Public Transportation : LUSENET : Kentlands : One Thread

Does anyone know the status of plans for expanding public transportation in Kentlands/Lakelands? Montgomery County is apparently evaluating plans for light rail to run from the Shady Grove Metro Station, into the Rio Center, up Great Seneca Highway, past Kentlands and N.I.S.T. on up to Germantown. Is there serious consideration of turning the route into Kentlands along Kentlands Blvd.? If not, why not, and what do we have to do as a community to push the idea forward?

It is my understanding that development in the Kentlands was just beginning when the idea was first put forward so there was not much pressure to bring the system into the neighborhood. Since then, we have come to the point where build-out is in sight, the commercial center is growing, and Lakelands (not even a concept back then) has become a reality. It seems to me that there is a rapidly expanding transportation-hungry population here that would be well-served by a clean, quiet, efficient, and quick transit system serving key destinations in the area. While Kentlands may garner high marks as a "walkable" community, one of its greatest assets is its location within the greater Washington Metropolitan area. Kentlands and Lakelands are situated in the midst of a rapidly expanding population and commercial growth pattern that extends outward from D.C. along the northwest corridor towards Frederick, MD. Our location allows access to a rich assortment of cultural, commercial, educational, sports, and culinary opportunities in one of the country's major metropolitan centers. Yet, our transportation choices remain limited, and we continue to be an auto-centric group of suburbanites. A light rail line running along Kentlands Blvd. that connects in a timely manner to at least one major transportation hub would go a long way towards changing this pattern.

-- Vic Macdonald (, May 22, 2000


LIGHT RAIL FOR KENTLANDS cc I'm glad Vic MacDonald asked about light rail for Kentlands. This is a good opportunity to share some information with the readers of this bulletin board.

CORRIDOR CITIES TRANSITWAY. The State Department of Transportation and several County agencies are currently studying plans for the Corridor City Transitway, which is intended to run from the Shady Grove Metro Station at the end of the Metro Red Line to Clarksburg. Kentlands is almost, but not quite, in the current Corridor Cities plan.

The route as presently projected begins at the west entrance to the Shady Grove station, crosses Frederick Road (Maryland Route 355), and proceeds through King Farm (with at least two station/stops). It then crosses I-270, and has one station/stop at the south end of the Rio/Washingtonian complex. From there, it runs along a route parallel to Key West Avenue, with a station/stop that serves the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center (Shady Grove Hospital, etc.). The route crosses Great Seneca Highway to a station/stop serving the Johns Hopkins University campus, then proceeds northward along the west side of Great Seneca Highway to Muddy Branch Road. At this point, the route goes across the multi-fatality intersection of Muddy Branch Road and Great Seneca Highway diagonally at grade (unbelievable but true!). The route then proceeds along the east side of Great Seneca Highway past a stop at Lakelands North (another unbelievable decision!), crosses Muddy Branch stream, then misses Kentlands entirely, turning northward into Quince Orchard Park to a station about 1,000 yards from Kentlands across Great Seneca Highway. From Quince Orchard Park, the route goes to the east side of Quince Orchard Road, passes a station/stop at the west entrance to NIST, crosses Clopper Road, then Quince Orchard Road (no stop, I believe) to a stop at Metropolitan Grove in the center of the undeveloped Casey Tract. The rest of the route roughly parallels the railroad tracks to Germantown.

PLANS FOR CONSTRUCTION MOVING AHEAD. Right of way acquisition through purchase and dedication is well underway for most of the currently planned route. Although it is not in the current capital program for transportation, the Governor's Smart Growth Initiative and the renewed emphasis on non-automobile transit alternatives coming from the Governor, the General Assembly, the County Executive, and the County Council, change the picture. In the opinion of many planners, it is likely that this project will be added to the capital program in the relatively near future.

PROBLEMS WITH THE CURRENTLY PLANNED ROUTE. The at-grade diagonal crossing at one of the most dangerous intersections in the County is, or course, absurd, as is the fact that the planned route goes by Kentlands/Lakelands, one of the densest areas in the Upcounty and the one most suitable for public transportation, without providing service.

The other absurd aspect of the preferred plan is that it will be a busway, rather than light rail, despite the many documented failures of busways elsewhere in the country, and the substantially higher ridership and lower operating costs associated with light rail.

THE KENTLANDS ALTERNATE: A few transportation activists convinced the City to put the Kentlands Alternate Route into the transportation plan that would provide service to Kentlands and Lakelands by eliminating the diagonal crossing, bringing the route up the west side of Great Seneca Highway and taking it at grade along the Kentlands Boulevard into Kentlands, then bringing it north along the east side of Quince Orchard Road to rejoin the currently preferred plan. This would add about three minutes time to each run, but brings all of Kentlands, Lakelands, Market Square, and Edison Park within walking distance, and allows a direct vehicular connection to North Potomac through Main Street.

KENTLANDS ALTERNATE ENDORSED: In recent months, we have convinced the Action Committee for Transit (a countywide transit pressure group), and the Executive Committees of the Montgomery County Civic Federation and the Allied Civic Group to endorse construction of the Kentlands Alternate Route as a Light Rail Transitway. We have also received favorable comments on this approach from members of the County Council and the State Delegation. After all, bringing light rail service to Kentlands/Lakelands/Market Square is just good neotraditional planning that is consistent with and supports Smart Growth!

OUR TASK: If we want to bring light rail to Kentlands/Lakelands/Market Square, we need to put pressure on our lawmakers to make it happen. If we sit back, the transitway will be built in all likelihood sometime in the next decade, but it will be built as a busway that serves everybody else.

AD HOC CORRIDOR CITIES TRANSIT COMMITTEE. I would suggest we seek out allies among transit activists and other communities interested in being served and form an Ad Hoc Corridor Cities Transit Committee (this would be an acceptable name, but we probably should find one that forms an easy-to-remember acronym). If you would like to become involved, please send me an email at

-- Dick Arkin (, May 22, 2000.

Thanks to Dick Arkin for providing us with the update on the proposed light rail line. It will one day provide a great service to the community in terms of environmental protection as well as a viable means of alternative transportation.

In the meantime, there is another form of reliable public transportation available to Kentlands/Lakelands residents - especially if you are a weekday commuter. The RIDE-ON bus runs two routes through the Kentlands every weekday morning beginning at 6:05 AM and ending at 8:35 AM. The 76 runs from Poolesville to the Shady Grove metro, and travels down Tschiffely from Rt. 28 to Kentlands Blvd. It turns right on Kentlands Blvd and continues to Great Seneca, to Muddy Branch, (Muddy Branch shopping center), to Diamondback, to 370 and on to the Metro. The 78 runs from Germantown - up Longdraft to Kentlands Blvd to Great Seneca and continues to the Metro via the same route as the 76.These buses run 15 minutes apart. They return for the evening rush hour with the first bus leaving Shady Grove at 3:43 PM and the last one at 6:58 PM. It is about a 13 minute ride from Kentlands Blvd. to the Metro on these buses.

The 56 runs between Lakeforest Mall and Rockville metro seven days a week, with stops all along Kentlands Blvd. The 74 runs from Germantown to Shady Grove with stops on Great Seneca at both Quince Orchard and Kentlands Blvd. This route runs through Rio as well. I believe it is also a 7-day route (as opposed to weekday rush hour only).

The RIDE ON is generally reliable. It is usually close to schedule, but there have been problems with buses not showing up or being very late (this is only when the temperature is either 101 or -8 degrees). However, complaints are handled immediately and very satisfactorily.

There are all sorts of special discount fares, depending on how much you travel with RIDE ON. For fares and route schedules, contact the Montgomery County, Maryland Department of Public Works and Transportation, Transit Services Division at; or call the Transit Information Center (240) 777-RIDE (7433).

-- Robin Caldwell (, May 23, 2000.

Yesterday (May 25) I attended a transportation seminar sponsored by an organization to which I belong. Speakers included a professor from George Mason who talked about the growth this area is experiencing and will continue to experience; two transportation planners from the Council of Governments and the Washington Board of Trade who spoke of failure to execute valid transportation plans which have been on the books since the early 1960s; DC City Councilman Phil Mendelson and Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan who spoke of the extreme difficulty of getting infrastructure improvements built. Mr. Duncan had just come from a groundbreaking for the Route 28 realignment running from Rockville to Burtonsville and then to I-95. It will be the first direct connection between I- 270 and I-95. He emphasized that it is NOT a replacement for the ICC.

Some facts I found out (the rankings are national):

This area ranks first in the use of public transportation, yet only 5% of people in the area use it. Gov. Glendenning has a goal of doubling transit use but that still leaves 90% of trips made bu automobile.

This area ranks first in use of carpools.

This area ranks second in telecommuting.

This area ranks second in traffic congestion exceed only by Los Angeles.

Each day 120,000 Marylanders cross the Potomac to work in Northern Virginia.

At transportation project hearings the opponents outnumber the proponents by 10-1. At the same time, surveys consistently point out that 70% of the population favors additional transportation projects to improve the infrastructure.

At the present time this region will increase it's lane-miles by 9% by the year 2020. At the same time per-capita automobile travel will increase by 40%.

Public transportation is not the solution, though part of it. Busses in traffic jams are just like cars in traffic jams. The only way to unjam public transportation is to build more roads.

The intersection of Great Seneca and Muddy Branch is overcapacity and has been overcapacity for about a year.

There is an organization which has been started to seek solutions to the problem. Go to if you haven't already and read up on it. Endgridlock has transportation seminars available for communities if anyone is interested.

We need to talk about Kentlands traffic problems but we also need to be part of any regional solution.

-- Jim Hubbard (, May 26, 2000.

Jim Hubbard's comments about the regional nature of transportation problems and solutions are wll worth considering. However, I personally disagree with his comment that public transportation "is not the solution, though part of it.The only way to unjam public transportation is to build more roads."

I believe that the best transportation system is a balanced transportation system, with more efficient highways, better roads, a strong commuter rail system (expanded MARC and VRE), a good heavy-rail system (METRO with extensions), a supportive light-rail network (like the Corridor Cities Transitway), and expanded MetroBus and Ride-On service.

The organization Jim mentions,, is well worth joining (I have done so). There are other important organizations in the state promoting smart growth and progressive solutions to transportation problems that also should be brought into the battle. Unfortunately, has not placed the Corridor Cities Transitway (with or without the Kentlands Alternative) on its high priority list (something I have asked the organization's president, Gus Bauman, to consider).

Right now, I think we have to generate some momentum by seeking alliances with those who have already endorsed or otherwise expressed support for our project (Action Committee for Transit, the executive committees of the Montgomery County Civic Federation and the Allied Civic Group, Montgomery County Planning Board Chairman Bill Hussman, several County Councilmembers and members of our legislative delegation, among others).

What we really need in the Upcounty is a citizens transportation pressure group/pac/citizens committee. That will help to generate some excitement toward turning this concept into a reality. It was such a group and the alliances we formed that enabled us to stop the developer's Kentlands Wal-Mart deal some years ago, and that's one way we can set this great project in motion now.

We can only solve our traffic problems in a city/county/state/regional context.

-- Dick Arkin (, May 26, 2000.

Not an answer but a question: does the KCA have a standing committee of concerned residents to "work" the transportation issues as an extension of the Board of Trustees? If not, might this be a good idea so that the citizens can (1) capitalize on the interest and (2) allow necessary research and legwork to be done on the subject that does not place additional burden on the already overworked Board?

-- David Fetzer (, May 28, 2000.

David, I am not sure I agree with you on this one. I am posting my response as a separate thread ("What are the functions of an HOA board?"), as it gets into another issue, and I do not wish to change the focus of the discussion at hand.

-- Mary N. Macdonald (, May 28, 2000.

The current routing is absurd, as the area the transitway will serve currently have low demand for transit. The transitway or light rail should travel along the length of route 355 instead from Shady Grove Station through Rio, Lakeforest and terminating in Germantown. There is littlt demand for transit in Kentlands. Transit demand is great along route 355. Kentlands already has Great Seneca Highway as a transport route. Please email me.

-- Mr. Shannon Vilter Villa (, January 03, 2005.

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