Monday, November 02, 2009

State Legislators Urge Council to Back Rail CCT, Question ACT All-Transit Option

A letter organized by Senator Rob Garagiola (D-15) and signed by seven other state legislators representing areas along the CCT's alignment urges the County Council to support rail for the project and expresses skepticism about Action Committee for Transit's (ACT) all-transit option for the corridor.

The County Council will soon make a recommendation to MDOT about its preferred option for the I-270 widening project as well as the CCT. In July, the council's Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T&E) Committee recommended adding express toll lanes to I-270 and using bus rapid transit (BRT) for the CCT. But the committee said it might change its mind about the CCT if higher density numbers from the pending Gaithersburg West Master Plan made rail feasible. That same month, a group of state legislators wrote MDOT in support of adding toll lanes as well as a light rail CCT. But ACT opposes widening I-270 and proposed an all-transit plan for the corridor instead. Another group of state legislators wrote MDOT to urge them to study the all-transit plan. Five legislators inexplicably signed both letters - one favoring extra lanes and the other opposing them.

Now MDOT has complicated the matter by insisting that ACT's all-transit option would delay the CCT for years because it would re-start the planning process for the corridor. That did not sit well with Senator Garagiola and seven of his colleagues, all of whom represent the area in which the CCT would be built and support light rail for the project. In the letter below, they urge the County Council to back a light rail CCT and they criticize ACT's proposal because - according to MDOT - it would delay the CCT "well over a decade."

Interestingly, two Delegates - Kathleen Dumais (D-15) and Jim Gilchrist (D-17) - signed all three letters. Those letters, respectively, called for widening I-270, studying ACT's all-transit plan and rejecting ACT's all-transit plan (below). Delegate Luiz Simmons (D-17) signed the latter two letters.

We reprint the newest letter below.