's either a left on Georgia and straight on to the ICC for points west of Georgia, or a right on Bel Pre/Bonifant to intercept the ICC near Layhill and Bonifant. Notice the mention of Layhill once again?

Of course, all of this will mean that the already pretty good intersection of Georgia and Connecticut Avenues will probably need improvement, probably in the form of a new Grade Separated intersection and while you're at it why not put in a Metrorail extension and station in North Gate Plaze as the basement of the new highly-densified construction there... and while we're at it, why not level Harmony Hills and build even more high-density and why not do the same to the Aspen Hill Shopping Center proper? And as long as you're condemning south Aspen Hill to build the new Turkey Branch Super Parkway, why not level most of Stoney Brook phases I and II while you're at it and build an immense row of apartments into the hillsides, and get rid of that icky Veirs Mill Village while you're at it?

No, honestly, I am not "channeling" Councilmember N. Floreen, it's just that I have ... VISION ... and nobody else does. If they did, they'd be investing in concrete and steel suppliers.


But seriously, folks.

If there's a plan to turn Georgia Avenue into one leg of a triangle of "world's longest strip mall, centerpiece arterial of appended neighborhoods", and you'd do the exact same thing to US-29 if only you added transit (they already have the densification), that's two legs of a triangle and by adding the ICC that's the third leg of the triangle, everything inside that triangle is pretty much a captive audience, you can call it the "MoCo Beltway" with Olney at one corner, Burtonsville at another corner, and Downtown Silver Spring at another corner, almost all of it in Council District 4. Huge piles of money can be made by paving over entire neighborhoods or at least entire subdivisions with new high-rise high-density and all you have to do is supply all three legs of the "MoCo Beltway" with both mass-transit and auto high-capacity flow capability.

Having people need to go down two long legs of a triangle to get to the other endpoint, that's incredibly wasteful, ask anyone who has to commute from Rockville to Reston the long way because the State of Maryland investment in BWI is too great to allow a bridge to be built across the Potomac allowing Maryland suburbanites to choose between BWI or Dulles.

So, if not the ICC, then a massive revisioning of MD-28/MD-198 needs to be done, and at least the segment near MD-198/US-29 needs to be done if west Burtonsville isn't to drown in traffic.

Sorry to go on and on but I'm sort of bored.

Just stuff to think about!

klaatu said...

Due to being clearly suffering from demonic possession, I feel it incumbent upon me to capitalize on an unfortunate typo which is almost inevitable when screaming in ALL CAPS.

Mr Rogner wrote, in part:

WE NEED TO GET CARTS OFF THE ROAD AND HAVE DENSELY POPULATED LIVING COMMUNITIES.

Now, aside from the stunning dismay which will be felt by all of the Amish reading your post -- I mean, however will they get around and transport their produce if you take all of the Carts off of the road? Will you take their Buggies, too? -- let me reiterate that back in the day when all there was on the road was Carts and occasionally lone horses burdened by nothing more than their riders, people lived in very densely populated little communities separated by vast tracts of farmlands and even wilderness.

Suburbia is, without a doubt, originally the offspring of mass-transit though initially these suburbs grew along and beside rail-lines. Yet with the introduction of the automobile, suburbia could spread out not merely along rail lines, but in a pervasive patchwork not limited to rapid transit along rail arterials and otherwise crawling along routes perpendicular to the arterials at the pace of a loaded quadruped.

This perception of distance, of rapid travel, enabled the Sprawl, land-use patterns which can't really be reconciled with linear mass-transit (rail etc) unless you have a lot of such transit lines. And while a single dual-track line of commuter rail is certainly affordable enough contrasted to the costs of radial commuting, having commuter rail in enough places to take most commuter automobiles off of the roads is going to be a lot more expensive than retooling the entire commuter auto industry and re-engineering cultural habits and social mores into commuting patterns using high-density low-energy-cost non-rail commuter vehicles.

But enough of being serious.

Every partier at UM needs to pay close attention to this.

Mr Rogner, it must be understood, wants to take CARTS off of the road. And how will we get our goods to market? And what will we do with the Ox that pulls the cart? He can't be used to pull the CARTs, the CARTs aren't allowed on the road. No, the Ox will have to slaughtered and rendered for glue and we'll all have to eat as much Ox as we can so that it won't spoil and go to waste.

Everyone knows that too much red meat is just unhealthy, and there isn't much meat that is redder than Ox meat. Further, anything that big just has to be loaded with fat and cholesterol and be generally just not very nutritious and furthermore since it's been worked so hard, it's stringy, too.

No, Mr Rogner's demand that we take CARTS off of the road has unforseen, and dire, consequences which we -- none of us -- would be willing to suffer.

No, Mr Rogner's proposal to take CARTS off of the road is just plain unhealthy and will lead to an increase in clogged arteries and heart attacks.

And what of that dutiful, tireless, and powerful beast of burden? For generations he has been the backbone of industry and now he's going to be led away from dignified work and be reduced to a pile of marbled steaks dripping fat from between unchewable strands.

No, folks, next time you're doing bong hits the size of a ping-pong ball, when you reach for the poker, think about the important things in life. Think about Mr Rogner and his ALL CAPS demand that he take CARTS off of the road, think of the cholesterol, think of the stringy tough and hard-to-chew steaks, think about all of the groceries that won't be making it to town, and think of this:

His proposals are both bad for industry and unpalatable on your dinner plate. A vote for Mr Rogner is a Vote Against Oxen.

C. P. Zilliacus said...

klaatu wrote:

> Take a look, particularly,
> at their plans for Aspen Hill.

Sounds painful.

> The illustration effectively
> replaces the Northgate Plaza
> Shopping Center (Lee Development
> Group property since the
> 1950s or so) with a high
> density mixed use property,
> and it would make sense in a
> lot of ways, the Red Line
> is right up the road in
> Glenmont about 3 miles away.
> Further, Layhill Road splits
> off from Georgia Avenue at
> Glenmont and heads due north
> right up to the ICC and
> everyone agrees that
> Layhill Road is long overdue
> for significant improvements.

Not sure I agree with you about
the above.

(1) IMO, mixed-use high-density
development needs to be very
near
or on top of
rail transit stops in order to
work. Otherwise, I fear the
result will be just another
crime-infested apartment
complex, such as Castle
Boulevard or any one of a long list of blighted
garden apartment complexes
in Prince George's County.

(2) Upgrade Md. 182
(Layhill Road)? Seems to me
it has been plenty upgraded
since the 1970's, when it was
a substandard two-lane
highway.

> Aspen Hill and surrounding
> communities -- especially
> "semi-planned for now"
> highly-densified developments
> -- would benefit massively
> from the proximity to the ICC
> on the north and the
> Montrose East Parkway on
> the south, at least in terms
> of being able to get on a
> major road and go places.

Agreed.

> And of course, people wanting
> to get to/from the ICC and
> connections to it, onto
> Montrose East parkway, would
> of course tend to turn
> Aspen Hill into a giant
> mixing bowl and everyone
> knows it. And of course,
> the logical route is that of
> the old "Rockville Facility"
> which unfortunately can't be
> built due to the nearly
> overnight amendment of
> the Maryland Constitution
> to create Matthew Henson
> State Park from the former
> right-of-way ("ROW"). Of
> course, that doesn't mean
> than an amendment made to
> block profiteering by cronies
> of a Republican governor
> couldn't instantly be
> repealed to enable
> profiteering by cronies of
> a Democrat administration,
> and everyone knows it.

Thank the late Idamae Garrott for the
abomination known as
M. Henson State Park.

As well as other Aspen
Hill/Wheaton activists
(many now deceased) with
names like Barney Evans,
Ed Milenky and Frank Vrataric.

> It's moot in any case, since
> with Eminent Domain the County
> could leave alone any
> infringement on the "pristine"
> (stop laughing, dammit)
> parklands along the Turkey
> Branch of Rock Creek, and
> just condemn the entirety
> of Turkey Branch Parkway and
> as many houses as got in
> the way. All they'd have to
> do would be to crack down
> on illegal immigration and
> half of the homes in
> Stoney Brook Estates II will
> be emptied. They're already
> cheap little boxed in
> a declining housing market
> and could probably be bought
> for a song. Of course, the
> Aspen Hill Civic Association
> might not like it, but it's
> not as if that neighborhood
> is the majority of their
> membership... plus as most
> of their directors are
> Realtors, it's quite
> possible they could make a
> mint selling "modestly
> priced homes in an
> established neighborhood
> very well served by
> both freeways and transit".
> But I digress.

The sarcasm is dripping.

> Aspen Hill's "downtown" will
> be caught in between the
> traffic dumping off of
> the Montrose East onto
> Veirs Mill Road, and the
> only way northbound from
> there as planned is a left
> on Randolph Road and
> then another left on
> Connecticut Avenue, but
> from there it's either a
> left on Georgia and straight
> on to the ICC for points west
> of Georgia, or a right on Bel
> Pre/Bonifant to intercept
> the ICC near Layhill and
> Bonifant. Notice the mention
> of Layhill once again?

Ayup.

> Of course, all of this will
> mean that the already
> pretty good intersection
> of Georgia and Connecticut
> Avenues will probably
> need improvement, probably
> in the form of a new Grade
> Separated intersection and
> while you're at it why not
> put in a Metrorail extension
> and station in North Gate
> Plaze as the basement of the
> new highly-densified
> construction there... and
> while we're at it, why not
> level Harmony Hills and
> build even more high-density
> and why not do the same to
> the Aspen Hill Shopping
> Center proper? And as long
> as you're condemning south
> Aspen Hill to build the new
> Turkey Branch Super Parkway,
> why not level most of
> Stoney Brook phases I
> and II while you're at it
> and build an immense row
> of apartments into the
> hillsides, and get rid of
> that icky Veirs Mill
> Village while you're at it?

Veirs Mill Village - an
example of "bad planning" from
an earlier day (now not
considered so bad).

> No, honestly, I am not
> "channeling" Councilmember
> N. Floreen, it's just that
> I have ... VISION ... and
> nobody else does. If they
> did, they'd be investing
> in concrete and steel
> suppliers.

I actually agree with you.

> But seriously, folks.
>
> If there's a plan to turn
> Georgia Avenue into one leg
> of a triangle of "world's
> longest strip mall,
> centerpiece arterial of
> appended neighborhoods",
> and you'd do the exact
> same thing to US-29 if only
> you added transit (they
> already have the
> densification), that's two
> legs of a triangle and by
> adding the ICC that's the
> third leg of the triangle,
> everything inside that
> triangle is pretty much a
> captive audience, you can
> call it the "MoCo Beltway"
> with Olney at one corner,
> Burtonsville at another
> corner, and Downtown
> Silver Spring at another
> corner, almost all of it
> in Council District 4.
> Huge piles of money can be
> made by paving over entire
> neighborhoods or at least
> entire subdivisions with
> new high-rise high-density
> and all you have to do is
> supply all three legs of
> the "MoCo Beltway" with
> both mass-transit and
> auto high-capacity flow
> capability.

You got the critical part right.

Increased highway capacity.

> Having people need to go
> down two long legs of a
> triangle to get to the
> other endpoint,
> that's incredibly wasteful,
> ask anyone who has to
> commute from Rockville to
> Reston the long way because
> the State of Maryland
> investment in BWI is too
> great to allow a bridge to
> be built across the
> Potomac allowing
> Maryland suburbanites to
> choose between BWI or
> Dulles.

I respectfully disagree.
The greater stumbling blocks
are the millionaire residents
of the Montgomery County Ag
Preserve
, and their
friends in Virginia that belong
to (and fund) the Piedmont Environmental Council; and the PEC's
D.C.-area front group, the
Coalition for Smarter Growth.

> So, if not the ICC, then a
> massive revisioning of
> MD-28/MD-198 needs to be
> done, and at least the
> segment near MD-198/US-29
> needs to be done if
> west Burtonsville isn't to
> drown in traffic.

And that would be incredibly unfair to residents of the Fairland and Cloverly Master Plan Areas that live along or near 198.

> Sorry to go on and on but
> I'm sort of bored.
>
> Just stuff to think about!

Nice to hear from you again.

klaatu said...

C.P. Zilliacus writes, in part:

[ Regarding turning Northgate Plaza Shopping Center into high-density mixed-use...]

[Needs to be right at the transit station...]
Otherwise, I fear the
result will be just another
crime-infested apartment
complex, such as Castle
Boulevard or any one of a long list of blighted
garden apartment complexes
in Prince George's County.


Good lord. Go to the Aspen Hill Network wiki and follow the link to "crime problem" and the crimereports.com map of calls-for-service to 911 in the area. It's not quite as bad as DC's "Potomac Gardens" (what could be?) back in the late 1980s, but it's still pretty sketchy, and very surprisingly so for Montgomery County.

In any case, it's clear that the MetroRail needs to be extended northwards, perhaps not exactly as WMATA MetroRail but perhaps as a purely-Maryland facility.


(2) Upgrade Md. 182
(Layhill Road)? Seems to me
it has been plenty upgraded
since the 1970's, when it was
a substandard two-lane
highway.


Layhill Road is quite nice right up to just beyond the intersection with Bel Pre Road/Bonifant Road. But as it is, go north of that intersection and suddenly it is the exact same 2-lane road where I learned to drive back in the mid-1970s. Interestingly, the improved section ends right about where the ICC will cross it.

> So, if not the ICC, then a
> massive revisioning of
> MD-28/MD-198 needs to be
> done, and at least the
> segment near MD-198/US-29
> needs to be done if
> west Burtonsville isn't to
> drown in traffic.

And that would be incredibly unfair to residents of the Fairland and Cloverly Master Plan Areas that live along or near 198.


Ah, the Planning Board is finally coming around to the notion that their original Master Plans need a bit of updating.

All I can tell you is that if you try to make a left turn across any part of MD-198 west of US-29 anytime near rush hour, you take your life in your hands.

Search backwards in this blog for my really quite extensive comments on what needs to be done west of US-29 along MD-198 in Burtonsville. All of the "high-density urbanization" fanatics promoting "densified growth" in Burtonsville either fall silent or have to agree that the best possible thing that could happen here is some sort of bypass that still allows the preservation and development of the present business district, without forcing all traffic through it in a way that makes it an obstruction rather than a destination.

C. P. Zilliacus said...

klaatu wrote:

> Good lord. Go to the Aspen Hill
> Network wiki and follow the link
> to "crime problem" and the
> crimereports.com map of calls-
> for-service to 911 in the area.
> It's not quite as bad as DC's
> "Potomac Gardens" (what could
> be?)

The apartments on Dodge Park
Road and nearby on 75th Avenue
in the Landover area of
Prince George's County come
to mind.

Read what the local Prince George's County volunteer
fire company had to say about
the area here.

> back in the late 1980s, but
> it's still pretty sketchy,
> and very surprisingly so
> for Montgomery County.

I think that our long-standing
policies in Montgomery County
have made many of our
communities "comfortable"
for criminals. Including,
in particular, the obsession
with affordable housing and
transit ridership.

> In any case, it's clear that
> the MetroRail needs to be
> extended northwards, perhaps
> not exactly as WMATA
> MetroRail but perhaps as
> a purely-Maryland facility.

The expense of building
Metrorail is massive,
but extending the Red Line
to statons north of
Glenmont mean one-stop
trips for people that can
and will use it.

>> (2) Upgrade Md. 182
>> (Layhill Road)? Seems to me
>> it has been plenty upgraded
>> since the 1970's, when it
>> was a substandard two-lane
>> highway.
>
> Layhill Road is quite nice
> right up to just beyond
> the intersection with
> Bel Pre Road/Bonifant Road.
> But as it is, go north of
> that intersection and
> suddenly it is the exact
> same 2-lane road where I
> learned to drive back in
> the mid-1970s.
> Interestingly, the
> improved section ends
> right about where the ICC
> will cross it.

I think the improvements on
Md. 182 end at the ICC for a reason.

> So, if not the ICC, then a
> massive revisioning of
> MD-28/MD-198 needs to be
> done, and at least the
> segment near MD-198/US-29
> needs to be done if
> west Burtonsville isn't to
> drown in traffic.

Agreed. The revisioning of
the Md. 198/Md. 28 corridor
should wait for the ICC to be
constructed and open to
traffic.

>> And that would be incredibly
>> unfair to residents of the
>> Fairland and Cloverly Master
>> Plan Areas that live along
>> or near 198.

> Ah, the Planning Board is
> finally coming around to
> the notion that their
> original Master Plans need
> a bit of updating.

Fairland and Cloverly got a good
clean-up and revision in the
wake of the catastrophic
1981 Master Plan, in 1997.

> All I can tell you is that
> if you try to make a left
> turn across any part of
> MD-198 west of US-29
> anytime near rush hour,
> you take your life in your
> hands.

I strongly agree.

> Search backwards in this
> blog for my really
> quite extensive comments on
> what needs to be done west
> of US-29 along MD-198 in
> Burtonsville. All of
> the "high-density urbanization"
> fanatics promoting "densified
> growth" in Burtonsville
> either fall silent or have
> to agree that the best
> possible thing that could
> happen here is some sort
> of bypass that still allows
> the preservation and
> development of the
> present business
> district, without forcing
> all traffic through it in a
> way that makes it an
> obstruction rather than
> a destination.

I think the ICC will need to be
that bypass. It should remove
the trips headed for I-270,
as well as most or all of the
heavy trucks that use 198 today.

Steve said...

Based on the vast knowledge I've seen in the comments section of this post I have to believe the real story here is Montgomery College is severely failing Mr. Davey Rogner.