August 7, 2002
On July 30, the Montgomery County Council approved a $5.7 billion program over 10 years designed to address traffic congestion through a combination of roads, transit and land use.
"This is the No. 1 quality of life issue we face in Montgomery County. Transportation clearly affects everyone in the County," said County president Steve Silverman (D-At large), the day of the vote. "Today is not the end of choices, only the beginning. We are setting the blueprint. The next step is to roll up our sleeves, work with the county executive, Park and Planning, and next to seek funding to address these issues."
THE COUNCIL drew from proposals contained in the Planning Board's Transportation Policy Report (a report formulated after an advisory group spent two years debating and studying transportation issues with the Park and Planning staff), County Executive Doug Duncan's Go Montgomery initiative and a series of its own proposals as well.
Among the highlights: construct 226 lane miles of additional roadway capacity; upgrade and/or build 22 new bridges; add 144 new buses and increase bus operations by 50 percent over a 10-year period; add six new transit centers; construct 11 grade-separated interchanges and many intersection improvements; add express bus service; add carpool lanes on I-270 from the I-270 West Spur south to Virginia and on I-270 north from Shady Grove to Frederick County.
SOME OF THE MAJOR differences between the County Council plan and Duncan's Go Montgomery initiative rolled around the Techway over the Potomac River, the ICC and the debate over an Inner or Outer Purple Line.
While Duncan recommended a $400,000 study of a possible Techway over the Potomac River, the Council, which has voiced unanimous opposition against such a river crossing, elected not to include the proposal in its package for voting.
The Council voted against the ICC, 5-3, citing environmental damage, a lack of effectiveness in alleviating traffic congestion and its $1.5 billion cost.
Duncan also proposed widening Wootton Parkway, but Council deleted this alternative, citing opposition from the City of Rockville.
The Council voted to support an Inner Purple Line, which would cost roughly one quarter the amount of the Outer Line favored by Duncan.