Thursday, June 18, 2009


If you believe the Montgomery County Councilmembers quoted in yesterday's Washington Post, a new rapid bus or light rail transitway will solve gridlock on Interstate 270.

I just fundamentally disagree.

First of all, you have to actually drive up 270 in the late afternoon. And try it again now, because the congestion I've encountered on 270 and 355 over the last 45 days is beyond anything I have witnessed before.

What is causing the delays? First of all, volume of traffic has increased - and will continue to increase, in contrast to the Gazette letter writer's opinion this week.

But frankly, it's also highly suspicious. You keep waiting (and I mean waiting!) to find out what it is up ahead that everyone is stopping for. A lot of cars are just going real slow. When a light finally does turns green, some people seem to take their time starting forward. What are you driving 25 or 30 MPH on 355 for?! What are you waiting for?

You think there must be a terrible accident ahead, but mile after crawling mile, there is absolutely no obstruction. Except for the lights, which are intentionally mistimed by the county. You literally stop at every block.

Ultimately, their goal is to convince you that gridlock is inevitable and you must relinquish your automobile to Big Government. And pay higher gas taxes! Big Government even wants to install a GPS in your car to monitor your location and mileage - and then tax you on that basis. Somebody get George Orwell on the phone.

The truth is, both 270 and 355 need to be widened. This has become an absolute crisis where it used to be just a major inconvenience.

Importantly, the new lanes must be free to use by all of the taxpayers who pay to have them constructed. No toll lanes! And unlike 355, there simply may not be enough room for transit lanes on 270.

Why does a mass transit proponent like myself feel that transit is not the solution on 270? It's very simple. Unlike downtown D.C. or even the downcounty, the infrastructure does not exist to conveniently get home once you disembark from transit at the CCT station. If you live in Damascus, for example, how would you realistically get home? Most of the upcounty is dependent on the automobile. And retaining the rural areas' character precludes many urban transit options.

What's embarrassing is that our county executive and council just drastically cut many of the few bus route schedules available in the upcounty.

That's not only hypocritical, but also proves my point: the powers-that-be are trying to fool you about the CCT's potential. It should be built, but it will not solve 270 or 355 gridlock. They are simply trying to grease the wheels for their developer buddies to build wider and higher beyond Shady Grove.

We need new leadership that will put fiscal responsibility first, by recognizing that we have failed to put federal, state, and county funds where the highest priority is: widening 270 and 355.

No comments: