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Council Staff: Ditch BRT South Of Bradley, Cedar Lane Station

By Aaron Kraut

Wednesday - 10/30/2013, 3:25pm  ET

Photo of a median BRT station in Bogota, Colombia by Juanman 3 via WikipediaNext up in the County Council’s discussion of Bus Rapid Transit is the plan for Rockville Pike/Wisconsin Avenue, which for months has caused controversy about potential road treatments and right of way issues with adjacent neighborhoods.

In his recommendations, released today, Council transportation analyst Glenn Orlin says the Council should ditch plans to extend a Wisconsin Avenue BRT route south of Bradley Lane to Friendship Heights.

Orlin also recommended changes to a number of other aspects of the Planning Board-approved master plan, including getting rid of a station at Cedar Lane.

The Transportation Committee will take up the issues at 9:30 a.m. on Friday.

Orlin says “there is no purpose” in extending BRT south of Bradley Lane, where the Red Line already runs:

The reason is that there is no purpose in duplicating the service already provided by the Red Line. The only proposed station between Bethesda Metro and Friendship Heights Metro would be Bradley Boulevard, and any homes or businesses near it will be within an easy walk of the programmed south entrance of the Bethesda Metro. However, in the future, should the District of Columbia consider establishing a true BRT service on Wisconsin Avenue to, say, the Cathedral area and Georgetown — where Metrorail does not now go — then the Council should reconsider BR T service in this segment.

Chevy Chase West, the Town of Somerset and others in the neighborhoods along that stretch of Wisconsin Avenue came out vehemently against BRT for fears that it would pose safety or traffic risks.

In its worksession on Tuesday, the Committee discussed a similar issue in Silver Spring, where the Planning Department plan calls for a BRT route to extend past the Silver Spring Transit Center to 16th Street and the D.C. line.

Despite Orlin’s recommendation to stop the route at the Transit Center, Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Hans Riemer voted to keep it in the master plan. Councilmember Nancy Floreen, who has questioned many aspects of the BRT plan, voted to ditch it.

Orlin recommended the Committee stick with the Planning Department’s plan for BRT on Rockville Pike in North Bethesda and White Flint, writing that the system would not duplicate the Metro Red Line because “the Metro stations are more than a mile apart in this section, while the Rockville Pike corridor has consistently significant density of employment and housing along most of its length between Grosvenor and Shady Grove that is not within walking distance of a Metro station.”

But Orlin wrote the stretch south of the Grosvenor Metro Station presents a different situation. Orlin said there is only one “high-density location” not within walking distance of a Metro station: Pooks Hill.

To improve travel times for BRT, Orlin recommended taking a station at Cedar Lane and Rockville Pike out of the plan.

He also recommended that the county should do a more detailed study on treatments. The plan calls for two median lanes. Orlin said the county, during project planning, should seriously look at one single lane that would reverse direction based on rush hours and taking curb lanes for reserved bus use.

As far as the North Bethesda Transitway, which would run 2.7 miles from the White Flint Metro station along Old Georgetown Road to Westfield Montgomery Mall, Orlin agreed with much of the Planning Department master plan.

Based on public hearing testimony, Orlin said a station planned for Edson Drive and Poindexter Lane should be moved to Nicholson Lane or Executive Boulevard.

Photo by Juanman 3 via Wikipedia