In partnership with Prince George’s County, Montgomery County recently convinced the Transportation Planning Board at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments to consider a more complete and environmentally sensitive approach to the State’s plans for easing congestion on I-270 and I-495. The new alternative to be studied includes managed lanes, reversible lanes, active traffic management techniques, spot improvements, expansion of park & ride facilities, and dedicates some toll revenues to already planned transit projects.
But as Team Rockville member Mark Pierzchala points out, this won’t be sufficient in his recent Washington Post op-ed. As he notes, “There is too much sprawl in the region for transit alone to solve the commuting crisis…The mess is decades in the making.” As an alternative to the endless cycle of growth and sprawl encouraged by bigger and faster highways, he suggests a better use of land through transit-oriented development.
This year, Rockville finally embraced a transit-oriented development near the Twinbrook Metro called Twinbrook Quarter. But it was a rough fight, and the project nearly failed on the issue of school crowding, even though it will pay for more school capacity than students it will generate. I don’t blame parents for being angry about schools bursting at the seams. They’re paying high property tax rates, and their children deserve better. But their children are going to grow up, and they should be able to live and work in Rockville as young adults if they so choose.
Think this is too radical for Rockville? Actually, transit-oriented development has been around for at least twenty years and the DC region has several examples that serve as national models. Indeed, Rockville is actually falling behind in this kind of land use planning, even though it’s an ideal solution to the region’s housing and transportation problems.
Thankfully, as our Councilmember, Mark is thinking ahead and as a part of Team Rockville, he brings with him a group of thoughtful, experienced, and diverse residents to address community issues today to create an even better future for our children and grandchildren. Mark served two terms as Councilmember from 2009 to 2013 then returned in 2015. On the Council, he has reduced spending while growing Rockville’s tax base. His experiences on the Council, as a small-business owner, as president of the College Gardens Civic Association, and his stint as chair of the Town Center Action Team, as well as his biking and walking tours of all City streets give him a unique perspective on the needs of residents and businesses.
To read the entire op-ed, see “The Interstate 270 Mess Was Decades in the Making” by Mark Pierzchala in the July 5 edition of the Washington Post.