Posts about Rockville
People living and working in the Rockville and Shady Grove areas will be able to use 200 Capital Bikeshare bikes on 20 stations next year, thanks to a federal grant which will be formally approved tomorrow.
The bike-sharing program is one of 8 regional projects winning funding under the Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) program from the FTA. JARC funds must go toward improving mobility options for low-income commuters. Annual membership and usage fees will be waived for low-income workers who meet program guidelines.
There is no mention of where stations will go, and that probably hasn't been decided yet, but it is likely to include the Metro/MARC stations as well as high traffic locations such as Montgomery College and Rockville Town Center. A system centered on the two Metro stations with a handful of stations 1 to 4 miles away would allow users to get to traditional transit without having to wait for a bus or pay for parking.
Tomorrow, the National Capital Transportation Planning Board is expected to formally approve the grants. The $1.288 million funding and $688,000 local match for the bikeshare project will cover capital purchases and operating costs for two years. $200,000 of the match is from the City of Rockville.
The Montgomery County DOT applied for the funds, and winners were chosen by a selection committee and staff. Other winning projects include funding the shuttle bus to National Harbor that is filling the gap left by rerouting and shortening hours on the NH-1 bus, gas cards for home care aides serving people far from transit, and a rideshare coordinator for the Dulles corridor.
CaBi is a sensible use of funds to improve mobility for low-income commuters. With its minimal membership fees and an extra subsidy for those who most need it, CaBi can be a great commuting option for those on a budget. One $75 purchase can provide a year's worth of transportation.
The city of Rockville expressed an interest in joining even before CaBi launched. Being so far from the rest of the system, it is unlikely that many people will ride CaBi from Rockville to downtown DC. The investment might have gotten greater network effects if it centered around a place like Silver Spring and DC added more stations on its side of the border.
Though the pilot is going to be small, it can still serve a couple of roles easily. Members can ride from near their homes to the train stations, then take a train to DC and grab another bike for the ride to work Also, if a completely separate pod is successful in Rockville, then it could pave the way for other pods in discrete areas. For example, College Park has been suggesting they want to join for some time. If it works in Rockville, it means College Park doesn't have to wait for the tide of bikes to ripple outward.
Cross-posted at The WashCycle.
Also, if a completely separate pod is successful in Rockville, then it could pave the way for other pods in discrete areas. For example, College Park has been suggesting they want to join for some time. If it works in Rockville, it means College Park doesn't have to wait for the tide of bikes to ripple outward.
Cross-posted at The WashCycle.
If the Corridor Cities Transitway is built, it will be built along the King Farm Boulevard alignment that has been planned for decades, despite opposition from a few residents and the Rockville City Council.
The King Farm neighborhood of Rockville was designed and built in the 1990s, specifically with the intention that a future Corridor Cities Transitway extending west from Shady Grove Metro station would serve as the spine of the community.
King Farm Boulevard, the neighborhood's main street, was intended to be the alignment of that transitway, and was constructed with a wide grassy median to accommodate it. For 16 years the City of Rockville steadfastly supported and planned around having the Corridor Cities Transitway in King Farm.
Then in January of 2011, a small number of neighborhood activists complained, and the Rockville City Council reversed years of planning to request that Maryland reroute the transitway outside of King Farm.
In April, the State of Maryland responded. Rockville has its answer, and it's a resounding "no way."
According to Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley, any realignment outside of King Farm would increase costs, reduce ridership, lengthen trip times for riders, and would not meet Federal Transit Administration regulations. Swaim-Staley puts simply: "A King Farm Boulevard option is the most reasonable and effective for the project."
Good work, MTA, for following through with a good decision and not bowing to a truly ridiculous example of anti-transit paranoia.
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.
Two separate plans in Montgomery County hope to transform parts of Rockville Pike from disjointed chains of strip malls into walkable districts. Each would reconfigure the road to more urban boulevard layouts, but each does so differently, carrying some leading to a danger of creating two, slightly incompatible configurations adjacent to one another.
At White Flint, in unincorporated Montgomery County, a multi-year planning process led to development plans and zoning that encourage converting the many large commercial properties into a mixed-use neighborhood that contains parks, day care centers, affordable housing, retail and much more.
One centerpiece of this plan is a configuration for Rockville Pike which places a transitway down the center while maintaining the current number of travel lanes. Buses, and possibly one day light rail, can more efficiently travel up and down the Pike, allowing more people to live in the area without increasing traffic.
To the north, the city limits of Rockville begin just south of Rollins Avenue and encompass the portion of the Pike around the Twinbrook station. There, the city has conducted another multi-year planning process, also aiming to create a walkable district with street-facing buildings, a more complete street grid, parks and more. In fact, I attended a meeting for this plan over three years ago for one of the earliest articles on Greater Greater Washington.
Rockville came to a different conclusion for the Pike. They want to build a "multi-way boulevard" with through lanes in the center and side roads designed for turning traffic, parking, buses, and bicycles.
Both designs constitute an improvement over the current Rockville Pike, but they solve the problems in different ways. Each has advantages, disadvantages, and simple differences.
Width. The Rockville plan would widen the overall roadway, placing some of the outer lanes on land currently occupied by parking lots. This means that it can't be constructed all at once, but would happen piecemeal as properties redevelop. The White Flint model fits within the existing roadway.
Pedestrians. The White Flint option provides a median so pedestrians, especially ones who move slowly, don't have to cross any large sections at once. On the other hand, the Rockville option keeps the fast-moving through traffic farther from the sidewalks, potentially creating less of a feeling of walking right on a highway.
Bicycles. The Rockville design plans for bicycles to use the curbside lane, which separates them from the main traffic. However, they would still have to mix with turning vehicles, buses, and delivery vans. The White Flint plan, on the other hand, includes a bike lane at sidewalk level between the pedestrian part of the sidewalk and the road.
Transit. Buses will be able to move faster under White Flint's arrangement, and it would be easy to create light rail in the future. The center transitway can also use grass for most of the roadbed except for narrow strips for the buses' wheels, providing opportunities for stormwater retention. On the other hand, Rockville's arrangement puts bus stops closer to the stores that will open onto the street.
Drivers. Drivers might find moving in and out of service lanes confusing or frustrating, as they do on K Street. However, the Rockville plan provides more overall through lanes.
Ironically, DC currently hopes to transform K Street from a model that looks like the Rockville design, though a little narrower (one through lane on each side road plus one parking lane instead of two through lanes, and without a turn lane in the center), into one very much like the White Flint design, though one lane narrower on each side.
Is it necessary to harmonize the two? They could operate next to one another, though there would be some conflict. Buses would have to switch between center lanes and outer lanes. It could be confusing for drivers. And it doesn't lay the groundwork for a rail line along the entire stretch, as ACT has proposed.
Rockville and Montgomery County need to determine whether it's better to let each district go its own way, making their own choices, or whether it's more important to have one, unified street design for the entire corridor, even if that means some areas or some leaders don't get their top choice.
The Rockville Planning Commission is discussing the plan at a meeting tonight, 7 pm at Rockville City Hall.
Rockville's City Council voted Tuesday to ask the Maryland Transit Administration to move the Corridor Cities Transitway out of King Farm, a new urban community that was designed around the proposed line, after residents complained about its potential impact on their homes.
Both Montgomery County and the City of Rockville planned a dense, mixed-use community at the King Farm site for decades before the community finally opened in 1997. Today, the 430-acre development has been recognized by both the Congress for New Urbanism and the EPA as a good example of walkable, transit-oriented design.
The neighborhood has 3,400 homes, a "village center" with apartments over shops, and a substantial office district where the Department of Health and Human Services is considering relocating. King Farm Boulevard, the neighborhood's main street, connects all of these uses; from the beginning, it was designed to carry cars in addition to transit vehicles. Two stops on the CCT are planned within King Farm.
The Corridor Cities Transitway's winding route has long been criticized by urbanists for being too circuitous, though plans to bring the line through existing and emerging activity centers like Crown Farm and "Science City" will make the line more effective and useful to riders. Unlike past adjustments, routing the CCT around King Farm would hurt the project, avoiding thousands of people who would otherwise live within walking distance of the line.
Some activists may be hoping that if they can stymie the CCT, they might stop Science City, officially called the Great Seneca Science Corridor (formerly Gaithersburg West). When that controversial master plan for the area was approved, it included staging requirements that Montgomery County build the CCT before most development can proceed. The possibility of having many workers use transit was one of the arguments in favor.
However, there's enough momentum and muscle behind Science City at this point that if the CCT doesn't happen, the Council is more likely to simply waive the staging requirements. That will just mean even more traffic on the area's roads.
Joan Hannan founded the Coalition for the Preservation of King Farm after realizing that transit vehicles could run in front of her condominium on King Farm Boulevard. She claims that the builder never told her about the CCT and fear that it could force the closure of through-streets in the neighborhood.
Nonetheless, four out of five City Council members were swayed by opponents' arguments. Rockville Central reports that Councilmember Piotr Gajewski, a King Farm resident, said the Corridor Cities Transitway would give "no benefits" to the neighborhood while being "incredibly disruptive."
Another Councilmember, Mark Pierzchala, made a motion to suggest moving the line to the middle of I-370, which would bypass King Farm entirely. Only Councilmember John Britton, who noted that the Corridor Cities Transitway will serve King Farm residents going to the future Science City and other destinations in the upcounty, voted against the route change.
Meanwhile, residents in the New Urban community of Kentlands in Gaithersburg, to which King Farm is often compared, not only support light-rail for the CCT but have also gotten the MTA to consider rerouting the line into their neighborhood.
Rockville officials should look beyond the immediate, knee-jerk anti-transit views of a few King Farm officials. The whole city will be far better off with the CCT giving people a real alternative to driving right through Rockville, whether from communities like King Farm to jobs downcounty and in DC, or from points south and east to the new jobs in Science City and elsewhere.
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Montgomery Council Chair Nancy Floreen (at-large) argued passionately at a hearing Tuesday for relaxing the "adequate public facilities" rules that are standing in the way of walkable development at White Flint that has widespread community support.
I wrote about the absurity of clinging to a traffic model that says communities cannot function without wider roads, when our cities such as DC are living examples to the contrary. Floreen pointed out another such example: Rockville.
"Is the City of Rockville in balance?" Floreen said. "It doesn't use this test and it's a neighbor of Whtie Flint. Why let 9 Council members define this? ... We're using the wrong standards."
Barnaby Zall said that 30 seconds is what stands in the way of the County approving White Flint. The County Executive wants to prioritize the speed of traffic through White Flint above creating a great place there, and County Council staff were unable to make the plan work with the existing, broken metrics.
In this particular case, many people in the community support the plan. And for many Councilmembers, including Floreen, that makes a big difference.
Floreen said (as transcribed by FLOG:
I love the White Flint Plan. Because the community defined what it wanted and said the community character is what matters most. I have come to say that's how you should find out what matters.Based on comments, Councilmember Marc Elrich (at-large) seemed most hesitant to change the rules, while Councilmember Roger Berliner (District 1, which include the area) and Duchy Trachtenberg (at-large) support approving the White Flint plan.
I will lie down in the middle of Rockville Pike if you make the intersection at Strathmore any bigger. People can't walk across Strathmore because of the speeds drivers think they're entitled to. ...
We're letting the wrong standards drive us. I can't explain the difference between 30 seconds and 40. People who live within WF want to see some real improvements.
While most of the attention leading up to last week's election focused on the Virginia governor's race, the elections in Rockville carried major repercussions for that city's growth. Or rather, the city's lack of growth, as voters brought in a mayor and new Councilmembers opposed to growth.
By a margin of 313 votes, Councilmember Phyllis Marcuccio unseated current Mayor Susan Hoffman. Marcuccio has built her political base on opposing most development in the City of Rockville. Especially if that development is four stories high. And especially if people making $35-60,000 a year might live there.
The flashpoint in question is Beall's Grant II, a proposed moderate-income housing development at the edge of Rockville Town Center. The Montgomery Housing Partnership wanted to replace their existing Beall's Grant apartments and adjacent vacant lots and parking with a new building. They secured zoning approvals and financing for the project, but required a letter from the Rockville City Council to qualify for federal tax credits. Opponents organized to stop the project, charging that it would bring crime and traffic and overcrowd schools. But others noted that Beall's Grant I is not high-crime and few residents have children in the schools, and if the lot were developed with offices instead, it would bring far more traffic.
Ultimately, the Council refused to provide the letter, stalling the project. Marcuccio was one of the opponents of the project, and ran on a platform of opposition to that project and increased density in general, even in areas like the center of Rockville.
Marcuccio wasn't the only anti-change candidate who prevailed last week. According to DailyKos diarist Enterik, anti-development Council candidates also did well, including Bridget Newton, Vice-President of the anti-Beall's Grant leading West End Civic Association, who won the most votes overall, and Mark Pierzchala, who took the last seat on the Council.
Naturally, the Rockville election hinged on many more issues than just development and the Beall's Grant II project in particular. Pierzchala rides his bike to Metro year-round and ran primarily on a platform of open government. He also endorsed mixed-use development. Candidates talked about civility on the Council and the city's budget.
I can't find any candidate statements about the Rockville Pike plan, which envisions turning Rockville Pike from a chain of strip malls into a walkable boulevard starting with a series of "catalyst sites." Do Marcuccio and the new City Council support continuing that project, or do they prefer to maintain the Pike as it is? Does anyone from Rockville or who's been following the race more closely know? It would be a shame if Rockville reversed their current trajectory toward better utilizing their Metro corridor just as the adjacent part of Montgomery County is moving toward better mixed-use development at the next station to the south, White Flint.
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