Posts about ICC Trail
Maryland may eliminate 3 of the 5 bus routes on the Intercounty Connector. The move is a classic bait and switch from highway builders: Get political buy-in with the promise of a multimodal road, then cut the multimodal aspects at the first opportunity.
The Maryland Transit Administration operates 5 bus routes on the ICC. It's proposing to eliminate routes 202, 203, and 205. Only the 201 and 204 would remain, running from Gaithersburg to BWI Airport and Frederick to College Park.
When planning the ICC, Maryland promised it would include good transit service and a high-quality bike trail. Officials cut much of the trail in 2004. The bus service was never very good either, so it never got many riders. Now the state is citing that as a reason to cut it significantly.
Of course, cars aren't held to the same standard.
There also aren't many drivers on the ICC. Around 21,000 cars per day use the road. The state says that meets projections, but the projections seem to change. At one point they were as high as 71,000.
But is anyone proposing the state shut the road? Nope. Instead, the strategy is to try and boost car use.
When it comes to bikes and transit, it's cut and run at the first hint of a problem. For cars, it's roll out the red carpet and hope for more traffic.
This isn't the first time this has happened. When Virginia's I-95 HOT lanes were first proposed, the firm hoping to expand the highway called its proposal "BRT/HOT lanes," but of course nothing resembling actual BRT was ever built.
Transportation advocates should remember this the next time someone proposes a "multimodal" highway. Odds are they won't deliver.
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.
Less than a year old, the Intercounty Connector Trail offers a new way to get across Montgomery County by bike. However, a circuitous route, a lack of connections to surrounding areas, and sections with poor visibility all hurt its potential.
The ICC was originally planned to have a bike trail running parallel to it, but in 2004, the State Highway Administration got rid of it, claiming it would reduce the toll road's construction costs and environmental impacts. Instead, they gave the ICC Trail a more circuitous and indirect route, running parts of it along the highway and the rest along local roads like Columbia Pike and Briggs Chaney Road.
Part of the trail runs parallel to Columbia Pike between Fairland Road and Briggs Chaney Road in East County. Like the Forest Glen pedestrian bridge that crosses the Beltway, it runs under a highway. As a result, the trail is also lightly used and has already been vandalized.
This is unfortunate, because the trail could tie neighborhoods on both sides of the ICC together and is a crucial part of a "commuter bikeway" along Columbia Pike first envisioned in master plans 15 years ago. But this part of the ICC Trail won't get any busier or safer without better foot and bike connections to get people to it.
Let's take a look at the trail:
Here we are on the trail, just north of Fairland Road. That's the exit sign for the InterCounty Connector up ahead.
First we pass this small seating area. People do use it, judging from the abandoned pair of shoes. I enjoy the dry stacked stones and wooden bench, which give the trail a woodsy, rustic feel despite its surroundings. Behind the seating area is the recently-built Fairland View subdivision.
The development is separated by a grass berm and has no connection to the trail, despite being yards away. (The view, of course, is of the InterCounty Connector.) I assume these nearby chalk drawings came from kids living there.
Now we're heading under the interchange between Columbia Pike and the ICC. This part of the trail is almost invisible from either road and the surrounding houses, and I passed a group of young men smoking right before I took this picture.
There is Sharpie graffiti in the tunnel, though it's not much worse than anything I saw or did myself in high school. The tunnel appears to have been repainted a few times since it opened; in fact, since I took this photo, the scribbles have already been painted over. It's good to see that the state is maintaining the trail, though I wonder how regularly they patrol it.
After the tunnel, we go under a couple of overpasses. The roar of traffic is pretty intense, and I noticed some broken glass on the path where lights have been knocked out.
We're now between Columbia Pike on the left, and the Montgomery Auto Park on the right. Turn around and you get a great view of the interchange. There are maybe waist-high concrete walls on either side of the trail and a chain-link fence separating it from the Auto Park. The wall might keep bicyclists safe from car traffic, but I wonder if it's also there to protect the car dealerships from bicyclists.
And then we hit a wall. This is the interchange of Columbia Pike and Briggs Chaney Road, which was completed about four years ago; the trail takes a hard right to get around it and then joins Briggs Chaney Road.
Across the street is the Briggs Chaney Plaza shopping center; there's a stoplight and intersection in front of us, but no pedestrian signal or even a crosswalk. From here, we can continue down Briggs Chaney, which has a nice, wide shared path for about a mile and a half before connecting to a portion of the trail that's actually on the ICC.
Residents of Tanglewood, a subdivision on the south side of the ICC, complained that a trail would invite "criminals" from the apartment complexes along Briggs Chaney Road. While I still think that accusation was unfair, residents' predictions that there would be vandalism on the trail turned out to be true.
But as WashCycle points out, the best way to make a safe trail is to make it busy. In the handful of times I've used this one-mile portion of the ICC Trail, I've seen maybe a dozen people there. The trail is new enough that some people haven't heard of it, but it's also obscured by a highway interchange and sound berms.
It would've been ideal if the State Highway Administration had laid out the trail first and then worked around it, rather than the other way around. The trail would be more direct, and possibly more visible, while having little or no effect on the ability of drivers to pass through.
Since that opportunity no longer exists, the best thing we can do is to improve foot and bike connections to nearby destinations like Briggs Chaney Plaza and neighborhoods like Castle Boulevard, which recently got new sidewalks and medians. The easier it is to walk or bike in the area, the more likely people are to use the ICC Trail, and the less destructive behavior will occur.
told 60 Minutes the Obamas hope to "have an impact" on DC. DCist will believe it when they see it, remembering that Bill Clinton briefly visited Georgia Avenue after his election and that was about it.
I'll take the DMV for $125, Alex: Mount Pleasant ANC Commissioner-elect Phil Lepanto got two tickets for speeding on one segment of Connecticut Avenue, once by an officer and once by a speed camera. On top of that, the DMV tried to suspend his license for not replying to letters Montgomery County sent to the wrong place. (Raw Fisher)
"Scare cars" don't scare Wired: Lockeridge, Britain has placed dummies on roads where visitors frequently speed, to break through their focus on speed and raise awareness. Via Virginia ITS.
You can destroy the environment, just spend $2 million on pollution: The Environmental Defense Fund has agreed to drop its lawsuit against the ICC. In exchange, Maryland will spend a puny $2 million to retrofit a few school buses and do a few studies on pollution. Maryland gets to stay on track to will pour enormous amounts of pollution into the air. Of course, they can rest easy that they saved the environment by deleting the bicycle trail.
This Associated Press article summarizes the debate over relaxing parking minimums. The article quotes Jeff Speck, who testified in favor of relaxing minumums, and Capitol Hill ANC Commissioner Ken Jarboe, who testified against. It also gives an example of a historic Milwaukee building which burned down and couldn't redevelop until the city relaxed parking requirements. Tip: Allen, Dan E.
Parking point-counterpoint: Donald Shoup debates a planner from West Hollywood, CA on the merits of performance parking. Norte, the opponent, argues that we shouldn't consider parking reforms until we expand mass transit, ignoring that performance parking can be the way to pay for that expansion.
Another shot for Third Church: The "Mayor's Agent" will hear Third Church's appeal of HPRB's decision denying them permission to raze their building. A victory for the church in this process would be much better than winning their civil rights lawsuit and potentially ending up with new special rights for churches in historic preservation.
Take the car-free challenge and head over to DC's celebration between 11 and 3 at 7th and F for "live music, yoga classes, free t-shirts and giveaways, Segway demonstrations", valet bike parking, free bike tune-ups, and test rides on SmartBikes. If not for me or for the environment, do it for Tommy.
Next stop, Westpark? BeyondDC follows my analysis of the Tysons plan with some of his own. Among the good ideas: better names for the stations than "Tysons Central 7" that create real community identity.
MoCoPlaBo protecting our parks from bicycles: WashCycle runs through the sordid saga of the ICC trail. The Montgomery County Planning Board's next meeting on the topic, with no public comment, is tomorrow; the staff report recommends moving forward with the trail rerouted on a lengthy and dangerous surface street route because, after blasting a ten-lane highway through a park, a little trail is just too much of a burden on our fragile ecosystem.
Metro should move on Farragut transfer now: Steve Offutt's been hammering away at his "invisible tunnel" idea for an out-of-system free transfer between Farraguts North and West. WMATA is upgrading software, but they should be lining up the rest of their ducks now, like regulatory approval and analysis of the financial impact. (CommuterPageBlog)
Infill here: Imagine, DC compiled a top ten list of potential infill sites for new, transit-oriented mixed-use development in DC, from the Benning Road power plant to Lamond-Riggs and Fort Totten.
points out, advocating for a Purple Line bus alignment that would send rapid buses right past another school outside their limits.
Too HOT for MAMMA: A group calling itself MAMMA (Metro Area Mass Movement Association) is urging Virginians to contact their officials and ask to stop the HOT lanes. They argue that the environmental analysis was insufficient, it's a bad deal (with the privacy companies only paying 17.5% of the costs) and just a bad idea. Unfortunately, it's probably too late; just as with the ICC, state officials are too deeply invested politically in something for even high gas prices and the clear folly of new highway construction to stop.
One ICC supporter switches, but too late: Steve Eldridge, whose "Sprawl and Crawl" column leans slightly pro-sprawl in its quest to be anti-crawl, has decided (based on their duplicity around the ICC bike trail) that he doesn't trust Maryland politicians anymore in their promises that the ICC would be good for the environment.
Parking magnate joins his demolished townhouses: L.B. Doggett, owner of DC's first private parking company, former President of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, and a major city political player in the 1970s, has died. The Post writes, "he was a force in preventing the District from building municipally owned parking garages and challenging private firms," but also "bought old rowhouses, which he rented as rooming houses before razing them for parking lots." Via Richard Layman.
Avent on California: Ryan Avent cheers the California anti-sprawl bill I posted Saturday, but wishes cities would build walkability for its own sake, not just because it's green. Still, we'll take what we've got.
popped them with a pop quiz and got many failing grades.
WP covers ICC bike trail fiasco: Washcycle and I have written about the absurdity of cutting a bike trail from the ICC for environmental reasons. But the environmental and recreational knife in the back is continuing, reports the Post. Tip: Jenny.
Candidate debate update: Carol Schwartz debates her Republican challenger, Patrick Mara, today on Kojo, and Roger Lewis will be talking about politics and zoning right after. Both should be interesting. The Ward 8 candidates were on the show Monday, though with such a crowded field there wasn't enough time to really get a sense of the candidates.
Urbanism in the Philly suburbs: $4 gas is bringing change to western Chester County, Pennsylvania, mostly a land of sprawling bedroom suburbs and office parks. NPR profiles Uptown Worthington, with mixed-use residences above restaurants right near major corporate headquarters. And unlike, say, Konterra, it's near one of Philly's excellent commuter rail lines. Tip: Bianchi.
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- O'Malley announces first projects using new gas tax money
- ICC losing bus service in classic bait and switch