Mass transit options proposed for Md.’s I-270 corridor

As the Montgomery County’s planning department rolled out recommendations for reducing traffic congestion along Maryland’s Interstate 270 corridor, planners said additional mass transit options should be considered, including dedicated bus lanes.

Map of I-270 corridor
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE: Map of I-270 corridor. (Courtesy Montgomery Planning)

The dedicated bus lanes would help “connect communities and employment centers along and across the I-270 corridor,” county planners said in a comprehensive study.

“Communities and employment centers along I-270 are not well-served by high-quality, frequent, and reliable transit today,” according to the study.

Under the recommendations, dedicated bus lanes would be formed around I-270 in the Clarksburg, Germantown and Gaithersburg areas. They would work in conjunction with Bus Rapid Transit systems that are already being developed for Md. 355/Rockville Pike and Md. 586/Veirs Mill Road.

“The recommended network allows buses to efficiently divert off the highway to serve points of local demand,” according to the study.

Planners said the lanes would “maximize the value of infrastructure currently advancing” and would “provide various means of accessing WMATA’s Metrorail Red Line.”

Metro is another topic that planners addressed in the study, saying a long-term goal would be to extend the Red Line for eight additional miles from the Shady Grove station to Germantown.

That would include three additional stops:

  • Old Town Gaithersburg;
  • Md. 124/Fairgrounds;
  • Germantown Town Center.

“The Red Line Extension is not without challenges,” planners noted, saying the cost of the project would be roughly $1.4 billion.

It would require cooperation with CSX and WMATA, and would likely need financial support through federal funding, according to the study.

“WMATA is focused on bringing the system’s core into a state of good repair and is reluctant to consider extensions without a clear understanding of financial implications and downstream passenger capacity,” planners said.

“The benefits of this recommendation can only be realized through intentional, long-term planning and significant interagency coordination across various levels of government.”

The planning department’s recommendations are expected to be submitted to the Montgomery County Council by the end of the year.

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Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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