Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Montgomery County Needs To Choose Green Over Black

When so many cities are "going green" and embracing sustainable methods of transportation for their citizens, Montgomery County, Maryland continues to go "black" by spending millions on 'studying' Mid-County Highway Extended - a road design, introduced in 1957, whose life-expectancy is long past.

The TAME Coalition, currently made up of 35 organizations and elected officials, leads the fight to remove M-83 from the Master Plan of Highways and instead promotes multiple transportation upgrades: rapid transit systems of the Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT), Rapid Vehicle Transit (RVT), MARC Train and Purple Line; reversal lanes during rush hour; intersection upgrades; and improved existing roads. 

Since 1995, public transit ridership across the nation has grown at a faster rate than either population or highway usage (www.usnews.com), yet the Washington metro area lags behind in developing public transit systems. Denver is the top metro area in the nation utilizing public transportation. New York and Boston are the only metro areas east of the Mississippi ranked in the top 10.

Montgomery County is very capable of catching up to many growing cities who have already expanded their public transportation systems - providing answers not only to traffic-jammed roads, but to vital questions of sustainability for a growing population. A community's citizens are only as healthy as their water supply, the air they breath and the ecosystem that surrounds them. These are crucial factors in maintaining community viability. 

Both Ten-Mile Creek and Dayspring Creek end up in the Seneca Creek Watershed, which ultimately connects to the Chesapeake Bay.  These two smaller watersheds must be protected in Montgomery County to preserve not only our own natural surroundings, but the larger ecosystem with its greater impact on human life.

Throughout our county, awareness continues to grow that every decision for expansion has far-reaching effects. Many leaders in Montgomery County government and in grass-roots advocacy groups are ready to expand rapid transit systems here; sadly, other county officials and their staff cannot embrace the concept of building a public transit network for the common good.

While the 1950s were the age of the highway, it's time to recognize that today is the age of mass transit.  Montgomery County has the means and the aptitude to achieve this critical shift.

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