Montgomery residents debate bus lanes at BRT hearing
Over 50 speakers packed the Planning Board auditorium in Silver Spring Thursday night to offer comments on Montgomery County's proposed Bus Rapid Transit network. Over more than 3 hours, residents debated the merits of the 10-route, 79-mile system county planners envision.
A slight majority of speakers spoke in favor of the plan, saying BRT could give people a real alternative to driving and support projected population and employment growth. Many speakers highlighted the importance of transit in attracting new residents, particularly young adults who already flock to the county's walkable, transit-accessible neighborhoods.
Skeptics of the plan had concerns about taking away space from cars on Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase and Route 29 in Four Corners to give buses dedicated lanes, arguably BRT's most important feature. These corridors already have the county's highest transit ridership and are projected to carry the BRT network's most-used routes.
The Planning Board will discuss the plan and potentially make changes to it during a series of worksessions over the next several weeks. After that, they'll vote on whether to approve it. If it passes, the plan will then go to the County Council later this year for additional public hearings and worksessions and a final vote.
Kelly Blynn of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, who live-tweeted the event with myself and Ted Van Houten from the Action Committee for Transit, compiled this summary of the hearing on Storify:
- Without a streetcar, what's next for Columbia Pike, technically and politically?
- BREAKING: Arlington cancels the Columbia Pike streetcar
- Transit projects are stuck between people who want to spend less money and people who want to spend more
- Is sidewalk cycling really dangerous, or just scary, like a roller coaster?
- The pop-up debate in Lanier Heights pits "property rights" against "neighborhood character"
- DC will force property owners to shovel sidewalks, with higher fines for bigger and commercial buildings
- DDOT director Brown stands up to opposition to mini-circles