State wants transitway to go through King Farm neighborhood
MDOT won't consider other routes to run CCT through Rockville
State transportation officials are not budging from a plan to route a transit system that will connect Rockville to Clarksburg through Rockville's King Farm neighborhood.
In January, Rockville's City Council sent a letter to the Maryland Transit Administration asking officials consider routes for the proposed Corridor Cities Transitway that would not run along King Farm Boulevard.
The CCT is a planned 14- to 16-mile light rail or rapid bus line designed to connect the Shady Grove Metro station in Rockville to Clarksburg. Cost estimates for CCT light rail project range from more than $875 million to $999 million. Cost estimates for a bus rapid transit system range from more than $461.24 million to more than $532 million.
In a letter dated April 12, Beverley Swaim-Staley, secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation, responded, saying the state will not consider alternate options along Piccard Drive, Redland Road and Gude Drive.
"If the MTA concludes that a King Farm Boulevard option is the most reasonable and effective for the project, we will seek input and cooperation from the residents to integrate the CCT into the community to the greatest possible extent," Swaim-Staley wrote.
At a City Council meeting Monday, Craig Simoneau, the city's director of public works, briefed the council on the letter and the city's role in future planning.
"It is our right-of-way, we are going to be a big player in the process," he said. "We have to make sure snow collection works, we have to make sure the intersections work."
The Department of Transportation studied the alternate routes and decided they would raise costs, reduce ridership and contribute to longer commutes. Additionally, the alternate routes would not meet requirements set out by the Federal Transit Administration.
The Department of Transportation plans to meet with neighborhood groups in mid-June and have a public hearing in September. It has not decided on whether to proceed with bus rapid transit or light rail, Simoneau said.
The route through King Farm has been planned for more than 20 years and the King Farm development was planned with construction of the CCT in mind.
The council's January letter was a reversal of its support for the route's location. The council had supported the King Farm route for 16 years but some residents feared allowing transit through the neighborhood would force road closures and hinder walkers.
Roads such as Reserve Champion, Crestfield, Pleasant and Grand Champion drives, as well as Elmcroft Boulevard, would be directly affected by the CCT where they intersect with King Farm Boulevard.
Joan Hannan, leader of the Coalition for the Preservation of King Farm, did not respond to a call for comment Tuesday afternoon. Councilman Piotr Gajewski, a King Farm resident, supported changing the city's stance.
"I think [it's] very appropriate for them to study the alternate routes," he said. "If it's indeed accurate that the only feasible route is along King Farm Boulevard then, the King Farm community, we are going to have to digest that and see what's next. We will want a lot of input with the details so that our neighborhood is positively affected."
Correction: This story was corrected to accurately reflect a full quote from Beverley Swaim-Staley's letter.