Posts about Smart Growth
In recent years, apartment and office towers have sprouted up around Greater Washington, in inner-city neighborhoods and suburban town centers alike. According to a new report from LOCUS, a smart growth advocacy group, these "walkable urban" places are actually driving the region's growth.
Since 2009, these walkable locations in the Washington area have seen 42% of new apartment development, up dramatically from 19% between 2000 and 2008, and 12% during the 1990s. A similar change was seen for offices, as 59% of the space delivered since 2009 was in these areas, up from 49% between 2000 and 2008 and 38% in the 1990s. ...
To [Christopher] Leinberger, a developer himself, the shift for apartments and offices is a function of the market: Developers are getting higher rents in denser areas, leading to rising values compared with typical suburban-style development. "That's the market telling you, dramatically, build more of this stuff," Mr. Leinberger said. "There's pent-up demand for walkable urban."Leinberger identifies include 43 "walkable urban" places, which are both "regionally significant" and meet a set of criteria for walkability. The places span everything from Columbia Heights in the District to inner suburbs like downtown Silver Spring and even satellite cities like downtown Frederick. As The Atlantic Cities notes, these "walkable urban" places take up less than 1% of the land in Greater Washington but already have a third of the region's jobs.
43 "regionally significant" neighborhoods where development is concentrated.
Map from The Atlantic Cities.
Whether or not you personally want to live in an urban neighborhood, this report is good news. Increased demand to build in areas with existing infrastructure can reinvigorate struggling communities. It can also save local governments a tremendous amount of money compared to development on the fringe where roads, utility lines, and schools may not already exist.
We know that there's an unmet demand for housing in neighborhoods with public transit and other amenities within an easy walk, so those people could get the opportunity to live in the kind of communities they want. Meanwhile, those who prefer a suburban or rural lifestyle will be able to have that in communities that may see reduced development pressure in the coming years. And as Leinberger points out, the glut of large houses in suburban areas built in recent years means that they'll be more affordable as well.
The challenge, then, is ensuring that everyone who wants to live in a "walkable urban" place gets the opportunity to do so. These neighborhoods are likely to have housing costs, and though they're often offset by low transportation costs, we have to make sure that renters and homeowners alike aren't priced out, even when there's substantial neighborhood opposition to new housing.
It's also important to make sure that our urban neighborhoods are the best they can be. We need to make sure they get high-quality public spaces that make up for the lack of private space and allow people to come together. The region's towns, cities and counties would do well to follow the District's lead and get developers and police officers together to ensure that new neighborhoods are designed for safety.
We also have to ensure that people of all ages, not just young adults, are welcome in our urban neighborhoods. These places have lots of potential benefits for kids, but only if they have the right amenities to draw families who may otherwise look to suburban areas.
Greater Washington isn't the only region in North America that's moving towards a more urban future, but it's probably the furthest along in shifting growth to urban places instead of suburban ones. Hopefully, this report will serve as a wake-up call to both the potential our area has and the challenges it will face.
Some Arlington residents argue that the planned Columbia Pike streetcar is too expensive, and that cheaper articulated buses would be just as good. But they would not transform Columbia Pike in the way Arlington wants.
Articulated buses are appropriate in many places, but they are not the same as streetcars. They don't accomplish the same goals, and are not merely a less-expensive substitute.
If Arlington wanted only to provide more transit capacity for existing riders, then better buses would make sense. However, Arlington's goal is to transform Columbia Pike from a suburban commercial strip into a dense, walkable, urban mixed-use neighborhood.
Arlington has a long history of using investments in rail to support smart growth goals. It redeveloped the Orange and Blue Line corridors after Metrorail opened, creating national models of transit-oriented development.
Before Metro, those areas looked very much like Columbia Pike does today. Arlington wants to create the same kind of transformation on the pike, and needs a rail investment to do so.
While it is true that the proposed streetcar will not offer the same level of service as Metrorail, Arlington can't pay for a new subway line. Meanwhile, streetcars have proven to produce similar results at a price the county can afford.
In addition to smart growth and economic development benefits, streetcars are more comfortable to ride than buses, last longer than buses, are quieter than buses, don't spew exhaust, need less energy per passenger than buses, attract more riders than buses, and, depending on the situation, can be less expensive to operate and maintain than buses.
More buses didn't cause change in the past
It's true that articulated buses are even more affordable than streetcars, and that Arlington could save a lot of money by abandoning rail and simply running longer buses. However, Arlington already significantly enhanced Columbia Pike's bus service in 2003, so that buses run every 2 to 3 minutes. That was a nice improvement for riders, but didn't spark much, if any, redevelopment.
While there has been a limited amount of development since 2003, it likely had more to do with Columbia Pike's development-friendly "form-based" zoning code. The code also took effect in 2003, at the same time as the bus improvements.
2003's changes were relatively easy to make and did improve the corridor, but the pace of redevelopment over the last decade has been paltry compared to what's expected with a streetcar. The easy changes have already been made. Columbia Pike needs a greater incentive, or it will continue to lag behind other areas. Simply running bigger buses, as streetcar opponents want to do, isn't enough.
Other regional examples can be instructive. DC, for instance, has more experience with articulated buses than any other jurisdiction in the area. It recognizes that streetcars and articulated buses are not equal. The 2 corridors in DC with the most articulated buses, H Street (on the X2 route) and Georgia Avenue (the 70), are some of the top priorities in DC's streetcar plan. DC already has articulated buses, and yet they are adding streetcars to those very corridors precisely because streetcars offer advantages that buses do not.
Arlington is planning a streetcar because of these distinctions. It has been planning the line for the past decade, has been fully transparent, and enjoyed wide support.
Articulated buses are not a substitute for streetcars. Buses do not accomplish the planning goals set out by the county and approved by its voters. The arguments put forth by streetcar opponents neither address nor refute the reasons for building a streetcar on Columbia Pike, and are not convincing.
Arlington is accepting comments on the option to replace the streetcar with articulated buses until June 21. Let them know that longer buses will not cut it. To realize the smart growth vision for Columbia Pike, Arlington needs a streetcar.
For a series of videos with local officials, Smart Growth America spoke with Tommy Wells about what it takes to make great neighborhoods in DC.
From their writeup:
"Great neighborhoods are not necessarily what we thought they were," Wells says. "We used to think we divided ourselves in sections…you put schools over here, housing over here, stores over here. And what we found was that in order to get anywhere and to do anything, you had to get in your car…And the more that we lived in our cars and in this sort of a sectional, stove-piped community, the more we didn't see each other."
Wells gave a name to the type of lifestyle for which he advocates: "Five-minute living." Being able to walk, bike or take public transit to one's destination as opposed to driving further away offers innumerable benefits to the community, Wells says. It makes for healthier lifestyles, keeps money in the local economy and supports the growth of strong traditional neighborhoods.
In Ward 6, Wells has spent much of his time emphasizing the need to break down barriers to change and to better connect sections of the city.
2012 Livable Communities Leadership Award from the Coalition for Smarter Growth last Wednesday. Below are Goldman's remarks at the event.
I grew up in a middle class suburb of New York City that at the time would have been considered an exurb. My parents had left Brooklyn in the early 1970s and demonized the city and quite frankly everything urban.
We had our half acre in a suburban subdivision. Every house looked the same and for entertainment we could walk 20 minutes to the 7/11, our closest store. My parents drove me everywhere until at last at 16 I learned to drive and gained my independence.
Like many Generation X and Y members, I craved something different but didn't quite know what that was. It was living in New York City after college that exposed me to the benefits that come with high density transit oriented development. The principles are actually quite simple:
- A grid of streets
- A dense network of reliable and regular transit
- A mix of housing and office to keep the streets active and alive 18 to 24 hours per day,
- A density level that provides enough customers to support great creative retail.
- And finally, community amenities, parks, playgrounds, dog walks, recreation centers all built in a sustainable fashion that improves instead of destroys our environment and you have yourself a recipe for Smart Growth.
It's easy to recognize smart growth when it is done well. The struggle is how to impart these characteristics into a suburban instead of urban framework and of course how do you actually get something like this approved when almost every single regulation on the books is in direct conflict with the principals stated above.
And so that brings us to the story of White Flint.
Today, the Rockville Pike in White Flint represents the engineering and design direction that consumers demanded from the 1950s through the 1980s. Tomorrow it will become a model of how to reclaim suburbia in order to create order out of chaos. Within a half mile of Metro, White Flint will one day house 20,000 to 25,000 residents and up to 40,000 employees generating close to $7 billion of net new tax revenue for Montgomery County.
The plan includes more than 2000 affordable housing units and a sensational mix of local and national retailers. There will be a grid of streets and a dramatic increase in transit accessibility. There will be parks, community amenities, and every single building will be LEED certified and most will go well beyond that requirement.
In just 2 months, Federal Realty will break ground on our first phase of Pike & Rose, the rebirth of Midpike into a truly magical neighborhood. 900,000 square feet of development including 492 residential units a boutique 80,000 square feet office building and 150,000 square feet of new retail including an IPIC movie theater, and that's just our first phase. It is an exciting time to be working and/or living in Montgomery County.
And so how did this daring and visionary plan ultimately get approved in a county where dinner conversation regularly revolves around traffic?
It came down to civic outreach, education and engagement. People who typically have opposing viewpoints sat down together and learned about the principals of smart growth and how White Flint could be a win win for everyone. Transparency was a cornerstone of the Partnership's work and we went hand in hand with resident supporters to spread the word. We jointly reached out to the silent majority and engaged them in the political process. And the best part was that the silent majority was ready to be heard.
To provide some insight into the results of the Partnership's outreach effort, I would like to read excerpts from testimony submitted and read by two local residents.
First, from Jane Fairweather, a County resident and business person:
I am fortunate to live in the smart growth urban community of downtown Bethesda. I live at the corner of Woodmont and Montgomery Lane.Isn't that just great. This is from an ordinary citizen and resulted from broad outreach and education.
For 22 years, I lived in a wonderful stone colonial home off Bradley Boulevard where I spent my days driving.
I drove to the grocery store, the bakery, the dry cleaners and the book store. I drove to the hardware store, the drug store, the library, the gym and the hair dresser (obviously this is not my words). On the weekends, I drove to the movies and restaurants and of course to the gas station, early and often. In the suburbs, I was sleeping in my house but living in my car. And, since my neighbors were also car bound, we had very little time to interact with each other and be a part of the community we lived in.
While I knew some of my neighbors, finding time to hang out was difficult. Living in the suburbs meant that I spent at least 3 hours per day in my car and endless dollars on gas to fuel it. I clogged the streets and polluted the air, while ranting the entire time about the traffic congestion around me. I met the enemy and the enemy was me.
After 22 years, my husband and I found ourselves empty nesters and so we moved to a condo in downtown Bethesda. Now we walk to the grocery store, the bakery, the coffee shop, and the book store. We walk to the library and to the gym. I walk to the hairdresser, to 16 movie screens and dozens of restaurants that surround my condo.
Now, I laugh at the people who are sitting in their cars. I never get in my car unless I am working. If I didn't work, I wouldn't even own a car. I live, shop, recreate, relax, learn and exercise within a 12 block radius of my home. If I can't walk there, I take the Metro, which is a ½ block away.
— We no longer need to "drive there" because we "live there."
The following testimony comes from someone who lives in White Flint already:
I am here to ask you to improve the exceedingly inhospitable stretches of Rockville Pike and surrounding streets of the White Flint area. For the most part, these streets could not be more hostile to pedestrians. I am speaking about this based on personal experience.Because of these voices and countless others, the Sector Plan was approved. Its ultimate success will depend heavily on a continuous drum beat of support from local activists like yourselves and a smart and engaged community.
Last year, while crossing Rockville Pike at Hubbard Drive in my wheelchair, to go from Starbucks back to my apartment, I was hit by a car. Today, Rockville Pike is designed for high speed traffic. Due to the near total absence of pedestrians, the simple fact is that drivers on the Pike are not on the lookout for pedestrians.
Fortunately I was not seriously injured, but I ask you to please remember those of us who cannot, or choose not to travel short distances by car. A pedestrian friendly design would enhance my personal safety, and would also result in less traffic by eliminating today's pattern of people driving literally across the street when walking would be eminently more practical.
I ask that the next time you drive down Rockville Pike you envision what it is like for me to get around. Perhaps even borrow a wheelchair and spend the day navigating between housing, strip malls, and the expansive parking lots with no sidewalks. Then think about the possibilities. You hold the power, please use it well.
There are still those that believe the auto should be the central and defining element of urban planning. Until such time that transit and walking are raised to the same level of importance, we will all struggle to win approval and to build great new urban places.
Many nonprofits hold major fundraisers in the spring, and that includes the 2 advocacy groups whose work most closely aligns with the Greater Greater Washington community: the Coalition for Smarter Growth and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. Both have fundraisers coming up, so please consider attending or just making a donation.
CSG's annual gala is its Livable Communities Leadership Award. This year, they are giving the award to Evan Goldman of Federal Realty, for his efforts to design and win community support for the transformative White Flint project in Montgomery County, and Riger Diedrich, longtime smart growth and transportation advocate with the Virginia Sierra Club.
Tickets cost $100. The event is on Wendesday, May 2, 6:30-8 pm at one of my favorite buildings, the Parisian-looking National Trust for Historic Preservation at 18th and Massachusetts, NW in Dupont Circle.
Friday, May 11 is BikeFest, WABA's big spring party. Eastern Market will become an old-fashioned speakeasy for bicyclists. Jazz music, a silent auction, a bike-building contest and more will make for a great party.
It costs $55, or $45 for WABA members. Buy your tickets here!
Responding to requests from neighbors, Safeway created an excellent mixed-use proposal to redevelop its Tenleytown store that will reinvigorate its stretch of Wisconsin Avenue. They deserve kudos from residents, not the litany of complaints the project team got at a recent ANC meeting.
In 2009, Safeway announced plans to expand this aging store. Ward3Vision, a group of residents who support more walkable and sustainable urban places, joined others in the community in urging Safeway to approach the expansion more creatively and sustainably than its original proposal.
Safeway went back to the drafting board, and partnered with Clark Realty and New Urbanist architects Torti Gallas to design a mixed-use development with a 56,000 square foot grocery store and 190 residences.
The development team has spent a lot of time engaging the community. They have created an imaginative project with reasonable density that will blend into the existing neighborhood fabric while also enlivening the street.
The plan calls for more than just replacing the timeworn Tenleytown Safeway with a new store. By adding a residential building, the project will reinvigorate this stretch of Wisconsin Avenue marked by aging commercial development and help it start to transform into a mixed-use commercial and residential district.
Unfortunately, at the March 8 ANC 3E meeting, residents lodged a litany of complaints about the height, density, and parking and traffic impacts of the project.
Some Ward 3 residents have criticized the project as being too dense for the surrounding neighborhood. But the site's location on Wisconsin Avenue, between the Tenleytown and Friendship Heights Metro stations and served by high-frequency bus lines, makes it very appropriate for transit-oriented, slightly denser development.
Growth like what Safeway proposes will bring increased foot traffic and customers to stores and restaurants, giving residents in quieter surrounding neighborhoods more shopping and dining choices, and bolsters DC's tax-base while adding minimal traffic.
The development team showed great sensitivity to community concerns. The architects moved delivery traffic to Davenport Street from the originally proposed location on Elicott Street, where drivers will now unload in a covered delivery court. This buffers the noise and keeps truck traffic away from Georgetown Day School students across the street. The team also added a cover over the delivery court after residents voiced concerns about noise.
The architects added a row of liner townhouses to screen off the potentially blank, uninteresting walls of the grocery store, enhancing the sense of a residential environment. They also stepped back the height of the building to create terraces, increasing green space for the development, and added a second entrance to Safeway along 42nd Street to make the shopfront livelier.
Also, in direct response to concerns expressed at the January ANC meeting, the development team removed one whole story from the residential main block, making it 4 residential stories instead of 5 as originally planned.
There are, of course, details that still need to be resolved, such as how to foster lively street life, how to to minimize traffic congestion and enhance safety, putting utility lines, and encouraging other amenities like bike and car sharing.
The one area that could most improve is at the corner of Ellicott and 42nd, where WMATA has a small service building often referred to as a "bunker." Safeway and Clark are negotiating with Metro about this property. A semi-public use, such as a coffeehouse pavilion, would bring many benefits to the community and developer alike. DC could also modify the slip lanes in this area to create additional public space.
Either way, the final proposal is an excellent one. The team has shown willingness to compromise, and deserve full support from area residents.
Who should decide how an area grows? Local officials and voters, or the government in Richmond? The focus on decisions would shift under Virginia's latest transportation bill, which gives the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) new powers to supersede local planning.
The bill, passed on March 10, requires local governments to revise their plans to include projects favored by the Commonwealth Transportation Board, a governor-appointed, 17-member body that oversees VDOT.
Localities that don't adjust their plans to confirm state priorities would have their transportation funds taken away and given to other jurisdictions. If they want to significantly alter a project to better suit local needs, like lengthening a proposed bridge to help protect a stream, or re-routing a planned road to protect a neighborhood, they would pay the extra cost.
If a locality rejected a project outright, local taxpayers would have to reimburse VDOT for any money it has spent, even if they've rejected it based on hard data, or if the locality never wanted the project in the first place.
Governor Bob McDonnell has until mid-April to either sign the bill into law or use his line-item veto authority. Local officials and groups such as the Virginia Municipal League and the Virginia Association of Counties are asking McDonnell to remove the provisions giving VDOT its new powers, as are smart growth advocates, and many local governments.
Stewart Schwartz of CSG says, "VDOT is notorious for failing to consider a range of alternatives and community impacts, but can now punish local governments and local taxpayers for daring to offer alternative solutions or for recommending cancellation of ill-advised projects based on information about environmental or community impacts. In the end, the state will waste billions of dollars."
Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, who cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate to pass the bill, described the legislation as "a modest effort to ... improve the coordination of land use planning and transportation planning."
Critics might substitute "coercion" for "coordination," and "overreaching" for "modest." In editorials, the Roanoke Times observed that the bill "promotes ill will rather than harmony," and the Lynchburg News & Advance raised the specter of VDOT as a "mega-agency with vast powers over local governments." Both alluded to the bill's incompatibility with Governor McDonnell's professed attitude toward mandates.
The McDonnell administration's approach stands in contrast to a bipartisan 2007 law that required localities over a certain size to designate "urban development areas" (UDAs). These are specific areas where zoning would allow future growth and reduce pressure for more sprawl. The law called for siting UDAs near existing infrastructure that could handle the growth.
At the time, Republican Delegate Clay Athey promoted the concept as a cost-saving measure, since the state pays for roads to serve far-flung developments that come from poor local planning. The state would save money on roads, local governments would save on infrastructure and services, and residents would save on transportation.
The UDA rule enjoyed broad support from smart-growth proponents, fiscal conservatives, and the Kaine administration. But this March, Governor McDonnell signed legislation that makes UDAs optional and allows local voters to abolish them. He portrayed UDAs as "burdensome mandates on localities," despite the fact that the state paid to help 32 localities meet the law's requirements, and despite evidence that compact development saves money in many ways.
Why would the state weaken one bill that coordinated land use and transportation planning to the benefit of both state and local governments, only to replace it with another bill that forces coordination at the expense of local voices and priorities?
The reason may be less about coordination or cost, than a simple preference for highways. VDOT and the governor have been pushing contentious highway projects. Here are some examples:
- Charlottesville Bypass, widely opposed at the local level. VDOT has largely disregarded the better "Places29" alternative.
- Widening most of I-81 to 8 lanes at a long-term cost of $11.4 billion.
- The Coalfields Expressway in the far southwest, which could cost $2.1 to $4.2 billion.
- A new Potomac River crossing and Outer Beltway, which past Loudoun County Boards have opposed.
- Route 460. McDonnell replaced most of the Virginia Port Authority's Board of Commissioners to move the project forward, ignoring regional officials' requests to spend the money on bridge and tunnel bottlenecks.
Schwartz believes that Virginia's Secretary of Transportation and VDOT Chair, Sean Connaughton, "isn't interested in better land use at all, but in the ability to force controversial highway projects through communities. In the process, he is destroying the necessary coordination and discussion between local, regional, and state officials."
The governor should restore 2007's conservative, cost-saving approach to transportation
Over 90% of area residents want more public transportation options, walkable neighborhoods, and jobs close to housing, a WTOP poll found.
WTOP's article on the subject emphasized highway construction instead. Highways garnered moderate support, but not as much as transit.
65% supported widening highways, but only 51% of people said they favor new regional highways. Inside DC, a large majority (59%) oppose
widenings new highways. Only 56% of Virginians want to widen their roads add highways, and Marylanders are evenly split.
I'd have actually guessed the poll would produce higher majorities for the road projects. If widening or building a highway affects people's own neighborhoods, most would oppose it, but the typical person who doesn't follow transportation policy closely but does drive usually tends to support widenings and new roads by default.
The fact that large majorities of people don't want new highways and are closely split on widening existing ones shows the effect of our region's decades of debate on these issues. Residents realize that new roads actually don't make their lives better, since new vehicle trips just fill up the new capacity within a few years, and the existing driver faces the same traffic as before.
About two thirds of residents thought new bridges across the Potomac River were a good idea, though it's less clear what those bridges would connect to, since many of the same respondents apparently don't want to increase road capacity on each end.
Also not surprisingly, people don't want to pay for any transportation projects. They oppose both tolls and higher gas taxes.
Given this, it's sad that Governor McDonnell keeps pushing the Outer Beltway, and Maryland continues to put the $3 billion I-270 widening ahead of the Purple Line in its priority list for how to spend future federal funds. That's because 82% of respondents "agree with the strategy of locating growth around existing employment centers," while large numbers (about half of respondents regionwide) oppose growth in rural areas. Yet the big-ticket transportation priorities of both states would push rural growth over strengthening today's job centers.
Smart growth is what the region wants. We should focus on transit, expanding walkable neighborhoods and building more, and putting new housing and jobs in existing dense areas and near underutilized transit stations. That's the only way to add more people to the region and help everyone get to and from work without the massive highway expansions which many people don't want and very few want to pay for.
Correction: I listed some of the numbers as reflecting public support for widening existing highways that are actually the levels of support for new highways. The post has been updated.
Montgomery officials say there isn't enough money in the capital budget to pay for both a new Bethesda Metro entrance and redeveloping Wheaton. But there is plenty of money, if only the county deferred some of the new and wasteful highways that will only worsen sprawl and shift the county's growth away from the places that can best accommodate it.
Wheaton residents are eager for a redevelopment project which will bring new offices, residences, a hotel and a town square to the area around the Metro station. Meanwhile, to prepare for the Purple Line (and ease crowding today), the county needs to add a second entrance to the Bethesda Metro.
County Executive Ike Leggett's budget eliminated funding for the Bethesda entrance, and general services director David Dise told the Wheaton Redevelopment Advisory Committee that the county could probably not fund both the $40 million Wheaton plan and the $80 million Bethesda Metro south entrance.
Actually, it can, easily. And it can afford $12 million for the Metropolitan Branch Trail, which Leggett also cut from the current capital budget. All the county has to do is defer some of the $359 million in new highways in the 6-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP). That $359 million is all for new capacity, over and above the necessary cost of maintaining the county's existing roads and bridges.
The projects include widening Goshen Road, which costs $129 million, but the justification in the CIP suggests it's not needed until 2025. Building Montrose Parkway East, for $56 million, will further despoil Rock Creek Park, while the completed western portion has already created a "Berlin Wall" that will hamper a future walkable, mixed-use neighborhood growing north of White Flint.
Widening Snouffer School Road and Snouffer School Road North, 2 projects costing $45 million, would meet "demands of existing and future land uses" in an area which "is experiencing growth with plans for future residential and commercial development."
Why does the County Executive claim that it doesn't have enough money for the Bethesda Metro, a necessary step for the Purple Line in the part of the county that generates the most tax revenue, and Wheaton, a prime spot for new mixed-use growth and an already-thriving community right on top of another Metro station, but can spend money on new roads in car-dependent areas which may grow in the future?
These new road projects would increase traffic congestion through induced demand, offer no economic development, and destroy irreplaceable Chesapeake Bay watersheds. Montgomery County has already agreed, through long public debates, to make the Purple Line, the Metropolitan Branch Trail, and growth in Wheaton top priorities. But Leggett's budget does not reflect this.
This is an unfortunate pattern with this County Executive. The Leggett administration consistently cries poverty when it comes to smart growth-oriented projects like these, or making Rockville Pike a boulevard in White Flint. However, it seems that no sprawl-oriented road project is too expensive to fund.
Whether it's putting up roadblocks to BRT, pushing harmful skybridges and underpasses, or a bizarre focus on resurrecting bad "zombie road" proposals from the 1960s, the County Executive's decisions do not embody Montgomery County's and Maryland's stated smart growth policies.
Fortunately, it appears the County Council does not share the County Executive's misplaced priorities. A council committee has since voted to restore funding for the Bethesda Metro entrance, and the full council will consider it soon. The council should also restore funding for the Metropolitan Branch Trail.
Despite claims to the contrary, these worthy projects need not compete with each other. The council can simply choose the least valuable of the plan's many expensive road projects and use the money to ensure Wheaton, Metro riders at Bethesda, the future Purple Line, and a valuable bicycle connection from Silver Spring to DC get the attention they deserve. Our county, state and region cannot afford more delay.
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