I-270 / US 15 Multi-modal Corridor Study update

Last week (December 18th), at the monthly joint meeting of the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners and Municipalities, staff from the Maryland State Highway Administration provided a “Project Status Briefing” about the “I-270 / US 15 Multi-modal Corridor Study” which covers a 30 miles stretch from Shady Grove Road (Rockville) to Biggs Ford Road (north of Frederick).

The update flowed from a detailed Powerpoint presentation which included an overview of the options being considered.

The good news is that the planning process continues for long awaited improvements to Interstate 270, and there’s been some progress. The bad news is that new lanes to alleviate congestion are still a number of years and a few billion dollars away.

As most Frederick County residents know, the presentation noted that “the I-270/US 15 Corridor provides an essential connection between the Washington DC metropolitan area and central and western Maryland.  It is an essential corridor for carrying local and long distance trips, both within and beyond the corridor.”

A key part of the presentation was a look at the varied options and alternatives still on the table, from “travel demand management” to bus rapid transit to express toll lanes. As outlined in the presentation, there will be public outreach, with a number of public meetings, in the spring of 2009, with a selection of the “preferred alternative” expected next fall.

I’ve posted a few helpful links below for those who would like more information, including a copy of the powerpoint presentation and video of the presentation and discussion. I’ve also included the text of today’s Gazette article about the meeting.

multi-modal_study_area

 

 

County Transportation Planning – State Highway Projects Page:
http://www.co.frederick.md.us/index.asp?nid=3085

That page includes these two links:

I-270 / US 15 Multi-modal Corridor Study (web page)
http://www.i270multimodalstudy.com/

and:

I-270 / US 15 Multi-modal Study Briefing Slides – 12/18/08 (5mb pdf file)
http://www.co.frederick.md.us/documents/Planning/Transportation/I_270_US15_StudySlides.PDF

The presentation was listed on our agenda this way:

U.S.15/I-270 Multimodal Corridor Study Project Briefing – Alternatives Analysis and Environmental Assessment –Russ Anderson, Maryland State Highway Administration and Brian Horn, RKK Engineering

You can watch the presentation and discussion via streaming video on the county’s website. Go here:
http://frederick.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2
…and scroll down to “BOCC Municipalities Meeting 12/18/08”

Or go directly to that video here (and the agenda):
http://frederick.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=1044

—————————

Like Friday evening rush hour, project to improve I-270, U.S. Route 15 creeps forward
State official updates Frederick County, town leaders on 14-year interstate study

http://www.gazette.net/stories/12212008/frednew75827_32477.shtml

Gazette
Sunday, Dec. 21, 2008

by Sherry Greenfield

When state and federal transportation experts began working up a plan to ease congestion on Interstate 270 and U.S. Route 15 in Frederick County, Seinfeld was the most popular show on television, AOL was a curiosity, and O.J. Simpson led police on a notorious slow-speed chase.

The study has moved along at a similar pace, though state officials on Thursday updated Frederick County officials on its status.

It’s termed the Multi-Modal Corridor Study, and its purpose is to improve a 28-mile stretch of highway from Biggs Ford Road north of Frederick city to Shady Grove Road in Montgomery County.

But as highway officials study, debate and examine how best to improve driving conditions, motorists continue to experience a daily commute on a clogged highway.

“This thing has been going on most of my life or at least most of my working life,” Board President Jan H. Gardner (D) said Thursday at a briefing on the study. “It is frustrating. It is a very long process. We looked at alternatives in 2002 and here we are six years later and we’re still looking at alignments.”

Since 1994, the Maryland State Highway Administration and the Federal Mass Transit Administration have been looking at options to relieve congestion and improve safety conditions in anticipation of projected growth along the corridor over the next 20 years.

But with a $3.8 billion price tag, the project has been slow, and despite a handful of small projects, construction has been non-existent.

Russ Anderson, the state’s newly appointed manager of the project, came to brief elected officials on Thursday on the direction of the study.

Public hearings will be held in May and June of next year, Anderson said, and state highway officials will pick an option in the fall.

New to the study are more lanes on Route 15 from Interstate 70 to Biggs Ford Road, including general purpose lanes, carpool lanes and express toll lanes, whereby motorists will pay a fee.

The lanes would be separate from the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) or carpool lanes and the general use lanes. Money would be collected, but without the use of a tollbooth. Instead, the collection would be done electronically with transponders, a small electronic device mounted to the interior windshield of the vehicle.

The transponder emits a signal picked up by an antenna in the special toll lane. Within seconds, equipment in the toll lane reads the transponder and deducts the appropriate fee amount from the special account the driver has set up.

The money would pay for road improvements, Anderson said.

Other improvements include bus transit along Route 270 and light rail from the Shady Grove Metro Station to Clarksburg.

Also proposed are new larger lanes to merge on and off Route 15 in Frederick County at the Jefferson Street, Rosemont Avenue, 7th Street and Motter Avenue interchanges.

But even as the state picks its final option, design and construction will not come soon. “Design will depend on funding,” Anderson said. “We’re funded through planning, but there is no funding for design.”

There is also no funding for construction.

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