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Bus rapid transit taking shape in Montgomery Co.

A rendering of an aerial view of a Bus Rapid Transit station is seen. (Courtesy Maryland Transit Administration)

WASHINGTON — Montgomery County, Maryland, is making progress on a 14-mile bus rapid transit route that will run between downtown Silver Spring and Burtonsville along the heavily congested U.S. 29 corridor, transportation officials say.

“We are almost at the end of our planning process, and the design of the corridor itself is going to start,” said Montgomery County Department of Transportation Director Al Roshdieh.

Much of the route will use roadway shoulders as dedicated bus lanes, and the system should be up and running by 2020.

“The shoulder has to be improved; marking has to be done, and signage and so forth,” Roshdieh said.

The project is part of an effort by county leaders to move toward a broader BRT system that may include parts of Md. 355, Md. 586 and the Corridor Cities Transitway. The idea of BRT is to move passengers around more quickly and efficiently using high-frequency service, multiple wide doors, dedicated roadways and other trainlike features.

“This is different; this is bold and this is what we believe we must have for our county,” said county council member Roger Berliner.

Although it is still years away from being available for commuters, the county is asking the public to vote on a name for the BRT system. Voters can go the county’s website and choose between three options — Flash, Rapid or Swift.

The naming contest runs through late January.

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