Wednesday, February 8, 2017

MoCo traffic jams worsening, new study shows (Photos)

Typical morning rush
conditions on southbound
I-270 this morning: RED
You know traffic is getting worse when even a Montgomery County government report admits it is. While traffic and intersection tests utilized by Montgomery County planners are notoriously and laughably skewed to make things appear better than they are, the latest one finds drivers are crawling even more slowly than they were six years ago. The Montgomery County Planning Department's 2017 Mobility Assessment Staff Report shows you are moving, on average, 4 MPH slower around the county than you were in 2011. "Unexpected delays and peak congestion are increasing," the report says.

These results - and remember, the real conditions are even worse than they can appear under the lax tests applied for this study, and traffic has slowed much more than 4 MPH on many routes; 4 MPH is the average reduction in speed countywide - clearly indicate that our elected officials' current transit-only strategy has been a failure.

In fact, the study found that Ride On bus ridership has declined 7% since 2010, and Metro ridership within Montgomery County declined 3% over that same period. Metrobus is the lone bright spot. Ridership of Metrobus has increased "just under eleven percent" since 2010. That may be partially because of people fleeing Metro along the major corridors where Metrobus dominates, but certainly positive news in an otherwise bleak period for transit.
What happens when the
Montgomery County Council
approves massive development
in Clarksburg and Damascus,
but doesn't build the
M-83 Highway and
Damascus Bypass
Interestingly, just as planning commissioners and County Councilmembers are saying jamming the maximum development downcounty as possible (and we're not talking about transit-oriented smart growth, but transit deserts like Westbard) is a great idea, the report found that traffic jams have increased the most...downcounty. Oops.

So, let's get this straight: Transit use is clearly trending downward. Cars are moving slower than they were before "smart growth." We were promised exactly the opposite would happen by these same county officials. It didn't.

Amazingly, the Planning Board and County Council just approved the addition of over 3000 people to the Westbard sector plan area along River Road. Yet this latest study shows that the intersection of River Road and Western Avenue is number 3 on the top 10 bottlenecks in Montgomery County! And they've said they have no plans to increase capacity on River Road. This is planning malpractice of the highest order. Criminally, the report does not give a congestion map for River Road between the Beltway and Western - was that because it would show a red line? You betcha.
The County Council has
designated this completely
jammed segment of
Connecticut Avenue as a place
where...thousands more
automobile commuters should
be added!

Check out the red-lined severe congestion during the evening rush on Connecticut Avenue through Chevy Chase Lake - where the County Council recently approved thousands of new housing units. This is unbelievable. What are these people smoking?
Will it be better in
the morning? Uh, no
The Level 5 [traffic]storm
known as MD 355
northbound in

Are we ready for
thousands more cars
in downtown Bethesda
in the morning? Nope

"Kill me now"
- George Costanza

Considering how much growth is coming to the MD 355 (Rockville Pike/Wisconsin Avenue corridor) in the next decade, it should be a red flag that four of the top ten bottlenecks in the county are along that corridor. The others are New Hampshire Avenue, Connecticut Avenue and Georgia Avenue. We can now see the impact of never completing the Northwest Freeway, North Central Freeway and Northern Parkway, as those were supposed to take through-traffic off of those north-south commuter routes.
Aspen Hill is moving
much more slowly;
the top purple number is 2017 speed,
the bottom green is 2011

What happens when you don't
build the Rockville Freeway, Part I

What happens when you don't
build the Rockville Freeway, Part II
(and delay Montrose Parkway East)

Heavy traffic jams shown on Randolph Road and Norbeck Road, as well as sizable decreases in travel speed since 2011 along those east-west corridors, show the impact of failing to build the Rockville Freeway and Montrose Parkway East along the Rockville Facility right-of-way.

In short, we are being led by very stupid people.

None of this is to say we cannot have growth and greater density near Metro stations in our urban areas. What it is saying is that our elected officials have failed to provide the infrastructure necessary to handle that growth. And it is forcing us, as voters, to ask ourselves how much longer we'll allow these clowns to get away with it.

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