MoCo and D.C. Councilmembers Discuss BRT, Streetcars, Metrobus Routes

Members of the Councils of Montgomery County and Washington, D.C., hosted the first ever joint meeting of their respective Transportation and Environment Committees and had in-depth discussions on how to enhance coordination on key issues that impact both of the neighboring jurisdictions. The July 16 meeting marked the third in an on-going series of meetings, initiated by Councilmember Roger Berliner, Chair of the Montgomery County Council’s Transportation Committee, and the committee’s counterparts across the region, including those on the Prince George’s County and Fairfax County councils.

“Our transportation challenges are regional in nature and the solutions are regional as well,” said Councilmember Berliner. “Tens of thousands of our daily commuters use our roads to get to our nation’s capital. The congestion on our roads affects the quality of life in both jurisdictions. It is in our mutual interests to work together to provide seamless, high quality transit services.”

The joint committee meeting was co-chaired by Councilmember Berliner and D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh, Chair of the District Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee. In recent years, Berliner and Cheh have worked together on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and on issues that affect their neighboring communities.

“Oftentimes, when we share such close borders, the best thing we can do is to work together to accelerate the development of our communities,” said Councilmember Cheh.

To that end, during the course of their discussions, the legislators reviewed the potential for the following:

–Extending Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes from Montgomery County into the District.
–Extending the future D.C. Streetcar line north up Georgia Avenue into Silver Spring.
–Extending existing Metrobus routes so more run through both jurisdictions.

“Until 1976, our region had 60 miles of bus only lanes. While Metro has a lot of room for growth in the future, we need to look beyond Metro for regional transportation solutions,” said Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer. “Re-establishing bus-only lanes in our highest priority corridors would be a big step forward. I am pleased that we were able to discuss how we can take advantage of the recently passed Montgomery County Transit Corridors Master Plan to accomplish this goal, through WMATA bus operations as well as BRT, as well as pushing forward on the idea that Councilmember Nancy Floreen and I have raised to bring D.C.’s proposed Georgia Avenue Streetcar all the way into Silver Spring. I applaud Councilmember Berliner for bringing our governments closer together.”

Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Floreen said: “This meeting is an important step toward finding transportation alternatives that would benefit the Washington region beyond jurisdictional boundaries. Only through cooperation and collaboration will we be able to address some of the traffic problems we all share.”

D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells said: “I am pleased to have been a part this inaugural transportation and environment joint committee meeting with the Montgomery County Council and D.C. Council. The transportation futures of D.C. and Montgomery County are inextricably linked, and our planning process should reflect that interconnectivity. This cooperative approach is crucial for us to meet the goal of strengthening our regional transportation infrastructure, and will ensure that principles of smart growth and development guide the entire area.”

The meeting was recorded by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and broadcast on the Montgomery cable system on dates to be determined.

The Montgomery County Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee plans to have a future meeting with its colleagues on the Howard County Council at a date soon to be determined.

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