Montgomery County’s FY14 budget will likely include a new parking rate system in downtown Bethesda and about 90 new parking meters for Cedar Lane after a Council Committee hearing today.
The Council’s Transportation & Environment Committee this morning ran through a number of changes proposed by County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) for parking rates in his recommended budget. The Committee also took a stand against Leggett’s recommended six-month delay of the Bethesda Metro South Entrance project.
The Committee agreed to support the Department of Transportation’s recommended change of how drivers pay parking rates in the Bethesda Parking Lot District.
The new system would make on-street meter parking $2 an hour, parking lot spaces $1.25 an hour and parking garage spaces 80 cents an hour. Existing rates are $1.25 an hour for any parking space up to four hours and 80 cents an hour for any long-term parking in excess of four hours.
Council staff transportation expert Glenn Orlin said the new system would mean most people would pay more, some would pay less and every-day commuters and residents who buy monthly passes would feel little effect. Those rates won’t change.
Also included in the FY14 Transportation budget is a permanent expansion of last year’s four-month “smart-meter” pilot program. About $280,000 would be dedicated for the replacement of existing on-street parking meters with Single Space Smart Meters, which allow drivers to use their credit and debit cards at the machines and see parking rates, hours and time limits on an illuminated display.
Also in the budget is the installation of about 90 parking meters along the south side of Cedar Lane between Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike. The meters, which would border NIH, were in last year’s budget but DOT did not follow through because of the opposition it faced from residents on Chevy Chase Drive once parking meter installation began there.
The county eventually decided to suspend any installation of meters there. It doesn’t anticipate any similar blowback because the meters are aimed at NIH visitors and shouldn’t affect residents:
Cedar Lane’s situation, though, is very different. First, there are no houses fronting the south side of the road, where the meters would be installed. Second, the Maplewood neighborhood on the north side consists of single-family detached homes, and of those that front on Cedar Lane, all have driveways. Third, where parking is allowed, there is a 2-hour limit from 9am-5pm weekdays, so the parking restriction is geared towards NIH visitors.
Despite Leggett’s insistence on a six-month funding delay for the Bethesda Metro South Entrance, the Committee decided to recommend against the delay and to look at how the project stands next year. Leggett has argued the funding delay will not hold up actual construction, since the Entrance is dependent on construction of the Purple Line.
Orlin said Maryland Transit Administration Purple Line project manager Mike Madden told him the state would prefer the no-delay option, and it expects construction on the Bethesda Purple Line station to start in late FY15.
DOT Director Art Holmes told the Committee it’s highly unlikely construction starts by then, with federal funding for the $2.1 Purple Line still uncertain and the recently introduced possibility of razing the Apex Building where the station could go.