Monday, July 20, 2009

Chamber: Delay Vote on CCT, Support Toll Lanes on I-270

Following is the letter from the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce to the County Council.

July 20, 2009

Phil Andrews
President, Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, Maryland 20850

Re: Corridor Cities Transitway and I-270 Recommendations

Dear President Andrews and Councilmembers:

As you prepare to make your recommendation to the Governor regarding the preferred alternatives for the I-270 Multimodal corridor study, the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce would like to take this opportunity to urge you to act in the best interest for the future economic development and vibrancy of this community. We must make wise investments in our infrastructure that will provide adequate support for our future generations of businesses and residents to thrive.

Corridor Cities Transitway Mode Selection: As we have emphasized in our previous testimony, light rail transit along the CCT alignment provides the strongest opportunity for economic development, and a permanent sense of transit commitment to the I-270 corridor. While we understand that Bus Rapid Transit may be the option that ultimately meets FTA standards for cost effectiveness, we do not believe this decision can adequately be made today without the benefit of approved master plans in Germantown and Gaithersburg West. The Maryland Transit Administration will study the impact of these increased densities on ridership regardless of the Council’s recommendation, which will delay the project 9 to 12 months. Therefore, no urgency exists for the Council to make a recommendation to the Governor until that data is presented. The Council should postpone making a recommendation on mode choice to the Governor until the ridership data includes critical master plans that could change the ridership dramatically. If the Council feels a recommendation must be made at this time, it should be a recommendation for light rail, demonstrating a commitment to making transit work in this very important growth center of the County.

I-270: We continue to urge the Council to select highway option 7, which provides for two additional express toll lanes in each direction on interstate 270. As you know, I-270 is a corridor planned for major job growth, and is already one of the most congested roads in the region. Companies cannot be expected to want to continue to locate in the I-270 Corridor as it simply grows more congested every day, and their employees are forced to sit in traffic. As the State Highway Administration informed the Council’s T&E Committee, widening I-270 will not only positively impact mobility, but will also positively impact the environment, contributing to a net improvement in air quality when cars aren’t spending time idling in congestion. The express toll lanes as provided in option 7 are not only needed for our future, they are long overdue. We urge you to move forward with option 7 so that future companies will select a vibrant I-270 corridor to be a part of, rather than avoid Montgomery County because of our traffic congestion challenges that negatively impact our quality of life.


Georgette Godwin
President and CEO
Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce