Today is the start of my new term and the beginning of the annual legislative session. I am honored to be serving in a new role this year, having been recently named Majority Leader of the Maryland House of Delegates by Speaker Adrienne Jones. I look forward to serving my district and state in this new capacity.
And speaking of new roles, congratulations to District 16's State Senator Susan Lee, who earlier this week was tapped by Governor-elect Wes Moore as Secretary of State. Delegate Ariana Kelly will be seeking the Senate seat and I look forward to supporting Ariana in this new role.
But what most of you want to read about are roads, roads, roads. Three different roads have been dominating the communication we receive from constituents these past few weeks.
Little Falls Parkway: Montgomery County Park & Planning has been piloting a "linear park" concept on Little Falls Parkway. This involved reducing traffic to two lanes and shifting it all to one side of the median. We have heard from many constituents concerned with the changes and expect an announcement from Park & Planning this week regarding the path forward. We have also been working with the State Highway Administration on the Little Falls Parkway and Massachusetts Avenue intersection and expect State Highway to provide recommendations in February.
Old Georgetown Road: As I wrote in a previous newsletter, in December the State Highway Administration used a repaving contract to install two bike lanes on Old Georgetown Road, removing one of three lanes of traffic in each direction. I spent most of the holidays responding to emails and phone calls about the bike lanes, some favorable but most concerned about the impact on through traffic flow. I have driven up and down the road at numerous times of day, including with some local neighborhood association representatives, to have a closer look at the situation.
The purpose of the lanes is to improve safety on the corridor in response to historic incidents--including deaths--along the road (including creating a buffer between the side walks and auto traffic). But this must be done in a balanced way. The lanes are both available for bikes and can act as a buffer for those on the sidewalk. You can see State Highway's presentation on the project and you will note that their estimates of through traffic time increases are far less than what people have experienced in the early days of the bike lanes.
We have been in regular contact with State Highway since the lanes' installation sharing concerns. State Highway considers the project incomplete, as certain paint and sign elements are not complete. They are also working with Montgomery County's Department of Transportation on potential signaling changes. That said, State Highway has committed to more real-time monitoring and a post-installation study to assess if and how the lanes are working. Here is their recent statement:
[Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA)] will soon be completing remaining improvements of the project and will coordinate closely with MCDOT traffic engineering staff to improve operations through signal timing adjustments and other engineering enhancements. MDOT SHA will assess traffic operations throughout January and February to examine corridor performance and travel time impacts. The assessment will examine travel times using field collected travel time run data and vehicle probe data, speed using field collected data, lane utilization using traffic counts, origin-destination patterns, Bicycle Level of Traffic Stress (BLTS), Pedestrian Level of Comfort (PLOC), safety, and mobility (vehicular and multimodal).
We expect further feedback from State Highway on the path forward soon and will strive to keep you informed.
American Legion Bridge/I-495/I-270: With Governor Hogan about to depart office, I am regularly asked about the fate of the private toll road expansion project he has been promoting for several years. Last year, the Governor entered the state into a Public Private Partnership with an entity called Accelerate Maryland Partners. That entity was due to submit a section proposal for the American Legion Bridge, 495 connections to I-270, the two spurs, and I-270 to Gaithersburg. Late last year, however, the Governor announced an extension of the section agreement deadline until later this year, placing the project in the hands of the incoming Moore Administration.LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
Incumbent legislators can "pre-file" bills before the legislative session begins. 130 Senate and 123 House bills were pre-filed this year and you can review them all here.
I will talk more about my legislative agenda in a future email but, for now, I have four pre-filed bills on transportation funding, clean energy, and government transparency.
TRANSPORTATION UPDATEThe Maryland Transit Administration is now required to submit bimonthly reports on the Purple Line as a result of provisions we have placed in the state budget. The January report is available here.
Since release of the report, which unfortunately shows extremely limited progress, I have been meeting with Maryland Transit Administration staff to discuss the project and hope to have more to report soon.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.