Skip to comments.Letís really open the roads in Montgomery County
Posted on 03/23/2018 11:06:45 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
They say there are two constants in life: death and taxes. However, if you live in Montgomery County, theres a third: traffic congestion .
Unfortunately, some Montgomery County politicians seem almost to scoff at any real solution to that last constant.
Take Montgomery County Council candidate Ben Shniders recent critique of Gov. Larry Hogans (R) proposal for Interstate 270. Shnider, a Democrat, is correct to point out that Hogans proposal does not go far enough. But Shnider argues for policies that would, ironically, make traffic only worse. Meanwhile, his Democratic primary opponent, incumbent council member Sidney Katz (Gaithersburg-Rockville), has shown little interest in solving traffic issues in Montgomery County, particularly along the busy I-270, Route 355 and Routes 28 and 97 corridors near his council district. Katzs inaction speaks far louder than his words.
Shnider argues that there needs to be a more holistic approach to traffic at intersections such as those at Routes 355 and 586 (Veirs Mill Road) and Route 355 and Wootton Parkway. He says adding lanes to I-270 would not address this. But traffic along the Route 355 corridor is a byproduct of congestion on I-270, meaning people take Route 355 because I-270 is so clogged. Additionally, Metros Red Line already runs parallel to Route 355 from Metros Shady Grove station all the way into the District. There also are viable driving alternatives along the Route 355 corridor, but traffic remains terrible.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
Maryland “Freak State” PING!
You’re taking me down memory lane.
Very familiar with Viers Mill, Rte. 28, Rockville Pike, etc.
Quite congested. ‘Pod.
Oh no; it does in Marion county as well! (Indianapolis)
Either that or even BETTER: Light Rail!!!
This boondoggle WILL occur; because certain people want it.
If we all would just get off of our fat asses and rode one, just THINK of the space in would free up on our roads!!
Montgomery County doesn't want to be completely paved over and turned into a massive, gridlocked stretch of suburban sprawl. The only way to do that is to establish and enforce zoning that sets real limits. I'm with the limits to growth people on this one. YMMV. I only wish that other of our suburban counties had been more successful in similar efforts in past years. The developers, of course, are intent on busting open Montgomery. This article is typical of that campaign.
For purposes of transportation planning, one has to look to the larger scale of the combined metropolitan statistical area. From Professor Wikipedia:
Officially, the area is designated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as the WashingtonBaltimoreArlington, DCMDVAWVPA Combined Statistical Area. It is composed primarily of two major metropolitan statistical areas (MSA), the WashingtonArlingtonAlexandria, DCVAMDWV MSA and the BaltimoreColumbiaTowson, MD MSA.
In addition, six other smaller urban areas not contiguous to the main urban area but having strong commuting ties with the main area are also included in the metropolitan area. These are: the HagerstownMartinsburg, MDWV MSA, the ChambersburgWaynesboro, PA MSA, the Winchester, VAWV MSA, the CaliforniaLexington Park, MD MSA, the Easton, MD micropolitan statistical area (µSA), and the Cambridge, MD µSA.
Some counties such as Caroline and King George County, Virginia are not officially designated by the OMB as members of this metropolitan area, but still consider themselves members anyway. This is mostly due to their proximity to the area, the size of their commuter population, and by the influence of local broadcasting stations.
The population of the entire Washington-Baltimore Combined Statistical Area as of the Census Bureau's 2012 Population Estimates is 9,331,587. The most populous city is Washington, DC, with a population of 681,170. The most populous county is Fairfax County, Virginia, with a population exceeding 1.1 million.
For emphasis: the population of this region is 9.3 million. It is the fourth largest metro area in the country, behind New York, LA and Chicago and ahead of San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, Philadelphia and Houston. Note that DC itself comprises less than 10 percent of the population of the metro area associated with it, which an important reason that discussions about the area's urban issues often take on a bizarre tone, as many out-of-towners don't understand the complexion of the area.
The fact is, we are already choking on traffic. We are big enough that simply building more highways to extend the metroplex further into the countryside will merely expand the gridlock. The author of the WaPo article is focused on Montgomery County, and his "solution" is to break the county's limits to growth, build another Potomac River bridge, and expand the endless suburb all the way to Hagerstown.
To take an example that may resonate with some: since Virginia worships asphalt, we are already turning Chancellorsville, the Wilderness and Spotsylvania into urban parks. We will do the same to Antietam and Gettysburg if we're not careful. That's not a hypothetical. I have worked with people who commute into DC from north of Gettysburg, Hagerstown, and Winchester. Most ride a train, but some drive, and probably think they are entitled to a personal interstate highway to speed them along.
Enough. No more highways into DC. We don't have room for the cars we already have. The short term solution is redevelopment of rundown areas nearer the core. This is already happening in DC, where gentrification is on steroids. Intellectually, DC seems to be over the hump. People in the center understand we can't handle more cars. We have no interest in degrading our neighborhoods to accommodate suburban commuters, who should be riding a train or bus (or moving closer in). And we're gentrifying long-distressed areas and shifting the poor to the suburbs, so the NIMBY class warriors in the 'burbs had better start planning for the influx. DC was used for generations as the region's dumping ground, but that era is over.
The politics are still primitive in the outer ring suburbs. These were built as automobile suburbs to begin with, and people are joined umbilically to their cars. Many of them are still trapped mentally in the past, and their first response to every problem is to pour more concrete. But they have now reached a size and density that more roadbuilding is a fool's game. It's not going to work.
From a broader perspective, does anyone here really think it would be a good thing for cities like New York, LA, Chicago, DC (the metro area), etc. to get even bigger? We are insanely big now. The growth should be flowing to smaller cities, and of course, much of it is. I'm not in favor of heavy handed central planning, but when strategic decisions are being made, we should bear this in mind and let it inform incremental decisions along the way. I.e., no new arterial roads into DC. There is simply no way to outbuild the developers, who will put up housing developments faster than anyone can build roads to service them. If you want to live in Hagerstown and commute into DC, ride the blankety-blank train; don't demand that western Montgomery County be paved over so that you can traverse another 40 miles of suburban sprawl on a new expressway.
If you live in upcounty Montgomery and are tired of fighting I-270, move. Washington's affordable housing right now is in far northeast and close-in PG County, both of which are starting to gentrify but which are still relatively affordable. Swap your 2-3 hour, 40 miles commute for a five mile commute (bikeable, btw) or a metro ride, and reclaim your life. Yeah, you might have to put your kids in private school, but the first tuition is probably less than what you're spending on gas and an extra car right now. And when enough of the suburban cowboys move back in, we'll reclaim the schools as well.
I think expanding MARC service could help with congestion. Unfortunately to expand service enough to even pretend to have an impact would cost billions and be a traffic impediment while it is being constructed. Close to tripling the number of trains on the Brunswick line would likely require at a minimum placing sidings for most of the busier stations if not triple tracking the entire main line between Union station and Point of Rocks.
There are several choke points in Montgomery county that road improvements might help, however, very few of them have the potential to be panaceas, and all of them would only either be temporary in their congestion relief or cause the congestion producing bottle neck to simply be shifted to the next choke point.
As for light rail, I am not sure of the point of the Purple line, as I do not think it actually brings enough people from where they are to where they want to go. Most of the heavy congestion in the DC area is people using the radial arteries to travel in or out of DC and the inner suburbs, the Purple line will parallel the Beltway which is used to travel between one radial and the other.
Or could reduce the traffic on the existing roads by moving some federal offices to Jamestown, ND or Salina, KS, etc.
We live in a crazy world in which the authorities find it politically easier to spend a bazillion dollars adding a lane to I-270, which will merely create a wider parking lot during rush hour, than to add a late train to the Brunswick line.
What about my rights to take Poolesville farmland and build a bunch of giant mansions with 15-foot high ceilings and big vinyl front doors the size of the ones to enter Moria and framed with Chinese 1.5 x 3.5 studs on 18-inch centers? How am I going to drive my SUV through those 1” snowdrifts to get my kids to soccer practice if you don’t enlarge the roads?
(posting from Starbucks)
/s (I agree completely with you, FRiend)
“From a broader perspective, does anyone here really think it would be a good thing for cities like New York, LA, Chicago, DC (the metro area), etc. to get even bigger? We are insanely big now. The growth should be flowing to smaller cities, and of course, much of it is. “
Yes. However, the problem is, and likely will always be, that it will be near impossible to decentralize DC as everyone wants to be close to the center of money and power. There’s no reason why, for example, the Depts of Commerce, Agriculture, Energy, etc, can’t be somewhere other than downtown DC. Government contractors and lobbyists also want to be near the feeding troughs, so moving them to satellite cities also will be rejected. Because of this, there will be no solution to this problem that will be acceptable to those who control the money.
The reality check I suggest to the carheads is to go up to Frederick and drive back during rush hour -- not on 270, which we all know is gridlocked, and God save us if someone has a fender bender -- but on 355/Rockville Pike. This is the universal bailout route. Look at what is already built, what is under construction, and the remaining open space that will be turned into strip development in the next ten years.
Anyone who thinks adding a lane to 270 can accommodate this growth is delusional. Commuters are addicted to their cars and don't want to hear it, so the politicians pander, but roadbuilding won't solve the problem. 355 is already gridlocked from Urbana south, and it gets hopeless as you approach the beltway. Building more roads to flush more cars into the black hole in the center is akin to "rescuers" pumping water into the Titanic.
It would make sense to take a lane from 270 or 355 and use it for a new rail line. Do the same on 97 and 29 to serve central Montgomery and Howard Counties. Use the existing right of way to slash costs, and tell those who insist on driving that they can make do with whatever is left.
Is this Montgomery County in DC, MD, PA, DE or VA? Gee whiz, it is hard to tell as all those road numbers are confusing.
The article would make more sense to those of us, who have no idea where it is? There are several Montgomery Counties in Northeast.
Greatly needed, not just for commuters, but also for people hoping to drive into Virginia or points south through Monkey Canny.
Ever hear of Brazilia?
Montgomery Co. borders DC on the north and northwest. Its county seat is Rockville and it also has communities such as Silver Spring, Wheaton, Chevy Chase, Bethesda (all close in suburbs), and in the northern reaches, Gaithersburg, Poolesville, Germantown, and Damascus.
The new Walter Reed hospital and the NIH are in Bethesda, and looming over the Beltway between the GA Ave. and CT Ave. interchanges is the LDS Temple.
Thank you for that info. I had to abandon the thread, and had no time to research through it. Now I realize it was familiar, as I was in that area years ago visiting DC, but not enough to identify specifics.
A few years later I was through VA & MD heading to PA, during the time of the snipers...scary.
Decades ago, I lived in Montgomery County, PA, but none of Hwy numbers were right. Hope that helps you see my curiosity about it.
Sadly, I am not up to date on the Gov’s in Northeast. News outlets have become so liberal, I avoid most of them. I live in Southeast, a return to my childhood roots. :)
My time on FR keeps me posted on politics, and with little time to keep updated...it is better than Fake News.
I appreciate your time to enlighten me...blessings.
You’re welcome. Blessings to you too.