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Montgomery Planning wins national award for Corridor Forward: The I-270 Transit Plan

October 23, 2023

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American Planning Association’s County Planning Division recognizes plan’s innovative planning principles and measures that create sustainable communities

WHEATON, Md. – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) has won a prestigious Award of Excellence in the Small Area Planning category for Corridor Forward: The I-270 Transit Plan by the American Planning Association (APA) County Planning Division and the National Association of County Planners.

Approved by the Montgomery County Council in April 2022, The Corridor Forward Plan conducted detailed analysis to deliver near-term and long-term transit recommendations focused on improving access to transit options as well as advancing the county’s equity, environmental, and economic development goals along the I-270 corridor.

“We are so honored to be recognized nationally by our planning peers for the cutting-edge Corridor Forward Plan,” said Montgomery Planning Acting Director Tanya Stern. “Our data-driven approach that also applied an equity lens during the planning process informed recommendations to deliver a transit vision that will benefit residents and visitors who travel along the I-270 corridor.”

The Corridor Forward Plan was jointly led by staff from the Midcounty Planning Division and the Countywide Planning and Policy Division.

“This award recognizes how the plan was developed with forward-thinking technical expertise and a focus on equity to build consensus with the community on what could be possible for providing needed transit to connect the communities along this important corridor,” said Midcounty Planning Chief Carrie Sanders.

“Corridor Forward provides the framework for equitable transit connections that promote a more sustainable future for communities along a vital county corridor,” said Countywide Planning and Policy Chief Jason Sartori. “This award recognizes the importance of these connections and the plan’s approach to ensuring they are achieved.”

Read more about the awards.

According to the APA County Planning Division and the National Association of County Planners, The Corridor Forward Plan included key elements making it worthy for the Award of Excellence category:

  • The plan relies on detailed technical analysis but strives to communicate ideas in plain language. The executive summary of the plan was translated into frequently spoken languages in Montgomery County, and a two-page explainer document seeks to summarize the key recommendations of the plan.
  • Corridor Forward aims to advance transit beyond talk and into action by developing a lasting, achievable transit vision for the I-270 corridor.
  • The plan employs a scenario-planning approach to help decisionmakers understand the different purposes, benefits, constraints, and costs of various transit options; how components of different options can fit together to create a complementary transit network, and the potential order of implementation for the recommended network.
  • The plan presents recommendations that improve transit access along the corridor as well as advance the county’s goals related to equity, environment, and economy.

About Corridor Forward: The I-270 Transit Plan
Corridor Forward proposes a near-term transit network and a long-term transit vision to expand transit access for communities along the I-270 corridor.

  • Near-Term Transit Network: Implement the MD 355 and Veirs Mill Road Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects. Then implement new dedicated bus lanes, referred to as the Corridor Connectors, to connect communities and employment centers along the I-270 corridor to the county’s primary transit lines, Metrorail and MARC Rail.
  • Long-Term Transit Vision: Extend the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) Metrorail Red Line to Germantown Town Center and complete enhancements to the Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) Brunswick Line.

The Corridor Forward Plan reimagines the previously master-planned Corridor Cities Transitway as the Corridor Connectors, a network of more buildable dedicated bus lanes, which connect I-270 corridor communities to the county’s existing and planned rapid transit network. The plan also includes supporting recommendations and regional opportunities, which seek to support the transit network and strengthen the potential to advance local and regional transit connectivity. Before approval, the County Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee refined recommendations to ensure the final plan best met the interests of the community. To create the plan, Montgomery Planning worked with state and county agencies, neighboring jurisdictions, county municipalities, advocacy groups, and community members to analyze and prioritize transit options to develop recommendations. Montgomery Planning also engaged community members about their needs and values related to transit through the Corridor Forward Plan’s Transit Values Questionnaire and Transit Stories campaign.  The Corridor Forward Plan was a separate effort from the State of Maryland’s proposed New American Legion Bridge I-270 Traffic Relief Plan.

About the APA County Planning Division Awards

Each year the American Planning Association (APA), County Planning Division (CPD) and its sister organization, the National Association of County Planners (NACP) gives out County Planning Project Awards. There are two types of awards, Awards of Excellence and Awards of Merit. In addition, there are seven categories of awards: Planning Project, Comprehensive Plan – Large Jurisdiction, Comprehensive Plan – Small Jurisdiction, Best Practices, Grass Roots Initiative, Small Area/Special Area Planning, and Special Focus Planning Initiative – County Holistic Innovation Project. Only one Award of Excellence and one Award of Merit may be granted per category each year.