Transit Alternatives to Mid-County Highway Extended

Thank You for County Executive’s removal of M-83 Highway from the Capital Improvement Projects

April 7, 2014
To: County Executive Isaiah Leggett and Montgomery County Councilmembers
Dear County Executive Leggett and Councilmembers,
The TAME Coalition sends its genuine gratitude for the adjustments Mr. Leggett has made to the CIP FY15-20 budget requesting removal of M-83 from Facility Planning.[1]The TAME Coalition supporters (43 organizations and 8 elected officials) were pleased to read the March 17th memo to Council President Craig Rice stating, “Funding for facility planning for the MidCounty Highway (M-83) has not been included in the FY 15-20 CIP.”
We believe it would be unacceptable for the Council and Executive to program funds for additional study of M-83. MCDOT has not yet completed its environmental study, it is very uncertain whether M-83 will receive the necessary federal environmental approval given concerns raised by federal agencies, and the Council and Executive have not had an opportunity to weigh in on a preferred alternative. As of now, none of the six alternatives on the table represent the best transportation solution for Upcounty communities. Alternatives 4, 8, and 9 unacceptably harm existing neighborhoods and environmentally sensitive areas.  Alternatives 2 and 5 are more acceptable, but fail to include transit as a solution.  Given the current status and ongoing issues with the project, we urge the Council to confirm the CIP adjustment to remove M-83 from the facility planning packet.
The master planned M-83, long favored by MCDOT, would impact biologically important parkland; productive farmland, forests, wetlands, and stream valleys; present great impacts to existing neighborhoods; cost hundreds of millions of dollars of county funds; and offer seemingly little traffic relief. In particular, Dayspring Creek and Wildcat Branch are two of the county’s few high quality creeks and are two of several threatened by this highway project.
We are very encouraged by the $10 million included in this CIP in part for the study of Bus Rapid Transit on 355 from Bethesda to Clarksburg, and are hopeful that this transit line can present a viable, sustainable, and cost effective alternative for Upcounty commuters. We have been deeply concerned that a high quality transit alternative to M-83 has never been studied, and hope that a part of this important study will be to analyze Bus Rapid Transit on 355 as an alternative to provide a more sustainable, less destructive travel option for Clarksburg residents.
Sixty years after the conception of M83 highway and 10 years after the start of this current environmental review, we hope that Mr. Leggett’s action to not include M83 in the FY15-20CIP signals a commitment to working with the County Council this year to finally put this destructive highway plan to rest.  It is time to commit in its place to a sustainable, forward-thinking alternative that can better fulfill the promise of a transit-oriented Clarksburg and a sustainable Upcounty.
We look forward to working with the County Executive and County Council on the next steps for eliminating this destructive highway project, and embracing a viable, high quality transit alternative in its place.
Many thanks for your attention,
TAME Coalition Supporters 

[1] March 17th Memorandum, “Budget Adjustments: FY15-20 Recommended Capital Improvements Program”:

Join TAME Coalition as we work with organizations and government to bring Transit Atlernatives to Mid-County Highway Extended.