September 23, 2021

County Wins $85,000 ‘Transit Within Reach’ Award to Increase Germantown MARC Station Accessibility

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has won a competitive award of $85,000 from the Transportation Planning Board (TPB) for the preliminary engineering of the Walter Johnson Road shared-use path connection to the Germantown MARC Station. The award comes from TPB’s “Transit Within Reach” program.

The project will complete the preliminary design for a new shared-use path. The project will give people walking and biking from nearby residential and commercial areas a consistent, comfortable and direct connection to the Germantown MARC station. The Germantown station is the highest ridership station in the MARC system, excluding Union Station, on the Brunswick Line. However, the ridership growth is currently constrained by parking availability since most riders arrive by car.

The connection will support growth in ridership by reducing the need for patrons to drive from nearby locations. The award will cover preliminary design plans and a cost estimate for the Walter Johnson Road shared-use path. The projects are scheduled for completion near the end of calendar year 2022.

“Planning for infrastructure today will help travel choices and accessibility tomorrow,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “Our County is growing in population and jobs. Providing the infrastructure that will provide access to public transportation hubs is key to advancing our climate action goals and will help ensure that our communities can support future growth.”

The TPB issued a call in May for projects for the Fiscal Year 2022-23 round of the Transit Within Reach program, which offered up to $85,000 for preliminary design or engineering projects. The call for projects placed a focus on improving walk and bike access to transit. The grants were particularly for Transit Access Focus Areas, access improvements that will increase transit ridership and utilization of available ridership capacity, access for low-income communities and communities of color, collaboration with other agencies or jurisdictions and strategies to advance projects to construction.

The award selection process included a panel of five members. In developing the list of recommended projects for the National Capital Region’s Transportation Planning Board, the panel aimed to equitably allocate funding across the region and the modes of transit. The projects improve walk and bike access to high-capacity transit.

Six total projects were received in response to the solicitation. Montgomery County’s project was one of three selected. The two other recipients were the City of Manassas, which was awarded $74,000, and Prince George’s County, which was awarded $85,000.

“The department is consistently seeking out and applying for award programs to help with infrastructure buildout,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “We know that access to transportation is critical to the County’s economic growth and will allow for increased accessibility, which is one of our top priorities.”

Over the next decade, more than half of the region’s job growth and more than 40 percent of the region’s new households are forecast to be located within a half-mile of high-capacity transit. Yet, even where transit is physically close, it is not necessarily within reach for people who walk and bike due to a lack of safe infrastructure.

Over the last couple of decades, a regional consensus has confirmed the importance of walk and bike access to transit. The region's long-term transportation plan, Visualize 2045, identified “Improving Walk and Bike Access to Transit” as one of seven regional initiatives that can positively affect travel conditions in the future. The award goal is to move small, high-impact projects that improve bike and walk access to transit into preliminary design or preliminary engineering.