Report: Seniors want more transportation options

Frederick News Post
Kelsi Loos
11/23/2013
Frederick County seniors want more transportation options as some of them age out of driving, according to a report from the county's Department of Aging. About 16 percent of licensed drivers, almost 647,000 in Maryland, are over 65, according to Motor Vehicle Administration spokesman Buel Young. Some of those seniors may voluntarily give up driving if they notice their ability is not what it used to be. The MVA may also deny licenses to people of any age who have medical conditions that make it unsafe for them to drive. “It's a big issue, it really is, because Americans are tied to their cars,” Frederick County Department of Aging director Carolyn True said.

Commission votes favorably on Monrovia Town Center rezoning

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
11/21/2013
After three nights of public testimony, the Frederick County Planning Commission on Wednesday weighed in favorably on a rezoning request that would allow the advance of a 1,510-home project in Monrovia. Three members of the planning commission opposed a recommendation to approve the rezoning application filed by developers in the Monrovia Town Center project. Their “no” votes reflected their doubts that road networks around the proposed project could handle an influx of new residents. Four planning officials voted in favor of giving a positive recommendation to the rezoning request, saying the developers were meeting legal requirements with plans to fund transportation improvements. In a second decision, the planning officials voted 5-2 that a proposed agreement between the county and town center developers was consistent with the county’s overall growth plans. “For me, the main concern is the road network,” said Commissioner Dwaine Robbins, who cast an opposing vote on both matters. “It meets the letter of the law, but just in my gut, it don’t feel right.” The votes capped off a series of meetings that started last month and has drawn hundreds of Monrovia residents to Winchester Hall.

County hears input on transportation priorities

Frederick News Post
Kelsi Loos
09/23/2013
County staff members and representatives from the State Highway Administration met with the commissioners last week to go over transportation priorities for Frederick County. Transportation projects tend to develop slowly, so many of the items on the county priorities list were carried over from earlier years. The overall top priority remains widening U.S. 15 between I-70 and Md. 26. However, three key changes were made possible by state funding. Planners secured construction funding for the U.S. 15, Monocacy Boulevard interchange and a streetscape project on Main Street (Md. 144) in New Market. Streetscapes generally involve improving or adding sidewalks and upgrading roadways to make them more navigable.

City, county officials back regional transportation plan

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
07/31/2013
Residents should speak up for easier commutes and road and bridge repairs, according to Frederick city and county leaders. At a joint news conference Tuesday, Frederick County Commissioner Paul Smith and city Alderwoman Carol Krimm praised a drafted transportation priorities plan that is under development by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Almost all major transportation projects need the council's blessing, so it's important to make sure the group's long-range plans reflect Frederick's needs, said Smith and Krimm. The Frederick area has significant infrastructure issues, the officials said. "We are actually behind the curve," Smith said.

Maryland’s New Emissions Plan Shows Climate Action Is Cost-Effective

World Resources Institute
Rebecca Gasper and Kevin Kennedy
07/26/2013
As impacts from climate change become more visible and costly, leaders across the nation are responding. In the wake of projections from the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science showing that Maryland could face sea-level rise of more than six feet by the end of the century, Governor Martin O’Malley unveiled a state climate action plan this week. The initiative will reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also supporting job creation and economic growth. Sea-level rise will make Maryland–and other states on the Atlantic coast–increasingly vulnerable to costly and damaging floods, underscoring the urgency to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are warming our planet. The actions described in Governor’s plan aim to achieve a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions below 2006 levels by 2020. According to analysis conducted by Towson University for the state, the plan is expected to produce more than $1 billion in net economic benefits and support more than 37,000 jobs, providing yet more evidence that smart environmental policy is smart economic policy.

U.S. 15-Monocacy interchange gets regional stamp of approval

Frederick News Post
Kelsi Loos
07/25/2013
It could soon get easier to travel across town in Frederick now that a regional transportation planning board has given its blessing to the long-awaited U.S. 15 and Monocacy Boulevard interchange. The Washington Council of Governments’ Transportation Planning Board voted last week to include the project in its transportation improvement program. Construction is set to be completed in 2016. The state agreed in May to use funds raised from the gas tax increase to foot the $84.5 million bill for construction, but the plan still had to be approved by appropriate regional authorities — in this case, the council of governments.

Going with the flow on the Golden Mile

Frederick News Post
07/11/2013
Frederick has asked the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments for $35,000 to fund a traffic study of the Golden Mile. According to Frederick County traffic engineer Ron Burns, MCOG’s Technical Advisory Committee reviewed the proposal and recommended approving it, so right now it looks like a go. This is very good news, because vehicle, transit and pedestrian traffic is a major consideration in the new vision for this commercial area that the city and Golden Mile Alliance have forged. It is vital to the alliance’s goal to “ ... ensure that the Golden Mile is an attractive, diverse, and highly dynamic, mixed-use commercial corridor with top retail, office, and service uses linked by safe pedestrian routes to healthy residential neighborhoods and parks.” Currently, the flow of all manner of traffic on the Golden Mile needs attention — particularly for bike riders and pedestrians. Despite efforts to improve safety and efficiency, it’s obvious that some new vision is called for. Among other issues, the study would likely examine the pros and cons of creating a dedicated bus lane. It should, because the Golden Mile corridor in heavily traveled and many who work and live in the area need or choose to use public transportation. Traffic flow also needs to conform to and facilitate the small-area plan that has been the centerpiece of the revitalization plan for the Golden Mile. As envisioned by the Frederick Planning Department, the concept is dedicated to making the Golden Mile corridor “walkable, connected, vibrant, safe, complete, attractive and sustainable.”

Monocacy, U.S. 15 interchange is funded. Now what?

Frederick News Post
Kelsi Loos
07/08/2013
Now that the city has secured funding for the long-planned Monocacy Boulevard-U.S. 15 interchange, Frederick is trying to set new priorities. City planner Tim Davis said that the item had been the No. 1 transportation item since he started the position 11 years ago. Maryland's Transportation Act set aside $82 million for the interchange during the last General Assembly session. Davis met with the Board of Aldermen on Wednesday to discuss the city's Highway Needs Inventory and set new goals. The inventory is a requirement of local governments to request state funding for road projects. The list does not guarantee funding, but it's a primary step to secure it.

County approves transportation priorities

Frederick News Post
Kelsi Loos
05/24/2013
The county could build alternate routes around Frederick to ease congestion on I-270, I-70 and other key roads. Eventually. The Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to approve the State Highway Needs Inventory, a first step in securing state funds for road projects. The inventory specifies no time frame for completion, however, and some projects have languished on the list for years awaiting state funding. “Many of the projects have literally been on there for decades,” said Jim Gugel, planning manager for the Community Development Division.

Been down this road before

Gazette
11/29/2012
With the 2013 General Assembly session lurking on the horizon, it is imperative that state lawmakers give more than the usual lip service to Maryland’s transportation needs. Budget analysts have warned that the state transportation funding situation looks bleak — once again. Voicing the concerns of their beleaguered members, the Maryland Municipal League and the Maryland Association of Counties have made restoring highway user revenues, which have been slashed to the tune of almost $1 billion in recent years, a top legislative priority. Yet, it seems highly unlikely that the city of Frederick will see a marked increase in the highway user fees it needs to repair deteriorating local roadways or Frederick County will get the $169 million it wants next year to help relieve congestion and improve safety on the area’s busy highways — at least according to pessimistic state transportation officials.

Mind your constituents

Frederick News Post
Ellen Kreis
06/24/2012
In regard to the pending changes to the MARC train schedule, Delegate Michael Hough is no doubt correct in his assessment that his train-riding constituents likely share his chagrin about the later arrival times of the Brunswick line trains. What concerns me, however, is the way he would like MARC to remedy this problem by eliminating the smaller stops in Montgomery County. If Delegate Hough were more concerned about his constituents and less about his personal inconvenience as a rider from Brunswick, he'd be aware that a good percentage of the folks that utilize two of the smaller Montgomery County stations actually reside in Frederick County.

Baby’s no longer on board

Frederick News Post
Matt Edens
04/30/2012
Frederick's clustered spires are a proud symbol of the city's past, but do they also bode well for its future? The thought came to me the other day while reading a news story about, of all things, the automobile industry. A business piece in The Atlantic, it chronicled how carmakers are struggling to connect with the youth market, specifically Gen Y, the millennials born between approximately 1980 and the early 2000s. Roughly 80 million strong, they're the largest demographic cohort in American history, outnumbering even their baby-boomer parents. And since they're now entering their car driving and buying years in large numbers, they represent the next major market for carmakers. There's one just one problem. The under-30 set, many of whom spent their formative years being chauffeured from play date to soccer practice in station wagons and SUVs festooned with "Baby on Board" stickers, isn't all that keen on moving up to the driver's seat.

Baby's no longer on board

Frederick News Post
Matt Edens
04/30/2012
Frederick's clustered spires are a proud symbol of the city's past, but do they also bode well for its future? The thought came to me the other day while reading a news story about, of all things, the automobile industry. A business piece in The Atlantic, it chronicled how carmakers are struggling to connect with the youth market, specifically Gen Y, the millennials born between approximately 1980 and the early 2000s. Roughly 80 million strong, they're the largest demographic cohort in American history, outnumbering even their baby-boomer parents. And since they're now entering their car driving and buying years in large numbers, they represent the next major market for carmakers. There's one just one problem. The under-30 set, many of whom spent their formative years being chauffeured from play date to soccer practice in station wagons and SUVs festooned with "Baby on Board" stickers, isn't all that keen on moving up to the driver's seat.

Frederick County refunds and waives building fees

County cut in building excise tax means more money for developers
Gazette
Sherry Greenfield
12/29/2011
Developers in Frederick County found something special in their Christmas stocking this year — money. Since the Frederick Board of County Commissioners cut the building excise tax to zero on Nov. 1, from the previous 75 cents per square foot for commercial buildings and 25 cents per square foot for housing, developers reaped nearly $184,000 in rewards.

Frederick County Commissioners cut excise tax rate to zero

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
11/02/2011
A Tuesday decision by the Frederick County Commissioners will leave local builders with one less fee to worry about and the county with one less source of funding for bridge and road expansion. In a 3-1 vote, the commissioners dropped the excise tax rate to zero, a reduction that could cause certain transportation projects to fall behind schedule, according to county staff.

Future of commuting nightmarish

Gazette
Sherry Greenfield
05/17/2007
The future of commuting in Frederick County looks bleak. People will drive farther to jobs on inadequate roads, and there is little anyone can do about it. That is the outlook some planners with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments presented at a forum Monday organized by the Frederick Area Committee on Transportation. The committee invited the Washington Council of Governments to meet with Frederick county and city elected officials, developers and land-use attorneys to talk about ways to ease traffic. "We have some ideas, and we're also asking people to give us their own ideas," said John Swanson, a senior transportation planner with the Council of Governments. "... People always ask us 'is traffic getting worse?' And the answer is yes. We don't want to fool people that we have all the answers."