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Bus Rapid Transit May Offer Relief to Route 29 Commuters

The planning board recommends a mix of methods to relief congestion on Colesville Road/Columbia Pike in Silver Spring.

Imagine a smooth ride up or down the Route 29 corridor during rush hour. Montgomery County planners are prepared to recommend plans for a bus rapid transit (BRT) strategy tomorrow that would create such a road, or, at least one that's less congested than the one commuters face now. Prospective transit riders would wait up to 15 minutes before hopping on a streetcar-like vehicle that travels much of the way in its own dedicated lane. 

Route 29, named Colesville Road south of Four Corners and Columbia Pike to the north, is one of a few heavily trafficked corridors in the county that is being studied for inclusion in a possible new transit program, according to a news release from the planning department.

With 17,000 riders each day traveling between the Howard County border and downtown Silver Spring, officials suggest a mix of dedicated lanes (to be deployed south of Lockwood Drive in White Oak), a hybrid system near the White Oak Transit Center at Lockwood and Stewart Lane, and  a median busway north of Stewart Lane. 

Four corridors were studied using the department's transportation model:

  • Rockville Pike
  • Georgia Avenue
  • Colesville Road/Columbia Pike
  • New Hampshire Avenue 

The study determined how a new bus system would impact transit ridership, how many miles vehicles travel on the roads and how many hours vehicles would travel in the year 2040. Planners said the benefits of the system were greatest down county. In Silver Spring, vehicle miles traveled would be reduced by 6 percent, the news release said. 

In May, a county-commissioned task force called for a “comprehensive” bus rapid transit network across Montgomery County that would span 160 miles, providing an alternative to congested roads, Patch reported. The study called for up to 25 routes. 

Planners will present their findings at the Park and Planning headquartes, 8787 Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8. 

MRHarmon November 08, 2012 at 02:48 PM
There is no way that taking one lane of three away from all traffic is going to ease traffic in 4 corners. This proposal is not to the benefit of anybody that lives from 4 corners south into downtown. All this does is encourage folks to move farther out of town and benefit those that live in Howard County. Oh and just for fun those that have chosen to live responsibly close to work get to pay for it too!
Silver Springer November 08, 2012 at 03:21 PM
First, It's Colesville Road from downtown SS all the way to New Hampshire Ave. Then it's Columbia Pike north of that. Second, smooth ride for who? If you are taking lanes away who benefits? Sure if you live in Howard County, courtesy of the Montgomery County taxpayers, you'd get to bypass (1) all those who live in Montgomery County who need to use the road to get around and (2) the thousands of daily travelers trying to get on and off the Beltway. Come to think of it you'd probably see even more MC residents relocate to Howard so they can travel congestion free without paying the taxes for it.
jag November 08, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Good points. It's always a hard balance to strike between offering mass transit options (which are certainly very important - economically, environmentally, etc.) for areas with high density/job cores, but at the same time you don't want to induce even more sprawl up these corridors. Half of me says screw these people - they chose to live far away from their jobs/available mass transit and decided it was worth sitting in traffic all day. But on the other hand I know that not everyone can afford the housing prices of inside the beltway MoCo and were forced outside the immediate region. Ultimately, I think Rockville Pike easy surpasses the ridership threshold needed for BRT to make sense and should be implemented first. Purple Line should also be given priority to spur higher density/demand in the last remaining sleepy and/or disinvested areas of inside the beltway MoCo/PG.
Woodside Park Bob November 08, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Taking lanes away from Colesville Road inside the Beltway would be a disaster for traffic. There is no way enough people would start taking the bus to eliminate a lane's worth of cars. Combine this with the fact that the system is projected to cost homeowners more than $1000 a year in higher real estate taxes, and I think the proposal is a non-starter.
Prof Planner November 10, 2012 at 11:53 AM
These are all great comments re US 29.This is all being driven by White Oak developers who need mass transit options, and out-of-touch planning types who have drunk the Kool-Aid, view the project from 30,000 feet, and have complete disregard for the daily lives of Down County folk who actually use mass transit. Hey, let's disrupt these people’s homes, loves and sensible commuting patterns to follow some pipe dream of bringing mass transit to Upcounty and Howard County. residents, who have already shown they want to drive rather than do anything else. (Those that are willing to ride busses already take a Dillon's MTA charter from Columbia to Silver Spring. If there is buys ridership from Upcounty to SS, why hasn’t Dillon’s established a charter from there as well?)

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