Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Washington Post letter to the editor on repair-related closure of Rockville and Shady Grove Stations and corridor management

The Washington Post has a letter, "Metro’s closure of two Montgomery County Red Line stations was a bad decision," complaining that it's inopportune that WMATA has closed two upper Montgomery County stations for repairs.  

In 2019, Rockville had an average of 3,900 daily riders and Shady Grove, being an end of line station, had 11,300 daily riders (this tends to result from riders living further out).  (There is also a MARC train stop at Rockville and a Rockville Metro Station Visioning and Concept Design Study is underway.)

It's not a "bad decision," nor particularly noteworthy, as WMATA has been temporarily closing stations across the system for months at a time as part of a multi-year program of system rehabilitation (WMATA Capital Improvement Program website, Rockville canopy project).  

As a commenter wrote, where was the concern of the writer when other stations across the system were closed?

The need for multi-modal transportation corridor management.  But the letter does remind me of a point I made in 2016, when Beach Drive in DC was closed for many months for rebuilding, while at the same time so were Metrorail stations on the eastern leg, while in DC interrupted the trip of MoCo residents using the subway, that in the "I-270 corridor," area transportation officials and planners should conceptualize their approach to such decision making in terms of "multi-modal corridor management" and work towards minimizing disruption.

-- "Transportation infrastructure interruptions as a missed opportunity for improving transportation demand management programming"
-- "Transportation network interruptions as an opportunity: Part 2"
-- ""Transportation network service interruptions part 3: corridor/commute shed management for Northwest DC and Montgomery County, Maryland"

In this corridor you have the north-south routes between DC and Maryland of I-270, Rockville Pike/Wisconsin Avenue, Connecticut Avenue, the western leg of Metrorail's Red Line, and the MARC Brunswick Line in Maryland, and Wisconsin Avenue, Connecticut Avenue, Beach Drive, and Georgia Avenue in DC (and Maryland), along with bus services.  Plus east-west I-495, the Beltway, and connections to and from Virginia. Which in theory should be managed in a coordinated fashion.

For the most part, each mode, each agency, does its own thing.  Yes there is a modicum of coordination, but the opportunity to do significant mitigation and integration between transit systems is minimal.

Another reason for implementing German style transport associations in the US/the DC area.  This is an other example of how a metropolitan area "transport association" using the German model ("The answer is: Create a single multi-state/regional multi-modal transit planning, management, and operations authority association") would, theoretically, lead to better coordination and service.  

But in my writings on porting the German style VV to the US, I didn't consider that area highway agencies need to participate as well.   

Anyway, the major point I made then was that if the MARC Brunswick Line were bi-directional, and when necessary because of Metrorail closures, more frequent -- more the equivalent of the German S-Bahn or London Overground in terms of service frequency and integration with heavy rail transit -- closures of one could be addressed by riding the other ("One big idea: Getting MARC and Metrorail to integrate fares, stations, and marketing systems, using London Overground as an example," 2015).

Conclusion.  Were the Brunswick Line bi-directional, and you'd think 5 years would have been enough time to make it so, the temporary closure of the Rockville and Shady Grove stations wouldn't be a particular hardship.

The recommendations from 2016 are just as relevant today (combined, reordered and revised):


1.  Figure out how to impose and collect a daily parking tax on office parking lots and structures in Montgomery County, especially for "free parking."  From the paper "THE EFFECT OF FREE PARKING ON COMMUTER MODE CHOICE: EVIDENCE FROM TRAVEL DIARY DATA":

The mode choice model predicts that with free parking, 62 percent of commuters will drive alone, 16 percent will commute in carpools and 22 percent will ride transit; with a daily parking charge of $6, 46 percent will drive alone, 4 percent will ride in carpools and 50 percent will ride transit. The mode choice model predicts that a daily parking charge of $6 in the Portland CBD would result in 21 fewer cars driven for every 100 commuters.

2.  With great ride-matching/car pooling support, for both individuals and van pool programs like vRide.

3.  Implement HOV-2 on major roads within I-270's "car shed" during rush hours.

4.  HOT Lane implementation on I-270 and I-495 should be required to include transit expansion (items #11 and #14 below). 


5. Support long(er) distance bicycle commuting through focused initiatives, especially with e-bikes. (By this I mean maybe an e-bike means someone willing to ride 2 miles on a pedal bike would ride 5 miles with an e-bike.  Etc.)

Passenger rail services

6.  Expand MARC passenger rail service on the Brunswick Line, in both directions throughout the day.

7.  I also argue that a MARC Line could be built as part of I-270, continuing to Bethesda, Georgetown, and Arlington County, Virginia.

8.  Market rail passenger service integrated with Metrorail comparable to the London Overground program. 

9.  Add an in-city station at Fort Totten as a way to provide extra-connection to the subway network outside of Union Station--Fort Totten is a transfer station for the Green and Yellow Lines, which would also provide redundancy to the network if Union Station were not operative for any reason.

10.  Build the proposed North Bethesda district MARC infill station.

Bus transit

11.  Develop more commuter bus solutions for the I-270 corridor.  For example, imagine if as part of the HOT Lane program ("County officials say Maryland governor made ‘empty’ threats to get toll lanes plan approved," Washington Post), an exclusive bus lane was also included.

Separated express bus lanes in Brisbane, Australia

This should include cross-border services on Wisconsin and Connecticut Avenues between DC and Maryland.  Currently, Maryland DOT is resistant to funding cross-border bus services in these corridors, instead focusing on in-state exclusive services.   

12. Make implementing the element of the Montgomery County bus rapid transit program targeting the I-270 corridor the top priority in the launch of the program.

Map of the proposed MoCo BRT program by Peter Dovak for Greater Greater Washington (blog post).

Purple Line light rail

13.  Instead of calling for another freeway crossing between Maryland and Virginia (and maybe one is needed), begin planning for the extension of the Purple Line west to Tysons/Fairfax County in association with future necessary reconstruction of the American Legion Memorial Bridge.
Purple Line Map  DC Metro
Purple Line full concept, from the Sierra Club Metro DC Sprawl campaign.

American Legion Memorial Bridge, WAMU/NPR photo.

14.  Only with the commitment to planning for Purple Line extension west should the State of Maryland consider the pursuit of HOT lanes on I-270, which does improve congestion, but generates more SOV trips, not fewer.  Still, connecting such lanes to similar infrastructure in Virginia, especially the HOT lanes on I-495, makes sense.

Labels: , , , , , ,


At 2:33 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Speaking of the difficulty of getting jurisdictions to work together across borders:

"Virginia And Maryland Rebuff D.C.’s Request To Force Drivers To Pay Traffic Camera Tickets"

At 8:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Red Line riders think they're special.

At 1:49 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

That may be, but the opportunity to create and enhance redundancy should be explored.

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Edward Drozd said...

Regarding the difficulty of getting jurisdictions to work together across borders, it doesn't help if you don't really ask for it:

Having "informal conversations" then dropping it seems like not really trying.

At 1:44 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Yes, bit there are different priorities. Hogan not into transit, likes HOT lanes. Virginia wants to prioritize business locating in Virginia, and tolls on I 66 help make locating in/commuting to DC more costly. And frankly, I don't know what DC's priorities are.


Post a Comment

<< Home