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
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