Mar 222016
 

Wow, it’s been more than ten years since I started poring over bike budgets.  I still remember analyzing the 2005-2010 budget.   That’s so long ago that some of the projects in that budget are actually complete! (but many aren’t).  It’s so long ago that two-way cycle tracks were still called bike paths.

Seriously, the County Executive’s recommended 2017-2022 Capital Budget (technically the “FY17 Recommended Capital Budget and FY17-22 Capital Improvements Program”) is a solid improvement over budgets from ten years years ago.  Support for bicycling has never been stronger in the county, thanks to growth in ridership and attitudinal shifts in county government.  But the county still has a long way to go.

The capital budget covers six years but is rewritten every two years, and can be amended in the in-between years.   The County Executive submits a recommended budget in January of even-numbered years.  In the spring the County Council votes on the budget after making whatever changes it deems necessary.  County Council committees are tasked with reviewing the budget details in their area of purview and advising the full council.  The council T&E Committee has already sent its advice regarding bike projects in the CE-recommended budget (except MNCPPC projects) to the full council.

The county’s Operating Budget is a completely different budget that covers ongoing expenses like road maintenance.  I’m not discussing it here.

I like to group bike-related funding in the capital budget into four categories:

  1. Bike-related projects and programs that are standalone budget items (except MNCPPC projects).  These are projects big enough to be treated as separate items in the budget, plus programs that may include several smaller projects.
  2. Bike-related projects under “Facility Planning – Transportation”.  This budget item lists projects slated to begin Facility Planning (initial study and design) during the next 6 years.
  3. Bike components of other transportation projects.  Many road and bridge projects include bike components like sidepaths or bike lanes that aren’t recorded as bike expenses.  There’s a partial list of such projects on PDF page 228 (p. 21-2) of the capital budget document.
  4. MNCPPC bike-related projects.  These are projects that fall within MNCPPC’s purview, mainly park trails.

See below for brief project descriptions.  I gathered this information from the capital budget website, which is easy to use.  There’s also a 654-page PDF version.  Note that some of the web pages distinguish between the CE-recommended budget and the CC-approved budget.  Be sure to look at the CE-recommended budget, since the CC-approved budget is two years old.


BIKE-RELATED PROJECTS AND PROGRAMS IN THE CAPITAL BUDGET (EXCEPT MNCPPC ITEMS)

These are the bike-related items that are individually budgeted in the Transportation section of the County Executive’s recommended 2017-2022 budget.  All the transportation budget pages are here .  Below are the bike-related items.

  • Bethesda Bikeway and Pedestrian Facilities – Provides $2.4M over the next two years to carve out the surface route of the Capital Crescent Trail along Bethesda Ave, 47th St and Willow Lane. Bethesda Ave will get a two-way cycle track on the north side.  The Bethesda Ave/Woodmont Ave intersection will be modified to shorten the trail crossing distance.
  • Bicycle-Pedestrian Priority Area (BPPA) Improvements – The program pays for targeted bike/ped improvements in the 28+ “BPPAs” (shown here). The County Executive requested $1M per year in his recommended budget, but the County Council is deciding whether to set funding at $2.5M per year in order to provide a robust network in Silver Spring as soon as possible.  The Silver Spring network is estimated to cost $6.2M during FY17-FY20.  Also scheduled (tentatively) are improvements in Grosvenor (FY17), Glenmont (FY18), Wheaton CBD (Fy18) and Viers Mill/Randolph Rd (FY19).  Already funded is the Spring Street cycle track project.
  • Bikeway Program Minor Projects (previously the Annual Bikeway Program) – This is budgeted at $530K per year, though in practice additional funds may be provided if necessary.   It’s intended for projects under $500K and studies of larger projects as well as bikeway signs and bike racks.  The program gives DOT and stakeholders discretion to choose smaller projects on a streamlined basis.  Projects planned by DOT over the next six years include:
    • An 0.4 mile Avery Road sidepath from Muncaster Mill Rd to the Lake Needwood entrance – $475K
    • A 550′ sidewalk widening to complete the path along MD 355 from Strathmore Ave to Tuckerman Lane – $750K
    • An 0.3 mile cut-thru path from Crabbs Branch Way to Brown St – $400K
    • A mile-long path connecting MD 108 and Fieldcrest Rd to Zion Rd, to be built in the PEPCO right-of-way – $300K for study/land acquisition only
    • Possibly (per Council staff recommendation) an 0.2 mile Emory Lane sidepath between Muncaster Mill Rd and Holly Ridge Rd, which would complete a link from the Lake Frank Trail to the ICC Trail and Bowie Mill Park in Olney – $260K
  • Capital Crescent Trail –$96M is budgeted over the next 6 years to complete the CCT from Bethesda to downtown Silver Spring, including grade-separated crossings of Connecticut Ave and Jones Bridge Rd. It will be built in conjunction with the Purple Line, so the schedule is dependent on the Purple Line schedule.
  • Falls Rd East Side Hiker/Biker Path – This would be an 8′ wide sideepath from River Rd to Dunster Rd, roughly 4.2 miles. Due to the high $25M cost it likely will never be built, but it lingers on in the budget, getting delayed with each new budget.   A sidewalk on the west side is still needed however.  A parallel route on minor streets is availble (though hillier and 30% longer).
  • Frederick Rd Bike Path – This sidepath would be built along MD 355 between Stringtown Rd and Milestone Manor Lane (near Brink Rd) in Clarksburg, roughly 2.5 miles.  Some sections already exist.  It’s slated for FY17 and FY18 and costs $7M.
  • Life Sciences Center Loop Trail – Slated to cost $400K over the next 2 years.  This is a 3.5 mile loop consisting of 10′ to 12′ wide sidepath.  It will widen existing sidewalks along Omega Dr, Fields Rd, Decoverly Dr, and Medical Center Way as needed, and be built along streets west of Great Seneca Hwy that are yet to be built, presumably with developer help.
  • MacArthur Blvd Bikeway Improvements – $9M over the next six years (in addition to $9M already spent) to complete the 4.7 mile long sidepath + shoulder project along MacArthur Blvd between the D.C. line and the Beltway. This improves the path and nominally improves the roadway.  One of the three segments to be improved has been completed, though unfortunately the completed shoulder appears to be narrower than what the design specified.
  • MD 355 BRAC Crossing – Slated to cost a total of $72M through completion in FY19 but it keeps getting delayed. This is a tunnel crossing of MD 355 at Medical Center Metro.  It’s being promoted as a bike/ped facility, but there must be 10 other grade-separated crossings in the county that are just as useful to cyclists and any 5 of them could be built for the cost of this one tunnel.
  • MD 355-Clarksburg Shared Use Path – A $3.3M, 0.7 mile sidepath/sidewalk along the east side of MD 355 in Clarksburg, to be completed by FY20. It would extend from Stringtown Rd north to Snowden Farm Parkway, but the southern two thirds would just be a 5′ sidewalk.   Together with the Frederick Rd Bike Path and proposed Little Bennett Park Trail Connector, this would create a sidepath over 4 miles long, but 0.4 miles in the middle would be just 5′ wide.  That’s not acceptable.
  • Metropolitan Branch Trail – This is slated to cost $13M over the next three years, in addition to $5M that will already have been spent.  The project consists of an 0.6 mile segment of the trail between the end of the existing Met Branch Trail and the new Silver Spring Transit Center, including grade-separated crossings of Burlington Ave and Georgia Ave.  The budget calls for completion in FY19 but there are dependencies that could change this.  Here’s an article from last year.
  • Needwood Rd Bike Path – For $5.8M this includes a shared use path along Needwood Rd from Deer Lake Rd (near Redland Rd) to Muncaster Mill Rd, providing a crucial link to the ICC Trail. Total distance is roughly 1.7 miles.  $860K was provided by a state grant under the Maryland Bikeways Program.  The project also includes 450 of sidewalk on Muncaster Mill Rd (from Needwood Rd to Magruder HS).
  • Seven Locks Bikeway and Safety Improvements – This would provide both bike lanes and a shared use path along Seven Locks from between Montrose Rd and Bradley Blvd, roughly 3.3 miles. The project would also include a connecting path along Montrose Rd to I-270.  The cost is so high that the whole thing seems unlikely to happen… cost is listed as $28M through FY22, and “$50 to $60 million” for the full project.  The current shoulders aren’t terrible.   What’s really needed is a sidewalk between Tuckerman Lane and Bradley Blvd.
  • Silver Spring Green Trail – This urban “trail” (actually a sidepath) runs along Wayne Ave, currently from Colesville Rd to just past Fenton St.  This project will extend it all the way to the Sligo Creek Trail, adding about 0.8 miles.   Total cost is listed at $4.2M (with some already spent) and completion is set for FY19, but the project is entangled with the Purple Line so I wouldn’t trust the schedule.   Ultimately the trail is supposed to be extended west along Second Ave for some distance.

The following projects are being considered by the County Council for inclusion in the capital budget:

  • Bradley Blvd Bikeway – Council staff recommended that this dual bikeway project be put in the budget for completion by FY24.  Facility Planning Phase 2 (35% design) has been completed and the cost is estimated to be $18M.   The treatment would consist of bike lanes, a shared use path, and an additional sidewalk, along Bradley between Wilson Lane and Goldsboro Rd (with the path purportedly extending to Glenbrook Rd to get closer to the CCT).  I don’t know if the Council will add it.
  • Bowie Mill Rd Separated Bike Lanes This project would provide cycle tracks on Olney Mill Rd, which is master planned for bike lanes.  The Council T&E Committee recommended that funds be provided to plan the project (Facility Planning Phase 1?).

BIKE-RELATED PROJECTS UNDER “FACILITY PLANNING – TRANSPORTATION”

This budget item lists transportation projects to begin Facility Planning during the next 6 years.  It represents a sort of project pipeline.  Facility Planning includes two phases – an initial study and design phase and a 35% design phase.  Based on cost estimates from the first phase, the county can decide whether to continue the project.   According to the Facility Planning budget description page, the bike-oriented projects include:

Facility Planning underway or scheduled for FY17-18

  • Goldsboro Road bike lanes (MacArthur Blvd to River Rd)
  • MacArthur Blvd bikeway segment 1 (Stable Lane to I-495)

Facility Planning scheduled for FY19-22

  • Capitol View Ave/Metropolitan Ave sidewalk/bikeway (Forest Glen Rd to Ferndale St)
  • Falls Road sidewalk – west side (River Rd to Dunster Rd) – Not actually a bike project but I note it here because it’s the likely substitute for the Falls Road bike path

BIKE COMPONENTS OF OTHER TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS

Many road and bridge projects include bike components like sidepaths or bike lanes that aren’t recorded as bike expenses.  There’s a partial list of such projects on PDF page 228 (p. 21-2) of the capital budget document.


MNCPPC BIKE-RELATED ITEMS IN THE CAPITAL BUDGET

Below are bike-related projects in the recommended budget that fall under the purview of MNCPPC (whose budget is detailed here).  MNCPPC is the agency that includes the Parks Department, so the projects are mostly park trails.  I’m not including natural surface trails.

  • Trails: Hard Surface Design & Construction – This provides for new hard surface trails that aren’t carved out as separate budget items. The budget provides $600K for the first year and $300K per year thereafter.  Additional funds can be sought from developers or grants.
  • Trails: Hard Surface Renovation – This provides for renovation of hard surface trails, which can often turn a bad trail into a good one.  The budget recommends $1M in each of the first two years, with $300K per year thereafter.
  • North Branch Trail – Listed as $4.4M in the budget, including $2M in federal aid, with completion scheduled for FY20. This 2 mile trail will have two parts, one connecting the Lake Frank trail to Muncaster Mill Rd at Emory Lane (plus parking), and another short segment connecting the ICC trail to the Preserve at Rock Creek neighborhood.

Funding for the the following trail was requested by MNCPPC but not included in the CE-recommended budget:

  • Little Bennett Park Trail Connector – A $2.8M project  to provide a mile-long paved sidepath on the east side of MD 355 from Snowden Farm Parkway north to the planned Little Bennett Park Day Use Center.  It would extend the planned MD 355-Clarksburg Shared Use Path further north.   But the CE did not include the connector in the budget.

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