April 7, 2010

OPINION: MARC with strings attached

A new Washington Post article discusses the controversy of having overhead wires installed across downtown Washington to power the city's new streetcars. Here in Montgomery County, it is widely assumed that we will have such overhead catenararies along the planned routes of the Purple Line and Corridor Cities Transitway. However, the growing budget difficulties and dysfunctional Metro system - along with the poor to nonexistant performance of Metro and light rail during the 3 blizzards - continue to make an expansion of MARC commuter rail an affordable and efficient alternative.

The controversial Science City and other developments previously built along I-270 have all been touted as "smart growth" based upon the far-off construction of the CCT. Not only is the ridership of the non-existing CCT far overstated, but the current size of the Gaithersburg West plan far exceeds the capacity of current and future transportation infrastructure in that area. Meanwhile, Watkins Mill Town Center is emerging as the only real smart growth development in that corridor. Why? In addition to a planned interchange with 270 (of course, it's not yet built in our cart-before-the-horse county council's mode of planning), Watkins Mill already has a MARC rail station on site. North of the county, MARC trains take a spur into downtown Frederick. There are a variety of possible MARC configurations that could provide the rail service needed in the 270 corridor, at a greatly reduced price. READ MORE: Robert Dyer's Blog

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