Community Invited to Virtually Participate in Montgomery Planning’s Corridor Forward Plan Kickoff on September 30

August 27, 2020

corridor forward i-270

Online event will include presentation, panel discussion and Q&A for community to learn more about Corridor Forward: The I-270 Transit Plan

WHEATON, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), is inviting anyone who has an interest in transit options along the I-270 Corridor, the county’s main north-south corridor, to participate in the kickoff meeting for Corridor Forward: The I-270 Transit Plan through an online meeting on September 30, 2020 from Noon to 1 p.m. RSVPs are required.

RSVP for the September 30 Corridor Forward Virtual Kick Off Meeting.

The Corridor Forward Plan will evaluate transit options that could serve I-270 Corridor communities and employment centers between Frederick, MD and Tysons, VA based on strategic transit metrics and the county’s economic, environmental and equity values. The plan will assess different transit options to support existing communities and also position the county’s I-270 corridor as a prime location for economic development. Following evaluation, Montgomery Planning will develop an implementation plan to ensure resources are directed to the most efficient and valuable transit projects. The Montgomery County Planning Board approved the Corridor Forward Plan scope of work on April 30, 2020.

“The I-270 corridor has had decades of growth in employment opportunities and residential development, but there is a lack of accessible transit options, which contributes to traffic congestion,” said Planning Director Gwen Wright. “The Montgomery County Council has directed us to provide recommendations for sustainable transit opportunities so that we can realistically fund and operate the most efficient transit options.”

September 30 Virtual Kickoff Event

The online kickoff event will take place on the Microsoft Teams Live platform. Montgomery Planning staff will provide an overview of the project purpose and describe the importance of planning for transit in the I-270 corridor. Participants are invited to complete the Transit Values Questionnaire in advance of the meeting, as well as review a series of videos produced to explain transit planning considerations. The meeting will also include a moderated panel discussion with agency and transit partners as well as an opportunity for participants to engage in a live question and answer session.

Montgomery Planning welcomes questions in advance of the kickoff meeting. If you have a question that you would like explored during the panel discussion, please submit it through the Transit Values Questionnaire.

To ensure a productive dialogue and safe and secure environment, Montgomery Planning is requiring registrations. Registrants will be emailed the link one hour ahead of the start time on the day of the event. Facilitators recommend participants log in 15 minutes prior to the start of the event.

How to Get Involved:

About the Corridor Forward Plan

The Corridor Forward Plan will produce a prioritized list of transit options and an implementation plan detailing the milestones and resources necessary for Montgomery County to provide transit to residents and workers workers along the I-270 corridor. The plan process includes a phased approach with opportunities for public input. First, Montgomery Planning and its consultant team will analyze the costs and benefits of potential transit options for the I-270 corridor. With the community’s input, Montgomery Planning will then prioritize transit options based not only on ridership and travel times, but also on the county’s strategic, economic, environmental and equity values. Then, Montgomery Planning will identify the major steps needed for the county to realize the highest-priority project(s) when funding is available.  Without a clear understanding of corridor transit priorities, funding resources could be spread thinly across multiple projects, making it more difficult to advance any single option.

To create the plan, Montgomery Planning will work with state and county agencies, neighboring jurisdictions, County municipalities, advocacy groups, and community members as we develop transit options and an evaluation methodology. Montgomery Planning will engage community members about their needs and values related to transit.

What options are being evaluated?

Public transportation — or transit — includes all publicly accessible transportation services that move people in shared vehicles from one place to another. Transit vehicle types, often referred to as “modes,” differ in many ways: the size and capacity of the transit vehicle, the speed of the transit vehicle, the distance between transit stops, whether the transit vehicle operates in the street or in its own right-of-way, and whether fares are paid before boarding or when boarding the vehicle.

Many transit options are being explored, including options originating from Montgomery County Council-approved plans, options considered in ongoing work by the State, and options that have not been formally studied, but have captured the public’s imagination. These include:

  • Transit service along I-270, including express bus, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), rail and monorail;
  • Transit service from Bethesda to Tysons, including a potential extension of the Purple Line, the North Bethesda Transitway, and/or other BRT alignments;
  • Transit service serving the Corridor Cities Transitway communities;
  • Enhanced transit service along the existing MARC rail line; and
  • Extending WMATA’s Red Line to Clarksburg or Germantown.

Montgomery Planning will use these options to create up to 15 different transit concepts. Six transit concepts will advance to a scenario planning exercise, which will explore how each option supports mobility within the region as well as the County’s economic, environmental, and equity values.

This project will inform decisionmakers about which corridor transit projects best advance these values.

Will anyone ride transit after COVID-19?

Many essential workers and service sector employees rely on transit to get to and from work. Some County residents also lack vehicles and need accessible transit to fulfill personal needs such as grocery shopping and child-care related travel. Failure to improve transit accessibility along the I-270 corridor will only heighten inequities in the county and reduce our economic competitiveness.

Through the Corridor Forward Plan process, Montgomery Planning will present near- and long-term transit strategies for the I-270 Corridor. While the pandemic will undoubtedly impact our county’s near-term future, planners hope for and expect future health and safety advancements to ensure that transit is an appealing option for all.

Is the Corridor Forward Plan part of the Managed Lanes project?

Corridor Forward is not part of and is not proposing an alternative to the State of Maryland’s I-495 and I-270 Managed Lanes projects. If these projects are constructed, they should generate toll revenue that could support regional transit projects by providing a direct subsidy to the impacted jurisdictions or through an agreement on projects to construct.

The Corridor Forward Plan recommendations will be complete prior to the construction of the State’s toll lanes, and therefore will help inform the conversation about how future revenue generated by the Managed Lanes project could potentially be directed. The plan will not compare the potential of transit against the State’s highway projects and will not evaluate roadway capacity projects. Highway projects are currently under study by the State through separate processes.