Friday, September 27, 2013

supporters pack second public hearing on MoCo BRT

Residents from across Montgomery County spoke in favor of building an 82-mile bus rapid transit network at the second of two public hearings about the proposal at the County Council last night in Rockville.

Upcounty residents call for more transit, not highways. Photo from Aimee Custis on Flickr.

While public opinion at the first hearing Tuesday night was more split, supporters dominated Thursday's hearing, arguing that BRT was the only way to tackle the county's growing congestion. Speakers cited the need for better transit to connect currently undeserved parts of the county, like East County, and as an alternative to proposed roads like Midcounty Highway, which would destroy parkland in Germantown and Clarksburg.

The county has been studying a BRT network for almost 5 years. This fall, the County Council will consider the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan, which outlines what the system could look like and is required before the county can do any detailed study on a particular corridor.

Speakers urged the Council to think big about traffic congestion and the county's future transportation needs. "Do I want to live in a community that invests in a better tomorrow, or one that lacks courage and vision?" asked Jonathan Jayes-Green, a senior at Goucher College in Towson and a Silver Spring native.

Councilmembers noted that this hearing was only the beginning of a larger conversation. "Issues have to be worked out," said Councilmember Hans Riemer, "but we can't go forward without establishing whether transit is a priority on our roads."

Next month, the County Council's Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment (T&E) committee will take up the plan over several worksessions before making a final recommendation. Then, the full County Council will review the plan later this fall, though a vote has not been scheduled.

Once again, I live-tweeted the event with Kelly Blynn from the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Ronit Dancis from the Action Committee for Transit, and Geri Rosenberg from Communities for Transit. Below are some of our highlights:

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