May 10, 2022

County Jurisdictions Receive $300,000 in Grants to Boost Walkable, Bikeable and Transit-Oriented Communities

Transit-Oriented Communities

The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) has approved 11 planning and design projects totaling $636,000 in technical assistance through its Transportation Land-use Connections (TLC) program. Montgomery County jurisdictions were granted five of the awards totaling $300,000, nearly half of the funding available. The funds will go toward projects that support walking, biking and transit-oriented communities.

The TLC program is a long-running annual grant program that funds small projects that coordinate transportation and land use. The awards fund planning and engineering of small projects that would not otherwise be able to move forward and help advance the region’s goals of being multimodal and more walkable.

The five Montgomery projects that received grants were the Olde Towne to Washington Grove Bicycle Connection (City of Gaithersburg); the Montgomery County Streetlight Standards program; the Fleet and Monroe Streets Complete Streets Feasibility Study (City of Rockville); the Takoma Park Metropolitan Branch Trail Upgrade (City of Takoma Park) and the City of Takoma Park New Avenue Bikeway.

Projects are submitted from local jurisdictions that are members of COG, which houses and staffs the TPB. Members apply for amounts between $30,000 and $60,000 for planning projects and up to $80,000 for 30 percent of design projects.

“These awards will help us in our ongoing work to make neighborhoods more accessible and walkable, which is vital to our County’s environmental and diversity goals,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Transit-oriented and walkable neighborhoods help us move toward our climate action goals, reducing single-occupancy vehicles, Green House Gas emissions and they have a dramatic impact on the quality of life of our residents. I appreciate the support from our regional partner, the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments, for funding these initiatives.”

For this application cycle, $630,000 was available, which was drawn from the departments of transportation of three states. The Maryland Department of Transportation contributes additional funding so that additional projects in the State can be funded.

Applications are submitted at the beginning of the year, announced in early spring and spending can begin on July 1. Funds are available for one year and have to be spent by the end of the fiscal year, which would be June 30, 2023. Project consultants are contracted through the TPB to make for an easy process to get the projects completed quickly.

“It is great to see other MWCOG members getting involved and submitting for projects that will undoubtedly have a positive impact within the communities where they are based,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “We look forward to working with them on these projects that we would not otherwise have funding for.”

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has applied for and received funding through the TLC program in past years. The project currently underway from last year’s funding cycle is a bike and pedestrian plan for Connecticut Avenue, within the Town of Kensington. The year prior, the funds allowed for a regionally recognized study on Pedestrian Navigation for the Visually Impaired in Urban Centers. However, the County receiving funding for five projects is unusual.

Below are details on the five programs in Montgomery County that received TLC awards:
  • Olde Towne to Washington Grove Bicycle Connection (City of Gaithersburg), $60,000.
The funds will go to the conditions and feasibility study to increase bike access to residents in neighborhoods and transit stations surrounding the City of Gaithersburg MARC Station and the Shady Grove Metro Station.

Montgomery County has planned for a bicycle route along Crabbs Branch Way, linking Shady Grove Metro Station to the Town of Washington Grove at Brown Street. Currently, there is no safe, low-stress bicycle link between the City of Gaithersburg MARC Station and the Shady Grove Metro Station. The TLC project will study extending the bicycle infrastructure route to Olde Towne Gaithersburg. The project will complete a conditions and feasibility study to increase bike access to residents in adjacent neighborhoods, as well as to the transit stations.
  • Montgomery County Streetlight Standards (Montgomery County). $50,000.
The grant will help provide an upgrade to Montgomery County’s existing Streetlight Standards to advance the County’s Vision Zero Initiative and its Complete Streets Design Guidelines principles. The County needs the upgrades to effectively convert existing lighting infrastructure to create safer, properly illuminated walking and cycling areas in line with a Safe Streets context. The project will provide updated streetlight standards for both corridor and intersection illumination, helping increase reaction time and reduce crash probability and severity. These standards will be tailored to different land use patterns, recognizing that the needs are different in urban settings compared to suburban or exurban areas of the County.
  • Fleet and Monroe Streets Complete Streets Feasibility Study (City of Rockville). $60,000.
The study will assess construction alternatives of Complete Streets facilities along Fleet and Monroe Streets, approximately one half-mile of roadway in the City of Rockville’s Town Center neighborhood. The project will weigh the values of three alternatives to improve these streets, which currently do not have bike facilities and have limited sidewalks. The alternatives to be examined include bike lanes, bus lanes, wider buffered sidewalks and traffic calming infrastructure. Recommended improvements would increase access to Metro, MARC and Amtrak stations, as well as to a high school.
  • Takoma Park Metropolitan Branch Trail Upgrade (City of Takoma Park). $60,000.
The City of Takoma Park is responsible for the care and maintenance of a nearly half-mile stretch of the Metropolitan Branch Trail that runs between the Washington, D.C., border and Silver Spring. The existing path is in disrepair, lacks pedestrian-scale lighting to allow for safe passage in the dark and does not have safe pedestrian crossings to the municipal park and Montgomery College facilities across the street. The stretch of the trail serves as the only major link between the growing networks of bikeways in both the District and Southern Montgomery County. A full upgrade of the trail is essential to make it comfortable, safe, accessible and ADA-compliant.
  • City of Takoma Park New Ave Bikeway – District Connector (City of Takoma Park). $70,000.
Building on past support from the TLC Program, this project is part of a larger effort to transform New Hampshire Avenue into a multi-modal corridor. The project will complete the design work for a bikeway that will extend from the Langley Park Transit Center to existing bike lanes on Kansas Avenue in the District of Columbia. TLC will fund 30 percent of the design for one of two possible alignments for bike infrastructure that will run through low-traffic neighborhood roads to create a continuous bikeway facility.

“We need more than just recreational spaces; we need to connect our neighborhoods and make them walkable and bikeable in order to expect residents to use them in place of using a car,” said Director Conklin.