PLENTY SUMMER 2020 | Page 34

Placing the transit on 270 would also allow the development density to be designed at station locations outside of the Ag Reserve along that busy highway. I am not a proponent of staking the economic future of the county on a BRT system sharing a roadway with automobile traffic. For one, buses are weather dependent, so if it is raining or snowing and interacting with cars even just 20 percent of the time, you would not be able to fully rely on getting to places on time. A transportation system is only as good as its reliability and BRT is not the answer. I would consider it an interim solution toward completing a long-term goal. Another option under consideration would be to enhance ridership on the Marc Rail. While this would help connect Frederick and Montgomery Counties with Northern Virginia and the District, we need to remember that this right of way is owned privately by CSX. Since CSX currently receives much more revenue from freight traffic than commuter traffic, there is little incentive for them to increase commuter capacity. As with BRT, however, that is not to say an improved MARC is not part of a solution going forward. MNCPPC is currently studying available options in their Corridor Forward I-270 Transit Plan Study which will include a number of different potential transit solutions, including, BRT, MARC, and...wait for it...monorail. The High Road Foundation assembled a group of international experts to support its efforts to promote a monorail within the existing right of way along 270 from the City of Frederick to the Shady Grove Metro Station, with stops in Urbana, Clarksburg, Germantown, Gaithersburg (Metropolitan Grove), and the Red Line. This route covers 28 miles and requires approximately 42 minutes including stops—a number a commuter could completely rely on. Civil engineering studies have confirmed that no additional ground would need to be acquired, nor would any utilities need to be moved, saving valuable money and time. By comparison, the widening of I-270 has created this problem: Proposed highway widening P3 could leave WSSC customers on the hook for billions in costly water main relocations, WSSC analysis finds. Monorail only touches ground with a pier every 100 to 120 feet. The piers can be designed around the underground utilities. There is no need to move or interfere with anything underground. Less ground disturbance means less environmental harm as well. By comparison, the Foundation did a quick study on the Purple Line and determined something very important: it should have been a monorail and here are the current facts: n Surface Rail: transit systems that remain on the surface require relocating all the underground utilities: water, sewer, electric, internet, etc. The weight of the system and the vibration make this necessary. Much of the Purple Line right of way penetrates old subdivisions making an estimation of cost to build almost impossible. n Right of Way: Surface rail requires expensive land acquisition and time-consuming eminent domain. These costs could not be predetermined, contributing to cost overruns. n Environmental Effects: Surface transit/rail requires excessive storm water management and engineering costs, including additional ground for ponds and detention areas beyond the tracks themselves. n Bridges/Tunnels: The Purple Line right of way traverses a number of public roads and arteries, and each time it traverses a public road, a completely distinct one-of-a-kind engineering design has to be made for the bridge, the tunnel, or the at-grade crossing. Each individual design takes time and introduces variables that lead to a higher potential for cost overruns. n Stations: While some of the Purple Line stations are elevated, some are at grade and others are below grade. All individual designs must be cost estimated individually—each with contingencies. Now let’s look at Monorail: n Surface Rail vs Monorail: Monorail usually runs about 20-25 feet above grade. It only has a footprint every 100-120 feet, and that footprint is only about 36 square feet. There is no need to move existing utilities, so the construction costs can be predetermined to a much finer degree. n Right of Way: Monorail only requires a right-ofway width of 20 feet. In comparison, the Purple line used an average of 66 feet of width. n Environmental Effects: Monorail has a very small storm water footprint. It does not require the detention areas or storm water structures of surface rail during construction or after. n Bridges/Tunnels: Monorail rides along the same 34 plenty I Summer growing 2020