Gaithersburg Fast Tracks BRT Study, Council Wants to See Corridor Improvements

BRT CorridorsGaithersburg city officials agreed to spend up to $105,000 for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) study of the five-mile Maryland 355 corridor.

“We want to do this in a hurry,” said Gaithersburg Planning and Code Administration Director John Schlichting.

His request for the study came at the end of the Dec. 15 City Council meeting, where he stressed the urgency to get in front of the state’s pending BRT study in order to make sure the city’s priorities are addressed in the final outcome.

As for a timeline, Schlichting said staff hopes to have a request for proposal (RFP) advertised in early January. He said the RFP would seek a qualified consulting firm to produce a report focused on the following:

• An inventory of the existing conditions within the Study Area;
• A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of the Study Area;
• A series of possible alternatives for BRT operation within the Study Area, which may
include, but not be limited to, single-track guideways; lane repurposing, and mixed
• Recommended cross-sections and rights-of-way to facilitate the various BRT scenarios within the study area; and Guidance on right-of-way policy and station locations relative to the entire five-mile corridor through the city.

In a memo to city leaders, he said this would help the City by providing policy guidance for redevelopment actions.

According to Schlichting, city staff hopes to select a consultant by early March and a completed report would be presented by the summer of 2015.

The city of Rockville, Schlichting noted, has already contracted with a firm to conduct a similar study.

Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman and City Councilmembers agreed with the request but they also said they want to see additional, visible improvements along the Corridor as well.

According to Councilmember Cathy Drzyzgula, these improvements were considered a priority six months ago when $120,000 was put in the CIP titled, “355 Corridor Plan Improvements,” and since then, she said, nothing has been planned or implemented.

Several other Councilmembers echoed her sentiments noting it was time to move forward.

“We need to spruce things up,” said Councilmember Henry Marraffa, suggesting trees, benches and hardscape to beautify the area.

Noting BRT was several years away from becoming a reality, Councilmember Mike Sesma said he would like to see the city invest in both the study and more visible improvements.

City Manager Tony Tomasello said contingency funds could be used for the study.

In addition to moving forward with an RFP for the study, Ashman suggested the city schedule a worksession in the new year to discuss the possibilities for the aesthetic improvements along the Corridor.

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Sonya Burke

About Sonya Burke

Sonya Burke is the Multimedia Manager at Montgomery Community Media (MCM). You can email story ideas at or reach her on Twitter @SonyaNBurke.


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