SILVER SPRING – Standing near one of the most congested corridors in Montgomery County Thursday, County Executive Ike Leggett (D) said routine rush-hour congestion is the reason local officials are heavily investing in Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).
“You can see the challenges of traffic even on a good day in the east part of the County,” said Leggett about rush-hour traffic on U.S. 29. “Think of the problems that many of us face when it’s snowing, when we have rain and when we have ice and all other kinds of challenges that we face each and every day.”
Leggett gathered Nov. 17 with Rep. John Sarbanes (D-3), Council member Roger Berliner (D-1) and Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman (R) to announce a naming contest for the BRT.
The proposed bus system would shuttle passengers in its own dedicated lane at a faster pace than normal commuter buses.
The purpose of the naming contest, according to Leggett, is to bring attention to BRT being different than commuter buses.
Leggett, who is a resident of the East County, said traffic on U.S. 29 often makes him chose to travel north to Howard County.
“Now as a Montgomery County resident, I hate to say it, but on occasion, but I do in fact go up to the movie theatre in Columbia,” Leggett said.
The County has opened up a naming contest for people to vote for the name of the new transit system, with the choices of Rapid, Flash and Swift.
The name contest is an opportunity for the Count to help brand the new project and show resident that elected officials are working on residents’ traffic concerns.
There are three proposed BRT lines in the County: U.S. 29, MD 355 and MD 586.
As of this weekend, it is not clear how the BRT will be funded and how much it will cost.
In July, Sarbanes helped the County secure a $10 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help fund the proposed 14-mile BRT along U.S. 29, which is estimated to cost $67 million.
“You know, it is not easy to get these TIGER grants, because a $10 million TIGER grant for this kind of a project represents a real win for Montgomery County and demonstrates the strength of the application,” Sarbanes said.
Sarbanes said he lobbied Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to pledge the TIGER grant to the County for the BRT.
“I even called Secretary Foxx right in the final minutes of these decision and said, ‘You got to do this, this is a very competitive grant,’’ Sarbanes said.