MTA: No plans to close Garrett Park MARC station
Town residents want more input in planning process
The Maryland Transit Authority is downplaying concerns that the Garrett Park MARC station could be closed if a new one opens in White Flint, even though a 2008 MTA Feasibility study of a new station identified closure of Garrett Park as a possibility.
County Planners have recommended a site for a new MARC station within the redeveloping White Flint Sector Plan, which is revamping the vision for North Bethesda over the next several decades. But MTA spokeswoman Cheron Wicker said a planning recommendation does not translate into a plan to build a new station.
"At this time we have no plans to construct a new station or close any station," Wicker said. "It's fluid; you don't know what's going to happen. We're not going to commit to saying anything because we don't know what's going to happen."
Though MTA has no plans for a new station in White Flint, Park and Planning is making space for one anyway in its White Flint Sector Plan recommendations.
Nkosi Yearwood, a Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission staffer working on the White Flint Sector Plan said a site is being picked out to replace one already identified in the old 1992 North Bethesda/Garrett Park Master Plan. That station was envisioned at Montrose Crossing near the Nebel Road extension, but planning staff wanted to move it into the White Flint Sector boundaries and are now recommending a site off Old Georgetown Road.
MTA did conduct a 2008 feasibility study for Park and Planning analyzing the two potential new locations for a MARC site in the sector boundaries, and concluded that either location for a new station in White Flint would disrupt or potentially end service in Garrett Park. Wicker said she had no information on the reasons for that assessment, and would only emphasize that there are not currently plans to close the station or add a new one.
Jack Mandel, a member of the Garrett Park Town Council, said the Garrett Park station has a historic and cultural significance in town and Garrett Park should stay abreast of developments relating to a potential closure, even far into the future.
"It's clear from meetings I attended at the county level with CSX and other officials they're on a very tight schedule but I'd think they're in a position to add stops without removing other stops," Mandel said. The CSX Corporation, primarily a freight company, owns the tracks the MARC Brunswick Line runs on and has an agreement with MTA to share the tracks for commuter rail services.
Mandel said he would like to see more outreach to the town from Park and Planning as the potential new MARC station location is discussed further.
"I think it's going to impact people's lives and I think it's important that we get acknowledgement about that and not just have our interests tossed about."
County Councilwoman Nancy M. Floreen (D-At Large) of Garrett Park called the selection of a new MARC station in White Flint "a planning exercise" and said even if the Planning Board approves the sector plan featuring a new station, that won't make the issue final.
"No one's proposing the Garrett Park station be closed, period," Floreen said. "It's a question of paying attention to the planning process right now, that's good for the town to pay attention to the big picture."
She said the fact the issue may have gotten the attention of residents regarding the White Flint Sector Plan is a good thing.
"I'm delighted that the residents are following the planning process, I want them to do that."