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Dr. Gridlock
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Posted at 04:17 PM ET, 10/24/2011

Montgomery traffic stable, but still bad, report says

[This post has been updated]

A new study says traffic congestion in Montgomery County has remained about the same for several years, and is likely to stay stable for a few more.

The 2011 Mobility Assessment Report prepared by the county’s transportation planners doesn’t suggest that travelers are enjoying this steady state.

The report expresses particular sympathy for morning commuters heading south on Route 29 between Howard County and University Boulevard and for evening commuters heading east on University Boulevard between Georgia and New Hampshire avenues. (This from a 2010 sampling.)

It also includes a list of the county’s most congested intersections. You may not find your worst nightmare at the top of the list, but the report notes that the findings are based on traffic counts that amount to snapshots taken at particular times along major arteries.

Over time, intersections move up and down on the list, sometimes dramatically so. But for the 2011 report, these 10 topped the list:

• Old Georgetown Road at Democracy Boulevard

• Darnestown Road at Riffle Ford Road

• Shady Grove Road at Choke Cherry Lane

• Rockville Pike at West Cedar Lane

• Georgia Avenue at Norbeck Road

• Route 355 at Edmonston Drive

• Great Seneca Highway at Muddy Branch Road

• Connecticut Avenue at Jones Bridge Road

• East Gude Drive at Crabbs Branch Way/Cecil Street

• Randolph Road at New Hampshire Avenue

Of the 50 most congested intersections listed in the study, 28 are between the Capital Beltway and the Intercounty Connector route, 14 are inside the Beltway and the rest are in the outer portion of the county.

Other highlights

The report says that the opening of the first segment of the Intercounty Connector does not appear to have significantly relieved congestion at major intersections in the vicinity of the highway.

That’s not a surprising finding, considering that only the first segment of the toll road is open, between Olney and Shady Grove, and the traffic on it has been light. It will be more interesting to see the effect after the connector opens to Interstate 95 late this year or early next year.

Travel times on University Boulevard (Route 193), a major east-west link, were about the same in both directions during the morning and afternoon peaks. There was no dominant direction. That’s in contrast to major north-south corridors such as Route 29 and Route 355, where travel in one direction dominated depending on the rush hour, the report says.

Commuters on Randolph Road experienced slower travel times and greater congestion traveling east to west during the morning peak compared to traveling west to east during the evening peak. That’s consistent with the travel pattern on the Beltway, the report says.

The report looks at other forms of travel besides driving.

Metrorail ridership has remained steady. Metrobus and Ride On, the county’s bus system, showed slight declines in the two-year study.

Ride On’s daily ridership for the 2010 fiscal year was 87,990. That’s a decline from 95,000 in the 2008 fiscal year. The report says service reductions of 5 percent over the past two years were a major factor in the decreased ridership.

Planners are working on expanding the database showing pedestrian activity. What the database shows so far is higher pedestrian activity is in communities with the most extensive transit services, including Takoma Park, Silver Spring, White Flint, Wheaton, Rockville, and Gaithersburg. Planners are also working to expand the date on bicycling in the county, but it has developed a map showing where the most cycling activity is.

The Montgomery County Planning Board is scheduled to consider the report at its meeting on Thursday, at about 3 p.m. in Park and Planning Headquarters, 8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring.

The previous report was done in 2009.

By  |  04:17 PM ET, 10/24/2011

Categories:  Commuting, Maryland

 
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