Promises Made, Promises Broken on Traffic

The true reason for Montgomery County’s traffic problems

Why is our traffic so horrendous?

Of course, there are lots of reasons – it’s a complex problem with no single solution. Yet much of our congestion was preventable if Montgomery County had taken its responsibility for building infrastructure, seriously.

Montgomery County is great at planning – but not at implementing. Good at identifying transportation solutions – but not good at building them. Great at saving a buck – but not great at funding priority projects that have the best cost/benefit for the community.

The County operates under dozens of different sector or neighborhood master plans (i.e. Clarksburg, Fairland, White Flint, etc.). Each one of those plans includes recommendations for transportation improvements – roads, transit, bicycle and pedestrian facilities. In addition, the County is currently updating its county-wide transportation plan – the Master Plan of Highways and Transitways – which incorporates the planned improvements for all the sector plans.

The draft Master Plan of Highways and Transitways tells the story of our congestion and backlog of solutions. The spreadsheet in Appendix D lists projects that have been included in adopted plans – but never built. There are more than 160 unbuilt projects including the Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT) and various Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes under consideration. 160 planned but unbuilt transportation solutions – no wonder we have traffic congestion.

Some of these roadway projects, such as the Montrose Parkway East extension and Mid-County Highway (M-83), have been on the drawing board for decades. The Montrose extension was originally adopted in the 1992 North Bethesda Plan and the 1994 Aspen Hill Plan – and appears in both White Flint Sector Plans (2010 and 2018). Unless there is an outcry to support it, the County Council appears to be leaning toward delaying the project (again) – which will cost the taxpayers wasted dollars to update the design due to the now-anticipated 11-year delay.

And the list goes on… 160 planned but unbuilt transportation projects. We need a County Council that will not make a mockery of the planning process; a County Council that will fund and build infrastructure promised long ago.

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