CJCA News & Public Works Updates

CJCA NEWS

Maryland Department of Transportation Update

The CJCA Meeting was held at the CBNRC on Wednesday, January 24.  After the approval of minutes, Sam Ray from the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) joined virtually and provided the following update.

As many are aware, over the last 6 years, the Maryland Department of Transportation was separately advancing an environmental study and a public-private partnership or P3 agreement related to the American Legion Bridge, I-495 and I-270.   Accelerate Maryland Partners, which was the party that entered into an agreement with the state and included Transurban as one of the owners, terminated the agreement with the state last March. Hence, the public private partnership is no longer happening.

MDOT is now stepping back from the P3 concept to collect public input on multiple areas so that a comprehensive program of transportation needs of the corridor can be developed.  According to MDOT, the following items were considered priorities: 

  • Strong support for a bicycle and pedestrian connection across the Potomac River to connect to existing networks
  • Recognition that we must address the existing American Legion Bridge
  • Support for better transit across the river including, at minimum, a solution of fast and convenient bus transit entailing managed travel lanes 
  • Public funding options were more desirable than a P3

MDOT is now looking at a comprehensive program of multiple projects in the corridor that would prioritize:

  • Transit and ridesharing–with options such as improving the MARC Brunswick line, bus rapid transit, and commuter bus using managed lanes in the corridor and expansion of programs to incentivize people not to drive alone but carpool, take transit, shift travel times, or other ways to reduce single drivers on the road
  • Transit-oriented development near WMATA transit stations
  • Bicycle and pedestrian connections throughout the corridor with a focus on connecting transit, rideshare, rail, and existing bicycle and pedestrian facilities
  • Replacement of the American Legion Bridge and a phased approach to managed lanes including deprioritizing work on I-270 in Rockville
  • Moving forward with a study on I-270 north of I-370/Intercounty Connector

Lastly, MDOT reported that an environmental impact study looked at the replacement of (only) the American Legion Bridge and managed high-occupancy toll lanes from the GWMP in VA to just I-270.  That study was completed in August 2022 when the Federal Highway Administration issued a Record of Decision and that Record of Decision still stands.  The State Highway Administration is still advancing a design on the portion of that study including the American Legion Bridge and the I-270 West Spur.  This remains unfunded.

CJCA will continue to monitor this situation and reiterated our view that alternatives such as improved public transportation and other infrastructure investments are vastly superior to widening the beltway.

CJCA Website Update

Robin Sidel, webmaster for CJCA’s CabinJohn.org website, attended the meeting to remind the community of the information available on the cabinjohn.org website, solicit feedback on how to make it more useful, and present options for keeping the website in good working order.  Ideas shared by attendees included making the calendar of events easily accessible on the home page; making the donations, ticketing, and merchandising process better for both purchasers and the CJCA treasurer; adding an archive of CJCA emailed updates; and possibly including a local services and businesses page as a resource and potential source of income to offset the cost of website maintenance. 

The current iteration of the website was designed eight years ago by a local resource who is no longer available, and some functions and templates have reached the end of their lifespan. At the very least, repair work by a technical resource will be necessary, and we will also need professional help to improve donations and purchasing functionality.  

The popular Village News archive on the website, which contains 50+ years of PDFs of issues beginning in 1967 (with a very few missing issues), is one of the functions that had been inoperable the last few months due to outdated templates; we are happy to report it is the first repair completed and is back online!

The meeting attendees gave Robin a big round of applause for all the work she has done for the past eight years to keep the website going, and we are so thankful she is willing to continue her duties as we work to get the site updated and ready for the next decade of service.

PUBLIC WORKS CORNER – Little Falls Parkway

If you’ve driven in Bethesda recently, you will have undoubtedly noticed changes with Little Falls Parkway.  Since the pandemic, there have been a number of plans proposed to make the relatively short stretch of road more pedestrian friendly.  Recently, the Montgomery County Council unanimously chose to move forward with an adjusted plan for the Little Falls Parkway Road Diet Project, which county council members called a “compromise.”

Little Falls Parkway is now a continuously open parkway with the two outside lanes open for recreational use by cyclists and pedestrians and the interior two lanes  reserved for vehicular traffic. The road pavement will remain in place.

The compromise allows emergency fire and rescue vehicles use of the roadway when responding to emergencies. This plan also allows the county to change its mind later and regain the pavement for traffic lanes if there are issues with the Road Diet. The new plan also eliminates the proposed creation of a linear park, which was not included in any county master plans.

There is significant information on websites such as montgomeryparks.org and others that include the history of the Road Diet, should readers seek additional information.

By Scott & Heidi Lewis

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